Posts tagged ‘Leo Dorfman’

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

The story concludes in the next issue.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 413 – the Superman voodoo doll, and Metamorpho begins

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

The story concludes next issue.

 

Action 411 – the Fortress of Solitude discovered

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Superman’s Fortress of Solitude is the centre of attention again, in Action 411 (April 1972).

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Superman discovers that the oil explorers have found the door to his Fortress, although they have no idea what it is.  They are working to open it.

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The head of the company insists that his lease on the area gives him the rights to whatever is found, and he seals off access to the Fortress, while trying a variety of methods to penetrate it.

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Both Superman and Supergirl, who has her own wing there, are worried about their secrets being exposed, and so they sabotage the oil exploration rigs and boats, until staying becomes such a financial loss that the company just leaves.

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Superman does offer to open the door for them before they go, and reveals a plaque on an ice wall.  Enough to satisfy the people, but nor enough to maintain interest.  Superman constructed this fake door and wall directly in front of the real one during the night.

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From now on, the door and key are both concealed behind a hologram of ice.

A really acceptable update, with the increased activity in the far north by the time this story was written.

Action 404 – Superman empowers Caesar

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Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson continue on the Superman stories in Action 404 (Sept. 71).

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This story deals with Rufus Caesar, a millionaire who idolized Superman, and dreamed of having his powers. This became an obsession, and he spent a huge amount developing a machine that would transfer Superman’s powers to himself.

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Superman is tricked into the machine, and fights against it at first.  But then he realizes that Caesar will not be able to absorb all his energy, and allows it to flow, waiting for the backlash.

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And, indeed, the power overloads and shorts out Caesar, leaving him a vegetable.

The final couple of panels are the first appearance on Morgan Edge in this book.  Edge runs Galaxy Communications, which had bought the Daily Planet, and made Kent a television reporter.  None of that had been referenced in the pages of Action at all until this issue.

The stories in Action at present, while blessed with Swanderson art, are all fairly basic stories, using little of the supporting cast or villains.

Action 395 – an alien romance for Superman, and Superman’s magical power loss

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There were some major changes in the Superman line in 1970, although that was barely reflected in Action Comics.  On the whole, this book simply saw an absence of the usual villains, but otherwise little change.  Leo Dorfman and Curt Swan were joined by Murphy Anderson on the inks, though, which makes these stories visually exeptional.

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The first of the two stories in this issue sees Superman take Jimmy to his Fortress of Solitude. Jimmy discovers a room that Superman has forbidden him entrance to.

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The room contains the robes of a woman called Althera, whose story comprises the rest of this tale.

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Early in his career, Superman encountered an alien matriarchal race.  They use their advanced technology to enslave others, which puts Superman on the opposing side.

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A romance almost blooms between Superman and their leader, Althera.  She believes that they come from the same race, but she is wrong.  Her people evolved from birds, and there is no chance of Superman being able to pass on his power of flight to them.

And apparently he spent years being upset about this.  So much so that he kept her dress.  Umm.  Ok.

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The back-up story, by the same creative team, is not much better.  Superman has his fortune told, and is given a card for three wishes.

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Superman finds his powers disappearing at inconvenient times, but wishing on the card restores them.

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Absurdly, this is all a ruse by Supergirl, who wanted to see if Superman could be hypnotized into acting against his will.  You likely think I am leaving a lot out in my summary, as it makes little sense. I’m not, not really.  The only thing that makes this issue worthwhile is the art, not the stories.

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 382 – Clark Kent, magician, and the Legion go undercover

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Dorfman, Swan and Roussos put together a fairly enjoyable Superman romp in Action 382 (Nov. 69).

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Clark Kent is writing a piece on a dead magician and friend, Presto.  He is caught by Lois Lane while flying around the room, gathering balloons, and pretends that it was one of Presto’s tricks.  Clark has fun using his powers to entertain Perry White and Jimmy Olsen, calling it magic tricks.

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They Clark him to perform at a charity function. As well as simply using his powers to pull off tricks, he also exposes a criminal in the audience, getting him to cone onstage and revealing his stolen coins.

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Other hoods grab him, thinking his powers are real, and force him to bring a Superman doll to life, to commit crimes for them.  Of course, he just becomes the doll himself.

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Shooter, Mortimer and Abel pit the Legion against super-powered androids in this story.

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A super-powered robot publicly attacks Ultra Boy.  He is referred to as the “former leader,” and Karate Kid has become the new leader, at some point during the last few stories.  Cosvarr is an industrialist selling new super-powered androids, as a defense against the dangerous robots.  Karate Kid is pretty certain Cosvarr is behind the attack on Ultra Boy, and puts together an espionage team.

