Posts tagged ‘Legion of Super-Heroes’

Action 591 – Superman vs Superboy

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Keith Williams joins John Byrne on Action 591 (Aug. 87), the third part of a four-part story that clarifies the relationship between the Superboy from Legion of Super-Heroes, and Superman.

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The story picks up from the previous issue of Superman, as Superboy freezes Blok, Brainiac 5, Invisible Kid and Sun Boy, taking them to the Time Trapper, but leaving Superman free.

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We have the story of Superboy and the Legion explained a different way, by the Time Trapper.  The Trapper took a small slice of the newly-formed universe, and molded it to his own liking.  When the Legion believed they were travelling back in time to meet Superboy, they were really travelling into the Time Trapper’s pocket universe, and meeting the Superboy he had created.

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Superman winds up in the pocket universe, and is discovered by Pete Ross.  He thinks this is Superboy under the influence of red kryptonite, and brings him back to the Kent home, where Superman meets two people who are the Kents, but not his parents.

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Superboy shows up, and a fight breaks out, with Krypto getting into the fray. Superman notes how much more powerful Superboy is, with the plus of an invulnerable cape.

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Krypto sacrifices his powers and intelligence to retrieve some gold kryptonite, in a failed attempt to save his master from the evil Superman.

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Pa Kent tries every kryptonite there is against Superman, but they are powerless on his physiology, being from a different universe.  Superboy admits that he wanted Superman to beat him, hoping that together they could defeat the Time Trapper.

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But in the end, the Legionnaires convince Superman not to come along with them for their final battle with the Time Trapper.

This sets the new relationship between Superman and the Legion, which will exist, with some minor modifications, until Zero Hour.

 

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 392 – the powerless Super-Son, and Legion of Super-Heroes ends

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The Super-Sons get equal play on the cover of Action 392 (Sept. 70), but inside it’s really Superman and his son that are the focus of this Kanigher/Andru/Esposito tale.

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Following up on last issue, Clark Jr no longer has powers, after his father exposed him to gold kryptonite. Despite this, he continues to wear his costume, even though it simply highlights his lack of super-ness.

But you have to wonder why he wears while out on a date, when he doesn’t have the powers to back it up.  Public humiliation is rarely a big turn on.

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Superman winds up getting attacked by thieves with kryptonite.  His son comes to his aid, and because his powers have been removed, his weakness has gone as well, and he succeeds at both rescuing his father, and capturing the villains.

As a reward, Superman brings his son to Kandor, and together they undergo his rite of passage to adulthood.  But the boy is unaware that his father has also rigged the ceremonial bracelets, transferring his powers to his son.

Though Superman is left powerless at the end of this story, when the Super-Sons return in a semi-regular series in World’s Finest Comics in a couple of years, Superman has his powers again.

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Bates, Mortimer and Abel bring the Legion’s series in Action Comics to a close with this story.

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Saturn Girl and Princess Projectra return from a mission, only to find that no one knows who they are.  Karate Kid insists that they have never been members of the Legion, and even introduce them to male counterparts of themselves.  Saturn Girl wears her new, 70s bikini outfit in this story, which looks much better on her than on Saturn Lad.

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The two women are imprisoned, but use their flight rings to burst free of their bubble-cell.

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Projectra figures out that the whole thing is a hoax, which Saturn Girl must be in on. And, indeed, it is.  All put together by Brainiac 5, to test Projectra’s mettle, after the computer declares that Projectra is likely to have a breakdown.  It seems rather insulting, but throughout the 70s Projectra would lapse into a few stress-induced comas, so the computer was not wrong.

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The story, and the run, end with Mon-El being sworn in to replace Karate Kid as leader.  The “adult advisor” is there, which must be Marla Latham, although the figure is so tiny it might be Ultra Boy, as their costumes are basically identical.

From here, the Legion of Super-Heroes move down to becoming a sporadic back-up in the pages of Superboy.  The team all but vanishes, and it was only the avid fan base that brought about their return.

Action 391 – Superman’s useless son, and Element Lad pushed to the limit

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Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito begin a 2-part early adventure of the Super-Sons in Action 391 (Aug. 70).

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Batman and his son have only supporting roles in this story, which largely deals with Clark’s frustration about his son’s immaturity.  As usual, the mothers of the boys are not clearly shown.  The Super-Sons stories began as “Imaginary Stories” in the Superman comics, although as yet they were not labelled “Super-Sons.”

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Both Superman and Batman act somewhat out of character in this tale. Batman is a casual braggart, scoring points on Superman through the actions of their children.

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Batman Jr is a bit nicer, while Superman Jr does his best, despite not having good control of his powers, and being impulsive.

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Yeah, that whole lack of control thing can be a good excuse sometimes.

