Comics Reviews: Superman 327, Action 487, DC Comics Presents 2

Superman 327 coverSuperman #327 – “The Sandstorm That Swallowed Metropolis” – Marin Pasko/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts where last issue left off, with Clark Kent being accosted in his apartment by a dude dressed in a snake outfit (and his henchmen). The guy is Kobra, an international high-tech terrorist who appeared in his own mag for seven issues, then fought Batman and Aquaman a couple times. Kobra explains that his high-tech weapons are looted from ancient civilizations and UFO crash sites. The teleporter device Superman took from SKULL last issue was one that SKULL stole from Kobra, and when Kobra tracked it to Clark Kent’s apartment, he accidentally found out Clark was Superman. Supes blows the teleporter out of Kobra’s hand and prepares to take on the terrorist and his lackeys. But Kobra has all kinds of gadgets that distract Superman long enough forapartment fight the villains to flee out the window. Clark’s neighbour, Sam hears the ruckus and busts down the door, barely giving Clark time to change back into his civilian clothes. He tells Sam a burglar was ransacking the place and took off through the window, but wonders to himself how Kobra could’ve disappeared so fast. He remembers Batman and Aquaman saying how dangerous Kobra is and worries that someone like that knows his secret identity. The next day, Clark, Lois, and Lana are reviewing footage for a documentary about Superman. They talk about a previously unseen adventure where Superman blew up a plane full of nerve toxin, then used his super breath to disperse the toxin through Metropolis, making it harmless … which sounds counter-intuitive to me. Lois opens a window and the room is inundated with sand. Clark switches to Superman under cover of the blinding sand and heads outside, where he sand machinefinds the sand has already piled up throughout the city to a height of ten stories. Supes creates a vortex to pull the sand from the streets and direct t out over the ocean, but he runs into a giant machine over the bay that’s sucking sand from beneath the water and shooting it into Metropolis. Superman’s sand vortex is also sucked up by the machine, but before he can do anything, Kobra shows up. Kobra says Superman will help him or his parents will die. Supes says his parents died a long time ago, but Kobra says he used the teleporter device (which apparently works through time, not just space) to pluck them out of time, a week before their actual deaths. Kobra wants Superman to gather all the sand in Metropolis and bring it back to his big machine or he’ll prematurely end the Kents. Superman agrees and starts gathering sand, sneaking a look inside Kobra’s machine as he does so. He finds the sand is being filtered through a very small screen, but he’s not sure what Kobra’s hoping to find. But when Superman brings the last of the sand, the machine blows up. Kobra freaks, but Supes explains thatKobra gets away he figured out Kobra’s scheme. Kobra’s thing is creating disasters then profiting from them, so Superman realized he was using the sand to scrub the residue of the nerve toxin (so conveniently mentioned earlier) off the buildings and filter it out so he could use it. Kobra blasts the Kents, but it turns out Superman replaced them under cover of the explosion, so it’s just a couple of dolls that Kobra blows up. Supes attacks Kobra but gets blasted with a kryptonite ray, allowing the villain to escape. Kobra’s stealth abilities are again beyond Superman’s powers to locate him. He returns his parents to the past, a week before their deaths, then vows to find Kobra and bring him to justice. Of course, Kobra still knows Superman’s secret identity, so that might complicate things just a tad.

Noticeable Things:

  • DC seems to want us to believe that Kobra is a major threat, so they keep hyping him and having characters like Batman say how dangerous he is. That goes on for yeas, but sometimes it seems like they’re trying a bit too hard.
  • When the sandstorm blows into WGBS, we get a couple of upskirt shots of Lois and Lana.upskirt
  • Not to sound too callous, but would killing the Kents a week ahead of time really make that much difference? Superman says it would “alter my personal history”, but so what? If Kobra had grabbed the Kents from before they found Superman (or shortly after) and killed them, I could see that making a difference, but I’m not really sure what a week is supposed to do.
  • There’s a “Mr. and Mrs. Superman” back-up (by Bates/Schaffenberger/Giella) which is set sometime in the past on Earth-2 after Clark and Lois marry (asfake out seen in Action #484). The Colonel Future gang from that issue are still trying to waste Clark Kent for writing about them. They try a few more times, then grab Lois and threaten to kill both of them. Lois exposes Clark as Superman and he pounds the killers, then Lois pretends Superman was disguised as Clark to draw the killers out. A little super ventriloquism convinces them that Clark is safe downstairs, thus safeguarding his identity. The story is nothing spectacular; the only standout for me is Lois’s kick-ass pantsuit, which looks very modern for a series that’s ostensibly set in the past.

