Comics Reviews: Superman 404, Action 564, DC Comics Presents 78, All-Star Squadron 42, Infinity Inc 11

Superman 404 coverSuperman #404 – “Born to be Superman” – Paul Kupperberg/Carmine Infantino/Bob Oksner

This one is an imaginary story, which means I’m not too impressed by it. I prefer stories that actually happen (so to speak) in their comic book settings; imaginary stories always leave me wondering why I should care, since the stories don’t really count. (I know, I know, they’re all imaginary stories …) Anyway, this one starts with Superman in space fighting off an alien ship. An alarm goes off on the ship and Superman wonders how he can hear it in space … then wakes up next to his wife Lana (who looks pretty damn good).Clark and Lana's perfect life Yeah, Clark and Lana are married in this alternate world, and Clark no longer has his super-powers. Apparently, he lost his powers over a decade ago when he was still Superboy, but lately he’s been having dreams about having powers as an adult. (There’s a lot of exposition here, filling us in on stuff Clark and Lana would already know, like Clark losing his powers thirteen years ago in some traumatic event, and spending ten of those years in a coma.) We find out Clark and Lana have a two-year-old son and Clark’s parents are still alive. Apparently, Pa Kent has parlayed his little grocery store into a national supermarket chain and Clark’s heading to California to open a new one. Clark’s old pal Pete Ross is in charge of things out West and welcomes Clark to the supermarket opening. Pete reminds Clark it’s the anniversary of the how Superboy lost his powersday he lost his powers, but Clark doesn’t want to watch the TV special about it. Someone else is quite interested though … Lex Luthor, who was involved with Superboy’s sudden power loss. The two of them were fighting in Smallville (with Lex wearing a big-ass robot suit) and when the suit exploded, Superboy was flung away and never sen again, while Lex woke up in jail, where he spent the last thirteen years. Now Lex has revamped the robot suit and wishes Superboy was still around so he could have another shot at killing him. Lana is worried that Clark seems to be obsessing lately about his Superboy days and we learn Lana and Pete rescued the unconscious Superboy after the explosion, which is how Lana found out Clark’s secret. Lex goes on a rampage in his new robot vehicle and almost shits himselfSuperman pounds Lex when Superboy—no, Superman—shows up to confront him. Lex notices that Supes isn’t quite as strong or fast as he used to be and we find out why: Clark has rigged up a power pack that takes energy from Kryptonite and reverses it to reactivate the super-powers in his body. But the process is only partially successful, giving Clark some enhanced strength, but not allowing him to fly. He’s also wearing his old costume, which (unlike him) is invulnerable. As he and Lex fight, Superman makes an impossibly fast leap and mashes Lex’s suit, before realizing his power pack was ripped off earlier in the fight … so his heroic acts came from himself.

Action 564 coverAction #564 – “A New Life for Superman” – Paul Kupperberg/Alex Saviuk/Mike DeCarlo

This one starts with Master Jailer robbing an art museum and being confronted by Superman. Jailer’s goofy cages don’t work on the Man of Steel, who quickly captures the villain in an alley. But Master Jailer has a master stroke to play, using the ultimate trap on Superman … trapping him in someone else’s mind. Yup, Jailer somehow convinces Superman he’s a regular schmo named Mike Benson; Supes doesn’t even remember having super-powers, or why he’s wearing a costume (which he quickly discards). Superman (or Benson, if you prefer) takes off to get to his job interview and Master Jailer exults inSuperman believes he's Mike Benson his triumph and claims Superman’s costume as a trophy. Benson goes to his interview and gets the job (in construction), although his boss is kind of a dick. Master Jailer celebrates in his hideout and decides to wear Superman’s costume under his own to make himself invulnerable to harm. We learn that Jailer got the device he used to brainwash Superman from the Monitor, who warned Jailer that Superman can’t be exposed to anything that might jog his memory (like his old costume) for at least 48 hours. On the job site, Benson saves a guy named Padget from some falling crates and Padget introduces him to everyone. They invite Benson to join them at a bar after work. Meanwhile, Master Jailer is robbing banks like crazy and the cops’ bullets Superman beats Master Jailerjust bounce off him thanks to Superman costume under his own. I guess he’s lucky none of the cops tried a head shot. Benson goes to the bar with Padget and it’s Free T-shirt Night. Padget wants Benson to wear a Superman shirt, but Benson figures he’d look like a goof, so he picks a different shirt. Another day, another coincidence … the next morning, Padget asks Benson to wear a Superman outfit for a charity event for some orphans. Benson agrees to do it, but when Padget goes in to check on Benson, he’s gone. Yeah, wearing the outfit brought Superman’s memory back and he zooms off to kick Master Jailer’s ass and get his real costume back.

