Posts tagged ‘Tommy Tomorrow’

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Action 134 – Super-Cowboy, cheap travel to Mars, and Vigilante vs the Four Horsemen of Villainy

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William Woolfolk scripts the Superman story in Action 134 (July 1949), with art by Boring and Kaye.

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In what very much feels like the opening to a late 50 or early 60s story, a man comes to the Daily Planet, asking for help running a crusading rural newspaper. Perry White thinks this is a great idea, and orders Lois and Clark to come with him.

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The story actually deals very little with the rebuilding of the newspaper, and dives instead into the western environment.  Superman may not ever put on a cowboy hat, but he does spend most of the story dealing with cowboy-type problems, like rescuing Lois from a stampeding herd.

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Binder, Swan and Fischetti deal with the economics of 1989 in this tale.  Mars needs workers, but the price of travel there is prohibitive.  A man is selling contained space suits, advertised as being able to make the entire voyage for a very low price, and gets many takers.

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The men get stranded partway there, as the suits are not even close to being able to do the trip.  Tommy, as colonel in the Planeteers, captains the ship that rescues them.  But the men accuse him of not caring about their situation, when he announces that he will return them to Earth.

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So Tommy finds a variety of reasons to keep moving his ship towards Mars, including fighting a space dragon.  The creatures ability to fly in a vacuum is ascribed to ether-currents.  Whatever they are.  The other Planeteers on the ship work to repair and upgrade the suits, and Tommy releases the men close enough to Mars that they can complete the journey.

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Vigilante has to face a team of murderous thieves in this story by Gardner Fox and Dan Barry.

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The Four Horsemen of Villainy wear identical black garb, and for a while, people think there is only one man, capable of astounding feats.  People are so frightened that Greg Sanders finds his show has been cancelled.  He is pretty mad about this, as he and Stuff travelled all the way out there, so he gets into his Vigilante costume and starts tracking the Horsemen.  He figures out that there have to be more than one man.

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The climax leaves Stuff to the side, as Vigilante fights and defeats all four of the horsemen.

Action 132 – Kill the Kents, and Tommy Tomorrow’s brother

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No direct connection between cover and story on Action 132 (May 1949).

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The Superman story delves into the background of the Kent family, as someone tries to kill off its members, in this story by Bill Finger, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye.  Jimmy Olsen has a cameo near the top of the story, and a few members of the Kent’s extended family are introduced, but never seen again.

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Clark discovers that the presumed motive for the murders deals with a secret treasure belonging to a Kent ancestor, so travels backwards through time, checking out various early Kents.  In the late 1800s, he wears a handlebar moustache along with his Superman outfit, because it looks even more ridiculous that way?  He meets his adoptive father as a young boy – but the first name is given as Silas.  Just goes to show how rarely Ma and Pa Kent appeared at this time.

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His third trip back in time takes Superman to the American Revolution, and he learns one of the Kents was a hero in that war, and the treasure comes from that era.  He comes back to the present and identifies the killer, but does not take possession of the treasure, even though he is legally heir to it, because just being part of the US is enough of a reward. Gag.

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Tommy Tomorrow’s younger brother Tim is introduced in this story, and we can all thank Binder, Swan and Fischetti for never referring to him as Timmy Tomorrow.

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Tommy shows Tim a alien gem he picked up on his travels, and the stone takes control of his mind, drawing him out to a far planet.  Tommy follows, and they find the source of the gems.  Throughout this tale, the organization that Tommy belongs to is called the Planeteers, which it will remain.

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The mind-controlling gem stones are connected to hibernating aliens, who revive when Tommy and Tim come near them. This story would be re-written in the 60s as a Superman/Batman adventure, with Jimmy Olsen and Robin falling victim to the gems.

 

Action 131 – Luthor sends Superman into the 4th dimension, Tommy Tomorrow at the centre of the Earth, and Vigilante eats tortillas

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Lex Luthor hasn’t appeared much in Action Comics recently, but he returns in full force, with a cover appearance, in issue 131 (April 1949), in a story by Joe Samachson and Al Plastino.

