Posts tagged ‘Mike Esposito’

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.

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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 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 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 365 – along the flight to cremation

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Action 365 (July 1968) contains the penultimate chapter of Dorfman, Andru and Esposito’s Virus X saga.

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Sadly, there is little that actually happens in this issue.  It begins by recapping the story so far, and then turns into a reviewof Superman’s life, as it all passes through his mind as he travels through space.  We get Jor-El and Lara sending him off from Krypton, and teh Kents finding and raising him.  Lana Lang is introduced, and the origin of LexLuthor retold.

As Superman’s body passes Lexor, the people rise in revolt against Lex for killing Superman.  Ardora tries to get the mob to calm down, but I expect she had some rough days ahead of her.  In fact, we do not see Ardora again until the 80s, although Lexor appears in World’s Finest tale in the mid-70s.

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Superman recalls his time with the Legion of Super-Heroes, and later Batman and Robin, and the Justice League.  Lori Lemaris, and then his time at the Daily Planet, with Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, and Lois Lane.

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Brainiac, Kandor and Supergirl get a page devoted to their tale.

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He passes Bizarro World, and they shower him with all the forms of kryptonite.  Just before he plunges into the heart of a star, Supergirl flies out Lois, Lana and Lori, to watch and mourn.

 

Action 364 – no cure for Superman

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Another Adams cover on Action 364 (June 1968), as Dorfman, Andru and Esposito continue the Virus X saga.

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Superman gets out of the cliffhanger from last episode, simply by doffing his clothes, and appearing to Lois as Superman.

Luthor announces that he is able to cure Superman’s disease.   He was the one who created it, after all.  His men produce the infected cat, which Luthor’s cure works on.  He demands a million dollars.

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Luthor gets his money, but it’s all a scam.  It was not the same cat.  Luthor just wanted to hold out the cure, and then laugh in Superman’s face.  Asshole.

Supergirl plans to send Superman into the Phantom Zone.  Jax-Ur and Professor Vakox protest, not knowing if the plague would spread to them and others in the Zone.  Superman agrees, and tricks Supergirl into entering Kandor, and then seals her in.

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Feeling death approaching, Superman makes a farewell speech, wearing a mask to look the way he wants to be remembered.  Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane are at the funeral, but neither had major roles in this tale.  Superman is fired into space to die.

The story continues in the next issue.

Action 363 – Virus X

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Dorfman, Andru and Esposito take their storyline up a big notch with the second chapter, in Action 363 (May 1968), with a superb Adams cover.

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We learn that the ventriloquist who has hypnotized Clark Kent has also purchased a serum from Lex Luthor. This is Virus X, a horrible Kryptonian version of leprosy.  This is what Clark is to use to kill Superman.

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Clark Kent breaks into his own apartment, and spills the serum on himself.  It takes effect immediately, though at first it only turns his hands a leprous green.

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Superman quarantines himself, but Luthor makes a broadcast, revealing that Superman has been infected with Virus X.  No one is sure if it can be passed to humans, but a cat brushes up against Superman, and catches the plague.

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Superman is dressed as Clark when the disease spreads to his face, just as Lois Lane shows up at his door…

The story continues in the next issue.

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