Comics Reviews: Superman 397, Action 557, DC Comics Presents 71, All-Star Squadron 35, Infinity Inc 4

Superman 397 coverSuperman #397 – “The Born-Again Kryptonite Man” – Paul Kupperberg/Eduardo Barreto

This one starts with a big green dude in a spaceship traveling through space and dreaming of revenge against someone. This guy looks like a cross between Martian Manhunter and Concrete, but I guess he’s the Kryptonite Man of the title. In another part of space, Superman deals with some aliens (the Kymu) who attacked him in retaliation for defeating them a while back. After sending them running, Superman heads through a space warp back to Earth, not noticing that Kryptonite Man has followed him through the warp in his spaceship. Not too far away (cosmically speaking) another group of aliens (the Seeders), led by a guy named Lord Sed, detects Kryptonite Man’sSeeders track Kryptonite Man passage through the warp to Earth. Apparently Kryptonite Man stole his ship from the Seeders and they’ve been hunting him ever since, getting their asses kicked the few times they’ve gotten close to him. Clark Kent goes to WGBS for his nightly newscast and reports on Superman helping save a building from a fire earlier that day. Kryptonite Man is monitoring Earth broadcasts and sees the story about Superman. Turns out that’s who Kryptonite Man is looking for; he seems to blame Superman for the destruction of his planet. Kryptonite Man heads down to Metropolis and lands on the Galaxy Building, running into a security guard and wrecking the broadcast antenna. When the newsroom realizes they’re no longer transmitting, Clark Kryptonite Man attacks Supermanuses his x-ray vision to check out the roof and sees Kryptonite Man. He changes to Superman and zips up to the roof in time to save the security guard. Kryptonite Man attacks him, ranting about how Superman’s people destroyed his world. Naturally, Supes has no clue what the hell he’s talking about. In space, Lord Sed and the Seeders pop out of warp and find their stolen spaceship. They decide to go after the thief, who apparently can’t live long without the special life-support systems on the ship. In Metropolis, Kryptonite Man informs Superman what we’ve already guessed … that he’s from Krypton and blames Superman (and Kryptonians in general) for the planet’s destruction. Apparently Kryptonite Man belongs to a race that inhabited Krypton long before Superman’s “human” race settled there. Kryptonite Man’s peopleSuperman blasted with green K detected a meteorite heading for the planet, so they went into stasis underground for twenty years. But when Kryptonite Man awoke, he found 100,000 years had passed and Krypton was inhabited by humans. He started looking for his people, but Krypton blew up and Kryptonite Man was hurled into space and infused with kryptonite radiation. That gives him an edge over Superman, who’s weakened just from being near Kryptonite Man. Superman tries to tell Kryptonite Man that Krypton’s destruction was a tragic accident, but Kryptonite Man is too pissed off to listen. He tries to kill Superman and the Man of Steel barely manages to break free, but he’s getting weaker all the time. Kryptonite Man blasts him with green K radiation, hoping to finish him off, but he’s interrupted by the Seeders. They swoop down out of the sky and attack Kryptonite Man, who welcomes the chance to kill them too.

Action 557 coverAction #557 – “The Artistic Thefts of Terra-Man” – Paul Kupperberg/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt

This one starts with Terra-Man going into a stereotypical saloon and engaging in a stereotypical gunfight. After blowing everyone away, Terra-Man is confronted by Superman … and he blows him away too. Turns out Terra-Man is in a Westworld sort of place and he just finished wasting a bunch of robots. He’s eager to take on the real Superman though. A couple days later in Metropolis, Lana Lang rushes down to the train station with a news crew to broadcast the recovery of some stolen Rembrandts. The paintings were stolen from the museum and the cops got a tip that they were in a locker at the station. Sure enough, the paintings are all there butTerra-Man at the train station there’s no clue to who stole them or why they’ve been returned. Terra-Man comes busting into the train station and grabs the paintings, saying he’s the one who stole them in the first place, and the one who called in the anonymous tip on where to find them. The paintings are on loan from the Dutch government, who lodge a formal protest and say they should never have lent the paintings out in the first place. Now that he knows Terra-Man is involved, Superman takes an interest in the thefts, but he’s not sure where to start. That night, a security guard finds the paintings back in the museum, hanging in the same spots they were first stolen from. The Dutch Superman takes down Terra-Mansend a representative to formally take back the paintings and he takes them on a jet headed back to Europe. Terra-Man attacks the jet on his flying horse and boards it, telling the Dutch official he’s there to steal the paintings for a third time. The “official” turns out to be Superman in disguise, but before he can grab Terra-Man, the criminal cowboy shoots one of the jet’s engines out. As Superman saves the jet from crashing, Terra-Man takes off with the paintings and heads back to his robot saloon. When Superman comes in to confront him, Terra-Man assumes it’s the Superman robot, but soon learns the truth. He fires special seeker bullets at Superman, but the Man of Steel zips around and causes the bullets to hit Terra-Man, knocking him out.

