Posts tagged ‘Martian Manhunter’

Action 595 – Superman’s ghost vs the Silver Banshee

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Byrne and Williams introduce a new villain for Superman, and a mysterious ghost star, in Action 595 (Dec. 87).

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Maggie Sawyer, the head of the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit, and her second in command, Dan Turpin, had both been introduced in the pages of Superman in the last year, and have their first appearances in Action as they pursue the Silver Banshee, a woman who appears to be able to kill with her touch, as she searches bookstores in the city.

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Superman’s attention gets drawn.  The Banshee is unable to kill a man who she thought she had already attacked, an important clue to the nature of her powers.  She has no such trouble with Superman.

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And leaves him lying dead on the ground.  It’s not her touch that is fatal, it’s her voice.  Which is kind of obvious, if you know her name is Silver Banshee.

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Lois Lane and Lex Luthor are both shocked to hear about Superman’s death.  Lois actually handles it better, Lex is so jealous that he did not kill him.  The Justice League are mournful, and we see Batman, Black Canary and the Martian Manhunter.

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Perry White chokes on his words as Superman’s ghost visibly rises from his coffin during the funeral.

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Superman’s ghost fares much better than Superman did against the Silver Banshee.

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Her frustration leads to a scream that seems to destroy her, but there is clearly much more to this villain, and she returns in the pages of Superman within the year.

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The Martian Manhunter was really the ghost.  Superman was almost killed by the Banshee.  Her power seemed cued to identity, the reason she was not able to kill the man she thought she had met before. The Martian Manhunter could not be killed by Banshee, as she thought she was trying to kill Superman’s ghost.

A good intro for the villain.  Showing Martian Manhunter early on made it easy to figure out though.

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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 366 – Superman substitutes, and Supergirl meets Alpha and Beta

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Dorfman, Andru and Esposito conclude the Virus X storyline in Action 366 (Aug. 68).

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Superman is found by some flame beings in the sun.  He has been cured of Virus X, thanks to the white kryptonite thrown at him by the Bizarros.  That killed the virus, and the sun healed his injuries.

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Returning to Earth, he finds that no one realizes he has been gone, and that there are versions of himself fighting crime all over the place.  He checks Kandor, and the Phantom Zone, but no one is missing.

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The Supermen are actually his fellow Justice Leaguers, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter and Aquaman, working alongside Supergirl.

This story was really highly regarded at the time.

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Cary Bates and Kurt Schaffenberger introduce a pair of alien villains for Supergirl in this story.

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Alpha and Beta are on a mission, and want one of the Stanhope students.  They seal off the campus, which actually helps protect Supergirl’s identity, as her Linda robot is at class.

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Not much is explained in this action-packed tale, which concludes next issue, but those bug eyes merited inclusion.

Action 16 – Superman takes on gambling, Pep’s back to being a bodyguard, Clip Carson vs Cheops, and Zatara goes to Saturn

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Although Action 16 (Sept. 39) features a generic cover image, the bullet with Superman in it is now firmly in place in the upper left hand corner, where it will remain as it alters over the years, transforming into the DC bullet.

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I probably could have skipped over Siegel and Shuster’s Superman story in this issue.  It’s not bad, it’s just sort of bland.  Superman saves a gambler from killing himself.  He talks to George Taylor about it, and is given permission to do a story for the Daily Star on the evils of gambling.

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In reality, what this means is that Superman puts on his costume and terrorizes gamblers and bookies, and smashes up gambling parlours.

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Pep Morgan impressed Mr. Smith with his previous outing, catching the murderous thieves that had been plaguing his business.  So in this issue, by Guardineer, he appoints Pep to be the bodyguard for his daughter, who is being threatened.

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Pep moves into their mansion to keep an eye on her, which is a good idea, as the butler is part of the scheme.

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Pep catches the bad guys, and sails off with Mr. Smith and his daughter in their yacht.  Things are definitely looking up for the lad!

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Bob Kane concludes Clip Carson’s first adventure in this issue.  Cheops wants to take control of an Arab army that is planning to attack the city.  The politics in this story are important, but unclear.  Likely, they would not have been at the time, when it was current events.  I would think that the government forces, which the Arabs oppose, would be the British.

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Cheops turns out to be one of their associates, Sergeant Beatty.  He was trying to get the treasure to fund his attacks against the government.

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Clip literally throws Beatty to the Arabs, who are happy to kill him.  Maybe they can figure out which side they, and the “government” are on.  I sure can’t.

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Zatara has an alien adventure in this story, courtesy of Fred Guardineer.

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A Saturnian comes to Earth as an advance scout before an intended invasion.  Zatara rides his transport beam back to the planet.  The Saturnians look astoundingly like the Martian Manhunter, even down to the crossed suspenders.  Yet there was well over a decade between this story and that character’s introduction.

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Zatara uses his powers to make the Satrurnians, and their cities, invisible, to torment them.  He shows them visions of what their world could become, if they focus on that instead of invading Earth, and also appears to make Earth grow a giant arm, capable of destroying planets.  The Saturnians, as they might, figure that everyone on Earth is as powerful as Zatara, and call off their invasion.

 

Detective 715 – John Jones in flames

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It saddens me a bit that the image of the Martian Manhunter is on the cover of Detective 715 (Nov. 97).  Yes, he does play a major role in the issue, but Dixon, Nolan and Barreto do such a good job of playing him just as John Jones, there was no need to give it away.

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The Firefly never realizes that the man in front of him is a martian in disguise, and is much more interested in trying to kill Batman.  That works to John’s advantage, allowing him to get away, with the aid of Bullock.

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There are clear enough hints in the story that Jones is something more than he appears to be, but not enough to make Bullock look dumb for not catching on.

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Batman knows who he is, of course, and they meet in Commissioner Gordon’s office to discuss the case.  Gordon is not thrilled to find there is yet another man who can disappear in the middle of a conversation.

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Lynns believes that Dalbart has run out on him, and arrives at the sight of their jewel theft, wanting to take vengeance on the imagined slight.  Dalbart has no opportunity to explain what is really going on.

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It’s John Jones who explains it all to Batman, after Firefly has been taken down.  Dalbart is a thief from the future, who has mastered control of neutrinos.  He escaped into the distant past.

Dalbart does return again, a number of years down the road, in Booster Gold’s comic.

Detective 714 – John Jones comes to Gotham

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Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan and joined by Eduardo Barreto on the inks on Detective 714 (Oct. 97), as John Jones comes to Gotham, in search of a very unusual criminal.

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Wiley Dalbart is a thief, and everyone seems to want him.  Montoya and Bullock are in the process of turning him over to the Feds when he simply vanishes in a burst of light.

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Dalbart hides out in a rooming house for wanted felons.  Garfield Lynns is staying there as well, and the two conspire on Dalbart’s planned jewel theft.

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John Jones arrives in Gotham, hooking up with Bullock, who is surprised that a cop would come all the way from Colorado in pursuit of a thief.

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They have no more luck than before, as Dalbart vanishes again.  Batman and Robin join the investigation, and discover that the money left behind by Dalbart is new, but dated years in the future.

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But all of them are taken by surprise when they discover the Firefly was working with him.

The story concludes next issue.

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