Posts tagged ‘Cary Bates’

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.

Action 492 – Superman kills his own future family

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In Action 492 (Feb. 79), Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte take Superman on a mystifying journey through his future life.

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Superman encounters an anomaly in space, which sucks him in.  He then believes that he is waking up back on Earth, but we know that this is some psychological game being played on him.

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He experiences a death-trap set by Luthor, with Lois and Lana in separate capsules shot into space.  He saves Lana, but Lois dies.  General Zod, Jax-Ur and Faora are behind this, hovering at the sides of the hallucinations as minor characters.

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They keep taking Superman further into his future, and have him believe that he enlarged Kandor.  Having every event be a bad one might make him realize he is being played.  I like that touch.

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We see that the villains are really still in the Phantom Zone, and Superman is having his life drained by the anomaly.  This line-up of Phantom Zone villains, Zod, Jax-Ur and Faora, is the closest that had appeared in the comics, to the Phantom Zone villains in the movie, about to come out, General Zod, Non and Ursa.

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They make Superman imagine a future in which he and Lana are married, with children.  And Superman kills them all accidentally with a space virus.  This is meant to prompt him to kill himself, but that is what takes him out of their trance.  He would never willingly kill, not even himself.

Free of the anomaly, he leaves the Phantom Zone villains to curse fruitlessly.

Action 491 – Brainiac pits Superman against Hawkman

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte conclude the Brainiac storyline in Action 491 (Jan. 79).

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Superman blasts right through the side of the JLA satellite, and Hawkman winds up in the battle of his life, having to hold off Superman until he finds a way to hurl him Earthward.

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In the end, Superman wins by exploiting his weakness.  Essentially, aiming himself at Brainiac as the next power surge comes.  Brainiac is stunned to discover that his impenetrable force field is not so impenetrable when Superman is in a killer rampage.  Superman blasts his way into Brainiac’s ship, and destroys the machine that is amping up the power surges.  Brainiac is probably somewhat relieved to be defeated rather than killed.

Action 490 – Superman’s power overload

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte continue with Brainiac’s assault in Action 490 (Dec. 78).

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The result of being exposed to the sight of Krypton’s explosion is that Superman is suffering from an uncontrollable power overload, which strikes at uncontrollable times – like when he is in the middle of a broadcast with Lana Lang.

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Superman tries to wear himself out, expending as much energy as possible, but nothing can drain him enough.

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Brainiac captures Superman with his force field in the midst of one of his uncontrollable outbursts, and sends him shooting towards the Justice League satellite as the issue ends.

The story concludes next issue.

Action 489 – Krypton’s destruction comes to Earth, and the Atom ends

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte begin a three-part story in Action 489 (Nov.78), as the force from Krypton’s explosion arrives at Earth so many years later.

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It’s big news, everyone is aware of it.  Morgan Edge is preparing a WGBS special, and broadcasting the view live, with Lana Lang, Lois Lane and Steve Lombard all part of the show.  Clark Kent is meant to be there, but he is busy with the Justice League.  They have noticed that he has been running himself ragged over the past couple of days, but Superman refuses to tell Batman, Green Lantern, Hawkman and Wonder Woman what is going on, simply advising them that he can take care of things.

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The Kandorians are having a special memorial because of the event, and are upset that Superman is not with him.  But to them, Supergirl explains the reason – Brainiac is back.  He has demanded a one-on-one battle with Superman.  In case he does not survive, Superman has been trying to get as much done as possible, and Brainaic has also blackmailed him, though the use of bombs, into keeping the Justice League out of it.

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Brainiac traps Superman on the roof of his ship, and forces him to watch the explosion of Krypton.

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The Atom’s series, by Rozakis, Saviuk and Colletta, comes to an abrupt end with the DC Implosion.

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The story is an entertaining one, with Jean Loring being the executor of a will, and the heirs unhappy with the distribution.  Some seemingly low value bequests get stolen, and the Atom gets onto the case.

act_489_006 It’s a good little mystery, with an interesting conclusion, as mementos prove more important than money to one man. The Atom’s series, like Air Wave’s, returns in a little over a year.

Action 488 – Microwave Man defeats Superman, and Air Wave begins

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte conclude the Microwave Man story in Action 488 (Oct. 78).

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Now made youthful by his alien friends, Microwave Man seeks out Superman for battle.  His powers are based on the microwave energies that he can draw off of, and the fact that there is no much more of this in the 70s than in the 40s means that his powers are far greater than they had been in the past.

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But Superman can see that the energy is also burning the man out, and that he refuses to quit until he wins. Superman allows himself to be beaten, simply to get the man to stop.  But Microwave Man collapses, and dies, as had been his wish.  The aliens make this clear to Superman, that he knew being made young again would kill him, but he wanted to die a triumphant villain.

You know, for a villain, Microwave Man didn’t seem like such a bad guy.

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Air Wave moves into his own series, by Rozakis, Saviuk and Chiaramonte, having been a supporting character in Green Lantern for the past few months.

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Hal Jordan is the son of the original Air Wave, and nephew of his namesake.  His powers are greater than his fathers, as he can travel through radio and television waves, and doesn’t have to roller skate on telephone lines.  He moves to Dallas in this story, taking up residence with another of Green Lantern’s brothers, Jack Jordan.

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Air Wave meets the girl next door, Karen Peterson.  They go out on a date to a model train exhibit, where Hal gets into action as Air Wave.  He tries to cover his identity, but Karen proves more observant than the average girlfriend, and is pretty sure he is Air Wave.

The DC Implosion strikes before the next Air Wave story could come out, and the series remains in limbo for a year, returning in these pages in 1980.

Action 487 – Superman vs Microwave Man, and the Atom begins

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A very dynamic cover for Action 487 (Sept. 78), as the DC Explosion begins.

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte begin a 2-prt story that introduces a new, old, villain, Microwave Man.  We first meet Superman’s adversary as a kindly old man, researching years of Metropolis history.

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Later, he attends a NASA symposium on UFOs and alien life, where he talks about being abducted many years earlier, and only recently returning to Earth.  Lana and Jimmy, who had attended the symposium, are laughing about him as they relate the story to Morgan Edge, but Perry White spits out his cigar when he hears that the old man used to be a thief in the 1940s, called Microwave Man.  Perry recalls the thief well.

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The old man tests out his powers, and finds them far stronger than he expected them to be.  His attempts to make the Daily Planet globe glow winds up massively overheating it, and turning it into a danger. He has a brief encounter with Superman, but flees.

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As the story ends, he contacts his alien friends, who rejuvenate him.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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The Atom returns in his own series in Action Comics, now recently married to Jean Loring.

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Bob Rozakis, Alex Saviuk and Chiaramonte are the creative team as Ray and Jean find themselves menaced by the Bat-Knights, tiny warriors who had appeared last in the Atom’s own book in the 60s.  In those days, they were allies of the diminutive hero, but in this story, they are on the attack.

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The Atom discovers that this is a younger generation than the ones he had dealt with, who want to shrink humans to their size, and then rule them. They are after the secret of Atom’s size changing belt.  But they make the mistake of claiming that they have Jean captive.  But they are in the cave where the Atom first used his powers, which he made an escape from, which Jean is perfectly aware of.  Knowing they are lying, he has no reason to hold back and beats the Bat-Knights.

This is the final appearance of the tiny warriors.

 

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