Comics Reviews: Superman 373, Action 533, DC Comics Presents 47, Warlord 59

Superman 373 coverSuperman #373 – “Lana Lang’s Farewell to Earth” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt

This one starts with Superman doing a favour for some oil drillers by removing a big rock that’s been impeding their drill. As soon as Superman gets the rock in the air, it starts growing at an alarming rate. He figures the “rock” is some ancient weapon, buried on Earth long ago and meant to expand so much as to destroy the entire planet and that he must’ve triggered it when he moved it. He heads for deep space but before he gets too far, the rock is blown to smithereens in his hands. No, it wasn’t premature detonation, just Superman’s old friend Vartox giving him a hand by obliterating the rock. Vartox was returning from helping a nearby star system and decided to dropVartox and Lana reunited by Earth to see Superman … and Lana Lang. Yeah, last time Vartox was on Earth, he and Lana got pretty … close. I guess he’s stopping in for a booty call. As Supes and Vartox head down to Earth, we see someone watching them in space; judging by the silhouette, it’s a woman. Tat evening, Jimmy Olsen fills in for Lana on the news while she cavorts with Vartox. They get all mopey about the fact that their love is doomed to be long-distance, since Vartox’s planet (Tynola) needs him too much for him to stay on Earth, and Tynola’s atmosphere would kill Lana as soon as she set foot on the planet. After some more angst (this time about his dead wife, which seems a bit tacky to me) Vartox leaves Lana to pine over him. Vartox hangs out with Superman in the Fortress of Solitude and complains about not being able to have something more saving the embassypermanent with Lana. Meanwhile, Lana is visited by a ghostly presence, who claims to have the solution to her biggest problem. The sylph-like being envelops Lana, changing her in some weird way. Superman gets an alarm from Rzunda (a small West African country) that the American Embassy there has been taken over by terrorists. He and Vartox zip over to Rzunda, take out the terrorists, and rescue the Ambassador. The next day, Jimmy stops by Lana’s place and finds her apartment full of some kind of toxic gas. He signals Superman, who shows up right away (with Vartox) and sucks up the poison gas. (I’m not sure what happens to the gas, since Superman doesn’t exhale it.) Vartox says he recognizes the gas as a concentrated sample of Tynola’s atmosphere, which should have killed Lana but she’s perfectly fine. In fact she’s glowing, surrounded by an aura that protected her from the noxiousLana's new aura atmosphere. She says this is the solution to her problem since she can now live on Tynola with Vartox. Superman and Jimmy leave the two lovebirds alone (I’m thinking Lana will soon be after-glowing), but they think it’s a bit convenient that Lana just happened to receive a protective aura and it was successfully tested, all in the same morning. Lana goes to tell Morgan Edge she’s quitting WGBS and Vartox helps Superman deliver medical supplies to a war zone. Vartox mentions that he has a phantom “hyperself” inside him that sometimes gets dispatched without his conscious knowledge. Vartox speculates that his strong desire to be with Lana has subconsciously sent this hyperself out to form the protective aura around her. But we see the Vartox freaks out and is spied on by a mystery womanmystery woman watching from nearby and learn it was she who gave Lana the protective aura … and I don’t think she did it just to be nice. Later, Vartox relaxes in a volcano (I guess that’s like a sauna to him) and spies on Lana and Clark with his hyper vision as they say their goodbyes. He sees Lana kissing Clark and freaks out, thinking she’s two-timing him. He vows to kill Superman for his betrayal, but we see the mysterious woman popping her head out of the magma. She gloats about how she used Superman and Lana as pawns to get revenge on Vartox for betraying her. She says he betrayed his “first true love long ago”, so I’m assuming this is his supposedly-dead wife, but we’ll have to wait until next issue to find out.

Action 533 coverAction #533 – “Trackdown” – Marv Wolfman/Curt Swan/Frank Chiaramonte

