Posts tagged ‘Gerry Conway’

Action 523 – Steve Lombard – alien, and the Atom saves his parents

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Conway, Swan and Chiaramonte weave a story that repelled me enough that I stopped buying this series after this issue.

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It’s not really that bad a story, so I’m not sure why I hated it so much.  It opens with the Daily Planet staff playing baseball.  There are enjoyable bits for Lois and Lana, Perry and Jimmy.  Clark gets picked on by Steve Lombard, but he is also going crazy, playing with people who were not professional athletes.  Then a goofy looking alien shows up, claiming to be his brother.

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We, and Steve, learn that he was adopted, and there is circumstantial evidence to back up the alien’s claim.  The alien is a shape-shifter, who can take Steve’s form.

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But that all turns out to be a lie.  The alien is part of a race of really competitive athletes, who steal the forms and skills of people from a variety of planets.  He stole Steve’s form and skills, but the real prize is Superman.

But Superman was suspicious, and resisting their energy drain, and beats them.

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Rozakis, Saviuk and Colletta continue the Atom’s battle with the Calculator, although most of the story is spent in the past Ray Palmer escaped to in the Time Pool.

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He saves a young couple in a storm, who will one day become his parents.

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Returning, he stays small and out of sight, but tells Professor Hyatt what to do in order to defeat the Calculator.

But as with many Calculator stories, it seems finished, but continues next issue.

Action 522 – Superman vs the Clockwork Man, and Atom vs the Calculator

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Conway, Swan and Chiaramonte go retro with Action 522 (Aug. 81).

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A scientist creates an old-fashioned Clockwork Man, inspired by the tales of Burroughs and Baum.

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The mechanical man wants to help his chronically late creator, and so speeds everyone up.  It takes Clark a surprisingly long time to notice that everyone around him is moving at super-speed.

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The Clockwork Man is simply too determined to “help,” and really capable of reason, so Superman has to trash it.

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The Calculator returns to fight the Atom, the first foe he faced, in this story by Rozakis, Saviuk and Colletta.  It’s the first time the villain had appeared since his introductory arc in Detective Comics in 1978, and those stories are recapped at the start of this tale.

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Calculator’s immunity to any hero who had previously beat him holds true in this story, and I was glad that the Atom did not try turning into Ray Palmer, which he had tried and failed in Detective.  This time around, he tries increasingly indirect attacks, but with no success.

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But the Calculator attacked while he was at Professor Hyatt’s, and the Atom makes his escape by diving into the Time Pool.

The story continues next issue.

Action 521 – the Vixen debuts, and Aquaman and the Atom and the pufferfish

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The Vixen has her long-delayed debut in Action 521 (July 1981).  The character had been advertised in 1978, meant to debut in her own book, which got prematurely cancelled in the DC Implosion.

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Conway, Swan and Chiaramonte make the new hero a mystery, as she interferes with a fur shipment.  She demonstrates strength far beyond what her form would indicate.

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Superman catches up to her, just as she sends the furs into the water.  Superman is also surprised by her strength, and really stunned when she manages to draw blood with her scratches, indicating a supernatural origin.

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Later, we meet high fashion model Mari McCabe, and her assitant Solomon Styles, who talks Perry White into sending Clark Kent and Lana Lang to Africa on an assignment about animal poaching.  The man the furs had been taken from is linked to poaching, and a supplier to the fashion industry.

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It’s not hard to tie the threads together.  Superman and Vixen join forces to stop the poachers, and she answers some of his questions.  Her powers derive from a mystical tantu totem, but not everything about her past is revealed.

It’s three years before the Vixen returns, once again fighting alongside Superman, in the pages of DC Comics Presents.

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Aquaman and Atom have a light but fun team-up story, by Rozakis, Saviuk and Colletta.  Aquaman calls in the Atom when he comes across a fish that shows a tendency to grow and shrink with remarkable speed.

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Atom investigates, and almost gets devoured by the creature.

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But it’s not really a villain, just a barely sentient creature reacting by puffing up in terror whenever Aquaman uses his telepathy near it.

Action 520 – Lois Lane goes out with a different guy, and Aquaman battles his mother

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The romance between Superman and Lois Lane takes centre stage in the Conway, Swan and Chiaramonte tale in Action 520 (June 1981).

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Superman and Lois have dinner plans, but an emergency takes him away.  Millionaire Eric Burton sweeps in to take Lois out for a night on the town in his limousine.

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Superman catches up to them at dinner at a posh restaurant, and Lois gives him the cold shoulder, going off to dance with Eric.

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Every time Superman makes it back, another emergency is revealed, and calls him away.  And though the emergencies are genuine, Burton has rigged the various media around them to turn on and announce them, to keep Superman at bay, while he steals her woman.

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A pointless try.  Lois might get piqued, but Superman is her guy.

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Aquaman’s battle against Atlanna concludes in this issue, by deMatteis, Rozakis and Heck.

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It’s a real shame that it’s Don Heck doing the art on the big battle.  The line-up of robots is impressive, even of some of the Aquaman foes shown are pretty obscure.

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“Poseidon” just sort of vanishes half way through the battle, as does Cal Durham, who never appears again.  In Brightest Day, a new version of Aqualad would be introduced, with a name derived from Cal’s, but I think we can say the original died in the fight.

Atlanna’s sister shows, and makes they make peace with each other.  Atlanna advises Aquaman and Ocean Master to do the same.  Which isn’t really awful, and at least does not contradict continuity as much as the rest of this tale.

 

Action 519 – Superman doesn’t trust the alien, and Aquaman learns his mother’s plans

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Superman deals with an alien beast and its hunter in Action 519 (May 1981).

