Posts tagged ‘Elliot S Maggin’

Action 642 – Action Comics Weekly ends

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Action Comics Weekly comes to an end with issue 642, a full-length crossover story.  Superman, Green Lantern, Nightwing and Deadman are all involved, as well as Guy Gardner.

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Elliot S Maggin scripts this tale, which opens with a flashback to the death of Abin Sur, and his selection of Hal Jordan as successor.  In this version, we learn that Clark Kent was brought as a possible Lantern, but declined.

The art changes from chapter to chapter.  The various creative teams are: Gil Kane, Steve Ditko and Art Thibert, Jim Aparo and John Nyberg, Curt Swan and Ty Templeton, Jim Mooney with Ian Akin and Keith Garvey, and Carmine Infantino and Kevin Nowlan.

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Green Lantern is investigating an unusual military installation.  The man in charge wants no spying eyes, and shoots Hal right in the chest.  Hal lays dying, and his ring summons potential successors.  It might summon a doctor as well, but apparently has given up on Hal.

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Most of those chosen are not characters we know, have ever seen before, or will ever see again.  Clark Kent is brought again, as is Nightwing.

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Guy Gardner is selected as well, completely nonsensically.  He has removed his ring temporarily, and the story treats this as if it means he is no longer a Green Lantern the second he takes off the ring, despite the mental connection between the ring and its wearer.

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Deadman comes to see what all the fuss is about. This is all taking place in a millisecond.  Deadman is able to converse somewhat with Hal, which makes sense.  Superman can also communicate with Deadman, because he can sense this all happening at great speed.  That really doesn’t explain why he can see Deadman at this event, but not in normal situations.

You can tell from the way I am picking at it that I did not enjoy this story.  There was no likelihood that Hal was going to die, so the story was just pointless.  That might have been ok if it were a lot of fun on the road, but it’s not.  And so these weird errors, just sloppy writing by someone who can, and has done, better, annoy me.

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After a lot of “what if this guy became Green Lantern?” Hal revives, and everyone is returned to what they were doing before.

About the only touch I like is the theatre marquee being changed in the final panel, reading Action – closed for renovations.

Action Comics returns in a few months, with an second annual to launch its return to a regular format.

And there is still just enough room on this blog that I can do an entry on the Neil Gaiman Action Comics Weekly story that never was.

Action 460 – Steve Lombard is Superman?, and a Mr. Mxyzptlk tale

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Action 460 (June 1976) was the third issue of the series that I bought.  It is the beginning of a four-part story, which made me buy the next three issues, and got me buying the series regularly.

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The story, by Bates, Swan and Blaisdel, begins in a very low-key manner, with Clark Kent riding the bus to work.  Steve Lombard winds up in the same coach, his sports car in the shop.  But neither man is prepared when a glowing alien being suddenly shows up in the back of the bus.

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This creature is clearly none too find of Superman, and appears almost equally matched in strength.  He vanishes in the middle of the fight, and Superman is pretty sure that he turned back into whatever human guise he had been using on the bus, before he transformed.

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Superman is dead on about that.  This is Karb-Brak, from a planet in the Andromeda galaxy.  He is fatally allergic to all of his people, and was sent to live on Earth, just in order to survive.  His human guise is a construction worker, Andrew Meda.  Superman evokes the same allergic reaction that Andromedans did, so Brak decides he must kill Superman to save himself.

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He tracks the energy, and sees Clark Kent and Steve Lombard working out together in the WGBS gym.  He starts to transform, but does not notice Clark take off and become Superman.  Assuming Lombad must be Superman, he breaks in to kill him.

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Though this is billed as a Mr. Mxyzptlk story, the real star of it is the recently introduced Jon Ross, whom Mxyzptlk chooses to pester.

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Jon has heard about the imp.  After Mxyzptlk turns Pete Ross into a statue, Jon decides to play along with him, pretending to enjoy it all, and bide his time.

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Mr. Mxyzptlk genuinely enjoys having a partner in his lunacy, and is unprepared when Jon traps him in a creation of his own making, which he cannot escape from, short of returning to his home dimension.

