Posts tagged ‘Edmond Hamilton’

Action 339 – the Superman of 2966 vs Muto, and Supergirl vs Brainiac

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A split cover for Action 339 (July 1966), as the Superman of 2966 faces Muto, in a story by Hamilton, Swan and Klein, while Supergirl is caged by Brainiac, thanks to Jim Shooter and Jim Mooney.

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The Superman of 2966 escapes from Muto’s trap, using the androids to bring him to safety.  He has to struggle to deal with Muto, who keeps his base in the toxic waters.

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Muto makes use of an enlarging ray.  His plans are never very precise, but the art is fun.

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It really looks like Superman is killing Muto, not just sending him back to his home dimension.  But Muto does return, along with this Superman, in World’s Finest Comics the following year.

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Sueprgirl has her first solo outing against Brainiac in this story.  Superman leaves Earth in her care as he goes into space with the Justice League of America.

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Brainiac has a trap all specially prepared for Superman, and comes to challenge him.  He refuses to take Sueprgirl seriously.

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But Supergirl will not give up, and keeps attacking over and over.  Finally, Brainiac considers her enough of a nuisance to use his special kryptonite cage on her.

But the cage was built for Superman’s size, and Supergirl slips through the bars. It’s painful, but possible, and she defeats the unwary Brainiac and sends him running.

Action 338 – Muto debuts

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The Superman of 2966 appears in Action 338 (June 1966), in a story by Hamilton, Swan and Klein, which sees the debut of his arch-enemy, Muto.

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Swan’s art is just great as the future Superman, introduced a few months earlier in his own book, returns.  As with many of these tales, everything is as close as possible, with a Clark Kent-based name, and a job as a journalist.  He maintains a secret identity despite the problems it causes him.  He no longer has a problem with kryptonite, but has issues with ocean water, now contaminated beyond his physiology’s ability to deal with it.

Kind of like the weakness in the movie Unbreakable.  Which at one point shows a similar comic book cover, complete with checkerboard pattern.  Just saying.

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We get some more of the family history of the future Superman, including stupid ways his ancestor’s identities were revealed.  The fact that they just kept on re-establishing new ones, generation after generation, says something about obsessiveness in this bloodline.

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Anyway, on to Muto.  His mutations were caused as a very indirect result of a heroic action by this Superman’s father.  So he wants to kill him.  Aside from a big yellow head, he has very strong mental abilities, as one might expect.

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Muto captures the future Superman by making it look like innocent children are endangered by a flood.  But the kids are just androids, and Muto has the Superman of 2966 in a death trap!

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.

 

Action 319 – Superman finds that innocence is irrelevant, and Supergirl gets expelled

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Hamilton, Swan and Klein conclude the Death of Luthor storyline in Action 319 (Dec. 64).

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Much of this issue is a Kafkaesque trial for Superman, as nothing he says or does has any effect on the Lexorians, who are simply going through the motions before executing him.  Their preferred method turns a person into stone.

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During the trial, Superman learns that no autopsy was performed on Luthor, at his own request.  This makes Superman suspicious enough to bust out of his cell to investigate further.

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The pills make Luthor’s plan clear.  He will be in his death-like coma for the duration of the trial, and wake up after Superman has been executed for killing him.

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Superman gets Lex out of his trance, and even reveals the pills he used, but to no avial.  Oh, the charges against him are dropped, but everyone still believes in Lex.  Superman is forced to return to Earth, while Luthor stays on Lexor with Ardora.

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Donna Storm, the villain from the previous issue, returns to plague Linda Danvers, and Supergirl, in this Dorfman and Mooney story.

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Donna feels she needs to be the best at everything, but has no prblem cheating to achieve this. She gets scientists at her father’s lab to do her chemistry work, and has a mini tape recorder in her earrings, feeding her for presentations.

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Supergirl decides to outdo her, because that is the maturest way to handle the situation.  When Donna spends a lot of money on pictures for a presentation in biology, Supergirl takes the rest of the class to Atlantis for a lesson by Lori Lemaris.

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Donna is even more upset with Linda, and her friendship with Supergirl, after this.  She steals some jewels, and plants them in Linda’s room.  They are found, and Linda gets expelled.

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But Donna Storm makes her big mistake, when Linda comes to confront her.  She admits everything, bragging to Linda about it, but her words get broadcast to the entire campus.

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Supergirl had called on the Legion of Super-Heroes for help, and Shrinking Violet had re-wired her tape recorder earrings to become a broadcast device.

Linda’s expulsion is rescinded, and Donna Storm gets the boot instead.  She never appears again.

Considering the self-esteem issues that Donna clearly has, after the public humiliation of her activities being exposed, and the, likely, forthcoming criminal charges, I expect she just killed herself.

 

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 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 309 – the Superman family, and the secret of Supergirl’s parents

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Edmond Hamilton gave Curt Swan and George Klein an awful lot of work in Action 309 (Feb. 64).

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I’m including the splash page of this story to give you some idea of the amount of guest stars who appear.  But this is not just trivial packing, it’s also part of the suspense of the story.

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JFK, looking awfully shadowy, tricks Superman into going to a location, which is where a “this is your life!” special about him is being broadcast.  It’s not that much of a surprise for Superman, Clark Kent received an invitation.

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But who will Superman get to be Clark?  Lois and Lana have a robot detector, as they are using the special to try to prove Clark is Superman.  Lori Lemaris reads their minds, and alerts Superman to the danger.  Lex Luthor makes a cameo, watching the show from prison, but he is the only villain really featured in the tale.

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The Super-Pets put on an impressive show under Supergirl’s command.

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Superboy’s friend Pete Ross makes his first appearance as an adult, and we see a very aged Police Chief Parker from Smallville as well.  All the usual friends are there, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, as well as representatives from Kandor.  Among them are the “Lookalike Squad”, the ones who are identical to people in Superman’s life.  This includes the Clark Kent lookalike, Van-Zee, and his Lois Lane lookalike wife, Sylvia. Even the Jimmy Olsen Fan Club show up, one of whom is dumb enough to bring a chunk of gold kryptonite as a gift.

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But then the Legion of Super-Heroes show up, and Element Lad changes the rock and saves the day.  Chameleon Boy is part of the group, eliminating him as the phony Clark Kent.

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Batman unmasks in front of Lois, but is wearing a Bizarro face.  A nice laugh on snoopy Lois, and a way to work the Bizarro image into the story.

So who is left that could possibly have been Clark Kent?

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Why, JFK of course.

Very disturbingly, this issue was released only a couple of weeks after the assassination of JFK.

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Dorfman and Mooney add yet another twist to the never-dull life of Supergirl.

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Linda is being haunted by dreams of her dead parents, Zor-El and Alura, and can’t even enjoy her dates with Dick Malverne.   She wonders if her parents might be trapped in the Phantom Zone, because of their ghostly nature.  She checks with Comet, who can telepathically sense them somewhere.

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Supergirl can find no trace of them, but does find a remorseful Kryptonian, Jer-Em.  He is willing to tell her of them, but Jax-Ur, Zod, Kru-El and Professor Vakox muddle his telepathy.

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In Kandor, Supergirl uses a chronoscope to review the events of Argo City, her departure for Earth and the death of her parents.  She learns that Jer-Em altered the direction of Argo City’s flight, to take them away from an empowering yellow sun, believing it was evil.  But the change in course lead to the meteor shower that ruined the city.

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She also discovers that her parents did survive, heading into a place like the Phantom Zone, but without all the yucky criminals, called the Survival Zone.

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Supergirl vows to find and free her parents!

 

 

 

 

 

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