Comics Reviews: Superman 388, Action 548, DC Comics Presents 62, Warlord Annual 2

Superman 388 coverSuperman #388 – “The Kid Who Played Superman” – Cary Bates/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt

This one starts with Lois Lane returning to WGBS after her time off. She heads straight for Perry White’s office and gives him hell for replacing her with Lana Lang on the big Middle East story she’d been working on. Perry lets her say her piece, then reminds Lois that she’s the one who walked away when it looked like the assignment had fallen through, and since she decided to take extra time off and not tell anyone where she was, Perry had no choice but to send Lana to salvage the story. Lois isn’t too thrilled with Perry’s logic and stalks out, blowing right past Clark when he tries to introduce her to Justin Moore, the Daily Planet’s newest reporter. Jimmy shows Clark a letter from a kid named Mickey Norris, who lives in a small town (Masonville) outside Metropolis. Mickey is a big Superman fan and likes to dress up like his idol and pretend he can fly.Mickey chased by monster Mickey has included a photo of him jumping up in the air to look like he’s flying and Clark notices a strange halo around Mickey’s head in the photo. He calls Mickey’s mom to arrange a visit, but when he arrives Mickey is out on patrol … hanging out in the woods behind the house looking for bad guys. Clark thinks the halo he noticed in the photo might indicate that Mickey has strong telepathic powers, but he doesn’t mention anything to Mickey’s mom, since the halo isn’t visible to human eyes. (Clark speculates the film must’ve recorded a frequency outside the visible spectrum.) Mickey is out in the woods, but he’s not having much fun; he’s being chased by a weird-looking monster. A telephone lineman can’t see the monster, so Mickey wonders if he’s just Mickey meets Clarkimagining it, but when he jumps into a tree and the monster blasts the trunk, Mickey realizes it is real. He gets pissed off and wishes the monster would go away, which causes it to burst into flames. Unfortunately, the flames surround the tree Mickey is in, threatening to burn him to a crisp. Luckily, Clark decided to check on Mickey and shows up (as Superman) to rescue him. Superman puts out the fire, but Mickey doesn’t mention the monster because he doesn’t want Superman to think he’s making up stories … or that he’s crazy. Superman takes off and Clark Kent appears seconds later to tell Mickey he was impressed with the letter he sent the Daily Planet and came out to meet him. Nearby, an alien ship sits cloaked from detection and reviews Mickey’s fight against the monster. The aliens are surprised Mickey could even see the monster, much less defeat it, so they figure further study is needed.Lois and Lana catfight Clark scans Mickey with his x-ray vision and detects strong brain waves coming from him. Clark decides to ask Mickey’s mom if he can take him to STAR Labs to be tested. Back in Metropolis, Lana returns from the Middle East and finds the WGBS staff are waiting to surprise her with a party to celebrate her journalistic coup. Lois shows up (ignoring jimmy’s attempt to introduce Justin again) and congratulates Lana on her story, although I’m sure it was through clenched teeth. Lana’s reply is a bit snotty and Lois freaks out, throwing punch in her face. Lana goes after her and we get a classic girl fight (well, maybe not “classic” since nobody’s clothes get torn off), which ends with the two of them hugging it out when Lana gives her some good aliens holding Mickey captiveadvice. Lana points out that Lois’s anger is more about dumping Superman and having trouble letting go … something Lana is very familiar with. Lana tells Clark about it later and he’s glad he missed the whole scene. Clark gets a frantic call from Mickey’s mother saying some aliens busted into the house, knocked Mickey out, and took off with him. Clark changes to Superman and heads out immediately. Mickey is being held on the alien ship, which is still completely out-of-phase from any human perception … except Mickey’s apparently. The aliens don’t know why Mickey is the only human who can perceive them, so they want to test him to figure it out. The aliens use a dampener to suppress Mickey’s mental abilities so he can’t incinerate them like he did with the monster earlier and they start scanning him. When Superman shows up, even his super-senses can’t detect the alien ship, butSuperman rescues Mickey Mickey focuses all his will to send a telepathic message. Superman sees Mickey hovering in the air (he still can’t see the ship) and flies forward to grab him. The aliens get worried but can’t stop the Man of Steel from pulling Mickey out of he ship. Mickey explains about the aliens, who make an effort to communicate with Superman. They insist they weren’t planning on invading Earth, they just wanted to use the planet as a dumping ground for their world’s criminals. But they had to insure nobody from Earth could interact with the criminals; since that isn’t the case, they’ve decided to look elsewhere. Superman congratulates Mickey on stopping the aliens and reminds him that his telepathy is a gift and he should use it wisely if he wants to be a true hero. Back in Metropolis, Lois is still trying to get some closure over Superman, so when Justin Moore introduces himself and tries to make small talk, she’s completely oblivious and walks away. Instead of getting mad, Justin takes that as a challenge and vows to make Lois notice him. I really hope this isn’t the start of some weird stalker storyline.

