Superman 395, Action 555, DC Comics Presents 69, All-Star Squadron 33, Infinity Inc 2

Superman 395 coverSuperman #395 – “The Power and the People” – Elliot S! Maggin/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt

Last issue, a guy named Bucky Berns started writing a column for the Daily Planet and by some weird quirk of fate, everything Bucky wrote about actually happened. Bucky is now running for President (with Superman’s endorsement) and advanced polls show he has a good chance of winning. Unfortunately, Bucky’s popularity (and predictive powers) are due to some Russians who have been bombarding him with “actualization” rays from a satellite that made whatever Bucky wrote about come true. Now that Bucky is running for President, the Russians plan to take over his mind and control the country through him. Russians interfering in an American election? Impossible. Anyway, Superman suspects the weirdnessSuperman tested by vikings surrounding Bucky may have something to do with Valdemar and his settlement of time-lost Vikings who we met last issue. Superman has to undergo several trials to join the Vikings before they’ll help him: first, the Path of Pain, which he weathers quite easily; then, the Circle of Wizards, where his will power helps him overcome his vulnerability to magic; and finally, the Dark Cave, where he must confront the worst thing his soul can imagine. Nothing happens in the cave and Superman starts thinking about how he was suddenly compelled to endorse Bucky for President and secretly told Bucky to play along. After mulling things over a while longer, Superman emerges from the cave and gets a shock … a year has passed since he went inside the cave. He freaks out Superman finds mind-controlled Buckyand heads back to Metropolis and finds a city he hardly recognizes. As Clark Kent, he runs into fascist cops carrying military weapons and after escaping he goes to see Perry White. Perry and his wife are back together, but she’s not too happy that Perry has turned the Daily Planet into a propaganda rag for the repressive government. Perry tells Clark to meet him at a diner in half an hour and when Clark gets there, Perry takes him into the back room where Perry and a bunch of others are printing an underground newspaper. Perry’s underground paper chronicles the real news—food riots, invasions, arrests without trial. Clark changes to Superman and heads to the White House where he finds Bucky under the mental domination of the Russians. They try to kill Superman and he fights back, but finds himself emerging from the DarkSuperman smashes orbiting robots Cave only minutes after he entered. He realizes it was all a vision, but knows there’s truth behind it and heads for Russia. He smashes the headquarters of the spies and goes into space to dismantle their satellite. He’s attacked by robots shooting red sun energy, but overcomes them and returns to Earth with the core of the smashed satellite, interrupting a meeting of the spies. Later, Bucky withdraws from the election and the democratic process goes ahead without any outside interference. Superman muses over how even his power is small compared to the will of the people and hopes he’ll always be able to insure the process remains free.

Action 555 coverAction #555 – “Reunion” – Paul Kupperberg/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt

This one starts with Superman stopping a falling crane from smashing into a bunch of people on the sidewalk. The people are all grateful, but one observer (in a hat and trenchcoat) has some darker thoughts about the Man of Steel. Superman changes to Clark Kent and attends a meeting at WGBS with Lana Lang and Morgan Edge. Outside, the guy in the trenchcoat nears the building and runs into some asshole who fancies himself a karate expert. But the expert suddenly forgets how to do karate, almost as if the knowledge had been drained fromParasite attacks Clark his head. That, along with the fact that we see the trenchcoat guy has a purple hand, should give you a clue who he is. Inside, Clark calls his cousin Linda (Supergirl) Danvers and asks her to meet him in Midvale at precisely 12:17 for a big surprise. Clark has lunch with Lana (I guess they’re still dating), but after she leaves he suddenly feels really weak, like he’s going to pass out. He goes to the supply room and runs into the Parasite, who drains his powers and punches him out. Lana finds him later and Clark says he has the flu and must’ve passed out. He leaves to look for Parasite and his powers slowly begin to return. He searches the city and finds Parasite, who drains his powers again. After Superman busts out of the cellplaying with Superman a bit, Parasite finally knocks him out and takes him to a floating prison cell high in the sky. Parasite stole the design of the cell from a STAR scientist’s mind and he shoves Superman inside, sealing the airtight container with his stolen heat vision. Superman is trapped in the cell with only four minutes of air, but soon figures out how to escape. By using Clark’s glasses (which are made of glass from the rocket that brought Superman to Earth as a baby) he cuts the cell open and breaks free. Parasite thinks he still has the upper hand, since Superman has no powers now, but Supes uses the glasses to reflect sunlight into Parasite’s eyes, allowing Superman to pretend he has super-speed again. Parasite is confused and drops hishypnotizing Parasite concentration, letting Superman get close enough to hypnotize him with the glasses. Superman regains his powers and decks Parasite, taking him to a special holding cell before heading off to Midvale for his meeting with Supergirl. Turns out she ran into Parasite too (or someone just like him), but Superman tells her that can wait and unveils his big surprise. What is the surprise? We don’t find out because this story is continued In Supergirl #20, which I’m not reviewing. (It turned out to be a statue to celebrate the anniversary of Supergirl’s arrival on Earth and the JLA and Teen Titans were there to help celebrate.)

