Comics Reviews: Superman 337, Action 497, DC Comics Presents 11

Superman 337 coverSuperman #337 – “Too Many Crooks” – Len Wein/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with some people watching Superman fly by; not an unusual occurrence in Metropolis, but this time Superman is on fire. It turns out he just came from putting out an oil-rig fire and was covered in oil, so he used the friction from his flight to burn it off. He goes to the Daily Planet, where he changes to Clark Kent and runs into Jimmy and Lois, who tell him Morgan Edge expects them all in a meeting to discuss the falling circulation of the newspaper. Before they make it to the meeting, they hear a ruckus outside and see Terra-Man attacking a plane. Clark disappears and quickly reappears as Superman so he can tackle the villain. Terra-Man hits Supes with a special tumbleweed that envelops him and threatens to tumbletumbleweed attack him right out of town. Superman increases the friction of the tumbling tumbleweed and it burns up. He looks for Terra-Man, but the cowboy crook has vanished. Superman is hit by a green Kryptonite ray that knocks him on his ass. He lands on top of a skating rink and finds his new attacker is Metallo, the man with the Kryptonite heart. Supes is surprised and since the green K is weakening him, Metallo starts pounding him. Superman manages to shatter the ice with a super-shout and they both tumble down into a control room, but Metallo disappears just like Terra-Man did earlier. Superman realizes he has to get back for the meeting at the Daily Planet, but hears the sounds of destruction not far away. He finds Toyman wrecking buildings in a giant spiked top. Toyman shoots some spikes at him and Supes tries to grab the top, but it’s spinning too fast for him to stop it. He quickly builds a metal ramp top spinand sends the top spinning off into the distance. Before he can chase it down, the contraption disappears, along with Toyman. Superman wonders why so many villains are attacking and vanishing, but he can’t ponder it too much as he has to get back for the meeting. Clark walks in just as the meeting ends and Morgan Edge gives him shit. Clark gets pissed off and threatens to quit and go to work for the competition and Edge calms down. Jimmy and Lois are impressed that Clark stood up for himself, but Perry warns Clark not to piss Edge off too much. Clark is mad at himself for losing his temper and says to himself, “This just isn’t working out like I thought!” Hmmm, what could he mean by that? No time to dwell on it as the sprinklers suddenly go off all over the building. Clark figures it’s the master computer malfunctioning and gets confirmation as the elevator he’s in plummets to the sub-basement. Clark changesBrainiac attacks to Superman and finds Brainiac (who else?) in the sub-basement. Brainiac encases Supes in an indestructible force field that begins squeezing the life out of him. Superman flies into space and uses the pressure change to break out of the force field. He encounters a cubic asteroid speeding toward Earth and shatters it. Who would send something so stupid? Bizarro of course! Bizarro slams Superman back to Earth and the Man of Steel gets pissed off. He’s ready to wail on Bizarro, but the other villains show up and say they’re going to kill him. They all start laughing at him and he loses his shit, saying he’s not really Superman and he doesn’t want to do this any more. “Bizarro” takes off his mask and we see he’s actually Superman—the real Superman. So who’s this other guy? Turns out he’s a dude from Kandor named Don-El who was the head of the Superman Don-El freakingEmergency Squad, which means he observed Superman’s every move on Earth. He ended up losing his own personality and thinking he really was Superman, so the Kandorians called the real Man of Steel. Supes allowed Don-El to take his place (and impersonated all the villains using super-speed costume changes) to see that being Superman wasn’t all parades and sex with Lois. Superman’s ploy shocked Don-El back to normalcy and Supes takes him to Kandor for treatment. Superman swears that he’s going to enlarge Kandor; I know, we’ve heard him say that a million times before … but this time, he means it and we’ll see how he finally manages it next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • If you’re wondering why Clark is at the Daily Planet instead of WGBS news, he took a “vacation” from WGBS and went back to the Planet. It was originally supposed to be short-term, but he seems to be sticking around. Maybe the writers/editors thought people wanted to see Clark back at the Planet.
  • The plane that Terra-Man attacks seems to be flying pretty low, and right in the middle of the city.
  • I’ve never seen a skating rink that has the control room under the ice sheet like that; seems dangerous to me.