Action 487 coverAction #487 – “Super-Origin of Microwave Man” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with Superman chasing a flying saucer near Metropolis. The saucer evades him and shoots some rays at him, which he dodges. The saucer deposits an old car on the highway, then takes off. Superman realizes the ray it shot spelled out the word PEACE and lets it go. He notices the car on the road (but didn’t notice that it came from the spaceship) and he goes down to check it out. The driver is an old man who says his friends just told him about Superman. Supes isn’t sure what that means, as there’s no one around and the car doesn’t have a CB radio. He offers the old dude a lift into town, but the guy refuses and Superman leaves, chuckling to himself about the decades-old car the guy drives. But we see that the license plate is also from the 1930s. The next day, the old man starts reading everything he can find on Superman, including books and old newspapers on microfiche. A few days later, Superman drags a hugegator alligator from the sewers and tosses it to the Florida Everglades. The old man is watching and he’s pretty impressed, but has to leave because he’s late for his seminar. The seminar is one of those “alien contactee” meetings at STAR Labs. Lana and Jimmy are there and they lament that it’s just the usual parade of whack-jobs. The old man (whose name is Lewis Padgett) gets up to talk about his four decades roaming the Milky Way. Of course, we know he’s telling the truth, even if nobody else does. Later, when Lana and Jimmy are recounting the meeting to Morgan Edge and Perry White, they make fun of Padgett and mention that he claimed to be an old-time super villain called Microwave Man. Perry almost shits himself when they mention Microwave Man. We see Padgett wandering around, feeling crappy global disasterbecause everyone laughed at his stories. He wonders if he still has his old “micromatic” powers. At WGBS, Perry is telling the others that Microwave Man was a real super villain way back in the 1930s when Perry was just a cub reporter. He says Microwave Man managed to find a way to absorb microwaves from radio stations and emit the energy from his hands. Outside, we see Padgett practicing his old skills by heating up the globe statue at the Daily Planet. But something goes wrong and the globe keeps heating until it’s white hot. Then it takes off into the air, spewing heat as it goes. Padgett is upset, since he never meant to hurt anyone. Clark is coming to WGBS for the staff meeting and sees the white hot globe heading for the office. He changes to Superman in time to deflect it into the ocean and heads inside where he recognizes the photo of Padgett. He tells them about the old man he met after chasing the saucer and they realize Padgett’s alien abduction story was true. We see Padgett at his old hideout (which is remarkably undisturbed after 44 years), where he summons the flying saucer with his microwave projector … just as he accidentally did decades ago. The aliens were hanging around Earth in case Padgett needed them to hep him readjust after being away for so long. He asks them to rejuvenate him so he’s young again, which they do. Microwave Man is now ready to meet Superman … but we’ll have to wait until next issue to see that.

Noticeable Things:

  • Metropolis Library has a room devoted entirely to Superman. Makes sense, I guess.
  • Superman says he wants the alligator to have a new home in the Everglades, but wouldn’t throwing the gator all the way to Florida kill it?
  • Lewis Padgett was a pseudonym that Henry Kuttner and Catherine Moore sometimes wrote under. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be an homage to one of their stories, or if the name is just an in-joke.
  • Padgett mentions Uranus having rings, which wasn’t discovered until 1977. That doesn’t necessarily prove anything, as he could’ve read about it when the discovery was made.
  • If the globe really was white hot, I think it would’ve melted the windows in the WGBS Building, not to mention blinding everyone who was staring at it.
  • Padgett says the aliens turning him young again is “child’s play” with their technology, so why the hell didn’t he have them do it before?
  • The back-up story is an Atom adventure called “Miniature War of the Bat-Knights” by Rozakis/Saviuk/Chiaramonte. Ray (Atom) Palmer and Jean Loring are now married (as of JLA #157) and she knows his secret identity. They go back to the cave where Ray first used his Atom powers for some sweet sweetAtom goes wild lovin’. We get a recap of Atom’s origin, then they’re attacked by Bat-Knights (from Atom #30) who want his secret of size-changing. Atom is knocked out and when he awakes, the Bat-Knights say they want all humans changed to tiny size so the Knights can rule them. They threaten to kill Jean if Atom doesn’t cooperate, showing him her engagement ring and saying they’ve sealed the cave entrance so she can’t get out. Atom grows and starts pounding the shit out of the Knights after grabbing Jean’s ring. He finds Jean and they seal up the Knights inside the caverns. Ray explains that he wasn’t worried about Jean being trapped, since she knew about the other way out … the one he cut with her engagement ring the first time they were trapped in the caves.

