Tag Archives: Dick Dillin

Superman 263 – a wolf melts Superman, and birthday tears


I’m not convinced that the photo element adds anything to the cover of Superman 263 (April 1973).


Superman raises the ire of an irresponsible film director in this story by Maggin, Swan and Anderson.  After publicly humiliating the man, the director wants vengeance against the hero.


The director answers an ad by a scientist named Dr. Phoenix, who brings the director’s dreams, of creating a giant mythological wolf to kill Superman, to life.  Although Phoenix uses scientific means, he is also well versed in magic and mythology, resurrecting the legendary wolf.


Superman dives right into the wolf, destroying the glowing pentagon powering it.  The director is left a babbling madman, but Phoenix continues to scheme against Superman.

Percy Bratten is back in a small role in this tale.


Bates, Dillin and McLaughlin explore the reason Kryptonians cry every sixth birthday in this Fabulous World of Krypton story.


The reason dates far back into the past of Krypton, which apparently was a society where people never expressed any emotions.  The pent-up feelings would erupt in destructive bursts.


Rather than simply deal with their emotions, a scientist created a fluid that would allow Kryptonians to go on suppressing their feelings, but prevent the emotional build-up by crying out the destructive energy through tears every six years.

What a messed up culture.


Superman 257 – the War-Horn, and Tomar-Re retires


Superman 257 (Oct. 72) features a decent cover story, but it’s the Fabulous World of Krypton story that made me include it.


Superman deals with an alien solider, who has come to Earth to steal nitrogen for his people, in this Bates, Swan and Anderson story.  Being a soldier, he is simply following orders, and thus cannot be argued out of his task.


There is some lovely art on this, and the story is good.  But nothing really stands out.


What does stand out is the World of Krypton tale, by Maggin, Dillin and Giordano.  The Guardians of the Universe bring Tomar-Re before them.  Tomar-Re was the first, and most frequent, member of the Green Lantern Corps that Hal Jordan met.  He had last been seen a couple of years earlier in Justice League of America.


The Guardians are reviewing Tomar’s career, and attention is paid to his greatest failure.  Krypton was in his space sector, and he was ordered to save the planet.  We follow the travails of this mission, doomed to failure, with Jor-El and Lara’s last day intercut.


But because of Tomar-Re’s failure, Earth gained its greatest hero, or so the Guardians tell him. Quite a different view on Superman than they expressed in the last appearance in these pages.

Tomar-Re next appears, five years down the road, in the Five Star Super-Hero Spectacular.  The Guardians say that Tomar-Re has retired as of the end of this story, but later he will be shown to be part of the Honour Guard.



Superman 249 – Terra-Man debuts, and gets an origin story


Terra-Man makes a big debut in Superman 249 (March 1972), getting two stories in the issue, the second of which is a solo origin tale.


Bates, Swan and Anderson also give cameos to a couple of people who sure look like Archie Bunker and Edith, from All in the Family, a new show at the time of this issue.


While the introduction of Terra-Man is the main plot of this tale, there is also a subplot about Kryptonian birthdays, and the trauma they cause.  It’s odd, and doesn’t honestly fit too well in the rest of the story.  A World of Krypton tale the following year would expand on these teary eyed birthday celebrations.


But frankly, when Terra-Man comes flying in on his horse, who cares about the rest of it?


Although his look, manner of speech and weaponry all have an old west feel to them, Terra-Man is actually using extremely high tech alien weaponry, which just resembles antiques.


Superman does an impressive upside catch-the-bullet-in-the-mouth trick, spitting it back into Terra-Man’s gun, causing it to explode, and allowing him to capture the villain.  In old west style, Terra-Man stays quiet for much of this story, and we learn very little about him in this first story.

But that’s ok, as the second story fills in all we needed to know.  The following issue sees the return of Terra-Man as well.


Bates is joined by Dick Dillin and Neal Adams, an odd combination, for the origin story of Terra-Man.  He really is from the old west, the son of a bandit, and a criminal from a tender young age.


His father tries to rob an alien spaceship.  Gotta give the guy credit for guts.  The alien kills the boy’s father, but then essentially adopts him, raising him on his travels.  The boy gets implanted with a device that allows him to exist in the vacuum of space, and captures and breaks a flying horse, also able to withstand the vacuum.


As he grows up he becomes an accomplished intergalactic thief, finding ways to turn the alien tech into the western themed gear he loves so much. When he returns to Earth, he finds that far more years have passed on that planet than he has experienced.  One of those faster than light slows down time things.


He also kills the alien who raised him.  He remembered his father’s dying scrawl, even though it took him years to comprehend it.

An excellent origin story, and an interesting new villain for Superman.


