Tag Archives: Fortress of Solitude

Superman 315 – Superman as Blackrock

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Pasko, Swan and Adkins have a lot to cover in Superman 315 (Sept. 77), which ties up the previous tale, sets up the next one, and tells its own story as well.

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Superman and Supergirl bring Nam-Ek from the ski resort, from the last issue, to the Fortress of Solitude, freeing him from his crystal sheath, but sending him into the Phantom Zone.

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Skull operatives head to the volcano with kryptionite in its lava, seen a couple of issues earlier, in their creepy skull-ship.  Superman gets the jump on them, destroying their ship and rounding them up.

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Back at WGBS, Clark Kent is told by Morgan Edge that he is going to have a female co-anchor, something fairly new in the late 70s.  Clark is none too keen on the idea, especially as Edge refuses to tell him who is will be.  The one person it won’t be is Lola Barnett, who had defected to UBC.

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And when the UBC network is in the story, you can be pretty sure that Blackrock will be as well.  This is the third appearance of the character, and, for that matter, the third Blackrock as well.  Now able to fly on radio waves, he gets into a fight with Superman.

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But a chance collision of the Blackrock power beam and Superman’s x-ray vision winds up merging their minds.

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The new Blackrock is the nephew of Sam Tanner, the original, but as before, he is unaware of his own alternate identity.  As himself, he is a tv comedian, Les Vegas.

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And though the identity confusion actually winds up revealing that Clark is Superman on live tv, the fact that it’s a stand-up comedian who does it makes the viewers, and even those in the studio, think it’s all a gag.  Superman clears things up for Blackrock, even though that puts them back into conflict, until Superman can take the confused comic down.

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The story concludes at STAR Labs, with a teaser for the next issue, as Jenet Klyburn shows Superman the captured Skull members, now dead, with kryptonite hearts.

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Superman 306 – Bizarro’s new powers

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Bizarro is back with a vengeance as his team-up with Toyman continues in Superman 306 (Dec. 76), by Pasko, Swan and Oskner.

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Superman manages to get away from the Toyman, although Bizarro is still hot on his tail.  But Superman is able to calm him down enough to find out why he is back on Earth.  Bizarro believes that he has seen his world destroyed, and so has come to Earth to destroy Superman’s world and friends as well.  Or make new Bizarros.  He doesn’t seem to mind which.

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But Superman has to show Bizarro that the duplicator ray at the museum that he intends to use is a fake, a mock-up.  Bizarro takes this as a personal insult, and uses his heat vision to…freeze Superman?

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Bizarro then kidnaps Lois (gee, how retro) and bring her to the Fortress of Solitude where he can use her to make a new Bizarro Lois.  Superman follows, furious, as Bizarro made no effort to protect Lois against the elements and speed, and almost killed her.  Bizarro now has flame breath, instead of cold breath, and Superman begins to put all the pieces together.

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In an action I am certain would not work, he takes Bizarro back to his landing place, and hits him really hard, which reverses his flight to Earth. It was, indeed, Bizarro who crashed into the Coliseum, not Superman.  And the meteor impact that gave Bizarro the hallucination that his world was destroyed has also permanently altered his powers.

The Toyman, now all regretful and depressed over his murders, once he learned that Bizarro was the one who trashed his stuff, turns himself in.

Looking at this story now, I see so many many plot holes, but as a kid it was my introduction to Bizarro, and I just loved it.

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 258 – the Galactic Golem returns, and the mysterious Mr. Xavier

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The Galactic Golem is back in Superman 258 (Nov. 72).  Maybe I shouldn’t have revealed that, as it comes as a surprise for the reader.  Well, for any reader who didn’t bother to look at the cover.

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See, who could that mysterious figure in the trenchcoat and hat be?  Wein, Swan and Anderson spend a lot of time building up a puzzle whose answer is already known.

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So let’s just cut to the chase.  The Galactic Golem is now able to speak on its own, and has a much more protracted fight with Superman than previously.  He maintains his former motivation, simply to kill Superman.

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Superman manages to weaken the Golem, but is still outclassed power-wise.  He manipulates the creature into getting encased in metal, and subjected to the forces from the magnetic north pole, right near Superman’s Fortress.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, all the Galactic Golem stories, pre-Crisis at least, take place at least partly at the Fortress of Solitude.

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Clark Kent is bored and decides to spy on his neighbour in this romp by Bates, Swan and Giordano.

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To be fair, he does this simply to amuse himself and hone his detective skills, and avoids using super-powers for the most part.  Super-memory is allowed.  Mr. Xavier is a neighbour that Clark knows nothing about, and has never met.  He trails him and observes him from a distance, trying to deduce all he can about the man through observation.

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The only problem is, it’s not Mr. Xavier that Clark was trailing.

The story plays out in a nicely comic way, but lays the groundwork for a more serious story to come with this man.

Superman 195 – Amalak returns

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Amalak is back with vengeance on his mind in Superman 195 (April 1967), in a story by Shooter, Swan and Klein.

