Comics Reviews: Superman 399, Action 559, DC Comics Presents 73, All-Star Squadron 37, Infinity Inc. 6

Superman 399Superman #399 – “The Man Who Saw Superman Die” – Paul Kupperberg/Eduardo Barreto/Dave Hunt

This one starts with a familiar figure leaving STAR Labs, where he’s been working as a consultant. It’s Ed Hamilton (aka Colonel Future from issue 378) and we see his powers of prediction are still working. A car almost runs him down and since it takes a near-death experience to activate Hamilton’s precognitive powers, he sees a vision of the future … Superman being gunned down. Hamilton is shaken and when someone in a Superman costume comes to help him, he thinks it’s the Man of Steel himself. But it turns out to be someone dressed as Superman as part of a charity effort; apparently, theseHamilton's vision ersatz Supermen stand on street corners collecting money for charity, like Salvation Army Santa Clauses. As usual, Colonel Future’s powers give him some details about what will happen, but not everything; he knows Superman will be shot within two days and that if he warns Superman, it’ll insure the vision coming true. (of course, the obvious solution is that one of the street corner Supermen is who Hamilton sees dying in his vision, but that could be a red herring.) At WGBS, Clark Kent talks to Greg Reed, the actor who plays Superman in the movies; another potential victim, or another fake-out? Across town, a crook named Baker decides he can use the street corner Supermen as cover by dressing his thugs in Superman costumes and Colonel Future defied death againsending them out to steal the charity funds. (More possible victims … it just never ends.) Later, Colonel Future decides he needs more info on Superman’s upcoming demise, so he flies up into the air and plummets toward the ground, hoping the near-death experience will trigger another vision. It works (he now knows exactly when and where Superman will be shot), but his plight attracts Superman’s attention and Future is forced to teleport away before Superman can “rescue” him. That evening, Colonel Future invades a nuclear power plant upstate from Metropolis. The alarm gets Superman’s attention and he leaves the big charity celebration to investigate (which means Jimmy has to cover for him). Superman is surprised to see Colonel Future (since he promised to stop using his abilities) and even more surprised to see himSuperman fights Colonel Future holding the plant’s staff hostage. Colonel Future lures Superman outside and shoots him with a high-tech gun. Back in Metropolis, Baker and his thugs (who are all dressed as Superman) take advantage of the real Superman’s absence to rob the charity funds. Outside the nuclear plant, Colonel Future’s gun has encased Superman in a stasis field. If Future can keep him there for the next five minutes, that’ll keep his vision from coming true. But Superman is so pissed off he busts loose from the stasis field and comes after Colonel Future, who activates a force field around himself. Superman is strong enough to hurt Future right through the force field and he damages Future’s teleportation circuits, causing him to appear back in Metropolis at the Colonel Hamilton gunned downcharity celebration. Baker knocks Future out from behind and puts a Superman costume on him, hoping the cops will think Future was the one who robbed the charity. Baker and his men take off and when Colonel Future wakes up, a guard sees him in the Superman outfit and pulls a gun on him. The guard shoots Future and he keels over, but Superman shows up and says he melted the bullet before it reached Colonel Hamilton’s chest. Unfortunately, the shock caused a heart attack, but Superman uses super heart massage to bring him back to life. So Colonel Hamilton’s vision turned out to be of himself “dying”; he still doesn’t quite have the hang of the whole precog thing yet. In case you’re wondering about Baker and the thieves, they were grabbed outside by the SWAT team who Superman called in.

“Never Too Busy for a Fan” – Joey Cavalieri/Curt Swan/Bob OksnerSuperman stops terrorists

This is a short back-up story where Superman misses a chance to stop some terrorists from bombing an embassy because he’s hanging out with some kid. Later, he runs into the kid and a bunch of his friends and notices some suspicious guys nearby. They turn out to be the terrorists and Superman catches them, which impresses all the kids.

