Posts tagged ‘Tex Blaisdel’

Action 474 – Dr. Light picks the real Superman

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Dr. Light, most recently seen taking on the Teen Titans in the revival of their book, decides to go after Superman in his secret identity in this tale by Bates, Schaffenberger and Blaisdel, in Action 484 (Aug. 77).

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Johnny Nevada’s show has a special theme for the evening, featuring men who had been publicly suspected, at one time or another, of being Superman.  Aside from Nevada, the line-up includes Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen and Steve Lombard, as well as Gregory Reed, and science fiction author Rock Stirling, a Rod Serling take-off who had appeared in a story in the pages of Superman in the early 60s.  Athlete Mike Talbot is the newbie int he group.

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Dr. Light is in the audience, in disguise.  He has a device that emits light rays, which are harmless and invisible.  But the rays will show him which of the men up there, if any, has a denser molecular structure than a normal human.  Not a bad way to identify Superman, although the one it highlights is the athlete, Talbot.

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So after the taping, Dr. Light makes his move and attacks Talbot.  Of course, Superman shows up, because he isn’t Talbot.  He recognized Dr. Light in the audience, and guessed at his plan (that’s pretty amazing), and vibrated his molecules to reflect the beam onto Talbot (like, wow).

Talbot does not seem to mind being used as unwitting bait for Dr. Light.  So I guess that makes it ok.

Action 473 – Superman vs Faora

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Bates, Swan and Blaisdel conclude the Faora story in Action 473 (July 1977).

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Supergirl gets concerned when there is no word from Superman, despite Faora running wild in Metropolis.  She finds a note in the Fortress, explaining that he has gone into the Phantom Zone, and other information that the reader is not privy to.

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Faora gets into an argument with Steve Lombard, and is about to kill him when her greater scheme kicks in, reversing the Phantom Zone, releasing all its captives, while sending everyone on Earth into the Zone.  Steve actually thinks he has died, until Jimmy Olsen explains the Zone to him.  Batman and Green Lantern are also shown to now be phantoms, while Jax-Ur, General Zod, Kru-El and Professor Vakox enjoy their new freedom and solidity.

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Faora takes dominance over the other Phantom Zone villains through her use of psychic bolts, but one Zone escapee is immune.  It’s Superman, who figured out her bigger plan, and took precautions, including entering the Zone himself.

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Superman is now stuck fighting against a number of similarly powered Kryptonians, and finds himself overpowered.  Faora is about to kill him when the switch happens again.  Bad timing!  Superman rigged the projector to reverse Faora’s actions, sending the prisoners back into the Zone, and releasing the humans.

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With one exception.  The old man who still, after all this, believes Faora is his dead wife Katie.  He gets to join her in the Zone.

From now on, Faora would be a regularly appearing Phantom Zone villain, almost always included when three or more are shown.  But not the old man.  We never find out what happened to him.

Action 472 – Faora escapes from the Phantom Zone, and Steve Lombard meets his double

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Bates, Swan and Blaisdel continue with the introduction of Faora in Action 472 (June 1977).

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Heading to his Fortress of Solitude, Superman scans the records of Phantom Zone prisoners until he finds the file on Faora Hu-Ul.  She has a fanatical hatred of men, and killed hundreds in a personal concentration camp, for which she was sentenced to the Zone.

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And though it is not clear exactly how this works, she gets the old man to focus on her, while holding an alien artifact stolen from Clark Kent’s apartment.  This allows her to burst free from the Zone, and attack Superman.  Even being able to see her in the flesh, the old man still thinks this is his dead wife, Katie.  Faora is a master of a form of Kryptonian martial arts, dealing with reflex points, and manages to best Superman in battle.

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The ending of this chapter is a bit of a shock, as Superman flees form Faora, and heads into the Phantom Zone to hide.

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Bill Kunkle, John Calnan and Tex Blaisdel provide another chapter of the Sporting Life of Steve Lombard, as he comes face to face with an identical double.  To Steve’s consternation, no one else seems to be able to see the guy.

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Steve is driven to distraction by the man’s appearances, and everyone claiming he is not there.  The hoax is ruined when Steve catches the man’s voice on a tape recorder, and he realizes he is the butt of an April Fool’s gag, which Clark, Lois and Jimmy were all in on. The final panel reveals that Steve’s mysterious double was actually Batman.