DC Presents 69 coverDC Comics Presents #69 – “Back to World War II” – Mark Evanier/Irv Novick/Dennis Jensen

This is an Earth-1 story, so I guess there were versions of the Blackhawks on Earth-1 as well as Earth-2. The story starts with Perry White receiving a long-lost award for writing a kick-ass story way back in 1940 when he was a war correspondent. Too bad Perry doesn’t remember he story in question (about Hitler’s Secret Olympics). Superman gets curious and goes back in time to investigate. As Clark Kent (well, actually he calls himself Jonathan Clinton) he buddies up to Perry, who’s working as a war correspondent in London a few months before America joined the war. Perry hasn’t broken any big stories yet, but he gets a tip about some Nazis attacking Buckingham palace and the BlackhawksBlackhawks introductions fighting them. Clark tags along and Perry tells him (and us) who the Blackhawks are: Stanislaus from Poland; Chuck from Texas; Andre, a Frenchman; Hendrickson, who’s Dutch; Olaf, the acrobatic Swede; Chop Chop, the Chinese dynamo; and their leader, Blackhawk. The Blackhawks take out the Nazis but realize the attack was a diversion. The real assault was a contingent of British athletes who were kidnapped by Nazis. The Blackhawks take off to find the kidnappers, followed by Perry and Clark. In Germany, we see Hitler checking out some steroid-ridden Nazis. Apparently he’s going to film these Nazis beating the kidnapped athletes as a propaganda tool, which Superman helps Perrysounds pretty stupid to me. The Blackhawks find a field to land in, but Perry’s plane lands at an airstrip where he’s accosted by a Nazi. A little surreptitious help from Superman takes out the Nazi, giving Perry time to escape. Clark is captured by another guard and thrown in a cell with Albert Einstein, who the Nazis have also grabbed. In town, a disguised Blackhawk (with a little help from Chop Chop) gets the scoop on Hitler’s “Olympics” plan and Chuck gets dragged off by the Gestapo (which is part of the plan). Out at the airstrip, the Blackhawks find Perry, but Blackhawk says he checked him out and invites Perry to accompany them to where the athletes are being held. Back near the airstrip, Einstein is ordered to come up with a formula for making a humanClark impresses Einstein indestructible. Clark pretends to be Einstein’s lab assistant and ends up dousing himself with chemicals. He pretends the chemicals gave him super-strength and says he’ll fashion a costume with an “S” on the chest for “science”. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks bust the athletes out but the Blackhawks are forced to surrender when Perry is caught. The Nazis figure having their steroid champion beat Blackhawk will make great propaganda, so they put them in an arena to fight. Superman impresses Einstein with his powers, but when he figures out Blackhawk is in trouble, he ditches the scientist and rushes to help. Blackhawk gets tossed right over the wall and Superman takes his Superman disguised as Blackhawkplace, kicking the shit out of the big Nazi. Hitler burns the film of the fight rather than risk it getting out and the Germans take off, leaving Blackhawk to reunite with his team and wonder how the hell he beat the Nazi. Perry’s not quite sure how it happened either, but he knows he has a great story about Hitler’s secret Olympics, so he gives it to the Blackhawks to take to London while he noses around a bit more. Unfortunately, Himmler grabs Perry and wipes his memory so he can’t write about the Nazi humiliation. Himmler figures killing Perry would corroborate whatever the Blackhawks say, so he just wipes Perry’s memory. That explains why Perry doesn’t remember the story in the future … at least, until Superman returns to the present to fill him in.