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Light Lass pretends to be a buyer, while Shrinking Violet sneaks in, and Timber Wolf takes an undercover role as a factory worker.  Timber Wolf messes up, exposing the Legion’s presence, and winds up having to fight Karate Kid.  Light Lass discovers that the androids are drawing their power from a captive Superboy and Mon-El.

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But it’s really Cosvarr’s jilted girlfriend who brings down his scheme.  And his building.  Nukes them both.  That’s one angry girlfriend.

 

Action 381 – Superman on trial at the U.N., and Matter-Eater Lad on a date with Shrinking Violet

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Dorfman, Swan and Roussos conclude their Superman Revenge Squad story in Action 381 (Oct. 69).

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Superman’s belief in his criminal activity appears to have driven him insane. He now begins doing the destructive acts himself, defacing a Persian sculpture, adding his head to Mt. Rushmore, and cutting down all the flags at the U.N., making his own super-flag out of them.

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Superman allows himself to be put on trial, and offers little in the way of defense.  But the flag pole is the giveaway.  Superman has figured out the Revenge Squad’s activities, and is preparing his own attack.

Foiled again!

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A fair amount of members of the Legion of Super-Heroes appear in this story by Shooter, Mortimer and Abel, but it still manages to be small and centred on their everyday lives.  It opens after a meeting.  Brainiac 5 is left on monitor duty, and Chemical King wants to show off his new sky car, giving lifts to Matter-Eater Lad, Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl.  Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl have their own romantic plans.  Karate Kid heads off by himself, so likely to work out.

Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl do not get off at the same place, and Jo mentions that he is staying with his parents.  They are usually shown, and referred to, as living on Rimbor, so we can assume they are in for a visit, and that it why Tinya did not go with him.

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Then we get to see Matter-Eater Lad at home, with his rarely-seen parents.  His father is an abusive drunk and gambler, and the mother does not seem much better.  Their primary interest is in his paycheque, and he walks out on them.

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Coming back to headquarters, he finds Shrinking Violet moping about her long-distance relationship with Duplicate Boy.  They had a date scheduled for that night, which he broke.  Tenzil decides to invite Violet out for a night on the town, and Princess Projectra helps her prepare.

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The date goes well, and there is a genuine bond of friendship that grows between the two in their conversation.  The Duplicate Boy barges in and gets all violent and threatening.  Tenzil just talks him down, that he has no interest in “stealing” Violet, and that he should spend more time with her.

The conclusion also sees Tenzil get a letter from his parents, insisting that his father will stop gambling.  I have my doubts.

Action 380 – Superman’s crimes, and Duo Damsel vs Duo Damsel

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Dorfman, Swan and Roussos bring back the Superman Revenge Squad in Action 380 (Sept. 69).

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The pair who execute this plan actually have to win a competition first, on what appears to be a small planet full of Revenge Squad members.  It’s a popular club.  They come to Earth, and begin to mess with Superman, making him think he is performing destructive acts in his sleep.

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In fact, it is the two Revenge Squad members who are doing this, while giving Clark red kryptonite induced nightmares.

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The female member impersonates Supergirl, lying to Superman about a test he undergoes to see if he is being affected by red kryptonite.  Superman is left believing himself to be guilty of their crimes.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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Duo Damsel is the focus of this month’s Legion of Suepr-Heroes story, by Shooter, Mortimer and Abel.

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Luornu Durgo splits into her two selves, sending one on a mission, while the other hangs and relaxes with Bouncing Boy.  The one who left takes an awful long time coming back, and when she does, it is on the arms of Nam-Lor.

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The second body starts using a different name, Leilith, and her behaviour has changed.  Luornu suspects something is wrong, and discusses this with Bouncing Boy.  The two wind up confronting Leilith and Nam-Lor, catching them in the middle of a theft.  Luornu finds she cannot even merge with Leilith.

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The story comes to a genuinely surprising conclusion.  Leilith orders Nam-Lor to kill Bouncing Boy, but he refuses.  We discover that Nam-Lor has, among other powers, a “hyper-aura” that has driven Leilith to become a violent criminal.  he has reluctantly gone along with her, but hates the person he has turned her into. Nam-Lor leaves.

The story ends, just when it gets very interesting.  I want to see how the two Duo Damsels interact now, but it’s over.  In later years, more would be made of the “darker” body of Duo Damsel, and it’s not too long after this that she adopts a new costume, which gives each body a different colour.

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