Comics Reviews: Superman 379, Action 539, DC Comics Presents 53, Warlord 65

Superman 379 coverSuperman #379 – “The Bizarro-Buster is Loose” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt

This one starts on Bizarro World (which is a planet shaped like a cube), where Bizarro has called a meeting of the Bizarro-JLA to discuss a problem … Bizarros are spontaneously exploding. At first, the Bizarro-JLAers don’t believe him, but after they start blowing up they figure he might be onto something. Unfortunately it’s too late and the epidemic continues all through Bizarro World, culminating in the Bizarros at the Daily Planet exploding too. Bizarro decides to go to Earth to borrow Superman Bizarro Duplicator so he can recreate his friends and repopulate Bizarro World. But Bizarro doesn’tLana overhears Dwight notice he’s being followed by a weird cloud of smoke that’s apparently responsible for killing the other Bizarros … and now has its sights set on the original. On Earth, Morgan Edge is giving a kid named Dwight Decker a tour of Galaxy. Decker is a snotty little punk, who’s rude to pretty much everyone. (He’s polite to Lana, but mentions she looks older in person than on TV.) Apparently Decker is a big fan of Clark Kent though and really wants to meet him. But Clark has heard trouble with his super-hearing and takes off before Decker can talk to him. Clark heard his Fortress of Solitude alarm going off, so he flies up as Superman to check it out and finds a big hole in the wall. Inside, his Superman robots have been pounded and he finds Bizarro in his trophy room stealing the Duplicator machine. Bizarro Superman attacked by smoke monsterexplains what’s going on and Superman offers to help. Before they can figure out a plan, the smoke monster flies in and heads for Bizarro, who suddenly feels weak. Superman throws him through the wall to get him away from the monster, which Bizarro interprets as a gesture of friendship, since only a true friend would attack someone when they were weak and helpless. The smoke monster grabs Superman and he realizes it’s trying to dissolve him and absorb his energy, like it did to all the Bizarros. But Superman is a living being, not a simulacrum, so the monster can’t dissolve him. He takes off to find Bizarro, but Bizarro dissolves right in front of Superman’s eyes. Apparently proximity is enough for the monster to absorb a Bizarro … contact isn’t necessary. After absorbing Bizarro’s energy, the smoke monster metamorphoses into a freaky-looking creature with multiple mouths that looks like something from the Call of C’thulhu Sourcebook. The creature blasts Superman and takes off, so he follows it into space, back to BizarroSuperman fights the jellyfish World. Superman is wondering how he’ll fight the creature, but when he reaches Bizarro World he finds out he has a bigger problem. The planet has been invaded by hundreds of alien parasites that look like jellyfish without tentacles. Superman wonders how to fight this new threat, but the jellyfish take off all together and fly across the planet. Superman follows and sees the giant C’thulhu monster fighting the jellyfish, blasting them like crazy. The jellyfish team up and swarm the monster, enveloping it. Superman uses his heat vision to help the monster shake the jellyfish off and they pound the jellyfish together until remaining the parasites fly off into space. The monster begins glowing and shaking and then explodes. Superman wonders if it was caused by damage from the jellyfish, but he’s surprised to see the explosion Bizarro Luthor explainshas reconstituted all the Bizarros. The original Bizarro takes Superman to someone who can explain things … Bizarro Luthor. This Luthor isn’t a villain (Bizarro refers to him as a “punk hero”), but he is a scientist. He detected the space jellyfish swarm heading for Bizarro World and knew they’d be able to absorb all the Bizarros’ synthetic energy, so he figured out a way to fight it. By amalgamating all the Bizarros into a different synthetic creature, Bizarro Luthor hoped they’d be able to fight off the jellyfish. So he turned himself into the smoke monster and started absorbing the other Bizarros. But Luthor admits they’d have been lost without Superman’s help and Bizarro thanks the Man of Steel too, saying he’ll come to Earth for a visit sometime soon. I’m sure Superman can’t wait.