 

Action 559 coverAction #559 – “The Once-and-Future Peri(l)” – Bob Rozakis/Kurt Schaffenberger/Dave Hunt

This one starts out in Oregon, where a meteorite crashes through the roof of Alvin and Loretta Grant. When Alvin goes inside to check on Loretta, she dressed in a really funky outfit and says she’s just remembered that she’s the Yellow Peri (a character Superboy met years ago); yeah, I think this one’s gonna read like an episode of Bewitched. In Metropolis, Clark Kent and Lana Lang get in trouble because the local entertainment show is gossiping about their romance. Clark sees a report on the meteorite in Oregon and remembers Loretta. She’d found a book that gave her magical powers but ended up causing trouble, so Superboy tossed the book into space. Clark wonders ifSuperman watches Alvin and Loretta the meteorite was the book coming back to Loretta. In Oregon, Loretta explains to Alvin how her magic was more of a curse than a blessing the first time around, so she doesn’t want to use it now. We find out Alvin is actually kind of an asshole (he originally went out with Loretta just to win a bet with his friends) and he’s planning to exploit Loretta’s powers to make himself rich. Superman comes to see Loretta, but Alvin tells him to fuck off, so Superman keeps an eye on Alvin and Loretta over the next little while. He sees them using Loretta’s powers to magically remove dirt and pollution from various small towns … and get well paid for it. That’s not illegal, but Superman figures there’s more to it, so he goes back to investigate. As Loretta uses her Superman confronts Alvinmagic to cleanse another town, Superman notices the cloud of grime moving off to the north-east … which is the direction of the next town on Alvin’s list. Superman heads to that town and finds filth raining down, so he gathers it all up in his cape and flies off with it. Superman confronts Alvin and says he’s onto his scheme, but Alvin says nobody’s forcing people to use their services, so Superman can’t call the cops. After Superman leaves, Loretta questions Alvin about where all the stuff went when they cleaned up the towns, but Alvin feigns ignorance. A week later, Superman checks in with his telescopic vision and sees Alvin calling him for help. He rushes out to Oregon and Alvin says Loretta’s magic has gone haywire and is causing him to fade away. Superman can’t detect anything wrong with him, but Alvin throws himselfSuperman gives Loretta the book back into Superman’s arms and begs him not to let him disappear. When Loretta walks in, Alvin pretends Superman is attacking him, so Loretta uses her magic to conjure a giant hand that grabs Superman. Supes vibrates free and gets the book before Loretta can cast another spell. She figures he’s going to haul her in, but Superman says she made an honest mistake, so he gives her the book back and leaves. Unfortunately, he doesn’t warn her about Alvin being a manipulative dick, so Alvin starts scheming again. I guess we’ll be seeing these tow again; hopefully, Loretta will get a clue and dump Alvin’s ass.

Superman dyes his hair“A Superman of a Different Color” – Paul Kupperberg/Alex Saviuk/Dennis Jensen

This is a short back-up that starts with Clark Kent getting a haircut, which is supposed to intrigue us since his hair should be impossible to cut. Turns out he was on an alien planet where the color black didn’t exist and was attacked by an alien because of his black hair. So he used pollen from some plant to color his hair gold and pacify the alien. The pollen rendered his hair temporarily vulnerable, so now he’s getting a haircut before the vulnerability wears off.

DC Presents 73 coverDC Comics Presents #73 – “Rampage in Scarlet” – Cary Bates/Carmine Infantino/Dave Hunt

