Posts tagged ‘George Roussos’

Action 390 – Superman running scared, and the Legion Espionage Squad in action

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Bates, Swan and Roussos make Superman turn chicken in Action 390 (July 1970).

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Superman gets chased by a mechanical bomb, which defies all his attempts to evade or destroy it.  He even flies through time, bringing the machine along with him to the explosion of Krakatoa, but it has no effect.

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Superman determines that the bomb is of Kryptonian origin.  Contacting the Kandorians, he discovers that it was built by Jor-El, and is attuned to his brainwaves, and capable of following him anywhere.  Eventually, Superman figures out that it is not so much a bomb, as a device designed to scare him to death.

It was designed as a weapon against alien invasion, and powered by the fear of those it pursues.  Superman had encountered it as a baby in his father’s lab, and it scared him then.  His adult reaction is a result of those memories.  All Superman has to do to deactivate the device is to stop being scared, which he does.

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The Dark Circle are behind the events in this story by Bridwell, Mortimer and Abel, although they do not appear in person.  They are behind the troubles brewing on Lahum, where rebels seek to overthrow a militaristic dictator.  The mission is handled by the Legion Espionage Squad, which is under the command of Chameleon Boy.  He selects Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Karate Kid and Timber Wolf as his team.  Proty II briefly appears, his final appearance until the 80s.

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The Legionnaires infiltrate both sides of the dispute.  With the rebels, they pretend to have powerful weapons that can stop the government’s android army in their tracks.  In reality, the weapons do nothing, it’s Element Lad’s powers that do all the work.

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Saturn Girl heads to the capital, to get a job at the presidential palace.  But one of the workers there recognizes her…

The story concludes in the next issue.

 

Action 389 – Superman turns jock, and vengeance against an unknown Legionnaire

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Leo Dorfman joins Curt Swan and George Roussos for Action 389 (June 1970).

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Clark Kent heads out to write a story about spring training for the baseball team in Metropolis, when he suddenly decides to start playing as Superman.

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Over the next few days, Superman takes up a variety of sports, always sending some piece of equipment high into the sky.  Jimmy Olsen thinks Superman is just showing off.  After all their years together, Jimmy should know better.

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What appeared to be pointless actions were actually a clever plan to forestall an alien invasion, by using the sports equipment to send false information to the alien’s sensors.

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Cary Bates takes their reins of the Legion of Super-Heroes series with this issue, joining Win Mortimer and Jack Abel.

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The story deals with a severed robotic head, seeking vengeance against the Legionnaire who decapitated him.  The best sequence is the flashback, as the robot experiences the effects of the various members’ powers, without seeing the Legionnaires themselves.

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It turns out his severed circuits are faulty.  He saw a composite formed of both Cosmic Boy and Chemical King, so he had been hunting a member who did not actually exist.  The robot tries to blow itself up in anger, but Shrinking Violet managed to get into the head and deactivate it.

Not a mind-blowing story, but decent. And it uses Chemical King, who rarely got featured.

Action 388 – Sgt. Rock fights Superman over Lois Lane

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Bates, Swan and Roussos attempt to re-capture the joyous insanity of the early 60s Superman stories in Action 388 (May 1970).

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The story, such as it is, has Superman come back to Earth after a mission in space, and find that everything has turned crazy.  Sgt. Rock is his romantic rival for Lois Lane.  Every panel holds bizarre details, which are occasionally humourous.  There are also a few cameos – note Enemy Ace flying by in the last panel above.

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Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bizarro all appear in the tale, though none are the villain of the story.

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The Legion make a cameo, in probably the most serious couple of panels, as Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl warn Superman that Lois Lane is an idiot.

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There is an explanation, of sorts. Superman has wound up on a weird mirror-world, thanks to a bumbling scientist.  They both return to the real Earth at story’s end.

It’s not a bad story. It’s not as funny as they would have liked.  If anything, it shows what an achievement the early 60s Superman stories were.

Action 387 – Superman at the end of time, and the Legion vs tax laws

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Bates, Swan and Roussos conclude Superman’s travel through time in Action 387 (April 1970).