Action 539 coverAction #539 – “Past Imperfect” – Marv Wolfman/Gil Kane

This one starts with Superman and Atom trying to travel backwards in time by using the Time Pool, which Atom has used many times before. Superman needs to go into the past to reunite with his other half, after being split into two by the magic of Lord Satanis a few issues ago. But Satanis has thrown up magical barriers to prevent Superman from going back in time and apparently those barriers block travel by the Time Pool as well. Superman and Atom return to the present and Superman heads out to see Flash, hoping the Cosmic treadmill can propel him back in time. But that doesn’t work either and Superman gives up, wondering ifSyrene gains supreme power and attacks Satanis Satanis has beaten him for good. Back in the Middle ages, Superman’s other half (who has only half his usual powers, so he has invulnerability but not super-strength) has been chained in a castle dungeon. Supes has been working at his chains steadily until they finally give way, freeing him. But it doesn’t last long; Satanis’s ex-wife and bitter rival (Syrene) pops up and grabs him with her sorcery. Syrene means to absorb all the mystical energy she can using a runestone, but she needs to filter the energy through Superman’s invulnerable body to keep from being overwhelmed by it. She begins the process (which will kill Superman) and absorbs the purified energy into her body. The new Syrene uses a broken planet to attack Satanispower gives her ideas about conquering the entire world (and beyond), but Lord Satanis shows up outside the castle to challenge her. Syrene casts some D&D spells, causing an earthquake, making snakes rise up from the ground, and shooting fireballs. In the present, Clark Kent shows up for work at the Daily planet and promptly keels over. A doctor examines him and tells a horrified Lois and Jimmy that Clark is dead. In the past, Superman’s other half has also died from all the magic energy passing through him and Syrene proclaims herself the most powerful sorcerer of all time. She attacks Satanis again, toying with him at first, then reaching far out into space with her powers and destroying the tenth planet of the solar system (!), bringingSatanis takes over Superman's body half the debris Earthward to crush Satanis. Satanis realizes Superman’s dead body is still invulnerable, so he casts himself into it, wearing the Man of Steel like a shell. Syrene’s broken planetary debris can’t harm Satanis while he’s in Superman’s body, so the two sorcerers square off to settle things once and for all. In the present, Lois and Lana are taking Clark’s death pretty hard. Clark is taken to the morgue so an autopsy can be performed. We’ll have to wait until next issue to see what happens, but I think we’re (finally) going to get to the end of this “split Superman” storyline.

Noticeable Things:

  • Before Clark comes in and dies, Lois is working on a story about “forgotten heroes”; I assume that’s setting up the upcoming storyline where Superman meets a bunch of old DC heroes.

DC Presents 53 coverDC Comics Presents #53 – “The Haunting Dooms of Halloween” – Dan Mishkin/Curt Swan/Tony DeZuniga