World’s Finest 257 – Superman turned to stone, Black Lightning vs Tobias Whale, Green Arrow vs Clock King, Hawkman faces erasable thieves, and Captain Marvel vs the Invincible Man


O’Neil and Dillin are joined by Frank McLaughlin on World’s Finest 257 (June/July 1979), another Superman/Batman team up without any real villain.


In this story the problems are caused by a genetically mutated bird, which has the ability to make wishes come true.  It winds up in the hands of a semi-crazy bag lady, who does not realize the power she now has.


Her wishes at first are simple and small, but cause enough chaos and problems to draw the attention of the heroes, already on the alert for the wishing bird.


The lady goes on a kick against “foreigners,” sealing off the city, and then turning to stone any people she feels are not “American” enough.  When she turns Superman to stone, Batman decides it’s time to impersonate a statue himself.  He makes himself look like a statue of George Washington, and does the speech about everyone being immigrants.  She regrets her actions, and turns all the stone people back to normal.  Batman wishes the bird away into space.


O’Neil also scripts the Black Lightning story, sadly with George Tuska on the art, along with Robert Smith.


Tobias Whale has a new girlfriend, Tabitha Katt.  But she is no arm candy, she has her own agenda, and betrays Tobias to other mobsters who want him out of the way, so they can take over his territory.  This messes up Black Lightning’s plan to take him in.


Katt does not hide her betrayal, but with Lightning messing the plans up, she is now in trouble.  Whale proposes a truce, and that he and Black Lightning work together to take her and her cronies down.


Clock King returns to World’s Finest in a story by Paul Kupperberg, Jose Delbo and McLaughlin.  His last appearance was in Justice League of America, making this only his third time out, and his first in well over a decade.  A recap is given of his first battle with Green Arrow, but we also learn much more about William Tockman, including his name.


In this story he is seeking vengeance against Green Arrow, and the doctor who had treated his sister.  He had turned to crime in the first place to pay her medical bills, and she died while he was in prison. A good background for the character, and a nice use of the (relatively new) digital clocks.


Clock King doesn’t get into costume until the last few pages, but that outfit is one where a little does a lot.  He loses to Green Arrow, but comes back within a couple of years.


Gerry Conway, Rich Buckler and Romeo Tanghal take over the Hawkman series with this issue, pitting him and Hawkgirl against thieves robbing the Midway City Museum, where they both work.


Mavis Trent appears, for the first time in about 5 years, but is a minor character in the tale, just there to be a museum guise while the Hawks are in action.  They are puzzled by the way parts of the thieves bodies vanish when either of them tries to touch one.  Hawkman looks at the puzzle from a different angle, and realizes that they are simply projections, and the objects they are “taking” were really stolen by other, normal, thieves, using the projections as a decoy.


Captain Marvel faces an invincible opponent in this outing, by Bridwell, Newton and Schaffenberger.


He calls himself the Invincible Man, and it’s a good name, as he is able to withstand any and every attack by Captain Marvel.  He relates his origin, but Cap catches some lies in there, and figures he must really be someone else.


Checking on his usual foes, he finds Captain Nazi, King Kull, Sivana, Black Adam and Mr. Mind all still in prison, though Mr. Mind appears to be dormant.  But if he truly were, he would be in a cocoon!


Realizing that Mr. Mind is animating the Invincible Man, he seals the body up, allowing Mr. Mind to exit before coating the head.

This is the first time we get the idea of Mr. Mind entering a head to take control of a body, even though it’s only an artificial one.


World’s Finest 256 – the werewolf from Krypton, Green Arrow meets Black Lightning, Black Canary works on her cry, Hawkman begins, and the truth behind the death of the Batsons


Denny O’Neil and Murphy Anderson helm the Superman/Batman tale in World’s Finest 256 (April/May 1979), which has no real villain, just a sad victim.


A scientist and his daughter, working on a machine to travel between dimensions, accidentally open a doorway to the Phantom Zone.  A Kryptonian werewolf emerges, killing the scientist, and winds up in a fight with Batman.  Superman gets alerted when the Phantom Zone projector operates on its own, almost releasing General Zod.

Comparing notes with Batman, Superman realizes that the escapee is Lar-On, an unwilling werewolf, sent into the Phantom Zone by Jor-El until a cure could be found for his condition.


Though not by any means an evil man, Lar suffers from his violent alter ego, with all the powers of a Kryptonian, and Superman and Batman are frantic to find him.


It’s quite a change of pace from the last few issues, and despite having no real bad guy, is an enjoyable read.


O’Neil is also the scribe for the Green Arrow story in this issue, joined by Dick Dillin and Frank Chiaramonte.


