Posts tagged ‘Tommy Tomorrow’

Action 194 – the return of Mala, Congo Bill brings Janu to Africa, and Tommy Tomorrow chases a ship

act_194

Mala and his two brothers, Kizo and U-Ban, make their second and final appearance in Action 194 (July 1954), in a story by Finger, Boring and Kaye.  These Kryptonian villains had been introduced a few years ago in the pages of Superman.  Found guilty of crimes on Krypton, they were put into a rocket and shot into space in suspended animation, which is a fairly extreme form of punishment.  They got free, and caused problems for Superman, who imprisoned them at the end of that tale.  After a brief re-introduction, they get free again, and Mala heads straight for Earth. The other two don’t show up until the end of the story.  Maybe they stopped to get something to eat.

act_194_001

Although he has no idea of Superman’s alternate identity, Mala decides to impersonate Clark Kent, whom he knows as Superman’s friend.

act_194_002

Clark begins acting much tougher and more dynamic, which of course draws Lois Lane’s attention.  Not realizing that he is actually speaking the truth, Mala reveals that Clark Kent is Superman.  And where is the real guy?  Mala has been stealing and replacing monuments from around the world, and Superman is busy examining them, trying to figure out what Mala is up to.  Far more important than stopping a crazed Kryptonian from hanging out with those he loves.

act_194_003

Sadly, this story gets even worse, as Mala reveals his true self to Lois Lane before shooting her off into space.  Superman rescues her, and takes her back to Earth, which they discover is unpopulated.  It doesn’t take Superman long to figure out that this is a fake Earth, built by Mala.Presumably Mala thought they would just stay there forever, without questioning the situation.

act_194_004

Superman then rounds up Mala and his brothers, seals them in a bubble permeated with kryptonite, and sends them out into space.  TO DIE!  The bubble is coated in kryptonite for goodness sake!  He doesn’t say that he intends them to die, but what else are we to think?  The characters never appeared again.

Of course, the reason they didn’t appear, except in some comprehensive life story of Superman tales, was that they were soon supplanted by the Phantom Zone villains.  And the fact that Superman killed them.

act_194_005

Congo Bill is clearly back in Africa in the Miller and Smalle story in this issue.  A lion is central to the tale, after all.  And while in previous stories Congo Bill would run into Janu in the wild, in this one Janu accompanies Bill.  So it’s safe to say that, just before this issue, Bill persuaded Janu to travel back to Africa, and has been taking care of the boy since then.

act_194_006

That’s really the primary reason I included this story, which deals with a man selling fake charms against danger, but travelling around behind the guy he sold it to, shooting blowdarts into any animals that threaten him.  It’s hardly surprising that Congo Bill figures out the scam.  It’s more surprising that anyone would go to so much trouble to sell a fake good luck charm.

act_194_007

The Tommy Tomorrow story, now with art by Jim Mooney, deals with a dangerous, thieving space ship that seems to have no one at the controls.

act_194_008

The ship turns out to be controlled by a brain in a jar, which comes from an entire planet of brains in jars.  I only point this out because later Legion of Super-Heroes stories would also feature brain in jar creatures, possibly the same.

 

 

Action 156 – Lois Lane becomes Superwoman, Tommy Tomorrow meets the Metal Men, and the Rainbow Man lights up the sky

act_156

Lois Lane takes on the identity of Superwoman, but the appearance of Supergirl, in the Al Plastino story in Action 156 (May 1951).

act_156_001

The story begins as Lois displays her usual respect for authority, heading right through a door labelled “no admittance, ” and turning on a machine whose function she has no idea of.  But you have to give her credit.  When all the electrical charges start blasting her she neither screams nor runs, just wonders what the effect will be.

act_156_002

Of course, it endows Lois with powers much like Superman, so she adopts the identity of Superwoman again.  This time, she dons a blond wig, in the hopes of keeping her identity a secret.

