Posts tagged ‘John Byrne’

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 599 – the Metal Men become the Kryptonoid Man

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John Byrne, Ross Andru and Keith Williams bring back the Metal Men in Action 599 (April 1988).

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Doc Magnus continued to refuse to rebuild Tin after their previous outing, so the Metal Men went to another prominent scientist for help.  He was working for Lex Luthor. Bad person to go to.  Lex extracts the responsometers from the robots – Magnus’ crowning achievement, which gives them their personalities.

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With Tin rebuilt, the team’s sentience in a box, and their bodies down the drain, Luthor feels he has succeeded.

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Tin has been rebuilt into the Kryptonoid Man, with which Lex intends to kill Superman. But this artificial kryptonite proves to be nowhere near as good as the real thing, and though it hurts Superman, it does not kill, or even weaken him.

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Superman retrieves the responsometers, and throws them into the Kryptonoid Man.  The creature splits apart as the Metal Men reform themselves.

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Doc Magnus is still angry, but remakes them the way they originally were.

The Metal Men take a few years to return, and do so in the pages of Justice League Europe.

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 597 – Lois Lane meets Lana Lang

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The two main women in Superman’s life meet for the first time in this post-Crisis universe in the Byrne, Willaims and Leonard Starr story in Action 597 (Feb. 88).

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Lois Lane is on the trail of the mysterious woman who showed up at the Daily Planet, accosted Clark Kent, and then flew out the window.  Knowing that Lana was also from Smallville, Lois heads there, and immediately hears about the Manhunters and the near-deaths of everyone.

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Snooping further, she comes to Lana’s house.  Oops.

Seriously, I love the “Oh” panel.  The reactions are real, the situation memorably awkward.

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I’m less fond of the inevitable sizing each other up scene, but it does play out far better as the story goes on.

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Clark and Lana do their best to answer Lois’ questions, but she is getting very suspicious, and accuses Clark of being Superman.  It’s Ma and Pa Kent who save the day, explaining the truth, but adding in a baby Clark to the mix, making Clark Kent and Kal-El pseudo-brothers.

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It’s a really good save, identity-wise, but infuriates Lois, when it comes to her relationship(s) with the men(man), neither of whom she trusts.

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Lana does her best to make Lois understand that Clark is a good person, and that he is in love with Lois, while admitting her unrequited love for him.

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Superman catches up with Lois as she catches up with Jose Delgado, severely wounded fighting against one of Luthor’s pawns during Millenium.

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Things are just as icy there.

An excellent story. One of my favourites of John Byrne’s run.  No big action, but some real human drama with big consequences.

Action 596 – Superman and Spectre and the ghosts of Smallville

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Action 596 (Jan. 88) is a Millenium crossover (Week 4), by Byrne and Williams, but also a chapter in the Superman story arc running within the larger crossover.  Superman had discovered that the people he grew up with in Smallville were all implanted and controlled by the Manhunters.  The previous issue of Adventures of Superman ended with him defeating the Manhunter robot in charge, which left all the residents dead.

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The Spectre is drawn to the scene.  Something is not right about it, but he cannot see what is wrong.

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He transports Superman to the astral plane, where they “see” the imagined Smallville of the people, newly dead but in denial.  According to Spectre, not a rare thing, but never so large, or lasting so long.

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In fact, the whole astral plane is a fake, all conjured by the supposedly dead Manhunter in some way that has never made sense to me, so I don’t think about it too much.  It’s more fun to look at the page of him, under the Spectre’s control, ripping himself open.

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There is also a great page of the Spectre scaring kids planning to pull a prank on Lana’s house.

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 594 – Superman vs Booster Gold

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Byrne and Williams begin a Superman/Booster Gold story in Action 594 (Nov. 87) that concludes in Booster Gold’s book the following month.

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The story opens with Superman being introduced to Robin by Batman.  And Superman presents Batman with the mysterious scrapbook he had been sent, which will eventually lead to the Dark Knight Over Metropolis storyline.

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Booster Gold holds a big public press conference to trash Superman, attacking his one-man invasion of Qurac, from a few months earlier in Adventures of Superman, but really going over the top.  Lois Lane tries to rebut, but Booster questions her impartiality when it comes to Superman.

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Superman shows up, and things turn violent.  Booster does far better against Superman than he should. Superman cannot understand why he feels so weakened.

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But before Booster Gold can kill Superman, Booster Gold shows up to stop him!

Huh?

(One of them is really a robot.)

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