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Conway, Swan and Chiaramonte helm this tale.  Superman gets alerted about signals of approaching aliens.  One has come intentionally, to stop a intergalactic beast that stopped here first.

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Superman has his doubts, even when the beast shows up, in the Grand Canyon.

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It’s a rare story, in which Superman is wrong.  The hunter is exactly who he claimed to be, simply here to defeat the monster.

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Aquaman’s origin, and that of Atlantis, are retold in a different light in this story, by deMatteis, Len Wein and Heck.

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Poseidon claims to be Aquaman’s human father, and explains his story to his son and Cal Durham.  Atlanna is given a sister, and her period on land, and the birth of Aquaman, are placed shortly after the city’s sinking, in contravention of every other version of this tale.  Atlanna has used Atlantean tech to turn her supposedly dead husband into Poseidon, as well as creating robots of Aquaman’s various enemies.  She is portrayed as murderously insane.

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Ocean Master consistently refers to Atlanna as his mother through this storyline, which is very odd.  He has always, to this point, been the son of Aquaman’s father and a human woman.

The story concludes in the next issue.

 

Action 518 – Superman gets played, and Aquaman faces Poseidon

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The Superman story in Action 518 (April 1981), like many from this period, is not one that I would normally include.  But I want to write about the back-up story, so Conway, Swan and Hunt get an entry for their cover story as well.

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And there is some really nice art in the story.  Happy to include this page.

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The tale itself involves two alien brothers who have come to Earth.  One brother warns Superman about the other, but also sets up a fight between them.

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The fight is pretty brief, before Superman realizes that both of them have been set up by other brother, who wants to take control of their planet.

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And onto the Aquaman story, by deMatteis and Heck.

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Aquaman, Mera, Vulko and Cal Durham discuss recent events.  Attacks by the Scavenger and Black Manta have turned out to be fake, just attacks by robots looking like them.  Ocean Master was who he claimed to be, though, so Aquaman goes in search of him.

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They find Orm, along with the god Poseidon, who claims to be Aquaman’s father.

The story continues in the next issue.

Action 517 – the quest for an alien grayl, and Aquaman begins

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Gerry Conway, Curt Swan and Dave Hunt put Superman into an alien Christmas story in Action 517 (March 1981).

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Superman is attending the Daily Planet Christmas party, and almost winds up under the mistletoe with Lana Lang, but whooshes away when he sees an alien ship approaching.  I love that Perry White gets a shirt that says “Foxy.”

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But aside from that, this is a pretty average tale.  Superman learns that two warring alien races are competing to find the “grayl.”

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They each believe it is the key to victory, although there are prophecies that it will bring disaster.

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Superman is basically an overseer in the tale, as the two peoples lose their power source, and have to learn to work together in peace to survive.

And Clark manages to kiss Lois under the mistletoe.

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Aquaman’s series moves over from Adventure Comics, joining the rotating line-up, by Jean-Marc deMatteis and Don Heck.  Cal Durham is still around as a supporting character, along with Mera and Vulko.

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Aquaman faces off against his evil half-brother, Ocean Master, but he is simply an operative in a bigger battle against Aquaman.

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Orm lets some of this slip, when he refers to their, supposedly dead, mother.

The story continues in the next issue.

Action 486 – Superman’s time trip troubles, and Luthor gets a birthday present for Val

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I don’t much care for the cover of Action 486 (Aug. 78), or the Superman story by Conway, George Tuska and Vince Colletta, but the back-up story makes this an issue I have to include.

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Superman travels through time to the far future, and winds up stuck on Earth under a red sun, with no powers.  The people live in squalor, and under the dominance of an alien race who have encircled the Earth.

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Superman eventually realizes that their shelters are actually very old rocket ships. He gets them functional again, blasting through the alien ring of ships, freeing the Earth.  He uses the ship to get far enough away to regain his powers, and heads back home.

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But the story I want to talk about is the Lex Luthor tale, by Elizabeth Smith, Kurt Schaffenberger and Frank McLaughlin.

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The story features his sister Lena, who had last appeared in the early 70s in Superman Family, and returns in that book in a few more years.  Val Colby also makes an extremely rare appearance, Lena’s son, and Luthor’s nephew.  It’s Val’s birthday, and Lex breaks out of prison to deliver his gift.  He even ensures he gets caught, to get away before Lena or Val spot him.

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This is probably the most pleasant and selfless Lex Luthor story ever.

 

 

Action 467 – Superman goes boom, and Krypto vs Mr Mxyzptlk

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An unappealing cover on Action 467 (Jan. 77), and the Superman story inside isn’t great, either.

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Superman’s sonic booms are the key element to this story by Conway, Swan and Blaisdel, as two men in an orbiting capsule plan to steal the energy from them.

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The best scene in the story has Clark getting an alert while giving a live broadcast, and how he manages to get out of the studio without disrupting the show.  There is a mention of Black Lightning battling the 100, a subtle plug for the new book.

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When Superman tries to use a sonic boom to weaken a tidal wave, he discovers that they are not “functioning,” and follows the energy trail up to the capsule.

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It was all a plot to rule the world.  And it must have cost a lot to put into operation, what with the space capsule and all.  Millions.  Stupid guy probably could have lived happily for the rest of his life on the money he spent trying to conquer the Earth.

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The back-up story, by Rozakis, Swan and Blaisdel, which pits Krypto against Mr. Mxyzptlk, is far more entertaining.

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With Superman not around, and the 5th dimensional imp erasing Metropolis, it is up to Krypto to stop him.  He does this in canine fashion, nipping at Mxyzptlk.

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It’s really Mr. Mxyzptlk’s bad choice of a hiding place that does him in – disguising himself as a dog biscuit.

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.

 

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