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Superman takes his son to the Fortress of Solitude just before his 14th birthday, showing him the statues of their ancestors, as well as Kandor.  He has prepared a Superman Jr robot, to help train him, but the boy thinks the robot is intended as a replacement, and they get into a big, destructive battle in the Fortress.

As the story ends, Superman exposes his son to gold kryptonite.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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Bridwell, Mortimer and Abel conclude their Legion Espionage Squad story in this issue.  Saturn Girl is recognized as a telepath from Titan, by another woman from her planet – but not as Legionnaire.  So her infiltration proves successful.

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She learns the government plans, which she relays to the Legionnaires who are with the rebels.  While the rebel leader is a Dark Circle pawn, most of the rebels themselves are not, and the Legion decide which of the rebels should be the new leader.

Element Lad pretty much single-handedly overthrows the government forces, though it exhausts him, and later uses his powers to make it look like the rebel leader has lied to his followers about the government’s treasure.

So in the course of this story, the Legion not only overthrow a government, they also frame a rebel leader, and instal a person of their own choosing to rule the planet.

No wonder the Dark Circle oppose them.

 

 

Action 390 – Superman running scared, and the Legion Espionage Squad in action

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Bates, Swan and Roussos make Superman turn chicken in Action 390 (July 1970).

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Superman gets chased by a mechanical bomb, which defies all his attempts to evade or destroy it.  He even flies through time, bringing the machine along with him to the explosion of Krakatoa, but it has no effect.

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Superman determines that the bomb is of Kryptonian origin.  Contacting the Kandorians, he discovers that it was built by Jor-El, and is attuned to his brainwaves, and capable of following him anywhere.  Eventually, Superman figures out that it is not so much a bomb, as a device designed to scare him to death.

It was designed as a weapon against alien invasion, and powered by the fear of those it pursues.  Superman had encountered it as a baby in his father’s lab, and it scared him then.  His adult reaction is a result of those memories.  All Superman has to do to deactivate the device is to stop being scared, which he does.

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The Dark Circle are behind the events in this story by Bridwell, Mortimer and Abel, although they do not appear in person.  They are behind the troubles brewing on Lahum, where rebels seek to overthrow a militaristic dictator.  The mission is handled by the Legion Espionage Squad, which is under the command of Chameleon Boy.  He selects Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Element Lad, Karate Kid and Timber Wolf as his team.  Proty II briefly appears, his final appearance until the 80s.

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The Legionnaires infiltrate both sides of the dispute.  With the rebels, they pretend to have powerful weapons that can stop the government’s android army in their tracks.  In reality, the weapons do nothing, it’s Element Lad’s powers that do all the work.

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Saturn Girl heads to the capital, to get a job at the presidential palace.  But one of the workers there recognizes her…

The story concludes in the next issue.

 

Action 389 – Superman turns jock, and vengeance against an unknown Legionnaire

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Leo Dorfman joins Curt Swan and George Roussos for Action 389 (June 1970).

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Clark Kent heads out to write a story about spring training for the baseball team in Metropolis, when he suddenly decides to start playing as Superman.

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Over the next few days, Superman takes up a variety of sports, always sending some piece of equipment high into the sky.  Jimmy Olsen thinks Superman is just showing off.  After all their years together, Jimmy should know better.

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What appeared to be pointless actions were actually a clever plan to forestall an alien invasion, by using the sports equipment to send false information to the alien’s sensors.

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Cary Bates takes their reins of the Legion of Super-Heroes series with this issue, joining Win Mortimer and Jack Abel.

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The story deals with a severed robotic head, seeking vengeance against the Legionnaire who decapitated him.  The best sequence is the flashback, as the robot experiences the effects of the various members’ powers, without seeing the Legionnaires themselves.

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It turns out his severed circuits are faulty.  He saw a composite formed of both Cosmic Boy and Chemical King, so he had been hunting a member who did not actually exist.  The robot tries to blow itself up in anger, but Shrinking Violet managed to get into the head and deactivate it.

Not a mind-blowing story, but decent. And it uses Chemical King, who rarely got featured.

Action 388 – Sgt. Rock fights Superman over Lois Lane

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Bates, Swan and Roussos attempt to re-capture the joyous insanity of the early 60s Superman stories in Action 388 (May 1970).

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The story, such as it is, has Superman come back to Earth after a mission in space, and find that everything has turned crazy.  Sgt. Rock is his romantic rival for Lois Lane.  Every panel holds bizarre details, which are occasionally humourous.  There are also a few cameos – note Enemy Ace flying by in the last panel above.

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Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bizarro all appear in the tale, though none are the villain of the story.

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The Legion make a cameo, in probably the most serious couple of panels, as Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl warn Superman that Lois Lane is an idiot.

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There is an explanation, of sorts. Superman has wound up on a weird mirror-world, thanks to a bumbling scientist.  They both return to the real Earth at story’s end.

It’s not a bad story. It’s not as funny as they would have liked.  If anything, it shows what an achievement the early 60s Superman stories were.

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