Posts tagged ‘John Fischetti’

Action 156 – Lois Lane becomes Superwoman, Tommy Tomorrow meets the Metal Men, and the Rainbow Man lights up the sky


Lois Lane takes on the identity of Superwoman, but the appearance of Supergirl, in the Al Plastino story in Action 156 (May 1951).


The story begins as Lois displays her usual respect for authority, heading right through a door labelled “no admittance, ” and turning on a machine whose function she has no idea of.  But you have to give her credit.  When all the electrical charges start blasting her she neither screams nor runs, just wonders what the effect will be.


Of course, it endows Lois with powers much like Superman, so she adopts the identity of Superwoman again.  This time, she dons a blond wig, in the hopes of keeping her identity a secret.

Before the actual introduction of Supergirl at the end of the 1950s, there would be quite a few try-out variations of the character, such as this story.


Luthor has been spying on Lois, and discovers that she is Superwoman.  He uses his machine to give one of his men powers, and dresses him up as Superman, using him to lure Lois into a trap.


It’s a complicated but entertaining story, with all the fakes and phony identities.  Luthor doesn’t get a lot to do, but Lois is clearly the star of the story.  Superman reveals how he knew her identity – the scent of her perfume.  That’s almost romantic.


Years before the introduction of the Metal Men, the name would be used in this Tommy Tomorrow story, by Swan and Fischetti, for the inhabitants of a planet populated by robots.


When rumour reaches the Planeteers of this robot world, Tommy is sent out to investigate, as they fear an invasion of killer robots.  Tommy finds the world, without much difficulty.  The robots consider Tommy, and other humans, as weak and inferior creations.


But as the story progresses, Tommy and the robots work together, and gain mutual admiration and respect for each other.  In fact, as the story ends, Tommy lies to his superiors, keeping the robot world off the charts, in order to protect them from his own people.


The Rainbow Man is back again, in a story by Bob Brown, which puts the villain back in the urban setting he is more suited to.


The colour wheel seems to short out, sending a kaleidoscope of colours into the sky, neatly warning Vigilante that his old enemy is back.  Kind of like a reverse Bat-Signal, announcing a villain’s intent.


The story isn’t bad, but neither Vigilante nor Stuff is given anything great to do – the Vigilante-cycle gets to star.


Action 149 – Jor-El and Lara’s courtship, Tommy Tomorrow in the movies, and the debut of the Vigilante-cycle


Action 149 (Oct. 50) has the earliest version of the romance between Jor-El and Lara.  A version that has been entirely dropped from continuity, for very good reasons.


Al Plastino handles the art as a rocket lands on Earth, apparently just outside Metropolis. Lois Lane is covering the story, and finds three Kryptonian discs in the wreckage, which just happen to record how Jor-El and Lara came to be married.  Figuring that this will give her insights into winning Superman, she plays the discs.

The whole story is just shameful, so sexist.  Lara is portrayed as a dim-witted, love-sick woman, and Jor-El her brilliant and patient beau.  The first disc has Lara trying to win Jor-El through cooking, which Lois emulates, although it turns out disastrously.


Lara failed in her culinary attempts as well, and then set out to clean Jor-El’s lab, while wearing what appears to be an evening gown.


Lara’s cleaning winds up causing a fire, and Jor-El decides to marry her, because she is so incompetent and needy.  Wow.  That’s just.  I’m so glad this story fell out of canon.


The Tommy Tomorrow series jumps ahead to being set in 2050, a round hundred years from the present day, and a much more comfortable amount of time in the future than forty years.  Swan and Fischetti do the art on this story, which is really much the same as almost every Hollywood based story, despite it’s science fiction locales.


Some one is sabotaging the production of a movie, and Tommy is assigned to find the culprit.  Along the way,he acts to prevent acts of sabotage, all of which gets caught on film.


In the end, Tommy stops the one trying to halt the production, and winds up starring in a hit film.


Dan Barry takes the gradual development of the Vigilante’s motorcycle a dramatic step forward with the introduction of the Vigilante-cycle in this story.


An inventor presents Vigilante with a new, upgraded version of his bike.  He is hoping to make money selling copies, with the Vigilante’s endorsement.  There is a rival businessman, trying to buy the rights to the bike for less than they are worth.  He insists the cycle is unsafe, so Vigilante runs a series of highly publicized tests.  The rival tries to sabotage these.


That’s the plot in a nutshell.  The rest of the story demonstrates the impressive array of abilities this cycle has – everything but flight, though it can do rocket-powered leaps.  A successful “upgrade” of the series, in an increasingly technophiliac age.