This one starts with Flash encountering a weird energy beam that moves as fast as he can. The energy ends up pulling him into a vortex and he disappears. The next day, Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen, and Lana Lang—who’s decked out in a barely-there bikini—are enjoying a luxury cruise around the Florida Keys (courtesy of Morgan Edge), when Clark gets an emergency JLA signal from Flash. He pretends to be seasick and changes to Superman, rushing to the source of the signal. He finds the energy vortex and assumes that’s where Flash went, so he dives in. He finds himself in another dimension, with seas of molten lava covering the surface of the world. No,Superman meets the Norkkans it’s not Mustafar, but there is a domed city floating on the lava, so Superman goes to check it out. Turns out the whole thing was a set-up and Superman was lured here by some unseen beings hiding in the cloud cover. We don’t see them or learn their purpose, but they’re definitely interested in what Superman is doing. He checks out the city and finds it seemingly deserted, with large parts of it smashed to shit. Some yellow-skinned aliens with big heads (the Norkkans) attack him with death rays because they think he’s going to cause more destruction. Naturally, a mere death ray can’t hurt Superman and he explains to the aliens that he’s there to help. They tell him Superman confronts Flashtheir city was destroyed by someone who could move incredibly fast … I wonder who that could be? Superman can’t believe Flash would wreck up a city like that, but the Norkkans insist it’s true and Superman is forced to believe them when Flash shows up and starts smashing shit again. Superman confronts him, but Flash vibrates to safety. While Superman is searching for him, the unseen antagonists in the clouds make contact with three Norkkan scientists who are working on some kind of device called an injector cannon. Turns out the cloud people are the Phantom Zone villains (Zod, Kru-El, Jax-Ur, and Faora) taking advantage of a freak storm between this dimension and the Phantom Zone. The villains discovered they could mentally dominate the Norkkans and forced them to build the cannon, asPhantom Zone villains revealed well as lure Flash here. The villains are also mentally controlling Flash, using him to keep Superman occupied. (They haven’t tried to dominate Superman because they aren’t ready to reveal themselves yet.) The Norkkans finish the injector cannon and Faora uses her powers to compel Flash to fall into the lava. The injector cannon is calibrated to affect Superman and the villains force one of the Norkkans to aim it at him. Flash pops up out of the lava (Faora didn’t compel him not to use super-speed vibration to save himself) and pushes superman out of the way of the cannon’s blast. The injector cannon was calibrated to send Superman into the Phantom Zone, but Flash Flash saves Superman from being sent to the Zoneends up going there instead. That pisses the villains off, since they don’t really care about Flash … it’s Superman they hate. Superman realizes what happened and feels guilty as the storm starts to fade, but Flash reappears and explains that the cannon’s calibration was for Kryptonian physiology, so it was easy for him to vibrate out of the Phantom Zone. After the storm fades, consigning the villains to their endless exile again, Superman and Flash return to their own dimension with the help of the Norkkans’ vortex.

All-Star Squadron 37 coverAll-Star Squadron #37 – “Lightning in Berlin” – Roy Thomas/Arvell Jones/Richard Howell

Last issue, the All-Stars were confronted with Hitler’s new secret weapon, Captain Marvel, who’s been thoroughly Nazied up. Superman is taking this quite personally, since Marvel is being called a Nazi Superman and Captain Marvel kicked Superman’s ass last issue. So when Mary Batson and Freddie Freeman show up wanting to help and then turn into junior versions of Captain Marvel, you can see why Superman might be a tad pissed off. He’s ready to pound Cap Jr. and Mary, who turn out to have powers much like Captain Marvel, but they obviously aren’t Nazis. The other All-Stars separate Superman and the Marvels, who fill the All-Stars in on themselves and Captain Marvel. They exist on aMary and Freddie tell their story parallel Earth (Earth-S, though they don’t call it that) and Captain Marvel was snatched by a magical bolt of lightning from there to Earth-2. Once they figured out where he’d gone, they followed and tried to enlist the All-Stars to help. Green Lantern explains the Spear of Destiny and how it turns anyone with magical powers into a Nazi. Cap must’ve materialized within the Spear’s sphere of influence, so now he’s a Nazi through and through. Mary and Freddie change back to their civilian identities and offer to accompany the All-Stars (minus Superman, GL, and Wonder Woman) to Germany to rescue Cap. Batman, Hawkman, Flash, and Plastic Man take Mary and Freddie to Berlin (using Captain Marvel busts inPlas’s body as a dirigible) where they sneak into the Reichschancellerie. They find Billy Batson tied up and release him, but before he can explain anything, Captain Marvel busts through the wall with Hitler close behind. Mary and Freddie are shocked to see Cap and Billy as two separate people but Hitler’s guards threaten to shoot Billy if they get any closer. Billy tells them he arrived o Earth-2 already split and Hitler explains his top scientist (Gootsden) built a machine to split Billy’s essence from Cap’s, which leaves Cap vulnerable to the Spear of Destiny. The All-Stars can’t do anything while Billy is threatening, so they have to let Gootsden take Freddie and Mary to his machine and split their essences too. Naturally, these versions of Cap Jr. and Mary Marvel are also Nazis and Hitler sends them with Captain Marvelstopping the bomb to drop a huge bomb on London. Billy takes advantage of the confusion to roll out of the guard’s gun-sights, which gives the All-Stars the chance to pound the Nazis and get Billy, Mary, and Freddie out of there. They head back towards England (courtesy of the Plastic Man blimp again) with German planes scrambling to intercept them. In London, the three Nazi Marvels show up with the gigantic bomb and hurl it at the Houses of Parliament. Superman, GL, and Wonder Woman team up to stop the bomb, but the explosion knocks them out, leaving them at the mercy of the Marvels. In the English Channel, Plas is pounding Nazis in the English Channelshot down but turns himself into a life raft so Flash can propel everyone towards England. Nazi E-boats cut them off, but they get some unexpected help from the other All-Stars … and the three Marvels. Yeah, once Billy, Mary, and Freddie moved outside the influence of the Spear, the Marvels went back to normal. They pound the Nazis and head back to England, wondering if they’re going to be stuck as separate people forever. Billy suggests all six of them say their magic words simultaneously and that reintegrates them and sends them back to Earth-S.

