Comics Reviews: Superman 333, Action 493, DC Comics Presents 7

Superman 333 coverSuperman #333 – “Happy New Year … Rest in Peace” – Martin Pasko/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This issue continues the holiday theme that’s been running this month, although this is set during New Years not Christmas. This one actually starts out on Bizarro World, a planet where imperfection (and stupidity) are practically worshiped, and where everything is the opposite of Earth. Bizarro has gotten a message from the Future-Scope Teletype (the opposite of Earth teletypes, which only report what’s already happened) that Superman’s friends Lana and Lois are going to die. His editor is so happy he fires Bizarro, who heads to Earth to check things out. On Earth, Morgan Edge has acquired a supersonic plane for Galaxy Communications and for its maiden flight, he plans to head westward across the country. Since the plane is so fast, and since time zones are an hour earlier as you head west, he says they can ring inBizarro busts in the New Year four separate times: in Metropolis, Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles. Naturally, all the Galaxy employees are on board, including Clark Kent, Lois, Lana, and Jimmy. As they leave Metropolis, Bizarro shows up and smashes his way into the plane looking for Lois and Lana. Last time Superman and Bizarro fought, some of Bizarro’s powers were switched so they’re the opposite of Superman’s. So instead of his x-ray vision being blocked by lead, Bizarro can only see through lead, which is why he had to bust into the plane to see if Lois and Lana were there. The cabin depressurizes and Lois is pulled (or pushed) out the hole. Clark follows, making it look like he had no choice. Lois grabs the plane’s rudder and sees Superman show up to save Clark. Impossible you say, since Superman is Clark, but we’re let in on the secret of how he does it; Superman just changes back and forth between his heroic identity and Clark, using the principle of persistence of vision to make it look like he’s in two places at once. As soon as “Clark” is Superman rescues Clarkreturned to the plane, Superman saves Lois. Bizarro is inside the plane, about to blab Superman’s secret identity to Lana when Supes tosses him right through the hole. Superman then inhales some oxygen, repairs the hole before his lungs can convert the oxygen to carbon dioxide, and exhales the oxygen, thus re-pressurizing the cabin. He herds everyone into the forward section of the plane, then throws a metal barrier up in case he has to exit the plane again. He pretends Clark is in the bathroom puking and uses super-ventriloquism to convince Lois. Then he goes outside to confront Bizarro and almost gets frozen by Bizarro’s cold-vision. Lois and Lana watch from the plane and Lois has complete faith that Superman will prevail, while Lana worries he might not. Lana reflects that her lack of faith may be why Superman gave her shit last issue, telling her that she never really loved him. Outside, Superman tries to use a tree on Bizarro, who shrinks it with his microscopic vision, then punches Superman so hard he flies into the distant past. Bizarro goes after the plane again, which has reachedSuperman punched through time Chicago and is trying to land. Bizarro creates turbulence that drives the plane toward the ground. Meanwhile Superman has been flying in super speed circles to return to the present, but soon realizes he’s going in the wrong direction. When backwards Bizarro claimed to be knocking Supes into the past, he really meant the future. Superman corrects his mistake and gets back to the present, but of course the plane isn’t where he left it. He gets an idea on how to defeat Bizarro and heads off to get some supplies. He catches up with the plane just in time to give it an updraft to keep it from crashing. But the updraft combined with Bizarro’s downdraft knocks the wings off the plane. Superman welds the metal box he brought to the side of the plane, punches Bizarro, and catches the plane before it crashes. Bizarro says he was just trying to help and Superman fake outuses Bizarro-logic on him, inviting him to look inside the plane. Bizarro does, and sees Lois and Lana dead. Thinking he’s done a good job of helping Superman’s friends—by killing them—Bizarro heads home. Superman reveals the box he put on the side of the plane is made of lead, the only substance Bizarro’s x-ray vision can see through. He put mock-ups of Lois and Lana inside to fool Bizarro into thinking they were dead. Lois thanks Superman for saving her (for the umpteenth time) and they profess their love for each other, as a heartbroken Lana watches.

Noticeable Things:

  • When Bizarro is telling his editor about his big story, the editor holds up a paper that says “Dog bites Bizarro … is big news”. That’s a play on the old “Man bites dog” aphorism, attributed to several different newspaper editors.
  • I don’t even want to know where Superman got accurate mannequins of Lois and Lana on such short notice; probably had them in his closet. Or maybe they’re robots he built for “entertainment” purposes.
  • Superman says he wasn’t worried about whether he’d save Lois or not, because he assumed the Bizarros’ Future-Scope worked in reverse, like everything else on Bizarro World. So, if it said Lois and Lana were going to die, that actually meant they’d live.
  • I can maybe buy that Superman could inhale, repair the hole at super-speed and exhale before the oxygen in his lungs is changed, but would that actually re-pressurize the cabin? it would re-oxygenate it, but I’m not sure about the “pressurizing” part.
  • This is another issue I had as a kid, though not in its original form. I had (still have, actually) a reprint of it in a Blue Ribbon Digest.

