Comics Reviews: Superman 334, Action 494, DC Comics Presents 8

Superman 334 coverSuperman #334 – “The Man Who Stole Superman’s Eyes” – Martin Pasko/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one opens with Superman searching for Lana Lang, who’s apparently run off half-cocked again and gotten herself in trouble. We see Lana in an abandoned subway station, being held by a bunch of costumed weirdos calling themselves Skeleton. They’re the remnants of SKULL, the gang of high-tech thieves that Superman put away back in issue 325. Superman told Lana about the dregs of SKULL regrouping as Skeleton and she tried to investigate, but got caught. They think Superman sent her to spy on them and they knock her out just as she yells for help. Thinking Superman’s super-hearing might bring him to the rescue, the Skeleton members decide to take off, but not before their leader does something to Lana’s watch.subway fight Superman is still scouring the city looking for Lana; he’s pissed off because he’s been quietly observing Skeleton for weeks, waiting for them to make a move, but Lana’s blundering may have tipped them off so they go underground again. He spots Lana in the empty subway station and busts in. The Skeleton gang scatters, the leader landing on the third rail and electrocuting himself. Superman bags the others, then realizes the leader didn’t die; the third rail had teleportation circuitry hidden inside it, so he actually escaped. Superman gives Lana shit, saying he trusted her with info about Skeleton so she could prepare a story, not go after them herself. Later at Morgan Edge’s penthouse, Superman shows up at a meeting of WGBS personnel and says he’s going to give them an exclusive. He mentions an Egyptian treasure exhibit that may be vulnerable to thieves; he’s come up with a burglar-proof container for the exhibit and he’s going to test it in the forest the next day. He says Steve meetingLombard can do the broadcast and Oscar Asherman (being the scientific correspondent for WGBS) should be on hand too. Lois and Lana are pissed off about being left out, especially when he says it’s to protect them, but Superman is adamant. The following afternoon, Steve and Oscar meet Superman out in the woods and he shows them his fancy security measures … a glass case shaped like a pyramid. He says the pyramid has a heat device attached that’s made of some extra-terrestrial metal; when Superman heats the device with his heat vision, it stays hot (and transfers the heat to the pyramid, making it too hot to touch), and if anyone tries to cool it off an alarm will sound. Seems overly complicated to me, but Superman’s the expert. We see Lana climbing out of the trunk of Steve’s car … yeah, she wasn’t gonna stay away. Superman heats the device, but the test pyramid explodes, but not from the heat; a flying saucer showed up out of nowhere and blasted the pyramid. Supes flies up to confront the saucer, but a freaky-looking guy called Opticus emerges and uses his powers to make Superman do the oldflying saucer “stop hitting yourself” gag. Opticus then says he wants Superman’s vision, so he steals Superman’s eyes! Yup, he pulls the eyes right out of Superman’s head. After trying Supes’ heat vision on some trees, Opticus flies off. Supes doesn’t want anyone to see the gaping holes in his head, so he ties his cape around his eyes. Lana is freaking, but Superman is more worried about the museum exhibit the next day; he’s supposed to activate the security device with his heat vision, but he can’t do it now. Plus, if criminals found out he was blind, they’d have a field day. Oscar suggests getting Supergirl to activate the device, but Superman says she’s off in space somewhere. We see the Skeleton gang listening to everything through the bug they planted in Lana’s watch. Superman decides—since nobody can see his heat vision anyway—to just pretend to activate the security device and that’ll keep thieves away. pyramidNaturally, the eavesdropping Skeleton gang figures this is a perfect opportunity. If you’re thinking this is all a bit too weird, you’re not alone; Lana is suspicious of how well Superman took his blindness and how little he cared about Opticus’s escape. The next day, Superman pretends to activate the heat device, while the Skeleton gang waits nearby; they’re not fooled by Superman’s show and get ready to make their move. Nearby, Lana is grabbed by a couple more members of the gang, who are going to teach her not to poke her nose into their business. They aren’t worried about Superman since they think he’s blind, but we soon learn Supes can see just fine. He debates whether to save Lana or stop the robbery, and naturally he picks Lana. Out I the country, he pounds the thugs just as they’re about to waste Lana. They (and she) are amazed that Superman can see and realize he was bullshitting about being blind. The Skeleton guys gloat about the rest of their gang knocking over the museumsaving Lana and Superman and Lana zip back to town. Turns out they’re too late; the Skeleton gang has already been captured by … Opticus! And Opticus is really Lois in disguise, which blows Lana away. Superman and Lois explain that they used parts from various Superman robots (and a Legion flight ring) to give Lois “super-powers”, and fake contacts to make it look like Superman’s eyes were gone. He says he spotted the bug in Lana’s watch right away (which is why he didn’t go after the Skeleton leader in the subway) and staged the whole “Opticus eye-stealing” thing so the crooks would overhear and he could catch them. Lana’s pissed off that he used her and kept her in the dark, but he points out that he couldn’t trust her, since every time he did she fucked up. He says things wouldn’t have worked out for them because love isn’t enough in a relationship, there has to be trust as well and Lois is the only one he could trust completely. Lana finally gets the message and says she won’t be any more trouble … then hints she might leave Metropolis. We’ll see what happens with that next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • If you’re wondering why nobody is suspicious about Clark Kent not being at the WGBS meeting, he’s taking an enforced “working vacation” at the Daily Planet for a week.
  • The Egyptian treasures are said to belong to Hetepkheti, who has no real life counterpart as far as I know. But on Earth-2, Hetepkheti’s mummy fought Dr. Fate, so I guess this is the Earth-1 version of that Pharaoh.

