Posts tagged ‘Dick Malverne’

Action 336 – a Phantom Zone ex-con, and Supergirl with melty face

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There is a really great story in Action 336 (April 1966), but it’s not the one on the cover.

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Superman is the titular star of this story by Hamilton, Swan, and Klein, but the real star is Ak-Var.

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As a youth, back on Krypton, Ak-Var had stolen the sun-stone as a prank.  But he was captured, and sentenced to thirty years in the Phantom Zone.  In the intervening time, Krypton exploded.  Superman comes to Kandor as Ak-Var is released, having completed his sentence.  Phantom Zone regulars Jax-Ur, General Zod, Kru-El and Professor Vakox all cameo.

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Ak-Var wants to stay on Earth, and use his powers, just like Superman.  But the rules are that anyone released from the Zone must take up residence in Kandor – although the Kandorians are none too pleased to have him around.  In fact, the story almost seems to imply that Ak-Var is one of the only people ever released.  He does run into his old gang, and his former girlfriend, all of whom have aged, while he stayed ageless in the Zone.

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This story gives a lot of detail about life in Kandor.  Van-Zee, the double of Superman, takes a liking to Ak-Var, and introduces him to his niece, Thara.

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Ak-Var former gang friends launch a crime spree, and frame Ak-Var.  Being only recently released from the Zone, no one believes him innocent, except Superman, Van-Zee and Thara.

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Together, they expose the gang members as the real criminals.  Ak-Var becomes Van-Zee’s lab assistant.

Van-Zee is not seen again for a decade, returning for a story in World’s Finest Comics.  Ak-Var and Thara have to wait even longer, coming back in the Nightwing and Flamebird series in Superman Family in the late 70s.

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Supergirl comes back to Earth with her transformed face in the concluding half of this Binder and Mooney story.  Superman tries to help restore her features, but with no success.  Comet doesn’t care about her looks (he’s a horse after all), but notices her way of thinking has changed, and doesn’t like that.

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She feels like a freak, and takes off for Bizarro World, thinking to fit in there.  Wanting to fit in on Bizarro World is a pretty dumb idea.

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Linda is stuck wearing a mask over her real face, but discovers that , somehow, her original appearance returned.  She learns that the man who caused it was so grief stricken by his actions, that he changed her back.  And so she ends, happily dancing with Dick Malverne.

An easy out.

 

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Action 335 – Luthor destroys Superman’s confidence, and Supergirl enters beauty pageants

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Dorfman and Plastino conclude Luthor’s vengeance storyline in Action 335 (March 1966).

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Superman continues to be indecisive, which makes him not nearly as useful as he had been, and people begin to turn against him.  Van Benson appears as the editor of the Daily Planet, while Perry White appears as a senator. Perry became a senator in a recent issue of Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane.  Through Perry, the president requests tests of Superman’s abilities.

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Superman fares no better on the tests than he has in actual situations.

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But the people running the tests are not really generals. They are Luthor and Brainiac in disguise, making the most of their psychological war on Superman.

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But they overplayed their hand.  Superman’s x-ray vision gave away how the tests were rigged, and their gloating was overheard by his super-hearing.

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Still, Superman allows them to escape.  Returning to Lexor, Luthor finds an adoring Ardora, with seemingly no memory of the criminal acts she discovered.  Brainiac figures out that Superman induced amnesia in Ardora.  We learn Superman’s rationale for this – that Ardora was too nice to learn the truth.  That’s kind of odd reasoning.  And leaves Ardora in the hands of a dangerous and unstable man.  But Superman is fine with that.

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Binder and Mooney begin a 2-part Supergirl story, which sees Linda Danvers become a beauty pageant contestant.

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Linda gets spotted by a talent scout while on a date with Dick Malverne.  She is flattered by the attention, and agrees to enter a competition.  Dick has a charmingly cute nightmare about Linda becoming successful and leaving him in the dust.

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Linda wins pageant after pageant, eventually making it into the finals of the Miss Universe competition.  She has no problem sabotaging the other contestants to ensure her victory.

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After being crowned, Linda finds herself being transported into space for the real finals of the real Miss Universe pageant – exactly as she had planned. She had discovered that the previous winners had vanished, and never returned.

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Once again she wins, although this time as Supergirl.  But the “prize” is a transformation into a hideous monster.

The story concludes in the next issue.

Action 318 – Superman kills Luthor, and Supergirl goes to university

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Much of the story in Action 318 (Nov. 64), by Hamilton, Swan and Klein, takes place on the planet Lexor, a world where Lex Luthor is hailed as a great hero, which had been introduced in the pages of Superman, and now makes its first appearance in this book.

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Luthor escapes from prison on Earth, and takes a rocket to Lexor, where he is given a parade, because, wouldn’t you?

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Lex even has a girlfriend on Lexor, Ardora, who he marries in this issue.  They both know Superman will be coming for Lex eventually, and she begs him not to kill the man.

