Posts tagged ‘Jimmy Olsen’

Action 600 – Superman and Wonder Woman kiss, Lois Lane is sad, Lex Luthor hurts his hand, Jimmy Olsen helps out, and Superman vs Man-Bat

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John Byrne scripts all of the stories in Action 600 (May 1988), an oversize anniversary issue, which is also the last issue before the book undergoes a dramatic change of format.

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George Perez joins for the first story, which continues the Superman/Wonder Woman embrace that concluded the last issue of Adventures of Superman.  After the kiss, Superman realizes he may have jumped the gun a bit, and the two cool down a bit, and get to know each other.

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Diana gets an emergency message from Hermes, and the couple head to Olympus, which has been invaded by Darkseid.  He makes the most of the situation, as Superman and Wonder Woman arrived in different places, and dispatches Kalibak and Amazing Grace to toy with them.

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The scheme is pretty simple.  Superman is shown that the Wonder Woman he is fighting is really Grace, and Diana gets a similar reveal with Kalibak.  Then the two heroes confront each other, both believing the other is really an enemy.

Simple, but also not too hard for the heroes themselves to figure out.

Darkseid abandons the unconquerable Olympus, and the heroes decide to just be friends…for now.

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Roger Stern, Kurt Schaffenberger and Jerry Ordway join Byrne for the Lois Lane story, her first solo story since the reboot of Superman.  She infiltrates and busts up a crime ring, but her story is relegated to the back pages of the Planet.  The Superman/Wonder Woman romance gets the front page.

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Lois mopes about a bit, and thinks about her relationship with Superman.  Clark shows up, wanting to lend a shoulder to cry on, and the tension between them seems to be ending.  Until an emergency calls him away, and Lois fumes even more.

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Dick Giordano and John Beatty do the art on the Lex Luthor story, which sees him attempt to blackmail Maggie Sawyer about her sexuality.

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Maggie neither bows to his pressure, nor steals the evidence when she has the opportunity. As she explains to Dan Turpin, she is willing to stand up and fight for who she is, and what she has achieved.

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It’s not a very good day for Lex, who also is told by Gretchen Kelly that his kryptonite ring has poisoned his hand, which will have to be amputated.

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Swan and Anderson re-unite for the art on the Jimmy Olsen story.  Sadly, it’s the least involving story in the issue.  Superman gets knocked for a loop when the radiation from Krypton’s explosion reaches the Earth, collapsing.

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Jimmy carries the hero down into a mine shaft, getting him as far away from the radiation as possible.

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The issue ends with another team-up story, with Mike Mignola handling the art as Man-Bat makes his post-Crisis debut.

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Man-Bat is surprised to find Superman down in a cave, and even more surprised when the ailing and hallucinating hero attacks him.  Man-Bat basically spends the story defending himself.

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Hawkman shows up on the final page, informed by Jimmy Olsen of Superman’s situation.  This leads into the story in Superman the following month.

As for Action Comics, it goes on hiatus for a while, returning as Action Comics Weekly.  Happy anniversary, Superman!  As a present, we are reducing you to two pages in the comic that started your career!

 

Action 598 – Checkmate debuts

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Byrne joins with Paul Kupperberg and Ty Templeton to introduce a new team in the DC Universe, Checkmate, in Action 598 (March 1988).

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Cat Grant, an entertainment reporter on the Daily Planet, introduced in Adventures of Superman, makes her first appearance in Action Comics, toying with the affections of young Jimmy Olsen, and more seriously pursuing Clark Kent.

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Lois Lane is busy trying to arrange an interview with an unpopular Quraci leader, who is being pursued by terrorists with nukes.

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Checkmate has been assigned to protect the Quraci leader, even though he is a mass murderer himself.  We meet one of the knights assigned to him, as well as Harry Stein and Harvey Bullock, the heads of the organization.