Action 548 coverAction #548 – “Escape From the Phantom Zone” – Cary Bates/Alex Saviuk/Vince Coletta, Pablo Marcos

This one starts with a spaceship full of aliens searching through space for something. They come upon the remnants of a planet that seems to have been destroyed by an internal explosion. They land on the planetary fragment and find what they’ve been looking for … a remnant of Krypton. In fact, this is all that’s left of Argo City (Supergirl’s home) after meteorite strikes destroyed the lead sheathing the Kryptonians used to protect themselves from the fragment’s radiation (since it’s made up of kryptonite, being a chunk of Krypton). On Earth, Clark Kent is at a showroom checking out the largest synthetic jewel ever made. The jewel starts glowing and giving off smoke and Clark realizes it’s become unstableflashback to jewel k origin and is about to blow up. Everyone runs away, leaving Clark to change to Superman and compress the jewel to a more manageable size. He takes the smaller jewel out into space so it can explode harmlessly. Elsewhere in space, we see a chunk of Jewel Kryptonite floating around and we find out that the villains in the Phantom Zone have been searching for the Jewel K for a long time. Now that they’ve found it, Jax-Ur and General Zod tell the others (Faora, Va-Kox, and a couple of nameless goons) the origin of Jewel K: Jax-Ur created it by traveling into Krypton’s past and transmuting material from the Jewel Mountains. The Jewel Kryptonite was used by the Phantom Zone villains to attack Superman, since it could absorb and redirect their mental energy. Superman tossed the Jewel K into the sun, destroying it, but there was another piece of Jewel K that Superman overlooked. The villains had Superman pounds muggersexposed him to it earlier (trying to convince him it turned him evil) and he threw that piece into space … and that’s the piece the villains have now found. The villains all take a sacred oath to everything they can to defeat Superman, then they concentrate on the Jewel K as hard as they can. In Metropolis, a couple of punks lift a guy’s wallet and Superman kicks their asses and gives the victim a ride home. At the Daily Planet, Clark walks in on an argument between Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. Perry is running a story about Metropolis’s rising crime rate right beside the story of Superman getting rid of the explosive jewel. Perry says it’s important to show what’s happening in the city, including the negative stuff, but Jimmy says it’s not Superman’s fault that crime is up, as he can only do so much. Out in space, the aliens watch a video diary of Argo City’s demise and learn that one inhabitant gotaliens head for Earth away; Supergirl’s parents put her in a rocket and sent her to Earth to find her cousin, Superman. The aliens are stunned to learn there are two survivors of Krypton’s destruction on the same planet and they immediately start searching for Earth. A few days later, four beings plummet down from space to land on Earth: General Zod, Faora, Tyb-Ol, and Murkk. The mental energy they channeled through the Jewel K fragment released them from the Phantom Zone (although the breach wasn’t big enough for Jax-Ur to get through) and Faora demonstrates her martial arts skills by beating the shit out of Tyb-Ol. At the Daily Planet, Perry hands out assignments: Jimmy is sent to the mayor’s office to ask about police budget Faora kicks asscuts, Clark goes to talk to a vigilante who has organized a group (the White Wildcats) to take back the streets, and Lois and Lana head for Strikeback Inc., an organization that teaches women self-defense. Clark finds the White Wildcats headquarters in a shitty part of town. He gets mugged by some guys hiding in the sewer, but uses his super-breath to inundate them with water (at least I hope it’s water) and escape. He meets the White Wildcat leader Sonny Chilwa, who offers to show him one of their anti-crime training sessions. At Strikeback Inc., Lois and Lana meet the trainer, Mrs. Simpson (who’s so cool she doesn’t even take her glasses off when she spars). Lois asks for a demonstration, thinking she’ll do okay since she’s been trained in self-defense. But Mrs. Simpson tosses her around quite easily, which just makesLois gets tossed around Lois more interested in the story. Downtown, Sonny tells Clark the Wildcats have just gotten some new tech from a guy who joined a few days ago, the Commandant. Some of the Wildcats now have fancy costumes and rocket packs, which let them fly over the city and swoop down to kick ass when they see a crime. Clark is astonished and he’s really blown away when his x-ray vision reveals the jet-packs are of Kryptonian design, much more sophisticated than anything on Earth. That makes Clark eager to meet the Commandant, but he’s already promised Sonny not to mention the Commandant in his story, so he figures he’ll have to check things out as Superman.