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Lex goes out to confront Superman when arrives on Lexor.  The planet orbits a red sun, so Superman has no powers there.  As they fight, Superman knocks Lex against a pillar, which cracks his head open and kills him.

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Superman is immediately hauled away, risking an all-out lynching.  Lex Luthor’s funeral draws a huge crowd, even Brainiac shows up to attend.

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No one believes that the death was accidental, not even the lawyers appointed for Superman, who does not look happy about waiting till next issue for the resolution to the story.

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Supergirl graduates from high school, and moves away to attend Stanhope University in this Dorfman and Mooney story.  It’s kind of weird, as the last year or so of Supergirl stories have placed so much emotional weight on which parents get to raise her, and now she’s off on her own.

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Of course, the first order of business is joining a sorority.  Linda sees one, Alpha Lamba, where Donna Storm treats the pledges appallingly.  So that’s the one she intends to join.  Because.  Umm.  Ok.

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So Linda is assigned a variety of humiliating tasks, which she turns into popular triumphs.  When she is tricked into having to kiss a monkey in public, the monkey turns out to be Beppo.

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When she has to find a last minute mascot, Super-Horse steps in.  Dick Malverne does have a cameo, but we learn he is attending a different school.

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The super-pets raise Donna’s suspicions about knowing, or being, Supergirl.  She drives her car off a cliff, in an attempt to prove that Linda is the heroine, but she tricks Donna into thinking the car landed safely.  Remorseful, Donna agrees to stop tormenting the pledges, and becomes Linda’s friend.  Hoping to suck up to Supergirl, I expect.

 

 

Action 317 – Superman shows his emotions, and Supergirl steals Lena’s boyfriend

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Superman goes through an emotional roller-coaster in Action 317 (Oct. 64), and all of it shows on his face.

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Superman gets exposed to red kryptonite (wow, that NEVER happens), and it has the effect of making his face colour brightly when he experiences emotional reactions, in this story by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.

Though he spends the day largely as Clark Kent, in the company of Lois Lane, he watches from a distance as his Kandorian friend, the scientist Nor-Kan, sickens, dies, and is buried, all in (apparently) quick succession.

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At one point, green with envy, he moves a restaurant called the Green Lantern into a new location, to shine green light on Lois’ face as well.  This restaurant will return in the pages of Superman comics in the early 70s.  Am I a geek or what?

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The effects wear off by the end of the story, and Nor-Kan is buried, with a memorial.  Despite this, Nor-Kan appears again in a number of Superman stories in the 70s.

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Lena Thorul falls in love in this story by Dorfman and Mooney.

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Her boyfriend is Jeff Colby, whom she happily introduces to Dick Malverne and Linda Danvers.  Linda had just helped him survive a plane crash, as Supergirl, and when he makes no mention of that, or burying his parachute, she becomes suspicious.

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Spying on Jeff, she sees the he is working with organized crime, who operate from a sea base in international waters.

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Lex Luthor has also been watching Lena on his own monitor, and is shocked when he sees Jeff Colby.

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Supergirl does not want to be honest with Lena, and tell her what she knows of Jeff, so instead she butts in at a dance, and hypnotizes Jeff into falling for her, humiliating Lena in public.  Jeff remembers none of what happened, but Lena calls off their engagement.

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The Supergirl discovers that Jeff is actually an FBI operative, and was working undercover, infiltrating the organization.  Oops!  She helps him take them down, and then builds a robot of Jeff and programs it to tell a ridiculous lie, all to cover her own, unfounded actions.

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Lena and Jeff marry at the end of the story.  We learn that Jeff had arrested Luthor, which seems to be setting up some later story, but doesn’t.

In fact, this is not only the final appearance of Lena Thorul in Supergirl’s run in Action Comics, it’s the one and only appearance of Jeff Colby.  When next we see Lena, in Supergirl’s run in Adventure Comics in the early 70s, she is a widow and single mother.

 

Action 316 – Zigi and Zagi make trouble for Superman, and Zor-El makes a decision

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Supergirl’s story gets the cover spot on Action 316 (Sept. 64), but Superman still has the lead spot.  Once again, both stories are by Dorfman and Mooney.

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Learning of the escaped con aboard the spaceship, Superman flies out to Zigi and Zagi’s homeworld.  The crook gets knocked unconscious during the landing, but at least that alerts the boys that he is there.  Thay make him invisible for a while, to taunt Superman, but eventually send him back to Earth.

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The story then becomes about Zigi and Zagi trying to matchmake Superman with their sister, Zyra.

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Superman gets out of this by finding Zyra’s lost fiancee, re-uniting the couple.

Although Zigi and Zagi do not return, I am certain I have read something, likely by Grant Morrison, playing with the concept of these two.

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Supergirl, living with Zor-El and Alura on Earth, is depressed by the absence of her adoptive parents.

