Comics Reviews: Superman 366, Action 526, DC Comics Presents 40, Warlord 52

Superman 366 coverSuperman #366 – “Revenge, Superman-Style” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

Last issue, Supergirl was subjected to a mental attack that turned her against her cousin, Superman. The Man of Steel had a pretty good idea who was behind the elaborate scheme and now he’s planning to go after them. He’s sure his old enemies, the Superman Revenge Squad, are behind the plot and he’s come up with a dangerous plan to take them down. Supergirl is against it, since it involves Superman giving up his super-powers to infiltrate the Revenge Squad, but he makes her swear an unbreakable Kryptonian oath to support him. Supes starts by saying farewell to Lois and cajoling Morgan Edge into giving Clark Kent some time off work. Superman collects metals from numerous alien worlds and putsSuperman's spaceship captured together a spaceship. He heads off into space, tracking the rays the Revengers used to manipulate Supergirl. Before reaching his final destination, Superman gives his ship a pounding, just enough to damage it but not completely wreck it. He then uses a metamorphic ray to change his shape. We don’t yet see exactly what he becomes, but the cover kinda gives it away. When his ship gets close to the Revengers’ hideout, it’s intercepted and drawn into a huge spaceship. Superman is rendered unconscious while the aliens check out his ship and conclude it came from a faraway galaxy. They look through the ship for salvageable parts and send superman to be incinerated, but he’s given a reprieve when the aliens find something interesting on the ship. Superman wakes up (and we now see that he’s Revengers practice destroying a statuechanged himself into a bipedal lizard-man, kinda like a Gorn) and is greeted by an alien woman named Nryana, who uses a Universal Translator-type gizmo to teach Superman her language instantaneously. Superman claims to be Vlatuu of Plyrox and asks what Nryana wants with him. She mentions that his ship seems to have been damaged by super-powered fists and he spins a tale about being a space-pirate. But when he attacked a passing ship, a wondrous being showed up and kicked his ass, sending his spaceship flying across the galaxy. Nryana says the guy who defeated Vlatuu is named Superman and everyone on this planet has suffered defeat at his hands and lives for nothing but revenge. She shows him how the Revengers keep their hatred stoked up; they practice erecting and burning Superman statues, and they even have aLizard Superman vows to destroy himself Superman android that flies around and attacks one of them at random. While she’s telling “Vlatuu” all this, a couple of other Revengers scan his mind to make sure he’s not hiding anything, and all the scans come out negative. Whatever Superman did to change himself into Vlatuu seems to have altered him in every way. The Superman android defeats its chosen victim and Nryana says the first Revenger to beat the android will get the honour of going to Earth and killing the real Superman. “Vlatuu” says that’s his fondest wish, and vows to defeat the android or die in the attempt. We’ll see how Superman’s plan goes next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • The Superman Revenge Squad is a loose collection of aliens who have been defeated by Superman over the years and have banded together to seek revenge. The original aliens were from Wexr and were defeated by Superboy (so, quite a while ago), but Superman has beaten so many alien criminals since then that the organization has grown pretty big. He’s finally decided it’s time to strike at them instead of waiting to see what diabolical plan they spring on him next.
  • The metamorphic ray Superman uses to change shape was first seen in DC Presents 35.

Action 526 coverAction #526 – “The Man Who Murdered Metropolis” – Marv Wolfman/Joe Staton/Frank Chiaramonte

