Posts tagged ‘Fortress of Solitude’

Action 583 – “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” concludes

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Action 583 (Sept. 86) brings to a close the era of the Pre-Crisis Superman, with the concluding half of an Imaginary Story by Alan Moore, Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger.

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The entire story is one of dark foreboding, and is related by Lois Lane, now married and with a son, to a reporter, writing a story about the last days of Superman.  Many of Superman’s friends and enemies appeared in the first half of the story, and most of the villains have died.  Superman has brought Lois, Lana, Jimmy, Perry White and his wife to the Fortress of Solitude.  Cosmic King, Lightning Lord and Saturn Queen have come from the future, knowing that this was the end of Superman, to join in the fun.  They find the Kryptonite Man, as well as a disturbing union of Luthor and Brainiac.

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Many of Superman’s friends are shown throughout the issue, trying to get through the force-field surrounding the Fortress.  Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Captain Marvel and the Martian Manhunter are shown, along with Vartox, and pre-Crisis Superwoman.

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The story is filled with heart-wrenching sequences.  Jimmy takes his Elastic Lad serum, and Lana bathes in the pool that gives her super-powers, so they can join the fight against the assembling villains.  Her super-hearing allows Lana to hear Superman explain to Perry White that it is Lois that he truly loves, but he cared too much for Lana to ever let her know.

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Lana and Jimmy both fall to the Legion of Super-Villains, while Krypto sacrifices himself to take out the Kryptonite Man.

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This is all turning far too bloody and dangerous for the villains from the future, and they flee in their time bubble.  Luthor and Brainiac are the last, but perish in the snow.

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Who was the villain that brought this all about?  Mr. Mxyzptlk, the most powerful adversary Superman has, who chose to be a pest, but has now chosen to be a destroyer.

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Superman winds up using the Phantom Zone projector to rip the 5th dimensional being in half, but he has knowingly, and willingly killed.

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Though Lois gives him all manner of justifications, Superman has violated his own code.  He enters a chamber of gold kryptonite, which permanently removes his powers, and is never seen again.

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The reporter leaves.  I was teary eyed and emotionally drained by this point when I read this the first time, but so thrilled at the end, as the baby turns a lump of coal into a diamond.  And then I really looked at the face of Lois’ husband.

I believe Alan Moore has now dismissed this story as garbage, as he is wont to do.

I don’t care what he thinks.  This is the crowning gem of the first 50 years of the character.

 

Action 582 – Superman brings Jor-El and Lara back to life

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Boldman, Saviuk and Schaffenberger share the last in-continuity pre-Crisis Superman story in Action 582 (Aug. 86).

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After having a number of vivid dreams about Jor-El and Lara, Superman discovers that there are two other, distinct, brain-waves in his head.  He believes these two be the minds of his parents, somehow preserved within him.

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He creates clone bodies for them, and is thrilled when the brain-waves transfer from his mind into the bodies, animating them and bringing his parents back to life.  He provides them with human identities, and shows them around Metropolis, and Earth, while helping them adjust to their new powers.

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Superman brings them to his Fortress of Solitude, but when he shows them the Phantom Zone viewer, he is surprised that the villains, General Zod, Jax-Ur, Professor Vakox and Faora, are cursing him, and not his father, the man who invented the Zone and sent many of them there.

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And, indeed, his parents are not his real parents.  How the Phantom Zone villains could tell is not clear, but once Superman suspects them, they drop the act and try to kill him.  They put him in a rocket and fire him into space.

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Superman escapes from the rocket, but spots a familiar ship orbiting Earth.  It belongs to Rokk and Sorban, the compulsive gamblers from Ventura.  Frequent guests in Superman’s own comic, and World’s Finest, back in the 60s, this is their first, and only, appearance in Action.  They used some “free-floating” consciousnesses for Jor-El and Lara, but the bet at the core was whether Superman would be angry enough to kill the phonies, or not.

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The story ends as Superman takes Rokk and Sorban to the “prison planet,” (Takron-Galtos?)  Superman shows little concern about what the phony Jor-El and Lara are up to, loose on Earth, with all their powers. But the gamblers assure Superman that they will return to their non-corporeal state.

 

Action 524 – Superman vs Superman, and Air Wave and the Atom vs the Calculator

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Marty Pasko, Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte tie up a loose end from Action 500 in issue 524 (Oct. 81).

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Superman wakes up in his Fortress of Solitude, but discovers that he has no powers.  But then we cut to Metropolis, and see Clark there, as himself and Superman, and all is well.

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The powerless Superman shows up, and we find out that he is the clone made by Lex Luthor in Action 500.  he lost his powers due to exposure to gold kryptonite during the fight.  Now he wants Superman’s powers, and his life.

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Not going to happen, but you do feel a bit bad for the clone, who is simply trying to live the only life he knows.  Superman feels this way as well, and after defeating him, has him undergo plastic surgery and brianwashing, giving him a new, human identity to live out.

