Comics Reviews: Superman 365, Action 525, DC Comics Presents 39, Warlord 51

Superman 365 coverSuperman #365 – “When Kryptonians Clash” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with Superman heading to New York for a meeting with his cousin, Supergirl (which is apparently a regular thing). He finds her unconscious in the bushes with weird splotches all over her and recognizes it as Virus-X, a deadly Kryptonian disease. He rushes her to the Fortress of Solitude, where he uses white kryptonite to irradiate her, since Virus-X is caused by a plant spore and white kryptonite is lethal to plant life. While she’s healing, Superman uses his computer to check himself out; he’s been zooming around from crisis to crisis for five days straight and wants to make sure he’s operating at peak efficiency. He nods off and is woken by an alarm about a volcano in Chile, which he flies off to deal with. SupergirlSupergirl saves the tour bus wakes up and realizes Superman must’ve put her in the healing chamber, though she doesn’t know what ailment she had since the last thing she remembers is being in Central Park and feeling dizzy. She notices Superman’s computer readout that says he’s a little off his peak efficiency … he’s only operating at 99.01%. That .09% doesn’t sound like much, but with power like Superman and Supergirl wield, a mistake could spell disaster. She decides she’ll pay her cousin back for healing her by watching out for him and making sure he doesn’t make any mistakes. While Superman cleans up an oil spill in Hudson Bay, Supergirl saves a tour bus from a rockslide in Nova Scotia. Superman takes some nuclear waste rocket avoids the cometand puts it into a special rocket he built in orbit. The rocket is made of Supermanium, the hardest compound known to science, and he programs it to fly off into deep space. As the rocket flies away from Earth, a stray comet approaches it. Supergirl is ready to divert the rocket, but it moves out of the comet’s path on its own; Superman obviously built some kind of crash avoidance system into the rocket. So far, his being short of peak efficiency hasn’t seemed to affect him. Later, Superman is due at the unveiling of a monument to him in Metropolis, but he’s delayed dealing with a massive forest fire. Supergirl stands in for him at the monument unveiling, but she gets all pissed off and smashes the monument, saying she should be the one being honoured since Superman is really an asshole. She takes off andSupergirl smashes the monument Superman shows up and hears how she was acting. He knows Virus-X doesn’t make people act nuts, so he wonders if something else is affecting her. We see a reptilian alien lurking nearby, who reports to his master that the plan is going ahead and that their “meta beam” has affected Supergirl. Superman goes looking for his cousin and she attacks him, then flees to the Fortress. He follows and while he’s searching for her in the Fortress, he sees the computer readout about his lack of efficiency. He wonders if he might’ve made a mistake even before running the computer check; maybe Supergirl was affected by something else (something that attacked her mind) and the Virus-X was just for cover. Before he can ponder that too much, Supergirl attacks, using the micro-wave beamer that he and Supergirl used to employ to shrink themselves when visiting Kandor. Superman shrinks and Supergirl says she’ll reduce Supergirl shrinks Supermanhim to sub-atomic size, but he flies off while he’s about the size of a Mego doll. She chases him into the interplanetary zoo where he pisses off a Tridyst Beast, causing it to shoot paralysis rays from its horns. Superman’s size lets him avoid the beams, but Supergirl is paralyzed. He gets himself back to normal size and analyzes Supergirl thoroughly, finding some weird radiation is her blood that subjects her to the effects of hyper-accelerated sleep deprivation. After removing the radiation, Supergirl is fine but wonders who’s behind the attack. The reptilian alien materializes in the Fortress and says he’s the one who affected Supergirl; he begs for protection from “them” but gets vapourized a few seconds later. Superman says he has an idea who might be behind all this, and he’s not happy about it. We’ll see who it is next issue.