Before the actual introduction of Supergirl at the end of the 1950s, there would be quite a few try-out variations of the character, such as this story.

act_156_003

Luthor has been spying on Lois, and discovers that she is Superwoman.  He uses his machine to give one of his men powers, and dresses him up as Superman, using him to lure Lois into a trap.

act_156_004

It’s a complicated but entertaining story, with all the fakes and phony identities.  Luthor doesn’t get a lot to do, but Lois is clearly the star of the story.  Superman reveals how he knew her identity – the scent of her perfume.  That’s almost romantic.

act_156_005

Years before the introduction of the Metal Men, the name would be used in this Tommy Tomorrow story, by Swan and Fischetti, for the inhabitants of a planet populated by robots.

act_156_006

When rumour reaches the Planeteers of this robot world, Tommy is sent out to investigate, as they fear an invasion of killer robots.  Tommy finds the world, without much difficulty.  The robots consider Tommy, and other humans, as weak and inferior creations.

act_156_007

But as the story progresses, Tommy and the robots work together, and gain mutual admiration and respect for each other.  In fact, as the story ends, Tommy lies to his superiors, keeping the robot world off the charts, in order to protect them from his own people.

act_156_008

The Rainbow Man is back again, in a story by Bob Brown, which puts the villain back in the urban setting he is more suited to.

act_156_009

The colour wheel seems to short out, sending a kaleidoscope of colours into the sky, neatly warning Vigilante that his old enemy is back.  Kind of like a reverse Bat-Signal, announcing a villain’s intent.

act_156_010

The story isn’t bad, but neither Vigilante nor Stuff is given anything great to do – the Vigilante-cycle gets to star.

Action 149 – Jor-El and Lara’s courtship, Tommy Tomorrow in the movies, and the debut of the Vigilante-cycle

act_149

Action 149 (Oct. 50) has the earliest version of the romance between Jor-El and Lara.  A version that has been entirely dropped from continuity, for very good reasons.

act_149_001

Al Plastino handles the art as a rocket lands on Earth, apparently just outside Metropolis. Lois Lane is covering the story, and finds three Kryptonian discs in the wreckage, which just happen to record how Jor-El and Lara came to be married.  Figuring that this will give her insights into winning Superman, she plays the discs.

The whole story is just shameful, so sexist.  Lara is portrayed as a dim-witted, love-sick woman, and Jor-El her brilliant and patient beau.  The first disc has Lara trying to win Jor-El through cooking, which Lois emulates, although it turns out disastrously.

act_149_002

Lara failed in her culinary attempts as well, and then set out to clean Jor-El’s lab, while wearing what appears to be an evening gown.

act_149_003

Lara’s cleaning winds up causing a fire, and Jor-El decides to marry her, because she is so incompetent and needy.  Wow.  That’s just.  I’m so glad this story fell out of canon.

act_149_004

The Tommy Tomorrow series jumps ahead to being set in 2050, a round hundred years from the present day, and a much more comfortable amount of time in the future than forty years.  Swan and Fischetti do the art on this story, which is really much the same as almost every Hollywood based story, despite it’s science fiction locales.

act_149_005

Some one is sabotaging the production of a movie, and Tommy is assigned to find the culprit.  Along the way,he acts to prevent acts of sabotage, all of which gets caught on film.

act_149_006

In the end, Tommy stops the one trying to halt the production, and winds up starring in a hit film.

act_149_007

Dan Barry takes the gradual development of the Vigilante’s motorcycle a dramatic step forward with the introduction of the Vigilante-cycle in this story.

act_149_008

An inventor presents Vigilante with a new, upgraded version of his bike.  He is hoping to make money selling copies, with the Vigilante’s endorsement.  There is a rival businessman, trying to buy the rights to the bike for less than they are worth.  He insists the cycle is unsafe, so Vigilante runs a series of highly publicized tests.  The rival tries to sabotage these.

act_149_009

That’s the plot in a nutshell.  The rest of the story demonstrates the impressive array of abilities this cycle has – everything but flight, though it can do rocket-powered leaps.  A successful “upgrade” of the series, in an increasingly technophiliac age.

