Comics Reviews: Superman 363, Action 523, DC Comics Presents 37, Warlord 49

Superman 363 coverSuperman #363 – “The Dying Day of Lois and Lana” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

Last issue, Lois and Lana contracted an alien virus from an artifact dug up by Lana’s father, the same virus that killed Ma and Pa Kent back when Clark Kent was a teenager. Clark hasn’t told Lois and Lana they’re sick, and the virus affects people based on age so they haven’t shown any symptoms yet, but it’s only a matter of time. After finishing his newscast (and getting all mopey around Lana), Clark heads to his Fortress of Solitude to keep looking for a solution. He considers projecting Lois and Lana into the Phantom Zone, where they’ll be held in limbo until he can find a cure. Isn’t the Phantom Zone a hellscape full of criminals? Probably not his best idea. It doesn’t matter, since his oldZone defense enemies (Jax-Ur, Zod, and Faora) sabotage the projector when he fires it up for a test run, just to screw up his plans. He heads back to Metropolis to spend some quality time with Lana, taking her out to dinner as Clark Kent. For once, he doesn’t play the goof, but actually turns on the harm, impressing the hell out of her. When he drops her off, she’s kinda into him … they don’t bang, but Lana probably would’ve gone for it if Clark took a shot. Instead, he changes to Superman and heads to the prison, just in time to stop an escape attempt. He asks Luthor to help him cure the virus, giving him a vial for analysis. Luthor says he could probably find a cure, but doesn’t feel like it. Superman saves LuthorJust to rub salt in the wound, Luthor tosses the vial at the wall, saying if it shatters and he’s infected too, he’ll be forced to find a cure just to save himself. But he knows Superman too well, and the Man of Steel grabs the vial before it can shatter, saving Luthor but possibly dooming Lois and Lana. He heads back to Metropolis and takes Lois out on a date. Making everyone else’s attempts at romance look like crap, he takes Lois back in time to fin-de-siècle Paris, where they have a romantic time … and I’m betting they did end up banging. The next day, neither Lois nor Lana show up for work because Superman has insisted they go with him to the Fortress. As soon as they get there, the virus kicks in and they have chillsSuperman saves his girlfriends and fever. Superman zips forward in time to look for a futuristic cure, but the humans of that time period refuse to give him one, saying it could cause a devastating time paradox. They tell him someone in his era did find a cure and send him back to his own time. As Lois and Lana slip into comas, Superman finally realizes what we’ve all been thinking all along … when his super-immune system neutralized the virus in his body, it would’ve created super-antibodies. By giving Lois and Lana some of his blood, he purges the virus from their bodies and saves them.

Action 523 coverAction #523 – “Steve Lombard’s Double Life” – Gerry Conway/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with a friendly baseball game between WGBS and the Playgate Glamour Girls, who I assume are models of some kind (although Steve Lombard refers to them as cocktail waitresses). Clark misses an easy pop fly, mainly because he was distracted by zooming off to save a falling construction worker as Superman and zooming back before anyone noticed. Steve is one of those guys that treats every game like it’s the World Series, so he gets pissed off at Clark; I think he’s also pissed off that his team is losing 14-2 to a bunch of “girls”. As Steve gets ready to pitch, a space warp opens behind him and a weird tentacle monster jumps out and calls Steve his brother. Clark makes another high-speed switch and shows up as Superman to ask the alien what’s up.Steve's alien brother The grotesque goof spins a tale about Steve being his brother from another planet who was sent to Earth because their parents couldn’t afford to take care of him. Steve was swapped with a stillborn baby in a hospital and raised as a human. The alien demonstrates by changing form to look exactly like Steve. That freaks Steve out and he heads back to the Galaxy Building to get his shit together. The alien tells Superman he’s dying and needs Steve’s help and Supes says he knows a great way to settle this. He brings the alien and Steve’s parents to the Galaxy Building and takes blood samples. But Steve’s blood doesn’t match his parents’ (which shocks them), so it looks like the alien might be telling the truth. While Superman takes the Lombards home, the alien lays his rap Superman tries to grab Steveabout dying on Steve. When Superman gets back, Jimmy tells him Steve went voluntarily with the alien to try and help him. Superman and Jimmy get back to the baseball diamond just in time to see Steve and the alien disappearing through the space warp. Superman can’t grab Steve in time and the warp closes before he can get through. Before Superman can figure out what to do, the warp opens again and Steve comes out … but he’s hardly the same Steve that went in. This one’s a clumsy oaf, not the star athlete the old Steve was. Superman says all Steve’s “nucleic energy” has been drained and plunges into the space warp to investigate. He ends up on the alien homeworld, where a bunch of aliens are competing in a big athletic event. Superman finds the alien (now using Steve’s form), who tells him the whole story about being related to Steve was bullshit. Apparently the aliens’ lives revolve around their competitionsSuperman fights the aliens (without which they’d die of boredom), so they steal athletic ability from other beings to keep from stagnating. Stealing Steve’s ability was just a way of luring Superman to their world so they could jack his super-powers. But Supes suspected a trap, so he’s been vibrating his body’s molecules at a frequency that’ll block any attempt to steal his nucleic energy. He forces the alien to come back to Earth and return the energy he stole from Steve and says they’d better stop their energy hijacking or he’ll pound them all. Steve gets his athleticism back and becomes the same old asshole he always was.