Last issue a criminal named Nat Tryon accidentally gained nuclear powers after being irradiated by neutrons. Calling himself (what else?) Neutron, he sought revenge on Superman, who he blamed for his condition. Neutron wasn’t strong enough to beat the Man of Steel, but his power is growing all the time and he’s sworn to get back at Superman somehow. This issue starts with an unveiling ceremony for the new revolving Daily Planet globe atop the WGBS Building. This globe is solar-powered and Superman has promised to light it up even though theNeutron disperses into an energy dome over Metropolis ceremony takes place at night. He uses some reflectors in orbit to charge the globe with solar energy, turning it into a bright beacon that bathes half the city in light. I’m sure that won’t be annoying in the middle of the night. Neutron takes that as a signal to start smashing buildings and Superman tackles him. Unfortunately, that’s part of Neutron’s plan, so when Superman punches him, Neutron turns into pure energy and disperses across the city, turning into an impenetrable neutron dome. Neutron says he’s planted a neutron bomb in Metropolis and it’ll go off in an hour unless Superman can find it. Superman’s lighting of the Daily Planet globe is what triggered the bomb, so it’ll kind of be his fault that everyone in Metropolis is dead. Neutron has also hidden a bunch of decoy bombs, just to make Superman fights HIVE assassinsthings interesting. Superman zooms around the city, finding a couple of decoys but unable to locate the real bomb. He finds one that looks promising, but it turns out to be a trap … not set by Neutron, but by Superman’s old foes HIVE. HIVE doesn’t care about the fate of Metropolis, but they definitely want Superman dead. They use Kryptonite cannons to try and kill him (which pisses Neutron off since he can’t enjoy Superman’s guilt if Supes is dead), but Superman manages to take down the HIVE assassins. He keeps looking for the bomb, helping people who need him along the way. He finally realizes Neutron must’ve put the bomb inside the Daily Planet globe, since it was activated when the globe was powered up … plus Neutron didn’t have time to doSuperman tosses the globe into space anything too elaborate and plant all the decoys too. Superman tosses the globe right through the neutron dome into space, where it explodes. Piercing the dome causes Neutron to dissipate and rain deadly radiation down on the city. Superman uses a whirlwind to contain Neutron and re-form his physical body. The strain is too much and Neutron keels over; Superman takes him away to a special cell that even Neutron can’t escape. Almost as an afterthought, Superman whips up another globe and slaps it on top of the WGBS Building.

Noticeable Things:

  • Neutron will be back in other Wolfman stories, notably as a member of the Fearsome Five in New Teen Titans. Wolfman seems to like re-using his creations; we’ll see the Omega Men pop up in Action one of these days.

DC Presents 40 coverDC Comics Presents #40 – “The Day the Elements Went Wild” – Gerry Conway/Irv Novick/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with some wild happenings in a town called Haneyville: elements start changing for no apparent reason … helium in a balloon turns to lithium, an iron wrecking ball turns to cobalt, and oxygen in a SCUBA tank turns to fluorine. Morgan Edge assigns Clark Kent to go get the story and sends a cameraman named Lou (who looks like a 50s beatnik for some reason) to go with him. Outside Haneyville, the asphalt changes form, sending the news van into a skid. Lou is conveniently knocked out, so Clark changes to Superman and saves the van, but soon realizes all the asphalt streets in town are changing to nitrogen, causing the citizens to have nitrogen narcosis. Superman inhales all the nitrogen and spews it into the atmosphere. The mayor of Haneyville thanks him and says it’s nice to haveMetamorpho takes off two superheroes in town. Yeah, it turns out Haneyville is where Metamorpho lives, which makes Superman wonder since Metamorpho has the power to affect elements. (Really, nobody else in Haneyville could make that leap?) Superman heads out to the Stagg Mansion and sees Metamorpho, but Metamorpho isn’t in a talking mood. He whacks Superman with a steely fist before taking off. Before Supes can chase him, Metamorpho’s girlfriend, Sapphire Stagg, comes out to tell Supes what’s up. She recounts Metamorpho’s origin: he was Rex Mason, a tomb raider-type hired by Sapphire’s father, Simon, to find a relic called the Orb of Ra. But Simon didn’t like Rex and Sapphire’s romance, so he told his bodyguard, Java (an evolved caveman … evolved being a relative term) to take care of Java blasts SupermanRex after he found the Orb. Java let Rex for dead in the pyramid, but some meteorite gave Rex the power to affect elements while changing him into a freak. Simon Stagg felt slightly guilty, and tried to find a cure for Rex. Simon supposedly found a method of altering elements but wanted to test it before using it on Rex. Now all this weirdness is happening, so Sapphire wonders if her father has gone nutty again. Superman zips off to look for Metamorpho, worried that Simon Stagg’s messing with elemental forces could have unintended consequences. Supes finds Metamorpho unconscious in a cave, but Stagg isn’t the one who knocked him out … it’s Java, who’s wielding a duplicate of the Orb of Ra. He blasts Superman, leaving him unconscious too, and goes to find Sapphire. When they wake up, Superman and Metamorpho find Stagg in a hidden lab; he tells them he recreated the OrbOrb blows up in the stratosphere of Ra to change Rex back, but it doesn’t work properly. It adds an extra atom to whatever element it’s meant to affect. Superman says screwing with atomic structures like that could cause a nuclear explosion, so he and Metamorpho go after Java. Java’s at the mansion, trying to use the Orb to make Sapphire fall for him. Metamorpho grabs the Orb but Java gets it back and blasts Superman again. The Orb starts heating up and will soon explode, so Metamorpho flies it up into the stratosphere where it explodes harmlessly. Metamorpho survives and is reunited with Sapphire while Superman takes Java to jail. Later, Clark Kent interviews Metamorpho about the whole adventure.