 

Action 146 – Superman vs the Statue of Liberty, Tommy Tomorrow creates rotation, and the Vigilante finds the ship in a desert

act_146

It’s really curious that a generic Superman image was chosen for the cover of Action 146 (July 1950), considering the amount of dynamic visuals in the story.

act_146_001

Stone statues begin to come to life throughout Metropolis, in this story by Woolfolk, Boring and Kaye.  Luthor is the one behind it.

act_146_002

Luthor brings the Statue of Liberty to life, to battle Superman.  He has quite a time with it, not wanting to destroy the monument, and finally manages to bind it to its pedestal.

act_146_003

As a refreshing variation, Luthor brings to life a statue of Lois Lane, and endangers it, distracting Superman as he kidnaps the real woman.  The story culminates in Superman battling a giant statue of himself.  The ending is far too quick and simple, though.

act_146_004

Tommy Tomorrow works to make uninhabitable worlds safe for settlement in this story by Binder, Swan and Fischetti.  It opens showing that there is dire need for this Planteers mission, as colonists have been stuck on worlds where they can barely survive. You have to wonder about why they were settled there in the first place.

act_146_005

The story is fun, and I love Curt Swan’s art, but the scene where they give a planetoid rotation using their space ships is just goofy.

act_146_006

I was struck by this page.  The lightning world, and the wold beasts.  It’s two different worlds, but the juxtaposition brings to mind Korbal, the planet of the lightning beasts, which appeared much later in Legion of Super-Heroes stories by the same team.

act_146_007

The Vigilante and Stuff are on the trail of another legend in this story by Joe Samachson and Dan Barry.

act_146_008

The mysterious ship int he desert, an actual legend, is called the Donna Louise in this story.  An expedition is mounted to find it, and Vigilante rides a special sort of tank-cycle to navigate the desert sands.  The Fiddler, not seen in many years, returns in this tale.  The ship is a fake, as is the treasure found on it, and the Fiddler is pulling a huge scam.

act_146_009

The story clips along, lots of action and twists, and great art throughout.  One of the best Vigilante tales.

 

Action 142 – the world learns of kryptonite, and Tommy Tomorrow makes a wish

act_142

A generic cover for Action 142 (March 1950).  Odd, you’d think they would have wanted to feature the kryptonite on this one, but I guess not.

act_142_001

Schwartz, Boring and Kaye follow up the previous story, as a homeless man discovers the missing piece of synthetic kryptonite.  He does not know what it is, but sees the incredible effect it has on Superman.

act_142_002

Oddly, it’s Superman himself who lets the police, and the press, know about the existence of kryptonite, and the deadly effect it has on him.  But then, he has to tell them something.  The man has teamed up with a group of criminals to rob the city blind, leaving Superman lying on the ground whenever he tries to stop them.

act_142_003

Once again, this almost threatens to expose his identity.  The victory comes simply because the synthetic kryptonite loses its radioactive power, becoming simply a green rock by the time Lois holds it out to Clark Kent.

act_142_004

Binder, Swan and Fischetti give a solid science-fiction adventure to Tommy Tomorrow in this story, which also introduces his friend and eternal sidekick, Brent Wood.

act_142_005

They are pursuing a felon, who winds up wishing a world into existence, a world where anything he wishes for comes true.

act_142_006 It takes Tommy a while to figure out how to defeat this guy, who can literally wish anything into existence.  Tommy simply wishes for the planet to disappear.

