Posts tagged ‘Spectre’

Action 596 – Superman and Spectre and the ghosts of Smallville

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Action 596 (Jan. 88) is a Millenium crossover (Week 4), by Byrne and Williams, but also a chapter in the Superman story arc running within the larger crossover.  Superman had discovered that the people he grew up with in Smallville were all implanted and controlled by the Manhunters.  The previous issue of Adventures of Superman ended with him defeating the Manhunter robot in charge, which left all the residents dead.

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The Spectre is drawn to the scene.  Something is not right about it, but he cannot see what is wrong.

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He transports Superman to the astral plane, where they “see” the imagined Smallville of the people, newly dead but in denial.  According to Spectre, not a rare thing, but never so large, or lasting so long.

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In fact, the whole astral plane is a fake, all conjured by the supposedly dead Manhunter in some way that has never made sense to me, so I don’t think about it too much.  It’s more fun to look at the page of him, under the Spectre’s control, ripping himself open.

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There is also a great page of the Spectre scaring kids planning to pull a prank on Lana’s house.

Action 21 – Superman meets Terry Curtis, and Clip Carson in Algiers

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It’s really hard to determine what is going on on the cover of Action 21 (Feb. 40).  Is Superman leaping away from the ship?  Or is he maybe coming down from somewhere?  The difference in size of the men at the gun, and Superman, would imply that he is far, far closer than they are.  What are they firing at?  Is Superman stealing a missile from them?  If they are good guys, why is he flying away from them?  If they are bad guys, why is he flying away from them?

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Siegel and Shuster, with Paul Cassidy on inks, wade into nuclear weapons in this issue, as scientist Terry Curtis works on an atomic gun.  His lab explodes, and Clark Kent is caught in the blast.  Curtis is amazed when Clark shows no sign of injury.  Clark, for his part, is fascinated with the work Curtis is doing, and writes it up for the Daily Star.

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Dolores Winters, the Ultra-Humanite, reads Clark’s article, and starts to romance Curtis, wanting to get the gun.  The Ultra-Humanite is always referred to as female in this story.  So the Ultra-Humanite might also be considered the first transgendered villain in comics.  Clark becomes suspicious when Terry mentions that his new girlfriend resembles the famous actress, and sure enough, Terry gets kidnapped.

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Superman follows them to the Ultra-Humanite’s lair, a city inside a volcano.  Although the text still insists that Superman is leaping, he executes a mid-air turn to land on the wing, which he does so gracefully, it goes unnoticed.  A long way from pavement smashing to bits.

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Superman frees Terry and smashes the Ultra-Humanite’s devices, as Dolores leaps to her apparent death in the exploding volcano.  This is the final appearance of the Ultra-Humanite in the Golden Age.  He would next be seen, in the body of a mutated white ape, in the early 80s in a Justice League of America/Justice Society of America/Secret Society of Super-Villains team-up in The Justice League’s book.  A couple of years later, he would get a story set shortly after this one, in the pages of All-Star Squadron.  Terry Curtis, who makes his only Golden Age appearance in this story, returns in All-Star Squadron as well., for a much more important role. The final panel promotes the Spectre, soon to debut in More Fun Comics.  Jerry Siegel was the writer on that series as well, though the art was by Bernard Baily.

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Clip Carson’s story takes him to Algiers, and Sheldon Moldoff takes over the art.  The tale itself is mediocre, many of them now would be, but at least it is lovely to look at.

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Clip gets hired to escort a shipment of food to a sheikh, who thanks him, and wants to keep him prisoner.  Clip disguises himself as an Arab to escape, and confronts the man who sent him.  He was really running guns, and Clip beats the guy up and turns him over to the authorities.

Detective 582 – Batman assaults the Manhunter temple

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Detective 582 (Jan. 88) is not merely a Millenium crossover, it was also part of a four issue telling of the heroes’ invasion of the Manhunter temple in the Louisiana bayou.  The same week this issue came out, The Spectre, Suicide Squad and Captain Atom also had stories of the attack.  Only this issue really crosses over with the others, which remain largely separate tales.

Mary Jo Duffy managed to pull off a good issue, despite all the needed tie-ins, with Norm Breyfogle back on the pencils, and Pablo Marcos on the inks.

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The first part of the story picks up from the previous issue of Batman, in which Commissioner Gordon had been replaced by a Manhunter robot.  Batman tracks the actual Gordon, and explains to him the impersonation, which allows the entire plot of Millenium to be explained.  It turns out Gordon was intentionally lured away, and was being set up to be killed, though Batman prevents that.

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Batman runs into Jim Corrigan and Kim Liang, in a passage mirrored in the Spectre.  Corrigan accompanies Batman to the temple, and though we do not see the Spectre, the heroes see the results of his work, all the decommissioned Manhunter robots.

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Batman and Corrigan find the place where the Manhunters are keeping the human prisoners, and as Corrigan frees them, Batman penetrates to the heart of the temple.  He comes across Karin Grace, learning of her plans to blow up the temple, but more importantly, learning of the existence of the Suicide Squad.

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And though Captain Atom does not appear, the lack of radiation, and snowfall, at the end of the story reference events in his book.

It’s all a bit frantic, but really, far better than it might have been.

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