“Yesterday Once More” – Bob Rozakis/Howard Bender/Dave Hunt

This is a short story about an unsolved murder from a few years ago. A DailySuperman fakes out the killer Planet reporter named Wendall Walters tells Clark Kent about the murder of a judge named Harrison; Walters was a witness and tried to catch the killer but Superman flew by and interfered, causing Walters to lose the killer in the fog. By using his super-memory, Superman remembers who the killer was and stages a re-enactment of the scene to get the murderer to lead him to the murder weapon.

 

DC Presents 71 coverDC Comics Presents #71 – “The Mark of Bizarro” – E. Nelson Bridwell/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt

Like most Bizarro stories, this one’s pretty goofy so I’m not even going to try to describe all the weirdness and backwards bullshit throughout the issue (although the “crunchy frog” flavoured chocolates are pretty funny). Just keep in mind that on Bizarro World, being an incompetent idiot is a sure path to admiration, and when everyone hates you, that’s how you know you’re their hero. Anyway, Bizarro’s dimwitted friends in the Bizarro JLA create a Bizarro Amazo, who wants to steal powers from them and give the powers to non-super Bizarros (instead of keeping the powers for himself, like the real Amazo does). After stealing powers from numerous heroes, Bizarro Supermen, and Bizarro himself, Amazo is trickedBizarro Amazo attacks into returning Bizarro’s powers because he thinks he’s giving them to ordinary schmo Bizarro Clark Kent. Got all that? Bizarro Amazo heads for Earth to steal the real Superman’s powers, followed by Bizarro who wants to help his “worst friend”, Superman. Bizarro runs into Jimmy Olsen, who summons Superman, but they’re too late … Bizarro Amazo has already struck. Jimmy finds himself crashing through the wall and flying, proving Bizarro Amazo has imbued him with super powers … and he’s not the only one. Morgan Edge smashes his desk with one punch, producer Josh flies up into the newsroom ceiling, and numerous other Metropolis citizens find Superman and Bizarro fool Bizarro Amazothemselves with new super powers. Superman and Bizarro confront Bizarro Amazo, but since he’s absorbed the powers of many Bizarro Supermen, he’s more than a match for these two. Superman and Bizarro retreat and Supes realizes Bizarro Amazo hasn’t yet adjusted to having super-senses. That, and the fact that all Bizarros are idiots, gives Superman an idea. He and Bizarro use their powers to fool Bizarro Amazo, making him think he’s losing his powers. They convince him he’s depleted his powers by bestowing them on so many people, so Bizarro Amazo goes around taking back all the powers from ordinary people. Bizarro Amazo remembers how he gave powers to a bunch of people back on Bizarro World, so he heads back there, followed by Bizarro. Bizarro Amazo takes back the powers he gave the ordinary BizarrosBizarro Amazo returns JLA's powers (including Bizarro Lois, who Bizarro has to save from plummeting to the ground; “Me save you, then you reward me by slapping my face!”) Bizarro Amazo decides to return all the Bizarro JLA’s powers after they convince him that they’re bigger heroes without their powers than with them. After depleting all his stolen power, Bizarro Amazo figures he’s now the top villain on Bizarro World, until Bizarro points out that Bizarro Joker and Luthor don’t have powers either. Bizarro Amazo figures he can best them by putting himself back into stasis so he can’t do anything. So, Bizarro logic saves the day again and this is officially the most times I’ve ever typed the word Bizzaro in my entire life.

All-Star Squadron 35 coverAll-Star Squadron #35 – “That Earths May Live” – Roy Thomas/Rick Hoberg/Bill Collins