This one starts on Halloween night, with Cain (the host/narrator of the house of Mystery comic) watching a kid named Timmy in a Superman costume trick-or-treating. Cain zaps the kid with magic, turning him into a real Superman (and freaking out the lady who was giving him candy). Timmy flies off, leaving someone giggling like an idiot at the joke. In Metropolis, Lois is hosting a Halloween party where people are supposed to dress as someone famous. (Lois is Cleopatra and Clark came as Green Lantern.) Suddenly the fake Superman busts in and grabs Lois, telling her she’s in danger and he has to get her out of there. Jimmy tries to stop him and he’s transformed into the embodiment of his costume … the NorseClark fights the birds thunder-god, Thor. Timmy flies off with Lois and Clark pretends that whatever affected Jimmy is affecting him too, giving him Green Lantern’s powers. Lana urges him to go after Lois, so he flies out the window, pretending he’s using GL’s ring but actually just using his own super-powers. Before he can catch the fake Superman, two pigeons transform into giant birds and attack. Clark changes into Superman and slaps the birds around, but the distraction causes him to lose Timmy and Lois. In the Appalachians at the House of Mystery, Cain is telling ghost stories to a bunch of kids dressed up for Halloween when he’s interrupted by Mr. Mxyzptlk. Cain refers to him as Mr. Ridiculous, which starts a running gag where Cain keeps getting the imp’s name wrong and Mxyzptlk keeps correcting him: “It’s not Mr. _______, it’s Mxyzptlk!” Timmy brings Lois in and Mxyzptlk changes him back to a Mxyzptlk transforms the kidskid again. Lois wonders what Mxyzptlk is up to and he says he wants to have some fun at Superman’s expense. Cain isn’t thrilled at Mxyzptlk using his House for his hijinks, but there’s not much he can do against Mxyzptlk’s magic. The imp changes the other kids to match their costumes, producing several ghosts, a werewolf, a vampire, and a couple of other monsters. Superman tracks Lois to the House of Mystery (she’s wearing a new perfume, so he tracks her by scent) and the House tells him Lois is inside, but she’ll die if he doesn’t find her before midnight. It’s eleven now, but Superman figures with his speed he’ll have no trouble finding Lois in time. Unfortunately, this is the House of Mystery, which means it’s much bigger than it looks and there are surprises around every corner. He stumbles into a room with aSuperman accidentally decks a kid tentacle monster and has to fight his way out. Mxyzptlk, Timmy, and Cain are observing everything invisibly and as soon as Superman makes it to the next room, Mxyzptlk turns out the lights and sends a glowing skeleton after him. Superman swats it aside, but the skeleton transforms back into a kid. Luckily Superman didn’t use his full strength, or the kid would be pulverized. Supes realizes he’ll have to be careful if some of the “monsters” in the House are actually kids. Cain is getting pissed off that Mxyzptlk is putting kids in danger, but the imp is just getting started. Superman finds himself in a replica of the Daily Planet newsroom where everyone refers to him as Clark, even though he still looks like Superman. Apparently in this little psychodrama, Superman Superman takes his frustrations out on Cainrevealed his identity publicly, which kinda freaks him out. He notices Cain, who can’t see the newsroom or any of the other people that Superman sees, and Supes grabs him and demands to know what’s going on. Cain explains to Timmy that this is a room that makes you play out your biggest fears. Things get worse for Supes as gangsters bust in and threaten to blow away all his friends in the newsroom. Before Superman can stop them, the gangsters reveal that they repainted the walls with green Kryptonite paint, so Superman is soon too weak to help his friends. He falls through a trap door and wakes up inside a coffin. He gets out and ends up grappling with a vampire. Supes suspects it may be another kid, so he uses his heat vision to cause a lamp to glow like a sunburst, turning the vampire back into a kid. Superman realizes the clocks in the House are wrong and it’s midnight, butMxyzptlk is banished he figures he can still save Lois if he can find her before the last strike of the clock. He tracks her by scent again, but finds only a skunk at the end of the trail. Mxyzptlk shows himself and Superman starts laughing his ass off. Cain thinks he’s lost his mind, but Superman explains that Mxyzptlk is a prankster, not a killer, so he knows Lois is okay. Mxyzptlk confirms that, letting Lois join them, but he’s not ready to stop tormenting Superman yet. Timmy gets an idea and tells Cain what to do. Cain messes up Mxyzptlk’s name on purpose again, calling him Kltpzyxm; the imp reflexively corrects him, thus saying his name backwards and banishing himself back to the Fifth Dimension. Superman thanks Cain for getting rid of the pesky imp and Cain offers his guests some frozen lizard tails as a Halloween treat.

Noticeable Things:

  • Besides Clark as GL, Jimmy as Thor, and Lois as Cleopatra, other party guests are dressed as Hercules (Steve Lombard), Wonder Woman (Lana), Caesar (Perry White), Black Canary, Wonder Girl, Flash, and possibly Thorn.
  • This is the same Cain that appears in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman years later, but this version is more of a slightly-sinister goofball than the fratricidal nutcase in Sandman.
  • There was an Atari Force preview in this issue, but I’ve never bee a fan so I won’t be reviewing that.
  • When Lois is freed, she says she was held in a room where comic book artists were chained to their tables and begging for help; she says she thought about freeing them, but didn’t want to be responsible for letting people like that loose on the world. Superman says she made the right call.

Warlord 65 coverWarlord #65 – “Through the Glass” – Mike Grell/Dan Jurgens/Mike DeCarlo