Last issue, Superman and Lois Lane were investigating the criminal cartel known as HIVE and they were sure they’d figured out HIVE’s plans … to break into a controversial nuclear plant in Metropolis. But HIVE was aware of the surveillance (and that Lois had infiltrated disguised as one of their operatives) and fed Superman enough clues to distract him from their real scheme. Superman drops Lois at the Daily Planet where she promises Perry White she’ll be less reckless in pursuing the HIVE story. I’m sure she’ll keep that promise. The next day, HIVE’s plans start to come together, as protesters flock to the nuclear plant before its re-opening. Meanwhile, Jimmy Olsen is trying to cover a related story, about the nuclear waste from the plant being transported through Metropolis on its way to Colorado. Jimmy is turned away because of heavyJimmy sneaks aboard the train security (the train carrying the waste is even being escorted by a pair of Army helicopters), but Jimmy proves Lois isn’t the only one who can take stupid risks for a story. He sneaks aboard the train dressed as a workman just before it leaves. Meanwhile, Lois is waiting for Perry to send her a car so she can get back on the HIVE story, but Perry seems to have stood her up. She gets a call from Alice Smith (the HIVE agent Lois captured and impersonated last issue), who says she can give Lois the real scoop on HIVE’s plans. Lois knows it’s a set-up, but can’t resist a story and goes to meet Alice. At the nuclear plant, Clark Kent is doing a TV report when HIVE agents show up; it’s just a feint to draw Superman’s attention from HIVE’s real target, but Clark doesn’t know that. Superman saves the nuclear plantHIVE shoots knockout gas at the crowd and heads into the plant. Clark fakes being knocked out, then changes to Superman and goes after them. Meanwhile, HIVE have gone after their real target, the train full of nuclear waste. They use microwaves to take down the Army choppers and fly their own helicopters in to grab the train car and lift it right off the tracks like something out of GTA 5. The train car full of nuclear waste—with Jimmy inside—is lifted up and flown away. At the plant, Superman pounds some of the HIVE agents and saves the domes after they’re breached, but he soon realizes this attack is just a ruse. He figures out the true target and goes after the train. He’s too late to stop the hijacking, but follows the trail of nuclear waste with his microscopic vision. Lois has gotten tired of waiting for Alice and gone home, only to find Alice waiting for her. Alice has been assigned to kill Lois, but she’s pissed off thatJimmy and Superman fight HIVE agents Lois caught her last issue, so she toys with Lois, wanting her to beg for mercy before she’s killed. On the train, jimmy is ready to signal Superman but isn’t sure his signal will get through the train car’s lead shielding. Before he can try, HIVE finds and captures him, but they leave him alone long enough to activate his signal watch. Superman shows up just in time to stop Jimmy from getting blasted, but not before HIVE puts their final plan into motion. They load the stolen nuclear waste on a rocket and launch it into orbit. The rocket can be detonated from Earth and is rigged to explode if anyone touches it. HIVE intends to blackmail the governments of Earth into paying them not to set off the waste-filled rocket. Superman flies after it but HIVE uses the last of their stolen kryptonite to blast him. Jimmy returns the favour and tackles Superman uses solar radiation to stop nuclear radiationthe HIVE agents, saving Superman’s ass and the two of them mop up the HIVE operatives. Superman flies into orbit to deal with the rocket, but it explodes before he can get rid of it. His telescopic vision shows him Lois is about to be shot by Agent Smith, but he can’t let the whole planet be contaminated just to save her. He figures his x-ray vision can’t burn up all the radiation, so he harnesses the power of the sun instead, pulling the solar wind down to vapourize all the nuclear waste in orbit. I’m not sure what all that solar energy would do to electronics all over the planet, but I guess it’s better than nuclear fallout. The flare of light in the atmosphere when the waste burns distracts Alice Smith and Lois decks her, wrapping up the HIVE case … at least in Metropolis. But I’m sure they’ll pop up again somewhere.

DC Presents 47 coverDC Comics Presents #47 – “From Eternia—With Death” – Paul Kupperberg/Curt Swan/Mike DeCarlo

As you can tell by the title, this is a Superman/He-Man team-up. I’m not going to spend a lot of time reviewing this, since it was obviously just a promotional gimmick to get people interested in Masters of the Universe toys and comics … plus, it’s not even in continuity, and you know how I am about continuity. Basically, it introduces us to Prince Adam, a typical royal Prince, not taking his training seriously and acting like an entitled dick. But when Skeletor threatens to break into Castle Grayskull and release the eldritch power therein, Adam is changed (by the Sorceress) into He-Man, champion of Eternia. Skeletor’s spells create aSuperman vs He-Man dimensional rift which pulls Superman into Eternia. After kicking Beast Man’s ass, Supes meets He-Man and the two begin an epic bromance. Skeletor uses his magic to take over Superman’s will and forces him to fight He-Man. Skeletor tries to use Superman to bust into Castle Grayskull, but Supes resists long enough to screw up Skeletor’s plans. As always, Skeletor disappears and Superman heads home, promising to aid He-Man any time he’s needed. I was never a huge Masters of the Universe fan, and never read the comics, so this doesn’t mean much to me. I did notice a couple of strange things: first, I wasn’t aware that Cringer/Battle Cat could talk … I always thought he was just a cat. Also, Teela is shown to be Prince Adam’s bodyguard (and she Teela and Sorceress--one and the samecould guard my body anytime), and is depicted without that snake armour that she usually wears over her head and shoulders. But when Adam goes to see the Sorceress to get changed into He-Man, the Sorceress looks exactly like Teela, except now she is wearing the snake head armour. Am I completely off in my Masters of the Universe trivia, or is that just an art mistake? I assume it’s the latter, since any depictions I’ve seen of the Sorceress make her look like some kind of bird-woman, complete with feathers. I know Teela turned out to be Sorceress’s daughter, but if that’s really supposed to be the Sorceress, she looks more like Teela’s twin sister than her mother.

