Comics Reviews: Superman 382, Action 542, DC Comics Presents 56, Warlord 68

Superman 382 coverSuperman #382 – “Where Trouble Goes—Euphor Follows” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt

Last issue, the supposed altruist Euphor (who can drain negative emotions from people) turned out to be a scumbag. He used some of the energy he drained to give powers to three people with a grudge against Superman. When that didn’t work, he gave powers to Lois Lane, drawing on her resentment at the aloof way Superman’s been acting toward her lately. What Lois doesn’t know is that Superman and Superboy (from fifteen years in the past) switched minds after a freak time-travel accident, so the guy who’s been acting weird around her is really Superboy—who doesn’t know Lois at all—in Superman’s adult body. Euphor’s energy has given Lois quite a bit of power and Superboy is afraid to resist her too strongly, since heSuperboy tells Lois the truth knows how his adult counterpart feels about her. He leads her away from Euphor, who drains more energy from the crowd, leaving them tranquil. Superboy knocks Lois out with a nerve pinch and takes her to the Fortress of Solitude, where Euphor’s influence wears off. Lois apologizes for trying to kill him and Superboy tells her the truth about the mind-switch. It’s a big relief to Lois, knowing why “Superman” has been so distant. They’re interrupted by an alarm from Metropolis. At WGBS, Lana does a live interview with Euphor (after Euphor drains Morgan Edge’s negativity) and Euphor tells everyone his origin story. Basically, he met a sideshow hypnotist at a fair when he was a kid and the guy noticed Euphor had the potential to manipulate Euphor absorbs energy like crazyenergy auras. He taught Euphor to harness that power so he could help mankind, so now Euphor wants to drain all the negative energy from everyone … which he thinks will make him more powerful than Superman (and more important, since even with all his powers, Superman can’t take people’s pain away). Lois and Superboy watch on the monitor as Euphor drains negative emotions from the entire WGBS viewership—millions of people—and starts glowing with power. Superboy has no clue what to do and wishes the “real” Superman was there, but he can’t go back to his own time since two versions of the same person can’t co-exist. Lois says Superman has probably already figured all this out and is waiting on the other side of the anomaly in the time-stream to recreate the accident that switched their minds. Superboy thanks her (and calls her a “groovy lady”) before preparing to head back in time. In Metropolis, Euphor’s power has grown so much he can manipulate matter now, and his removal of negative emotionsSuperman and Superboy recreate the accident has left everyone a blissed-out automaton, basically slaves to Euphor’s whims. Superboy heads back in time to the weird time-storm and his super-vision shows him Superman is waiting on the other side. They recreate the accident and their minds switch back. Like the first time, they’re catapulted back to their respective eras, but only Superman retains his memory of what happened. Rather conveniently, Superboy forgets all about it, which explains why the adult Superman had no memory of it happening in the first place. Superman zips to his Fortress and puts some moves on Lois to prove he’s really himself. Superman goes to confront Euphor, but his power is too Euphor overloads on Superman's griefgreat for even the Man of Steel to overcome. Euphor wants to drain Superman’s negative emotions and Superman gets an idea. He leads Euphor through time and space to a special event, the destruction of Krypton. The raw grief it causes in Superman is too much for Euphor to absorb and he overloads. Superman quickly brings him back to the present, where all the negative energy explodes out of Euphor and returns to all the people he siphoned it from (who realize how stupid they were to fall for his bullshit). Euphor is knocked out and Superman philosophizes about how people need to deal with negative emotions naturally because taking the easy way never works.

Action 542 coverAction #542 – “Savage Awakening” – Marv Wolfman/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt