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Zor-El uses a time viewer to explore how their lives on Earth will play out.  It displays a future in which the Zygor, an alien monster, comes to Earth seeking vengeance on Zor-El, who had driven it away from Argo City.

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The Zygor has the power to control the minds of Kryptonians, after eating a lot of red kryptonite (?), and forces Supergirl to choose between killing Superman or Zor-El.

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Zor-El insists that they cannot possibly let this future come to pass, that he and Alura must return to Kandor, so the Zygor will never find them.  This allows the Danvers to come back, and Linda is also re-united with Dick Malverne and Lena Thorul.

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At the end, we discover that the Zygor was actually captured by Zor-El many years ago, and died in captivity.  So the whole thing was a lie.  Alura agrees to keep Zor-El’s lie, as they will “all be happier that way.”

Which is likely the best she could make of things, after being so rejected by her own daughter, who prefers the psychotic Earthling Edna Danvers.

I am also fairly certain that the Zygor returns in a later story.

Action 314 – Superman as the Justice League, and Supergirl’s mom gets sick

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Edmond Hamilton and Al Plastino explore some variations on Superman’s life in Action 314 (July 1964).

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Superman is summoned by the Justice League of America, and meets up with Batman, Aquaman, the Atom, Flash and Green Arrow.  Aquaman explains that his octopus sidekick, Topo, discovered a recording by Jor-El on the ocean floor.

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The rest of the story is Jor-El’s recording, as he recounts his simulations of what his son’s life would be like, had he sent the boy to various different worlds – and why he ultimately chose Earth.  One is a world of giants, where Superman would have been very small, and fought crime as if he were the Atom.

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And an underwater world, where he would have been that planet’s Aquaman.

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A low-tech planet, under a red sun, which would have seen him become Green Arrow.

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A world of eternal night, in which he becomes Batman.

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And lastly, a planet on which only his super-speed functioned, making him the Flash.  But Jor-El chose Earth, to give his son the maximum amount of powers.

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Dorfman and Mooney ramp up the emotions in this month’s Supergirl tale.

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Supergirl’s mother, Alura, has fallen deathly ill due to being separated from her daughter.  We get some flashbacks to their life on Argo City, when Kara was a baby.

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The Davners intercept a message from Kandor, letting Linda know how severely her mother wants her back.  They try to make her feel unwanted, so that she will willingly leave them.  But Linda is suspicious of their change in behaviour, and finds out the truth.

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Zor-El and Alura do not want Supergirl to have to give up her crime-fighting career, so they decide it the Danvers who should make all the sacrifices in this situation.  They use the exchange ray to bring one set of parents out of Kandor, and replace them with her other set.  And though there is no clear reason why Supergirl has to leave Midvale as a result of this, she nonetheless bids farewell to Dick Malverne and Lena Thorul.

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Meanwhile, in Kandor, the Danvers meet a young orphan girl, who looks identical to Linda.

The story continues in the next issue.

 

 

Action 311 – Superman – King of the World, and Supergirl and Super-Horse start dating

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From the cover of Action 311 (Action 1964), I was fully expecting the Swan/Klein story to be an “Imaginary Story,” but it isn’t.  Superman really does take over the world.

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Red kryptonite splits Superman and Clark Kent into different people.  This had happened before, though creating an evil Clark and Good Superman.  Red kryptonite can never have the same effect twice, so in this variation, Clark is good, and Superman is evil.

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Superman heads to the United Nations, and demands that all the countries on Earth turn themselves over to his rule.  There is some debate among nations, but Superman shows what he will do to anyone who defies him,and everyone gives in.

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Superman builds himself a big castle.

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Dismayed at his behaviour, Clark forms an underground movement to overthrow him, consisting of Perry White, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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Supergirl has a busy Valentine’s Day, thanks to Dorfman and Mooney.

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Dick Malverne gives her candy.  Boooring.  Jerro tops that with a display of glowing fish. Comet watches, getting all jealous.

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Comet travels back in time and begs Circe to make him human.  She warns him that she sees him regretting this choice, but begins a spell which will do just that.  It’s time-delayed, allowing him to make it back to his time period, before he changes and his powers fade.  But before he tranforms, Comet is found by a masked thief, and used in his robberies.

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The thief changes clothes and takes off with his loot, just as Comet takes on human form again. He puts on the thief’s clothes – so you can see exactly where this is going to go.

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For a few pages, Linda is re-united with Bronco Bill Starr, and they spend some loving, quality time together.  Just a girl and her horse, making out in front of a waterfall.

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But then Bill gets accused of being the masked thief.  Supergirl is devastated, but chases him, convinced that he has also kidnapped Super-Horse.  Circe takes pity on him, and changes him back into his Super-Horse form.  The actual masked thief is caught, clearing Bill’s name, but too late.  He’s a horse again.

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