Posts tagged ‘Lightning Lad’

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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Action 387 – Superman at the end of time, and the Legion vs tax laws

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Bates, Swan and Roussos conclude Superman’s travel through time in Action 387 (April 1970).

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He encounters some astronauts, frozen in suspended animation for centuries, and revives them in the year 801,970.

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Travelling even further into the future, he reaches a time when the entire planet is dead and devoid of life.  If those are different.  Anyway, he cuts the planet open and terraforms it, and brings life forms, including humans, from other worlds to populate it and start the cycle again.

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There is a very unexpected attack from Lex Luthor.  He had never believed Superman dead, and left behind a weapon, powered by his eternal hate, to kill him.  It fails.

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Superman travels even further ahead, but Time Trapper loops him, and sends him back to the start. He blacks out, waking to find himself a baby in his parents arms on Krypton.  A few more blackout time jumps, and Superman is back to where he was at the start of the saga.

Which is a bit of a let-down finish, if you ask me.

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Bridwell, Mortimer and Abel share one of the oddest Legion stories.  Every single member appears.  Even the Super-Pets appear.  And I’m tagging them ALL.

And the board is also worth noting, on the first page. The Legionnaires appear in the order they joined the team.  Supergirl is located between Star Boy and Brainiac 5, while Superboy is later, between Shrinking Violet and Sun Boy.

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An evil tax man shows up, and the Legion discover that they have to get rid of one member, or have to pay taxes.  As they do not actually make money by being the Legion, I’m not sure what they would be taxed on, but it’s enough of a threat that they all start vying to be the one to leave.  Timber Wolf and Chemical King are the first to offer, being the most recent to join.

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The team attempt to hold a random draw, but it gets rigged, and then everyone starts claiming responsibility for rigging it.

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Supergirl insists that she should be the one to leave, as she attends the fewest meeting.  Brainiac 5 is not happy, and the Super-Pets all but revolt, insisting that they will disband if she leaves.

Brainiac 5 is selected by the computer as the hero who performed the fewest feats, but everyone insists his mind is worth more than just feats.

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Finally, it is Superboy who chooses to leave.  His powers are duplicated by Mon-El, and he has no romance or clinging pets, as Supergirl does.  Notice that Krypto would resign if Supergirl left, but not Superboy.

Duo Damsel is the one most upset about his departure. Luornu’s unrequited love for Superboy would be touched on again in the future.

For many of the characters, this was the last appearance they have before the end of the Legion’s run in Action Comics.  Ironically, this is also the last appearance of the full line up of the Super-Pets, as Beppo does not appear again, aside from flashbacks in comprehensive Superman origin tales.

 

Action 386 – Superman put out to pasture, and the impostor returns

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Superman continues travelling forward in time in the second part of the story, by Bates, Swan and Roussos, in Action 386 (March 1970).

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Superman time jumps forward, and winds up in an era where all super-powers have been outlawed, following a huge war of super-powered people.

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Superman winds up exiled to a planet where all the other super-people have been sent.  King of the retirement home.

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He does get everyone to work together, and show the world that old super-heroes have something to offer.  But then he just time jumps again, as the Time Trapper watches, enjoying it all.

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Uli Algor, the woman who impersonated Shadow Lass, returns in this story by Bridwell, Mortimer and Abel.  It begins on Takron-Galtos, the prison planet, which I believe is the first time that entire name and description are used.

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Despite the scary name, they are using feel good gem therapy, it seems, to rehabilitate criminals.  It does work on some, but Uli had conditioned herself to resist it.

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Returning to Earth,she sets out to avenge her defeat against the Legion.  She runs into two couples in the park, challenges, and defeats Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy and Night Girl, with a device that enables her to turn the heroes powers against them.

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That might have been enough for some, but not for Uli.  She presses her luck, and challenges another group of Legionnaires.  Karate Kid, Brainiac 5, Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl accept her challenge, and head out to Talus, an asteroid of junked space ships.  This is the only appearance of Talus until it becomes the headquarters of the Legion, in the early 90s.

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Uli uses her weapon successfully against three of the team, but she waits as Ultra Boy approaches her, to see which of his repertoire of one-at-a-time powers he will use.  And Ultra Boy just runs up and decks her, using nothing but his own strength.

Uli heads back to Takron-Galtos.  We never hear from her again.

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 379 – Superman vs a phantom killer, and an impostor Legionnaire

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Another story that verges on the occult, Superman faces a murderous spirit in Action 379 (Aug. 69), by Dorfman, Swan and Abel.

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Clark Kent is among a group of reporters who go to the funeral of a prominent occultist, Dr. Phantas.  As Superman, he defies a curse and opens the coffin, which seems to release his vengeful spirit.

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The other reporters begin dying unusual deaths, while Superman finds his dreams haunted by the ghost.  Clark does not believe this is all a curse, and discovers that the dead reporters had all travelled together a while earlier, along with one who had not yet been killed.

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Clark takes that reporters place, so when the “ghost” comes to kill him, he confronts him.  It isn’t a ghost at all.  Rather, he is an alien policeman, hunting down fugitives who had taken the place of the reporters.  He used the whole curse thing so prevent the public from being afraid of killer aliens on the loose.  Killer ghosts on the loose are fine.

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Superman kind of gives his ok to all of this, though he points out that the Eliminator (as the alien cop is called) could have captured the men without killing them.  But the Eliminator just takes off, and Superman stands around justifying his lack of action.

