Comics Reviews: Superman 393, Action 553, DC Comics Presents 67, All-Star Squadron 31, Infinity Inc 1

Superman 393 coverSuperman #393 – “The Day They Nuked Superman” – Bob Rozakis, Joey Cavalieri/Irv Novick/Dick Giordano

This one starts with Clark Kent and Lana Lang doing their nightly newscast (and we learn that former sportscaster Steve Lombard is now a used-car salesman, which seems perfect for him). One of the people watching the news is Carl Draper (Master Jailer) and he’s still hung up on Lana, wondering why she’s going out with a loser like Clark. Master Jailer has been planning revenge on Superman (who he doesn’t know is actually Clark) for a while, studying up on Krypton and even recording the light from Krypton’s explosion when it finally reached Earth. Master Jailer goes to a missile silo and launches some nukes. Superman hears about the launch and goes to stop the missiles before they cause a catastrophe. Maser Jailer has modified the missiles and they lock ontoSuperman coated in kryptonite Superman, who leads them up into space where they can detonate harmlessly. Unfortunately, they aren’t harmless to him … the missiles impregnate his costume with kryptonite, fusing it right to his skin so he can’t remove it. As the kryptonite begins to affect him, Superman flies weakly to his Fortress of Solitude, where he can barely lift the giant key to put it in the lock. As Superman stumbles inside, he gets a radio message from Master Jailer, who’s tracking him by the kryptonite radiation. Master Jailer says Clark Kent is his real target, but he had to get Superman out of the way to keep him from protecting (or avenging) Clark. When Master Jailer tunes in to the news to observe Clark before killing him, he’s pissed off to learn Clark is absent tonight. Master Jailer assumes Master Jailer interrupts horny coupleSuperman somehow anticipated his plan and sent Clark into hiding. Master Jailer heads to WGBS to look for Clark. After pushing Morgan Edge around, surprising a horny couple in Clark’s office, and roughing up some guards, Jailer decides Clark isn’t there and takes off. Jailer swings by Clark’s apartment just in time to see Clark heading down to a tenants’ meeting with a neighbour. Master Jailer busts into the meeting to kill Clark, but gets a shock when Clark reveals himself to be Superman. Jailer (and everyone else) assumes Superman was pretending to be Clark as a ruse to catch Jailer. They fight and Superman gets the civilians to safety before trying his heat vision. Master Jailer uses his special key to absorb the heat and sends it right back at Superman. Supes improvises, pulverizing a garbage can into metal shavings and blowingMaster Jailer coated in metal filings them all over Master Jailer. The metal coating prevents him from using his technology, trapping him inside his suit much like he did with Superman and the kryptonite sheath earlier. If you’re wondering how Superman escaped the kryptonite surrounding his body, he whipped up some copies of the nukes that coated him in kryptonite, exposed them to his Bizarro-ray to make imperfect duplicates, and set them off. He had a 50/50 chance of blowing himself to hell or getting rid of the kryptonite … luckily, the latter happened. Later, Clark tells Lana on the evening news how Superman uncovered Master Jailer’s plot and took his place to protect him. Lana is a bit suspicious, but apparently buys Clark’s story.

Noticeable Things:

  • I like Irv Novick’s art on this issue, especially the way he draws theglamour shot of Lana non-costumed characters. His version of Lana is pretty glamorous (and hot); I can totally believe she’s a TV news anchor.

 

 

 