DC Presents 37 coverDC Comics Presents #37 – “The Stars Like Moths” – Roy Thomas/Jim Starlin

This one starts with an archaeologist named Wright trying to get in touch with Carter Hall about a fascinating discovery he’s just made. Carter’s away but his wife Shayera (aka Hawkgirl) goes to help Wright (who’s a little disappointed to be working with a woman, but soon gets over it). Shayera recognizes the writing Wright found as Kryptonese and calls Superman to come look at it. He translates it as a greeting, but says it’s a dialect that’s over a century old. Superman realizes the room they’re in is an antechamber and finds the hidden door leading into the inner sanctum. It turns out to be a lab, but Superman says it’s kind of a strange set-up; the overall feel is over a century old but some of the tech is weirdly advanced, almost like a Jules Verne novel … Kryptonian steampunk, I guess. He plays a holo-projector and is startled toSuperman and Hawkgirl go inside the lab find out the lab belonged to his own great-grandfather (Var-El), who disappeared without a trace from Krypton. Var-El’s recorded diary tells how he came to Earth (by teleportation since Krypton had no space travel back then) to do scientific experiments that were outlawed on Krypton. Var-El believed that all energy in the universe was attracted to other energy and sometimes existed in an X-dimension. Hawkgirl thinks that doesn’t fit with Einstein’s theories, but Superman says Var-El’s theory takes that into account somehow. Var-El built a cosmic iris, a window to look into other dimensions, but his journal ends the day before he tested it. Hawkgirl is attacked by a Kryptonian robot, which Superman destroys and she leaves to tell Professor Wright what they’ve discovered. Superman finds the cosmic Hawkgirl fights vulture creaturesiris and opens it, but gets more than he bargained for. Hawkgirl hears his scream and comes to investigate, finding the cosmic iris isn’t just a window to the X-dimension, it’s a gateway. She’s almost pulled in by the gravity well, but her anti-gravity wings help her resist. She sees that inside the X-dimension is a mass of energy, drawn from countless sources all over the universe and it’s that ball of concentrated energy that’s exerting the gravitic pull. Since the ball contains red sun energy, Superman can’t fight off its effects and was pulled in, as Var-El must’ve been over a hundred years ago. Hawkgirl heads in to find Superman and has to fight off giant vulture creatures. Superman has been weakened by the red sun energy, so he can’tHawkgirl saves Superman fly and can’t fight; he’s reduced to hiding from the vulture creatures among the multitude of space debris and awaiting the inevitable as the asteroid he’s on is pulled inexorably toward the red energy ball. Hawkgirl swoops down and grabs him just in time, flying back out to Earth’s dimension with her metallic wings on fire. She sheds the burnt wings and Superman says he’ll bury the chamber so no one else can stumble on the cosmic gateway. I bet Professor Wright wasn’t too happy about that.

