Posts tagged ‘Craig Boldman’

Action 582 – Superman brings Jor-El and Lara back to life

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Boldman, Saviuk and Schaffenberger share the last in-continuity pre-Crisis Superman story in Action 582 (Aug. 86).

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After having a number of vivid dreams about Jor-El and Lara, Superman discovers that there are two other, distinct, brain-waves in his head.  He believes these two be the minds of his parents, somehow preserved within him.

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He creates clone bodies for them, and is thrilled when the brain-waves transfer from his mind into the bodies, animating them and bringing his parents back to life.  He provides them with human identities, and shows them around Metropolis, and Earth, while helping them adjust to their new powers.

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Superman brings them to his Fortress of Solitude, but when he shows them the Phantom Zone viewer, he is surprised that the villains, General Zod, Jax-Ur, Professor Vakox and Faora, are cursing him, and not his father, the man who invented the Zone and sent many of them there.

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And, indeed, his parents are not his real parents.  How the Phantom Zone villains could tell is not clear, but once Superman suspects them, they drop the act and try to kill him.  They put him in a rocket and fire him into space.

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Superman escapes from the rocket, but spots a familiar ship orbiting Earth.  It belongs to Rokk and Sorban, the compulsive gamblers from Ventura.  Frequent guests in Superman’s own comic, and World’s Finest, back in the 60s, this is their first, and only, appearance in Action.  They used some “free-floating” consciousnesses for Jor-El and Lara, but the bet at the core was whether Superman would be angry enough to kill the phonies, or not.

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The story ends as Superman takes Rokk and Sorban to the “prison planet,” (Takron-Galtos?)  Superman shows little concern about what the phony Jor-El and Lara are up to, loose on Earth, with all their powers. But the gamblers assure Superman that they will return to their non-corporeal state.

 

Action 578 – everyone hates Superman

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Boldman and Schaffenberger sap Superman’s self-esteem in Action 578 (April 1986).

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Superman attends a charity function, and meets a drifter, Joe Blohe.  Their meeting is brief and undramatic, they shake hands, nothing more. But it spells disaster for Superman.

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Immediately afterwards, Superman finds that people have become nasty, critical, and openly insulting towards him.  It happens to him both as Superman, and as Clark.

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At the same time, Joe is becoming outrageously popular.  Lana Lang ignores Superman completely, and wants to put Joe on television.

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It takes a while, but Superman finally figures out who Blohe is, and exposes him on live tv.  He is the Parasite, in disguise, who has used his leeching powers to steal Superman’s popularity, and self-esteem.  Even with his identity revealed, the crowd is still on his side.

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The Parasite makes the most of this, but now that Superman knows exactly what has happened, he knows how to overcome it.  By focussing on the love and support he had been given by his parents, Superman’s confidence is restored, and the Parasite gets defeated.

The Parasite sort of slips through the Crisis net, and returns in a year or so to fight Firestorm.

 

Action 574 – Superman competes for the glory, and Mr. Mxyzptlk has a son

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Action 574 (Dec. 85) has a great cover, although the art on Boldman’s story itself, by Schaffenberger and Hunt, is not as evocative.

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Superman receives a challenge from the champion of Ostok, a planet that used to hold regular athletic competitions with Krypton.

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It’s all really friendly, and Lana Lang broadcasts the meeting of the two planetary champions, and is later allowed to go along and cover the games themselves.  The hero looks identical to the one who was involved in the last, undecided, games, but claims to be someone else entirely.  He is the same.  It’s so obvious.

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Anyway, the games go on, and each one is very close.  Jenet Klyburn, who is with Jimmy Olsen, running tests throughout, determines that the champion from Ostok is giving off an odd radiation, but it doesn’t seem to be a threat or attack.

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Superman loses the games, and the champion returns home, and dies.  He had made himself young again in order to finish the competition from so long ago.  Klyburn realizes the radiation affected the timing monitors, and that Superman really won.

The best panel in this is the last, in which he expresses sorrow that he won, as it was just another victory, not as special a one as it was for the man from Ostok.

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Mr. Mxyzptlk returns in a story by Robert Greenberger and Barbara Kesel, with art by Bender and Hunt.

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Mr. Mxyzptlk has had a baby boy, and comes to Earth to celebrate.

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He throws a party at the Daily Planet, with cigars for everyone.  I love the personalized bibs for Perry, Jimmy and Lois.  Lana and Clark get flowers, perhaps to reflect their relationship.  Mxyzptlk is enjoying the day so much he wants it to last forever, until Clark makes him realize that he will never enjoy his son growing up if he does that.  Mxyzptlk agrees, and goes home without being tricked.

 

Action 573 – J. Wilbur Wolfingham sells the Earth

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Action 566 – the last Captain Strong story

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Captain Strong, the version of Popeye introduced in this book in the early 70s, makes one final appearance, in Action 566 (April 1985), by Craig Boldman, Ron Randall and Karl Kesel.

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Lois Lane and Clark Kent join Captain Strong and his love, Olivia as they sail out to find the Fountain of Youth – not that Lois and Clark knew that was the plan.

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There is an evil old woman, cloaked in purple, who is the villain of the story.  I don’t know if she is based on a Popeye character, but his long-lost Pappy certainly is, and a similar character appears in this tale.

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And just to get the cover image in, the old witch conjures up a Superman apparition, which Captain Strong defeats after eating sauncha.

Not a great story, but it’s nice to see the character one last time.

 

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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