Action 553 coverAction #553 – “The World at Time’s End” – Marv Wolfman/Gil Kane

Last issue, Vandal Savage used some weird spores to infect Superman. Savage tapped into the power of seven mysterious time pyramids (whose origin even Savage isn’t aware of) to activate the spores and cause a primordial forest to suddenly grow in Metropolis Park, which Savage has surrounded by an impenetrable force bubble. The bubble is expanding and Savage hopes to cover the entire Earth in prehistoric forest, returning the planet to the state it was in when Savage was born 50,000 years ago. Out West, the Immortal Man has gathered a group of Forgotten Heroes (Dolphin, Dane Dorrance, Congo Bill, Cave Carson, Animal Man, Rick Flag, and an aged Rip Hunter) to stop Superman before he inadvertently ends the world. Immortal Man tells theImmortal Man origin Forgotten Heroes that he was around 50,000 years ago when Vandal Savage gained immortality from a meteorite and Immortal Man also became immortal that day. He’s opposed Savage ever since, dying and being reborn countless times, but always doing his best to stop Savage’s plans for world domination. In Metropolis, Superman finally busts free of the force field and the prehistoric vegetation springs forth as well. After stopping a lava flow, Superman is contacted by Immortal Man, who tells him about the spores and what to do about them. Vandal Savage shows up and claims his company (Abraxas) detected a time anomaly in the park and contained it in the force bubble. Savage says the dinosaurs would’ve been reborn and died inside the accelerated time in the bubble, providing endless supplies of fossil fuels, but Savage works the crowdSuperman broke loose and now the whole planet is threatened. The crowd believes Savage’s bullshit, blaming Superman for dooming them. Immortal Man and his allies watch Savage twist the truth and decide they’d better destroy the time pyramids to stop his evil scheme. Superman is out in space, heading for the sun to burn the spores off himself. The Forgotten Heroes split up to deal with the pyramids: Dolphin and Dane go under the ocean, Congorilla to the African jungle, Rick Flag to Cambodia (where he shoots a dinosaur), and Animal Man to Brazil. Thanks to Savage’s machinations, the American government is protecting the pyramids and tries to stop the Heroes. Superman burns off the spores and returns to Metropolis to take care of some rampaging dinosaurs. Immortal Man summons Superman and tellsSuperman destroys the original pyramid him they have to destroy the original pyramid, the one at the beginning of time that aged Rip and his crew. Rip and his team volunteer to accompany Superman back in time and they zoom off in Rip’s time sphere. As they get close to the pyramid, Rip and friends are knocked out, leaving Superman to fly through the tremendous forces at the beginning of time and destroy the pyramid. Rip and his crew return to the present (and their proper ages) to find that the other pyramids have vanished into thin air. The primordial forest in Metropolis has disappeared too, pissing Vandal Savage off to no end. The government confirms that the pyramids are all gone and admits that they have no idea what they were for and probably never will. So everything turned out great … except Superman didn’t return with Rip and the others. Did I forget to mention that? We’ll see what happened to the Man of Steel (and learn more about the pyramids) next issue.

DC Presents 67 coverDC Comics Presents #67 – “Twas the Fright Before Christmas” – Len Wein, E. Nelson Bridwell/Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson

This one is pretty goofy; I’m not sure if it’s meant to be imaginary or if we’re supposed to take it seriously. We start with a kid trying to mug a sidewalk Santa. Superman stops the kid, who seems to be in some kind of trance. Superman takes him to his Fortress and de-hypnotizes him. The kid (whose name turns out to be Timmy Dickens … yeah, you heard me) was hypnotized by the toy ray gun he found while rooting through his house for the Christmas presents his parents hid. (Timmy makes a big deal out of being too old to believe in Santa.) Superman gets the entire hypnotic message from Timmy’s subconscious and realizes Toyman is behind this scheme. As Superman is flying Timmy home, the toy sends out a ray thatSuperman knocked out of the sky knocks Superman for a loop. He manages to save Timmy, but crash lands in the snow and passes out. Timmy freaks out, thinking he’ll freeze to death. Luckily, they’re found by some elves. I told you this story was goofy. Elsewhere, Toyman has been monitoring Superman’s fall (although he’s lost the transmission now) and congratulates himself for using white dwarf energy to cancel Superman’s flying powers. He decides he’d better be ready in case Superman somehow survives. The Man off Steel wakes up in Santa’s house at the North Pole and almost shits a brick when he realizes where he is (and meets Santa). Santa shows Superman and Timmy his Santa's workshopultra-sophisticated workshop and world monitoring station, where he can look in on anybody … including Toyman. Superman reminisces about a holo-projector toy he had as a baby on Krypton. Santa finds out Toyman has planted more booby-trapped toys all over the world and decides he’d better do something about it, since Superman’s still not back to 100%. Santa, Supes, and Timmy land at Toyman’s hideout (a giant toy store naturally) and bust in. Superman is attacked by numerous deadly toys, so Santa sends in some toys of his own to even the odds. Yeah, it’s a toy rumble (there’s even a gorilla toy, although I’m not sure which side it’s on) and the toys pound each other to pieces. It kinda reminds me of that Xena episode (A Solsticebig toy fight Carol) where they use toys to fight the king’s soldiers; there’s even a scene where Santa throws some marbles on the floor to trip Toyman up. The good toys win and Superman gets a list of the people Toyman sent sabotaged toys to. He, Santa, and Timmy zoom around replacing all the booby-trapped toys with real ones. As Timmy’s leaving with Santa (who’s dropping him at home), Superman takes the original ray gun from him and gets zapped again, waking up in the snow near the North Pole with the anxious Timmy bending over him. Superman assumes it was all a dream … except Timmy now believes in Santa Claus for some reason. Superman drops Timmy off and heads home, where he finds a surprise in his cape pouch … a Kryptonian holo-projector like he had when he was a baby.