Action 141 – Luthor creates kryptonite, Tommy Tomorrow on Training World, and Zatara ends

act_141

Kryptonite is at the core of the Superman adventure in Action 141 (Feb. 50), the first, but not the last, time it appears in this book.

act_141_001

Alvin Schwartz, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye start the story off like many others.  Lex Luthor kidnaps Lois Lane, yawn, and in order to free her, Superman has to fly around retrieving unusual things that Luthor wants.

act_141_002

But what Luthor winds up making is a synthetic kryptonite.  The story briefly flashes back to the destruction of Krypton, and the creation of kryptonite, which had recently been told in more detail in the pages of Superman.  Although the stuff created by Luthor in this story is not real kryptonite, it’s close enough to be a major problem for Superman.

act_141_003

Luthor secretly gives Lois a pair of kryptonite laced gloves.  When Clark Kent collapses, Luthor believes he has trapped Superman.  Because, you know, he did.  But Clark uses judo on the bad guy, and he and Lois wind up thinking Clark faked the fall.

A piece of the synthetic kryptonite has gone missing by the end of the story.  It’s as if to say, don’t worry!  We will be using this again!  And again.  And again.  And again and again and again.

act_141_004

Tommy Tomorrow is sent to spy on some cadets about to complete their training in this Binder/Swan/Fischetti story.

act_141_005

It’s pretty straightforward, but the art is very nice.  And the concept of a “training world,” parts of which duplicate the environments of various worlds the Planeteers patrol, is a good one.

act_141_006

Zatara gets Joe Kubert on his final adventure, 141 issues after his series began. Since the introduction of Tommy Tomorrow, his strip had become only an occasional one, and even the end of this story implies there will be more down the line.

act_141_007

He goes out on a really silly little tale. A fight breaks out between two men, and spreads to take in much of the town.  Zatara uses his magic to get people to calm the fuck down.

act_141_008

In the end, the fight itself proves to be a simple misunderstanding.

Such an unexciting note to go out on.  But really, Zatara’s best days ended way back, when Guardineer left the strip.  Zatara would not appear again until the 60s, as the object of a multi-book quest by his daughter, Zatanna, in her introductory storyline.  But later down the road, he would have stories set between this point and then, as he was worked into the childhood of Superboy, in the pages of DC Comics Presents, and later, Batman, in his own book and Detective.

Despite the duration of this series, outlasting every other strip that debuted alongside Superman, Zatara would never again get a series, a one-shot, or even a solo story.  Anytime his origin is retold, it is done in conjunction with his famous daughter.

Action 136 – Superman’s super-ego, and Tommy Tomorrow finds Argo City?

act_136

Ok, I know this cover.  Action 136 (Sept. 49) is a take-off of something famous.  But what is it from?  Was this a cover of Life?  Vogue?  If you recognize it, please let me know!

act_136_001

It’s of more interest to me than the story inside, frankly.  Finger, Boring and Kaye tell an early version of a common tale, which felt old the first time it went around.  Superman does all sorts of odd things, which appear to be self-aggrandizing.

act_136_002

Lois finds herself getting increasingly disenchanted with the hero, instead of assuming that he probably has some good reason for the unusual things he is doing.  He is Superman, after all.

act_136_003

And, in fact, he had a very good reason.  He was constructing a very complex device to lure away a meteor shower before it did huge damage to Earth.  Gotta learn to trust this guy, Lois.

act_136_004

The Tommy Tomorrow story, by Binder, Swan and Kaye, has the Planeteer colonel out choosing interesting objects as the Seven Wonders of Space.  It’s not a great story, and most of what he chooses is, frankly, not that memorable.  But two things stand out.

act_136_005

Both appear on the same page.  The first is a domed ghost city, floating randomly through space.  Its dome was shattered at some point in the past by meteors.  This is unquestionably Argo City, where Supergirl was born, despite the fact that it would be a decade before Argo City was thought of.  Tommy Tomorrow makes no mention of the kryptonite radiation that killed the inhabitants, but it’s been so many years (or not, he’s still in 1989) that the radiation would have depleted.

The second is a planet of intelligent plant life.  This is J586, a planet first “seen” in Green Lantern, and later in Swamp Thing, Starman, and other comics.

Tag Cloud