Posts tagged ‘Bob Oskner’

Action 579 – Superman meets Asterix and Obelisk


Jean-Marc Lofficier, Keith Giffen and Bob Oskner send Superman to ancient Gaul in Action 579 (May 1986), where he encounters two men who are not Asterix and Obelisk, but as close as they could be without violating copyright.


The story begins as Jimmy Olsen destroys an ancient shield while stopping thieves at a museum.


The story then shifts to Gaul, with a wizard character that I think is much like one from Asterix and Obelisk, though I confess I was never a fan of those books, and don’t know it well enough to be sure of all the correlations.  At any rate, the wizard casts a spell, using the shield, to bring a great warrior from the future to help them, which pulls Superman to their time.


Giffen excels at portraying Obelisk, without actually showing him clearly.  There is no other character it could possibly be.


And I can tell that the overall look is right.  The people I knew who did enjoy Asterix and Obelisk just went nuts over this story.


Action 577 – Caitiff debuts


Giffen, Fleming and Oskner deliver a great Superman tale, as they introduce Caitiff, a fascinating vampire.


Morgan Edge is heavily promoting a story about deaths at a centre for disease control, which caitiff is behind.  Clark Kent is the newscaster for the story, which Caitiff wants stopped, so he heads out to find Kent.


Right from the start you are made to sympathize with this creature, who seems so pained and vulnerable.  And Giffen’s art just excels on the pages dedicated to him.


Caitiff bursts into the WGBS studio to try to stop the broadcast.  It does, but of course it also sets Superman right on him.


Superman follows Caitiff back to his lair, and finds the remains of the rest of his family, his race.  The bones of his child, killed by scientists trying to understand their condition.

Superman allows Caitiff to remain undisturbed, and tells no one about him.

Caitiff returns for a second, and final, story in the pages of Justice League International in the late 80s.

Action 573 – J. Wilbur Wolfingham sells the Earth


Con artist J. Wilbur Wolfingham makes his final appearance in Action 573 (Nov. 85), getting a send off from Boldman, Schaffenberger and Oskner.  Wolfingham very rarely appeared after the 40s, and was last in an issue of Superman in 1979.


This one has Wolfingham, with a young nephew, explaining to Superman where all the people on Earth went.  Wolfingham met a friendly alien, and pulled one of his typical scams, selling the guy a deed to the Earth.  As it turned out, the alien had the needed powers to take possession.


The alien tries to sell the property to other beings, but Superman keeps creating disasters, making it all look unlivable.  The alien finally sells the deed back to Wolfingham, and brings all the people back.


A decent enough story for what it is.  Very like an original Wolfingham tale.

Action 565 – Wizard City returns, and Ambush Bug ends


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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!


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


Giant penny!


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?


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.


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 563 – Ambush Bug loses his suit, Mr. Mxyzptlk wants his own show, and Jimmy Olsen becomes a blob


Three stories in Action 563 (Jan.85), all represented in Giffen’s great cover.


Ambush Bug gets the lead story in the issue, by Giffen, Fleming and Oskner.  Clark Kent is around, in his newscaster guise, and as Superman, but Bethany Snow, from New Teen Titans, and Jack Ryder, better known as the Creeper, also cameo on the first page.  Ted Baxter, from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show, almost appears.


There is some degree of story in this one, as Ambush Bug works on his suit, and shorts it out.


A running gag with the character is the origin story, which always involves a person named Irwin Schwab, but otherwise is a pastiche of other heroes origins.  Ambush Bug relates one of these absurd stories to Superman.


Superman dismisses it as nonsense, until he realizes Ambush Bug just told him his own origin.


E. Nelson Bridwell, Alex Saviuk and Dennis Jensen give Mr. Mxyzptlk a yen for the boob tube in the second story in this issue.  The 5th dimensional imp demands his own television show on WGBS, but Morgan Edge refuses.


So Mr. Mxyzptlk wreaks havoc with the networks programming.  Although the story posits this as a bad thing, in reality I’m sure the ratings went through the roof, as everyone tuned in to see what crazy shit was going to happen.  Anyway, Mxyzptlk has made saying, or even writing, his name backwards impossible for anyone.


