Posts tagged ‘Lex Luthor’

Action 600 – Superman and Wonder Woman kiss, Lois Lane is sad, Lex Luthor hurts his hand, Jimmy Olsen helps out, and Superman vs Man-Bat

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John Byrne scripts all of the stories in Action 600 (May 1988), an oversize anniversary issue, which is also the last issue before the book undergoes a dramatic change of format.

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George Perez joins for the first story, which continues the Superman/Wonder Woman embrace that concluded the last issue of Adventures of Superman.  After the kiss, Superman realizes he may have jumped the gun a bit, and the two cool down a bit, and get to know each other.

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Diana gets an emergency message from Hermes, and the couple head to Olympus, which has been invaded by Darkseid.  He makes the most of the situation, as Superman and Wonder Woman arrived in different places, and dispatches Kalibak and Amazing Grace to toy with them.

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The scheme is pretty simple.  Superman is shown that the Wonder Woman he is fighting is really Grace, and Diana gets a similar reveal with Kalibak.  Then the two heroes confront each other, both believing the other is really an enemy.

Simple, but also not too hard for the heroes themselves to figure out.

Darkseid abandons the unconquerable Olympus, and the heroes decide to just be friends…for now.

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Roger Stern, Kurt Schaffenberger and Jerry Ordway join Byrne for the Lois Lane story, her first solo story since the reboot of Superman.  She infiltrates and busts up a crime ring, but her story is relegated to the back pages of the Planet.  The Superman/Wonder Woman romance gets the front page.

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Lois mopes about a bit, and thinks about her relationship with Superman.  Clark shows up, wanting to lend a shoulder to cry on, and the tension between them seems to be ending.  Until an emergency calls him away, and Lois fumes even more.

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Dick Giordano and John Beatty do the art on the Lex Luthor story, which sees him attempt to blackmail Maggie Sawyer about her sexuality.

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Maggie neither bows to his pressure, nor steals the evidence when she has the opportunity. As she explains to Dan Turpin, she is willing to stand up and fight for who she is, and what she has achieved.

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It’s not a very good day for Lex, who also is told by Gretchen Kelly that his kryptonite ring has poisoned his hand, which will have to be amputated.

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Swan and Anderson re-unite for the art on the Jimmy Olsen story.  Sadly, it’s the least involving story in the issue.  Superman gets knocked for a loop when the radiation from Krypton’s explosion reaches the Earth, collapsing.

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Jimmy carries the hero down into a mine shaft, getting him as far away from the radiation as possible.

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The issue ends with another team-up story, with Mike Mignola handling the art as Man-Bat makes his post-Crisis debut.

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Man-Bat is surprised to find Superman down in a cave, and even more surprised when the ailing and hallucinating hero attacks him.  Man-Bat basically spends the story defending himself.

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Hawkman shows up on the final page, informed by Jimmy Olsen of Superman’s situation.  This leads into the story in Superman the following month.

As for Action Comics, it goes on hiatus for a while, returning as Action Comics Weekly.  Happy anniversary, Superman!  As a present, we are reducing you to two pages in the comic that started your career!

 

Action 599 – the Metal Men become the Kryptonoid Man

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John Byrne, Ross Andru and Keith Williams bring back the Metal Men in Action 599 (April 1988).

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Doc Magnus continued to refuse to rebuild Tin after their previous outing, so the Metal Men went to another prominent scientist for help.  He was working for Lex Luthor. Bad person to go to.  Lex extracts the responsometers from the robots – Magnus’ crowning achievement, which gives them their personalities.

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With Tin rebuilt, the team’s sentience in a box, and their bodies down the drain, Luthor feels he has succeeded.

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Tin has been rebuilt into the Kryptonoid Man, with which Lex intends to kill Superman. But this artificial kryptonite proves to be nowhere near as good as the real thing, and though it hurts Superman, it does not kill, or even weaken him.

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Superman retrieves the responsometers, and throws them into the Kryptonoid Man.  The creature splits apart as the Metal Men reform themselves.

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Doc Magnus is still angry, but remakes them the way they originally were.

The Metal Men take a few years to return, and do so in the pages of Justice League Europe.