All-Star Squadron 31 coverAll-Star Squadron #31 – “Uncle Sam Wants You” – Roy Thomas/Rick Hoberg/Mike Machlan

This one starts with a masked man named Midnight being chased through the streets of New York by Nazis. He’s carrying a safety deposit box (with holes in it) and whatever’s in the box must be pretty important. Midnight manages to elude his deadly pursuers by jumping on a train. He hopes he can find the All-Star Squadron or the entire world might be in trouble. He’s not the only one looking for the All-Stars tonight. Hawkman and Hawkgirl are winging toward the Perisphere and run into a couple of super-heroes on the way: Black Condor and the Ray. They’re going to the big meeting of the All-Stars, to which pretty much every active super-hero has been invited. Despite knowing that, the Hawks and their new friends are blown away when they arrive to find the Perisphere absolutely packed with super-heroes.roll call 1 We get a few vignettes of various people interacting: the junior partners (Speedy, Robin, Dyna-Mite, and Sandy) boast about their mentors; the Seven Soldiers of Victory introduce themselves to some JSA members and Manhunter meets his namesake, who challenges him to fight for the right to the name (DC and Quality both had Manhunters in the 40s); Ted (Starman) Knight greets his cousin Sandra (Phantom Lady) Knight, who has a new mask; and the Hawks almost have a heart attack when they see Liberty Belle’s snazzy new costume. The meeting is called to order and we get a couple of two-page spreads for the roll call, which illustrate why this issue was one of my favourites as a kid. roll call 2After a few loose ends are tied up (including a mention of Aquaman which will soon be out-of-continuity) and a message from President Roosevelt, Liberty Belle calls the meeting to order. Before she can get to new business, she’s interrupted by Uncle Sam, who says he needs their help. Meanwhile, Midnight’s pursuers close in on him and he ends up wrecking the train to get rid of them, barely surviving the conflagration himself. At the Perisphere, Uncle Sam tells the All-Stars he stumbled into a parallel Earth aUncle Sam asks for help while back where there were no super-heroes and the Nazis were winning the war. Uncle Sam recruited a bunch of D-list heroes from Earth-2 (plus Hourman, who apparently had nothing better to do) to fight the Nazis in the parallel world (Earth X). But his recruits were all slaughtered, so Sam came back to Earth-2 to get help. He also needs help getting back to Earth X, since the dimensional barrier seems to be closed now. The All-Stars start arguing about whether to help Sam or not; Spectre says he’s never heard of Earth X and some of the All-Stars think it’s stupid to go to another Earth when there are Nazis to fight right here. Others say Nazis should be opposed on whatever Earth they inhabit. Before things get out of hand, Liberty Belle calls for a vote, but they’re interrupted when Midnight staggers in half dead and collapses. When phantom lady opens the box Midnight was carrying, she finds Doll Man inside, and he looks like he might be dying.