air Wave splash“Whatever Happened to the Original Air Wave?” – Bob Rozakis/Alex Saviuk/Vince Colletta

The original Air Wave was a District Attorney named Larry Jordan. He gets an emergency call saying there was a hostage situation at his own house, but when he shows up, his Air Wave costume dissolves off his body, leaving him to deal with the situation in his civilian identity. Turns out an escaped crook named Parsons is holding Larry’s wife and son (Helen and Hal) hostage; Parsons wants revenge on Larry for sending him to prison, so he says he’s going to waste Helen and Hal while Larry watches, then kill him too. Larry deflects Parsons’ first shot, but Parsons shoots him with the second round. Helen and Hal play dead and Parsons takes off. Helen later finds Larry’s Air Wave costume on her dresser and decides to bring Parsons to justice. She tracks him down through a crooked travel agent and kicks Parsons’ ass, pretending to be the original Air Wave theHelen takes Parsons down whole time. Helen later speculates that Hal can carry on Larry’s superhero legacy when he grows up … which he does, as the second Air Wave. This story is interesting enough, but Parsons (and the cops) must be deaf and blind not to notice that the Air Wave that caught Parsons is a woman. Also, the original Air Wave lived on Earth-2 (and was in the All-Star Squadron), but young Hal is later said to be a cousin of the more famous Hal Jordan, Green Lantern of Earth-1. And they never did explain why Air Wave’s costume disappeared from his body and ended up on Helen’s dresser; just plot convenience, I guess.

Warlord 52 coverWarlord #52 – “Back in the USSR” – Mike Grell/Rodin Rodriguez

Last issue, Travis Morgan tracked his nemesis, Deimos, into the snowy wilderness and left him to be devoured by wolves. Now Morgan is trying to find his way back to Castle Deimos, but a blizzard is making it difficult. He follows his compass southward, but gets a surprise as he runs into a pissed-off polar bear. He uses his Automag to down the bear, which he assumes wandered into Skartaris through the northern polar opening. Back at Castle Deimos, Tara, Shakira, and Faaldren are waiting for Morgan’s return and watching over his daughter, Jennifer, who’s still in the trance Deimos put her in. Tara and Shakira are being snotty to each other, as usual, but there’s a certain amount of mutual respect under the sarcasm. Shakira wonders why Deimos turned to magicTara and Shakira snipe at each other when his castle is full of ancient Atlantean technology. Tara can’t think about anything but Morgan and decides to go after him. Shakira says she’s going too, leaving Faaldren to look after Jennifer. Morgan is still wandering south through the blizzard, but the storm finally seems to be letting up and he expects to see Skartaris’s sun right away. He does see the sun, but not the one in Skartaris … it’s Earth’s sun. Morgan realizes he must’ve stumbled through the polar opening into the outside world. Since every direction at the North Pole leads south, he’s been getting farther from Skartaris with every Morgan takes down a MiGstep. He turns around to retrace his path, but gets a nasty surprise as a Russian jet zooms by overhead. It’s a MiG Foxbat (which was still in the experimental stage when Morgan first journeyed to Skartaris back in 1969) and it comes around to strafe him. He dodges the machine gun fire and blasts away with his Automag, drilling the pilot in the head and causing the jet to crash in a spectacular fireball. Before Morgan can head back to Skartaris he gets another surprise … a Soviet helicopter; this one might not go down quite so easily. We’ll find out next issue.

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