Posts tagged ‘Krypton’

Action 500 – the life story of Superman

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Action 500 (Oct. 79) is an oversize special, which does a good job of providing a fairly comprehensive story of Superman.

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte choose a big public tour of a new Superman pavilion as the framing device for the tale.  The various rooms give focus to different parts of the story.

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There is also a machine at the exposition which draws out Superman’s memories, so that people can enjoy his grief as he recalls Jor-El and Lara, and his early life on Krypton. But a mystery villain is making use of the device, channeling the memories into a Superman duplicate he is creating.

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The creation of the Phantom Zone is referenced, as well as Krypto on a test rocket.

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The Kents are shown, finding the boy and raising him, both through his Superbaby phase, and later Superboy.

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The story often uses exact swipes of scenes and images from earlier stories.  The death of Pa Kent duplicates the first telling of the event.

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As does the farewell message from the people of Smallville.

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Clark Kent’s life in Metropolis is shown, getting the job from Perry White at the Daily Planet, and working with Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.  Morgan Edge’s takeover is related, with Steve Lombard making an appearance.

Supergirl gets her own room in the pavilion, and a montage of her career.  Other aspects are really downplayed.  The Legion of Super-Heroes appear, in their current line-up, in the Superboy room, but are not talked about.

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Still, Lori Lemaris does make it into the triptych of his loves, along with Lois and Lana.

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The villain room is the most notable – for its absences.  Aside from Luthor and Brainiac, only the Toyman and Parasite are shown.  Brainiac has his story told in depth, as it relates to Kandor.

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The mystery villain turns out to be Lex Luthor, which is not that much of a surprise.

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And the duplicate gives himself away when he relates Luthor’s origin from Luthor’s own, very slanted, view.

As a story, this leaves something to be desired.  But as a Superman compendium, it works.

Action 365 – along the flight to cremation

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Action 365 (July 1968) contains the penultimate chapter of Dorfman, Andru and Esposito’s Virus X saga.

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Sadly, there is little that actually happens in this issue.  It begins by recapping the story so far, and then turns into a reviewof Superman’s life, as it all passes through his mind as he travels through space.  We get Jor-El and Lara sending him off from Krypton, and teh Kents finding and raising him.  Lana Lang is introduced, and the origin of LexLuthor retold.

As Superman’s body passes Lexor, the people rise in revolt against Lex for killing Superman.  Ardora tries to get the mob to calm down, but I expect she had some rough days ahead of her.  In fact, we do not see Ardora again until the 80s, although Lexor appears in World’s Finest tale in the mid-70s.

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Superman recalls his time with the Legion of Super-Heroes, and later Batman and Robin, and the Justice League.  Lori Lemaris, and then his time at the Daily Planet, with Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, and Lois Lane.

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Brainiac, Kandor and Supergirl get a page devoted to their tale.

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He passes Bizarro World, and they shower him with all the forms of kryptonite.  Just before he plunges into the heart of a star, Supergirl flies out Lois, Lana and Lori, to watch and mourn.

 

Action 281 – the doctor who went to Krypton, and Krypto shows his intelligence

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The cover story of Action 281 (Oct. 61) is an odd, and unbalanced tale by Bernstein and Plastino.

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The story begins on Paul Pratt, a thief who has a device that allows him to travel huge distances instantaneously, which he uses to create unshakable alibis for his thefts.

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He even brags to Superman about what he is doing!  Clearly, this guy will be the centre of the tale.

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Nope. Instead, it swings over to introduce an Earth doctor, who was working on a method of cross-planet communication.  He reached Jor-El, and together they devised a way to teleport him to Krypton.  Jor-El hoped to work with him to evacuate more Kryptonians to Earth. Where they would presumably rule like gods.

While he was there, baby Kal-El fell and injured his ankle, which the doctor treated.

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Then, back in the present, the man explains that he suspects Pratt is using a variation of his teleportation machine.  Superman then rounds up Pratt.  He likely could have done this anyway, without the doctor and his backstory.  The doctor never appears again.