This issue starts with Travis Morgan reaching Castle Deimos, where his daughter Jennifer now lives. Morgan needs Jennifer’s help to find Shakira and Rostov, who went through a portal into the ancient past, the Age of Wizard Kings. Morgan is startled to see Jennifer’s new outfit (which is pretty sexy—it’s slit right up to her pelvis), but her dispassionate demeanor surprises him even more. She agrees to help him and brings out a magic mirror to look across time for Shakira and Rostov. In the past, Shakira and Rostov have met a centaur named Shadowstorm, who tells them they’ll need the help of a wizard to get what they want. Of course, they don’t necessarily agree on what they want; Shakira wants to get back to the present, but Rostov is looking for MariahMongo discusses things with Mariah and Machiste (his ex-student and ex-lover) because he knows she was thrown into the Age of Wizard Kings a while back. Shadowstorm says the Evil One’s depredations have taken a toll on the wizard population, so they might have to settle for what they can get. He offers to lead them to the home of the closest wizard, Mongo Ironhand. Of course, Mongo is the wizard Mariah and Machiste have been hanging out with during their exile. (And Mariah and Machiste seem to have gotten rather friendly with each other …) Mongo is going on about how all his peers are being killed off by the Evil One and Machiste suggests the remaining wizards combine forces and fight the Evil One. Mongo reminds him the Evil One has the Necronomicon, which makes Rostov almost kills Machistehim basically unstoppable. Plus, the wizards aren’t big on trusting each other, so banding together is probably out of the question. Mongo gets an alert that someone is approaching his castle and peers into his crystal ball. He sees Shakira, Rostov, and Shadowstorm and since he doesn’t recognize any of them, he assumes they’re agents of the Evil One come to kill him. Mongo, Mariah, and Machiste prepare an ambush and attack when Shakira and company enter the castle. Shadowstorm is hobbled immediately and Shakira changes into cat form to dodge Mongo’s spells. Machiste and Rostov face off and Rostov lets his bestial side take over, but before he can kill Machiste, Mariah recognizes him. I’m not sure why she didn’t know him when she saw him in the crystal ball, but maybe she didn’t get a good enough look. The distraction lets Machiste turn the tables and just as he’sJennifer Morgan Sorceress Supreme about to bust Rostov’s head open, Morgan (who’s been watching everything from the present through the mirror) asks Jennifer to bring them back. But Jennifer has a good idea who the Evil One really is and says he needs to be stopped, so she and Morgan step through the mirror into the distant past. I like the way Jurgens draws Jennifer; when Morgan first sees her, she’s floating cross-legged in the air, like Dr. Strange used to do. Makes sense, since Jennifer is basically the Sorceress Supreme of Skartaris now.

Barren Earth – “Marauders of the Desert” – Gary Cohn/Ron Randall

So far the expedition to Earth hasn’t gone well. The ships were attacked by Qlov (with whom humans have been fighting a millennium-long war) and Baren Earth splash-Jinal surroundedthe life pods crash-landed only to find Earth is now a barren desert wasteland, full of mutated predators. One by one, the survivors were killed off until only Jinal and her boyfriend are left … and he’s just been mauled by a carnivorous plant. Jinal wakes up to find herself surrounded by people wrapped in long robes riding lizards. She begs them for help and one of them (who speaks English), finishes off Jinal’s companion, saying it was a mercy instead of letting him linger. Jinal freaks and tries to attack them, getting a shock when she pulls one of the robes down and sees these aren’t human at all … they’re some kind of bipedal reptilians. The Lizards prepare to ride off, saying they only help their own kind. Jinal gets pissed off about beingmarauders start messing with Jinal abandoned in the middle of the desert, so she grabs her energy sword. One of the Lizards whacks her on the head and they leave, though the one who speaks English thinks Jinal will make quite a warrior … if she survives the desert. When she wakes up, Jinal is surrounded by humans, although she soon wishes she was back with the Lizards again. These humans are scavengers—and worse. They disarm Jinal, but can’t figure out her energy sword, since it has neither an edge nor a point. They start cutting her clothes off and she gets pissed off, saying if they give her the sword she’ll show them how it’s used. The scavengers figure she can’t do much with a blunt sword so they return it to her. They soon regret it, since the sword is Jinal wastes the maraudersattuned to Jinal’s touch, which activates the energy aura around the blade; she starts slicing them up and they rush her. She gets unexpected help from a robed figure riding a lizard, who was observing the fight from a nearby dune. He charges down and helps her finish off the scumbags, saying he’s been tracking them for over a day. Jinal wonders why a lizard would help a human and her rescuer pulls down his wrap to show her that he is human. His name is Skinner and he disguises himself as a lizard because the desert (and its denizens) give Lizards more respect. Jinal thanks Skinner and says she really hopes he’s not like the scavengers … then she passes out from her wounds.

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