Posts tagged ‘Jerry Siegel’

Action 554 – creating Superman

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Wolfman and Kane provide an epilogue of sorts to the Forgotten Heroes story in Action 554 (April 1984).

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The story is set on an alien world that kind of resembles Earth, although it is under the domination of some scary other aliens.  Two young boys, named Joe and Jerry, very loosely based on Siegel and Shuster, conceive of a noble and powerful hero that could save them from the alien overlords.

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They design Superman, and then devote their energies to believing in their created hero.

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This belief is enough to pull Superman from the void he vanished into in the previous issue.  He defeats the aliens, and then heads back to Earth.  The story is dedicated to Siegel and Shuster.

A lot of people really liked this story.  It was ok.

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Action 322 – Clark Kent, coward

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There is no significant change in the creative team on Superman in 1965, and yet pretty much none of the stories from this year are worthy of note.  Action 322 (March 1965) is one of the only ones to use any of Superman’s established villains.

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Jerry Siegel and Al Plastino are the ones behind this Superman Revenge Squad tale.  They attempt to make Superman cowardly, but only succeed at making Clark Kent cowardly.  This is not really noticible to Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, or any of Clark’s other friends.

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It is disruptive for Superman, though, as he often acts bravely, while pretending to be scared, as Clark.  He no longer has that degree of control over himself.  So he works with his friends to try to make Clark a braver man.

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It’s Supergirl who breaks him of the Revenge Squad’s effect, putting his uniform on over his Clark Kent clothes as he sleeps, so that he acts bravely as Clark without realizing it.

Another failed Revenge Squad plot.

Action 291 – Superman changes vulnerabilities, and Supergirl heads to the altar with Mr. Mxyzptlk

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Bernstein and Plastino remove Superman’s kryptonite weakness in Action 291 (Aug. 62).

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We see a suspiciously coloured red ray hit Clark Kent, just before Lois tosses him a chunk of kryptonite.  To his surprise, it has no effect on him at all.

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As the story goes on, he finds himself weakened by diamonds, and later gold.  His vulnerability keeps changing.  Eventually the red ray is revealed as having shot red kryptonite at him, which had the effect of altering his weakness.

A bit too much red kryptonite this year.

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Mr. Mxyzptlk sets his sights on Supergirl in this Siegel and Mooney story.

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Supergirl comes to the aid of a crashing airforce jet, only to have the pilots turn into Bizarros.  This is due to Mr. Mxyzptlk, who further amuses himself by turning all of Midvale into Bizarros.

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When Mr. Mxyzptlk’s romantic gestures towards Supergirl are rebuffed, he attempts to win her over by bringing her parents back to life. Zor-El and Alura seem to be genuinely there, not just apparitions created by the imp.  To Supergirl’s horror, Zor-El givse his permission for the marriage.

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Supergirl is at the altar when her father proposes a pre-wedding toast.  He has spiked the drink with truth serum, and forces Mxyzptlk to say his name backwards.  This causes him to vanish, along with the effects of his magic – specifically, Zor-El and Alura.

But were they really dead?  The story never clearly states that.  Laying the groundwork for what is to come.

Action 290 – Superman loses half his invulnerability, and Supergirl spreads super-kisses

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Action 290 (July 1962) is another all red-kryptonite issue, but not as good as the previous one.

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Superman and Krypto fly through a red kryptonite cloud in this Swan and Klein story, and wind up losing the invulnerability in half their bodies.

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Superman does manage to pull off his normal super-feats, in more complex ways, to cover this loss of power.  Lois Lane is hot on his trail, though, dragging Jimmy Olsen along with her, as she tries to find a way to exploit the situation and prove Clark is Superman.

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Some backwards clothing, and a really uncomfortable position on the couch, are all that are needed to fool her again.

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The Supergirl story, by Siegel and Mooney, is more interesting.

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Phantom Girl presents Supergirl with a statue of herself for her birthday.  The statue turns out to be made of red kryptonite.  This is supposedly an accident.  Really?  Phantom Girl just happened to find a piece of red kryptonite and carved it into a statue of Supergirl?  I think not.