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Lesla-Lar’s evil schemes suffer a set-back in this Siegel and Mooney tale.

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While Superman is still clueless about Lesla-Lar impersonating his cousin, Krypto figures it out the first time he encounters her – by her different scent.  Good dog!  Krypto sees that the real Supergirl is in Kandor, where she has been enlisted to play herself in a movie.

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Krypto even manages to work a ray that switches the two women back to their proper place.  Who’s a good boy?

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Superman then takes Supergirl, who once again has no powers, to the past. Her powers do return in a time period before she lost them.  For science reasons, I expect.  Anyway, Superman leaves her for a while in Salem, where he helpful actions get interpreted as witchcraft.

Superman brings her back to the present, hoping that the recharge would stick. But once again, Supergirl is left powerless.

The story continues in the next issue.

 

 

Action 252 – Metallo debuts, Congorilla leads the attack, and Supergirl debuts

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Two major debuts in Action 252 (May 1959), and though Superman is displayed on the cover, the story represented by the image is not even his!

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Superman’s story, by Bernstein and Plastino, introduces Metallo.  There had been an earlier version, Metalo, who faced Superboy, but that character made his only appearance before the introduction of kryptonite.

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John Corben, a journalist, embezzler and thief, gets into a car accident, but is found by a benevolent doctor.

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Horribly injured, John wakes to discover that he has been given a robotic body, although on the surface he still appears normal.  He no longer has a functioning heart, and must be powered by a radioactive substance.  Uranium is keeping him alive, but the doctor refers to another thing that could be used, before collapsing.

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Corben gets a job at the Daily Planet, where he tries to romance Lois Lane.

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In the evenings, he makes the most out of the strength his robot body gives him, raiding places for the uranium he needs to stay alive.  The superhuman nature of the thefts prompt the media to give him the nickname Metallo.

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Corben happens to look identical to Clark Kent, and also Superman (obviously), a trait never ascribed again to the character.  He learns that kryptonite will also power him, and searches for it at a Superman exhibit being set up.  With the kryptonite in his “heart,” Superman is powerless to stop him

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It’s all a great set-up.  But the story ends far too abruptly, as Metallo collapses and dies.  You gotta wonder why they were so determined to prevent good villains from returning.

It was not until the 70s that Metallo came back, as Corben’s brother.  In the late 80s, when John Byrne rebooted the Superman series, he brought back John Corben, and was pretty faithful to his origin.

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Bernstein also wrote the Congorilla story in this issue, with art by Howard Sherman.  Congo Bill is leading a trek across the desert, but finds that the fort at the oasis has been taken over by people who plan to rob the passing tourists.  Apparently desert treks are really the in thing.

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Bill gets imprisoned in the fort, but uses his ring to switch bodies and become Congorilla, and leads an assault on the fort, freeing himself, and the other prisoners. One of the better Congorilla stories.

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And in the third and final spot, Supergirl’s series launches with the debut of her character, by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.

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Superman sees a rocket crash outside Metropolis, and, investigating, finds a young girl dressed in a matching outfit.  She claims to be from Krypton as well, though Superman is highly suspicious.

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She explains how a chunk of Krypton, at this point containing only “a street of homes,” was ejected intact during the planet’s destruction.  Her father lead the survivors in laying lead shielding on the ground, to prevent the kryptonite from killing them.  There is no mention of the city being domed, the atmosphere just “came along with them.”  Friendly atmosphere!  The girl was born on this floating neighbourhood, but sent away to Earth after meteors pierced the lead shielding.  Her parents had observed Kal-El, and sent her, in a matching outfit, to join him.

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Only as her tale ends does Kara actually start using names.  Her parents were Zor-El and Alura, the brother, and sister-in-law, of Jor-El.  She is Superman’s cousin.