Action 497 coverAction #497 – “Superman’s Command Performance” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts in a small town in Kansas (no, it’s not Smallville) where a bunch of kids are having a meeting in a crappy-looking clubhouse. The kids (Jerry, Arthur, and Mike) have their own Superman Club, where they seem to take turns dreaming up different scenarios for Superman which Arthur then draws as an amateur comic book. Jerry comes up with a good one: a meteorite is hurtling toward Metropolis and Superman has to stop it. Since a stunt like that is pretty easy for the Man of Steel, Mike says Arthur will have to come up with a twist to make it really cool. The kids adjourn their meeting and we see they have an empty seat reserved for Superman,  in case he ever shows up like Elijah at a Seder. In Metropolis, Lana is giving a speech at a broadcasters’ conference when it gets really dark outside. Clark disappears to change tometeorite smashed Superman, who soon sees the local blackout is caused by a huge meteorite plunging toward the city. He flies up to intercept it, planning on steering it out into space since smashing it would rain debris all over Metropolis. But as he nears the meteorite, he feels weak and realizes the core must consist of Kryptonite … enough to kill him. He bounces off the meteorite and zips down to grab the spire from a skyscraper. He uses the spire to strike the meteorite at a safe distance and manages to cleave it precisely into five pieces, like a diamond cutter. He must be a hell of a billiards player, because all five pieces fall harmlessly into the oceans. Superman finds himself covered in phosphorescent mineral dust which obviously came from the meteorite. But when he heads home, we see the same glowing dust in his bed and he recalls a weird dream he had the night before of him out in space, using a long pole to push around an asteroid monster capturewith a Kryptonite core. If the dream was real, Superman put the asteroid on a collision course with Earth. He wonders if some villain has found a way to control him while he’s asleep. Back in Kansas, the three kids have another meeting and Jerry comes in to tell them the news about Superman stopping the meteorite with the building spire. Arthur shows them his drawing of the exact scene and they realize there’s no way Arthur could’ve known what happened, since he drew the scene an hour ago and the news just carried the meteorite story minutes ago. They wonder if they somehow have the power to command Superman; Jerry thinks that’s bullshit and says if he could command Superman, he’d get him to capture the famed Loch Trevor Monster. In Metropolis, Clark’s co-workers are planning a surprise birthday party for him, but just as he’s about to walk in he’s seized by an irresistible compulsion and zips off to Scotland to capture the Loch Trevor Monster. The next day, the kids in Kansas are freaking out, thinking they can wish for Superman to do whatever they want. Mike still isn’t sure, so he wishes for Superman to attend their meeting. In Metropolis, Superman is bagging aalien club member couple of crooks when he’s seized by another compulsion, this time to head west. He manages to drop the crooks in a convenient police helicopter (otherwise they’d have suffocated, since the compulsion is making him fly pretty damn fast) and he ends up at the kids’ clubhouse in Kansas, surprising the shit out of them. They invite him to have a seat, but he reveals there’s a weird-looking alien already sitting in his chair. The alien’s name is Ryjel and he’s a telepath from another dimension. Ryjel’s telepathic powers were reduced in this dimension, so he couldn’t contact Superman directly; thus he used his powers to amplify the kids’ wishes, hoping one of them would eventually wish for Supes to show up. Ryjel wanted Superman to check out Mike with his x-ray vision; Mike is in a wheelchair, but Superman says with his help a neurosurgeon can remove the splinter of glass in Mike’s spine so he can walk again. The kids invite Ryjel to join their club permanently and since he’s a nerd with no friends in his own dimension, he agrees.

Noticeable Things:

  • In JLA: Year One, the team had a special seat reserved for Superman at the conference table, in case he ever decided to join them. Of course, after Infinite Crisis Superman was retconned back in as a founding member.
  • Those five meteorite pieces were still pretty big; wouldn’t those landing in the oceans cause tidal waves?
  • Apparently the Loch Ness Monster exists in the DCU, as Superman makes reference to it. The Loch Trevor Monster is a survivor of alien experiments; Superman knew about its existence, but let it be as long as it wasn’t causing trouble.
  • All through the issue, the art shows Mike seated at the table, but we don’t see the wheelchair until Superman’s big reveal.

