Comics review: superman 359, Action 519, DC Comics Presents 33, Warlord 45

Superman 359 coverSuperman #359 – “Today Superman … Tomorrow the World” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts in the far future, with humanity’s descendants getting ready to test their ultimate invention (which looks like a robotic snail). But something goes wrong and the device explodes, leaving nothing behind. In the present (well, 1981), a fighter pilot runs into trouble on a test flight and his jet plunges toward the ground. The pilot sees a town below him, but his base says there is no town at that location. A moment later, the town disappears, so the pilot assumes it waspilot in trouble some kind of mirage and bails out. He’s shocked to see his jet rebound before hitting the ground, like it bounced off an invisible trampoline. The jet explodes and the pilot’s parachute dissolves, sending him plummeting earthward. Superman shows up to save him and decides to come back and investigate when the pilot tells him all the crazy shit that’s been happening. In the future, humanity’s descendants realize their ultimate invention (an omni-kinesis machine) has been catapulted back in time to the 20th century by the explosion that supposedly destroyed it. They freak out, since that kind of technology in the 20th century is like sending a nuke back to caveman days. In the present, we see the phantom town the pilot noticed earlier. The people in the town have some kind of mental powers, which they use to make the town invisible when an alarm goes off. A pilot staggers Superman disguised as pilotinto the invisible town and the people get worried that they might be discovered. The pilot seems to be able to see them, but keels over a moment later, apparently dead. The townspeople drop their invisibility and put the pilot in a coffin capsule, sending him flying into the upper atmosphere by telekinesis (and igniting the coffin by pyrokinesis). Of course, the “pilot” is Superman in disguise, checking out the invisible town close up and using his control over his bodily functions to play dead so the townspeople would get rid of him. He’s surprised to find a town full of espers who aren’t shy about using their powers in lethal ways. But what Supes doesn’t know is that the three town leaders saw through his disguise and played along because they weren’t ready to face him yet. But that soon changes as the trio attack Superman, using their mental powers to change into more powerful forms. The firstSuperman destroys the power source attacker becomes a knight with a high-tech lance and a steed made of energy. Superman takes him down with a super shockwave that brings him back to normal. The other two attack, one as a sci-fi warrior and the other as a Greek god. Superman realizes from the buzzing in his brain that they’re drawing their power from a nearby artifact. Superman lets them blast him a bit so he can pinpoint the power source and destroy it. (Naturally, it’s the omni-kinesis machine from the future, although Superman never learns that.) Destroying the artifact snaps the townspeople back to normal, with no memory of anything that happened … which Superman thinks is for the best.

Action 519 coverAction #519 – “Where the Space-Winds Blow” – Gerry Conway/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with Superman visiting Listening Station-12 in Arizona, a facility that monitors deep space for any physical or electromagnetic anomalies. The director (Mandy Monroe) tells Superman they’ve discovered something, but she wants him to check it out quietly so the military doesn’t get involved and turn it into a big shit show. Mandy’s team has found a big white blob moving toward Earth at a fantastic speed. (she says it’s moving faster than light-speed, but wouldn’t that mean the blob would arrive at Earth before they could see it?) As Superman prepares to head into space, a lightning bolt comes down and hits the radio-telescope dish. But this is no ordinarysmashing the asteroid lightning—it’s freezing cold. Superman finds an artificial asteroid in orbit shooting cold lightning at every radio-telescope dish in the Western Hemisphere. He smashes the asteroid, which contains technology far beyond anything on Earth. When he looks for the mysterious white blob, it’s vanished and he wonders if it could have reached Earth’s solar system and be concealed somewhere. The next day, Clark reviews reports of the lightning strikes, which have activated all the radio dishes so they’re sending signals into space. Back at Station-12, Mandy and her assistant are shocked when a huge white meteorite lands right outside the facility. monster in the canyonMandy’s scientific curiosity overwhelms her common sense and she decides to check it out herself instead of calling in the military. A weird alien dude (A’Abah) emerges from the meteorite, blathering on about how he’s hunting some creature and using Earth’s mineral wealth as bait. Mandy seems fascinated by A’Abah, but I’m not sure if it’s as a scientist or if she’s got the hots for him. In the nearby Grand Canyon, a huge space-lizard chomps the walls of the Canyon, scaring the shit out of some tourists. Clark hears about the disturbance and zooms out to the Canyon, but the space-lizard is stronger than he expected. The lizard goes after Station-12, chomping the radio dish as A’Abah tries to blast it with his weapon. Superman gets the wrong idea, thinking A’Abah is controlling the creature, and swoops down to grab the alien. A’Abah blastsmonster taken care of Superman’s face with some freeze lightning and Mandy picks up A’Abah’s weapon. She asks him what gives him the right to use Earth as bait for the creature and A’Abah says it consumed his world and everything he cared about. Mandy gives A’Abah his weapon (over Superman’s objections) and A’Abah blasts the space-lizard, blowing it to hell. Superman apologizes for misjudging him and A’Abah apologizes for his callous attitude toward Earth. Mandy tells the alien that he isn’t alone anymore and that he can have a new home on Earth if he wants it. I’m pretty sure she’s going to bang him.