So this is kind of like a “private life of Jon Ross.”

Action 459 – Superman vs Blackrock, and the Private Life of Clark Kent

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Maggin, Swan and Oskner conclude the Blackrock introduction storyline in Action 459 (May 1976).

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Superman has come to terms with Blackrock operating in Metropolis, even though Morgan Edge continues to be furious, particularly at how Blackrock always gives his interviews to Lola Barnett at UBC.  Clark points out some of the reasons for Lola changing networks.

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Superman loses his patience with Blackrock during a robbery by teleporting thieves.  The radio waves Blackrock uses short out the tech, preventing Superman from following them.  Blackrock does not take well to being criticized, and the two start to fight.

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Superman follows Blackrock back to UBC, but loses track of him.  He goes to confront Tanner, certain that the man must know something about the hero, but is stunned to discover that Tanner himself is Blackrock.  And Tanner does not even know it.  Silverstone felt that only Tanner himself could live up to what he wanted Blackrock to be, and turned him into the hero.

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But with Blackrock now out of control, Silverstone works with Superman to turn him off.

Tanner is left with no memory of being Blackrock.  But Blackrock does return in a couple of years, in the pages of Superman.

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The Private Life of Clark Kent begins as a rotating feature in Action. These stories, which deal with the non-Superman side of his life, began as a back-up in Superman.  Here, this story begins a series that deals not only with Clark Kent, but with the personal lives of many of the supporting cast.

In this story, by Bridwell, Swan and Oskner, Morgan Edge demands that Clark find out what has happened to a prominent boxer.  Steve Lombard has washed out on finding any information.

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Clark pretty much stumbles across this one, winding up in a taxi that was meant to be part of a ransom pay-off.  He follows the money, and frees the champ, meant to resemble Muhammed Ali, and winds up with a personal on-camera interview, while a pained Lombard looks on.

Action 458 – Blackrock debuts, and Green Arrow and Black Canary end

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A rival network, and all that entails, are introduced by Maggin, Swan and Blaisdel in Action 458 (April 1976).

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UBC has been causing a lot of problems for Morgan Edge.  We discover that they have lured a number of anchors away from WGBS, including Lola Barnett.  But the one thing WGBS has that UBC doesn’t is a super-hero.  The head of the network, Tanner, orders the company scientist, Peter Silverstone, to create one.  We see Silverstone fashion the gear and the costume, and decide on who the person inside must be.

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But neither the reader nor Superman has any idea who is beneath the mask as this new hero appears, during a robbery by a vacuum truck.  Superman mistakes the man for a criminal, and they wind up in a brief fight.  This new hero can travel through the airwaves, and channel them through a miniature tv aerial he carries.

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The story uses parallel structure well, as in the second robbery by the vacuum truck.  Superman follows the radio control waves to the truck’s operator, while the new hero deals with the truck directly. Both believe they are responsible for the victory.

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The new hero than manifests in Lola Barnett’s office at UBC, and she christens him Blackrock.  About time. Was getting tedious avoiding using his name.

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The issue concludes with some more pleasing parallel structure, as Edge and Tanner both freak out, wanting to know more about Blackrock.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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Black Canary really loses it in the final back-up story that she shares with Green Arrow, by Maggin and Grell.

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Luthor attempts to hypnotize Canary into killing Green Arrow, but it backfires, and she gets hypnotized into killing Luthor, and really tries.  He barely escapes with his life.

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When Green Arrow finally arrives, he is far more concerned with calming Dinah down, and bringing her back to herself.  Luthor gets away, and a note informs us that he can be found next in the Joker’s book, where they work together.  For part of it.

As for Green Arrow and Black Canary, they head back into Green Lantern’s series, as that gets revived.

And the Nutty Kid actually does sort of resemble Jerry Lewis in the final panel.

 

Action 457 – Jon Ross debuts, and the Nutty Kid revealed

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Not even going to talk about the cover of Action 457 (March 1976). Shooting fish in a barrel.