Action 146 – Superman vs the Statue of Liberty, Tommy Tomorrow creates rotation, and the Vigilante finds the ship in a desert


It’s really curious that a generic Superman image was chosen for the cover of Action 146 (July 1950), considering the amount of dynamic visuals in the story.


Stone statues begin to come to life throughout Metropolis, in this story by Woolfolk, Boring and Kaye.  Luthor is the one behind it.


Luthor brings the Statue of Liberty to life, to battle Superman.  He has quite a time with it, not wanting to destroy the monument, and finally manages to bind it to its pedestal.


As a refreshing variation, Luthor brings to life a statue of Lois Lane, and endangers it, distracting Superman as he kidnaps the real woman.  The story culminates in Superman battling a giant statue of himself.  The ending is far too quick and simple, though.


Tommy Tomorrow works to make uninhabitable worlds safe for settlement in this story by Binder, Swan and Fischetti.  It opens showing that there is dire need for this Planteers mission, as colonists have been stuck on worlds where they can barely survive. You have to wonder about why they were settled there in the first place.


The story is fun, and I love Curt Swan’s art, but the scene where they give a planetoid rotation using their space ships is just goofy.


I was struck by this page.  The lightning world, and the wold beasts.  It’s two different worlds, but the juxtaposition brings to mind Korbal, the planet of the lightning beasts, which appeared much later in Legion of Super-Heroes stories by the same team.


The Vigilante and Stuff are on the trail of another legend in this story by Joe Samachson and Dan Barry.


The mysterious ship int he desert, an actual legend, is called the Donna Louise in this story.  An expedition is mounted to find it, and Vigilante rides a special sort of tank-cycle to navigate the desert sands.  The Fiddler, not seen in many years, returns in this tale.  The ship is a fake, as is the treasure found on it, and the Fiddler is pulling a huge scam.


The story clips along, lots of action and twists, and great art throughout.  One of the best Vigilante tales.


Action 142 – the world learns of kryptonite, and Tommy Tomorrow makes a wish


A generic cover for Action 142 (March 1950).  Odd, you’d think they would have wanted to feature the kryptonite on this one, but I guess not.


Schwartz, Boring and Kaye follow up the previous story, as a homeless man discovers the missing piece of synthetic kryptonite.  He does not know what it is, but sees the incredible effect it has on Superman.


Oddly, it’s Superman himself who lets the police, and the press, know about the existence of kryptonite, and the deadly effect it has on him.  But then, he has to tell them something.  The man has teamed up with a group of criminals to rob the city blind, leaving Superman lying on the ground whenever he tries to stop them.


Once again, this almost threatens to expose his identity.  The victory comes simply because the synthetic kryptonite loses its radioactive power, becoming simply a green rock by the time Lois holds it out to Clark Kent.


Binder, Swan and Fischetti give a solid science-fiction adventure to Tommy Tomorrow in this story, which also introduces his friend and eternal sidekick, Brent Wood.


They are pursuing a felon, who winds up wishing a world into existence, a world where anything he wishes for comes true.

act_142_006 It takes Tommy a while to figure out how to defeat this guy, who can literally wish anything into existence.  Tommy simply wishes for the planet to disappear.

Action 141 – Luthor creates kryptonite, Tommy Tomorrow on Training World, and Zatara ends


Kryptonite is at the core of the Superman adventure in Action 141 (Feb. 50), the first, but not the last, time it appears in this book.


Alvin Schwartz, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye start the story off like many others.  Lex Luthor kidnaps Lois Lane, yawn, and in order to free her, Superman has to fly around retrieving unusual things that Luthor wants.


But what Luthor winds up making is a synthetic kryptonite.  The story briefly flashes back to the destruction of Krypton, and the creation of kryptonite, which had recently been told in more detail in the pages of Superman.  Although the stuff created by Luthor in this story is not real kryptonite, it’s close enough to be a major problem for Superman.


Luthor secretly gives Lois a pair of kryptonite laced gloves.  When Clark Kent collapses, Luthor believes he has trapped Superman.  Because, you know, he did.  But Clark uses judo on the bad guy, and he and Lois wind up thinking Clark faked the fall.

A piece of the synthetic kryptonite has gone missing by the end of the story.  It’s as if to say, don’t worry!  We will be using this again!  And again.  And again.  And again and again and again.


Tommy Tomorrow is sent to spy on some cadets about to complete their training in this Binder/Swan/Fischetti story.


It’s pretty straightforward, but the art is very nice.  And the concept of a “training world,” parts of which duplicate the environments of various worlds the Planeteers patrol, is a good one.