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Luthor has invented a machine that moves people and objects into and out of the 4th dimension (isn’t that where we already exist?)  He announces the plans for his next crime to Lois Lane, intending the press to cover the crime, as he transports his men far from the scene.

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Clark Kent writes the story for the Daily Planet, and winds up on the chopping block when Perry White and the Planet get sued by the thieves.  Luthor transported them across the country, and they have witnesses to place them thousands of miles away.  Clark finds that his reputation has been ruined, and no other paper will hire him.

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Luthor then uses his machine on Superman, trapping him in the 4th dimension.  Essentially, this puts him into the same state as the Phantom Zone, though that would not be introduced for many years to come.  But as with the Phantom Zone, Superman finds he is able to mentally influence an electric typewriter, although that is credited in the story to the wonderful sensitivity of the machine itself.  Lois gets to act as Superman’s agent, finding Luthor, and reversing the machine to free Superman.

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Tommy Tomorrow is given the rank of colonel in this story by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and John Fischetti.

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His rank must have been conveyed for one of his earlier stories, as he already has it as he leads an expedition into the centre of the Earth, finding a society based on slavery in the core.  I would suspect the rank was given to him after his treaty with the 10th planet.

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Tommy discovers that the reason the inner world relies on slavery is the scarcity of water, and the necessity for a huge work force to produce it.  Somehow, that does not sound like a reason for it, just an excuse.  But Tommy provides them with some water from Lake Tanganyika, and frees the slaves, earning a statue in centre of the world.

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Some really excellent art by Dan Barry on this George Kashdan Vigilante story.  It opens with a chef, and a fan of Vigilante, inviting him to his nebulous South American country.  The reference in the story to “pampas” would seem to indicate that Argentina is the location.

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The story is really fun.  Vigilante has to deal with rampaging cattle, and rustler, and other typical problems, but the focus of the tale is the cooking.  The tortillas the chef is so proud of are all but inedible.

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Eventually, the source of the problem is discovered.  The river the chef got his water from has oil running through it.  The ostrich has nothing to do with that, but looks just great.

 

 

Action 130 – Superman meets Ann Blyth, Tommy Tomorrow discovers the 10th planet, and Zatara unseats a tyrant

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Hollywood actress Ann Blyth appears in Action 130 (March 1949), playing herself, in a story by Al Plastino.

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Best known for playing the thankless daughter in “Mildred Pierce,” for which she was nominated for an Oscar, this story ties in to a recent film she made, “Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid.”

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Ann Blyth is in costume for this, when men in a mechanical octopus try to capture her.

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Superman saves her, but Lois insists the entire thing was a publicity stunt.  Ann winds up in the bad guys hands a second time.  Essentially, she takes Lois Lane’s role in this story, poking around, finding the bad guys, getting captured and getting rescued.

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No wonder Lois is so angry throughout this tale.

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Binder, Swan and Fischetti advance the year of Tommy Tomorrow’s adventures to 1989 in this story, which deals with the search for the tenth planet.  Pluto had only been discovered in the early 1930s, and many people still believed there was another, undiscovered, large planet beyond it.

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Tommy Tomorrow does, indeed, find this mysterious planet.  Although the surface is largely barren, there is a huge civilization living underground. They turn out to be Atlanteans, who fled Earth when their civilization sunk.

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These people are not happy about their hidden world being discovered, and have plans to conquer the Earth.  Or so it’s stated.  Tommy prevents them from taking any action, sealing off their air supply and threatening to kill them all unless they sign a peace treaty.

Tommy muses at the end on how war has been eliminated. Because sealing off an air supply and threatening to kill everyone is so much better.

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Zatara gets an entertaining story in this issue, by Samachson and White.  A company hires a former soldier, expecting he will bring his regimented ways to the office, increasing efficiency.  In fact, he quickly turns into a micro-managing tyrant, who loves inflicting punishments.

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The company’s owner approaches Zatara after one of his charity shows, and gets him to come to the office.