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A villain and a supporting cast member are both introduced in this story, by Gerry Conway, Curt Swan and Tex Blaisdel.  Whirlcaine, with the powers of a whirlwind and a hurricaine, proves to be an interesting, if minor, villain over the next few years,  Jon Ross would be a much more significant player than this story implies.

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The boy is introduced as dying of some ridiculous disease that has no symptoms, and can be cured by Superman revealing his identity.  There is a story from the 1940s with a similar premise. But that was the 1940s.  Pete Ross, his old high school buddy, is Jon’s father, and asks Superman to reveal his identity.  The great irony, although not explained till the end of the story, is that Pete Ross has known Clark was Superboy(man) since they were kids, but Clark never knew.

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Superman reveals that he is Clark Kent, but Jon Ross does not believe him.

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In the story’s best scene, he tries to prove it by taking Jon to the WGBS office, and showing him how everyone believes that he is Clark.  But Steve Lombard overhears, and misunderstands, the plan, and exposes Superman.

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I alos love the intelligent touch in having Superman wrap Jon in his invulnerable cape when he winds up having fight, and defeat Whirlcaine.

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In the end, Jon proves to himself that Clark is Superman, by the lack of normal bathroom crap.  Lazy, Clark.  You should have known better.

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Maggin and Grell have the middle chapter of their Nutty Kid story, and it largely belongs to Black Canary.  She had disguised herself as a clown to get on the helicopter with the kidnappers.  Her identity gets exposed, and she id forced to fight them while still in the air.

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Green Arrow is racing to reach her, but Dinah has already beaten the bad guys, when she “saves” the Nutty Kid, who turns out to be Lex Luthor in disguise.

 

Action 456 – Superman vs jaws, and Green Arrow and Black Canary and a telethon kidnapping

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Action 456 (Feb. 76) is packed with pop culture references, right from its “Jaws” cover.

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Captain Strong, the Superman version of Popeye, has a small role in this story, visiting an aquarium with a couple of children, one of whom gets turned into protoplasm by the Shark, as he steals the boy’s form in order to re-evolve his own.

The Shark had not appeared since the mid-60s, but the success of Jaws saw his return this year.  Originally a Green Lantern villain, this was his first outing against a different hero.

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The Shark takes some water with him, as he goes flying through Metropolis, seeking out Superman.  He often wants to defeat anyone powerful, in an animalistic battle for dominance.  Superman wins, and forces the Shark to de-evolve, bringing back the child.  But this is a very temporary defeat, as the Shark returns shortly to become a major problem for Aquaman in the pages of Adventure Comics.

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Maggin and Grell begin a three-part story about the kidnapping of the “Nutty Kid,” a comedic actor who hosts a charity telethon every year – in other words, Jerry Lewis.  Clowns take him captive during the broadcast.

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Green Arrow and Black Canary go into action to stop the kidnappers, but split on how to pursue them.  Canary winds up following them right onto their helicopter, which is not such a good thing.

 

 

Action 455 – Superman, Green Arrow and the Atom battle junk

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Action 455 (Jan. 76) has never been an issue I cared for.  Maggin, Swan and Blaisdel seem to be begging for laughs, with a central character based loosely on Mel Brooks.

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Morty Rivers is a film producer, and one of Oliver Queen’s client’s.  While watching a game show (meant to be Let’s Make a Deal, by the reference to costumes) he gets the idea to build the main character for his next film,and contacts Oliver to promote it.

Superman leaves the Atom in Kandor, where he is helping them work a new viewer.  Oliver contacts him, and gets him to interview Rivers as Clark Kent.  A chain reaction of accidents result in Kryptonian energy passing through the viewer, trashing Rivers’ creation, but also bringing it to life.

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The Junkman rebuilds himself, and heads towards any Kryptonian source of energy – like Superman, or, later Kandor.

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Green Arrow helps Superman as they follow the robot to the Fortress of Solitude.

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The Atom gets very little to do in the story, spending all but the very end in Kandor.  It’s doubly unfortunate, as his back-up series has also ended.

 

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