At any rate, the red kryptonite has the effect of passing super-powers on to anyone Supergirl kisses.  And as it’s her birthday, she planted kisses on her mom, Dick Malverne, and Jerro.

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When Edna Danvers manifests super-speed, Linda figures out what is going on. She goes to check on Dick Malverne, who shows off his new abilities by taking her flying.

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Jerro has also taken to the air, and the rivals wind up meeting.  But they do not immediately begin fighting, as I was expecting them to do.  Lois and Lana would be at each others throats by now.  But the boys get along, and work together,until their powers wear off, leaving them in danger.

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The Supergirl Emergency Squad have their debut, coming out of Kandor to rescue the two boys.  Supergirl is just thrilled to have her own mini-army of devoted followers, and glad that the boys powers have worn off.

So you have to wonder, what was Phantom Girl up to?  Coming from the future, she must have known the properties of this version of red kryptonite. Why give Brainiac 5’s rivals for Supergirl’s attention powers?  Perhaps to show Supergirl that they cannot handle them well, unlike Brainiac 5?

Action 289 – Supergirl tries to hook up Superman

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A few significant developments, and some quasi-incest, are the hallmarks of this classic tale by Siegel and Mooney, in Action 289 (June 1962).

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After Linda watches a romantic movie with her parents,she decides that Superman needs a wife, and that neither Lois Lane nor Lana Lang is the right one for her cousin.  Her parents warn her not to meddle, but she pays them no mind.

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Her first attempt has her try to match up Superman with Helen of Troy.  After that fails, she leads Superman into the 30th century, to see the Legion of Super-Heroes when they are grown up.  This is the first “Adult Legion” sequence.  Cosmic Boy, Sun Boy, Phantom Girl, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy and Triplicate Girl are all shown as adults, but the important one, for Supergirl, is Saturn Girl.  Sparks do fly between her and Superman when they kiss under the mistletoe.

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But Lightning Lad steps in and calls a halt to that.  For the first time, we learn that Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad will get married at some point.

Oh, and in a continuity-defying act, Superman and Supergirl invent flight rings for the Legion, to replace the ugly flight belts.  The flight rings immediately start being used in stories about the teenaged versions of these characters.

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Supergirl confesses her plans to find Superman a girlfriend.  Superman explains that he would want someone exactly like her.  But they can’t be a couple, because they are cousins.  Of course, some cultures allow cousins to marry.  But not Kryptonians.  Superman has clearly thought a lot about this.

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So together they search the universe, and manage to find a super-powered double of Supergirl, Luma Lynai, on the planet Staryl.  Superman and this twin of Supergirl hit it off, but she cannot maintain her powers under Earth’s sun, and he will lose his under Staryl’s, so they split.

So Superman and Supergirl decide to move to Kentucky where they marry and settle down.

No, they don’t do that.

But you know they want to.

Action 287 – Superman’s bad dreams, and Supergirl kills

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The second half of the Superman Revenge Squad story, in Action 287 (April 1962) never quite lives up to the joyous insanity of the first half, though Swan and Klein’s art remains superb.

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Superman has one long dream, which sees him become a criminal against his will.  He is hunted by the police, and Perry White.

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Finally the payoff comes, as the Revenge Squad attack Earth right in front of Superman, and hope that he will think it was just a dream.

Really?  That was the plan?

They deserved to lose.

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Now, onto a story that I have so much to say about.  Siegel and Mooney’s deadly Supergirl tale.

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Linda Danvers is invited to join a Superman fan club, and does. Lois Lane has been brought in to give a talk.  She proves more insightful than usual, as she pegs Linda as looking identical to Supergirl.

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Returning home, Linda sees that her model of the Legion Clubhouse is ringing.  That alerts her to look at the Legion figures on her bookshelf, which are flashing, which means they want her to come to help them.  You’d think she could do without being alerted to look at the glowing figures on the bookshelf, but apparently not.

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She gets to the 30th century just as Legion are performing live on 3D television.  It’s being watched in “millions of homes,” but for some reason they chose to show us this family, who cannot say anything interesting.