This one starts with Superman and Lois Lane outside Metropolis having “the talk”. Yup, the dreaded state-of-the-relationship talk. Lois is tired of Superman not giving her more of a commitment, but he reminds her he has responsibilities, not just to Metropolis or Earth, but to the universe. Lois says throwing himself into his superhero life is just a way of insulating himself, so he doesn’t end up getting too close to anyone. Lois tells him to call her when he’s decided to come out from behind the walls he’s put up around himself. Superman is so pissed off about his relationship problems, he doesn’t even notice several emergencies as he flies through Metropolis. He flies past a building housing the Abraxas Corporation, which isn’t a Santana fan club. It’s a company runSuperman takes care of business by the immortal villain Vandal Savage, and he apparently has plans that include Superman. Savage has decided that technology is the way to power, not physical might. He started Abraxas to create an android duplicate of Superman that has almost the same power and invulnerability as the original Man of Steel. The first tests are promising and Savage tells his scientists to make more of the duplicates. Over the next month, while Superman tries to woo Lois back (and Clark Kent grows closer to Lana Lang), Savage’s team constructs half a dozen Superman androids, all nearly indistinguishable from the genuine article. Of course, Superman also does what he does best, stopping alien invasions, plugging errant volcanoes, and defeating Luthor. Lois finally figures there’s Superman meets his robot duplicatesno future waiting around for Superman and asks Perry White for an overseas assignment. Perry (who’s been acting a bit strange himself lately) gives her an interview series in the Middle East. Lois tells Clark she’s tired of pining over Superman and has to move on. Later, there’s a fire at the Metropolis Electrical Plant and Superman heads over to help, but finds six other Supermen already there, rescuing people and stopping the fire. He soon determines that they’re robots, though much more sophisticated than anything he’s ever seen. They’re even more advanced than his own Superman robots, but these aren’t affected by Earth’s pollution (which is why Supes stopped using his robots). The robots leave and Superman cleans up the plant, wondering who could’ve built the robots, since Luthor is still in prison. The public assumes the robots belong to Superman, which doesn’t bother Vandal Savage since his plan is going perfectly. Savage sends the robots to the police station withrobot Supermen make a name for themselves a note saying they’re a gift from the Abraxas Corporation. The Superman robots soon prove their worth by capturing some terrorists holding a bus full of kids hostage. Over the next few days, the robots perform numerous good deeds, causing people to wonder where the real Superman is … or if he’s even needed anymore. Lois heads off to the middle East for her assignment, leaving Clark to ponder the robots and who could be behind them. Jimmy tells him there’s press conference at Abraxas about the robots, but Clark pretends not to be interested so he can go as Superman. When Savage reveals himself, Superman is floored, since he thought Savage died back in Action 516. Savage tells the crowd he’s from a parallel Earth where he did a lot of bad stuff, but now he wants to make amends by having his robots help humanity. Superman flies Superman smashes all the robotsdown and accuses Savage of having an ulterior motive. Savage uses a kryptonite ray to knock Superman down, but says he’s just protecting himself and turns the ray off quickly. As Savage proclaims his innocence, Superman destroys his robots in front of the shocked crowd. The cops show up and Inspector Henderson tells superman Savage expected his attack. Superman says he knows Savage is evil, but Henderson says Savage has no record and hasn’t committed any crimes. Henderson says Savage could sue for destruction of property, but Savage keeps playing victim, saying he doesn’t want to cause trouble and was only trying to help people. So Superman comes out looking like an asshole to everyone, who ask if he was jealous of the robots. That was Savage’s plan all along and he gloats about it later, knowing it could take a long time to truly turn public opinion against Superman … but as an immortal, Savage has all the time in the world.

DC Presents 56 coverDC Comics Presents #56 – “Death in a Dark Dimension” – Paul Kupperberg/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt

This one starts with Superman saving the Galaxy Building from some super-heated plasma from space. He realizes such a localized strike couldn’t be accidental, so as soon as he’s disposed of the plasma, he starts tracking its trajectory into space. We see some kind of malevolent entity observing him and laughing. On Earth-2, more super-hot plasma menaces the MetroPower Plant, this time manifesting as a space-warp in one of the turbines. Power Girl shows up to stop the turbine and feels like she’s being watched. As the unseen observer watches, Superman traces the plasma to a sector of space where he finds an errant meteor shower that attacks him. As Superman pulverizes the meteors, Power Girl finds an invisible barrier on Earth-2 and has to save a plane that runs into it. Both of them disappear in aPower Girl kicks a lesson flash and reappear on the planet Blimaar (which is a different dimension from Earth-1 or Earth-2) in the presence of their observer, Maaldor the Darklord. Maaldor is a space tyrant, who goes from world to world, conquering each single-handed. But he’s so powerful, his conquests have become boring, so he’s shanghaied Superman and Power Girl here thinking they might give him a slight challenge to relieve his ennui. As usual, Power Girl jumps in first and gets blasted. Superman is a bit more patient as Maaldor explains his predicament. Supes and Power Girl point out that they can just leave and not play Maaldor’s stupid games, but he threatens to wipe out trillions of beings all across his dimension, so they agree to stay. Maaldor creates a gladiatorial arena, though Superman and Power Girl don’t feel like playing Maaldor pounds Supermandress-up. Maaldor conjures some monsters, but the Kryptonian duo dispatch them pretty easily. Maaldor decides to fight them himself and Power Girl is ready to go. But Maaldor is stronger than she thought and he ends up blasting her. She keels over and Maaldor says she’s dead, which pisses Superman off. He goes after Maaldor, using all his powers to try and subdue the megalomaniac, but to no avail. Maaldor gets the upper hand and is about to finish Superman, when Power Girl (who wasn’t dead, just hurt) knocks him on his ass. Maaldor isn’t too worried, saying he’s strong enough to beat both of them. Superman says he may be right, but there’s one person Maaldor can never beat … himself. Superman challenges Maaldor to face whatever evilMaaldor confronts his own evil motivates his dark soul. Maaldor is amused but intrigued, so he actually does look inward, searching his own soul to face what’s there. Unfortunately for him, his soul is so warped with evil that Maaldor ends up imploding, breaching the dimensional barrier and creating an entirely new dimension which reflects the chaos in his psyche. Superman catches a glimpse of this new hellscape and is horrified, so he and Power Girl use their heat vision to seal the dimensional rift and prevent any thing from that nightmare realm from ever escaping.

