Posts tagged ‘Vigilante-cycle’

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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