All-Star Squadron 33 coverAll-Star Squadron #33 – “The Battle of Santa Barbara—Times Two” – Roy Thomas/Rick Hoberg/Bill Collins

Last issue, Uncle Sam took a number of All-Stars (Black Condor, Ray, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, Doll Man, and Red Bee) to Earth-X to help stop a Japanese invasion of California. The All-Stars on Earth-2 got wind that the Japanese might be attacking their own West Coast, so a few of them (Liberty Belle, Johnny Quick, Firebrand, and Starman) headed out to see what’s up. On Earth-X, Uncle Sam’s team arrive just in time to fight off the first wave of the Japanese attack, which is trying to reach some oil refineries. The Freedom Fighters (as they’ll soon be known) head out to sea to attack the Japanese fleet. Meanwhile, the Spectre (who transportedJohnny learns about Cannon the Freedom Fighters to Earth-X last issue) is still pissed off that he can’t help them. He’s reminded by his heavenly boss that his powers are meant to help Earth-2 only. Spectre feels there’s a connection between events on the two Earths and decides to look in on Earth-2 to see what’s happening there. As the quartet of All-Stars approach Santa Barbara, Liberty Belle tells Johnny Quick that they’re meeting a Captain named Rick Cannon … who has the hots for Libby Lawrence, Belle’s civilian identity. Since Johnny’s been in love with Belle since they met, he’s not too happy about that. Cannon isn’t at the rendezvous point, so Liberty Belle and Starman follow some suspicious Liberty Belle faces Tsunamifootprints. Johnny and firebrand scout around and find a drifting houseboat just off shore. It turns out to belong to Neptune Perkins, a Golden Age goofball who says he’s looking for a missing Coast Guard ship. They spot a periscope and dive into the water to check it out. Meanwhile, Liberty Belle and Starman follow Cannon’s trail to the Japanese section of the city where a number of Issei (who were born in Japan and emigrated to America) and Nisei (who were born in America) have gathered. A woman in a trenchcoat brings Cannon in tied up and starts rabble-rousing. She’s pissed off about being treated like a second-class citizen in her own country (she’s American born) and tries to get her fellow citizens to rise against America, but the other Japanese are loyal to their new homeland. She throws off her coat toHourman in trouble reveal a costume and says her name is Tsunami. The Japanese-Americans still won’t join her, so she prepares to leave with Cannon. Liberty Belle and Starman bust in and attack Tsunami, but she has super-strength. She’s about to crush Liberty Belle with a heavy crate when an old Issei jumps in front of her and gets crushed. Tsunami freaks out and takes off and before he dies the old man tells Liberty Belle Tsunami is really his daughter, Miyo Shimada. In interdimensional limbo, Spectre tries to return to Earth-2, but ends up creating a situation where Earth-2 and Earth-X are on a collision course. If they wind up occupying the same space, both will be obliterated. On Earth-X, the Freedom Fighters attack the Japanese fleet, but they get a shock when they run into Baron Blitzkrieg, who has a surprise for them … Hourman, strapped to the mouth of an artillery piece.

Infinity Inc 2 coverInfinity Inc. #2 – “A Gauntlet Hurled” – Roy Thomas/Jerry Ordway/Mike Machlan

