Comics Reviews: Superman 356, Action 516, DC Comics Presents 30, Warlord 42

Superman 356 coverSuperman #356 – “Battle of the Super-Hyper Powers” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with Clark, Lana, and Steve Lombard skiing at Mammoth Mountain. Lana has dragged Clark along so she won’t be stuck with Steve, but Clark has to pretend he hates skiing (and any other form of physical activity) to maintain his nerdish persona. Steve “accidentally” pushes Clark down a slope and goes after him, but a low-flying jet causes an avalanche that threatens to bury both men. Clark gives Steve a super-breath push to get him out of danger (and out of sight) and changes to Superman to deal with the avalanche. Someone else flies in at super-speed and makes Lana disappear. Clark shows up and pretends to have a bad cold from almost being buried in the avalanche, whileLana tells Vartox's story Steve frets about what happened to Lana. Turns out she was whisked away for some lovin’ by her ex, Vartox, who returns her. Steve tries to get tough and Vartox freezes him stiff, which Lana finds funny. Vartox says goodbye to Lana and leaves. Lana fills Clark in on what Vartox has been doing since he last visited Earth. Vartox found a planet (Tynola) that needed a champion and he’s been using his hyper-powers to help them ever since. He just came back to say a last goodbye to Lana, but while he dropped her off, he also gave Clark a coded hyper-beam message. Clark leaves a note saying he went back to Metropolis and changes to Superman to go find Vartox. Vartox’s secret message hinted Superman fights Vartoxthat the Tynolans were manufacturing the menaces he defeated as their champion, and that they were watching his every move. So Superman goes to Tynola and Vartox intercepts him, talking like Superman is a known space criminal. They fight, using all their strength since they know the Tynolans are watching. The ruse works and when Vartox knocks Superman out, the Man of Steel is taken into custody. Vartox figures the two of them can uncover the Tynolans’ scheme; unfortunately, we get a glimpse of that scheme, and it ain’t pretty. The Tynolans plan to sacrifice Superman to a gigantic C’thulhu-esque space monster called Moxumbra. We’ll see if Superman gets eaten next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • If you’re wondering what happened to Steve, he thawed out just fine, and tried to put the moves on Lana, but being frozen left him with a terrible cold, so Lana was probably safe.
  • There’s a World of Krypton back-up that I’m not bothering to review since it’s not within my usual interests (plus, it was pretty boring).

Action 516 coverAction #516 – “Time and Time Again” – Marv Wolfman/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

Last issue, we saw a weird alternate history Earth, where Vandal Savage had ruled as absolute dictator for centuries. An underground rebel movement led by Jimmy Olsen was fighting against Savage, trying to bring democracy to the world. Lois Lane was part of the rebellion, but worked undercover as Savage’s security chief and managed to sway her boyfriend Superman (who’s Savage’s super-powered champion) to the rebel cause. Savage disintegrated Lois in retaliation and fled into the past. Superman vowed to track him down and avenge his lost love. Superman gets a tracking device from Savage’s head scientist (Luthor) and zips back into the past. Jimmy wants to accompany him, but Superman says this is something he has to do alone. But Luthor has plans of his own, as usual. In 1944 Germany, Savage shows up to helpfirst time bomb goes off in Normandy Hitler during D-Day. He sends a tidal wave to wipe out the attacking Allied ships, but Superman shows up and tries to turn the tidal wave back. That seems to be what Savage wanted; Superman’s use of his powers sets off an explosion (which Savage calls a “time bomb”). Savage blows Hitler away and heads back in time again, saying Germany will now win the War. Luthor watches from the present and is caught by Jimmy, who threatens to put him in his own mind-reading chair if he doesn’t talk. Luthor tells Jimmy a fantastic story … that in spite of them remembering Savage ruling the world for years, he’s really only been in charge for seven days! Luthor recounts Savage’s origin: a caveman empowered with immortality by a meteorite lived numerous lives through the centuries on Earth-2, but an Egyptian seer told him he’d one day meet defeat at the hands of the Justice Society. The seer told savage about Earth-1, where he could manipulate the time-stream Savage's originto make himself uncontested ruler. Savage planted “time bombs” at different periods in the past, but the bombs needed vast power to trigger them … power that didn’t exist until Superman came along. Savage’s latest time bomb was planted just days ago, and was triggered when Superman stopped the three volcanoes from erupting a couple issues ago. That gave Savage the power to remake the world, but he needed to remake the past too, otherwise real history would catch up and overwrite his new history. Savage maneuvered to cause Lois’s death, knowing it would make Superman come after him. Now Savage is leading Supes through time to set off the other bombs, permanently rewriting history the way Savage wants it. Luthor says he was planning on stopping Savage himself and gives Jimmy a time travel device so he can go back in time to warn Superman. But after Jimmy leaves, wechanges in history learn that Luthor has altered Savage’s final bomb, so it’ll kill Savage, Superman, and Jimmy and rewrite history so Luthor is master of the world. Jimmy finds Superman and tells him everything and they keep going back in time after Savage. Superman fights dragons attacking Columbus’s ships, but another time bomb goes off, delaying the discovery of the New World. Superman and Jimmy follow Savage through numerous time periods but can’t prevent him from changing history: the burning of Rome in Nero’s time, Wu Ti’s empire, Zoser’s pyramid, Alexander the Great’s entire life … all are wiped out by Savage and his time bombs (using Superman as a catalyst). Savage’s Savage's plan thwartedlast (or first) stop is the Mesozoic Age. The meteorite that first gave him his powers is heading straight fr him and he expects Superman to stop it, but Supes just lets it hit Savage. Since the last time bomb isn’t detonated, Savage’s plan doesn’t work and Savage disintegrates. Superman says since Savage was already immortal, he was converted to pure energy and will stay that way forever. Okay. Time returns to normal immediately and superman and Jimmy appear in modern Metropolis just in time to save Lois, who’s falling off a building as usual.

