Posts tagged ‘Tommy Tomorrow’

Action 255 – The Bride of Bizarro, and Supergirl travels to the future

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Binder and Plastino conclude the introduction of Bizarro in Action 255 (Aug.59).

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Lois, not being a total idiot, realizes something is wrong with the Superman proposing to her.  Bizarro then winds up in battle with his own creation, for the love of Lois, who does not want either of them.

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Bizarro tries to enlist Superman in the battle, but the second Bizarro dies in a cloud of kryptonite dust.  The second duplication returning that weakness.

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Since Lois refused him as Superman, Bizarro decides to make a play for her as Clark Kent.  Superman has to act quickly to prevent him from giving away his identity.

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Finally, Superman uses the imperfect duplicator on Lois Lane, creating a Bizarro Lois.  The two Bizarros act as iff they were made for each other, and fly away to find their place in the universe.

Bizarro returns the following year.

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Supergirl is given a mission by Superman to test her skills, as he orders her to fly to the 21st century, in this Binder and Mooney story.

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Supergirl finds a space orphanage, and hnags around after repairing the dome, helping out two boys, Tommy and Jik, who remain unaware of her presence.  Tommy does save Supergirl from some kryptonite, but really it was a fluke, as he had no idea she was around.

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Supergirl arranges an adoption for Tommy before heading back to the present, and her orphanage.  We learn that the boy became Tommy Tomorrow.  So presumably he and Tim are not biological brothers.

Action 251 – Superman gets old, and Tommy Tomorrow ends

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Oh, Superman has a big white beard!  Hey, kids, get your helicopter out of my sky!

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In Action 251 (April 1959), Robert Bernstein and Al Plastino have Clark Kent act a bit like Lois.  Upon interviewing a scientist, who is about to test a longevity formula, Clark downs it himself, to see the effects.  But oops!  The scientist messed up the formula, and it will induce aging – or super-aging!

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So Clark wakes up as an old man, and learns that it will take three days for the effects to wear off.  Even as Superman, he finds himself substantially weakened.

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His robots will not respond to his aged voice, but his beard remains invulnerable, and cannot be cut.

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So he spends the remainder of the story stopping criminals by pretending to by quasi-mythological characters, like the Old Man of the Sea, or Father Time.

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Supergirl gets a full-page ad promoting her series, which will begin in the following issue.

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In a not-unrelated event, Tommy Tomorrow gets his final story in Action Comics, courtesy of Otto Binder and Jim Mooney.

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Tommy, Brent and the other Planeteers are desperately trying to stop a deadly space amoeba, but it’s malleable nature makes it impossibly to contain or destroy.

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Tommy saves the day, and the galaxy, by freezing it solid from the inside.

As billed in the subscript, Tommy Tomorrow’s series moves over to World’s Finest Comics, making room for Supergirl.  Very polite of him.

Action 249 – Luthor becomes Kryptonite Man, Congorilla takes the dynamite, and Tommy Tomorrow gambles

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Binder and Plastino offer the first version of the Kryptonite Man in Action 249 (Feb. 59).

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Luthor has developed a way of ingesting kryptonite, which turns him green and allows him to emit the deadly radiation, with no ill effects himself.

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Luthor seeks out Superman, who flees when he gets exposed to his radiation. Superman attempts a number of ways to overcome Luthor’s power, but with little success.

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Eventually he develops a kryptonite-proof suit, which is cool enough to warrant a cutaway diagram.

Luthor does manage to force him to remove the suit, but with Jimmy Olsen’s help, he tricks Luthor into thinking the radiation has worn off, and Luthor takes the antidote to the serum, making himself normal, and easy to catch.

Later versions of the Kryptonite Man, the first of which being a Kryptonite Kid, who shows up in Superboy, would be permanently endowed with the green skin and radioactivity, unable to change “back.”

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Congorilla returns, once again without Janu, in a story by Bernstein and Sherman.

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A small airplane crashes high in the mountains, and Congo Bill becomes Congorilla in order to climb where no human can, and get dynamite up to a point where he can blast an easy route for rescue.