Last issue, a bunch of second-generation super-heroes (Silver Scarab, Northwind, Fury, Nuklon, Jade, and Obsidian) tried to join the JSA and were rejected. They’re all pretty pissed off about it and Jade suggests they go out for some food. They go to a fast food place that seems to be called MacTavish’s, but by the look of the place I assume it’s supposed to represent McDonald’s. Since it’s late at night, the place is full of pimps, hookers, hustlers, and other assorted riffraff. You can probably guess where this is going. Yeah, there’s a big brawl and the junior heroes do pretty well until a strung-out girl pulls a gun. She’s taken downrestaurant fight by Huntress, who’s just arrived with Power Girl to talk to the youngsters. They decide to take off before the cops show up and tell the manager to send the bill to the JSA. Back at JSA headquarters, the team confronts Brainwave, who showed up at the end of last issue. But it turns out to be the original Brainwave’s son, the imaginatively-named Brainwave Jr. Naturally, we get the usual misunderstanding fight, even though Brainwave Jr. insists he’s not a villain like his father and that he has valuable information about Ultra-Humanite to tell them. He tosses the JSA around a bit with his mental powers until Star-Spangled Kid stops the fight. Dr. Fate talks Hawkman into hearing what Brainwave Jr. JSA fighting Brainwave Jrhas to say, but he’s too pissed off to talk to most of the JSAers. He and Star-Spangled Kid leave to find the others, who are currently at Power Girl’s apartment. Jade and Obsidian tell the others they were adopted (separately) and aren’t certain they’re Green Lantern’s kids, even though they told him they were last issue. We get some more arguing among the heroes (I guess Roy’s trying to make this more like a Marvel comic) and Power Girl and Huntress tell their own tragic backstories. Star-Spangled kid shows up with Brainwave Jr. and tells everyone he’s tired of being treated like a kid by the JSA. (Star-Spangled Kid was sent to the past as a teenager and rescued in the present, so he’s still quite youngInfinity Inc forms compared to most of the JSA.) He tells the others he’s forming a new super-hero group called Infinity Inc. and wants all of them to join. Everyone agrees—at least provisionally—and Star-Spangled Kid says he’ll fill them in on the details later. Brainwave Jr. takes the floor and mentions the Secret Society of Super-Villains being captured and sent to Limbo back in JLA 197. Limbo has been closed off ever since (even to Dr. Fate), but Brainwave Jr. says he’s been getting mental flashes that Ultra-Humanite is planning something. Before he can elaborate, Ultra-Humanite launches a psychic attack, knocking out Infinity Inc. before asking Brainwave Jr. to join him. Brainy refuses and Ultra-Humanite knocks him out with a mental blast, then Ultra-Humanite's mental attackimplants a suggestion in the minds of six Infinitors (Jade, Obsidian, Nuklon, Fury, Northwind, and Silver Scarab). When they wake up, the six Infinitors decide to take up Ultra’s challenge and head for Washington State. Brainwave Jr. wakes up and uses his mental powers to figure out the Infinitors are at Mount St. Helens. He arrives in time to see them get into a strange capsule, but can’t warn them before the capsule disappears. Brainwave Jr. throws himself into the capsule’s time vortex and ends up in 1942 New York with the other Infinitors nowhere to be seen. Brainwave Jr. remembers Jonathan law (aka Tarantula) lived not far away, so he goes to find him … and that brings us to the events of All-Star Squadron 24 (and subsequent issues), which we’ve already seen. We’ll get back to the present next issue.

7 thoughts on “Superman 395, Action 555, DC Comics Presents 69, All-Star Squadron 33, Infinity Inc 2”

  1. (Again, my comic is only related to the Action title you reviewed as it is the only series of the 3 you review that I collected): This is a comic I remember buying brand new off the shelf. My mom dragged me to the grocery store (well, not really, I think she wanted me to come with her for some reason, and she promised to buy a comic if I did (back then, there were comics on the rack at the checkout line next to the candy)), and I bought this. I remember being a bit bummed that the story was continued in Supergirl as even my local comic store didn’t carry it besides special orders (which I didn’t make), so I never read the companion story. I still haven’t…hmm, I guess I can see if I can find it online

      1. I read it for the first time right after sending you the original message (I did care, but it didn’t occur to me that I could find the comic online-I typically just reread the comics I already own) It was neat to see. Shall I tell you? (I don’t want to type a big spoiler if you don’t want to know)

      2. Basically, a clone of the Parasite attacks Supergirl and filters her powers to the genuine article (that’s why Parasite said that he got his powers elsewhere in the Action comic). And things that were happening, were going on simultaneously with the Action story. Supergirl too was put in an airless cage and she escaped via a comb (she uses this special comb to change the pigmentation of her hair (I didn’t know this, as I only read of her adventures when she was the backup story in Action in the 50s and 60s; back then she wore a wig to be Linda)). When she meets with Supes they compare notes (it is word for word what was said in Action, but with different artwork. For instance, when Superman tells Supergirl to cover her eyes, she actually does) So the statue is unveiled in front of many DC heroes, and Supergirl asks if she is really that fat). It was a neat story and a good compliment to the Action storyline.

        Oh, another thing; at this point Supergirl has a different boyfriend from the one I knew from the Silver Age Action backups. He lied about a date he broke off (I guess that will be addressed in a future issue (from this one, I mean) that I never read)

      3. I actually REALLY like that goofiness in my comics! It seems that the last 2 years before the Crisis was a last hurrah for Silver Age flavour stories as there are a lot like that

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