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He encounters some astronauts, frozen in suspended animation for centuries, and revives them in the year 801,970.

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Travelling even further into the future, he reaches a time when the entire planet is dead and devoid of life.  If those are different.  Anyway, he cuts the planet open and terraforms it, and brings life forms, including humans, from other worlds to populate it and start the cycle again.

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There is a very unexpected attack from Lex Luthor.  He had never believed Superman dead, and left behind a weapon, powered by his eternal hate, to kill him.  It fails.

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Superman travels even further ahead, but Time Trapper loops him, and sends him back to the start. He blacks out, waking to find himself a baby in his parents arms on Krypton.  A few more blackout time jumps, and Superman is back to where he was at the start of the saga.

Which is a bit of a let-down finish, if you ask me.

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Bridwell, Mortimer and Abel share one of the oddest Legion stories.  Every single member appears.  Even the Super-Pets appear.  And I’m tagging them ALL.

And the board is also worth noting, on the first page. The Legionnaires appear in the order they joined the team.  Supergirl is located between Star Boy and Brainiac 5, while Superboy is later, between Shrinking Violet and Sun Boy.

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An evil tax man shows up, and the Legion discover that they have to get rid of one member, or have to pay taxes.  As they do not actually make money by being the Legion, I’m not sure what they would be taxed on, but it’s enough of a threat that they all start vying to be the one to leave.  Timber Wolf and Chemical King are the first to offer, being the most recent to join.

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The team attempt to hold a random draw, but it gets rigged, and then everyone starts claiming responsibility for rigging it.

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Supergirl insists that she should be the one to leave, as she attends the fewest meeting.  Brainiac 5 is not happy, and the Super-Pets all but revolt, insisting that they will disband if she leaves.

Brainiac 5 is selected by the computer as the hero who performed the fewest feats, but everyone insists his mind is worth more than just feats.

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Finally, it is Superboy who chooses to leave.  His powers are duplicated by Mon-El, and he has no romance or clinging pets, as Supergirl does.  Notice that Krypto would resign if Supergirl left, but not Superboy.

Duo Damsel is the one most upset about his departure. Luornu’s unrequited love for Superboy would be touched on again in the future.

For many of the characters, this was the last appearance they have before the end of the Legion’s run in Action Comics.  Ironically, this is also the last appearance of the full line up of the Super-Pets, as Beppo does not appear again, aside from flashbacks in comprehensive Superman origin tales.

 

Action 386 – Superman put out to pasture, and the impostor returns

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Superman continues travelling forward in time in the second part of the story, by Bates, Swan and Roussos, in Action 386 (March 1970).

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Superman time jumps forward, and winds up in an era where all super-powers have been outlawed, following a huge war of super-powered people.

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Superman winds up exiled to a planet where all the other super-people have been sent.  King of the retirement home.

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He does get everyone to work together, and show the world that old super-heroes have something to offer.  But then he just time jumps again, as the Time Trapper watches, enjoying it all.

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Uli Algor, the woman who impersonated Shadow Lass, returns in this story by Bridwell, Mortimer and Abel.  It begins on Takron-Galtos, the prison planet, which I believe is the first time that entire name and description are used.

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Despite the scary name, they are using feel good gem therapy, it seems, to rehabilitate criminals.  It does work on some, but Uli had conditioned herself to resist it.

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Returning to Earth,she sets out to avenge her defeat against the Legion.  She runs into two couples in the park, challenges, and defeats Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and Night Girl, with a device that enables her to turn the heroes powers against them.

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That might have been enough for some, but not for Uli.  She presses her luck, and challenges another group of Legionnaires.  Karate Kid, Brainiac 5, Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl accept her challenge, and head out to Talus, an asteroid of junked space ships.  This is the only appearance of Talus until it becomes the headquarters of the Legion, in the early 90s.

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Uli uses her weapon successfully against three of the team, but she waits as Ultra Boy approaches her, to see which of his repertoire of one-at-a-time powers he will use.  And Ultra Boy just runs up and decks her, using nothing but his own strength.

Uli heads back to Takron-Galtos.  We never hear from her again.