Noticeable Things:

  • I assume the White Wildcats and their leader Sonny Chilwa are based on the real-life Guardian Angels and their founder Curtis Sliwa.

DC Presents 62 coverDC Comics Presents #62 – “Born on the Fourth of July” – Bob Rozakis, Dan Mishkin/Irv Novick/Dave Hunt

This one starts with some kids on a field trip to a museum in Washington. While most of the kids check out original copies of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, one kid gets bored and decides to sit down and read a comic … this comic, DC Presents 62. (I wonder if Rozakis and Mishkin got an assist from Italo Calvino on this story?) The comic book story starts with Superman running into Uncle Sam, who tells him the Constitution and Declaration of Independence have been stolen. Superman says he doesn’t have time to help Sam right now, since there are natural (or unnatural) disasters happening all over the country at an alarming rate. Sam tries to tell Superman there’s a correlation between the disasters andSuperman stops oil from gushing out the thefts, but the Man of Steel doesn’t stick around long enough to listen. Superman heads to a salt cavern that’s spewing oil like crazy and uses native ores to fashion a holding tank so the oil doesn’t pollute the countryside. Uncle Sam has returned to Earth X (where he’s been for the last few years) to tell his freedom Fighters teammates (Ray, Doll Man, Black Condor, and Human Bomb—I don’t know why Phantom Lady’s not there, but I’m very disappointed) that Superman wouldn’t listen to him. The Freedom Fighters know it was the Nazis theft of priceless American documents that allowed them to win World War II on Earth X, so they decide to travel to Earth-1 to stop the same thing happening again. On Earth-1, we see a bunch of modern Nazis Freedom Fighters stop rioters(wearing traditional uniforms) planning to take over the world and mold it to their liking. Clark Kent is doing a newscast about how America’s wheat crops are dying in the fields when he finds out some kind of interference is jamming the news broadcast. He heads to his Fortress of Solitude to do some research, but can’t figure out what’s killing the crops or causing the electromagnetic interference. He gets an alarm from the White House and heads for Washington. Meanwhile, the Freedom Fighters have run into another manifestation of the troubles cause by the document thefts … a mob of people are beating the shit out of each other in the streets, mostly black vs. white. The heroes try to separate the combatants, but they’re determined to keep fighting.pounding Nazis When the freedom Fighters see Superman approaching, they leave him to deal with the rioters and take off. Superman (who’s on his way to check on a Soviet ship coming into Cuba) sucks up all the oxygen around the rioters, knocking them out. Superman flies out to check the Soviet ship and finds it’s loaded with nukes. Uncle Sam tracks the stolen documents (since he has a mystical connection to them) to the Nazis hideout. The Freedom Fighters bust in and start kicking Nazi ass and Sam finds the leader, who’s about to burn the stolen documents. He’s stopped by the Ray and Uncle Sam tackles him. Out Superman moves the shipin the Atlantic, Superman considers destroying the Soviet ship, but fears that might touch off the conflict he’s trying to avoid. A space shuttle comes hurtling down on a collision course with the Soviet ship and Superman isn’t sure what to do; he doesn’t want to destroy the shuttle and kill the astronauts, but he can’t let it hit the ship either. Finally, he just lifts the ship out of the way of the shuttle, saving everyone. Back in Washington, Sam triumphs over the Nazi leader (though the fight was back and forth for a while), giving a jingoistic speech about American values and spirit and all that crap. He recovers the documents and is about to get shot in the back by another Nazi when Superman shows up to save him. Superman apologizes for not listening to Sam earlier and takes him to the White House, where Sam hands over thekid gets inspired documents to the President personally. Later, Clark Kent interviews Sam on WGBS and we get another speech about American values. We return to the kid reading the comic and we find out he’s on Earth Prime … which is our Earth, the real world. The story he just read inspires the kid to think that maybe the Constitution and Declaration of Independence aren’t just words on a page; maybe they represent the true spirit of America. He runs off to join his class and study the documents for himself and we see Uncle Sam come along and pick up the comic the kid was reading.

