Tag Archives: General Zod

Superman 233 – Kryptonite No More!, and the Fabulous World of Krypton begins

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Big changes were afoot in Superman 233 (Jan. 71), as Denny O’Neil, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson updated the character for the 70s.

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An experiment on kryptonite backfires somewhat, sending Superman plowing into a sandy desert.  But it also has the effect of neutralizing all the kryptonite on Earth, no matter what the colour.  With one fell swoop, the seemingly endless and easily available way to kill Superman was gone from the comic.

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Morgan Edge, the head of WGBS, which had recently bought the Daily Planet, had already been introduced in the pages of Sueprman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.  In this story he demands Clark Kent go out to do a live broadcast on a rocket launch.  This requires some speed on Clark’s part, as the rocket launch goes wrong, and he has to get into his Superman gear to save the day, all while supposedly filming the action.

But he does well enough that, by the end of the story, Edge has decided to make Clark a permanent newscaster, over the objections of Perry White.

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The scene in which Superman gets confronted by a criminal armed with the now-powerless kryptonite is a classic sequence.  The neutralization affected all the kryptonite currently on Earth, but as the years passed more would “fall,” until this entire story got rendered moot.

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The tale ends on an eerie note, as the imprint of Superman’s form in the sand rises and stumbles away.  The Sand Superman has been born, and this storyline will play out over the next year.

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The Fabulous World of Krypton debuts in this issue, with a story by Bridwell and Anderson.  The series would jump around to various Superman books, before becoming a minisseries in its own right before the end of the decade, although by then the “fabulous” had been dropped.

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This first tale deals with Jor-El’s experiments with anti-gravity, and his construction of a golden rocket, to the laughs of General Zod and the rest.  No one believes in his invention, except for a young pilot, Lara.  She sneaks onto his craft and pilots the test flight, although the ship winds up losing communication after landing on the moon Wegthor.

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Jor-El uses more conventional craft to head out and rescue Lara, and this beautifully drawn story becomes canon on how the two fell in love.

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 199 – Superman and Flash vs the Phantom Zone villains

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World’s Finest 199 (Dec. 70) is the conclusion of the third Superman/Flash race, but the first one to have an actual winner, thanks to O’Neil, Dillin and Giella.

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Jimmy Olsen escapes from the Roman arrows by jumping through time, but winds up in the hands of the Spanish Inquisition.  It’s an unexpected twist, because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

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Meanwhile, the Superman/Flash race gets diverted by the Phantom Zone villains.  The Anachronids have weakened the fabric between reality and the Zone, and General Zod, Professor Vakox, Jax-Ur and Kru-El have emerged.  They want the Anachronids to succeed, destroying the Zone completely.

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Time starts falling apart, and we get cameos by Bruce Wayne and Alfred at the movies, and Diana Prince along with I Ching at her dress shop.

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Superman and Flash defeat the Phantom Zone villains, though it takes all their energy.  Superman has been under a red sun for a while now, and is quite drained.

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This makes the climax of the race a crawl to the finish, rather than a sprint.  The Flash wins, turning off the machine that created the Anachronids in the first place.

For some reason, this race was never referred to again.  On the few occasions when characters discussed the Superman/Flash races, they were said to have ended in ties.

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The issue ends with an ad promoting upcoming team-ups.  Robin is announced for the following issue, with Green Lantern, Aquaman and Wonder Woman promoted for later tales.

Action Annual 12 – the origins of Nightwing and Flamebird

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Greg Rucka and Pere Perez reveal the hidden backstory between Chris Kent and Thara Ak-Var in Action Annual 12.

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The story opens on Krypton, where Thara’s parents are both serving under Ursa in Black Zero.  Usually something villainous, in this version, Black Zero is simply the elite military unit of Krypton’s armed forces.  They fight Brainiac’s probes as they encircle and steal Kandor.  Thara sees her parents murdered by the probes, despite Ursa’s best efforts to save them.

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Thara grows up in Kandor, and that’s not hugely dramatic, so the story jumps over to the Phantom Zone, and picks up Chris Kent’s life in the aftermath of Last Son.  Alone and adrift, he finds himself undergoing rapid bursts of aging, which are extremely painful. He heads back to the ruined ship, the one place in the Zone where people become solid.

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Thara finds herself drawn to the religious guild on Krypton, but diverges from them, as she has personal visions of the legendary Flamebird.  A few references are made to this legend in the annual, but it will be told in detail a few months down the road in a regular issue.

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Spying on Zod and Ursa from inside the ship, Chris discovers that they have a way of communicating with Kandor.  Chris puts it on, as Thara mentally reaches for the Flamebird, and the two become mind-linked.