Infinity Inc 1 coverInfinity Inc. #1 – “Generations” – Roy Thomas/Jerry Ordway/Mike Machlan

This one starts with a meeting of the modern JSA: Hawkman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, Dr. Fate, Atom, Hourman, Dr. Mid-Nite, Johnny Thunder, Starman, Wildcat, Power Girl, Star-Spangled Kid, Huntress, and Robin. The only ones missing are Sandman (who recently had a stroke) and Superman, who’s off on a mission somewhere. The meeting is about the Secret Society villains who were consigned to Limbo in JLA 197; recently, Dr. Fate tried to retrieve the villains, but found Limbo was closed to his magic. Before they can conduct any business, they’re interrupted by four costumed youngsters (Fury, Northwind, Silver Scarab, and Nuklon) who bust in and demand to join the JSA. Wonder Woman, Hawkman, and Atom think some of these kids lookintroduction fight familiar, but the others decide to start a brawl with the intruders. Wonder Woman finally ends it by snaring them with her lasso and she and Hawkman make the newcomers unmask. Of course, we recognize them from the All-Star Squadron crossover, but the vagaries of time travel have left only fleeting memories in most of the JSAers. The reason Hawkman and Wonder Woman know them is because they’re family: Fury is Wonder Woman’s daughter Lyta Trevor; Silver Scarab is Hawkman’s son Hector Hall; Northwind is Hawkman’s adopted son from Feithera; and Nuklon is Albert Rothstein, Cyclotron’s grandson and Atom’s godson. The JSA aren’t thrilled that their kids busted in and demanded to join the team, but Robin talks them into at least discussing it rationally. Hector and Lyta's originInfinity Inc is asked to wait outside and we get each of their origins. Hector tells the others (and us) how his parents were usually absent, either doing super-hero stuff or off on archaeological digs. At UCLA, Hector met Lyta (or re-met her, since they’d known each other as kids) and they started dating. Lyta wanted to take her mom’s place as Wonder Woman, but her parents insisted she go to college first. Since Hector wanted to be a super-hero too, he showed Lyta the costume he’d made of anti-gravity Nth Metal (plus some solar-powered additions) and suggested they apply for membership in the JSA together. Al tells his story next: his mom is Terry (Cyclotron) Curtis’s daughter Terri, who was raised by Atom and Firebrand. She married a guy named Rothstein,Al's origin who was killed in Vietnam, and because of Cyclotron’s radiation powers, Terri’s son grew up to be 7’6” and a walking powerhouse. Al knew Lyta and Hector vaguely when they were kids, so when they invited him to apply for JSA membership with them, he agreed. Northwind’s story is next and we find out he’s half-human, half-Feitheran. (Feithera is a city of bird-people discovered by Hawkman.) Northwind’s father was a scientist (Fred Cantrell) who came to Feithera to study the natives and ended up falling in love with one of them. Hawkman kind of adopted Northwind, which pissed Hector off since Northwind could fly with Hawkman and he couldn’t. Hector still hasn’t gotten over his Northwind's originresentment and is kind of a dick to Northwind, although the others are cool with him. The Infinitors are called back in to hear the results of the vote (which was close, 8-7 with Hawkman casting the deciding vote). The JSA has voted not to accept them as members now, but says they can re-apply in the future. Hector gets pissed off (he seems to have multiple chips on his shoulders), but before he can get too worked up, the final two members of Infinity Inc show up to apply for JSA membership. (I bet you were wondering where they were.) Yup, it’s Jade and Obsidian and (as hinted in their previous appearance) they claim to be Green Lantern’s kids. GL says he doesn’t have any kids, but doesn’t seem like he quite believes that himself, as he says there’s some vague memory inJade and Obsidian show up his mind about something to do with having children. Unfortunately, Jade and Obsidian have no clue who their mother is, so they can’t shed much light on GL’s foggy memories. After also being rejected, Jade and Obsidian decide to join Infinity Inc and form their own super-team. They take off and Power Girl and Huntress decide to follow them, wondering if the JSA has something against younger members. Even Star-Spangled Kid is tempted to walk out, possibly because he’s hot for Power Girl. Before anyone else can leave, Brainwave shows up, busting through the wall to say he has important matters to discuss. Star-Spangled Kid gets worried because if Brainwave is Brainwave busts inout of Limbo, then the other villains probably are too and could attack at any time. This is obviously just a way of introducing the Infinitors and relating their origins, but it’s mostly exposition with a couple of pointless fights with the older generation thrown in. But this kicks off a long storyline that basically runs through the first ten issues, so it will get a lot more interesting.

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