Posts tagged ‘Batman’

Action 606 – Hal has no friends, Rafael listens to Mockingbird, Deadman in hell, Superman worshipped, newspapers are evil, and Blackhawk in a cockfight

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Superman gets the cover of Action 606, so that means I will update what is going on in his 2-page series this issue.

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Owsley is joined by Tod Smith on the art as he searches for someone to share his troubles with.

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Hal goes to visit John Stewart, in prison for the murder of Carol Ferris. Hal can do nothing to clear him, and John is still pissed about Katma Tui’s death.

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Hal forces his way past Alfred and goes to see Bruce Wayne, but Batman, having recently lost Jason Todd, is not in a sociable mood.

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Hal doesn’t even manage to see Clark Kent in person, as he is swamped with work.

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Finally he turns to Green Arrow, who one would have expected Hal would have turned to first. But even Oliver Queen gives Hal the brush off.

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Pasko and Spiegle show the Secret Six what happens when they try to learn anything about Mockingbird, or even more about their mission than they are meant to know, as Mockingbird turns off their devices again.

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Meanwhile, Rafael has opened his father’s safe, and found a wristwatch.  It broadcasts Mockingbird’s messages, and Rafael learns that a new team was formed, and old team told they were going to train their successors.

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Baron, Jurgens and DeZuniga have a lot of fun in this chapter, as Deadman arrives in hell in a jar, pulled there by a creature who claims to be the devil.

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I think that the man Deadman spots, who is stated as being still alive, is meant to be Nixon, but it’s not a great rendering.  On the other hand, the hell supermarket is really fun.

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Deadman runs into D.B. Cooper, the infamous and never captured hijacker from the 70s.  He leads Deadman to a mountain, the only way out of hell.

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So what’s been going on in all the Stern, Swan and Beatty Superman chapters that I have skipped?  Not a lot, frankly.  Superman has come to the aid of a man in danger, and rescues him.  The man worships Superman, thinking he is a god.  Lots more to come with these, but I’ll probably just update the story every time Superman makes the cover.

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Collins, Beatty and Nyberg put one of Wild Dog’s best friends in danger, as he writes an article for his paper against Lyman and his moral crusaders.

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The fact that the newspaper wrote against him is proof of their evil, immoral way, and Lyman sends his goon squad out to blow up the paper, but Wild Dog shows up.

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Grell, Burchett and Marcos stage a fight for the alpha male status in Blackhawk, between Massie, the Red Dragon’s former lover, and Blackhawk.  Janos wins, and gets taken to the Dragon’s bedchamber as a reward.

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We also discover that Cynthia Hastings is not who she claims to be, and that she and Massie have a past.

 

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Action 595 – Superman’s ghost vs the Silver Banshee

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Byrne and Williams introduce a new villain for Superman, and a mysterious ghost star, in Action 595 (Dec. 87).

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Maggie Sawyer, the head of the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit, and her second in command, Dan Turpin, had both been introduced in the pages of Superman in the last year, and have their first appearances in Action as they pursue the Silver Banshee, a woman who appears to be able to kill with her touch, as she searches bookstores in the city.

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Superman’s attention gets drawn.  The Banshee is unable to kill a man who she thought she had already attacked, an important clue to the nature of her powers.  She has no such trouble with Superman.

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And leaves him lying dead on the ground.  It’s not her touch that is fatal, it’s her voice.  Which is kind of obvious, if you know her name is Silver Banshee.

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Lois Lane and Lex Luthor are both shocked to hear about Superman’s death.  Lois actually handles it better, Lex is so jealous that he did not kill him.  The Justice League are mournful, and we see Batman, Black Canary and the Martian Manhunter.

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Perry White chokes on his words as Superman’s ghost visibly rises from his coffin during the funeral.

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Superman’s ghost fares much better than Superman did against the Silver Banshee.