Action 471 – Faora debuts

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The first Superman movie was in pre-production when Action 471 (May 1977) was released, and I suspect the introduction of a female Phantom Zone villain in this storyline was done to correspond with the introduction of a similar character in the movie.

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If not, then it’s an amazing coincidence that Bates, Swan and Blaisdel introduced her in a three-part story, right at this time.  The tale begins as Clark discovers that an elderly neighbour of his has broken into his apartment, and is rooting through his stuff.  The man lies, claiming the door was unlocked.  Superman is not sure what to make of this.  It’s a shame he didn’t get to see the ghostly figure talking to the old man.

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Clark tries to learn more about the man, and discovers that he is a widower, who believes that he can still communicate with his dead wife.  The ghostly figure has been causing panic, as well as consternation on the part of Morgan Edge, as the ghost keeps appearing around Clark’s building, but Kent gets no coverage of this.

The plot threads come together at the conclusion, as we see that this ghost, a Phantom Zone prisoner named Faora, is pretending to be the old man’s dead wife.

Action 470 – too many Terra-Men

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Bates, Swan and Blaisdel bring their Terra-Man saga to a rousing conclusion in Action 470 (April 1977).

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With Superman defeated so publicly, it’s no surprise that other heroes have been following this.  The Flash is the first to arrive, appropriately, but appears to fare no better against the western-themed villain.

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Green Lantern shows up as well, and so does a familiar-looking alien craft, which shoots down the Lantern.

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The ship belongs to the brother of the alien who raised Terra-Man, and who was killed by him. But by then, we have also discovered that the person who appears to be Terra-Man is really Superman.  This neatly decoys the alien seeking vengeance to attack Superman.

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Things take a surprising twist when Superman does show up, along with the Terra-Man that is really Superman.  Superman and Terra-Man fight the alien, but the real Terra-Man sheds his disguise to join in and figure out what is happening.

The new Superman is really Gregory Reed, with his powers being faked by Green Lantern and the Flash.  Not being the real Superman, he does not have his weaknesses. There is enough deception going on that both Terra-Man and his alien pursuer are defeatable.

Action 469 – Terra-Man rides Superman

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It’s the middle chapter of the Terra-Man story, by Bates, Swan and Blaisdel in Action 469 (March 1977).

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The story picks up immediately after the end of the previous issue, with Superman carting Terra-Man away.  But we see that Superman releases the bad guy, as Terr-Man has planted a number of bombs throughout the city, using that for leverage against the hero.  But Superman’s actions are spotted by others as well.

When news spreads the next day that Superman released Terra-Man, many turn against him. Gregory Reed, the actor who plays him, finds out that his show has been cancelled in the backlash.

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The following night, the city finds itself sealed off by an energy barrier, and the people glued to their televisions again when Terra-Man’s show comes on.  Superman and Terra-Man get back into the positions from the end of the previous “show,” and continue their fight.

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The fight is entertaining, you have to give it that, although it’s intercut with Lois, Jimmy, Gregory Reed, Morgan Edge and even Steve Lombard, watching in dismay.

This time Terra-Man wins, shooting Superman, and ever burying him at the end of the issue.

The story concludes in the next issue.

 

Action 468 – Terra-Man on tv, and Morgan Edge’s secret identity

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A great Adams cover on Action 468 (Feb. 77), as Bates, Swan and Blaisdel begin a three-part Terra-Man story.

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Terra-Man is not shy announcing his return, he breaks into a live news broadcast to promote his own television show, beginning the following night, on WGBS.  Morgan Edge is furious, and wants to know how this happened.  Considering Terra-Man’s access to advanced alien tech, it’s not hard to guess.

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Sure enough, the following night, everybody feels compelled to watch WGBS, as Terra-Man’s broadcast begins. Superman is not forced to watch, as he is the other star of the show.

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Superman gets the best of Terra-Man in this encounter, but the villain hardly seems concerned at all about losing.  In fact, he announces another episode of his show.  Same Terra-time, same Terra-channel.  Got to love that.

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Morgan Edge gets a “private life” story in this issue, by Pasko, Swan and McLaughlin.

