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.

 

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