Posts tagged ‘Al Plastino’

Action 361 – the Parasite returns, and Supergirl dates a Kryptonian?


Jim Shooter and Al Plastino bring back the Parasite in Action 361 (March 1968).


An alien geographer exploring the Earth finds an unusual cloud, which registers as a life-form.  He brings it aboard his ship, and concentrates it, which restores the Parasite back to life.  The Parasite drains the geographer, and heads down to Earth.


The Parasite still is aware that Superman is Clark Kent.  He takes on the identity of a reporter, drawing the needed skills and abilities from Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, even from Perry White as he hires the man for the Daily Planet.  The Parasite sticks close to Clark, but only draws his energy from him as the Parasite.


This plan works extremely well.  The Parasite never lets his presence be known, so Superman has no idea what is weakening him.


When the Parasite has drained Superman sufficiently, he goes on the attack.  And Superman has been weakened so much that the Parasite should have won this fight.  But the geographer recovered, and comes up form behind, trapping Parasite in the device he used to gather him as a cloud int he first place.

Surprisingly, after two great appearances the Parasite is not seen again until the mid-70s.


Otto Binder and Kurt Schaffenberger explore the wonders of computer dating in this story.


Linda gets matched with a boy who seems to have super-powers, speak Kryptonian, and know that she is Supergirl. She is wary enough to not reveal anything, but also intrigued.


When she comes to his aid as Supergirl, he rudely rebuffs her, claiming to have interest only in Linda.  This really throws her.


He finally tries to prove Linda is Supergirl, at the risk of her life.  She gets out of it, and he confesses that the he faked his Kryptonian stuff, thinking she really was Supergirl.

And we are meant to laugh as he winds up matched with an ugly girl.

But he was right.  And although he lied about who he was, Linda also lies about who she is.

I think they were better suited to each other than Linda thought.  No wonder she never gets a stable boyfriend, and is content with her dalliances with a merboy, a horse, and an alien living in the distant future.


Action 354 – Superman vs Captain Incredible


Lex Luthor has a small role in Action 354 (Sept. 67), and that forces me to include this story by Cary Bates and Al Plastino.


Superman is having a hard time fighting a weird, alien creature.  Then a scrawny look kid shows up, calling himself Captain Incredible, and easily takes the creature down.


Captain Incredible rishes off, but returns when Superman finds himself caught in a kryptonite deathtrap by Luthor.  Captain Incredible has no such weakenss, and saves the hero. Oddly, he then turns against him, and begins attacking Superman.


Superman head through the time barrier, and winds up in the 27th century, where he meets the scientist who created Captain Incredible.  The “boy” is a robot, sent to help Superman.  The time travel wound up reversing its circuits, which is why he began attacking.

Superman heads back, and lures Incredible through the time barrier.  Once back in its own time, the robot stops malfunctioning.  Superman heads back to the present, as Captain Incredible sticks around as the hero of his time.


Action 345 – Superman on Candid Camera


I have vague memories of Alan Funt as the host of Candid Camera, although looking at the Wikipedia entry, that was from a different run of this series, which Funt created in the 1940s, and mastered until the 1990s.


The story is largely a build up to the cover scene, which is the climax.  Dorfman and Plastino put Funt centre stage, though.  The story opens as Superman helps Funt make a fool of Perry White.


More Candid Camera set ups follow, until we reach the big one, as Clark is lured into a phone booth, and begins changing into Superman on camera.


He gets out of it by having a Superman top, and Batman bottoms.  As well as a miniature television, the likes of which I doubt existed in 1967.  So Clark pretends he pulled a Candid Camera prank on Funt.


Action 340 – the Parasite debuts


James Shooter and Al Plastino introduce the Parasite in Action 340 (Aug. 66).


Jensen, the man who will become the Parasite, gets only the briefest introduction.  He doesn’t even get a first name (or possibly a last, hard to tell.)  All we really know of him is that he is a lazy lab assistant, who doesn’t pay attention to warnings.


In his fourth panel, he just opens a container of radioactive materials.  Why not?  What could happen?  Aside from turning into a purple, skull-faced, energy draining monster.


The Parasite can draw energy off of anyone, although the story never makes it clear if those people he drains are left dead.I’m fairly certain that they are.  But the energy of a human does not last very long, and the Parasite weakens.  When Superman flies near, he gets a big energy burst, and realizes that Superman is the meal he needs.


To his good fortune, the Parasite happens to be on the street as Clark Kent and Lois Lane are passing.  The Parasite feels the energy boost again, as Clark collapses. Parasite now knows who Superman is.


The information does not prove very useful, though.  The Parasite’s plan to use his knowledge as a threat does not take into account that anyone close enough to hear him has already been rendered unconscious by his draining.  Superman has a very hard time with the creature, as he loses not only his strength to him, but vision powers as well, finding himself on the receiving end of heat vision.


In the end, Superman does not even defeat the Parasite, except in a very passive way.  His energy is so great, it’s more than the Parasite can absorb, and the creature explodes.

That’s far from the end for this character.  The Parasite returns a couple of years down the road.


Action 335 – Luthor destroys Superman’s confidence, and Supergirl enters beauty pageants


Dorfman and Plastino conclude Luthor’s vengeance storyline in Action 335 (March 1966).