DC Presents 11 coverDC Comics Presents #11 – “Murder By Starlight” – Cary Bates/Joe Staton/Frank Chiaramonte

You’ll remember last issue Superman received an award in Paris which was booby-trapped to explode. The blast sent him back in time where he hung out with Sgt. Rock and Easy Company. He returns to the present, only moments after the blast and the startled crowd is grateful to see he’s safe and sound. The French president says he has no idea who could’ve sabotaged the award and Superman decides to scan the surrounding air for traces of the blast. He remembers seeing Carter (Hawkman) Hall in the crowd just before received the booby-trapped trophy, and Hawkman suddenly swoops down to attack him now. Superman is surprised, especially since Hawkman seems way stronger than usual, but he fights back and knocks Hawkman halfway to England. He realizes Hawkman rolled with his punch and flew away, but before he can follow, a flock of birds descends on the crowds below. Superman uses his super-breath toHawkman attacks Superman blow the birds away from the crowds, but Hawkman is long gone. Back in Metropolis, Perry, Lois, and Jimmy are discussing the Superman/Hawkman fight, wondering what it was all about, when a dude named Marc Teichman comes in. Lois says he won some contest the Daily Planet ran and he gets to spend half-a-day hanging out with Superman. Supes shows up and takes Marc out for their “date”; Marc has a camera so he can document everything and make his friends seethe with jealousy. We get a quick flashback of Superman talking to Hawkgirl the night before; she hadn’t seen Hawkman for over two days and had no idea why he went nuts and attacked Superman. Supes takes Marc to a wrecking yard were he smashes up some old cars as Marc watches and takes pictures. Elsewhere, we see Hawkman returning to an observatory where some asshole is waiting for him. The guy crows about Hawkman attacking Rayles railsSuperman and says the “Polaris Power” is working and Superman only has hours to live. Hawkman is strangely silent. In Metropolis, Superman keeps showing off for Marc, who says he’d like to go north to get some aurora borealis shots. Back at the observatory, we get an origin for the asshole guy (Frank Rayles): his brother was rich and loved astronomy, so he built the observatory; Frank was a jailbird, but his brother left him everything when he died; Frank found his brother had been collecting star energy from Polaris, reasoning it would increase Hawkman’s strength the same way the yellow sun rays increase Superman’s; but Frank hates Hawkman for sending him to prison, so when he found out the Polaris rays had adverse effects on Hawkman, he saw a chance for revenge. The rays have a mental effect on Hawkman, so that when he’s charged with Polaris Power anyone who wears a special helmet can mentally dominate him; also the Polaris energy builds up to lethal levels and can be setexplosive punch off by the right impact—like punching the indestructible Superman. Frank has Hawkman charged almost to the max, so he’s ready to send him to fight Supes and blow both of them to hell. In Metropolis, Marc is developing his photos and notices (because he shot them at high speed) a weird bunch of energy spots around Superman’s body. He shows Clark Kent the photos and notices a blue jay outside the window that looks exhausted. He brings it in and it says something in bird-talk that Clark apparently understands. (In previous scenes with Superman and Marc, the blue jay can be seen nearby.) Hours later, Superman and Hawkman clash in the sky over Metropolis and when Hawkman punches the Man of Steel, there’s a huge explosion and they both disappear. Frank Rayles is gloating at his observatory when Superman and Rayles deckedHawkman show up and Hawkman decks him. Later they explain everything to Marc: Frank lured Hawkman to the observatory by telling him about the Polaris energy; right before Hawkman’s mind was taken over he told a nearby blue jay to warn Superman; Supes knows enough bird-language to get what the jay was saying, so they faked the explosion to make Frank think his plan had succeeded, which would make him take off the mental domination helmet. Apparently, the Polaris Power in Hawkman will seep out harmlessly over a few days. As far as I know, the whole Polaris Power thing was never mentioned again, which is probably for the best.

Noticeable Things:

  • Staton’s Lois looks weird here; she looks like she’s wearing a Jackie Kennedy wig … or maybe Betty Brant.Lois Brant
  • Marc Teichman is a real person from Staten Island; he won the contest to come up with the name for the DC Presents letters page and as a reward, he got to appear as a character in this issue. Knowing DC, they probably retained ownership of his likeness and sued him every time he appeared in a photo somewhere.Marc Teichman
  • Hawkman says they faked the explosion to get Frank to remove the domination helmet, but the first time we see Frank and Hawkman together, he’s not wearing the helmet.

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