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Tommy Tomorrow and Brent Wood head to a gambling asteroid in this story by Binder and Mooney. I was half expecting this to be, arguably, Ventura, the gambling planet that would be featured in later Superman and Legion of Super-Heroes stories.  But it is not.  It is clearly an asteroid, and the games are not nearly as cool as those on Ventura.

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Tommy tries his luck on a couple of the unusual games, losing Planeteer money his is supposed to be transporting, to the dismay of Brent.  The story climaxes during a space bingo game, as Tommy proves how the games on the asteroid are rigged, and shuts them down.

Considering that Ventura is shown to be a gambling planet both in the present, and in the future, it seems the gambling asteroid was a shady knock-off from the start.

 

Action 247 – Ma and Pa Kent travel through time, and Tommy Tomorrrow goes to prison

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Otto Binder and Al Plastino tell a tale in Action 247 (Dec. 58) that is so awful, it has become one of my favourites from this era.  Allow me to share its dreadfulness.

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The story starts off all right, as Clark hears an unusual noise, and sees a time bubble appear, carrying his dead adoptive parents, the Kents, looking just as they did when he was a child.  They explain that they went on this time trip as a secret, back when he was young.  Clark is overjoyed, and very unquestioning.

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Superman takes them around, showing them his Fortress of Solitude.  They see the room dedicated to Jor-El and Lara, and are a bit saddened, until he shows them that he has duplicates of them as well.  Superman just loves his robots.

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Lois Lane drops by, and has dinner with the Kents.  Pa Kent gives her his approval, and this has all felt pretty heart-warming up to this point.  Pa Kent makes an excuse so that Clark can get away and become Superman. It reminds me a lot of the first part of a story from the early 80s, The Miraculous Return of Jonathan Kent.

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But then we discover that these two are phonies, not the Kents at all.  They just more or less guessed at Clark’s secret identity as Superman.  They are wearing make-up, which Clark never noticed, even at close range, over a long period of time.  Lana Lang and her father, Professor Lang, make their first appearances in Action Comics in this scene, although it’s in a photograph being viewed by the con artists.

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The phony Kents get in their “time bubble”and ROLL IT AWAY!  Superman sits there, completely clueless.  It’s happening right next to him!  He doesn’t even need super-senses, just peripheral vision!

After they have gone, he finally clues in to the con.

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They attempt to blackmail him.  Superman defeats them using a combination of robots and super-hypnosis, a really quick and easy and LAME resolution.

It was only when I started writing this entry that the similarities with the Miraculous Return… story came to mind.  I now think that story was a really successful re-write of this one.

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Space Alcatraz has been referred to in many Tommy Tomorrow stories, but this tale, by Binder and Mooney, is the first to show it, as Tommy gets sent there himself.

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Despite his record and achievements, Tommy is sentenced to the prison ship when diamonds go missing.

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As with most Tommy Tomorrow stories, the plot is there to hang a number of odd science fiction creatures or machines or places on.  This one is no different, as we see a variety of methods of imprisoning strange aliens.  There is another brain in a jar, this one deprived of its robot body.

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Tommy framed himself in order to get into the prison, to try to find out the identity of a crime lord, the Unknown.  The Unknown has been enlisting prisoners in his master plan, even though they do not know who he is.  It turns out to be the brain in a jar, getting them to build him a new robot body.  Tommy ends that scheme, and returns to his command.

Action 226 – Superman fights a glass thief, Janu joins Jungle Joe, and Space Billboards!

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Another not-quite-but-sort-of Bizarro character is featured in Action 226 (March 1957), by Binder, Boring and Kaye.

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A giant, white, monstrous alien is found buried in the Earth, and brought back to Metropolis to be displayed.

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Luthor attempts to kill Superman, firing a synthetic kryptonite bullet. It misses the hero, but hits the monster, and the radioactivity brings the creature out of its dormant state.  It promptly goes on a rampage, but an unusual, collecting broken glass along the way.

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The creature also displays powers that are similar to Superman, although sometimes backwards, like flame breath instead of cold breath.

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In the end, it turns out to be a perfectly rational alien, who had crashed on Earth, and was suffering greatly due to our climate.  Superman helps send him back to his ice world.