We discover that his mother works as a cleaning lady – his cleaning lady, in fact, although he apparently hasn’t noticed this.  He is embarrassed about his humble beginnings, but she makes him feel guilty about that.

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At a memorial dinner being given for him, Edge reveals how he earned the stake he used to create Galaxy Communications, through a poker game, and reveals not only his real name, Morris Edelstein, but also his mother.

It’s hard to imagine, after reading this story, that Edge was introduced only a few years earlier as a villain.  There is nothing left of that character.

Action 467 – Superman goes boom, and Krypto vs Mr Mxyzptlk

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An unappealing cover on Action 467 (Jan. 77), and the Superman story inside isn’t great, either.

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Superman’s sonic booms are the key element to this story by Conway, Swan and Blaisdel, as two men in an orbiting capsule plan to steal the energy from them.

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The best scene in the story has Clark getting an alert while giving a live broadcast, and how he manages to get out of the studio without disrupting the show.  There is a mention of Black Lightning battling the 100, a subtle plug for the new book.

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When Superman tries to use a sonic boom to weaken a tidal wave, he discovers that they are not “functioning,” and follows the energy trail up to the capsule.

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It was all a plot to rule the world.  And it must have cost a lot to put into operation, what with the space capsule and all.  Millions.  Stupid guy probably could have lived happily for the rest of his life on the money he spent trying to conquer the Earth.

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The back-up story, by Rozakis, Swan and Blaisdel, which pits Krypto against Mr. Mxyzptlk, is far more entertaining.

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With Superman not around, and the 5th dimensional imp erasing Metropolis, it is up to Krypto to stop him.  He does this in canine fashion, nipping at Mxyzptlk.

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It’s really Mr. Mxyzptlk’s bad choice of a hiding place that does him in – disguising himself as a dog biscuit.

Action 466 – Superboy, Batboy and Flashboy vs Luthor

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Great cover, and a great title, for Action 466 (Dec. 76), “You Can Take the Man Out of the Super, But You Can’t Take the Super Out of the Boy,” by Bates, Swan and Blaisdel.

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Adult Luthor defeats Superman, now Superboy, humiliating him in front of a crowd.  He lets the young hero live, to savour his embarrassment.

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Superboy rounds up the young versions of Batman and the Flash, and they try a three-way attack on Luthor.  But the villain kills the Flash, and later, Batman.

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But Batman’s lack of reaction at Flash’s death makes Superman suspicious.  He realizes, somehow, that Luthor has made the androids look and answer the way Superman had expected them to.  That he isn’t younger, it’s all a hallucination.  But one that has physical effect, as other can see it, and it does, actually, make him smaller.

Ok, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. even when Superman explains it to the real Flash and Batman.  Great cover, though.

 

Action 465 – Luthor turns Superman into Superboy

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Bates, Swan and Blaisdel reveal the villain of their three part story in the cover of Action 465 (Nov. 76).

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Lex Luthor brags of what he has done to Batman and the Flash, and shoot Superman with a beam, although it doesn’t seem to do anything. Luthor takes off, and Superman tries to determine if the two kids in front of him really are who they claim to be.  Among the tests, he asks them very specific questions, relating to stories from the last couple of years.  Nice to see that degree of continuity.  They pass all the tests, and Superman worries about what is to come.

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It’s at a WGBS function that he starts to get younger, right after being splashed with punch by Steve Lombard.  Thinking fast, he gets punch on everyone, and releases a “fountain of youth” gas with a temporary effect, that turns Lois, Jimmy, Morgan Edge and the rest young as well.

At least it’s a way out of the situation, if not a good one.

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Now Luthor returns to attack, an adult Luthor taking on Superboy.

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Steve Lombard gets a “private life” style story, by Pasko, Swan and McLaughlin.

It has to do with him being asked to write the forward to a coach’s memoirs.  The coach was a hardass, and not much loved.  Steve had saved his life once.

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As Steve recalls it, the incident was less than heroic, and more of an impulse.

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The story then takes a strange twist, as Steve is shot by gamblers whose sports betting racket he exposed.

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The manuscript of the coach’s book stopped the bullet, which makes Steve decide to turn over a new leaf.  Umm, ok.  Fortunately, this doesn’t really last, and he stays the enjoyable jerk that he is.

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