“Run for Freedom” – Charlie Boatner/Howard Bender/Dave Hunt

This is a quick little story about Superman losing three hours of time whencatching the slaver between dimensions he goes to save some kids from a storm. He ends up in Philadelphia and runs afoul (or a-fowl) of an alien that looks like an anthropomorphic goose. The alien is looking for an escaped slave, which pisses Superman off. He chases the slaver through countless dimensions, where they run into the fugitive. The distraction allows Superman to overcome the slaver and he takes the fugitive to Earth to explain the Underground Railroad. Inspired by Superman’s story, the escaped slave heads back to his own planet to help free more slaves.

DC Presents 78 coverDC Comics Presents #78 – “The Triad” – Marv Wolfman/Curt Swan/Dave Hunt

Last issue Superman and the Forgotten Heroes (Immortal Man, Cave Carson, Dolphin, Animal Man, Congorilla, Rip Hunter, and Rick Flag) got together and faced a bunch of Forgotten Villains … I’d list them, but I’ve already forgotten them. Supes and his pals ended up being thrown into the future and across space, where they were attacked by the Faceless Creature from Saturn. The Creature can absorb anything it touches and use it as a weapon and its first attack kills Immortal Man when he pushes Dolphin out of the way of some rocks. With help from Congorilla Superman gets the Creature off the ground so it can’t touch anything, but it fights back. Superman’s power is too much for the Creature and he soon humbles it. The Creature explains that it was imprisoned by oneSuperman fights Faceless Creature of its enemies until Enchantress appeared and agreed to release it in exchange for the Creature finding a sorcerer for her in deep space. The Creature tells Superman where to find the sorcerer (which is a sentient planet called Yggardis) and the heroes (including a newly-resurrected Immortal Man) take off into deep space. Superman worries about his susceptibility to magic, but he worries more that one of his allies might end up getting killed. Superman detects a red sun on the way to their destination, which would make him lose his powers. Of course they’re in space, so he could easily detour around the red sun, but for story purposes he lands on a planet to think things over. Dolphin makes friends on QariaIt’s a water planet called Qaria and the inhabitants are friendly. Dolphin feels right at home and wonders if she’s from there originally, but the natives have gills so she knows she isn’t related to them. The Qarians don’t have space travel, so they can’t help the heroes get past the red sun, but they say there’s another outworlder there who may be able to help. Back on Earth, Enchantress is making plans with Krakow and Yggardis (the other members of the sorcerous Triad) while assuring her fellow Villains they’ll all be ruling the universe together soon. On Qaria, the other outworlder turns out to be Space Cabbie, who’s thrilled to give Superman and friends a lift. The Triad senses them approaching Yggardis and uses their magic to attack Space Cabbie’s ship. Cabbie sends out a distress signal and crash-lands on aTriad attacks space cab nearby planet. On Earth, Enchantress reveals her true colours, attacking her fellow Villains and telling them the Triad plans to rule the universe without them. In space, Superman and friends are picked up by Chris KL-99 (and his pals Jero and Halk) and Space Cabbie is thrilled to meet Chris, saying he’s discovered more worlds than Kirk, Who, and Tommy Tomorrow put together. Chris takes them to Yggardis, which attacks their ship. Superman burrows under the planet’s surface, but is overcome by magic, leaving Cave Carson to lead the others in a rescue attempt. On Earth, Enchantress and her two sorcerous allies tap into the very fabric of reality itself and control Yggardis attacks Chris's shipeverything on the planet. The other Forgotten Villains don’t like being double-crossed, so they attack Enchantress. On Yggardis, the Heroes rescue Superman and he realizes the whole planet is the third sorcerer they’ve been looking for. Chris’s ship pulls away and they attack Yggardis, not trying to kill it, just to screw it up a bit. That disrupts the Triad, which causes Krakow (in the distant past) to lose his focus, which then takes power away from Enchantress when she needs it most. She realizes her grand scheme is falling apart and teleports away to safety. Superman takes the Forgotten Heroes back through time to get Rip’s time bubble (and the Mighty Mole) and they findTriad defeated but Enchantress escapes Krakow’s castle destroyed and empty. As they head back to their own time, we see the Monitor and Lyla watching from their satellite. Lyla tells the Monitor about some big energy build-up and Monitor says it’s time to drop his charade of being a weapons supplier for criminals and concentrate on his true mission … starting with Earth-3. Yup, it’s the beginning of the Crisis, which I won’t be covering in any detail, but we’ll see the repercussions in various titles as things progress.