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Her frustration leads to a scream that seems to destroy her, but there is clearly much more to this villain, and she returns in the pages of Superman within the year.

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The Martian Manhunter was really the ghost.  Superman was almost killed by the Banshee.  Her power seemed cued to identity, the reason she was not able to kill the man she thought she had met before. The Martian Manhunter could not be killed by Banshee, as she thought she was trying to kill Superman’s ghost.

A good intro for the villain.  Showing Martian Manhunter early on made it easy to figure out though.

Action 594 – Superman vs Booster Gold

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Byrne and Williams begin a Superman/Booster Gold story in Action 594 (Nov. 87) that concludes in Booster Gold’s book the following month.

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The story opens with Superman being introduced to Robin by Batman.  And Superman presents Batman with the mysterious scrapbook he had been sent, which will eventually lead to the Dark Knight Over Metropolis storyline.

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Booster Gold holds a big public press conference to trash Superman, attacking his one-man invasion of Qurac, from a few months earlier in Adventures of Superman, but really going over the top.  Lois Lane tries to rebut, but Booster questions her impartiality when it comes to Superman.

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Superman shows up, and things turn violent.  Booster does far better against Superman than he should. Superman cannot understand why he feels so weakened.

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But before Booster Gold can kill Superman, Booster Gold shows up to stop him!

Huh?

(One of them is really a robot.)

Action Annual 1- Superman and Batman vs Skeeter

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Action Comics has its first annual in 1987, as Byrne is joined by Arthur Adams and Dick Giordano as he re-unites Superman and Batman.

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The story deals with a young woman who lives in a shack in the bayou in the deep south, along withe the mummified corpses of her parents, which seems to not be completely uncommon in the south.

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Batman comes to the town, on the trail of a murderer who drains the victims of their blood.   Of course, he is mistaken as a killer when he is found near a body.

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Batman contacts Clark Kent, getting him to reach Superman.  The code word is Magpie, a reference to the Man of Steel miniseries, the story in which Batman and Superman meet.

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Batman is lead from the town by Skeeter, who has a degree of psychic powers, as well as being a scary vampire when she wants to be.  She tries to bite Sueprman.

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But Batman impales her and saves the day.

It’s not a bad story, but there is little in the way of characterization, or contrast between the heroes.  Sadly, forgettable.

Action 583 – “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” concludes

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Action 583 (Sept. 86) brings to a close the era of the Pre-Crisis Superman, with the concluding half of an Imaginary Story by Alan Moore, Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger.

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The entire story is one of dark foreboding, and is related by Lois Lane, now married and with a son, to a reporter, writing a story about the last days of Superman.  Many of Superman’s friends and enemies appeared in the first half of the story, and most of the villains have died.  Superman has brought Lois, Lana, Jimmy, Perry White and his wife to the Fortress of Solitude.  Cosmic King, Lightning Lord and Saturn Queen have come from the future, knowing that this was the end of Superman, to join in the fun.  They find the Kryptonite Man, as well as a disturbing union of Luthor and Brainiac.

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Many of Superman’s friends are shown throughout the issue, trying to get through the force-field surrounding the Fortress.  Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Captain Marvel and the Martian Manhunter are shown, along with Vartox, and pre-Crisis Superwoman.

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The story is filled with heart-wrenching sequences.  Jimmy takes his Elastic Lad serum, and Lana bathes in the pool that gives her super-powers, so they can join the fight against the assembling villains.  Her super-hearing allows Lana to hear Superman explain to Perry White that it is Lois that he truly loves, but he cared too much for Lana to ever let her know.

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Lana and Jimmy both fall to the Legion of Super-Villains, while Krypto sacrifices himself to take out the Kryptonite Man.

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This is all turning far too bloody and dangerous for the villains from the future, and they flee in their time bubble.  Luthor and Brainiac are the last, but perish in the snow.

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Who was the villain that brought this all about?  Mr. Mxyzptlk, the most powerful adversary Superman has, who chose to be a pest, but has now chosen to be a destroyer.