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Superman helps Checkmate round up the kidnappers and dispose of the nukes.  But Superman is not aware that Checkmate also kills the Quraci as soon as his plane leaves US territory.

Checkmate begins in its own book the following month.

 

 

Action 595 – Superman’s ghost vs the Silver Banshee

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Byrne and Williams introduce a new villain for Superman, and a mysterious ghost star, in Action 595 (Dec. 87).

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Maggie Sawyer, the head of the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit, and her second in command, Dan Turpin, had both been introduced in the pages of Superman in the last year, and have their first appearances in Action as they pursue the Silver Banshee, a woman who appears to be able to kill with her touch, as she searches bookstores in the city.

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Superman’s attention gets drawn.  The Banshee is unable to kill a man who she thought she had already attacked, an important clue to the nature of her powers.  She has no such trouble with Superman.

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And leaves him lying dead on the ground.  It’s not her touch that is fatal, it’s her voice.  Which is kind of obvious, if you know her name is Silver Banshee.

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Lois Lane and Lex Luthor are both shocked to hear about Superman’s death.  Lois actually handles it better, Lex is so jealous that he did not kill him.  The Justice League are mournful, and we see Batman, Black Canary and the Martian Manhunter.

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Perry White chokes on his words as Superman’s ghost visibly rises from his coffin during the funeral.

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Superman’s ghost fares much better than Superman did against the Silver Banshee.

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Her frustration leads to a scream that seems to destroy her, but there is clearly much more to this villain, and she returns in the pages of Superman within the year.

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The Martian Manhunter was really the ghost.  Superman was almost killed by the Banshee.  Her power seemed cued to identity, the reason she was not able to kill the man she thought she had met before. The Martian Manhunter could not be killed by Banshee, as she thought she was trying to kill Superman’s ghost.

A good intro for the villain.  Showing Martian Manhunter early on made it easy to figure out though.

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 579 – Superman meets Asterix and Obelisk

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Jean-Marc Lofficier, Keith Giffen and Bob Oskner send Superman to ancient Gaul in Action 579 (May 1986), where he encounters two men who are not Asterix and Obelisk, but as close as they could be without violating copyright.

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The story begins as Jimmy Olsen destroys an ancient shield while stopping thieves at a museum.

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The story then shifts to Gaul, with a wizard character that I think is much like one from Asterix and Obelisk, though I confess I was never a fan of those books, and don’t know it well enough to be sure of all the correlations.  At any rate, the wizard casts a spell, using the shield, to bring a great warrior from the future to help them, which pulls Superman to their time.

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Giffen excels at portraying Obelisk, without actually showing him clearly.  There is no other character it could possibly be.

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And I can tell that the overall look is right.  The people I knew who did enjoy Asterix and Obelisk just went nuts over this story.

Action 574 – Superman competes for the glory, and Mr. Mxyzptlk has a son

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Action 574 (Dec. 85) has a great cover, although the art on Boldman’s story itself, by Schaffenberger and Hunt, is not as evocative.

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Superman receives a challenge from the champion of Ostok, a planet that used to hold regular athletic competitions with Krypton.

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It’s all really friendly, and Lana Lang broadcasts the meeting of the two planetary champions, and is later allowed to go along and cover the games themselves.  The hero looks identical to the one who was involved in the last, undecided, games, but claims to be someone else entirely.  He is the same.  It’s so obvious.

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Anyway, the games go on, and each one is very close.  Jenet Klyburn, who is with Jimmy Olsen, running tests throughout, determines that the champion from Ostok is giving off an odd radiation, but it doesn’t seem to be a threat or attack.

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Superman loses the games, and the champion returns home, and dies.  He had made himself young again in order to finish the competition from so long ago.  Klyburn realizes the radiation affected the timing monitors, and that Superman really won.

The best panel in this is the last, in which he expresses sorrow that he won, as it was just another victory, not as special a one as it was for the man from Ostok.

