Tag Archives: Brett Breeding

World’s Finest 274 – Batman gains super-powers, Green Arrow heads to jail, Zatanna begins, Hawkwoman leaves, and Captain Marvel in silence

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Burkett, Gonzales and Breeding conclude the Weapons Master storyline in World’s Finest 273 (Dec. 81).

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It’s not any better than the first two parts.  Batman gets all super-powered up, but also starts burning out, with only four hours to live.  He bursts into the Weapons Master’s ship and frees Superman.

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While they do not actually defeat the Weapons Master, they do succeed at driving him away.  With minutes to spare, Superman alters the chamber that gave Batman his powers, drawing them back to save his life.

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Mike W Barr takes over the scripting on the Green Arrow series, joining Von Eeden and Mahlstedt.  Much of the story is told in flashback, as Dinah listens to a tape Oliver left her, explaining why he has taken off.

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Through information gained by a stoolie, Green Arrow busts a drug ring, and writes about it as Oliver Queen.  The police want to know his source.  George Taylor tries to cover for him, but Queen gets arraigned anyway.  He runs off to Star Island to hide, but Black Canary tracks him pretty easily.  She knows him too well.

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Together, they decide that Oliver should stand up for his principles and accept the consequences, even if that means heading to jail.

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Zatanna begins a series in this issue, by Gerry Conway, Gene Colan and Robert Smith.  She is performing on a cruise ship, and has her manager/boyfriend Jeff Sloane along with her.  While Zatanna has been appearing regularly as a member of the Justice League, Jeff has not appeared since the end of her series in Adventure Comics, back in the mid-70s.

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There is a professional newspaper critic on board, a nasty, bitter man who gets empowered by some nebulous mystic force, which gives him a sonic cry, not unlike Black Canary’s.

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One of the nice touches in this story is that Zatanna differentiates between her stage garb, the classic fishnets costume, and her hero garb, his Justice League outfit, rationalizing that she does not want to capitalize on her crime fighting.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Hawkman wakes up to find that Shayera has left him in this story, by Rozakis, Saviuk and Rodriguez.  She has gone off to find and rescue the Thanagarian fleet that he trapped in hyperspace.

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Hawkman heads to the Justice League satellite, and asks Superman and Green Lantern to help him find her.  They have no idea where to even begin looking, and though it’s awkward, they also indicate that they aren’t sure that helping him is really the right thing to do.  Hawkwoman is their friend as well.

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Miserable, Katar returns to his job at the Midway City Museum.  A number of exhibits have been stolen and replaced by duplicates, and he begins to investigate.  Mavis Trent hears about his marital troubles, and immediately puts the moves on him.  The reader, but not Hawkman, sees that the Matter Master is the thief.  He had last appeared a year or so earlier in DC Comics Presents, and returns next issue as this story continues.

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There has been a subplot building over the last few Shazam stories, dealing with Billy Batson’s secretary getting blackmailed, and that begins to move to the foreground with this issue, by Bridwell, Newton and Mahlstedt.

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The main story pits Captain Marvel against a thief who has the ability to suppress sound, meaning that Billy cannot use his magic word when the man is around.  He has the secretary play a tape of him saying Shazam when the villain appears, which calls down the magic lightning, and allows him to triumph.

 

World’s Finest 272 – Superman tries to give Batman a break, Green Arrow heads to Vlatava, Hawkgirl becomes Hawkwoman, Red Tornado ends and Chain Lightning debuts

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Horrible cover for World’s Finest 272 (Oct. 81), and the Superman/Batman story inside, by Burkett, Buckler and Giella, is not the best either.

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Superman gets worried because Batman is all intense and gritty.  As weird as that sounds, it shows how neutered the character had become in this book.  He pretty much kidnaps him and brings him to the Fortress of Solitude to hang out, have fun and relax.