Action 493 coverAction #493 – “The Metropolis-UFO Connection” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with a quartet of UFOs flying over Metropolis in a strange pattern. Apparently, the same thing happened the previous day except those UFOs were a different shape. The citizens don’t seem too worried about it, assuming Superman will take care of any threat. Speaking of Superman, his alter ego Clark Kent and Lois Lane are just as fascinated by the UFOs as everyone else. Clark’s x-ray vision tells him nothing about the alien craft, which bothers him. Before he can dwell on it, he runs into Lana, who’s really happy about something—always a bad sign. Clark talks to Morgan Edge and finds out he’s being forced to take a vacation, leaving Lana as the sole news anchor. Clark is complaining to Jimmy about having to take time off when Jimmy keels over … probably just got bored with Clark’s bullshit problems. Actually, Jimmy has the flu, which has hit a few people at the Daily Planet. He begs Clark to take over theSuperman saves Corliss story he was working on—an interview with mysterious millionaire Lyle Corliss—and gives Clark his Superman signal watch in case Clark gets in trouble. Later, as Superman finishes his patrol and heads for Corliss’s office, he’s followed by a weird flying probe. He changes to Clark Kent and remembers Jimmy’s signal watch, laughing at the thought of summoning himself for help. He hears a weird noise coming from Corliss’s office and zips up there as Superman just in time to block a beam that the strange probe is firing at Corliss. Superman smashes the probe and realizes it’s not of Earthly origin. He collects the fragments and takes off, changing back to Clark Kent so he can show up for the interview. Corliss wasn’t rattled at all when the probe tried to confronting the alienblast him, but for some reason Clark makes him nervous. When Clark uses his powers to check Corliss out, he sees Corliss isn’t human. Corliss reveals he’s telepathic and knows Clark is Superman. He activates a dimensional transporter (that looks like a TV) and Superman is sucked into it. “Corliss” reveals everything to the trapped Man of Steel: he’s an advanced scout for an alien race who want to use Earth as a toxic waste dump; the blinking UFOs were actually sending signals back to the fleet like Morse Code; and the probe that was “shooting” Corliss was actually a data-gathering device that was relaying information via telepathic beam. Corliss gloats about Superman being trapped in a nether-dimension and prepares to send the final invasion signal to his fleet. The dimension Superman is in has weird energy swirls that disorient him and prevent himSuperman busts out of the TV from concentrating. He activates Jimmy’s watch—which he decided to wear for no reason, instead of leaving it with his Clark Kent outfit—and the signal gives his brain something to focus on. He busts out of the “TV” and pounds Corliss. He then follows the UFOs into hyperspace and uses his heat vision to rewire them so they’ll send a message for the fleet to bypass Earth. It works and the aliens call off their invasion, leaving “Corliss” behind to monitor Earth in case conditions change. In the hospital, Jimmy congratulates Clark on his front page story about Corliss being an alien and Clark gives back Jimmy’s watch. Perry White shows up and says he wants Clark to keep working for the Daily Planet, a plan Morgan Edge has already approved. We’ll see what happens with that next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • If you look closely at this story, you can see the plot manipulations; the only reason for Jimmy to get the (temporary, twenty-four hour) flu was so he could give Clark his watch, which meant Superman had the watch when he needed it.
  • More plot contortions: Morgan Edge was adamant that Clark take a vacation from WGBS, but has no problem with him working at the Daily Planet … which Edge also owns. It seems like a cheap way of getting Clark back at the Planet for a few issues.
  • We don’t find out what happens to “Corliss”; presumably, he’s imprisoned somewhere. Is there a special prison for aliens in the DCU?

DC Presents 7 coverDC Comics Presents #7 – “The Paralyzed Planet Peril” – Paul Levitz/Dick Dillin/Frank Chiaramonte

You may remember at the end of last issue Superman was knocked out by a Weaponer of Qward, whose Q-bolts are strong enough to stun the Man of Steel. He’s been brought to Qward itself, an anti-matter dimension, to be used to facilitate the Weaponers’ colonization of Earth. By colonization they really mean invasion, since Qwardians value evil over positive, peaceful emotions. Superman busts loose and starts pounding them, but he’s subdued again by the Q-bolts and strapped to a giant crystal. The Qwardian leader (Kiman) explains that they were going to use Green Lantern’s ring and Star Sapphire’s gem to focus energy from their twin suns on the giant crystal, but since they failed to obtain those items (last issue) they’ve harmonized Superman’s indestructible body with the crystal and are now focusing the sunlight through two huge space lenses onto Superman and the crystal. That somehow paralyzesTornado attacks everyone on Earth, making it easy for the Qwardians to invade. The Qwardians pour through into Earth’s dimension and begin establishing a beachhead in Metropolis. The JLA are paralyzed like everyone else, but the Qwardians are suddenly attacked by a whirlwind that knocks them on their asses. It turns out to be Red Tornado who, being an android, isn’t affected by the Qwardians paralysis beam. Kiman can’t figure out why Reddy’s immune, but they attack him anyway. He’s immune to their Q-bolts, so Kiman flees back through the dimensional gateway, followed closely by Red Tornado. Kiman orders the Qwardians to focus all the energy on the gateway, stranding the invasion force on Earth but trapping Red Tornado in an energy matrix. Superman gives Reddy a pep talk, telling him he can resist te Q-energy field and to fly through the crystal—and through Superman himself. Reddy does, shattering the field crystal destroyedand making himself stronger. Superman tells him to destroy the orbiting lenses. Reddy is too weak from his passage into Qward to destroy the lenses outright, but he maneuvers them so the energy is passing directly through both lenses into Superman and the giant crystal. Since Superman is vulnerable to Q-energy, it’s risky, but the crystal shatters before Superman does, freeing him. He and Reddy mop up the Qwardians and head back to Earth. Instead of returning the Qwardian invaders to their own dimension, Superman resettles them in the Australian outback, where they learn to live in cooperation with the few neighbours they have. The Qwardians changed attitudes toward cooperation and peaceful co-existence gives Red Tornado faith—something he’d thought was impossible for him.

Noticeable Things:

  • Superman mentions that the Qwardians are the Destroyers faced by the Justice League back in JLA 125-126.
  • If you’re wondering how people can go back and forth between matter and anti-matter dimensions without blowing up, apparently on crossing the dimensional barrier every atom in a person’s body is automatically converted to the opposite state of matter. It was that transition that weakened Red Tornado so much that he couldn’t use his full powers in Qward.

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