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E. Nelson Bridwell scripts a decent little Legion mystery, with art by Win Mortimer that is taken up a notch by Murphy Anderson’s inks.  Ultra Boy is referred to as being the leader again, though he is off on a mission.  Mon-El, as deputy leader, is in charge as the Legion’s computer announces that one of the gathered members is an impostor.  Lightning Lad, Element Lad, Dream Girl and Shadow Lass have no time to solve this before they have to run off and deal with a villain, Sunburst.

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During the fight, each of them either has their powers not work, or something unusual happen, like Lightning Lad’s hair going straight, as if from an electric charge.

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Shadow Lass takes down Sunburst, but the group immediately turn on each other, firing off accusations about who is the fake.

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Explanations are given for the various power failures, and Shadow Lass is exposed as the phony, not weakened at all by Sunburst’s blasts of light.  Mon-El finds the real Shadow Lass, the fake was working with Sunburst, presumably to wreak havoc within the Legion.  For some reason.

Action 378 – Superman vs the Devil, and Legion of Super-Heroes begins

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Jim Shooter introduces a new villain, and tries to introduce a new supporting character, in Action 378 (July 1969), with art by Swan and Abel.

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An alien travelling towards Earth gets captured by another alien, who calls himself the Marauder.  The Marauder wants vengeance against Superman, for some previous defeat, though this is the first time we have seen this villain.  He brainwashes the alien into believing that he is the Devil, and gives him a trident with kryptonite.

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The character seems supernatural when he attacks Superman, though the kryptonite gives the game away to some degree.

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Superman tries and fails to break the “devil’s” programming, but fails at that.  To his good fortune, as the “devil” moves in for the kill, his own mind takes control.  He is, in reality, Superman’s godfather, having visited Krypton shortly before it exploded, and made friends with Jor-El.

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It’s funny that the end of the story insists that this character, Rol-Nac, will return soon, and be a new regular supporting character.  He never appears again, but the Marauder, so forgettable in this tale, does come back in the early 70s.

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Jim Shooter also pens the Legion of Super-Heroes story, with art by Win Mortimer and Mike Esposito, as the super-team begin their run in this book.

While none of the Legion stories from this period in Action would be considered great stories, one has to credit how well the strip handled the savage decrease of pages.  Instead of large, cosmic adventures with the bulk of the team, the stories now would often focus on only a few of the Legionnaires, and on smaller, more personal events.

This story stars Timber Wolf and Light Lass, and gives Brin Londo a sort of drug addiction, although it’s to a lotus fruit.

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His addiction is messing up his hero-ing, as well as his relationship with Light Lass.  She figures out the root of the problem, and tries to talk to Brin about it, but he just pushes her away.

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Lightning Lad has a cameo, as Ayla opens up to her twin about her concerns.

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We see that the lotus plant gives Timber Wolf some hallucinatory effects, though the art team doesn’t make it look particularly exciting. Light Lass forces Brin to choose between her and the lotus plant, and although his addiction makes him struggle, he does pick Light Lass.

While this story is never directly referred to, later tales would make reference to Light Lass devoting a lot of time and energy to Timber Wolf’s problems.

 

Action 319 – Superman finds that innocence is irrelevant, and Supergirl gets expelled

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Hamilton, Swan and Klein conclude the Death of Luthor storyline in Action 319 (Dec. 64).

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Much of this issue is a Kafkaesque trial for Superman, as nothing he says or does has any effect on the Lexorians, who are simply going through the motions before executing him.  Their preferred method turns a person into stone.

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During the trial, Superman learns that no autopsy was performed on Luthor, at his own request.  This makes Superman suspicious enough to bust out of his cell to investigate further.

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The pills make Luthor’s plan clear.  He will be in his death-like coma for the duration of the trial, and wake up after Superman has been executed for killing him.

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Superman gets Lex out of his trance, and even reveals the pills he used, but to no avial.  Oh, the charges against him are dropped, but everyone still believes in Lex.  Superman is forced to return to Earth, while Luthor stays on Lexor with Ardora.

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Donna Storm, the villain from the previous issue, returns to plague Linda Danvers, and Supergirl, in this Dorfman and Mooney story.

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Donna feels she needs to be the best at everything, but has no prblem cheating to achieve this. She gets scientists at her father’s lab to do her chemistry work, and has a mini tape recorder in her earrings, feeding her for presentations.

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Supergirl decides to outdo her, because that is the maturest way to handle the situation.  When Donna spends a lot of money on pictures for a presentation in biology, Supergirl takes the rest of the class to Atlantis for a lesson by Lori Lemaris.

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Donna is even more upset with Linda, and her friendship with Supergirl, after this.  She steals some jewels, and plants them in Linda’s room.  They are found, and Linda gets expelled.

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But Donna Storm makes her big mistake, when Linda comes to confront her.  She admits everything, bragging to Linda about it, but her words get broadcast to the entire campus.

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Supergirl had called on the Legion of Super-Heroes for help, and Shrinking Violet had re-wired her tape recorder earrings to become a broadcast device.

Linda’s expulsion is rescinded, and Donna Storm gets the boot instead.  She never appears again.

Considering the self-esteem issues that Donna clearly has, after the public humiliation of her activities being exposed, and the, likely, forthcoming criminal charges, I expect she just killed herself.

 

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