Posts tagged ‘John Calnan’

Action 538 – Jackhammer struts, and Mera is possessed


Barr, Novick and Calnan continue the saga of the half-Superman in Action 538 (Dec.82).


With Superman too afraid to face him, and the police helpless against his armor, Jackhammer makes the most of being the most dangerous man in Metropolis.


When Superman does finally confront him again, he is once again overpowered by Jackhammer.  But the crowd is none too pleased, and they step in, hurling anything they can find at the villain. When he turns to attack the crowd, Superman takes his opening, and knocks out Jackhammer.  Still, this should have been a nothing fight for the hero.


Rozakis, Saviuk and Colletta clarify things in this chapter of the Aquaman story.  The woman has a lot of trouble getting control of her hard water powers, but Aquaman still believes this is really Mera.


And though it does turn out that he is correct, it’s not such a good thing.  It’s Mera’s body all right, but she is under the control of someone else.  Some who Aquaman has just instructed in how to use Mera’s powers.

The story continues in the next issue.

Action 537 – Superman suffers from his split, and Aquaman tries to restore Mera’s memory


Mike W. Barr, Irv Novick and John Calnan are the creative team on Action 537 (Nov. 82), as a new villain takes advantage of the weakened Superman.


Superman attempts to travel into the past, and rejoin with his other half, still trapped in the middle ages.  But Lord Satanis stops this journey, even though the other Superman is in the hands of his enemy Syrene.


Of all the various stories that see Superman turn into two people, I think this one spends the most time with only one version of the split character.  We briefly see the captive other half, with Syrene.  But the story really deals only with the one in the present.


Superman’s weakened condition has made the news, and a new villain, Jackhammer, is excited about that, and eager to face the hero.


And despite being a not very impressive villain, with armored extendy punches, he does beat Superman at the end of the story.


Rozakis, Saviuk and Giella continue Aquaman’s hunt for Mera, as he questions the woman who looks just like her.  Though she claims to be human, Aquaman is so certain that this is his wife that he convinces her to go swimming with him.


She agrees, and to her surprise, discovers that she is able to breathe underwater, and even manifest the same hard water powers that Mera has, but still has no memory of being that person.


Action 472 – Faora escapes from the Phantom Zone, and Steve Lombard meets his double


Bates, Swan and Blaisdel continue with the introduction of Faora in Action 472 (June 1977).


Heading to his Fortress of Solitude, Superman scans the records of Phantom Zone prisoners until he finds the file on Faora Hu-Ul.  She has a fanatical hatred of men, and killed hundreds in a personal concentration camp, for which she was sentenced to the Zone.


And though it is not clear exactly how this works, she gets the old man to focus on her, while holding an alien artifact stolen from Clark Kent’s apartment.  This allows her to burst free from the Zone, and attack Superman.  Even being able to see her in the flesh, the old man still thinks this is his dead wife, Katie.  Faora is a master of a form of Kryptonian martial arts, dealing with reflex points, and manages to best Superman in battle.


The ending of this chapter is a bit of a shock, as Superman flees form Faora, and heads into the Phantom Zone to hide.


Bill Kunkle, John Calnan and Tex Blaisdel provide another chapter of the Sporting Life of Steve Lombard, as he comes face to face with an identical double.  To Steve’s consternation, no one else seems to be able to see the guy.


Steve is driven to distraction by the man’s appearances, and everyone claiming he is not there.  The hoax is ruined when Steve catches the man’s voice on a tape recorder, and he realizes he is the butt of an April Fool’s gag, which Clark, Lois and Jimmy were all in on. The final panel reveals that Steve’s mysterious double was actually Batman.

Action 418 – the destructive ghosts of Superman, and Metamorpho ends


Dorfman, Swan and Anderson conclude the Crime Lords story in Action 418 (Nov. 72).


Superman works alongside Luthor, Brainiac, Grax and the Marauder, but they have little success against the destructive phantoms Superman gives off, particularly as it keeps happening whenever Superman does anything.


They want Superman to bring them to the Fortress to work on a solution.  He refuses, but does accompany them to their own lair, where the Marauder promptly gets him into a trap.  Indeed, they were behind this all along, the destructive phantoms were their plan, and are controlled by the Marauder’s helmet.


Luthor also gets betrayed by the villains.  They were telling the truth when they said the phantoms would destroy the world.  That had been their goal, which they kept from Lex.  Imprisoned alongside Superman, Luthor has little trouble changing sides, and helping his former foe against his former allies.  Superman gets Marauder’s helmet, and turns the phantoms on the villains, making them flee.

This is the final appearance of the Marauder.  I guess he was too scared to ever try to get his helmet back.  Grax does make a return, in the pages of Super Friends.  Luthor and Brainiac are back within the year.


Metamorpho’s series in Action ends with this story by Haney and Calnan.  Simon Stagg is dying, and Rex, Java and Sapphire gather to hear his will.  One really would expect Randall to be around for this, so he is clearly gone.


Metamorpho is to receive a million dollars, but only on the condition that he brave a kraken to recover a rare mineral.


He does complete the task, but is suspicious about the situation.  Sure enough, Stagg is not dead.  He faked it just to get Metamorpho to complete the task he required.


