Tag Archives: Batman

Superman 279 – Batgirl comes to Metropolis

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Maggin, Swan and Phil Zupa bring Batgirl to Metropolis for a follow-up story in Superman 279 (Sept. 74).

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While it’s not a bad story, it’s nowhere near as fun as Batgirl’s last appearance in these pages.  There is a plotline about terrorists demanding oil, but that’s secondary to a storyline that resembles the first teaming of Superman and Batman, as Barbara Gordon comes across evidence indicating that Clark Kent is Batman.

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By far the best scene has Steve Lombard coming on to the Congresswoman, and getting taken down, literally.

I think what disappointed me was that there is no real continuation of the slight romance being built between the characters in their previous story. In this one, it is clear that Barbara and Clark are just friends.

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Still, the story clearly sold well, and Batgirl was back in a few months, joining Supergirl in the pages of Superman Family.

Superman 268 – Wild Weekend in Washington

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Maggin, Swan and Bob Oskner single-handedly revive Batgirl’s career in the hugely popular Superman 268 (Oct. 73).

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The story begins immediately following the conclusion of the previous issue of Action Comics, as Superman and Batman bring the Golden Eye to the Fortress of Solitude.  Clark has an assignment in Washington DC, and Batman suggests that he look up new Congresswoman Barbara Gordon.  Neither hero is aware that Gordon is, or should I say was, Batgirl.

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Clark calls her up, and Barbara somewhat reluctantly agrees to a date, and they go to a reception for a senator.  While there, Clark manages to bore Babs, at least until he makes an off-hand remark to the senator about a secret project he should know nothing about (but does, as Superman).  Clark gets kidnapped shortly after dropping Barbara off, and goes along with it to find out what the bad guys are up to.

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Unaware that Kent is Superman, Barbara Gordon decides it’s time to become Batgirl once more.  She had essentially retired upon getting elected, a way to end her series in Detective Comics, and basically write her out.

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She manages to track down Clark, and winds up joining Superman as they face off against a spy organization, MAZE.  Superman has to move quickly to prevent Batgirl from figuring out that he is really Clark.

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It’s a fun story from beginning to end (the end being a tease for a later tale, as Superman and Batman discover that the Golden Eye has gone missing), and was popular enough to warrant a follow up story with Batgirl the next year.  MAZE would become her arch nemesis through the 70s.

Superman 236 – Superman among the angels, and the singing flowers of Krypton

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Looks like something supernatural is going on on the cover of Superman 236 (April 1971).

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O’Neil, Swan and Anderson give Batman a cameo at the top of this story, as he and Superman finish rounding up a criminal gang.  Batman is heading home for some sleep, but Superman does not sleep.  He has invented a brainwave machine, and tries it out, but it seems to short out, and Superman finds himself among angels, helping them fend off devils at the gates of Hell.  The angels tell him he has died, and order him to go battle the demons.

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Superman goes along with things for a while, but the demons don’t seem very demonic, and in talking to them, they break through the hypnotic effect that the ‘angels” have subjected him to.  Superman is really in the middle of a war between two alien groups.

The angels try to force him to stay on their side, threatening Batman, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, but once Superman knows what is really going on, he helps the good aliens beat the bad ones.

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Green Arrow and Black Canary guest in this issue World of Krypton story, by O’Neil and Giordano.  They are fuming about the pollution destroying the environment, and so Superman shares with them a tale from Krypton.

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A couple of decades before the explosion of the planet, another scientist had figured out what was coming.  But when he tried to warn people, no one would listen.  They were all really into just chilling and listening to singing flowers.  Because the scientist kept ruining their groove, they sealed him up in the middle of a garden, until all he wanted to do was listen to singing flowers as well.  Twenty years later, Krypton blew up.

It’s kind of a dumb story, really.

Superman 199 – the first Superman/Flash race

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An excellent cover for the first Superman/Flash race, by Shooter, Swan and Klein, which rushes through the pages of Superman 199 (Aug. 67).

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The two heroes are asked by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to do a race taking them three times around the world, as a huge charity event.  Both agree, and Clark Kent gets assigned by Perry White to cover the race, as does Iris Allen by her paper.  Iris is the wife of Barry Allen, but unaware that he is the Flash (or so we think).

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Two crime cartels, one American, one European, make a huge bet on the race, and each brings in a criminal scientist to help plot against the other.

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The Justice League show up for the start of the race.  Superman has Batman and Robin, Green Arrow and the Atom on his side, while Aquaman, Hawkman and Green Lantern are pushing for the Flash. The Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman are seen later, but we do not know which hero they are rooting for.  Supergirl is also at the starting line, supporting her cousin.

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The story has some excellent art, and makes the most of its varied locations.  There are some little problems along the way, such as the heroes running into a camel laden with figs, and some greater ones.  The Flash helps Superman when a kryptonite meteor is ejected from a volcano they are passing.

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And later, in a snowy Saskatchewan, Superman switches identities to tend to the Flash after he wipes out on the ice.  Should have had his winter boots on.

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The race has been very close, and as the heroes reach the final stretch through the US, both criminal groups put their plots into action, stopping the heroes and replacing them with impostors.  The ones betting on Superman replace the Flash, and vice versa.

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The impostors are meant to lose the race, but this results in both of them running more and more slowly, until they both come to a complete stop, realizing that neither is the real hero.  It’s a great scene, capped perfectly as the actual heroes race by them after overcoming their traps.

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The race ends in a tie, intentionally, to prevent either gamblers from winning their bets.  This would be a bit of a downer, except the final panel announces the second race, soon to take place in the pages of the Flash.

A really fun story, well-told, and the tie even makes sense in the context.