Action 494 coverAction #494 – “The Secret of the Super-S” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with Clark Kent making his long-awaited return to the Daily Planet. Don’t get too excited; as I mentioned above, this is just a temporary thing, a “working vacation” for a week while Clark takes time off from WGBS. Clark is surprised by some of the high-tech stuff the Planet has now, but before he can have too much fun, Perry White gets a strange package in the mail. It’s a drawing of an “S” with a letter that says this particular style of “S” was almost Superman’s chest logo instead of the more famous one he wears now. Whoever sent the letter says they know lots of other Superman secrets and will keep sending them to the Planet. Neither Lois nor Jimmy have ever heard of the “alternate S”, and they know Superman better than anyone, so they think it might be a hoax. But Perry points out the package was sent from Smallvile, Superboy’s old stomping grounds, and suggests Clark go check things out sincerockslide he’s from Smallville. Lois immediately decides to tag along. On the train to Smallville (remember when train travel was the cheaper alternative?), Superman clears a rockslide from the tracks, making sure nobody sees him so Lois won’t get suspicious. Clark says his old friend Chief Parker is going to meet them at the station, but he never shows up. Parker has been looking after Clark’s parents’ house since they died. We see Chief Parker at the Kent house being attacked by a ghost dressed like a Revolutionary War Minuteman. Parker keels over just as Clark and Lois come in. He’s not dead, but his heart is racing and he’s kinda freaked out. Parker says he first saw the ghost a few weeks ago and acquired a bunch of recording equipment used by ghost hunters to document it. He says the ghost has never attacked him before and Clark says he never saw a ghost in all the time he lived there. Parker and Lois whip up some supper as Clark checks out his ghost soldierold hiding spots in the basement. Of course, he didn’t hide booze or porno mags like normal teenagers; he stashed a bunch of mementos from his Superboy career. Clark notices he overlooked one hiding place when he cleaned the house out, and it contains a bunch of alien crap, plus the alternate “S” logo that was sent to Perry. Clark recalls how his mother made two logos for him and he chose the second one. Lois interrupts him, though she doesn’t see his secret stash. That night, Lois sleeps in the master bedroom, Chief Parker sits in the living room waiting to photograph a ghost, and Clark is in his old room … at least, he’s supposed to be. But nostalgia calls and he goes on patrol as Superman around Smallville like in the old days. He catches a motorcycle gang tagging stores downtown and rearranges their bikes into a pushcart so they can scrub all the graffiti off the walls. He notices one of the gang painted the infamous “S” on a wall and asks where he got the idea. The goon says he was just walking along the 300-block of Maple Street the other day and the “S” design just popped into his head. I don’t need tomotorcycle punks tell you whose house is on Maple Street, do I? Superman’s super-hearing picks up Lois screaming and he zips home. Lois is freaking out because the ghost of a 4-star Army General is pointing a gun at her. Chief Parker and Clark bust in, but the ghost is gone, and neither of them heard or saw anything. Apparently Lois was the only one who could see or hear this particular ghost. Clark notices Chief Parker’s fingerprints are the same one on the envelope Perry got, so Parker is the one who discovered Clark’s stash and sent the “S”. But Clark knows even if Chief Parker discovered his secret, he’d never try to expose him. Clark figures there’s some kind of parapsychic force in the house (hence the ghosts) that compelled Parker to sketch the “S” and send it, just as it compelled the punk to spray paint the “S” on the wall downtown. Clark starts feeling dizzy all of a sudden and heads out for some air. He changes to Superman, Dwalu attackwondering what could be affecting him so strongly. Chief Parker and Lois talk about the ghosts and Parker speculates that they may have seen the same ghost, but it manifested differently because of their own conditioning. Parker is a Revolutionary  War buff, so he saw a Minuteman; Lois had an uncle who was a WW II General, so that’s what she saw. Parker figures if the ghost manifests for Clark, it’ll be as the strongest warrior-type image buried in Clark’s subconscious. Outside Smallville, Superman is standing under a waterfall for refreshment and starting to feel better, when he’s attacked by a Dwalu, an extinct Kryptonian warrior that’s basically unbeatable in combat. Superman thinks he’s imagining things, but realizes his in deep shit when the Dwalu steps out from behind the waterfall.