Noticeable Things:

  • It shows the meteorite that originally gave Savage his powers in the Mesozoic, but caveman weren’t around in the Dinosaur Age; maybe it’s a comet, not a meteorite, and returned to Earth more than once?
  • Luthor isn’t shown at the end, but I assume not detonating the last time bomb foiled Luthor’s plan as well as Savage’s.

Atom tackles ChronosAtom – “The Clueless Capers of Chronos” – Bob Rozakis/Alex Saviuk/Vince Colletta

This one starts with Chronos robbing a display of rare coins. Chronos figures he’s being clever because stealing coins doesn’t fit his usual time-themed crimes, so nobody will come after him. But Atom is waiting in the coin museum and tackles Chronos. Unfortunately, Atom gets overconfident too and ends up zapped by Chronos’s force field. The Tiny Titan wakes up in a blender full of syrup (!) as Chronos wonders how Atom figured out his robbery targets without any time-related clues. Chronos uses Atom’s size-changing belt to impersonate him and go to police headquarters, where he learns the cops have no idea who’s behind the coin robberies. Chronos heads back to his hideout, but it turns out it was actually Atom pretending to be the police detective. Atom doesn’t tell the real detective what he’s figured out about the robberies, but he gets the detective to call Chronos so Atom can zip through the phone and hide while Chronos thinks he’s home free. ChronosAtom pounds Chronos was surprised to find Atom gone when he returned to his hideout, but proceeds to reveal the hiding place for his stolen coins: he’s built a device that shifts things to “another time dimension”, so even if the cops search his room, they won’t find the loot or even his super-villain costume. As he strips, Atom attacks and pounds him, recovering the stolen coins. Later, Ray Palmer tells his wife Jean how he figured out Chronos was behind the robberies: in his eagerness not to leave any time-themed clues, Chronos went too far the other way. He stole Scandinavian coins, but left behind all the Krona and Kronen (since that sounds too much like Chronos) and when he stole French and Spanish coins, he left behind the centimes and centimos (since they contain the word “time” … yeah, nobody ever said Chronos was a genius).

DC Presents 30 coverDC Comics Presents #30 – “A Dream of Demons” – Gerry Conway/Curt Swan/Vince Colletta

