Posts tagged ‘Dan Barry’

Action 149 – Jor-El and Lara’s courtship, Tommy Tomorrow in the movies, and the debut of the Vigilante-cycle

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Action 149 (Oct. 50) has the earliest version of the romance between Jor-El and Lara.  A version that has been entirely dropped from continuity, for very good reasons.

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Al Plastino handles the art as a rocket lands on Earth, apparently just outside Metropolis. Lois Lane is covering the story, and finds three Kryptonian discs in the wreckage, which just happen to record how Jor-El and Lara came to be married.  Figuring that this will give her insights into winning Superman, she plays the discs.

The whole story is just shameful, so sexist.  Lara is portrayed as a dim-witted, love-sick woman, and Jor-El her brilliant and patient beau.  The first disc has Lara trying to win Jor-El through cooking, which Lois emulates, although it turns out disastrously.

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Lara failed in her culinary attempts as well, and then set out to clean Jor-El’s lab, while wearing what appears to be an evening gown.

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Lara’s cleaning winds up causing a fire, and Jor-El decides to marry her, because she is so incompetent and needy.  Wow.  That’s just.  I’m so glad this story fell out of canon.

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The Tommy Tomorrow series jumps ahead to being set in 2050, a round hundred years from the present day, and a much more comfortable amount of time in the future than forty years.  Swan and Fischetti do the art on this story, which is really much the same as almost every Hollywood based story, despite it’s science fiction locales.

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Some one is sabotaging the production of a movie, and Tommy is assigned to find the culprit.  Along the way,he acts to prevent acts of sabotage, all of which gets caught on film.

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In the end, Tommy stops the one trying to halt the production, and winds up starring in a hit film.

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Dan Barry takes the gradual development of the Vigilante’s motorcycle a dramatic step forward with the introduction of the Vigilante-cycle in this story.

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An inventor presents Vigilante with a new, upgraded version of his bike.  He is hoping to make money selling copies, with the Vigilante’s endorsement.  There is a rival businessman, trying to buy the rights to the bike for less than they are worth.  He insists the cycle is unsafe, so Vigilante runs a series of highly publicized tests.  The rival tries to sabotage these.

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That’s the plot in a nutshell.  The rest of the story demonstrates the impressive array of abilities this cycle has – everything but flight, though it can do rocket-powered leaps.  A successful “upgrade” of the series, in an increasingly technophiliac age.

 

Action 146 – Superman vs the Statue of Liberty, Tommy Tomorrow creates rotation, and the Vigilante finds the ship in a desert

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It’s really curious that a generic Superman image was chosen for the cover of Action 146 (July 1950), considering the amount of dynamic visuals in the story.

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Stone statues begin to come to life throughout Metropolis, in this story by Woolfolk, Boring and Kaye.  Luthor is the one behind it.

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Luthor brings the Statue of Liberty to life, to battle Superman.  He has quite a time with it, not wanting to destroy the monument, and finally manages to bind it to its pedestal.

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As a refreshing variation, Luthor brings to life a statue of Lois Lane, and endangers it, distracting Superman as he kidnaps the real woman.  The story culminates in Superman battling a giant statue of himself.  The ending is far too quick and simple, though.

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Tommy Tomorrow works to make uninhabitable worlds safe for settlement in this story by Binder, Swan and Fischetti.  It opens showing that there is dire need for this Planteers mission, as colonists have been stuck on worlds where they can barely survive. You have to wonder about why they were settled there in the first place.

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The story is fun, and I love Curt Swan’s art, but the scene where they give a planetoid rotation using their space ships is just goofy.

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I was struck by this page.  The lightning world, and the wold beasts.  It’s two different worlds, but the juxtaposition brings to mind Korbal, the planet of the lightning beasts, which appeared much later in Legion of Super-Heroes stories by the same team.

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The Vigilante and Stuff are on the trail of another legend in this story by Joe Samachson and Dan Barry.

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The mysterious ship int he desert, an actual legend, is called the Donna Louise in this story.  An expedition is mounted to find it, and Vigilante rides a special sort of tank-cycle to navigate the desert sands.  The Fiddler, not seen in many years, returns in this tale.  The ship is a fake, as is the treasure found on it, and the Fiddler is pulling a huge scam.

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The story clips along, lots of action and twists, and great art throughout.  One of the best Vigilante tales.

 

Action 144 – how Clark Kent got hired at the Daily Planet, and Vigilante hunts for a gold mine

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That’s quite a flood on the cover of Action 144 (May 1950), but it’s not nearly as interesting as the story of how Clark Kent came to be hired at the Daily Planet.

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Schwartz, Boring and Kaye delve into the past, as they recount the events that lead to Perry White hiring Clark Kent to work at the Daily Planet.

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The story is told in flashback – and a flashback within a flashback, as Clark arrives in Metropolis, and recalls Perry visiting him in Smallville, and promising him a job.  The story being referred to in this scene would actually come out a month later, in the pages of Adventure Comics.  And both that story and this one have pretty much the exact same format.  Clark Kent takes on a number of jobs, trying to get Perry White’s attention.  Along the way he stops crimes as Superman.

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As an adult, the first time he runs into Perry is while working as a cab driver.  Clark attempts to remind Perry of his earlier promise, but the editor is all caught up in a story, and pays little attention to Clark.

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Only at the end, when Clark turns in a Superman story, which gets picked up by the wire services, does Perry recall having met Clark years before, and fulfills his promise to kill him.

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Gardner Fox and Dan Barry tell an entertaining story, based on the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine, with some really great art.

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In this case, two men fought to the death after finding the mine.  And in some nice parallel structure, the Vigilante and another man compete to find the lost gold mine.