DC Presents 2 coverDC Comics Presents #2 – “Race to the End of Time” – Martin Pasko/Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez/Dan Adkins

This one starts right after the end of last issue. If you remember, Superman and Flash are racing forward in time, chasing a guy named Iylar who’s trying to go through the “cosmic curtain” and loop around through the beginning of time so he can stop an eons-old alien civil war among his people (because time is circular, don’t you know?). Flash is trying to clear the path for him (the rival faction set booby traps) because Earth will be blown away if he doesn’t help. Meanwhile, Superman is trying to make sure Iylar succeeds, because if the civil war never starts, Krypton will never be settled and Superman will cease to exist. See what you missed? Anyway, Flash got jumped by Professor Zoom in the 25th Century (no sign of Buck Rogers or Colonel Deering) and is about to be torn apart by Zoom’s counter-vibrations. Superman’s passing through that time, but the aliens are monitoring him, so he just gives Flash a quick puffhave a nice trip of super breath to revive him. The revived Flash turns the tables on Zoom, breaking his neck. No wait, he just knocks him out; Flash would never break Zoom’s neck … that’s crazy! But Zoom’s just faking it and starts chasing Flash. Superman hastily constructs a prison for Zoom and Flash pulls the old “have a nice trip” ploy. He’s surprised to find the newly constructed prison (Flash doesn’t know Supes is journeying forward in time too), but he’s happy it’s there and tosses Zoom into it. Flash heads back into the future and Superman joins him. We get a recap of last issue and the heroes realize the bracelets the aliens gave them to track their progress are now only transmitting sound, not video. Flash doesn’t believe Superman would sacrifice Earth just to save himself (although he’d technically be saving all of Kryton too), so he figures Supes has a plan up his sleeve. They catch up to Iylar, who runs into a booby trap—a “time mine”, which stuns Flash. Superman gets rid of the rest of the mines, then decks Iylar Superman decks Iylarand lets him drift forward in the timestream so he can go back and fix the damage done by the time mine. Supes finds a dimensional rift in the 27th Century and fixes it with a gigantic needle and thread (!). Flash finds the still-unconscious Iylar and they end up trapped inside some kind of structure. Flash sees a message from Superman written on Iylar’s body that says “trust me”. He’s relieved and busts out of the cylinder they’re in, just in time to get attacked by some big reptilian dudes. Meanwhile, Superman finds himself stuck in a particular era, unable to move past it. He figures out he’s in the 30thCentury and goes to see the Legion of Super-Heroes, including his younger self, Superboy. Everyone freaks out about two versions of the same person co-existing, but Superman says that’s what’s trapping him in that time period. Meanwhile, Flash is getting his ass kicked. Superman and Superboy fly at each other and do a smash-up derby, which instantly catapults both back to their normal time period. Superman winds up back in 1978 and has to start all over again. It doesn’t taketime trip him long to catch up to Flash again (I guess time is relative inside the timestream) and they both realize their monitoring devices have been completely destroyed, leaving them free to make plans. They catch Iylar at the cosmic curtain, but are too late to prevent him going through. Flash vibrates as Superman flies at the shrinking tear in the cosmic curtain and they both make it through. They pound Iylar and destroy his time-scooter. The heroes (and the unconscious Iylar) then make their way back to the present by going forward through time, since they can’t go backwards. They arrive back in Rosemont the same day they left and quickly head up to the orbiting ships. Superman freezes both crews with his super breath and Flash smashes the vibration machine that they threatened to use to wipe out Earth’s population. Superman tosses the ships to the other end of the galaxy, saying they won’t dare come back. So, I guess they’re someone else’s problem now.

Noticeable Things:

  • Apparently, the “Superman and Superboy smash their heads together” thing was something Superman once dreamed about, so he figured what the hell … why not give it a try?
  • It’s mentioned that Superman and Flash move in space as well as time on their return journey to 20th Century Rosemont because their fights in the timestream displaced them from where they started.
  • Superman and Flash don’t seem worried at the prospect of the Volkir and Zelkot continuing their war. If they really were responsible for colonizing Krypton (and seeding Earth with life), it would be catastrophic if they managed to go through time again and stop the war.

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