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Mr. Mxyzptlk returns in a story by Robert Greenberger and Barbara Kesel, with art by Bender and Hunt.

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Mr. Mxyzptlk has had a baby boy, and comes to Earth to celebrate.

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He throws a party at the Daily Planet, with cigars for everyone.  I love the personalized bibs for Perry, Jimmy and Lois.  Lana and Clark get flowers, perhaps to reflect their relationship.  Mxyzptlk is enjoying the day so much he wants it to last forever, until Clark makes him realize that he will never enjoy his son growing up if he does that.  Mxyzptlk agrees, and goes home without being tricked.

 

Action 565 – Wizard City returns, and Ambush Bug ends

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The third and final Ambush Bug cover on Action Comics 565 (March 1985).

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Superman does get the lead story in this issue, by Mort Todd and Kurt Schaffenberger, which brings back Wizard City, a fabled Kryptonian town that landed intact on Earth in Superboy’s day, long before Kandor was introduced.  I talked about the Wizard City story when I covered Adventure Comics in the previous blog.

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It has been discovered, and looted, by a thief who is making the most of his stolen Kryptonian tech.

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Jimmy Olsen’s father, who was a young man in the original story, returns with information linking the criminal to the site.

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The thief tries to kill Superman with a Kryptonian virus he found in the city, but Superman prevails, and buries Wizard City deep int he Earth’s crust, never to be seen again.

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Ambush Bug has his final outing in Action, with Giffen, Fleming and Oskner finding exactly the right angle for the character.  This story introduces some of the odd supporting cast, as well as the plot device of having Ambush Bug travel from hero to hero during the course of the story.  Peabody, of Peabody, Dicker and Pending, opens the story with his Ambush Bug merchandising plans.

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Lots of great references to old goofy stories as Ambush visits Superman.  All but one of the stories referenced in this bit have already been covered in this blog!

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While the Inarticulate Bug would not return, satirizing Jack Kirby would become a staple of the series.

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Giant penny!

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The Uh-Oh Squad also make their first appearance in this story. The title is clearly a reference to the Suicide Squad, a team which had not had a strip since the early 60s.  The logo chosen is that of The Omega Men.  This always puzzled me, and did Giffen know of Ostrander’s upcoming Suicide Squad book?  Or is it just coincidence?

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And as he visits with Wonder Woman, Ambush Bug demonstrates that there is no lie he will not tell in order to get a hero to guest star in his strip.

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And some nice meta-stuff, just to top it all off.

Such a great strip.  Ambush Bug returns in a couple of months in a DC Comics Presents team-up with Superman against Kobra.

Action 563 – Ambush Bug loses his suit, Mr. Mxyzptlk wants his own show, and Jimmy Olsen becomes a blob

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Three stories in Action 563 (Jan.85), all represented in Giffen’s great cover.

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Ambush Bug gets the lead story in the issue, by Giffen, Fleming and Oskner.  Clark Kent is around, in his newscaster guise, and as Superman, but Bethany Snow, from New Teen Titans, and Jack Ryder, better known as the Creeper, also cameo on the first page.  Ted Baxter, from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show, almost appears.

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There is some degree of story in this one, as Ambush Bug works on his suit, and shorts it out.

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A running gag with the character is the origin story, which always involves a person named Irwin Schwab, but otherwise is a pastiche of other heroes origins.  Ambush Bug relates one of these absurd stories to Superman.

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Superman dismisses it as nonsense, until he realizes Ambush Bug just told him his own origin.

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E. Nelson Bridwell, Alex Saviuk and Dennis Jensen give Mr. Mxyzptlk a yen for the boob tube in the second story in this issue.  The 5th dimensional imp demands his own television show on WGBS, but Morgan Edge refuses.

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So Mr. Mxyzptlk wreaks havoc with the networks programming.  Although the story posits this as a bad thing, in reality I’m sure the ratings went through the roof, as everyone tuned in to see what crazy shit was going to happen.  Anyway, Mxyzptlk has made saying, or even writing, his name backwards impossible for anyone.