That’s a pure Simon Stagg move, and the only think in this brief run that feels like its part of a Metamorpho story.  Although the ending is good as well, when Stagg finds that the minerals are also useless.

The subscript informs the reader that the Metamorpho series is moving to the pages of Superman’s Friend,Jimmy Olsen, but in fact it returns in the pages of World’s Finest in a couple of months.

Action 417 – the Crime Lords, and Metamorpho breaks the spell


Grax and the Marauder, both introduced in these pages within the last couple of years, return alongside Lex Luthor and Brainiac to form the Crime Lords in Action 417 (Oct. 72).


The four villains hate Superman so much they spend their spare time destroying robots of him.  We also get it confirmed that Brainiac’s supposed disintegration of him and Luthor at the end of their last appearance was just a teleport device.


They do actually put a plan into action, not content with trashing robots.  We do not know exactly what they are up to, but it appears to cause wild, random disasters, which keep Superman hopping.


But the villain abruptly sue for peace.  When Superman goes to see them, Luthor explains that their plan did not really work.  They hit him with a ray, the result of which was that every time he performs a super-feat, Superman emits a ghost-self, which goes around being destructive.  Unless they can find a way to stop this, the whole world will get destroyed.


So Superman teams up with the Crime Lords to fight his ghostly emissions.

The story concludes in the next issue.


I don’t care that much for the Metamorpho run in this book.  The stories by Haney and Calnan are not bad, they just feel more like run of the mill adventures that Metamorpho was dropped into, rather than the character’s own bizarre style of tale.  But this one gets included, as it introduces Simon Stagg’s nephew, Randall.


Metamorpho shows little of his wild body changes in the scene where he entertains the boy.  Shameful the opportunities missed in this scene, although it does introduce the secret experiment Stagg is working on.


Metamorpho discovers that the boy is spying on the experiment, but not of his own volition.  He has been programmed to do this, against his will.


Rex breaks the kid’s programming, and they take down the bad guys.  Sapphire and Java are around, but do little.  And though the end of the story implies that Randall will continue as a supporting character, we never see him again.  Simon Stagg does not like spies, programmed or not.



Action 414 – Superman vs Superman, and Metamorpho in Morality Mountain


Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson create in interesting opponent for Superman in Action 414 (July 1972).


Gregory Reed is introduced, an actor who plays Superman.  The name is reminiscent of George Reeves, who had played Superman on television, but died.  Superman comes to his rescue during a filming accident, but Reeves bitterly resents the hero.


I do enjoy the scene where Reed removes the costume and padding, emphasizing that he does not really look like the hero.


Reeves has gotten into the occult, and has had a spell cast, which transfers their minds, putting him in Superman’s body.

It is then that we learn that Reed was horribly disfigured in an accident, and has been forced to play Superman ever since, which has driven him close to insane.


Reed transfers the bodies back, so Superman can save them, as Reed cannot use the powers properly.  Superman has nothing but pity for the man, who asks for help as the story ends.

And Reed will get help, and return throughout the 70s as a minor supporting character in the Superman books.


Metamorpho concludes his first adventure in this book, by Haney, Calnan and Anderson.


Rex Mason does not come off as particularly competent in this story, barely able to keep Sapphire and Java safe, while Simon argues with his would-be killer.


It’s even Simon Stagg who clues Metamorpho in to what chemical to become to neutralize the threat.  One Metamorpho does this, taking down the bad guy is a snap.

A good try at a Metamorpho story, but not quite on par.

Action 413 – the Superman voodoo doll, and Metamorpho begins


A voodoo doll proves troublesome for Superman in the Dorfman, Swan and Anderson story in Action 413 (June 1972).


Superman suffers from the attacks of Dr. Mystir, who has a voodoo doll he uses to affect Superman, preventing him from flying, pinning him to the ground.


Dr.Mystir’s actions draw the attention of Lex Luthor, who dons a disguise to approach the man.


It doesn’t take long for Luthor to figure out that the voodoo is a fake, and the mystic is really Brainiac, using a high tech device.  As Superman tries to deal with a supernatural problem, Luthor and Brainiac figure they have free run.

Brainiac explains how he ordered a decommissioned Superman robot to rebuild his body, after he had been dismantled by Superman.  The robots had all ceased to function in the polluted environment, as recounted earlier in the year in World’s Finest.


But Superman’s super-hearing clued him in to Brainiac’s scheme, and he uses super-vibrations to nullify the doll’s effect.  Brainiac appears to disintegrate himself and Luthor at the end of the story, but they both return in a few months.


Metamorpho begins as a back-up series, by Bob Haney, John Calnan and Murphy Anderson.  The art is a passable match for the distinct look of the series.  Metamorpho, along with his girlfriend Sapphire Stagg, her father Simon, and his caveman bodyguard Java, had all last appeared in an issue of Brave and the Bold a couple of months earlier.


In this story Simon Stagg is approached by an old college friend, to help fund “Morality Mountain, ” with its carvings of the seven deadly sins.


He brings Stagg and his crew there, showing off the work done so far.  He brings Stagg into a separate room, announcing that he intends to kill him.


And we see that Sapphire, Java and Metamorpho are in even more danger.

The story concludes next issue.


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