Posts tagged ‘Cary Bates’

Action 507- The Miraculous Return of Jonathan Kent

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In Action 507 (May 1980), Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte pull off the first half of a true classic.

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Following their broadcast one night, Lana Lang informs Clark that she has as surprise for him, and takes him out to dinner.  At the table is Jonathan Kent, his long-dead adopted father.  Both Kent and Lana act as if nothing unusual is happening, but Clark is very suspicious.

As the dinner goes on he uses x-ray vision on the man’s body, and fingerprints, but sees nothing to indicate that this is not his father.

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The story cuts away to a street kid, Starshine, whose success at begging has just improved, as he gains the power to make his wishes come true.

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Pa Kent makes an excuse, needing a refill of his pills, to allow Clark to get away.  The exact empty pill bottle that his father would use for that purpose.  Superman confronts Starshine, who sends him off on a slow boat to China, literally.  Superman is helpless to return until the boat reaches the coast.

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Clark heads to Smallville, and finds no trace of his father’s grave, and even finds letters in his own handwriting, as if he had been writing to him for years.

The story concludes in the next issue.

Action 502 – Superman, Supergirl and the Star-Child

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte bring back the Galactic Golem in Action 502 (Dec. 79).

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The story has Superman and Supergirl discover an alien infant, the Star-Child.  It will grow to maturity in a day, and they have been asked to oversee that.  Superman brings the rapidly aging child to the Fortress of Solitude.  They need to teach it what it is to be human, as it will be an extremely powerful being when fully mature.

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The Galactic Golem, last seen in the early 70s in the pages of Superman, is drawn back to Earth, and Superman heads out to battle it.  Supergirl stays with the Star-Child.

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They see the Golem defeat Superman, and the Parasite emerge from its body.  Supergirl theorizes that the Parasite drew the Golem here, and merged with it to drain Superman.

Good guess, but totally wrong.  It was all a ruse by Superman, to evoke emotions from the child.  The only way he could figure out how to teach him emotions was to traumatize him.  Fortunately, the Star-Child is fully grown by the end, and leaves for a less stressful life.

 

Action 501 – the mild-mannered Superman

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The Superman Revenge Squad return in the Bates, Schaffenberger and Giella story in Action 5011 (Nov. 79).

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Clark Kent has a session with the WGBS psychiatrist, who feels that he needs to become more outgoing and dynamic.  Edge gets Clark to start wearing a Superman suit, supposedly to mock the doctor, but actually at his suggestion.

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Lois and Lana have a lot of fun dressing Clark up as Superman, and commenting on their former beliefs that the one was the other.

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The Superman Revenge Squad show up and shoot a beam at Superman, which makes his meek and cowardly, acting like Clark even when he is Superman.  Superman overcomes this by focussing on how he acts while delivering the news, how “on” he is then, and uses it to trash the eternally losing Revenge Squad.

The Revenge Squad don’t give up, though, and return in a couple of years.

Action 500 – the life story of Superman

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Action 500 (Oct. 79) is an oversize special, which does a good job of providing a fairly comprehensive story of Superman.

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte choose a big public tour of a new Superman pavilion as the framing device for the tale.  The various rooms give focus to different parts of the story.

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There is also a machine at the exposition which draws out Superman’s memories, so that people can enjoy his grief as he recalls Jor-El and Lara, and his early life on Krypton. But a mystery villain is making use of the device, channeling the memories into a Superman duplicate he is creating.

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The creation of the Phantom Zone is referenced, as well as Krypto on a test rocket.

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The Kents are shown, finding the boy and raising him, both through his Superbaby phase, and later Superboy.

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The story often uses exact swipes of scenes and images from earlier stories.  The death of Pa Kent duplicates the first telling of the event.

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As does the farewell message from the people of Smallville.

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Clark Kent’s life in Metropolis is shown, getting the job from Perry White at the Daily Planet, and working with Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.  Morgan Edge’s takeover is related, with Steve Lombard making an appearance.

Supergirl gets her own room in the pavilion, and a montage of her career.  Other aspects are really downplayed.  The Legion of Super-Heroes appear, in their current line-up, in the Superboy room, but are not talked about.

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Still, Lori Lemaris does make it into the triptych of his loves, along with Lois and Lana.

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The villain room is the most notable – for its absences.  Aside from Luthor and Brainiac, only the Toyman and Parasite are shown.  Brainiac has his story told in depth, as it relates to Kandor.

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The mystery villain turns out to be Lex Luthor, which is not that much of a surprise.

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And the duplicate gives himself away when he relates Luthor’s origin from Luthor’s own, very slanted, view.

As a story, this leaves something to be desired.  But as a Superman compendium, it works.

Action 499 – Superman and Vartox fight over saving Earth

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Bates, Swan and Colletta conclude the Vartox story in Action 499 (Sept. 79).

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Vartox tells Superman of his concerns, but Superman insists that nothing is wrong.  In fact, he begins to get angry at Vartox when doomsday cults pop up around the world.  He believes that Vartox is causing these with his mental powers.

Vartox also reveals his identity to Lana Lang, who must be relieved to have an honest man in her life.

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Superman becomes convinced that Vartox has been driven crazy by grief, as he has before.  Vartox has to physically subdue Superman, and use his mental powers on him, to try to get him to listen to his warnings.

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Part of the problem is that, in the Fortress of Solitude, atoms are not expanding as Vartox says they will.  But they see that it is happening outside of the Fortress.  Realizing Vartox was right all along, they deduce what is preventing the situation inside the Fortress, and then replicate it outside, saving the world.

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Vartox heads off into space at the end of the story, wanting to find a world that needs him.  He and Lana share a loving goodbye.  Things are not over between them, and Vartox will be back in a couple of years, though in the pages of Superman.

 

Action 498 – Vartox loses his world

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Vartox returns in Action 498 (Aug. 79),in a story by Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte.

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Vartox returns to his homeworld, Valeron, from a mission in apace, only to see it explode before his eyes.  Worldless, he comes to Earth.

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Superman is happy to see him, and consoling. But also a bit worried when they come across a crashed space ship, and Vartox thinks it is full of dying Valerians, blaming him.

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But this doesn not worry Superman that much, it seems. As Clark, he gets Vartox a job as head of security for WGBS, and gives him a human identity, Vernon O’Valeron.  Vartox slips easily into this role, getting the best of Steve Lombard, after he makes Clark look like a fool, and beginning a romance with Lana Lang.

As the issue draws to an end, Vartox discovers that the same thing that destroyed his planet (enlarging and exploding atoms) is about to happen on Earth.

The story concludes in the next issue.

Action 496 – a plague from Kandor

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte fulfill exactly what the cover of Action 496 (June 1979) proclaims. Superman brings a plague from Kandor to Earth, endangering everyone on the planet.

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For the first time we see that he does take precautions, sterilizing his body when he emerges from Kandor.  But it just wasn’t enough this time.

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Superman tries to seek out help to find a cure, or a solution. But when he approaches the JLA satellite is vanishes, and the same thing happens to Supergirl when he seeks her out.

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The Kandorians are actually behind these illusions.  When they informed Superman about the infection, they also shot an antidote into him.  He emits it, without being aware, and the more stress he is under, the more he gives off, curing himself, and everyone else. Kind of manipulative of them.

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