Noticeable Things:

  • In case you’re wondering, Earth X was a parallel Earth where World War II ended differently, with the Nazis taking over. The Freedom Fighters left their Earth (Earth-2) to help defeat the Nazis in the present day, which they eventually did after getting back the documents the Nazis stole.
  • The Ray stops the head Nazi from burning the Constitution by absorbing the flame from ten feet away; I don’t think that’s part of the Ray’s power set. As far as I know, he can control light but not flame.

Warlord Annual 2 coverWarlord Annual #2 – “The Prophecy” – Cary Burkett/Dan Jurgens/Mike DeCarlo

I’m substituting this Annual in place of the October 1983 issue of Warlord because this story fits between issues 73 and 74. I thought about waiting to review this one after I finish the regular issues (as I’m doing with some of the other Annuals), but the next issue of Warlord follows straight on from this story, so I thought I’d shoehorn it in here and just offset the last three 1983 issues of Warlord by a month. This one starts with Travis Morgan out for a ride in the forest. Like most of his outings, it gets intense pretty fast. He comes upon a guy being attacked by a pack of reptilian dogs. Morgan jumps in and starts wasting the lizard-dogs, which he soon realizes are well-trained. He gets bitten I the shoulder but he and the other guy manage to kill all the lizard-dogs. Morgan’s new acquaintance is named Krystovar, a loremaster who luckily has somewasting lizard-dogs knowledge of healing. He treats Morgan’s wound and thanks him for helping against the lizard-dogs, which he claims were sent by his enemies. When Krystovar notices Morgan’s winged helmet, he gets all worked up and says fate must have been behind their meeting. He takes Morgan to a safer place to cauterize his wound and extract the poison from the lizard-dog bite. While he’s healing Morgan, Krystovar tells why he’s so excited about the helmet. It all started in ancient Atlantis, a land of peace, prosperity, and learning. Atlantis was patrolled by the Order of the Sea Eagle, who wore winged helmets like Morgan’s, and glided over Atlantis in swan boats. But the Atlanteans became bored with their easy peace and turned to more hedonistic pleasures, which inevitably led to depravity. Atlantean decadenceThey began practicing human sacrifice and worse, like changing humans into animals as a sick game to see who could create the most outlandish monstrosity. A leader of the Sea Eagles (Norrad the Younger) grew tired of the evil of Atlantis, so he gathered some followers and took off in the last of attacked by Broodthe swan ships. Apparently Norrad was in tune with the magnetic grid surrounding the Earth (I’m not sure if this is meant to be Ley Lines or something else) and used that connection to bring his ship to a place in tune with Atlantis … namely Skartaris. Actually, Norrad’s ship landed in a hollow realm between Earth and Skartaris, but connected to both. There they carved out a colony called New Atlantis, which grew steadily under Norrad’s wise leadership. Morgan wonders what all that has to do with whoever is chasing Krystovar, but before he can continue his tale, their camp is found by another lizard-dogs. Morgan and Krystovar chase the lizard-dog on Morgan’s horse but get jumped by a bunch of half-animal rejects from the Island of Dr. Moreau. They’re called the Brood and include a leopard-man, panther-man, lion-man, ape-man, and warthog-man. Some of them remind me of Marvel’s Knights of Wundagore. Morgan shoots the ape-manNorrad fights assassins but he and Krystovar are soon captured and the warthog-man takes Morgan’s gun. They’re trussed to poles and taken through the jungle to a ship, where they’re tied in the hold. Since they have nothing but time now, Krystovar resumes his tale about Norrad and New Atlantis. Eventually, the original Atlantis was destroyed and a band of survivors showed up in New Atlantis, led by a guy named Ar-Diamphos. Norrad welcomed them warily, since Ar-Diamphos was quite the asshole back in Atlantis. Norrad made the newcomers swear to leave their decadent practices behind, but that just drove them to conduct their weird rituals in secret. Ar-Diamphos’s power grew and he sent queen gets away with Norrad's helmetassassins to kill Norrad. Norrad wasted them but was mortally wounded himself. He dictated a dying prophecy that his helmet should be taken out of New Atlantis and would return someday, heralding the end of the Atlanteans’ evil ways. When Norrad died, his wife and scribe took the prophecy