Action 525 coverAction #525 – “Neutron Nightmare” – Marv Wolfman/Joe Staton/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts out a year in the past, with three assholes invading a STAR Labs nuclear reactor and trying to steal the control rods. Superman shows up to prevent a meltdown and grabs two of the thieves. He recognizes them as part of a trio of henchmen employed by Lex Luthor, but they won’t talk. The third member of the trio is trapped under some fallen lead shielding and his friends don’t tell Superman he’s there. This trapped thief (whose name is Nat Tryon) can barely move and is already being bathed by radiation from the leakage caused by he and his friends removing the control rods. Nat eventually works his way loose (I was expecting a triumphant moment like in Amazing Spider-Man #33, but it’s much less dramatic), all the while blaming his fellow thieves and SupermanNat is released from the neutron beam for his predicament. He makes his way to Luthor’s lab, where Lex tells Nat he has radiation poisoning and puts him in a special suit, bathing him in a neutron ray that’s supposed to cure him. Of course, Lex has his own plans for Nat, but those are derailed when Superman catches Lex pulling off some other scheme. Nat is left under the neutron beam for a whole year, finally waking up in the present when Superman stops some thieves in a tunnel-borer nearby and the vibrations jar the neutron beam away from Nat. A year in stasis hasn’t muted his anger any … he’s ready to kill Superman and his two ex-partners. The next day, there’s a discussion on top of the WGBS Building about bringing back the rotating globe that used to top the building back when it belonged to the Daily Planet. Morgan Edge is against bringing the Neutron surprises Superman with his strengthglobe back, but Lois cajoles him into it. She and Jimmy are thrilled, but Clark pretends to be ambivalent. At the prison, Nat (now calling himself Neutron) busts in to kill Ted, one of the partners who left him to die. Superman shows up and Neutron punches him right through the wall. Before Supes can regroup, Neutron brings the whole prison down. Superman zooms around frantically, making sure nobody is killed from the falling debris. By the time he saves everyone, Neutron is gone and Ted is dead. But thanks to Neutron’s boasting, Superman knows who his next target is … Tim Moore. He can’t find anyone at Tim’s apartment and wonders if Neutron has already taken Tim. He finds a bible that gives him a different idea. Supes stops by WGBS to hoist the new Daily Planet globe into position, then heads to the apartment of a priest where he finds Tim Moore. Apparently Tim found religion while in prisonNeutron pounds Superman and thanks Superman for stopping him before he could really hurt anyone. Superman asks a favour in return. When Neutron shows up at Tim’s place Superman is waiting, disguised as Tim, and informs him the real Tim is hidden away safely. Neutron gets over his surprise quickly and starts pounding Superman. Supes insists Neutron can’t hurt him, but Neutron’s power seems to be increasing all the time and he really beats the shit out of Superman, leaving him buried under a building. Naturally, that doesn’t hold the Man of Steel for long, so Neutron takes off, planning for his next encounter. He now knows he can’t beat Superman with brute strength, so he comes up with another plan … he’ll destroy Superman mentally by causing Supes to destroy Metropolis. We’ll see how that works out for him next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Luthor’s trio of nuclear thieves call themselves TNT after the initials of their first names, Tim, Nat, and Ted.
  • Staton’s art is pretty good on Superman, and Neutron looks cool, though his Lois Lane tends to look a bit like Carol Ferris.

DC Presents 39 coverDC Comics Presents #39 – “The Thing That Goes Woof in the Night” – Martin Pasko/Joe Staton/Bob Smith