DC Presents 33 coverDC Presents #33 – “Man and Supermarvel” – Gerry Conway (plot), Roy Thomas/Rich Buckler/Dick Giordano

This one starts out with Clark giving Jimmy Olsen shit for reading a Captain Marvel comic at work. Jimmy claims it’s for research, but Clark detects an emergency (two elevated trains about to crash head-on) across town and takes off. He changes to Superman … except he’s not wearing Superman’s costume under his street clothes, he’s wearing Captain Marvel’s duds. As he zooms toward the train tracks, Supes discovers that his super vision and hearing aren’t working anymore. Luckily he still has his strength and invulnerability, so he saves the trains from crashing. The passengers are grateful, if rather confused to see Superman wearing a different costume. Supes realizes he has all of Captain Marvel’s powers and wonders if the Big Red Cheese is having the opposite problem. He takes off and we see Mr. Mxyzptlk pop out of thin air, gloating about how he’sCaptain Marvel as Superman pounding thieves switched Superman’s powers with Captain Marvel’s. Mxyzptlk follows Supes, not wanting to miss any of the fun, and we learn that the irascible imp has a partner in his scheme. Superman goes to the Rock of Eternity (which is apparently in Earth’s dimension … or maybe he crossed the dimensional barrier? It’s not really explained) and ends up in New York on Captain Marvel’s Earth … which I believe is later referred to as Earth-S. Superman sees himself—well, Captain Marvel in Superman’s costume—kicking the crap out of some thieves on the river. Captain Marvel notices Superman (he has Superman’s powers, including his super-senses) and they compare notes. Apparently, the last time Billy Batson changed to Captain Marvel, he ended up with Superman’s costume and powers, just as Superman got Cap’s when he tried to change back on Earth-1. Cap asks tentacle monsterSuperman to try saying “Shazam” and it changes Supes back into Clark Kent … but with no super powers. After saving Clark from splattering on the sidewalk, Cap says they should head back to Billy Batson’s place. Clark says Shazam again and gets Cap’s powers (and costume) back, just in time for them to be attacked by some big squid-thing from a garbage can. The Hentai monster is close to strangling them when Superman reminds Cap he has heat vision now. Cap burns the squid’s tentacles and the two of them beat the shit out of it. Superman realizes the only thing that could affect both of them would be magic, and Mxyzptlk pops in to confirm his theory. Mxyzptlk tells Superman he’s trapped on Earth-S, where magic is much more potent; even the Rock of Eternity can’t get him home. Supes and Cap go to Billy’s placeMr. Mind revealed for breakfast; on the way they somehow figure out a way to use “Shazam” to change Cap back into Billy as well as Superman into Clark. Clark guesses it’s just Mxyzptlk’s way of screwing with them and fills him in on the annoying imp, who he describes as mischievous but not murderous. Unfortunately, Mxyzptlk is hanging out with a partner who isn’t quite so reluctant to kill. Yup, Myxzptlk’s partner is Mister Mind, and it sounds like he has some deadly plans for Superman and the Big Red Cheese. We’ll see what those plans are next issue.