Superman continues to be indecisive, which makes him not nearly as useful as he had been, and people begin to turn against him.  Van Benson appears as the editor of the Daily Planet, while Perry White appears as a senator. Perry became a senator in a recent issue of Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane.  Through Perry, the president requests tests of Superman’s abilities.


Superman fares no better on the tests than he has in actual situations.


But the people running the tests are not really generals. They are Luthor and Brainiac in disguise, making the most of their psychological war on Superman.


But they overplayed their hand.  Superman’s x-ray vision gave away how the tests were rigged, and their gloating was overheard by his super-hearing.


Still, Superman allows them to escape.  Returning to Lexor, Luthor finds an adoring Ardora, with seemingly no memory of the criminal acts she discovered.  Brainiac figures out that Superman induced amnesia in Ardora.  We learn Superman’s rationale for this – that Ardora was too nice to learn the truth.  That’s kind of odd reasoning.  And leaves Ardora in the hands of a dangerous and unstable man.  But Superman is fine with that.


Binder and Mooney begin a 2-part Supergirl story, which sees Linda Danvers become a beauty pageant contestant.


Linda gets spotted by a talent scout while on a date with Dick Malverne.  She is flattered by the attention, and agrees to enter a competition.  Dick has a charmingly cute nightmare about Linda becoming successful and leaving him in the dust.


Linda wins pageant after pageant, eventually making it into the finals of the Miss Universe competition.  She has no problem sabotaging the other contestants to ensure her victory.


After being crowned, Linda finds herself being transported into space for the real finals of the real Miss Universe pageant – exactly as she had planned. She had discovered that the previous winners had vanished, and never returned.


Once again she wins, although this time as Supergirl.  But the “prize” is a transformation into a hideous monster.

The story concludes in the next issue.

Action 333 – Lex Luthor’s revenge, and Superwoman vs Superboy


Lex Luthor’s vengeance plot proceeds apace in Action 333 (Feb. 66), in a story that is so much better than the cover would make you expect.


Dorfman and Plastino have Lex continue to play with Superman, rescuing him again, but also causing him to change into a dinosaur-type monster.  Superman is not sure if this effect is visible to others, or just him. And not sure whether it is the result of red kryptonite, or something else.


Luthor then asks for Superman’s help, disposing of a train full of toxic waste.  By now, Superman believes in Lex, and so goes along with it – and winds up kidnapping a train full of police, for which he is savaged in the press.


By the end of the issue, Superman is not sure if he can trust anyone, or even his own senses, and is incapable of taking decisive action, all to Luthor’s glee.

The story concludes the issue after next.  The following issue is an 80 page giant, reprinting Supergirl stories.


Superwoman and Superboy have it out in the concluding half of this Imaginary Story by Dorfman and Mooney.


Superboy wears a blond wig in his disguise as Cal Ellis.  Although ordered not to be adopted, like Linda was, he actively sabotages other kids chances to get chosen, and ensures that he is picked by a scientist and his wife.He immediately begins experimenting with kryptonite.


Superwoman does not believe that he really lost his powers, and enlists her best friend, Jimmy Olsen, in laying a trap for him.  Superboy takes the bait, trying to send Superwoman into the Phantom Zone.  But she and Jimmy get the best of Superboy.  They take away not only his powers, but also his memory, and return him to the orphanage, where he will grow up like any other human.


Action 332 – Ardora learns the truth, and Superwoman trains Superboy


An Imaginary Story featuring Supergirl(woman) gets the cover of Action 332 (Jan. 66), but not the lead story.


Dorfman and Plastino begin a multi-part Superman saga in this issue.


The story opens on Luthor, in exile on an alien prison planet, along with Brainiac, as well as Cosmic King, Lightning Lord and Saturn Queen of the Legion of Super-Villains.  They had been sent there a few months earlier, at the end of a battle with Superman in the pages of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.


Luthor escapes, and Superman expects that he will head to Lexor.  A scientist has devised a teleportation ray, which Superman uses, getting to Lexor ahead of Lex.  He is interrupted by Ardora, and barely gets away before she attacks him with deadly flowers.  But Superman has opened a secret vault, containing Lex’s tapes.  Ardora listens to them, and discovers that her husband really is the criminal Superman made him out to be.


Lex is furious with Superman for damaging his idyllic life on Lexor, and returns to Earth.  Perversely, he then rescues Superman a number of times.  Superman has no idea why Lex is doing this.

The story continues in the next issue.


Dorfman and Mooney then begin a 2-part Imaginary Story with Supergirl, switching the origins of her and Superman.  Zor-El and Alura come to Earth on a rocket with their baby girl, while Jor-El remains on Argo City.  Zor-El and Alura lose their powers after exposure to gold kryptonite, but Supergirl is not with them at the time, and so begins her career as a hero.


She winds up with the plain Jane alternate identity, Carole Zorelles, and is the one to discover her younger cousin, as his rocket lands on Earth after the destruction of Argo City.


The story parallels the Supergirl series, down to having Dick Wilson (at the orphanage, before he gets adopted and becomes Dick Malverne) suspicious of young Cal Ellis and trying to prove he is Superboy.


Superboy proves a handful for Superwoman to deal with.  He claims to have lost his powers to gold kryptonite at the end of this issue, but the reader is informed that he is lying.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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