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Rozakis, Savuik and Colletta bring Atom and Air Wave back together, as the Calculator goes on trial.

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He escapes from the courtroom, using some space invaders imagery, which would have looked so much cooler at the time.

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Atom calls on Air Wave to help him.  The Calculator has his immunity to the Atom’s attacks, and as this shows, Air Wave is the only other hero who can travel through phone lines with him.

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So Air Wave takes down the Calculator, who does not get another appearance, other than occasional cameos, until the shortly after the millenium.

Action 514 – Superman vs the Fortress of Solitude, and Air Wave and Atom battle the Sunspotter

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Brainiac’s presence in the Wolfman, Swan and Chiaramonte story in Action 514 (Dec. 80) is a surprise.  Shame its revealed on the cover.

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Computers start going out of control all over the world. Superman stops by the JLA satellite, checking to see if it, too, has been infected, and learns from Hawkman than it has.

Superman then heads to his Fortress of Solitude, and finds it fighting back against him.

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Superman has to fight everything from his own trophies to weapons and animals from his Interplanetary Zoo.

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Brainiac is revealed as the source of the problem, having plugged into the Fortress computer to reprogram it.  Superman finds this situation is actually a benefit.

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Superman re-programs the Fortress computer, which also re-programs Brainiac into a friendly ally.  This won’t last.

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Rozakis, Tanghal and deMulder conclude the Air Wave/Atom team-up in this issue.  Both men were intercepted by Sunspotter.

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Air Wave probably could have taken out this bad guy by himself, but he is young, and lacks confidence and experience.  So he does the smart thing, and frees the Atom, who takes down Sunspotter.

 

Action 511 – Superman and Luthor vs Terra-Man, and Air Wave returns

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte continue with Lex Luthor’s change of sides in Action 511 (Sept. 80).

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Luthor sets out to prove himself, curing all manner of diseases,and performing a variety of other good deeds.  Morgan Edge is convinced (maybe because he was one a villain himself), and has Lana report on Luthor’s benevolence, but Superman remains suspicious, even after Angela Blake testifies on Luthor’s behalf.

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Superman beings Lex to the Fortress of Solitude to perform some tests, and try to assure himself that the change is real.  Terra-Man believes that Luthor has reformed, and is none too happy about it.  He attacks the Fortress, with an alien helper.

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Luthor helps Superman defeat Terra-Man. Or, well, at least he does not help Terra-Man defeat Superman.  At any rate, after the battle Superman decides he doesn’t need any further tests, and is now pals with his old friend.

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The real DC explosion happens, as the comics all gain an additional eight pages.  Air Wave and the Atom have the series here revived, and are joined by Aquaman in a rotation that will run for the next few years.

Rozakis, Saviuk and Chiaramonte pick up as if the series had never stopped.  Likely because this was written and drawn before the previous run was cancelled.

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Karen Peterson discovers Hal’s young cousins playing with his costume, and they tear it.  She had already figured out his identity, and decides to fix, and improve, his costume.

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Hal and Karen go to a theme park, and when robbers mess up their date, Hal gets into his new costume without even noticing the difference, until he finds handcuffs in a pocket that wasn’t there before.  He has no idea where the new costume came from, and still thinks he has fooled Karen about who he is.

Action 502 – Superman, Supergirl and the Star-Child

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte bring back the Galactic Golem in Action 502 (Dec. 79).

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The story has Superman and Supergirl discover an alien infant, the Star-Child.  It will grow to maturity in a day, and they have been asked to oversee that.  Superman brings the rapidly aging child to the Fortress of Solitude.  They need to teach it what it is to be human, as it will be an extremely powerful being when fully mature.

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The Galactic Golem, last seen in the early 70s in the pages of Superman, is drawn back to Earth, and Superman heads out to battle it.  Supergirl stays with the Star-Child.

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They see the Golem defeat Superman, and the Parasite emerge from its body.  Supergirl theorizes that the Parasite drew the Golem here, and merged with it to drain Superman.

Good guess, but totally wrong.  It was all a ruse by Superman, to evoke emotions from the child.  The only way he could figure out how to teach him emotions was to traumatize him.  Fortunately, the Star-Child is fully grown by the end, and leaves for a less stressful life.

 

Action 499 – Superman and Vartox fight over saving Earth

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Bates, Swan and Colletta conclude the Vartox story in Action 499 (Sept. 79).

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Vartox tells Superman of his concerns, but Superman insists that nothing is wrong.  In fact, he begins to get angry at Vartox when doomsday cults pop up around the world.  He believes that Vartox is causing these with his mental powers.

Vartox also reveals his identity to Lana Lang, who must be relieved to have an honest man in her life.

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Superman becomes convinced that Vartox has been driven crazy by grief, as he has before.  Vartox has to physically subdue Superman, and use his mental powers on him, to try to get him to listen to his warnings.