Last issue, we left off on two cliffhangers: on Earth-X, Baron Blitzkrieg had pounded the Freedom Fighters and was about to kill Hourman; while on Earth-2, Tsunami was attacking Liberty Belle and the unconscious Johnny Quick, ready to drown them under a ton of water. And there’s even more going on, as the Spectre struggles to keep the two Earths from slamming together and obliterating each other. On Earth-2, Belle and Johnny are rescued by Starman and Tsunami’s giant wave is wasted. Johnny’s still in a snit about Liberty Belle’s “friend”, Captain Rick Cannon, so he takes off to pout some more and Firebrand gives Belle a lift back to shore. Tsunami conjures an even bigger wave, trying toTsunami fights Neptune Perkins wipe out the All-Stars and the oil refinery all in one shot, but she’s jumped by Neptune Perkins, who drags her underwater. Too bad for Perkins that Tsunami can breathe underwater and he can’t. Liberty Belle talks to Rick, but when he tries to get cozy, she shuts him down. On Earth-X, the Freedom Fighters (Uncle Sam, Ray, Black Condor, Phantom Lady, Doll Man, Human Bomb, and Hourman) are chained up in an old castle while Blitzkrieg’s Japanese allies bomb the shit out of the California coast. Blitzkrieg tells them how he used Uncle Sam’s dimensional energy to come to Earth-X and found that his blindness (sustained fighting the All-Stars in issue 9) is gone on this Earth. Blitzkrieg Red Bee surprises Blitzkrieghas been trying to eliminate any opposition to his plans, but wants the secret of Hourman’s Miraclo pills, thinking they might cure his blindness permanently. Hourman says he gave up the pills a while back and has been experimenting with a Miraclo ray lately,mentioning black light as a component of the ray. Hourman is in rough shape, going through Miraclo withdrawal, but Blitzkrieg is more interested in the black light thing since he knows Phantom Lady uses a black light weapon. Before he can do anything about it, Blitzkrieg is attacked by Red Bee, who everyone thought was blown up last issue. Blitzkrieg pounds the shit out of Red Bee, killing him but allowing Ray to turn Phantom Lady’s black light weapon on Hourman, which activates the latent Miraclo in his system. Hourman jumps Blitzkrieg, but has troubleUncle Sam goes wild against the super-powered Nazi. Uncle Sam gets pissed off and breaks free, beating the shit out of Blitzkrieg while spewing patriotic crap. Hourman frees the others just as three more Nazis attack. The sky goes crazy and Spectre appears to tell them he’s been tying to keep the Earths apart but can’t hold out much longer. Blitzkrieg warps back to Earth-2, taking the three Nazis with him and Spectre says three people will have to stay behind to maintain the cosmic balance. Uncle Sam, Black Condor, and Ray decide to stay and the others warp back to Earth-2 with Red Bee’s corpse. Back on Earth-2, Perkins breaks free of Liberty Belle smooches Johnny QuickTsunami (which kinda turns her on) and she takes off. Blitzkrieg appears at Santa Barbara and is ready to attack the All-Stars, but is shocked to find he’s blind again. Blitzkrieg freaks and teleports away, leaving the All-Stars even more confused. Liberty Belle tells Rick she’s not into him any more and lays a big smooch on Johnny. The All-Stars from Earth-X show up and explain what happened, which Spectre confirms when he manifests. Spectre is glad Hourman isn’t dead (as reported), but laments the loss of Red Bee. Considering how unpopular Red Bee was, he may be the only one who feels that way.

Infinity inc 4 coverInfinity Inc. #4 – “Origins and Outcasts” – Roy Thomas/Jerry Ordway/Mike Machlan

This one starts with Northwind, Jade, and Obsidian transporting Solomon Grundy (who they captured last issue after he attacked them) to Northwind’s Arctic birthplace of Feithera. Northwind figures the Feitherans can use their tech to safely imprison Grundy, whose hatred for Green lantern has now been transferred to GL’s kids, Jade and Obsidian. Jade is actually happy about that, since she and her brother weren’t really sure if GL was their father or not, but if Grundy hates them instinctually, they must be. Northwind asks for their origin story and Jade obligingly provides it. She and Obsidian are twins, but they only me each other a few weeks ago. Jade grew up in Wisconsin as Jennie-Lynn Haydenflashback to Jade and Obsidian meeting and her life was boringly normal, except for a weird green birthmark on her right hand. But one day her whole body turned green and she discovered she could summon energy from the birthmark and manipulate it, like Green Lantern’s ring. Her parents told her she was adopted and had a twin brother out there somewhere, which fit with the strange thoughts she’d been receiving lately. She followed the psychic pull and found her twin brother (Todd Rice), whose life wasn’t quite as idyllic as hers. He did have powers though; he could turn himself into a living shadow and blend into darkness, as well as manipulate the darkness of his own form. The two of them trained and came up with costumes before deciding to crash the JSA meeting and Hawkman reprintconfront Green Lantern, who Jade assumes is their birth father because her powers are so similar to his ring. The trio reach Feithera and turn Grundy over to the Feitherans before meeting Northwind’s family. His father is human (Dr. Cantrell) and his mother (Osoro) is Feitheran, so Northwind is a hybrid. His grandfather Norla (who rules Feithera) tells the story of how Hawkman first met the Feitherans, which happened way back in Flash Comics 71. We get a reprint of that story shoehorned into the middle of this issue (maybe they had deadline problems?) which leads into Northwind telling his parents he’s going to be staying in the outside world. They aren’t happy, but he points out that he’s treated like crap in Feithera, so he may as well try to make it on the outside, even if Silver Scarab hates him for being sodead JSAers close to Scarab’s father, Hawkman. Speaking of whom, a report comes in that Hawkman and some other JSA members are dead, so the three Infinitors head back out, tracking GL’s ring to a Colorado hospital where they find the rest of their team. They’re shocked to find not only Hawkman but GL, Robin, Wonder Woman, and Atom are all dead. Jade and Obsidian feel terrible that they may have found their real father only to lose him again. Silver Scarab and Fury aren’t too thrilled about their parents being killed, and Fury swears to find out who murdered her mother … and kill them.

 

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