Action 385 – Superman gets really old, and Star Boy goes home

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Bates, Swan and Roussos begin a three-part story in Action 385 (Feb. 70), which sees Superman age into the far future.

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It begins with a giant, metallic hand that carves a request for help in the door of the Fortress of Solitude.  Superman takes a damaged time bubble to get there.  Because when you are dealing with something as delicate and dangerous as time travel, why bother taking a working method?

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So he gets to the 102nd century, and helps them with their currency thefts.  But his body aged during the trip, and he now looks extremely old.

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Superman attempts to get back to his own time, but neither the bubble, nor he alone, can get through an impenetrable time barrier, constructed by the Time Trapper, who is enjoying Superman’s distress.  This is the first time the Time Trapper has dealt with Superman, as opposed to Superboy, with the Legion.  This also marks the Time Trapper’s first appearance since his weird “defeat” story in the early 60s.

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So Superman is stuck in the 102nd century.  His body has super-strengthened itself over the years, and he is no longer weakened by kryptonite, magic, or even virus x.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Star Boy gets the starring role (hah!  did you catch that?)  in this Bridwell/Mortimer/Abel story.

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An emergency call comes in from Xanthu, Star Boy’s home planet, and he requests to be sent on the mission.  Karate Kid agrees, and sends him along with Saturn Girl and Colossal Boy.

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The emergency was real, but designed to draw Star Boy there.  The brother of Kenz Nuhor, the man Star Boy killed years earlier, has drawn him here for revenge.  He traps Star Boy in a weightless environment, thinking that was neutralize him.  But Star Boy’s powers affect mass, not weight.  Which are different.  I vaguely recall that from high school.  Different enough that they work, and Star Boy takes down the brother as well.  But doesn’t kill him.

Action 384 – Superman wears the Killer Costume, and Mon-El dies

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Bates, Swan and Roussos conclude the Killer Costume story in Action 384 (Jan. 70).

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Superman follows the costumes to the Fortress of Solitude.  He puts them on two of his robots, and watches them fight until they destroy each other.  Superman refuses to put either costume on.  The evil costume then follows him back to the Daily Planet, and wants to advertise itself.  It uses Perry White, and goads Clark into putting it on.He does, not realizing that he will not be able to remove it.

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The costume forces him to go on a destructive rampage.  He manages to put his own suit on over it, but that has no effect.

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Perry White proves the big hero.  He puts on the other costume, and comes to rescue Superman.  Suprrman dons both costumes, and while they struggle to control him, he flies to a planet with an orange sun.  Weakened, the costumes can be removed, and dropped into the sun to burn up.

Gotta admit it, the story is definitely better than the covers would imply.

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Shooter, Mortimer and Abel tell a very unusual story in this issue.

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Dream Girl sees a vision of Mon-El dying, out on a deserted asteroid.

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Taking her prophecy seriously, Mon-El takes extra doses of his anti-lead formula, so that he cannot run out.

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Mon-El demands to be sent on a mission to Daxam instead of Ultra Boy.  Karate Kid agrees, though Shadow Lass is furious that he sent her boyfriend away, with the prophecy hanging over him.

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The day the vision forecast arrives, and Mon-El shows up to help the rest of the team battle some alien raiders.  But it’s not Mon-El, it’s Eltro Gand, a relative.  The news of Mon-El’s forecast death had spread to Daxam, and he took the place of his relative, to keep him safe.

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In fact, his actions doomed Mon-El to the very death that Dream Girl saw.  Horrified at what he had done, Eltro grabs the body and brings it to the kind of death-transfer machine that was used on Lightning Lad.  He sacrifices his life, and brings Mon-El back.  Poor Mon-El has no idea what was going on.  When he sees Eltro Gand, he doesn’t even know who the guy was.

Eltro Gand is not mentioned again for a very long time.  But come the 70s and 80s, Mon-El would go from a stable and reliable character, to one noted for his outbursts and mood swings.  In the series from the 90s, it would be revealed that this was the Eltro Gand personality, lying dormant but troubled in Mon-El’s psyche.

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