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Superman winds up using the Phantom Zone projector to rip the 5th dimensional being in half, but he has knowingly, and willingly killed.

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Though Lois gives him all manner of justifications, Superman has violated his own code.  He enters a chamber of gold kryptonite, which permanently removes his powers, and is never seen again.

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The reporter leaves.  I was teary eyed and emotionally drained by this point when I read this the first time, but so thrilled at the end, as the baby turns a lump of coal into a diamond.  And then I really looked at the face of Lois’ husband.

I believe Alan Moore has now dismissed this story as garbage, as he is wont to do.

I don’t care what he thinks.  This is the crowning gem of the first 50 years of the character.

 

Action 565 – Wizard City returns, and Ambush Bug ends

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The third and final Ambush Bug cover on Action Comics 565 (March 1985).

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Superman does get the lead story in this issue, by Mort Todd and Kurt Schaffenberger, which brings back Wizard City, a fabled Kryptonian town that landed intact on Earth in Superboy’s day, long before Kandor was introduced.  I talked about the Wizard City story when I covered Adventure Comics in the previous blog.

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It has been discovered, and looted, by a thief who is making the most of his stolen Kryptonian tech.

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Jimmy Olsen’s father, who was a young man in the original story, returns with information linking the criminal to the site.

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The thief tries to kill Superman with a Kryptonian virus he found in the city, but Superman prevails, and buries Wizard City deep int he Earth’s crust, never to be seen again.

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Ambush Bug has his final outing in Action, with Giffen, Fleming and Oskner finding exactly the right angle for the character.  This story introduces some of the odd supporting cast, as well as the plot device of having Ambush Bug travel from hero to hero during the course of the story.  Peabody, of Peabody, Dicker and Pending, opens the story with his Ambush Bug merchandising plans.

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Lots of great references to old goofy stories as Ambush visits Superman.  All but one of the stories referenced in this bit have already been covered in this blog!

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While the Inarticulate Bug would not return, satirizing Jack Kirby would become a staple of the series.

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Giant penny!

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The Uh-Oh Squad also make their first appearance in this story. The title is clearly a reference to the Suicide Squad, a team which had not had a strip since the early 60s.  The logo chosen is that of The Omega Men.  This always puzzled me, and did Giffen know of Ostrander’s upcoming Suicide Squad book?  Or is it just coincidence?

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And as he visits with Wonder Woman, Ambush Bug demonstrates that there is no lie he will not tell in order to get a hero to guest star in his strip.

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And some nice meta-stuff, just to top it all off.

Such a great strip.  Ambush Bug returns in a couple of months in a DC Comics Presents team-up with Superman against Kobra.

Action 556 – Superman vs Vandal Savage

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The Vandal Savage storyline is brought to a conclusion by Wolfman, Swan and Schaffenberger in Action 556 (June 1984).

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The story recaps the various attacks Savage has made on Superman, both direct and indirect.  While the hero is still alive and well, Savage’s plan to tarnish his reputation has gone much better.

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Savage uses another of his high tech machines to affect Superman’s hearing, sending him out of control.  He then sends out more of his Superman robots to bring him under control, once again making the hero look bad.

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Superman is not sure what to do against Savage, whose actions have largely been legal, if evil.  He consults with Batman, and meets Jason Todd, the new Robin.

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And as Clark Kent he has a heart-to-heart with Lana Lang, who has become so mature and compassionate that Lois seems like a cold and calculating bitch by comparison.

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In the end, it is brains, not brawn, that decide the battle between them.  Superman goes to confront Savage, who is more than happy to brag about his schemes, and how he has succeeded at turning the people of Metropolis against Superman.  But Superman has been broadcasting the entire meeting.  With his true nature exposed, all of Vandal Savage’s actions become worthless in defaming the hero.

It’s a mild let down after such along running story.

Vandal Savage is next seen in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

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