Warlord 59 coverWarlord #59 – “Tinderbox” – Mike Grell/Mike Decarlo

Travis Morgan has been captured and replaced by a lookalike by conspirators who want to covertly influence the Shamballan government. Darvin, former palace magician and current leader of a gang of child thieves, is holding the real Morgan in a dungeon. Unknown to everyone, one of Darvin’s urchins is Joshua (now called Tinder), Morgan’s son who he thinks is dead. Tinder has been guarding the door to Morgan’s cell and some other kids convince him to let them in for a look at the “monster” Darvin’s keeping locked up. Morgan does look a bit scary, chained up and encased in an iron mask, so the kids freak out and run away. Tinder is left behind and Morgan starts talking toMorgan tells Tinder some stories him, hoping to have some bit of human contact. He tells Tinder stories of his life on Earth and his adventures in Skartaris. Tinder isn’t sure whether to believe the stories, but he actually has proof of the outside world on his arm … Morgan’s watch, given to Tinder as a baby and worn by him ever since. At the palace, Praedor (the minister behind the conspiracy) tells the fake Morgan that his drunken behaviour has jeopardized their plans. Praedor says he’ll either have to play his role properly or disappear so they can ransom the real Morgan back to his wife, Tara. The false Morgan says he can clean up his act and play the role right, especially since Tara seems to have comfort in the arms of her old friend Graemore. Praedor decides they’d Praedor hires some familiar-looking mercenariesbetter get rid of the real Morgan, since he’s more impediment than insurance now. Praedor hires a couple of mercenaries (who have a strong resemblance to Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser) to kill Morgan and Darvin, who knows of the switch and has been gouging extra money from Praedor to keep his mouth shut. Darvin has also figured out who Tinder is, but nobody else knows that yet. Back at Darvin’s hideout, Griff (the kid who was supposed to be guarding Morgan before pawning the job off on Tinder) gets back just before Darvin. Griff takes his place on guard and tells Tinder to keep quiet. Darvin lets Griff know that Tinder is more valuable than they thought and assigns Griff to keep an eye on him. Griff asks about the prisoner and Darvin says he’ll probably be eliminated soon. When Tinder overhears that, he decides the prisoner deserves a better fate, so he puts his thieving talents toTinder decides to free Morgan use against Darvin, lifting the keys to Morgans chains. Darvin heads out and Griff tells Tinder to guard the dungeon and not to go back inside this time. Darvin goes to his favourite tavern, where Fafhrd and the Mouser are waiting. They tell him they’re supposed to take care of his prisoner, but Darvin can’t find his keys and realizes Tinder must’ve taken them. Fafhrd and the Mouser are in no mood for excuses and drag Darvin out of the tavern. In the dungeon, Tinder unlocks Morgan’s chains and says they need to get out of there; Tinder heard Darvin talking about him and doesn’t want to find out what Darvin has planned. Morgan feels the watch on Tinder’s arm and Tinder tells him it’s a talisman he got from his parents. Morgan asks what their names were, but before he gets an answer, they hear heavy footsteps pounding on the dungeon stairs.

One thought on “Comics Reviews: Superman 373, Action 533, DC Comics Presents 47, Warlord 59”

  1. Regarding the appearance of the Sorceress in DC Comics Presents #47, and her resemblance to Teela, it’s well, complicated. Long story short, the original plan was for the first line of Masters of the Universe action figures was to have two female characters, Teela and the Sorceress. To save money, Mattel was going to use the same body sculp for both. Then the decision was made to only have just one female figure, and Mattel ended up combining the designs for Teela and the Sorceress. You can find a detailed explanation on the Battle Ram Blog…

    https://battleramblog.com/sorceress-heroic-guardian-of-castle-grayskull-1987/

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