Posts tagged ‘Edmond Hamilton’

Action 223 – Jor-El – the Superman of Krypton

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Jor-El gets to star in the lead story in Action 223 (Dec. 56), by Hamilton, Boring and Kaye.

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Superman goes hunting in space for remnants of Krypton, and finds some good chunks that contain his father’s lab and journal.  At this point, the notion that the planet turned to kryptonite upon exploding has clearly not been solidified, as Superman has no trouble in the ruins.

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The rest of the story is Jor-El’s journal, and we see the scientist discover the impending destruction of his world.

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Jor-El picks Earth as the destination for his escape rocket, after re-creating its gravity in a valley, and discovering that it will endow Kryptonians with super-powers.  The idea that sunlight is the key to the powers has not yet been introduced.

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Jor-El even gets to use these powers to fight crime and protect the Earth, preventing some Kryptonian thieves from stealing his rocket plans to invade Earth.

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Lara is completely side-lined in this story, just hovering around as Jor-El sends his son to safety at the climax of the tale.

This was the first story to feature Jor-El and life on Krypton, but it would spawn many more.

 

 

Action 191 – Superman plays sick, and Congo Bill meets Janu

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Many stories deal with Superman performing operations, or showing medical training.  The one in Action 191 (April 1954), entitled “Calling Doctor Superman,” does not.

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Instead, Hamilton, Boring and Kaye relate a tale in which a man is shot by a bullet that Supermna is particularly interested in retrieving.  To stay near him, Clark Kent  convinces the small town doctor attending the man that he is sick as well.

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Lois Lane shows up, hearing that Clark is sick.  She recognizes the hoodlum in the next bed, and notices that Clark seem healthy, so figures there must be a scoop involved, and sticks around to nurse him.  So the story descends into the normal territory of fooling Lois, and all the while helping the doctor as Superman as he gets phony emeergency calls to draw him away.

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It’s all a bit more comedy than adventure, culminating in a scene where Superman makes the bad guys, who have kidnapped Lois, cause everyone kidnaps Lois, into thinking that they all have come down with a deadly swamp fever.

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Congo Bill is in Saigon in this story by Miller and Smalle, when his help is sought in bringing a wild boy in from the jungle to receive proper schooling.  The white boy’s father was killed, leaving him an orphan, and he has been raised by animals. So basically, he is Mowgli.  But in Saigon.

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Congo Bill finds the boy, whose name is Janu, although he asks to be called Johnny, as his US pen pal calls him.  Somehow he learned how to speak English though having a pen pal.  This kid is a genius.  He also displays a lot of resourcefulness in the wilds.

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Congo Bill discovers that the boy is taking correspondence courses by mail.  Exactly how he does this strains the imagination, but Bill accepts it as true, and decides the boy does not need proper schooling.  Janu remains a supporting character, although for the next few stories he continues to live in the wold, being visited by Bill.  The stories move location to India, so Janu really gets around.  At the start of the story in the following issue, Bill is calling him Johnny, but the boy asks to be called Janu again, as that is what his father called him.

 

Action 151 – Superman vs Luthor, Prankster and Mr Mxyztplk

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Superman faces his first big villain team-up in Action 151 (Dec. 50), as Edmond Hamilton, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye bring together Luthor, the Prankster and Mr. Mxyztplk.

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The imp’s 5th Dimensional magic brings the other two villains to him.  Luthor has developed a way of creating “proxy”s, which can be designed to look like anyone, and Prankster contributes the overall theme – to make everyone laugh at Superman.  You might think Luthor would step in and insist that they actually try to kill him, but perhaps he is just a bit too freaked out by the situation to think clearly.

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Mr. Mxyztplk uses a proxy of Lois Lane in his ploy, making it look like Lois has given Superman the brush off, and is now in love with Mxyztplk.  Again, one is left to wonder why the villain reveal their involvement so openly.  And especially with Mxyztplk making the first move, Superman should know not to trust anything he sees.

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Luthor makes the most effective use of his proxy, creating a duplicate of himself, so that he can rob banks and yet maintain a perfect alibi.  Superman tries to bring him in for theft, but gets laughed out of court.

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The Prankster makes use of a proxy Superman, which will stand around and let himself be made an ass of.

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Superman wins at the end by creating proxies of the three bad guys, and using them in a carnival routine.  It’s pretty clear to see what Superman’s plans are, particularly with the microphone that repeats everything backwards, but the villains egos are so delicate that they climb up onstage to interfere with Superman’s comedy routine, and wind up doing themselves in.

It’s certainly not the best villain team-up, but it is a functional one.

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 119 – Clark Kent pretends to be Superman, Zatara powers up a piper, and Vigilante rides the jet-aquacycle

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Edmond Hamilton and Win Mortimer tell an early version of a common tale, as Clark Kent has to pretend to be Superman, in Action 119 (April 1948).

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A series of robberies using a helicopter are the crime motivating this tale.  Superman does not want Lois on the case, figuring it is too dangerous, and lies to her, saying he will be out of town, in hopes that this will discourage her.  After 10 years, you think he would know better.  Lois forces Clark to dress as Superman and accompany her, to scare away any dangerous men they encounter.  The difference in physique between Clark and Superman is addressed in this story, and explained by Superman’s super muscle-control.

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Superman gets through the case through a mix of outright lies, and ingenuity. He manages to duplicate a few of his super-stunts right in front of Lois’ eyes, though she gains no admiration for Clark’s resourcefulness.  At the end, she simply condescends that Superman wouldn’t have needed to come up with his clever solutions.

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Zatara’s story in this issue, by Samachson and White, is better than the series has been in a long time.

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A broke but honest piper uses his music, and some concealed gas, to lure and capture some wanted men.  Zatara is impressed, and endows the man with the power to create “magic music.”  That’s kind of vague, and indeed, the music functions in a variety of ways, creating illusions, even transforming criminals into rats.

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Zatara gives the man complete credit for the big criminal round up, and nothing indicates that these powers will wear off.

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Don Cameron, Mort Meskin and George Roussos bring back the Rainbow Man for an adventure so demanding, it requires Vigilante to use BOTH his sidekicks!  Yes, Stuff and Billy Gunn, together at last!

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To be fair, Stuff falls into the hands of the Rainbow Man right at the top of the story, so Billy Gunn gets most of the actual sidekick time in this tale.  Rainbow Man captures Stuff more or less at random.  He does not recognize the boy, which is very odd, considering how many encounters they have had, and  that Stuff wears no disguise.  Perhaps it’s just that Stuff has become increasingly white which throws him off.

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Vigilante’s motorcycle shows itself to be as good as a sidekick, as it becomes a “jet-aquacycle” – capable of travelling on the water.

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Rainbow Man? Some more colour crimes, of course, but he almost gets lost amid everything else in this tale.

As the underscript on the final page indicates, Vigilante is also now starring in a series in the new Western Comics.

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