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A positive energy being, who is a transformed scientist, is wreaking havoc in space, as is a negative energy bird.  That’s why the Legion called on her.  She sets them up to take each other out.  In other words, sets them up to kill each other.  Pretty much the same as just killing them herself.  And the story makes it clear that the positive being still has some degree of the scientist’s sentience in it.

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But whatever. Moving on, we get introduced to Whizzy.  This super-powered cat wears a collar that proclaims him to be the descendant of Streaky, and he claims to have acquired his ancestor’s powers through evolution. Which is extremely unlikely, given that Streaky’s powers are a temporary effect from exposure to x-kryptonite.

Oh, and we see an android store, where a woman wants an android nanny who looks just like her, so her children will not be able to tell them apart.  Yes, because she is clearly as heartless as the android.

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Oh, gosh, there’s more.  The Legionnaires lose their powers as a result of the positive/negative explosion, and Supergirl uses her powers to make it look like they have not.  But they aren’t really the Legionnaires, they are evil impostors, a chameleon race.  Which likely means they are also Durlans, from Chameleon Boy’s homeworld.

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They reveal themselves to Supergirl, and send her and Whizzy into the Phantom Zone.

Darned unfriendly.

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But everything works out in the end, as she gets Whizzy to telepathically order a chameleon android, and…

Can I just stop now?

No, because I must point out that this is the one and only appearance of Whizzy.

 

Action 286 – kryptonite ketchup, and Lex Luthor kills himself

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Robert Bernstein, Curt Swan and George Klein tell a story in Action 286 (March 1962) about a group of villains, but not the ones you expect.  Electro makes his second and last cover appearance.

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The Superman Revenge Squad make their first adult appearance, following their debut two months earlier as the Superboy Revenge Squad in Superboy.  These are a group of aliens who spend an awful lot of time coming up with ridiculously complex methods of exacting this revenge.

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In this story, they capture Krypto, and try out a variety of red kryptonite meteors on him, until they find one that induces nightmares.  In Krypto’s case, being tormented by Streaky and Titano.

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So the leader uses an invisibility ray on himself, comes to Earth, and puts the red kryptonite into a bottle of ketchup.  Yes, he does.  Because Clark, Lois and Jimmy all ordered the exact same lunch.  So Superman eats his kryptonite burger, and starts getting nightmares.

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The Revenge Squad are monitoring all of this.  Their monitors are truly amazing.  Not only can they see anywhere on Earth, they can even broadcast Superman’s dreams.  Jimmy is staying overnight at the Fortress of Solitude.  For some reason, he is sleeping directly in front of the door to his room.  Perhaps he really wanted to sleep under the big statue of himself.  But couldn’t Superman have provided something better than fold-up cots?  Anyway, I’ll just leave the mention of Superman quivering.

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So Superman has his first nightmare, meeting descendants of Lana Lang and Pete Ross, who have gotten married, and lead an attack on him.

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Superman’s second dream is even better, with the villains from the cover – Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Electro, Cosmic King, Lightning Lord and Saturn Queen pitting him against Supergirl.

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Supergirl gets sent to the Phantom Zone, and earth gets destroyed, Superman wakes up freaking out and upset.

While it’s true that the cover image is “just a dream,” at least the story never pretends otherwise, and the dreams are actually part of the plot against him.

The story concludes in the next chapter.

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Supergirl begins a new phase of her career, operating in public, in this Siegel and Mooney story.

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After some pleasant homey stuff, as Linda and Dick Malverne watch tv together while the Danvers look on approvingly, the story shifts over to Lex Luthor, who escapes from prison.  While the story does not directly address the Lesla-Lar Supergirl that Lex had met, his certainty that Supergirl is really a robot seems to be the conclusion he has drawn from this.

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He intentionally draws out Supergirl, but she proves to not be a robot, and Luthor winds up fleeing.  He has a death-ray, which he winds up shooting at himself when the car swerves.

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After a somewhat obligatory stop in Atlantis, with Lori Lemaris and Jerro floating around, Supergirl picks up some rare elements, and brings Luthor back to life.  He is not grateful.

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