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The story opens as Superman discovers that someone has trashed the Superman Museum, destroyed his monuments, and burned his name out of all documents and records.

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Heading to the Fortress with Krypto and Supergirl, they find it all smashed up as well, but miss the thief stealing Kandor and all the samples of kryptonite.

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Amalak relates how he teleported to survival after his last encounter, and has acquired a sidekick, a young man who is the sole survivor of his planet, demolished by a chunk of Krypton after its explosion.  Once again, Amalak chooses to have someone else do his fighting for him.  Their goal is to kill all the Kryptonians, and destroy all they had, to remove them from memory completely.

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Rinol captures Supergirl and Krypto, putting them with Kandor.  This is primarily to lure Superman.  But just before Rinol can kill the hero, Amalak steps in to do it himself.  Very unwisely, he admits to having used Rinol, and shoots him, which once again gives Superman an opportunity to get the upper hand in the fight.

Rinol helps Superman take Amalak down, and this time the space pirate gets imprisoned, where he stays until the mid-70s.

Superman 176 – the Super-Pets travel through time, Green Kryptonite returns, and Superman speaks the truth

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Were chalkboards often used in courtrooms at the time Superman 176 (April 1965) came out?

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The Super-Pets, who were frequent guest-stars in the Legion of Super-Heroes series in Adventure Comics at this time, join Superman for a time travelling romp in a story by Dorfman, Swan and Klein.

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After a will leaves a huge bequest for an animal shelter, to be overlooked by the Super-Pets in a managerial capacity (the guy clearly has great faith in these animals), because of the nasty actions of an ancestor, Superman recruits the Pets to join him on a trip to the past, to learn more about the man.  Krypto, Streaky, Beppo and Comet all take part, while Proty II is said to be busy on a mission in the future.

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They find that the ancestor is a junk dealer who frequently abuses animals.  The story also tells a (highly fictionalized) version of the creation of the American Society for the Protection of Animals, as the passage of a law protecting them from being abused gets passed during their time in the past.  The story is not bad – largely consisting of the man trying to injure the Super-Pets, but having no success, due to their powers.

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The talking green kryptonite returns for a follow-up story by Binder, Swan and Klein, covering its “activities” now that Superboy has grown to Superman.

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It’s not as much fun as the first tale.  The kryptonite is on hand as Superman constructs his Fortress of Solitude, and is once again used in an experiment to nullify its effects.  The experiment works, although it makes the kryptonite deadly to humans.

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When the process wears off, it becomes deadly to Superman again, and he disposes of it in space.  But the rock passes through the cloud that changes green kryptonite into red.

The ending announces that there will be a follow-up story, which comes in the next issue.

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Dorfman, Swan and Klein fill in some Kryptonian history in this otherwise silly tale, which has Superman and Supergirl telling nothing but the truth for a single day, no matter what the consequences.

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Lois Lane and Lana Lang try to take advantage of the situation, asking Superman which of them he prefers, but he gets out of the situation by yelling his answer too loudly to be understood.  The story has a couple more instances of this kind of “out.”

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The most interesting part of the tale is the flashback explaining the situation.  We learn that, at one time, Krypton was under the domination of aliens called the Vrangs.  Though most Kryptonains went along with their enslavement, Val-Lor stood up to Vrangs and spoke the truth, even at the cost of his own life.  The Vrangian execution of Val-Lor prompted a rebellion, and sent the Vrangs packing.  In commemoration of this, all Kryptonians spend one day each year speaking nothing but the truth.

This story gets referenced a few times in later tales.

Superman 152 – the Robot Master

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Superman’s friends have a big secret in issue 152 (April 1962), in a story by Siegel, Swan and Klein.

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Clark Kent comes to the Daily Planet one day, only to find that Lois Lane is writing an article exposing his identity as Superman.  Lois acts disdainfully towards him, as does Jimmy Olsen, who is preparing to expose Supergirl as well.

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After Perry White joins in on the lynch mob, Superman uses his x-ray vision (as per the cover image) and discovers that his friends have been replaced by robots.  He calls on Supergirl for help, and they bring the robots to the Fortress to study them.  They are under the control of someone called the Robot Master, but the robots act of their own accord as well.  In the Fortress, they each check out the room dedicated to the person they based on.

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The Clark Kent robot joins them, as they begin fighting amongst themselves over which one Superman likes best.  The robots wind up ripping each other apart.  Superman and Supergirl do not notice that the Clark Kent robot starts removing pieces of the damaged ones.

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In a somewhat nonsensical ending, the Robot Master is revealed to be the Legion of Super-Heroes.  This story comes just before they begin their own series in Adventure Comics, the next place Cosmic Boy, Lighting Lad, Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy and Sun Boy appear.  Brainiac 5 gets a cameo in a Supergirl story between the two.

The reason for this bizarre hoax was to commemorate Supergirl’s arrival on Earth.  Of course it was.  It’s all so clear now.

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Inside the robots were tiny figures of the Legion, and the super cousins.  They get displayed on a very large shelf, making them look even smaller.