Zatara gets Joe Kubert on his final adventure, 141 issues after his series began. Since the introduction of Tommy Tomorrow, his strip had become only an occasional one, and even the end of this story implies there will be more down the line.


He goes out on a really silly little tale. A fight breaks out between two men, and spreads to take in much of the town.  Zatara uses his magic to get people to calm the fuck down.


In the end, the fight itself proves to be a simple misunderstanding.

Such an unexciting note to go out on.  But really, Zatara’s best days ended way back, when Guardineer left the strip.  Zatara would not appear again until the 60s, as the object of a multi-book quest by his daughter, Zatanna, in her introductory storyline.  But later down the road, he would have stories set between this point and then, as he was worked into the childhood of Superboy, in the pages of DC Comics Presents, and later, Batman, in his own book and Detective.

Despite the duration of this series, outlasting every other strip that debuted alongside Superman, Zatara would never again get a series, a one-shot, or even a solo story.  Anytime his origin is retold, it is done in conjunction with his famous daughter.

Action 136 – Superman’s super-ego, and Tommy Tomorrow finds Argo City?


Ok, I know this cover.  Action 136 (Sept. 49) is a take-off of something famous.  But what is it from?  Was this a cover of Life?  Vogue?  If you recognize it, please let me know!


It’s of more interest to me than the story inside, frankly.  Finger, Boring and Kaye tell an early version of a common tale, which felt old the first time it went around.  Superman does all sorts of odd things, which appear to be self-aggrandizing.


Lois finds herself getting increasingly disenchanted with the hero, instead of assuming that he probably has some good reason for the unusual things he is doing.  He is Superman, after all.


And, in fact, he had a very good reason.  He was constructing a very complex device to lure away a meteor shower before it did huge damage to Earth.  Gotta learn to trust this guy, Lois.


The Tommy Tomorrow story, by Binder, Swan and Kaye, has the Planeteer colonel out choosing interesting objects as the Seven Wonders of Space.  It’s not a great story, and most of what he chooses is, frankly, not that memorable.  But two things stand out.


Both appear on the same page.  The first is a domed ghost city, floating randomly through space.  Its dome was shattered at some point in the past by meteors.  This is unquestionably Argo City, where Supergirl was born, despite the fact that it would be a decade before Argo City was thought of.  Tommy Tomorrow makes no mention of the kryptonite radiation that killed the inhabitants, but it’s been so many years (or not, he’s still in 1989) that the radiation would have depleted.

The second is a planet of intelligent plant life.  This is J586, a planet first “seen” in Green Lantern, and later in Swamp Thing, Starman, and other comics.

Action 134 – Super-Cowboy, cheap travel to Mars, and Vigilante vs the Four Horsemen of Villainy


William Woolfolk scripts the Superman story in Action 134 (July 1949), with art by Boring and Kaye.


In what very much feels like the opening to a late 50 or early 60s story, a man comes to the Daily Planet, asking for help running a crusading rural newspaper. Perry White thinks this is a great idea, and orders Lois and Clark to come with him.


The story actually deals very little with the rebuilding of the newspaper, and dives instead into the western environment.  Superman may not ever put on a cowboy hat, but he does spend most of the story dealing with cowboy-type problems, like rescuing Lois from a stampeding herd.


Binder, Swan and Fischetti deal with the economics of 1989 in this tale.  Mars needs workers, but the price of travel there is prohibitive.  A man is selling contained space suits, advertised as being able to make the entire voyage for a very low price, and gets many takers.


The men get stranded partway there, as the suits are not even close to being able to do the trip.  Tommy, as colonel in the Planeteers, captains the ship that rescues them.  But the men accuse him of not caring about their situation, when he announces that he will return them to Earth.


So Tommy finds a variety of reasons to keep moving his ship towards Mars, including fighting a space dragon.  The creatures ability to fly in a vacuum is ascribed to ether-currents.  Whatever they are.  The other Planeteers on the ship work to repair and upgrade the suits, and Tommy releases the men close enough to Mars that they can complete the journey.


Vigilante has to face a team of murderous thieves in this story by Gardner Fox and Dan Barry.


The Four Horsemen of Villainy wear identical black garb, and for a while, people think there is only one man, capable of astounding feats.  People are so frightened that Greg Sanders finds his show has been cancelled.  He is pretty mad about this, as he and Stuff travelled all the way out there, so he gets into his Vigilante costume and starts tracking the Horsemen.  He figures out that there have to be more than one man.


The climax leaves Stuff to the side, as Vigilante fights and defeats all four of the horsemen.

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