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Thara heads into the Zone to rescue Chris.  Non has the opportunity to stop them, but to the fury of Zod and Ursa, he allows them to escape to Earth.

Which brings them full circle, to where the New Krypton storyline began.

Action 875 – Nightwing and Flamebird begin

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Greg Rucka, Eddy Barrows, Ruy Jose and Julio Ferreira take over as the new creative team as Chris Kent and Thara Ak-Var take over Action Comics 875 (May 2009) as Nightwing and Flamebird.

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The two have changed their costumes, which I was sad about.  I really liked the earlier suits. But these are designed to make people think that the powers they display come from the uniforms, not from themselves. Pretty clever, I have to admit.  They root out and capture Tor-An, a Kryptonian living undercover as a human.

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Tor-An is one of a number of sleeper agents that Zod has on Earth.  He commands Ursa to bring in Chris, who he knows was freed from the Phantom Zone by Thara.  The connection between these two is not clear yet. It’s sad to see that not only do Zod and Ursa show very little parental love, Zod does not even seem to care much for his lover.

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Nightwing and Flamebird have been hiding out in the Fortress of Solitude, with Superman gone.  We learn that Chris has painful and mysterious bouts of rapid aging, explaining why he is so much older than he was in Last Son.  As the issue ends, Ursa shows up in the Fortress.

Action 874 – Superman ends, and the origin of the Guardian

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James Robinson, Pablo Raimondi and Walden Wong step in for Action 874 (April 2009), the last issue starring Superman for a couple of years.

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The story is a bit of an epilogue to New Krypton, and a bit of a set-up for the World of New Krypton/World Without Superman story arcs that will run for the next year.  Superman is furious that Alura has released Zod, Ursa and Non.  Alura points out that the three had been in the Phantom Zone for far longer than they were sentenced.  When Superman points out the crimes they committed on Earth, Alura counters with the Kryptonians that humans have killed.

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Sam Lane gives Luthor Brainiac’s headship to examine.  We see that they are working in a facility numbered 7734.

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Jimmy Olsen has come across information with that same number, but it’s Steve Lombard who points out that, on a calculator, held upside down, 7734 reads HELL.

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As laws get passed barring Kryptonians from Earth, Nightwing and Flamebird realize they need to change their game.

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The last few pages reflect the cover scene.  The Phantom Zone is dissolving, and Mon-El begs Superman to release him.

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Superman does, although this will likely mean Mon-El’s death.

The story continues in the next issue of Superman.  And I find it odd that this story was published in Action Comics at all, considering that both Mon-El, and the Guardian, who has the back-up story, will be featured in the next year of stories in Superman, not in Action.

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Robinson, Guedes and Magalhaes re-introduce the Guardian in the “Omens and Origins” feature in this issue.  Each book this month has one of these tales, as Scar, one of the Guardians of the Universe, reviews the origins of various characters.  Jim Harper’s early career is hardly mentioned, though.  Only that he used to be a cop, long ago, before being cloned.

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He is now with the newly formed Science Police in Metropolis, and we meet Wilcox, another member of the force.

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We also see his cloned daughter, recently introduced.

Action 873 – New Krypton!

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Action 873 (March 2009), the final issue of this book to have the New Krypton story arc, is also part of the Faces of Evil theme running through the DC books this month, with Lex Luthor featured on the cover.

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Johns and Woods are joined by Renato Guedes and Jose Magalhaes as the situation spirals out of control, with open war between the forces of Earth and Krypton, with Superman and Supergirl stuck in the middle.  The Justice League and Justice Society are sorely pressed to stand up to an army of Kryptonians, with no qualms about killing.

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Alura cuts the Gordian Knot, so to speak, as she takes control of Kandor, flying it away from Earth and to a point on the opposite side of the sun, expanding the crystalline structure to become an entire planet.

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The couple of pages following Kandor’s departure show a montage of actions and reactions.  We see the Daily Planet staff – Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, Cat Grant, Ron Troupe and Steve Lombard, watching the event dispassionately.  While the other Kryptonians leave Earth along with their city, Nightwing and Flamebird stay on Earth, as does a mysterious woman in a Superwoman costume.  The Justice League and Justice Society monitor New Krypton.  We also see the Phantom Zone and Bizarro World (along with Mon-El and Bizarro), examples of those unable to live peacefully with others.

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In the first of two epilogues, Doomsday’s body gets taken by Sam Lane, to be examined by Luthor.  Agent Liberty suspects something shady is going on with Lane, and follows him.  He gets murdered by the new Superwoman.

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And Alura, needing a strong military to defend against Earth, as Zod, Ursa and Non released from the Phantom Zone.

The story continues in the next issue of Supergirl.