Star Hawkins splash“Whatever Will Happen to Star Hawkins?” – Mike Tiefenbacher/Alex Saviuk/Vince Colletta

This takes place in 2092. Star Hawkins and Ilda, his robot companion, are still private eyes and are still having money troubles. Star gets Ilda out of hock for the umpteenth time, but the pawnbroker says it’ll be the last time since Ilda is almost obsolete. Star’s not worried, since they have a new (and rich) client … Stella Sterling and her robot bodyguard, Automan. Stella is the great-great-granddaughter of Automan’s creator and she’s being stalked by kidnappers. Automan is too busy protecting her to hunt them down, so she wants to hire Star. He doesn’t have to look far to find the kidnappers, sincekidnappers invade Star's place they come busting into his office. Ilda gets in the way, but Star and Automan fight off the kidnappers, who take off. Automan finds a ticket stub and he and Ilda trace it a circus, where they find the kidnappers reporting to their boss, the leader of a rebel group. The robots are welded to the floor by automated defenses and Ilda sends a telepathic warning to Star. Star has Stella at his place, figuring she’ll be safe because he’s installed security devices everywhere … everywhere except the floor. The kidnappers dissolve the floor and use some kind of super-adhesive to stick Star and Stella to the wall. But it turns out the kidnappers don’t care about Stella … it’s Automan they’re after. At the circus, Ilda busts herself and Automan free and they head for Star’s place, coming in through the window to set off some of the kidnappers caughtsecurity devices. Star gets Stella to dig her nails into his arm (good practice for later … Rrowr!), bringing tears to his eyes. That frees them from the adhesive, which is an alien substance soluble in salt water. They help the robots catch the kidnappers and it turns out the rebels wanted Automan because he’s made of manganese, a rare substance in 2092. They receive a reward (250, 000, 000 credits!) for catching the rebels and Star quits the detective business to open an academy to teach robots to be detectives. He and Stella seem pretty chummy, and Automan and Ilda are apparently a couple as well; Ilda’s heroism not only kept her from being scrapped, it won robots the right to choose their own life-partners.

Warlord 45 coverWarlord #45 – “Nightmare in Vista-Vision” – Mike Grell/Bob Smith

This one starts with Jennifer Morgan and her rescuer (the weirdo barbarian who carries around a box … and talks to it) making camp near the sea where Jennifer’s boat ran aground. She can’t speak Skartarian and he can’t speak English, but he saves her from a sabre-tooth tiger, so she starts to trust him more. When she mentions she’s the daughter of Travis Morgan, the barbarian has another conversation with the box, saying that Jennifer mentioned “your mortal enemy”; I think I have a pretty good idea who (or what) is in the box. Speaking of Travis Morgan, he, Aton, and Shakira drop by the village of tree-dwarves where heMorgan pounded by cyclops left his original sword. He needs the sword back after getting rid of the cursed blade, Hellfire. A cyclops attacks the village, abducting one of the female dwarves and slapping Morgan down when he tries to intervene. Apparently these abductions are a regular occurrence; the dwarves have no way to fight the cyclopes, so they live with it. Morgan says he and Aton will rescue the missing women and Shakira reluctantly agrees to go along. They cross a bridge made from a fallen tree on the way to the cyclopes’ lair and Morgan gets an idea. He tells Aton to wait by the tree bridge and he and Shakira sneak up on the Cyclopes’ cave. Shakira frees the caged dwarves tree bridge downwhile Morgan keeps the Cyclopes off-balance. They chase him and he herds the others over the tree bridge and tells Aton to cut it free. The tree drops into the gorge and Morgan barely leaps to safety. One of the Cyclopes has the same idea and grabs the side of the gorge. Morgan and the others topple a huge boulder onto the Cyclops, sending it crashing into the gorge. Aton then asks the obvious question: why didn’t Morgan just use his Automag pistol to shoot out the Cyclopes’ eyes, making them much easier to escape. Morgan confesses that he never even thought of it; I guess he’s no Odysseus.

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