Superman gets around this by thinking of his Bizarro World counterpart, Kltpzyxm, when setting up his trap.


The issue is rounded out by a Jimmy Olsen adventure, by Craig Boldman, Howard Bender and Pablo Marcos.


Hoping to save a falling girl, Jimmy drinks from an old vial of his Elastic Lad serum, but it turns him into a big blob instead.


He is unable to speak, and is treated as a monster, even by his date for the evening.  Superman figures out what has happened, the serum was corrupted by a radioactive substance it sat next to.  He cures Jimmy in time to still have his planned date, but the girl’s reaction, freaking out just because he metamorphosized, makes it clear this woman is not up to Jimmy Olsen’s speed.

Action 560 – Superman vs John Doe, and Ambush Bug begins


Ambush Bug steals the Giffen cover of Action 560 (Oct. 84).  Oh, go and sulk, Superman, it’s not as if you have a minimum of three other cover appearances this month.


The Superman story in the issue, by Kupperberg, Saviuk and Hunt, is decent enough.  John Doe is a former prisoner, who feels he was wrongfully jailed.  It sounds good at the start, but as the tale progresses we get the sense that he was guilty, and just refuses to take responsibility.

At any rate, with some nifty energy cuffs he is able to destroy the buildings of the justice system, and send Superman flying.


John Doe has acquired these through the Monitor, one of his many cameos in the months leading up to Crisis on Infinite Earths.


Of course, once Superman is prepared for the effect of the cuffs, he is able to withstand it, and shatter them.


But who cares about that story?  Ambush Bug steals the interior, the same way he stole the cover, in this story by Keith Giffen, Robert Loren Fleming and Bob Oskner.  This is Ambush Bug’s first solo outing, although Superman appears throughout the story, an follows his appearance in Supergirl a few months earlier.

Ambush Bug has opened a detective agency in Metropolis, and Superman comes to check it out, as Clark Kent.


Ambush Bug sees through that disguise right away, although he doesn’t actually deduce that Clark Kent is his secret identity.  The story strikes just the perfect notes of chaos and comedy.


And though Superman is the butt of much of the humour, the story is not demeaning to the character at all.


Ambush Bug makes his first appearance as Ginsu the ninja as this debut installment comes to a close.

Ambush Bug gets two more back-up stories in Action Comics within the year.

Action 459 – Superman vs Blackrock, and the Private Life of Clark Kent


Maggin, Swan and Oskner conclude the Blackrock introduction storyline in Action 459 (May 1976).


Superman has come to terms with Blackrock operating in Metropolis, even though Morgan Edge continues to be furious, particularly at how Blackrock always gives his interviews to Lola Barnett at UBC.  Clark points out some of the reasons for Lola changing networks.


Superman loses his patience with Blackrock during a robbery by teleporting thieves.  The radio waves Blackrock uses short out the tech, preventing Superman from following them.  Blackrock does not take well to being criticized, and the two start to fight.


Superman follows Blackrock back to UBC, but loses track of him.  He goes to confront Tanner, certain that the man must know something about the hero, but is stunned to discover that Tanner himself is Blackrock.  And Tanner does not even know it.  Silverstone felt that only Tanner himself could live up to what he wanted Blackrock to be, and turned him into the hero.


But with Blackrock now out of control, Silverstone works with Superman to turn him off.

Tanner is left with no memory of being Blackrock.  But Blackrock does return in a couple of years, in the pages of Superman.


The Private Life of Clark Kent begins as a rotating feature in Action. These stories, which deal with the non-Superman side of his life, began as a back-up in Superman.  Here, this story begins a series that deals not only with Clark Kent, but with the personal lives of many of the supporting cast.

In this story, by Bridwell, Swan and Oskner, Morgan Edge demands that Clark find out what has happened to a prominent boxer.  Steve Lombard has washed out on finding any information.


Clark pretty much stumbles across this one, winding up in a taxi that was meant to be part of a ransom pay-off.  He follows the money, and frees the champ, meant to resemble Muhammed Ali, and winds up with a personal on-camera interview, while a pained Lombard looks on.

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