and left, but Ar-Diamphos’s men caught the scribe and killed him, retrieving the scroll of prophecy. Norrad’s wife and the helmet were never seen again … until Krystovar ran into Morgan apparently wearing it. Krystovar says Ar-Diamphos either killed the rest of Norrad’s followers or turned them into beast-men. The most savage beast-men (the Brood) became Ar-Diamphos’s personal bodyguards and things went on that way for centuries. Now a descendant of Ar-Diamphos rules New Atlantis, with new Brood bodyguards and captured slaves under his thumb. While talking, Krystovarfighting their way off the ship has been working himself free from his chains. He frees Morgan, but is reluctant to talk much about his own story. He admits he’s been looking for New Atlantis for years, since his twin brother was captured by a raiding party as a kid. He stole some items the New Atlanteans wanted back, which is why they pursued him so far. He and Morgan sneak up on deck and find they’re sailing through the underground passage between Skartaris and New Atlantis. A guard discovers them and they get into a big fight. Before they get recaptured, Morgan climbs the rigging and dives off into the water, expecting Krystovar to follow. But Krystovar won’t leave the ship without the items he risked his life to steal, so Morgan ends up in the water alone, pulled down by a Morgan finds some Atlantean techwhirlpool. He manages to make his way through to an underground grotto and rests before heading down a tunnel. The end of the tunnel is blocked and when he tries to clear it, he ends up falling down an incline and winds up finding a huge chamber. The chamber is full of high-tech equipment—flying saucers, grenades, one-man rocket sleds—covered with the dust of centuries. Morgan takes some of the grenades, putting them in a satchel that was filled with some cassettes with weird markings on them. He keeps one to show Krystovar, then takes one of the rocket sleds (which look a bit like the swan boat Krystovar described, except these are much smaller). Since Morgan has flown an Atlantean rocket sled before, he figures this one out pretty wellMorgan gets his gun back and gets out of the chamber with a little help from the sled’s laser cannon. He finds the underground passage again and heads for New Atlantis. Meanwhile, Krystovar has been brought before the New Atlantean king, Ar-Pharazael, who gives him shit for stealing the ancient scroll of prophecy. Ar-Pharazael doesn’t believe the old prophecy, but when he finds Morgan’s helmet among the stuff taken from the prisoners, he gets worried. He orders the beast-changing machine prepared so he can get rid of Krystovar for good. Morgan reaches New Atlantis and finds the ship they were captives on. He decks the warthog-man, who had taken Morgan’s gun, and threatens to blow his head off if he doesn’t tell him where Krystovar is. Krystovar is about to be changed into a cockroach-man when Morgan swoops down on his rocket sled and starts blasting lasers everywhere. The Morgan blows up the beast-changer machinelaser can’t destroy the beast-changer, so Morgan flies the sled into it, destroying the machine. Ar-Pharazael is crushed under falling debris and Morgan rescues Krystovar. He tosses some of the grenades he brought and finds they emit a mist that dissolves everything it touches. Krystovar asks Ar-Pharazael about his brother, but the dying king says he was transformed into one of the Brood. Morgan and Krystovar take off in a boat, pursued by a warship. Morgan uses his last grenade to sink the warship and they sail away. As they sail through the tunnels to Skartaris, Morgan looks at the cassette he brought from the chamber and notices it has the swan symbol of New Atlantis on it … with theMorgan and Krystovar flee New Atlantis U.S. Air Force logo superimposed on top. The cassette also has a name on it: Lt. Robert Cole, USAF. Morgan wonders how an Air force identification cassette could’ve ended up in a chamber with a bunch of futuristic (but ancient) Atlantean weaponry. He vows to come back and investigate someday and Krystovar (who managed to grab the sacred scrolls before escaping) agrees, saying Morgan was destined to wear Norrad’s helmet.

Noticeable Things:

  • When Krystovar mentions Norrad’s band coming to Skartaris, Morgan recalls other Atlanteans who made that journey and ended up blowing themselves to hell with nuclear weapons. Krystovar says those Atlanteans came to Skartaris later and weren’t connected to Norrad and his people.

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