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Superman gets around this by thinking of his Bizarro World counterpart, Kltpzyxm, when setting up his trap.

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The issue is rounded out by a Jimmy Olsen adventure, by Craig Boldman, Howard Bender and Pablo Marcos.

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Hoping to save a falling girl, Jimmy drinks from an old vial of his Elastic Lad serum, but it turns him into a big blob instead.

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He is unable to speak, and is treated as a monster, even by his date for the evening.  Superman figures out what has happened, the serum was corrupted by a radioactive substance it sat next to.  He cures Jimmy in time to still have his planned date, but the girl’s reaction, freaking out just because he metamorphosized, makes it clear this woman is not up to Jimmy Olsen’s speed.

Action 562 – Queen Bee meets King Alexander

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Alexander the Great, aka the Planeteer returns, now calling himself King Alexander, in the Rozakis, Schaffenberger and Hunt story in Action 562 (Dec. 84).

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The story has a subplot about Steve Lombard,who was fired from WGBS by Morgan Edge in the pages of Superman.  He is starring in a production of Damn Yankees, and has sent opening night tickets to Clark, Lana, Jimmy and Perry White.  Perry actually winds up stopping a pair of robbers during the show, and his wife Alice gets a small role.

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Queen Bee gets most of the attention in the story.  She has been causing magnetic anomalies throughout Metropolis.  She has found an immortality serum that needs a constant recharge of magnetic energy to allow her to stay mobile.

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And who should also be back in Metropolis but the magnetically powered Alexander?

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They hit it off, and Alexander thinks its true love and world conquest, unaware that he is being drugged, and his power drained, by Zazzala.

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Mind you, even when Superman explains to him what is going on, he just chooses not to believe it.  He has fallen hard.  Superman uses the couple’s magnetism against them.

This is the final appearance of Alexander the Great aka Planeteer aka King Alexander, and the Queen Bee is next seen in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

And Steve Lombard’s revival of Damn Yankees closes after one night.

Action 540 – Rip Hunter aids Superman, and Aquaman ends

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Wolfman and Kane present the penultimate chapter in the split Superman story in Action 540 (Feb. 83).

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Clark recovers, just as knife is going in for the autopsy.  But he can tell his other self is severely weakened, and he will die if the other Superman does.  Perry and Jimmy are happy that Clark is alive, but Lana is hugely affected.  When she thought he had died, she realizes how much Clark had meant to her throughout the years.  Lois, on the other hand, just takes the opportunity to challenge him again about being Superman.

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Back int he past, Syrene and the merged Satanis/Superman continue their battle throughout the issue, the dynamic segments neatly spaced through the tale.

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Lois talks about a series she is doing on Forgotten Heroes.  She references Cave Carson, as well as the Sea Devils and Suicide Squad, Ragman, Bwana Beast and Vigilante.  But the one that grabs Superman’s attention is Rip Hunter, Time Master, and he seeks out Rip and his team, finding them all unusually aged.  This is Rip’s first appearance since appearing in DC Comics Presents a couple of years earlier.

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Perhaps because it is not expected, the magical defenses that have kept Superman and his friends from the past are no barrier to Rip Hunter, and he delivers Superman to his merged double just as Satanis/Superman defeats Syrene.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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Aquaman’s series comes to an end in this story by Bob Rozakis, Alex Saviuk and Joe Giella.

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Ironically, Aquaman himself winds up sidelined, as Mera and V’lanna battle over him.  Mera wins, and V’lanna kills herself, rather than be executed for treason.  Mera is expected to stay in Xebel as queen, but chooses to return to Earth with Aquaman.

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So a nice happy ending for these two, and the final back-up story Aquaman will have.  It takes three more years before he gets his own mini-series, and a few of those before he gains his own book again.

 

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