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That doesn’t work too well.  When Superman heads out to help some explorers in trouble, robots invade the Fortress, and Batman has to hold them off.  They are equipped with kryptonite, so even when Superman gets back, it’s still up to Batman to take them out.  He does, but the two are left wondering who was behind this.  They will find out in the next issue.

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Haney, Von Eeden and Breeding have a pretty shocking opening to the Green Arrow story, as the hero finds the dead body of Count Vertigo.  He claims to have been poisoned by gas from the crown, and blames the US government.  His dying request is to be brought back to Vlatava for burial, and asks Green Arrow to do so.

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Arrow does accompany the body back to the Eastern European nation, under Soviet occupation.  This is the first time we see Vlatava, and it look relatively poor, and also fairly dangerous.  Once there, Vertigo revives.  He had never actually died, and there was no gas in the crown, instead it amplified his powers to an even greater degree.  He and Green Arrow start to fight, which draws the attention of the Soviet troops.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Hawkman has problems with the Thanagarians, and with his wife, in this story by Rozakis, Saviuk and Rodriguez.  The Hawks engage in aerial battle with the Thanagarian fleet, but though they are skilled, the numbers are simply against them.  The fleet is not really after them, they are leading an invasion of Earth.  Hawkman manages to divert them into hyperspace and trap them there.

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Shayera is less than pleased.  In her eyes, she has just condemned them to a living death, for simply following the orders of Hyathis.  Hyathis may be a warmonger and maniac, but most of the fleet is peopled by average Thanagarians. It is also in this story that she decides she no longer wants to be called Hawkgirl, and insists upon Hawkwoman.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Red Tornado’s series comes to an end with this Conway, Delbo and Breeding story that concludes his fight with the Robot Killer.

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The Statue of Liberty does get nicely used as a battleground, but there is little else commendable here.  The Robot Killer injures Tornado, but then gets trapped, and needs to repair the android so that they can both be saved.

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On the whole, the Red Tornado series was nothing to crow about.  Sad.  Reddy continues to appear in Justice League of America.

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Bridwell, Newton and Mitchell introduce Chain Lightning, the only new villain added to the Shazam series that would continue to appear in years to come.

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Chain Lightning has the ability to both draw lightning to her, and also emit it.  The magic lightning that Mary Marvel calls down simply gets absorbed by Chain Lightning, powering her up.  Chain Lightning is also the very first Mary Marvel villain who is able to notice that Mary’s secret identity looks exactly like her, only the clothing changes.  It stuns me that no other characters are able to spot this.

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We even get an origin for her, albeit a brief one.  A sorceress, she studied alchemy and magic until she learned to control magic lightning.  What Chain Lightning does not realize is that a second Shazam bolt will not double her power, but remove it.  Mary Marvel counts on this, and takes her out.

 

 

World’s Finest 269 – Batman buried alive, Green Arrow on vacation, Hawkgirl returns to Thanagar, Red Tornado needs repairs and Captain Marvel Jr vs Sabbac

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Conway, Buckler and McLaughlin bring Robin back to share an adventure as Batman get buried alive in World’s Finest 269 (June/July 1981).

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The story opens as Batman wakes up in a coffin, already under the ground and running out of air.  Superman is on the case, as Batman has already missed an appointment with him.

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Robin joins the hunt, and though he and Superman track down the man who captured Batman fairly easily – he’s not shy about admitting to his crime – the man blows himself up before revealing where Batman is, injuring Robin in process.

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Superman is left to try to find Batman on his own.  And though he does figure out where Batman is buried, and digs to free him, he finds that Batman has already managed to escape.  We get an explanation of how this was done, even though it’s not really needed.  This is Batman, after all.

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Haney, Von Eeden and Breeding send Green Arrow down to the Caribbean on holiday, where he winds up in the old Spanish Prisoner scam, getting looped into helping a woman bribe a relative to freedom, although none of what she says is true.

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It doesn’t take Green Arrow too long to spot the holes in her story, and turn the tables on her, and the rest of the drug smuggling gang she is a part of.  But the art is very good, and the story remains a fun read.