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Having finally found a living relative, Superman does the tender thing, forcing her to adopt a disguise, and leaving her at an orphanage in a different city to be raised. I guess she should be glad he didn’t send her to a work house.  She chooses the name Linda Lee.

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Supergirl’s series would run as a back-up feature in Action Comics for more than a decade, and would see her leave the orphanage, get adopted, and move from being Superman’s “secret weapon” to a publicly acknowledged hero in her own right.

 

Action 238 – King Krypton, the super gorilla

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Binder, Boring and Kaye introduce another super-ape in Action 238 (March 1958).

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Once again there is a super-powered ape running wild, and Superman heads to investigate.  Unlike Super-Ape, King Krypton cannot speak.  He gets his name from Jimmy Olsen, after Superman discovers that the ape arrived on Earth by a rocket from Krypton.

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The surprisingly white African natives have fashioned spears out of kryptonite to keep King Krypton at bay, but those spears also take down Superman.  The two Kryptonians, man and beast, are pitted against each other in an arena.

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At the climax of the battle, King Krypton sacrifices himself to save Superman, and in doing so reverts to his human form.  He had been a scientist on Krypton, working on an evolution ray, which backfired and turned him into an ape.  He had been shot into space in the hopes that cosmic rays might cure him,but drifted until he reached Earth.

Action 223 – Jor-El – the Superman of Krypton

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Jor-El gets to star in the lead story in Action 223 (Dec. 56), by Hamilton, Boring and Kaye.

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Superman goes hunting in space for remnants of Krypton, and finds some good chunks that contain his father’s lab and journal.  At this point, the notion that the planet turned to kryptonite upon exploding has clearly not been solidified, as Superman has no trouble in the ruins.

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The rest of the story is Jor-El’s journal, and we see the scientist discover the impending destruction of his world.

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Jor-El picks Earth as the destination for his escape rocket, after re-creating its gravity in a valley, and discovering that it will endow Kryptonians with super-powers.  The idea that sunlight is the key to the powers has not yet been introduced.

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Jor-El even gets to use these powers to fight crime and protect the Earth, preventing some Kryptonian thieves from stealing his rocket plans to invade Earth.

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Lara is completely side-lined in this story, just hovering around as Jor-El sends his son to safety at the climax of the tale.

This was the first story to feature Jor-El and life on Krypton, but it would spawn many more.

 

 

Action 218 – the Super-Ape from Krypton, and Tommy Tomorrow returns to the Interplanetary Aquarium

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The first of a number of Kryptonian apes to come to Earth, the Super-Ape from Krypton debuted in a story by Boring and Kaye, in Action 218 (July 1956).

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Reports come in to the Planet about a flying ape.  Superman heads out to investigate, and finds the rumours true.  The ape can not only fly, but also talk.

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The ape is from Krypton as well, sent, along with his family, in a series of test rockets by others planning to flee the exploding planet.

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People are out to capture and exploit the ape.  Lois Lane gets involved, if only to get captured.  But in a change of pace she winds up freeing Super-Ape, who frees her in turn, with Superman not needed for his usual rescue.

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At the end of the story, Superman flies the ape to the planet where the rest of his family is, and we never see this character again.  But not too far down the road would come King Krypton, and later Beppo, the Super-Monkey, both of whom have their antecedents in this character.

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Tommy Tomorrow and Brent Wood go to check out the Interplanetary Aquarium, in this story by Otto Binder and Jim Mooney, which happens to share the name of the first Tommy Tomorrow story, also written by Binder.  Considering that he wrote both stories, it really would have been nice to have Tommy acknowledge that his career in the Planeteers began with his assignment at the Aquarium, or that he was going to go see how it had done in the intervening years.

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And actually, with Mooney on the art, this really doesn’t even look like the same place.  Not nearly as cool as Swan’s conception.

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The story has one of the fish turn out to be an intelligent alien scout, operating to pave the way for an invasion, but Tommy figures out the scheme.

 

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