All-Star Squadron 42 coverAll-Star Squadron #42 – “Oh, Say Can’t You See” – Roy Thomas/Arvell Jones/Bill Collins

This one starts with Starman flying over Hawaii and we find out what led up to him arriving unconscious at All-Star Squadron headquarters last issue. He ran into a couple of Japanese bombers over Hawaii that were cloaked by an “inviso-shield”. Starman’s gravity rod accidentally exposed the bombers and after taking down one of them, he tried to do the same to the other. But the scientist responsible for the inviso-shield (Prince Daka) was aboard and used some kind of energy pulse to send Starman flying. He managed to program his Gravity Rod to take him to the Perisphere in New York before he passed out. Daka turned the inviso-shield back on and also flew to New York, where he was forced to abandon the bomber so he could sneak into the city to meet a couple of spies and three very special operatives … Kung the assassin, Sumo the Samurai, and Tsunami, the kibei who ran into the All-Stars back in issue 35. villain introsDaka tells his operatives he wants to secure certain powerful objects from the All-Stars, starting with Starman’s Gravity Rod. Finding the All-Stars shouldn’t be a problem, since the Perisphere is featured on the cover of a national magazine. So much for wartime security. At the Perisphere, Starman tells his story and the others agree it’s a problem, but they have noargument on race relations way of tracking the invisible plane, so they’re kinda screwed for the moment. Some of the All-Stars have their own stuff to take care of so they take off, leaving Liberty Belle, Robotman, Tarantula, Amazing Man, Firebrand, and Starman to mull things over. They start arguing about Japanese-American fifth columnists, with Starman spouting some racist rhetoric. Before Liberty Belle can calm things down, Daka and his trio of super-agents attack, with Samurai (invisible thanks to Daka’s device) slicing off pieces of Robotman’s metal body. Tsunami and Kung are invisible too and quickly take out Liberty Belle and Starman. Kung grabs the Gravity Rod and the three assailants become visible. The All-Stars attack, with Tarantula grabbing the Rod but having to playing keep-away with the Cosmic Rodtoss it to Liberty Belle just as she wakes up. Tsunami is ready to smash Belle, but in Philadelphia Tom Revere has one of his premonitions and rings the actual Liberty Bell, which gives Belle the jolt of super-strength she needs to escape Tsunami’s clutches. She tosses the Rod to Amazing Man, who turns his body into rubber and makes like Plastic Man. Tsunami and Samurai stretch him and he tosses the Rod back to Belle before passing out from the strain. Kung changes into a snake and wraps around Belle. She throws the Rod toward the wall, hoping to destroy it, but the invisible Daka catches it before revealing himself and ordering his minions to kill the unconscious All-Stars. Tsunami hesitates at killing helpless foes, but Kung and Samurai are ready to waste the All-Stars.

Infinity Inc 11 coverInfinity Inc. #11 – “Aftermath—and Prologue” – Roy Thomas/Don Newton, George Tuska/Tony DeZuniga, Mike Machlan

This one’s mostly just a flashback issue, telling a story about Sylvester (Star-Spangled Kid) Pemberton reuniting with his old pal Pat (Stripesy) Dugan a few weeks ago. The framing story takes place minutes after last issue, with the recovered JSAers thanking Infinity Inc for bringing them back to their senses. We get a few character moments: Silver Scarab reaches out to Northwind; Superman wonders about his place among humanity; Wonder Woman tells Fury she’s taking Steve to Paradise Island to recuperate; Green Lantern promises Jade to figure out if he’s her father orunhappy reunion not, which makes Obsidian worry that GL might not want him as a son; and Atom tells Nuklon the JSA will probably vote all the Infinitors in as new members, which is what gets Star-Spangled Kid thinking. His mind drifts back to a few weeks ago, when the Seven Soldiers of Victory—though there were only five of them present—gathered to bury Crimson Avenger (whose death we saw in DC Presents 38). When asked about Pat’s no-show Sylvester got defensive but started wondering about it and headed out to Nevada to look for Pat. He found him in the middle of nowhere, but Pat wasn’t happy to see his old pal. Sylvester was getting ready to leave when some gangsters (and their boss with the unlikely name of Boss Weed) showed up to collect an armored limo Pat had built for them. After roughing up pounding mobstersSylvester a bit, they took the limo … along with Pat’s son (Mike) for insurance. Pat was pretty worked up and wasn’t too receptive to Sylvester’s offer of help. Turned out Sylvester’s crooked cousin Arthur screwed Pat over a while back when he took over Pemberton Industries. Once Sylvester explained things, Pat cooled off and they went to rescue Mike, using their old Star Rocket Racer car. Sylvester and Pat (in their old costumes) caught the gangsters and kicked their asses, saving Mike. Sylvester agreed to pay Pat back what Arthur had stolen, but Pat said he preferred the quiet life to being a superhero. That was when Sylvester decided to start up Infinity Inc, but now he’s afraid the other Infinitors will abandon him to join the JSA, since that was their original goal. But they surprise him by turning down JSA membership and pledging to stick with him and the new team.

Noticeable Things:

  • If you’re wondering why the Seven Soldiers waited so long to have Crimson Avenger’s funeral, apparently it took them that long to confirm that it was Avenger who steered that boat out of the harbour and got blown up.

 

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