Warlord 68 coverWarlord #68 – “Spirit of the Wolf” – Mike Grell/Dan Jurgens/Mike DeCarlo

This one starts with the gang still in the ancient past of Wizard World. Rostov is contemplating his fate when Mariah comes to tell him Jennifer may have found a way to cure him of his werewolf curse. Rostov puts the moves on Mariah, saying he still loves her, and we get some flashbacks of their life together. He was her fencing instructor and coached her to a gold medal, then they fell in love. Rostov’s curse caught up with him and he learned the truth about his birth from his Romany grandmother, Gitana (whose story we saw last issue). Rostov pushed Mariah away to protect her from his lycanthropy and she ended upJennifer removes Rostov's curse getting lost in Skartaris. Rostov went around the world seeking a cure for his affliction and ran into Professor Lakely, who was present when Mariah and Morgan went into Skartaris. He told Rostov what happened and he went to the North Pole to enter Skartaris and look for her. Their conversation is interrupted by Machiste, Mariah’s current lover, telling them the ritual is ready. Jennifer separates the spirit of the wolf from Rostov and it manifests as a black wolf. When it threatens Mariah, Rostov calls it off and Jennifer says things are reversed now … Rostov controls the wolf instead of it controlling him. He’s ready to Mariah defeats Rostovtake up where he left off with Mariah, but Machiste doesn’t like that idea. They’re ready to fight over her, but Mariah says she won’t be someone’s prize (like Rostov’s grandmother was) and says she’ll fight Rostov herself. They duel and she uses trickery to draw first blood. Rostov is pissed off and the wolf spirit attacks Mariah, almost mauling her before Rostov pulls it back. Jennifer reminds him that the wolf reacts to his moods now, so his momentary anger made it homicidal. Rostov realizes that he’s still not free of the wolf, not until he learns to control it properly. So he leaves to wander Wizard World, hoping he’ll have another chance with Mariah.

Jinal fights LizardsBarren Earth – “Siege” – Gary Cohn/Ron Randall

Last issue, Jinal Comarr (sole survivor of an expedition to check humanity’s remnants on Earth) finally found an old base, but wasn’t impressed at the crappy condition it had fallen into over the centuries. If that wasn’t enough, a band of Lizards (reptilian humanoids called Harahashan who roam the deserts) surrounded the city and attacked. Jinal and her new allies fight the Lizards off, but they just retreat and take up positions around the city. One of the city dwellers (Renna, the woman who was snotty to Jinal last issue) gives Jinal shit for not covering Skinner’s back. It almost sounds like Renna has a thing for Skinner, though she hides under a lot of anger. Skinner tells Jinal not to worry about Renna and congratulates her for being such a good fighter. Jinal isn’t too flattered, saying that endless fighting for no reason is useless. She suggests talking to the Harahashan (she is trained in diplomacy), but Skinner says negotiatingRenna recognizes a kidnapper with Lizards is pointless. He asks Jinal why humanity is fighting a war with the Qlov if they’re so open to diplomacy and Jinal says that’s a war they can’t stop, but this one they maybe can. She convinces Skinner to approach the Council with her idea, but they’re not impressed, saying the Lizards are after water like everyone in the desert, and the humans can’t spare any. Jinal tries to say something but Skinner stops her, telling her they have only one choice. That night, two Harahashan slip into the Council building and grab the chairman. Renna hears them and intervenes, but when she pulls the headdress off one of the Lizards, she gets a shock. The Lizard knocks Renna out and they take off with their captive into the desert. Turns out the “Lizards” are Skinner and Jinal and kidnapping the Council chairman is only the first half of their plan. We’ll see the rest of it next issue.

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