Superman 173 – a kryptonite’s tale, and Jimmy Olsen a captive

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After the great Luthor/Brainiac story a few months earlier, I’m sure many were excited about the cover of Superman 173 (Nov. 64).  I wonder how many were as thrilled after they had read it.

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Beppo, the Super-Monkey gets to appear in this book, as a new, but short-lived, series launches, “Tales of Green Kryptonite.”  Binder and Plastino follow a single chunk of the toxic rock from its creation through its first years on Earth, with the kryptonite itself narrating the story.

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After an opening sequence on Krypton, with Jor-El and Lara, we follow the rock as it lands in the African jungle.  Beppo is the first to come across it, but gets away from the substance before it kills him.  The rock gets found by Lana Lang’s archaeologist father, and brought back to Smallville.

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The kryptonite gets stolen from the museum, and Superboy has his first encounter with this specific piece, but is rescued by Krypto.

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Young Lex Luthor uses it as he works on a cure for kryptonite, as this story is set before he loses his hair and turns evil.  Though both Lex and Superboy are not aware of it, Luthor had indeed found a way to suppress the effects of the radiation.  Superboy, not realizing the situation, thinks the kryptonite must be an imitation, and throws it out the window.

An interesting idea for a series, there is another installment a couple of months down the road.

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Siegel and Forte provide the cover story for the issue, which opens as Jimmy Olsen decides to get into an alien ship that lands on the roof of the Daily Planet, requesting help from Superman.

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The ship turns out to be a trap, and Jimmy is brought before Luthor and Brainiac at their new base.  They proudly show Jimmy their statues of Superman’s and Batman’s greatest enemies, as well as demeaning statues of the Legion of Super-Heroes, shown as elderly and out of shape.  How villains amuse themselves in their spare time, I guess.

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But Jimmy is not as dumb as he seems, and clues in that this is all a giant hoax on him.  He spots that the supposed Brainiac has blue eyes, instead of green, and guesses (correctly) that the Luthor and Brainiac he is facing are really Superman and Batman.  They were trying to convince Jimmy that he takes too many risks.

 

Superman 156 – The Last Days of Superman

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Hamilton, Swan and Klein execute another classic story in Superman 156 (Oct. 62).

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A Kryptonian artifact lands on Earth, and Superman and Jimmy Olsen come to investigate.  It contains samples of Virus X, an incurable plague from Krypton.  Although Superman shatters the container, he falls ill quickly, and realizes he must have caught the disease.

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For fear of infecting any other Kryptonians, Superman has himself and Jimmy Olsen sealed up as he gets sicker and sicker.  Superman enlists Supergirl and Krypto to complete a number of projects for the benefit of mankind before he dies, and Supergirl in turn enlists the Superman Emergency Squad and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

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Brainiac 5 tries to find a cure for Virus X, hoping to balance out his evil ancestor’s actions, but fails.

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As death nears, Superman reflects on his romantic interests.  Lana Lang, Lois Lane and Lori Lemaris all appear, as does Lyla Lerrol – although she does not much look like how she appeared.  Superman bids farewell to Batman and Robin, and burns a message into the Moon, revealing his secret identity.

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At the last minute Mon-El, still in the Phantom Zone, contacts Saturn Girl telepathically.  Superman was never infected with Virus X. A tiny piece of kryptonite got jammed in Jimmy Olsen’s camera, and had been slowly killing Superman.

With the help of Supergirl and Krypto, Superman removes the writing on the Moon that would have revealed his identity.

A really well done tale, giving lots for the huge supporting cast to do.  Virus X would appear and infect Superman, a number of years down the road, in a multi-issue story in Action Comics.

Superman 132 – if Krypton had never exploded

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Binder, Boring and Kaye spin a full-length “Imaginary Story” in Superman 132 (Oct. 59), exploring a reality in which Krypton did not explode.

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Batman and Robin stop by the Fortress of Solitude to give Superman a present, a simulation of how his life would have been had Krypton never exploded.

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With no reason to shoot his son into space, Jor-El and Lara raise Kal, and even give him a brother, Zal-El.  Kal joins the Kryptonian version of the boy scouts, and as a good deed helps a middle aged couple of Earth – Ma and Pa Kent.  With no alien baby in the field, they head to an adoption agency and pick up a somewhat startled looking young girl.

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Kal has dreams of becoming a space explorer, but his computerized aptitude test does not rank him anywhere near high enough, and he instead is made a lab assistant for Dr. Xan-Du.  Xan-Du is working on an enlarging ray, but instead it winds up endowing super-powers.  Both Xan-Du and Krypto get exposed to the ray.

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Xan-Du adopts the secret identity of Futuro, and becomes a super-hero on Krypton.  The story weaves back and forth between things that are different, and things that are the same – Kal-El still winds up dressing as Clark Kent, for example.  Jor-El and Lara, as well as Zal, all wind up dying in a crash, so Kal still winds up an orphan.

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Kal learns Futuro’s identity, and becomes his “Jimmy Olsen,” complete with signalling device.  He also saves Futuro’s life, which leads to a re-assessment of his aptitude test.  They find that the machine had a short, and Kal is qualified to become a space pilot.

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The Superman suit returns, as a design for Kryptonian pilots, although the only person we see wearing it is Kal.  Lois Lane gets into the picture, coming to Krypton and falling in love with Futuro.

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The story ends as Futuro and Lois Lane head back to Earth to marry.  Futuro uses his ray on Kal, leaving him the Superman of Krypton.

Not a bad story, despite the amount of “coincidental” things that are just the same (like the use of the costume).  It also set the pattern that many of Superman’s “Imaginary Stories” would follow.