Luthor’s appearance in the story is so minor, but is one of the things that does make this reminiscent of Bizarro.

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Congo Boy and Janu meet Jungle Joe, a Tarzan-like character, in this Howard Sherman story.

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When Congo Bill falls ill, Janu starts to hang out with Jungle Joe instead.  As Bill recuperates, he becomes openly jealous, and wants to prove to the boy that he is just as good as Joe.

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Jungle Joe turns out to be one of the raiders who had been causing them problems, and he had no interest in Janu, aside from taking him away from Bill to make the man miserable. He almost kills Janu, but Congo Bill intervenes and saves the boy.

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Binder and Mooney created this Tommy Tomorrow story, about billboards in outer space, that makes me laugh so much.  It’s not played for comedy, I just find the space billboards idea hilarious.

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Defacing planets is all in a days work for these guys – although Tommy has to step in to help, after the billboard creator is wounded by thieves.

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Eventually Tommy picks upon the colourful clue the artist left on his last work, and captures the attacker.

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Action 218 – the Super-Ape from Krypton, and Tommy Tomorrow returns to the Interplanetary Aquarium

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The first of a number of Kryptonian apes to come to Earth, the Super-Ape from Krypton debuted in a story by Boring and Kaye, in Action 218 (July 1956).

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Reports come in to the Planet about a flying ape.  Superman heads out to investigate, and finds the rumours true.  The ape can not only fly, but also talk.

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The ape is from Krypton as well, sent, along with his family, in a series of test rockets by others planning to flee the exploding planet.

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People are out to capture and exploit the ape.  Lois Lane gets involved, if only to get captured.  But in a change of pace she winds up freeing Super-Ape, who frees her in turn, with Superman not needed for his usual rescue.

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At the end of the story, Superman flies the ape to the planet where the rest of his family is, and we never see this character again.  But not too far down the road would come King Krypton, and later Beppo, the Super-Monkey, both of whom have their antecedents in this character.

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Tommy Tomorrow and Brent Wood go to check out the Interplanetary Aquarium, in this story by Otto Binder and Jim Mooney, which happens to share the name of the first Tommy Tomorrow story, also written by Binder.  Considering that he wrote both stories, it really would have been nice to have Tommy acknowledge that his career in the Planeteers began with his assignment at the Aquarium, or that he was going to go see how it had done in the intervening years.

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And actually, with Mooney on the art, this really doesn’t even look like the same place.  Not nearly as cool as Swan’s conception.

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The story has one of the fish turn out to be an intelligent alien scout, operating to pave the way for an invasion, but Tommy figures out the scheme.

 

Action 199 – the Phantom Superman, and Tommy Tomorrow and the Interplanetary Bank

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With a title like “The Phantom Superman,” one might expect the story in Action 199 (Dec. 54) to be a forerunner of the Phantom Zone.  But it’s not.  Rather, the Boring and Kaye story hints more towards the development of Bizarro.

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A grey Superman appears in Metropolis, wreaking havoc in the city.

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This evil duplicate of Superman was created by Lex Luthor, using a device that seems to work off of photographing Superman.  It’s an imperfect duplicate, but only in colour.  It also fades after a while, and must be re-charged.  Unlike Bizarro, this Superman is a dutiful slave of Luthor, ready to obey any command.

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It takes until the end of the story for Superman to confront this double. They appear to be  evenly matched in their fight,although Superman wins, and other presumably fades away.  Worth noting is the panel in which the Daily Planet building gets lifted into the air.  There is no globe atop the building in this panel.  The globe had appeared, as far back as the 40s, but had singularly failed to grab the attention of most of the artists on the series, and was not yet a standard sight.

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Tommy Tomorrow comes to the aid of the Interplanetary Bank in this Jim Mooney story, after a series of thefts.

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The crime element drives the story, but really it’s an excuse to show a variety of unusual currencies from different worlds. Again, the bank would return in the Legion of Super-Heroes series.

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Some of the currencies shown would return in Legion as well.  Most notably, the one that is the culprit in this story, a crystalline metal-eating living currency.  These creatures attack Lightning Lad’s robotic arm in the Evillo story in Adventure Comics.

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