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Stuff has only a small role in this tale, which helps keep the intensity up.

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Vigilante finds a native blanket, which shows the fight to the death, and uses the landmarks shown as a treasure map.

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I really like Dan Barry’s art, and overall, the Vigilante series had stronger than normal art throughout its run.

 

Action 135 – Superman turns to stone, and the Rainbow Man heads west

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Superman may be building a youth centre on the cover of Action 135 (Aug. 49), but inside he is encased in a story by Edmond Hamilton and Al Plastino.

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A scientist has developed a machine that turns people into statues.  He shows off his new device to Lois Lane.  Then a number of people start turning into stone throughout Metropolis.

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Superman discovers Lois made of stone, and notes her pore pattern.  You just know that’s a significant clue.  The scientist appears on live television, turning the mayor into stone.

But it’s all an elaborate hoax, with people being replaced by stone statues.  Superman noticed that they all had the same pore pattern.  He toys with the criminals before taking them in, pretending to be a statue himself.

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George Kashdan and Dan Barry bring the Rainbow Man out west, for another round with the Vigilante and Stuff.

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The colour wheel is used, but as a weapon rather than a crime chooser.  The Rainbow Man is on the trail of a dead goon’s hidden treasure, which turns out to be worthless.

Action 134 – Super-Cowboy, cheap travel to Mars, and Vigilante vs the Four Horsemen of Villainy

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William Woolfolk scripts the Superman story in Action 134 (July 1949), with art by Boring and Kaye.

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In what very much feels like the opening to a late 50 or early 60s story, a man comes to the Daily Planet, asking for help running a crusading rural newspaper. Perry White thinks this is a great idea, and orders Lois and Clark to come with him.

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The story actually deals very little with the rebuilding of the newspaper, and dives instead into the western environment.  Superman may not ever put on a cowboy hat, but he does spend most of the story dealing with cowboy-type problems, like rescuing Lois from a stampeding herd.

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Binder, Swan and Fischetti deal with the economics of 1989 in this tale.  Mars needs workers, but the price of travel there is prohibitive.  A man is selling contained space suits, advertised as being able to make the entire voyage for a very low price, and gets many takers.

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The men get stranded partway there, as the suits are not even close to being able to do the trip.  Tommy, as colonel in the Planeteers, captains the ship that rescues them.  But the men accuse him of not caring about their situation, when he announces that he will return them to Earth.

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So Tommy finds a variety of reasons to keep moving his ship towards Mars, including fighting a space dragon.  The creatures ability to fly in a vacuum is ascribed to ether-currents.  Whatever they are.  The other Planeteers on the ship work to repair and upgrade the suits, and Tommy releases the men close enough to Mars that they can complete the journey.

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Vigilante has to face a team of murderous thieves in this story by Gardner Fox and Dan Barry.

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The Four Horsemen of Villainy wear identical black garb, and for a while, people think there is only one man, capable of astounding feats.  People are so frightened that Greg Sanders finds his show has been cancelled.  He is pretty mad about this, as he and Stuff travelled all the way out there, so he gets into his Vigilante costume and starts tracking the Horsemen.  He figures out that there have to be more than one man.

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The climax leaves Stuff to the side, as Vigilante fights and defeats all four of the horsemen.

Action 131 – Luthor sends Superman into the 4th dimension, Tommy Tomorrow at the centre of the Earth, and Vigilante eats tortillas

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Lex Luthor hasn’t appeared much in Action Comics recently, but he returns in full force, with a cover appearance, in issue 131 (April 1949), in a story by Joe Samachson and Al Plastino.

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Luthor has invented a machine that moves people and objects into and out of the 4th dimension (isn’t that where we already exist?)  He announces the plans for his next crime to Lois Lane, intending the press to cover the crime, as he transports his men far from the scene.

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Clark Kent writes the story for the Daily Planet, and winds up on the chopping block when Perry White and the Planet get sued by the thieves.  Luthor transported them across the country, and they have witnesses to place them thousands of miles away.  Clark finds that his reputation has been ruined, and no other paper will hire him.

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Luthor then uses his machine on Superman, trapping him in the 4th dimension.  Essentially, this puts him into the same state as the Phantom Zone, though that would not be introduced for many years to come.  But as with the Phantom Zone, Superman finds he is able to mentally influence an electric typewriter, although that is credited in the story to the wonderful sensitivity of the machine itself.  Lois gets to act as Superman’s agent, finding Luthor, and reversing the machine to free Superman.

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Tommy Tomorrow is given the rank of colonel in this story by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and John Fischetti.

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His rank must have been conveyed for one of his earlier stories, as he already has it as he leads an expedition into the centre of the Earth, finding a society based on slavery in the core.  I would suspect the rank was given to him after his treaty with the 10th planet.

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Tommy discovers that the reason the inner world relies on slavery is the scarcity of water, and the necessity for a huge work force to produce it.  Somehow, that does not sound like a reason for it, just an excuse.  But Tommy provides them with some water from Lake Tanganyika, and frees the slaves, earning a statue in centre of the world.

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Some really excellent art by Dan Barry on this George Kashdan Vigilante story.  It opens with a chef, and a fan of Vigilante, inviting him to his nebulous South American country.  The reference in the story to “pampas” would seem to indicate that Argentina is the location.

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The story is really fun.  Vigilante has to deal with rampaging cattle, and rustler, and other typical problems, but the focus of the tale is the cooking.  The tortillas the chef is so proud of are all but inedible.

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Eventually, the source of the problem is discovered.  The river the chef got his water from has oil running through it.  The ostrich has nothing to do with that, but looks just great.

 

 

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