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Hawgirl shares the title billing with Hawkman on this story, by Rozakis, Saviuk, and Rodriguez, even though she is really getting a solo tale.  Hawkman just lies around, poisoned and dying.

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It’s Hawkgirl who heads back down to her home planet, despite the order of exile.  She finds herself betrayed by friends and hunted down like a criminal, but does manage to get the serum that will cure her husband.

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Even so, it’s a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire, as they find the Thanagarian fleet heading out after them.

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I was always a big fan of the Red Tornado, and with each issue I hoped for a story I could really enjoy.  And while Conway, Delbo and Giella have a decent enough tale, it was never quite was I was hoping for.

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This issue sees Red Tornado needing some repairs for his body.  Presumably Morrow did not treat it well when he was controlling it.  The man he turns to for help is busy being held up by communist terrorists, who clearly chose the wrong man on the wrong day.  Even with his body malfunctioning, the Tornado is able to take them down.

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Bridwell, Newton and Adkins continue with the focus on Captain Marvel Jr as Freddy Freeman faces an enemy not seen since the 1940s, Sabbac.  As the splash page makes clear, he is essentially an evil version of the Marvels, deriving his powers from various demons and devils.

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Captain Marvel Jr makes quick work of him.  He really ought to be a bit more of a challenge.  And though the story appears resolved as the issue ends, there is more to come with Freddy.

World’s Finest 268 – Dr. Zodiac returns, Green Arrow in Chinatown, Red Tornado out of body, Hawkman vs Lord Insectus, and the origin of Captain Marvel Jr

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A little over a hundred issues after his first appearance, Dr. Zodiac makes an impressive return in World’s Finest 268 (April/May 1981).

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Burkett, Tanghal and Smith weave an interesting story, dealing with an ancient Atlantean relic, a Zodiac wheel with twelve coins, each representing a different sign.  The coins give appropriate powers to anyone who controls them, and the wheel.  Lori Lemaris, last seen a couple of years earlier in DC Comics Presents, makes a rare appearance, explaining the coins and their origins to Superman.

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While we see the thefts of the coins being committed by someone, taking the forms of the various zodiacal signs, the identity of this person it not clear.

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Batman is certain that Dr. Zodiac is the one behind it, even though he has alibis for every single theft.  The key to the mystery is the Gemini coin, which creates a double, which Zodiac used to create his alibis.  Dr. Zodiac attempts to charge himself with the powers of all the coins, but Superman replaced one with a fake before it was stolen.  This has the effect, when placed in the wheel, of nullifying all his powers.

Dr. Zodiac does return down the road.

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Bid Simons, Trevor Von Eeden and Brett Breeding craft a gritty and enjoyable Green Arrow story, which takes him into Chinatown gang wars.

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An aging samurai is forced into battle with Green Arrow by one of the gangs, creating an interesting situation, as we neither want the old man to triumph or be defeated.  The story does have a happy ending, and a good role for his daughter.

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T.O. Moorw puts the moves on Kathy Sutton while in the Red Tornado’s body in this chapter, by deMatteis, Conway, Delbo and Giella.  Although he looks like the Red Tornado, his behaviour makes Kathy suspicious almost from the start.

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They pick up Traya from the orphanage.  I guess they sent her back there, as Tornado had already adopted her once.  Traya also figures out that something is wrong, right from the get-go.  When the real Red Tornado shows up in Morrow’s deformed body, he has no trouble convincing the women of who he is, but it is not until Traya is in danger that he regains control of his body, forcing Morrow out by sheer force of will.

T.O. Morrow returns in a couple of months in Justice League of America, in a story that resolves the apparent contradictions between this story and his appearance in Super-Team Family.

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Hawkman goes to the bugs in this chapter, by Rozakis, Saviuk and Rodriguez.  Hawkman always seems to look “right” when fighting other animal based enemies, and Lord Insectus does a good job leading his insect hordes against him and Hawkgirl.