Infinity Inc. 6 coverInfinity Inc. #6 – “Divide—and Be Conquered” – Roy Thomas/Jerry Ordway/Al Gordon

Last issue, a number of JSA members (Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Robin, Hawkman, and Atom) who were thought to be dead turned out to be alive, but they’d turned evil after being immersed in the magical waters of the Koehaha (aka the Stream of Ruthlessness). GL used his ring to whip up a death trap for Nuklon and Northwind, but Jade and Obsidian show up in time to counter it by absorbing the ring’s energy into their bodies. Makes sense, if they really are GL’s kids, as they believe. Northwind is fine but Nuklon suddenly grows another foot taller and gets dizzy. He concentrates and wills himself to shrink back to his regular height of 7’6”, saying he’ll have to get Dr.Mid-Nite to give him a check-up later. The cops show up with the Mayor, who feels stupid forPower Girl confronts Superman ordering autopsies on people who turned out to be alive. The Infinitors head for Denver to take Flash to hospital, since he was pounded by Wonder Woman last issue. Meanwhile, Power Girl has returned to Metropolis to investigate the giant transparent bubble that suddenly appeared over the city last issue. Nothing can get through the bubble, at least until Superman shows up and flies right through as if it wasn’t even there. Power Girl figures her Kryptonian physiology might let her get through and she’s right, but that makes her wonder if Superman is the one who produced the bubble in the first place. Turns out he is; his dip in the Koehaha has turned him into a total prick and he tells Power Girl he’s going to smash Metropolis to shit, just like Krypton was destroyed years Robin pounds Huntressago. Naturally, Power Girl is ready to stop him … if she can. In Gotham, Robin’s new ruthlessness manifests in a different way. He goes to the prison where Boss Zucco is held so he can waste the aged mobster. Zucco is the guy who had Robin’s parents killed years ago, but he’s an old man now, basically catatonic after suffering a stroke. Robin doesn’t care, he still wants to kill him, but Huntress has anticipated him and shows up to stop him from making a mistake he’ll regret forever. Robin beats the shit out of her, but before he can kill Zucco, Huntress manages to knock him out. Out in Colorado, Star-Spangled Kid and Brainwave Jr. find themselves face to face with Ultra-Humanite (as we saw at the end of last issue), who rather obligingly explains his plan to them. He caught Superman by surprise and immersedSSK and Brainwave Jr attack Ultra-Humanite him in the Koehaha, then forced him to do the same to the other JSAers. When the effects of the waters wear off, the JSA will have to live with the fact that they are murderers—or worse—and so will their children, thus getting revenge for their defeat of Ultra-Humanite in the All-Star Squadron Annual last year. Star-Spangled Kid and Brainwave Jr. attack Ultra-Humanite, who encases himself in a force bubble and sends heat-seeking missiles after the duo. Star-Spangled Kid wonders why Ultra-Humanite doesn’t just use his brain blasts against them, but before he can ponder it too much, an avalanche buries him and Brainwave Jr., leaving Ultra-Humanite gloating at his triumph.

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