This one starts in an unnamed city (which I assume is Mammoth City) with Plastic Man and his sidekick Woozy Winks noticing that Superman is in town. They help Supes with a burning propane truck, but the Man of Steel doesn’t give Plas any indication why he’s in Mammoth City. Superman is actually in town as Clark Kent, reporting on a Toy Expo, which explains why he couldn’t tell Plastic Man. At Clark Kent’s hotel, he recognizes Toyman hanging around and wonders if he’s there to pull off some kind of caper. Not far away, at the offices of Acme Express, a weird-looking dude named Fliptop (whose head is apparently like Batman’s utilityToyman demonstrates the Woofer belt) reports to his boss (Dollface) that the vault is malfunctioning. At the Toy Expo, Toyman is acting like a regular toymaker, showing off a mechanical dog he calls Waldo, the Wind-up Woofer … which, you have to admit, isn’t really all that suspicious. Clark and Jimmy head back to Metropolis, so they miss the dead body that’s found at the hotel later. The guy was an undercover NBI agent, beaten to death with a teddy bear (with a 50-pound weight inside it). Since Plastic Man works for the NBI, he’s called in on the case. The showroom was ransacked (like someone was looking for something) but nothing’s missing. The dead agent had a mini-recorder strapped to his neck with a pull-cord attached; when the cord is pulled, it Plastic Man saves Toymansounds like one of those talking dolls. That tells Plas that Dollface is behind the murder and he goes to look for her in the hotel. Plas finds Dollface and Fliptop robbing Toyman’s room and about to cave his head in as he sleeps. Plas tackles the villains but gets knocked out and they get away with whatever they came to steal. Toyman has slept through the whole fight, but Plas wakes him up. Toyman realizes Dollface stole his new prototype toy, Waldo the Wind-up Woofer, and he decides to get some revenge. When Clark and Jimmy hear about Toyman getting ripped off, they assume he’ll go after Dollface, so Jimmy goes to interview Toyman—and hopefully talk him out of doing anything stupid. But Toyman’s already hellbent on Superman tangles with Toymanrevenge and traps Jimmy in an electrified Tinkertoy cage. Jimmy signals Superman, who’s distracted by Toyman’s kryptonite yo-yo and toy dragon that breathes real flames. Toyman gets away while Superman’s rescuing Jimmy from the fire, so Supes goes to see Plastic Man. They scour the city looking for Dollface, Fliptop, or Toyman, who are all at Acme Express. Dollface realized the Acme Express vault opened while Toyman was demonstrating his toy dog, Waldo, and reasoned the dog’s vibrations must be on the exact frequency to open the vault door. Toyman catches them and says since they stole his invention (and it’s getting them into the vault) he wants in on the loot. Dollface agrees, but Plastic Man is hiding in the vault, which Superman slams shut so he can haul all the crooks off to jail. Fliptop uses anSuperman saves Plastic Man acetylene torch to cut through the vault door and Toyman tosses a kryptonite top at Superman. Toyman also douses Plas in hardening Silly Putty, and the crooks take off. Superman freezes the Putty with his super-breath, allowing Plastic Man to bust out and get rid of the kryptonite top. They rush outside, where Jimmy and Woozy have cut off the crooks’ escape, running them off the road. Supes and Plas take them out with a controlled strike and Woozy finally gets to meet Superman. Woozy mentions his idea for a signal watch based on Jimmy’s, but it doesn’t go over too well.

Noticeable Things:

  • Superman notes how weird everything is in Mammoth City.
  • Acme Express is obviously meant to be American Express, and we do see Karl Malden in a couple of scenes.
  • Pasko and Staton seem to be having fun with this story, going all out with the goofy jokes. The art reminds me of old MAD Magazines, with little background jokes and surreal situations. The villains (Fliptop and Dollface) are like goofier versions of Dick Tracy baddies.

Richard Dragon splash“Whatever Happened to Richard Dragon Kung Fu Fighter?” – Mike W. Barr/Alex Saviuk/Vince Colletta

This one starts with Richard Dragon giving us a recap of his past, especially his friendship with Ben Turner, aka Bronze Tiger. They first met when Richard broke into a monastery to steal a jade idol. He ended up studying martial arts under the monastery’s leader (the O-Sensei) and becoming friends with Ben, another student. Richard and Ben returned to America and fought crime, sometimes working with a shifty dude named Barney Ling, head of an organization called G.O.O.D. Ben left to investigate threats on his life and, a few months later, a new martial artist named Bronze Tiger appeared. Bronze Tiger turned out to be Ben, but he didn’t recognize Richard. Richard started having a run of bad luck, with many of his friends dying in strange accidents. Thinking he might be cursed, Richard went back to see the O-Sensei, who revealed the “accidents” were actually caused by Bronze Tiger. Richard came back to America to find Bronze Tiger,Ling goes out the window going to see Barney Ling to get help tracking Tiger down. He found out Tiger was working for Ling all along; Ling had somehow brainwashed Ben Turner (and was the one behind the original threats on Ben’s life to manipulate them into eliminating Ling’s enemies). Richard and the brainwashed Bronze Tiger fight, with Tiger doing his best to kill Richard. But Richard dodges and Ling is knocked out the window to his death. With Ling dead, Tiger no longer has any reason to fight Richard and they take off. Later, we see Richard is at Ling’s grave, recounting the whole story to his coffin and saying how he never meant for Ling to die. (He also mentions that Ben’s brainwashing is being reversed.) After Richard leaves, the gravediggers drop Ling’s coffin and it turns out to be empty.

Warlord 51 coverWarlord #51 – “This Savage World” – Mike Grell

This is a reprint of Warlord #1, so I won’t bother reviewing it again, I’ll just show off a bit of Grell’s brilliant artwork.

 

 

Morgan goes wild

Morgan and Tara training

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