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Part of the problem is that, in the Fortress of Solitude, atoms are not expanding as Vartox says they will.  But they see that it is happening outside of the Fortress.  Realizing Vartox was right all along, they deduce what is preventing the situation inside the Fortress, and then replicate it outside, saving the world.

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Vartox heads off into space at the end of the story, wanting to find a world that needs him.  He and Lana share a loving goodbye.  Things are not over between them, and Vartox will be back in a couple of years, though in the pages of Superman.

 

Action 484 – Superman marries Lois Lane

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Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Joe Giella craft a true landmark story as Clark Kent and Lois Lane get married in Action 484 (June 1978).

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I bought this issue, and ran home all excited to read it when I was 12 years old. I was quite stunned when I started the tale, and saw that it was set on Earth-2.  Flipping back to the cover, I noticed only then that the Daily Star was featured, cluing in any experienced reader to which earth the story was set on.

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The story has two villains. Colonel Future, who had fought Superman back in the 40s, calls on the Wizard, a Justice Society of America foe, for aid against Superman.  The Colonel provides the Wizard with a rare and powerful wand, strong enough to permanently affect the man of steel.

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The effect of the Wizard’s spell is not to kill Superman, but rather to remove Clark Kent’s memory of ever being such a person.  The side effect of this is that Clark now begins acting more forceful and aggressive, drawing the attention of Lois Lane.

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Close to a year after Superman disappears, Lois and Clark get married.  In attendance are Lois’ sister Lucille, as well as her daughter Susie.  George Taylor is also featured in this story, as editor of the Daily Star.

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Superman has lost his memory, but not his powers, and Lois is shocked when she sees Clark get machine gunned from behind, and is both uninjured, and unaware of the attack.  She tests him as he sleeps, and realizes he is Superman.  Lois seeks out the Wizard, now a powerless bum.  No one believes he really is responsible for Superman disappearing, but Lois takes his story seriously.  She agonizes for a while, knowing that once he recalls being Superman, their relationship will change for good.  But she feels the world needs him more than she does, and arranges for a public press conference.

The Wizard reverses his spell, in front of a big crowd, and Superman returns.  The Wizard is thrilled that people believe him, less thrilled when Superman carts him off to jail.

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With his memory back, Superman takes Lois to his fortress in the hills outside Metropolis.

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There, they undergo a Kryptonian wedding ceremony.

This version of Superman and Lois Lane (now Lois Kent) continue to appear, in the Mr. and Mrs. Superman series, which begins in the pages of Superman in a couple of months.

 

Action 481 – the Supermobile!

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte introduce the Supermobile in Action 481 (March 1978).

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Superman uses a teleportation ray to get him and Professor Ivo away from Amazo, and to the Fortress of Solitude.  Superman mentions Kandor to Ivo, and he disappears from the story for a while.  Superman unleashes a creature from his Interplanetary Zoo to fight Amazo,and provide some interesting visuals.

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Superman takes advantage of the diversion to get to the Supermobile, a weaponized vehicle designed to duplicate his powers.

Oh, also, Ivo and Superman have figured out that a wave a red sun energy passed the satellite, stealing Superman’s powers, but waking Amazo.  Neither of them were aware of it when it happened.

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The Justice League, watching this from their satellite, also recap this information, and Batman explains that the vehicle is made of Supermanium, a substance almost as strong as the hero.

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The fight in the Supermobile is fun.  Yes, this is clearly a toy tie-in, but it works well in the story.

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The Supermobile proves enough of a problem for Amazo that he threatens to kill Superman’s friend, who all just happen to be neatly lined up, watching the fight.

Action 473 – Superman vs Faora

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Bates, Swan and Blaisdel conclude the Faora story in Action 473 (July 1977).

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Supergirl gets concerned when there is no word from Superman, despite Faora running wild in Metropolis.  She finds a note in the Fortress, explaining that he has gone into the Phantom Zone, and other information that the reader is not privy to.

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Faora gets into an argument with Steve Lombard, and is about to kill him when her greater scheme kicks in, reversing the Phantom Zone, releasing all its captives, while sending everyone on Earth into the Zone.  Steve actually thinks he has died, until Jimmy Olsen explains the Zone to him.  Batman and Green Lantern are also shown to now be phantoms, while Jax-Ur, General Zod, Kru-El and Professor Vakox enjoy their new freedom and solidity.

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Faora takes dominance over the other Phantom Zone villains through her use of psychic bolts, but one Zone escapee is immune.  It’s Superman, who figured out her bigger plan, and took precautions, including entering the Zone himself.

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Superman is now stuck fighting against a number of similarly powered Kryptonians, and finds himself overpowered.  Faora is about to kill him when the switch happens again.  Bad timing!  Superman rigged the projector to reverse Faora’s actions, sending the prisoners back into the Zone, and releasing the humans.

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With one exception.  The old man who still, after all this, believes Faora is his dead wife Katie.  He gets to join her in the Zone.

From now on, Faora would be a regularly appearing Phantom Zone villain, almost always included when three or more are shown.  But not the old man.  We never find out what happened to him.

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