Rip Hunter splash“Whatever Will (or Did) Happen to Rip Hunter Time Master?” – Mike Tiefenbacher/Alex Saviuk/Vince Colletta

This story reminds me a lot of the show “Timeless”. We start with Rip Hunter and his crew (Jeff Smith, Bonnie Baxter, and Corky Baxter) looking for someone who clonked Jeff on the head and stole their back-up time-sphere. Jeff says it was John Charles James, an old rival from their university days. We get a flashback to how Rip and Jeff were constructing their first time-sphere to get a grant from the university, while James pursued the same grant by building a rocket engine. Rip couldn’t find a power source capable of withstanding the heat, until one day he found the perfect power element on a slag heap at the university. Rip andMeeting future humans Jeff won the grant and James went to work for Ferris Aircraft, but was recently fired, so maybe now he’s trying to get revenge by stealing the time-sphere. They track James into the future, where he caused havoc by stealing a nexus-gem, source of heat and power for the future city. Rip and friends convince the future people they want to help and retrieve another nexus-crystal from the polluted ocean. They track James to the Stone Age where they help some Native Americans. James surprises them and kidnaps Jeff, since James needs someone who knows how to direct the time-sphere. Rip’s team follows them to his own past at the university and Rip realizes time-sphere crashesJames is going to wreck their time-sphere so he wins the grant, changing history. I smell an ontological paradox coming. They stop James’s sabotage attempt and when he tries to flee, the back-up time-sphere is wrecked. Yeah, you’re way ahead of me. They take James back to the present and Bonnie says the power component that Rip miraculously found on the slag heap back in his university days was obviously the nexus-gem from the smashed time-sphere. Like I said, ontological paradox. (Oh, for all you Rip/Jeff shippers out there, there’s a scene in the past at university where Rip and Jeff seem to be sharing a bed.)

Warlord 49 coverWarlord #49 – “Someone thing Evil” – Mike Grell/Vince Colletta

This one starts with Morgan and Shakira stumbling upon an ancient temple dedicated to “the Evil One” while searching for Morgan’s daughter, Jennifer. Shakira has been giving Morgan grief about how dependent he is on his Automag to get him out of trouble. She proposes a bet … that Morgan can’t go until their next camp without using his gun. Morgan agrees, but Shakira doesn’t tell him what the stakes are yet. They explore the temple, finding the remains of earlier interlopers who succumbed to various traps (and almost getting skewered by a trap themselves). Unknown to them, a jaguar has followed them into the temple looking for food. Morgan and Shakira find the main chamber, where a skeleton stands transfixed by spears over an altar. The skeleton wasmummy attack trying to place a crescent-shaped medallion in a recess … or maybe he was trying to remove it? Morgan assumes the former and puts the medallion in the recess, which activates a door. Morgan realizes he chose poorly as a giant mummy lumbers forth from a sarcophagus. Morgan starts slicing the mummy to ribbons (yeah, I said it) and it turns out to be full of dust. After the behemoth is defeated, Morgan points out that he didn’t have to use his gun. Just then, the jaguar attacks and Morgan instinctively whips out his Automag and blasts the big cat. Morgan admits that he may sometimes take stupid chances because of the edge the pistol gives him, but Shakira Jennifer gets a nasty surprisesays she was just screwing with him, trying to cheer him up because he’s been such a downer lately. She says she’ll think of some way for him to pay off the bet, but he definitely owes her one. Farther north, in another, even more sinister castle, Jennifer Morgan is awakened from a sound sleep by something creeping into her room. She gets a huge shock when she sees what it is … a disembodied head on top of a hand. And whose head is it, you ask? Deimos, the evil wizard whom Morgan decapitated. We’ll see how all this plays out next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • There’s a parallel story that plays out along the bottom of the page about the Gollum knock-off who found (or stole) Mongo’s magic book back in issue 41. He reads the book and is transformed by the dark magic into the epitome of evil … the Evil One! He’ll play a part in next issue’s climactic fight between Morgan and Deimos.

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