Posts tagged ‘Vartox’

Action 583 – “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” concludes

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Action 583 (Sept. 86) brings to a close the era of the Pre-Crisis Superman, with the concluding half of an Imaginary Story by Alan Moore, Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger.

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The entire story is one of dark foreboding, and is related by Lois Lane, now married and with a son, to a reporter, writing a story about the last days of Superman.  Many of Superman’s friends and enemies appeared in the first half of the story, and most of the villains have died.  Superman has brought Lois, Lana, Jimmy, Perry White and his wife to the Fortress of Solitude.  Cosmic King, Lightning Lord and Saturn Queen have come from the future, knowing that this was the end of Superman, to join in the fun.  They find the Kryptonite Man, as well as a disturbing union of Luthor and Brainiac.

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Many of Superman’s friends are shown throughout the issue, trying to get through the force-field surrounding the Fortress.  Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Captain Marvel and the Martian Manhunter are shown, along with Vartox, and pre-Crisis Superwoman.

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The story is filled with heart-wrenching sequences.  Jimmy takes his Elastic Lad serum, and Lana bathes in the pool that gives her super-powers, so they can join the fight against the assembling villains.  Her super-hearing allows Lana to hear Superman explain to Perry White that it is Lois that he truly loves, but he cared too much for Lana to ever let her know.

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Lana and Jimmy both fall to the Legion of Super-Villains, while Krypto sacrifices himself to take out the Kryptonite Man.

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This is all turning far too bloody and dangerous for the villains from the future, and they flee in their time bubble.  Luthor and Brainiac are the last, but perish in the snow.

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Who was the villain that brought this all about?  Mr. Mxyzptlk, the most powerful adversary Superman has, who chose to be a pest, but has now chosen to be a destroyer.

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Superman winds up using the Phantom Zone projector to rip the 5th dimensional being in half, but he has knowingly, and willingly killed.

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Though Lois gives him all manner of justifications, Superman has violated his own code.  He enters a chamber of gold kryptonite, which permanently removes his powers, and is never seen again.

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The reporter leaves.  I was teary eyed and emotionally drained by this point when I read this the first time, but so thrilled at the end, as the baby turns a lump of coal into a diamond.  And then I really looked at the face of Lois’ husband.

I believe Alan Moore has now dismissed this story as garbage, as he is wont to do.

I don’t care what he thinks.  This is the crowning gem of the first 50 years of the character.

 

Action 499 – Superman and Vartox fight over saving Earth

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Bates, Swan and Colletta conclude the Vartox story in Action 499 (Sept. 79).

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Vartox tells Superman of his concerns, but Superman insists that nothing is wrong.  In fact, he begins to get angry at Vartox when doomsday cults pop up around the world.  He believes that Vartox is causing these with his mental powers.

Vartox also reveals his identity to Lana Lang, who must be relieved to have an honest man in her life.

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Superman becomes convinced that Vartox has been driven crazy by grief, as he has before.  Vartox has to physically subdue Superman, and use his mental powers on him, to try to get him to listen to his warnings.

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Part of the problem is that, in the Fortress of Solitude, atoms are not expanding as Vartox says they will.  But they see that it is happening outside of the Fortress.  Realizing Vartox was right all along, they deduce what is preventing the situation inside the Fortress, and then replicate it outside, saving the world.

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Vartox heads off into space at the end of the story, wanting to find a world that needs him.  He and Lana share a loving goodbye.  Things are not over between them, and Vartox will be back in a couple of years, though in the pages of Superman.

 

Action 498 – Vartox loses his world

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Vartox returns in Action 498 (Aug. 79),in a story by Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte.

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Vartox returns to his homeworld, Valeron, from a mission in apace, only to see it explode before his eyes.  Worldless, he comes to Earth.

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Superman is happy to see him, and consoling. But also a bit worried when they come across a crashed space ship, and Vartox thinks it is full of dying Valerians, blaming him.

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But this doesn not worry Superman that much, it seems. As Clark, he gets Vartox a job as head of security for WGBS, and gives him a human identity, Vernon O’Valeron.  Vartox slips easily into this role, getting the best of Steve Lombard, after he makes Clark look like a fool, and beginning a romance with Lana Lang.

As the issue draws to an end, Vartox discovers that the same thing that destroyed his planet (enlarging and exploding atoms) is about to happen on Earth.

The story concludes in the next issue.

Action 476 – Vartox and Karb-Brak vs Superman

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The Vartox/Karb-Brak story by Bates, Schaffenberger and Chiaramonte concludes in Action 476 (Oct. 77).

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Karb-Brak has one more explosive blow-out in his fight with Clark Kent.  Clark uses heat vision to short out the lighting in the studio, and takes Brak with him out of the building.  Once the fight is done, Karb-Brak is sane and healthy again, his allergy drained off completely by Vartox.  It’s the first moment Superman realizes the other man is even on Earth.

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Vartox has had his powers restored as well by Brak’s outburst of energy, but it has messed with his mind.  He recounts his own actions as if they were taken by Superman, and even sort of confesses how little he cared about Brak’s life and safety, although again he ascribes all this to Superman.  Vartox leads Brak in attacking the hero.

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Superman manages to hold off the two, and contacts Lois Lane, who dresses up as Vartox’s dead wife.  The sight of her snaps his mind back, and he calms down.  But everyone apologizes to each other, and all is well.  Vartox takes Karb-Brak back to his homeworld in Andromeda, and heads back to his own planet.

This is the last we see of Karb-Brak,but Vartox returns in a couple of years.

 

Action 475 – Vartox returns, and Lori Lemaris gets caught

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Bates, Schaffenberger and Chiaramonte bring back Vartox, the hero of a far-off world, in Action 475 (Sept. 77).  Vartox had debuted in the pages of Superman a couple of years earlier, this marks his second appearance.

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Vartox is operating as the hero of his world, but he finds his powers weakening.  He considers asking advice from Superman, and scans Earth, but finds something even more interesting.

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Vartox learns of Karb-Brak and his ailment, and speculates that his allergic reaction could recharge Vartox’s failing powers. He heads to Earth, but keeps out of sight.  Karb-Brak mistakenly assumes that it is Superman who caused his flare up.

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Karb-Brak even attacks a second time, while Clark is giving a live broadcast.  Vartox is hovering just outside the building, and caused this allergic reaction on purpose.  Not very nice for a hero.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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Lori Lemaris gets, I believe, the only solo story she ever got, by Elizabeth Smith, Win Mortimer and Frank Chiaramonte, in this issue.  It comes quite out of the blue.  The last time Lori Lemaris appeared was in the Virus X storyline, almost ten years earlier.

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Lori gets caught by a Russian trawler, illegally fishing.  She uses her telepathic powers to turn the crew against each other.  We find out that only Aquaman’s city of Poseidonis is recognized by the United Nations.  The mermaid city of Tritonis has no legal standing.

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Lori also summons a number of sea creatures to help her escape by capsizing the boat, including Aquaman’s “pet” octopus, Topo.

It’s a good outing for a character that has never had a solo story before.  And Lori did not have to wait nearly so long for a return, appearing the following month in the Superman Super-Spectacular.

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