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Between them they develop a device that reverses the mutation of the insects, returning them to their normal size, where they are simply pests.  To their surprise, this works on Insectus as well, indicating that someone else transformed him.  But before they can ponder that, Hawkman collapses from the excess venom he had been stung with during the story, and Shayera has no choice but to take Katar back to Thanagar, exile or no.

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Bridwell, Newton and Mitchell begin a story arc that centres on Captain Marvel Jr, and opens by recapping his origin, which he has been having nightmares about.

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Freddy Freeman was out fishing with his grandfather, when Captain Nazi, in the middle of a fight with Captain Marvel, smashed right into their rowboat.  Nazi killed the grandfather, and tried to kill Freddy, leaving him crippled.  Captain Marvel brought Freddy to Shazam, who allowed Marvel to share his powers with Freddy, when Freddy spoke Captain Marvel’s name.

Although not much else happens during this first chapter, the importance of this recap will become clear later on.

 

Action 661 – Plastic Man comes to Metropolis

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Plastic Man and his sidekick, Woozy Winks, come to town on the track of a killer in the Stern, McLeaod and Breeding story in Action 661 (Jan. 91).

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Jimmy Olsen runs into the wacky pair at the airport, and is with them for most of their storyline.  Superman stays quite separate for much of this, which helps.

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Superman is pursuing Intergang, and although Mannheim and Sweet Lelani destroy their files, Superman finds a notation about someone known as T.B. coming in to town that day.  And Plastic Man is pursuing a killer named Time Bomb.  Are the two things related?

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Well, no, actually.  Which is sort of refreshing.  Plastic Man gets his wild action sequence, and Superman finishes off Time Bomb, whom he assumes the note referred to.  In fact, TB is Tiny Bubbles, an Amazon-sized friend of Lelani.

Plastic Man had most recently appeared in his own, four-issue miniseries the previous year.  He appears from time to time in the Superman books.

Action 660 – Lex Luthor kills himself

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Lex Luthor dies in Action 660 (Dec. 90), at the hands of Stern, McLeod and Breeding.

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Luthor had been poisoned by the kryptonite ring he wore.  It had already cost him his hand, but Gretchen Kelly explains that he will die of the radiation soon.

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We get the doctor’s backstory in this issue, of becoming Luthor’s physician, then girlfriend.  Getting tossed aside and falling apart, and then being rescued from prison by Lex, and working for him ever since.

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At the same time, Jimmy Olsen throws an engagement party for Lois and Clark at the Planet.  The couple got engaged in Superman a couple of weeks earlier.  Perry White does not join in the celebration, still having problems of his own since Jerry’s death.

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Luthor decides to personally test his new Lex-wing fighter, with a big media launch.  During the flight, he jettisons his co-pilot, and takes the plane faster and higher than even intended.  Too high.  The plane crashes in the Andes.

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The new gets out, and Superman flies to the site, finding only the charred remains of Luthor’s fake hand.  Kelly admits to the media that he was dying, but insists he did not commit suicide.

I remember reading this when it came out.  I doubted that they were killing the character, but liked the story for the most part.  It just seemed a bit simple and easy.

I didn’t realize what they had planned.

Action 659 – Breakout at Stryker’s Island

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Chapter three of Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite sees Superman struggle to convince people he still has his powers, thanks to Stern, McLeod and Breeding, in Action 659 (Nov. 90).

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Starman uses his shape changing powers to impersonate Superman, doing flybys in Metropolis, and taunting Luthor, which allows him to retrieve the “red kryptonite.”  Emil Hamilton studies the rock, and builds a metallic suit for Superman to duplicate his abilities.

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Mxyzptlk pops up to let Luthor know he had been conned.  Mxyzptlk created the red kryptonite in the first place, and it really has no power.  Mxyzptlk’s magic caused the power loss.

