Posts tagged ‘Van-Zee’

Action 336 – a Phantom Zone ex-con, and Supergirl with melty face

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There is a really great story in Action 336 (April 1966), but it’s not the one on the cover.

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Superman is the titular star of this story by Hamilton, Swan, and Klein, but the real star is Ak-Var.

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As a youth, back on Krypton, Ak-Var had stolen the sun-stone as a prank.  But he was captured, and sentenced to thirty years in the Phantom Zone.  In the intervening time, Krypton exploded.  Superman comes to Kandor as Ak-Var is released, having completed his sentence.  Phantom Zone regulars Jax-Ur, General Zod, Kru-El and Professor Vakox all cameo.

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Ak-Var wants to stay on Earth, and use his powers, just like Superman.  But the rules are that anyone released from the Zone must take up residence in Kandor – although the Kandorians are none too pleased to have him around.  In fact, the story almost seems to imply that Ak-Var is one of the only people ever released.  He does run into his old gang, and his former girlfriend, all of whom have aged, while he stayed ageless in the Zone.

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This story gives a lot of detail about life in Kandor.  Van-Zee, the double of Superman, takes a liking to Ak-Var, and introduces him to his niece, Thara.

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Ak-Var former gang friends launch a crime spree, and frame Ak-Var.  Being only recently released from the Zone, no one believes him innocent, except Superman, Van-Zee and Thara.

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Together, they expose the gang members as the real criminals.  Ak-Var becomes Van-Zee’s lab assistant.

Van-Zee is not seen again for a decade, returning for a story in World’s Finest Comics.  Ak-Var and Thara have to wait even longer, coming back in the Nightwing and Flamebird series in Superman Family in the late 70s.

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Supergirl comes back to Earth with her transformed face in the concluding half of this Binder and Mooney story.  Superman tries to help restore her features, but with no success.  Comet doesn’t care about her looks (he’s a horse after all), but notices her way of thinking has changed, and doesn’t like that.

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She feels like a freak, and takes off for Bizarro World, thinking to fit in there.  Wanting to fit in on Bizarro World is a pretty dumb idea.

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Linda is stuck wearing a mask over her real face, but discovers that , somehow, her original appearance returned.  She learns that the man who caused it was so grief stricken by his actions, that he changed her back.  And so she ends, happily dancing with Dick Malverne.

An easy out.

 

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Action 309 – the Superman family, and the secret of Supergirl’s parents

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Edmond Hamilton gave Curt Swan and George Klein an awful lot of work in Action 309 (Feb. 64).

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I’m including the splash page of this story to give you some idea of the amount of guest stars who appear.  But this is not just trivial packing, it’s also part of the suspense of the story.

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JFK, looking awfully shadowy, tricks Superman into going to a location, which is where a “this is your life!” special about him is being broadcast.  It’s not that much of a surprise for Superman, Clark Kent received an invitation.

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But who will Superman get to be Clark?  Lois and Lana have a robot detector, as they are using the special to try to prove Clark is Superman.  Lori Lemaris reads their minds, and alerts Superman to the danger.  Lex Luthor makes a cameo, watching the show from prison, but he is the only villain really featured in the tale.

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The Super-Pets put on an impressive show under Supergirl’s command.

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Superboy’s friend Pete Ross makes his first appearance as an adult, and we see a very aged Police Chief Parker from Smallville as well.  All the usual friends are there, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, as well as representatives from Kandor.  Among them are the “Lookalike Squad”, the ones who are identical to people in Superman’s life.  This includes the Clark Kent lookalike, Van-Zee, and his Lois Lane lookalike wife, Sylvia. Even the Jimmy Olsen Fan Club show up, one of whom is dumb enough to bring a chunk of gold kryptonite as a gift.

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But then the Legion of Super-Heroes show up, and Element Lad changes the rock and saves the day.  Chameleon Boy is part of the group, eliminating him as the phony Clark Kent.

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Batman unmasks in front of Lois, but is wearing a Bizarro face.  A nice laugh on snoopy Lois, and a way to work the Bizarro image into the story.

So who is left that could possibly have been Clark Kent?

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Why, JFK of course.

Very disturbingly, this issue was released only a couple of weeks after the assassination of JFK.

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Dorfman and Mooney add yet another twist to the never-dull life of Supergirl.

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Linda is being haunted by dreams of her dead parents, Zor-El and Alura, and can’t even enjoy her dates with Dick Malverne.   She wonders if her parents might be trapped in the Phantom Zone, because of their ghostly nature.  She checks with Comet, who can telepathically sense them somewhere.

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Supergirl can find no trace of them, but does find a remorseful Kryptonian, Jer-Em.  He is willing to tell her of them, but Jax-Ur, Zod, Kru-El and Professor Vakox muddle his telepathy.

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In Kandor, Supergirl uses a chronoscope to review the events of Argo City, her departure for Earth and the death of her parents.  She learns that Jer-Em altered the direction of Argo City’s flight, to take them away from an empowering yellow sun, believing it was evil.  But the change in course lead to the meteor shower that ruined the city.

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She also discovers that her parents did survive, heading into a place like the Phantom Zone, but without all the yucky criminals, called the Survival Zone.

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Supergirl vows to find and free her parents!

 

 

 

 

 

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