Action 584 – Superman vs the New Teen Titans

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After a three month break, during which the reboot of Superman was introduced in the Man of Steel miniseries, Action Comics returns as a Superman team-up book, launching with John Byrne and Dick Giordano pitting Superman against some of the New Teen Titans.

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Superman appears to be on a crazy rampage when Cyborg gets involved.  He calls in the other Titans, but only Wonder Girl, Changeling and Jericho are part of this story.

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Jericho inhabits Superman’s body and takes control, but we discover he is not the only one who has taken it over that day.  A brilliant, but crippled, scientist lured Superman into a trap, pretending it was an experiment.  They get him to switch things back.

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A pretty simple story, almost disappointingly so.  Lex Luthor appears on the last page, setting up the story in the next issue of Superman.  For the first few years, the Superman books would often run with tight continuity between them.

Action 583 – “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” concludes

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Action 583 (Sept. 86) brings to a close the era of the Pre-Crisis Superman, with the concluding half of an Imaginary Story by Alan Moore, Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger.

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The entire story is one of dark foreboding, and is related by Lois Lane, now married and with a son, to a reporter, writing a story about the last days of Superman.  Many of Superman’s friends and enemies appeared in the first half of the story, and most of the villains have died.  Superman has brought Lois, Lana, Jimmy, Perry White and his wife to the Fortress of Solitude.  Cosmic King, Lightning Lord and Saturn Queen have come from the future, knowing that this was the end of Superman, to join in the fun.  They find the Kryptonite Man, as well as a disturbing union of Luthor and Brainiac.

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Many of Superman’s friends are shown throughout the issue, trying to get through the force-field surrounding the Fortress.  Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Captain Marvel and the Martian Manhunter are shown, along with Vartox, and pre-Crisis Superwoman.

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The story is filled with heart-wrenching sequences.  Jimmy takes his Elastic Lad serum, and Lana bathes in the pool that gives her super-powers, so they can join the fight against the assembling villains.  Her super-hearing allows Lana to hear Superman explain to Perry White that it is Lois that he truly loves, but he cared too much for Lana to ever let her know.

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Lana and Jimmy both fall to the Legion of Super-Villains, while Krypto sacrifices himself to take out the Kryptonite Man.

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This is all turning far too bloody and dangerous for the villains from the future, and they flee in their time bubble.  Luthor and Brainiac are the last, but perish in the snow.

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Who was the villain that brought this all about?  Mr. Mxyzptlk, the most powerful adversary Superman has, who chose to be a pest, but has now chosen to be a destroyer.

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Superman winds up using the Phantom Zone projector to rip the 5th dimensional being in half, but he has knowingly, and willingly killed.

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Though Lois gives him all manner of justifications, Superman has violated his own code.  He enters a chamber of gold kryptonite, which permanently removes his powers, and is never seen again.

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The reporter leaves.  I was teary eyed and emotionally drained by this point when I read this the first time, but so thrilled at the end, as the baby turns a lump of coal into a diamond.  And then I really looked at the face of Lois’ husband.

I believe Alan Moore has now dismissed this story as garbage, as he is wont to do.

I don’t care what he thinks.  This is the crowning gem of the first 50 years of the character.

 

Action 544 – Luthor loses it all, and Brainiac reboots

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Action 544 (June 1983)is a double-sized anniversary issue, with two stories, as Lex Luthor and Brainiac each get an upgrade for the 80s.

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Luthor’s story, by Bates, Swan and Anderson, comes first.  It begins as he loses yet another battle with Superman, and his robots send his wounded body off to Lexor.

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The anti-Luthor revolution that was going on when the planet was last seen must have fizzled out, as he is once again considered a planetary hero.  Ardora has had a son by Lex since the last time he was on Lexor, presumably a visit that did not make it into the comics, or else Ardora had an extremely long gestation.

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Lex decides to live out his life as a father and husband on Lexor, and be a good person.  Still, he knows that Superman will one day come for him.  He stumbles into a laboratory form a forgotten, advanced culture, and gets an idea…

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Lex performs numerous good deeds for Lexor, including a weird huge pole, going right into the centre of the planet, that will keep it safe from a Krypton-like destruction.

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But at night a mystery marauder wreaks havoc.  Who could it be?