Green Arrow is on the trail of the men who bought the Arrowcar.  They paid a lot for it, and Arrow is sure there is someone big behind them.  He turns out to be right, as he sneaks into the estate of Tobias Whale.  He runs into Black Lightning there, and the two have a brief scuffle, as Green Arrow assumes he is one of Whale’s people.

They quickly realize they are on the same side.  Tobias Whale was Black Lightning’s main enemy during the run of his own comic.  Green Arrow leaves Lightning to take down Whales himself, as he requests.

This is Black Lightning’s first appearance since the cancellation of his own comic in the DC Implosion, and launches his own series here.


Black Canary gets a solo story by Conway, Delbo and Colletta, although it’s narrated by Green Arrow.  The story deals with her control over her sonic cry.


In the early 70s the cry was often unpredictable in its effects, particularly in the pages of Justice League.  Here, and in Green Lantern, she often relied on her martial arts, using the cry as a last resort.  This story has her working to perfect it, and still having problems.


It is, however, the last time she would be shown to be struggling with control of her power, so it’s safe to say that her encounter with the criminal carny solidified her control.

This is also that last issue to contain separate Green Arrow and Black Canary stories.  From now on, she would usually be a supporting character for Green Arrow, although she would get some solos, in issues where he takes the back seat.


Hawkman (and Hawkgirl) begin a series by Steve Englehart and Anderson that follows the events of their three issue run in Showcase, which ended a few months earlier.  Superman guest stars as the Halls reflect on becoming exiles from Thanagar, which is now under the control of their old enemy, Hyathis.


They get a warning beacon from their ship, and find it invaded by Harpies, under the control of Fal Tal, who they had faced waaaay back in an early issue of the their own book, in the 60s.


Fal Tal and her harpies prove to be fairly easy to beat.  Less than a page, really.  Not the most impressive story to launch the series, but Anderson’s art looks nice.


Bridwell, Newton and Schaffenberger delve into the deaths of Billy Batson’s parents in this story, as a man comes to the offices of WHIZ announcing that he is responsible.  Years earlier he met a myserious being, the Gamester, who wagered him for the lives of the Batsons.  He won the bets, and the Batsons died.  Now the Gamester has returned, intending to play for the man’s own life.


Billy is very suspicious of the entire story, and rightly so.  As Captain Marvel, he picks up on clues that the man is really from the future, and so his “bets” are no such thing, as he knows what will happen.


Captain Marvel then wagers against the Gamester, who makes outrageous bets, which Captain Marvel makes come true.  In the end the Gamester has no choice but to admit his fraud.

So the Batsons really did die in an innocent car accident after all.


World’s Finest 240 – Superman – King of Kandor


I never liked World’s Finest 240 (Sept. 76), by Haney, Dillin and Calnan, and I didn’t know anyone else who did either.


Superman quits and disappears.  Batman wonders where he is, and traces him to Kandor, with the help of Van-Zee, the Kandorian who looks just like Superman.  Van-Zee had not appeared since 1966.


Batman first has to contend with a Superman robot, and we discover that they can still function as long as they remain in the sterile environment of the Fortress of Solitude.  We also see a telepathic cat.


Superman has taken charge in Kandor, running like a tyrant.  Van-Zee and some other Kandorians recruit Batman to kill him.  Batman is reluctant at first, but sees Superman acting like a madman.  So he kills him.


The telepathic cat is revealed as the real villain, but the shocker is Superman coming back to life.  This happened because once his dead body was brought back into the light (although not direct sunlight – they are in the Fortress) it became invulnerable again, and therefore “not dead.”  LAME.

Van-Zee would return a year down the road in Superman Family.

World’s Finest 238 – Superman’s son falls for Lex Luthor’s daughter


World’s Finest 238 (June 1976) features a rare 70’s appearance of the planet Lexor.  Sadly, as a Super-Sons story, it’s not even in continuity.


Superman Jr falls for a pretty girl that they help out on the highway.  She needs two actors for a show she is heading to perform in, at a prison.  The Super-Sons help out, and the girl breaks her father, Lex Luthor, out of jail.


Haney, Dillin and Calnan pull off one of the better Super-Sons stories here.  Lex Luthor had no idea that he had a daughter, but is more than pleased with Ardora (or, I guess, Ardora Jr).


Ardora brought her father back to cure the people of Lexor of a plague of gigantism.  Even Ardora’s namesake mother has been stricken.


The Super-Sons head to Lexor.  Ardora keeps them captive, but eventually frees them to help her father.


And in the end, turns on her dad, forcing him at gunpoint to go with the Super-Sons back to Earth.  It’s a shame there was never a follow up for her, but the Super-Sons had almost run their course by this time.