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The scene I really like has Zatara bring to life the medals the man wears, which expose him as a coward and impostor.

 

 

Action 128 – Superman plays football, Congo Bill gets a job, and Tommy Tomorrow watches football

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Superman takes sides in a kid’s football game in the cover story from Action 128 (Jan. 49), by Frederic Ellsworth and Al Plastino.

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Gamblers get involved in the game, and an attempt to take out the best player, Big Red, winds up giving one entire team food poisoning.

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Superman comes to the aid of the children who take the place of the sick players, lead by Big Red’s little brother, cleverly named Little Red.  It’s not a great story, barely a serviceable one.  The best bit has Clark all bundled up against the cold – but the bundling is to cover to Lois that he is not really there, but on the field as Superman.

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For the last few stories, ever since the leopard attack, the narration has referred to Congo Bill working for the World-Wide Insurance company.  In this issue, by Smalle, Bill himself refers to the company in the dialogue, and we see that he has a secretary.  He also is trying to sneak out, before being sent on another assignment.  Only a few months in, and having a boss is already grating on the man.

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Bill gets sent to the Kimberly diamond mines in South Africa, after a theft.  But as the story progresses, Bill comes to believe he is on a wold goose chase, and the manager of the mine is the true thief.

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Binder, Swan and Fischetti take us back to the amazing future of 1988 in this Tommy Tomorrow tale.

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Tommy is watching robots playing football as the story opens. We also discover that criminals are now kept in prisons made out of hollowed asteroids – a forerunner of the “prison planet” idea that would grow in Legion of Super-Heroes.

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Tommy spends much of this story chasing an escaped prisoner through our solar system.  The memorial to the first moon landing is kind of neat.  Good thing there is no date on it though!

Action 127 – Superman goes on Truth or Consequences, Tommy Tomorrow debuts, and Vigilante vs El Boleadoro

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I knew of Truth or Consequences as a tv game show, hosted by Bob Barker, when I was very young. But clearly it goes back much further, as Action 127 (Dec. 48) shows.

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The Al Plastino story does not back away from what the cover promises.  The whole tale involves Superman competing on the game show, with Ralph Edwards playing a very large role in the story.  Superman completes some amazing tasks as consequences, and avoids the pitfalls of giving away his identity, and revealing his feelings for Lois Lane.

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Lois Lane even winds up getting to impose a punishment on Edwards, and assigns him to polish a thousand shoes, which he completes only with Superman’s aid, and a loose definition of shoes.

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Tommy Tomorrow had originated in the pages of Real Fact Comics, as noted on the splash page of this story.  There was no real continuity, particularly of the year, in those stories.  So it is no surprise that his series launch changed the continuity again.  Otto Binder, Curt Swan and John Fischetti were the creative team that began the regular run of DC’s first major science fiction hero.

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The story begins with Tommy Tomorrow graduating from the Space Port, which is also an academy, training pilots and explorers.  It is the far off future of 1988.  Hmmm.  Actually, that is only forty years in the future, from when this story was written.  They had a lot of faith in scientific advances!

We don’t see too much of the fantastic world of 1988.  Moving sidewalks, and ring phones are the highlights.

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Tommy is assigned to raid planets of their aquatic life, for a big aquarium.  A radio reporter goes along with him.  Apparently tv was a brief late 40s craze, and by 1988 people had returned to watching their radios.  Tommy is a bit of a dick to her.  When she complains about feeling ill, he dismisses her abruptly as just not being used to space travel.

Can’t say that this is one of the greatest science fiction tales I have ever read.  In fact, it’s a bit like Congo Bill in space in this one.

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Joe Kubert lends his unmistakable art to the Vigilante story in this issue, as he faces El Boleadoro, while travelling in Argentina.

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El Boleadoro is named for his trademark bolas.  He is a dangerous thief, who thinks nothing of causing a train wreck in order to loot the gold being transported on it.

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Stuff looks pretty definitely white now.  Vigilante displays his exceptional skill at shooting, as his bullet splits his enemy’s bolo in half.

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