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Superman shows up to take Lex back to Earth, and he publicly battles Superman in his new armor, which synthesizes a number of power sources, and proves dangerous to Superman.  But the Lexorians recognize the outfit, and are horrified that Lex is the mystery villain.  They shouldn’t be.

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Lex fires a blast at Superman that rebounds and hits the rod.  Lex realizes this will destroy his planet.

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Luthor tries to save Ardora and his son, but fails.

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Refusing to admit he had any part in this disaster, he blames Superman, and swears vengeance.  This storyline continues in the pages of Superman.

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George Perez’s rendition of the costume looks great,although that headpiece just doesn’t work for me.

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Wolfman and Kane handle the Brainiac story, which brings the character back to the aritifical world he had created.  He merges with the central computer, but loses his android body in the process.

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After a journey through all of time and space, in non-corporeal, mental form, which basically drives him insane, Brainiac constructs a new body for himself out of the planet.

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Brainiac also fashions the headship, which I think is the coolest Brainiac-related thing ever.

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Superman enters the ship, expecting the Brainiac he knows, and is stunned by the mechanical construct in front of him.

The story continues in the next issue.

Action 525 – Neutron debuts, and Air Wave becomes Green Lantern

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Lex Luthor is once again involved in the creation of a new Superman villain, as Neutron debuts in Action 525 (Nov. 81),the first half of a two part story by Marv Wolfman, Joe Staton and Frank McLaughlin.

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As part of a group called the TNT Trio, Nathaniel Tryon is part of a fuel rod theft at a nuclear power plant.  The men are working for Luthor, but that does then little good when the plant begins to melt down.  Superman rescues his two partners, but Nathaniel is buried in a collapse, surrounded by lead shielding, and the hero does not see him.

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He emerges with some fairly impressive powers, though not on the Firestorm or Captain Atom level.  He can absord energy, and fire nuclear blasts.  He can even turn himself into pure energy, as well as being extremely strong.  Luthor builds a suit to contain his energy.

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This story also sees the return of the Daily Planet globe to the roof of the WGBS building.  Morgan Edge is finally won over by the pleadings of Lois Lane, and agrees to its re-installation.

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Superman has his first encounter with Neutron, and the villain leaves him lying in a pile of rubble.

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Air Wave gets an enjoyable entry, by Rozakis, Saviuk and Chiaramonte.

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Hal and Karen Peterson are attending a comic convention, where a thief dresses up as comic book hero the Cosmic Corsair before trying to steal some valuable artworks.  Air Wave stops him, but suffers temporary memory loss.  Karen has to figure out how to remind Hal of who he is, without giving away that she knows his secret identity.

She does, and he captures the fake Corsair.

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The final panels are quite cute, as they dress up for a costume ball, Karen as the Corsair, and Hal as his uncle, Green Lantern.  “Who’d ever believe Hal Jordan was Green Lantern?”

Action 516 – Superman vs Vandal Savage, and Chronos breaks his pattern

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Wolfman, Swan and Chiaramonte conclude the Vandal Savage story, as Superman chases the villain backwards through time, in Action 516 (Feb. 81).

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Vandal Savage stops off in different eras as he heads backwards, with Superman in hot pursuit.  Each time Superman acts, it serves to set off one of Savage’s time bombs.  Luthor realizes that if Superman completes his chase of Savage, all he will have achieved is ensuring this reality comes to pass.

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Luthor sends Jimmy Olsen back to warn Superman, but we see that, although Luthor was speaking the truth, he also has his own schemes of taking control.

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But Superman outwits both Savage and Luthor.  He does not intercept the comet which would have set off the last time bomb, instead leaving it to hit Savage.  When he brings Jimmy back to the present, all has returned to normal.

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Chronos returns, but tries to break his normal pattern in this Atom story by Rozakis, Saviuk and Colletta.

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It’s actually his extreme avoidance of anything time related that draws the Atom’s suspicions, after his first few thefts.  But by far the best moment is when Chronos sticks the Atom into a blender full of syrup.  The death trap doesn’t work, but it’s certainly inventive, in a practical way.

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But overall, avoiding his time crimes (but keeping the costume) is no help to Chronos.

 

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