This one starts with Black Canary parachuting into the Arctic and almost getting eaten by a polar bear. Superman saves her and takes her to his Fortress, which was her intended destination. Canary tells Superman she’s been having dreams about her dead husband, Larry Lance. Lance died fighting Aquarius on Earth-2 and Superman brought Black Canary to Earth-1 to help her get over him … which she has done, for the most part. But now she’s having dreams where Larry keeps trying to warn her of something and she wonders if Larry might actually still be alive in some other dimension, a “dream dimension” of some kind. Superman obviously thinks she’s reaching, but says he’ll help. If the words “Dream Dimension” automatically made you think of Dr. Destiny, well, you’re smarter than Supes or Canary. We see Destiny in Arkham Asylum, where he’s beenSuperman fights a roc meditating to make contact with the Dream Dimension. Destiny figures the Dream continuum contains vast energy—enough to destroy the entire state if it were suddenly unleashed—and he’ll soon be able to manipulate the energy to make his own dreams come true. At the Fortress, Superman has detected Destiny’s Dream continuum and postulates that Black Canary is attuned to it because of her Canary Cry. He whips up a portal so they can enter the Dream continuum, which looks somewhat Ditko-esque. It’s full of mythological creatures, like rocs, minotaurs, cyclopes, centaurs, unicorns, and griffins. Superman and Black Canary head for a castle floating in the air and Superman worries that they’ll end up trapped in that dimension; it seems the Fortress can only power his portal for ten minutes before it shuts down, but he hasn’t bothered to mention that to Black Canary destroys the Dream continuumBlack Canary. In the castle, they find Larry, who warns Canary again, but disappears when she tries to touch him. Destiny shows up and uses the creatures to grab the two heroes. Superman tells Canary to use her sonic power, since it seems to be in tune with the place. She goes a little nuts, screaming so loud that she wipes out the whole dimension and makes Destiny disappear. Superman gets them out just in time and they find out Destiny is now catatonic, trapped in his own dream world. Canary admits that Larry’s ghost was just her own subconscious trying to warn her about Destiny, but she isn’t too bothered; she figures Larry will always be a part of her, and they’ll be reunited someday.

Atom surprises burglars“Whatever Happened to the Golden Age Atom?” – Bob Rozakis/Alex Saviuk/Vince Colletta

This is the other half of the Earth-1 Atom story in Action 515. In that tale, a cosmic weirdo named Mallo (who’s a bit like Marvel’s Watcher, but much more of a busybody) decided on a whim to reverse the powers of the Earth-1 and Earth-2 Atoms. This story starts with the Earth-2 Atom (Al Pratt) and his wife (Mary) returning home to find a couple of burglars in their house. Al is wearing his costume because Mary is into astrology and told him some crazy shit was going to go down. Atom pounds one of the burglars, but the other one gets away when Mallo’s interference shrinks Atom and sends him flying out to a nearby pond. AtomAtom catches second thief soon figures out he has his Earth-1 counterpart’s powers and returns home. He decides to find the other burglar and shrinks so he can use a model airplane to search the neighbourhood. He finds the burglar and goes after him, mastering the size and weight controls just in time the deck the thief. Then everything goes back to the way it was, which Mary says makes sense, since the stars were misaligned before and are now back to normal. I don’t know how she’d know that in the middle of the day, but whatever. My question is, did Al and Mary take a page from Hank and Jan and get kinky when Al had the shrinking power?

Warlord 42 coverWarlord #42 – “War” – Mike Grell

Last issue, Travis Morgan was finally reunited with his beloved Tara, but he pissed her off by acting like a sexist asshole. He vowed to win her love all over again, but when he and Shakira arrive at Shamballah, the city is under siege. Shakira wonders why humans are constantly at war and Morgan explains that the Therans tried to enslave Shamballah, and when Shamballah had the audacity to fight back, the Therans vowed to eradicate them. Morgan admits that he doesn’t know if his own motives for fighting are to help spread the idea of freedom, or just an atavistic bloodlust. Either way, he can’t abandon Tara when her city is besieged, so he prepares to run the blockade around Shamballah’s walls. Shakira wishes him luck, but refuses to come along on what’s probably a suicide mission. Morgan rides into theMorgan tries to get through the Therans fray with his magic sword and slices his way through the besieging army like a dervish. His horse stumbles, stopping his momentum, and he barely manages to get back on the horse and find safety in the nearby forest, dripping blood from numerous wounds. Morgan’s sword (which can’t be sheathed until it’s tasted blood) wants more slaughter, but he sheathes the sword, calming its influence over him. After yanking an arrow from his shoulder, Morgan passes out. Elsewhere in Skartaris, Morgan’s daughter Jennifer is unconscious on a life raft after her ship ran aground on some rocks. She’s found by the freaky dude we saw last issue, who carries around a box that he talks to constantly, addressing it as “Master”. Morgan wakes up to find Shakira has tended his wounds. She gives him a laser rifle she retrieved from the Atlantean armoury they discovered a couple issues back, and wishes him luck again … this time with a big kiss. She says they’ll probably see each other again some day. Morgan fights through the Therans to the gatesMorgan uses the sword and laser rifle to cut a swathe through the Therans and make it to the gates of Shamballah, where he’s recognized and allowed in. He’s shocked to find out Tara never made it back from Kaambuka, which means she must’ve been captured by the Therans. Sure enough, we see her chained out in a Theran encampment outside the city. We’ll see what happens to her next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • The implication with Shakira’s kiss and refusal to help Morgan get through to see his wife seems to be that Shakira has the hots for him. Does every woman have to get horny for Morgan?

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