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When Killgrave leads a mass breakout from Stryker’s Island, Starman flies in as Superman to put it down, but fails, and falls.  Gangbuster and the Guardian help out, and Superman marches in in the armored suit.

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It’s quite a funny scene as he approaches Killgrave, who cannot figure out why he is wearing the suit and walking, which terrifies him.  His big gun succeeds only at removing the suit itself, and Killgrave flees, but gets caught on the way.

Still, with no powers, and no idea how to get them back, Superman is not happy.

The story concludes in next month’s Superman.

Action 657 – the Toyman returns

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The Toyman makes his second post-Crisis appearance in this tale by Stern, Gammil and Breeding in Action 657 (Sept. 90).

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The Toyman sends a message to Luthor, announcing that he is going to hurt him.  The Toyman turned to crime to get vengeance on Luthor in the first place, after he stole his life’s work.

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We learn that the mysterious man at the end of his first appearance was Morgan Edge, and that since that time, Winslow Schott has been working for Intergang, making all their high tech weapons.  He is still doing so, vengeance on Luthor is just a sideline.  He has built toys that lure the neglected children of Lexcorp executives, and Schott has been keeping them all safe in a fairyland.

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Knowing that the Toyman is behind the kidnappings, Luthor has major security put on his people, the children all brought to a camp, where they can be protected.  But Luthor has not foreseen the Toyman’s creativity with his creations.

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Lexcorp’s armored hit squad follow the children, as does Superman, and they all wind up at the Toyman’s place.  Superman carts Toyman to jail, and he is saddened by the fact that the children still prefer their parents to him.

It’s not a bad story, but the Toyman comes across as pretty weak, despite his mechanical talents.

 

Action 656 – Superman and the Black Racer go to hell

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The Soul-Search story arc begins in Action 656 (Aug. 90), as Stern, McLeod and Breeding send Superman to hell to save the souls of Jimmy Olsen and Jerry White.

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The two boys are both in the hospital, near-death, after a shooting at Blaze’s.  Perry and Alice are watching over their son.  Or rather, the boy Perry believes is his son.  Lex Luthor also hears the news, and is upset.  Jerry White is really his child.

The Black Racer comes to the hospital to beckon Superman.  Part of the New Gods, the Black Racer’s touch means death, but he is a sometimes compassionate character.  In this case, the death the boys are facing is not natural or timely, and he informs Superman of this.

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The Black Racer takes Superman through a Boom Tube to hell.  It’s a bit surprising, but no reason I can think of that the Boom Tube would not be able to link to the atferworld.

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Superman finds the souls of the boys, encased and weakening under Blaze’s torture.  She looks much less attractive in her demonic guise than her human one.  Being a supernatural entity, she is also able to wound, and capture, Superman.

The story continues in next month’s Superman.

 

Action 655 – Lois Lane encounters Cadmus

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Stern, McLeod and Breeding put Lois Lane in the centre of Action 655 (July 1990).  As is shown on the cover, Lois rides her way into a secret military encampment on the roof of a truck.  This is a private army, not the government.

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Jimmy Olsen takes Lois’s sister Lucy out on a date to Blaze’s a new nightclub in a ruined church.  Jerry White, Perry’s son works at the club, owned by his girlfriend, Blaze.  Lucy is not comfortable there, and leaves, but Jimmy stays behind.

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The secret military group are using an amazing hideout, a multi-level structure built of massive trees.  This is Habitat, being re-introduced into the Superman reboot.  The army did not build it, they found it abandoned, and took over.

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The man running the private army is the son of a general who went rogue and faced Superman early in he reboot, in the pages of Adventures of Superman.  As this man talks about a defends his military father, Lois flashes back to Sam Lane, and growing up as a military brat.

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Superman shows up, taking down the army.  Lois writes a story about it, but the story gets killed by the government.  Habitat was constructed indirectly by Cadmus, and its very existence is too secret to reveal.

And, of course, telling an investigative reporter that there is a government agency too secret to discuss ensures that she will have no interest in it.