Posts tagged ‘George Klein’

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 312 – Clark Kent becomes Metallo

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Bernstein, Swan and Klein conclude Superman’s reign as King of Earth in Action 312 (May 1964).

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Clark attempts to infiltrate Superman’s palace, disguising himself as the former hero.  It’s not a bad idea, and the costume’s bulletproof nature saves him from being killed when he is challenged by two suspicious policemen.  He does get critically injured though, and almost dies.

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Clark is saved by Lori Lemaris, after a fortunate fall into the water.  She brings him to Atlantis,and informs him that he needs surgery.  Clark thinks about John Corben, and the operation that turned him into Metallo, which gets recapped for a couple of pages.  Immune to kryptonite as Clark, he asks Lori to have the Atlantean doctors turn him into a Metallo.

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Clark manages to approach Superman, and reveals the kryptonite in his chest.  As he lays dying, Superman explains that he was not really evil.  He had spotted a belligerent alien race approaching Earth, and took on the king stuff in order to scare them off.

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Then, in a particularly lame ending, the effect of the red kryptonite wears off, and the two become one again.  The Metallo body parts fall away.  Superman convinces everyone that he wasn’t really evil, and everyone believes him.

Good story.  Bad ending.

Action 311 – Superman – King of the World, and Supergirl and Super-Horse start dating

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From the cover of Action 311 (Action 1964), I was fully expecting the Swan/Klein story to be an “Imaginary Story,” but it isn’t.  Superman really does take over the world.

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Red kryptonite splits Superman and Clark Kent into different people.  This had happened before, though creating an evil Clark and Good Superman.  Red kryptonite can never have the same effect twice, so in this variation, Clark is good, and Superman is evil.

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Superman heads to the United Nations, and demands that all the countries on Earth turn themselves over to his rule.  There is some debate among nations, but Superman shows what he will do to anyone who defies him,and everyone gives in.

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Superman builds himself a big castle.

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Dismayed at his behaviour, Clark forms an underground movement to overthrow him, consisting of Perry White, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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Supergirl has a busy Valentine’s Day, thanks to Dorfman and Mooney.

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Dick Malverne gives her candy.  Boooring.  Jerro tops that with a display of glowing fish. Comet watches, getting all jealous.

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Comet travels back in time and begs Circe to make him human.  She warns him that she sees him regretting this choice, but begins a spell which will do just that.  It’s time-delayed, allowing him to make it back to his time period, before he changes and his powers fade.  But before he tranforms, Comet is found by a masked thief, and used in his robberies.

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The thief changes clothes and takes off with his loot, just as Comet takes on human form again. He puts on the thief’s clothes – so you can see exactly where this is going to go.

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For a few pages, Linda is re-united with Bronco Bill Starr, and they spend some loving, quality time together.  Just a girl and her horse, making out in front of a waterfall.

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But then Bill gets accused of being the masked thief.  Supergirl is devastated, but chases him, convinced that he has also kidnapped Super-Horse.  Circe takes pity on him, and changes him back into his Super-Horse form.  The actual masked thief is caught, clearing Bill’s name, but too late.  He’s a horse again.

Action 310 – Jewel kryptonite, and the search for Supergirl’s parents

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Dorfman, Swan and Klein introduce jewel kryptonite, the rarest form, in Action 310 (March 1964).

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Parole hearings for Phantom Zone prisoners are being held in Kandor, and Superman attends.  Jax-Ur, who is serving a life sentence without parole, asks to be freed, in order to help cure a plague that has struck down Lori Lemaris, and other less important residents of Atlantis.

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Superman agrees, and he and Jax-Ur head to Krypton, to the Jewel Mountains.  Jax-Ur relates a legend of their creation, from the skeletal remains of jewel birds.  He does work on the serum for the plague, but also puts Superman to sleep, and fashions a marge wedge of jewel, having calculated (somehow) that it will travel directly to Earth.

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Jax-Ur is returned to the Phantom Zone, but now he, and the others in the Zone, are able to funnel their telepathic power into the real world, through the jewel kryptonite.  They make Superman think he was “exposed” to it, and that it had the result of causing combustible materials to explode when he passed near.

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Superman does not fall for this, as it did not happen consistently.

Jewel kryptonite is then written off as having “no effect.”  Literally,  that was how it was described in the Superman pages in which i first read about it.  The use it had for Phantom Zone residents was completely ignored until the 80s.

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Dorfman and Mooney bring a quick resolution to the search for Supergirl’s parents in this issue.

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Supergirl spends a few pages fretting, talking to Fred and Edna Danvers about her new parents, as she seeks to free them.  But which set will be her “real” parents now?

Fred Danvers actually is the one to find the right frequency, which releases Zor-El and Alura.

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Supergirl shows them around some of the sights of Earth, and prepares to move out, and into a new home with Zor-El and Alura.  The Danvers act as if all is well, but are quietly saddened to lose Linda.

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But Zor-El and Alura find the perfect solution.  Not feeling comfortable on Earth, they take up residence in Kandor.  Supergirl stays with the Danvers, but can visit her parents whenever she wants.

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Action 304 – Superman’s alien Olympics, and Black Flame debuts

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Dorfman, Swan and Klein send Superman to an intergalactic competition in Action 304 (Sept. 63).

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Clark Kent gets sucked into the sky by a force beyond his control, changing to Superman along the way. Lana Lang sees him while flying in a tv helicopter.  She winds up getting dragged along with him.  The fear the worst, but are relieved to discover that Superman was merely being “recruited” to represent the Earth in an Interplanetary Olympics.  Lana is outright thrilled to be able to cover the event.

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Lana’s pleasure turns to dismay as Superman loses event after event.

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But Superman was winning a different game.  He had figured out that the competition was all a giant ruse to get him to use his powers, which the “trophy” was designed to drain. By losing, he denied the aliens his energy to use.

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Supergirl gets a new enemy in this story by Dorfman and Mooney.

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Dick Malverne gets a small role at the start of this story, on a date with Linda, but she has to take off to become Supergirl when Comet starts going on a rampage.  He is now under the control of Black Flame.

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Black Flame does not try to hide from Supergirl.  Far from it, she is pleased to find her, and share a mind-tape of her origin.  She is from the far future, and a super-powered descendant of Supergirl, who has become a notorious space pirate.

Supergirl does not believe her at first.  Suspecting she might be a Kandorian, she visits the bottle city.  She learns of an identical woman, Zora, who had been Lesla-Lar’s assistant, but Zora is still in Kandor.

To prevent Black Flame from ever inheriting her powers, Supergirl decides to expose herself to gold kryptonite, which permanently removes a Kryptonian’s powers.

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Triumphant, Black Flame shows up to gloat.  She really is Zora, and it was a robot replacement that Supergirl saw in Kandor.  She enlarged herself using the same red krpytonite “wishing” cloud that Superman had used to gain the ant head.

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But nope, the joke is on you, Black Flame.  Supergirl was faking her power loss.  She saw that Black Flame had dental fillings, which she wouldn’t if truly invulnerable.  Supergirl does use gold kryptonite, but on Zora, permanently stealing her powers.

Black Flame would return, but not for many years, having second appearance in Supergirl’s run in Adventure Comics in 1970.

 

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