Noticeable Things:

  • The rockslide that the train almost runs into is said to be in the mountains west of Metropolis, but I’m not sure where that would be. There aren’t any mountains in Kansas (where Smallville is located) as far as I know. Metropolis is on the East Coast, so I guess the mountains could be in one of the Eastern states, like New York or Pennsylvania … maybe even Indiana or West Virginia, depending on whether there’s a direct line from Metropolis to Kansas.
  • I’m not sure why the Dwalu seems to be solid if it’s just another mental manifestation; Lois and Parker’s ghosts were belligerent but intangible. Maybe because Superman’s mind is stronger, his illusion is stronger too?

DC Presents 8 coverDC Comics Presents #8 – “The Sixty Deaths of Solomon Grundy” – Steve Englehart/Murphy Anderson

This one starts with Swamp Thing reading a newspaper. Yeah, you heard me. We get a brief recap of Swampy’s origin (failed science experiment turned him into a swamp creature) and learn he’s been trying to reverse his condition. When he reads about Solomon Grundy being spawned in the Metropolis sewers (in Superman 319-322) he hopes something in the sewer might lead to a cure for his own condition. But when Swampy gets to the sewers of Metropolis, he’s startled to find another Solomon Grundy has spawned. Before he can approach Grundy to study him, Superman shows up and tries to apprehend the monster, but Swampy needs to study Grundy, so he jumps into the fight. Superman hasn’t met Swampy before, but has heard he’s trustworthy from Batman, so he tries to concentrate on Grundy. But Swampy helpsdouble teamed Grundy and Superman gets pounded, after ripping one of Swampy’s arms off. Grundy leaves with Swampy, trusting him because he too is “different, like Grundy”.  Swampy takes Grundy to a hidden lab (in the sewers!) and starts working on a formula. Swampy’s arm is already growing back, but when he tries to get a tissue sample, Grundy threatens to rip him apart. Grundy stops, not wanting to hurt someone he considers a friend, and Swampy gets the sample he needs. But in the shadows nearby, we see another Solomon Grundy watching them. At STAR Labs, Superman calls Batman to tell him what happened and Batman reiterates that he trusts Swamp Thing, so Superman says he’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He gives Dr. Jenet Klyburn a sample from the sewer and asks her to figure out why Grundys keep spawning down there. Lois shows up, but before things can get amorous, a STAR lab tech warns Superman that Solomon Grundy is approaching the lab. Supes flies out to fight the Grundy downmonster and manages to knock him out. In the sewer lab, Swamp Thing is disappointed to find out that Grundy is useless to him, since Grundy technically isn’t even alive. A dude walks by on the street with a news report playing on his radio about Superman defeating the Grundy at STAR Labs and burying it in the Everglades. The Grundy with Swamp Thing gets pissed off and heads for the surface, knocking Swampy out of the way. He’s not the only one, as Grundys pop out of every manhole downtown. Conveniently, Dr. Klyburn has just finished the antidote to the Swamp Blight, saying it will wipe out all the pseudo-life in the sewers. Swampy, who was headed to STAR Labs to find Superman, overhears and freaks out. He knows the Grundys aren’t alive, but doesn’t think they deserve to be eradicated. More likely he’s thinking of his own quasi-living state; he tries to call out to Superman, but Swampy has trouble speaking and Supes flies off with the antidote, leaving Swampy to lament his fate. Swampy's near missSuperman flies around and administers the antidote to each Grundy individually, instead of just dumping it into the sewers, because he doesn’t want to hurt Swamp Thing. So I guess Batman convinced him.

Noticeable Things:

  • This is an Earth-1 version of Solomon Grundy (I think the Earth-2 version is marooned on the Moon at this point), who’s almost as strong as Superman. The Grundys are spawning in the sewers because of the Parasite’s machinations back in Superman 319.
  • I can see Superman not hearing Swamp Thing when he yelled at the end, but Lois and Dr. Klyburn were standing right there; they should’ve heard (or seen) Swampy, but in the next panel, they’re nowhere to be seen.
  • Those manholes downtown are really close together.manholes every five feet

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