Tag Archives: Green Lantern

Superman 314 – the death of Amalak

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The four part plague storyline concludes in Superman 314 (Aug 77), in a story by Pasko, Swan and Adkins.

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Superman gets the alien creature away from Jamie Lombard, as Amalak brings it out of its dormancy state, and it begins a monstrous rampage, tearing up a McTavish’s fast food restaurant.

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Superman does manage to chain up the beast, and pursues Amalak, tracing him to the Justice League satellite, where the space pirate has already taken down the Flash and Green Lantern.  Amalak uses the Key’s weapons, and even Amazo’s inert form against Superman, but really he could have picked a wiser spot for the battle.  Superman defeats him by using Kanjar Ro’s paralysis inducing Gamma Gong.

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Amalak tries to make Superman believe that he has caused Amalak to die by using the gong, but Superman does not fall for this.  Amalak winds up dying at his own hands, having achieved nothing.

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Between Nam-Ek’s healing horn and the removal of the alien creature causing the plague, the journalists get better.  Having come so close to losing each other, both Lois and Clark seem primed to make a commitment to each other, and indeed, Clark proposes to her.

Lois accepts, on one condition.  That Clark admit that he is Superman.

And Clark refuses.  This infuriated me, even as a kid.  Was he really planning to marry her but keep lying to her about his identity?  It makes for a heart-breaking scene, but it’s impossible to believe that there is any future between Superman and Lois after this sequence.

Superman 312 – Superman and Supergirl vs Nam-Ek and Amalak

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The picture gets clearer in the second chapter of the plague storyline, by Pasko, Swan and Springer, in Superman 312 (June 1977).

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A recap of the events of the first issue is handled by Morgan Edge, chatting with Sam Tanner, the rival television executive who hired Lola Barnett away from WGBS.

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Superman builds a wall around the resort, quarantining those within, and only then discovers that Linda Danvers is at the resort as well.  She switches to Sueprgirl, and joins him as he heads to the Justice League satellite to check on the Flash, being tended to by Green Lantern.  Hal informs them that a teleportation beam hit the resort just when Nam-Ek vanished, and they follow the trail to the West Indies.

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They find Nam-Ek, as well as Amalak, who had come across the immortal Kryptonian floating around in space and joined forces with him.  Amalak has let his hair grow out, and sprouted some facial hair as well, which makes him look much creepier than in his earlier appearances.

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Superman encases Nam-Ek in crystal, leaving the horn exposed, intending to cure the people infected with the plague.  But Amalak has managed to get the drop on Supergirl, temporarily blinding her, and holding her at gunpoint (with a star-cannon that will actually kill her).

Superman leaves, bringing Nam-Ek to the resort as Amalak prepares to kill Supergirl.

The story continues in the next issue.

Superman 311 – the worst convention ever

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Pasko, Swan and Frank Springer begin a four part story in Superman 311 (May 1977) that will build to forcing Superman to make decisions that he would rather not deal with.

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Usually I try to post the pics in the same order they appear in the book itself, but in this case I’m changing it up a little to make it easier to summarize this story, which is a bit more complex than usual.  So I’ll start by showing the mysterious alien and his pet, Jevik, whose roles in the tale only become clear in later issues.

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A big journalism convention is being held in Central City – the same location Lois Lane is considering moving to, with her relationships with Superman and Clark Kent both being pretty rocky right now.  Steve Lombard is along as well, having brought his nephew, Jamie, who he has been looking after.  The convention is taking place at a ski resort, which is sort of odd, as Central City is invariably shown as being in the prairies.  Jamie finds a stray dog, and quickly adopts him.

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Iris Allen, the reporter wife of the Flash, shows an uncharacteristic streak of jealousy, and is a real bitch to Lois, who she seems to consider a threat to her marriage.  Barry Allen is none too pleased with Iris’ outburst, but then, the two of them are soon to start having marital troubles in the Flash’s own book.

A mysterious plague breaks out at the ski resort, inspired by the Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak that had occurred the previous year in Philadelphia.  And to the great surprise of Superman, he discovers that Nam-Ek is also there.

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The story briefly recaps the World of Krypton tale that had introduced Nam-Ek, a Kryptonian scientist who had killed a protected animal, the rondor, to get it’s illness-curing horn.  He devised an immortality serum from it, which transformed his body, and also made him survive the destruction of Krypton.  Nam-Ek attacks Superman, and when the Flash tries to help out, sends the speedster shooting into space.

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In his fight with Nam-Ek, Superman dumps a volcano on the guy, only to find that there were traces of kryptonite in the lava.  With no sign of Nam-Ek, Superman believes that he has killed him.  But we do see that at least the Flash is safe, having been rescued by Green Lantern.

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Superman had assumed that Nam-Ek was somehow the source of the plague, but when Lois Lane collapses, he realizes that he was wrong.

The story continues in the next issue.

Superman 247 – the Guardians of the Universe manipulate Superman, and the Private Life of Clark Kent debuts

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One of the more interesting Superman stories, from this or any era, occurs in Superman 247 (Jan. 72), as the Guardians of the Universe make Superman question his role on Earth, in a story by Elliot S Maggin, Swan and Anderson.

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The Guardians enlist Superman’s help in stopping a destructive yellow wave of space stuff, though Superman winds up needing to be rescued at the end of the mission.  Green Lantern Katma Tui brings him to Oa to be healed.  This was all part of a greater plan by the Guardians, to implant within him the idea that he is not really helping human civilization advance.

After subliminally giving him this idea, they converse with Superman, and raise the notion again.

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Returning to Earth, Superman winds up in the middle of a fight between Mexican immigrants and their field boss.  Everyone wants Superman to fix their lives, and he realizes that doing so is really of no help.  But then an earthquake strikes, and he knows he has to jump into action.

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The village gets devastated, and Superman rebuilds it, but insists that they have to deal with the rest of their problems by themselves.

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The Guardians, who have been monitoring all this, pat themselves on the back for making Superman less certain of himself and his role as a hero.

The story does raise some questions that are not easy to answer – but also shows the Guardians in a particularly manipulative light.  One that would come to characterize them more and more over the next couple of decades.

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O’Neil, Swan and Anderson introduce a new back-up series in this issue, the Private Life of Clark Kent.  These are stories that centre on Clark, and for the most part have him dealing with issues that cannot be fixed by becoming Superman.

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In this case, he goes out to find and help the younger brother of a secretary at WGBS, who has gotten involved with a deadly street gang, and has to kill for his initiation.  Jimmy Olsen tries to talk sense to the kid,  but just gets beaten up.  The hoods attack Clark as well, after his speech about rising above such things, and he rolls with it, letting himself appear injured, to see is his words had any effect.

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He is pleased to find that they did, as the boy refuses to kill an innocent man simply to join a gang.

The Private Life of Clark Kent would continue sporadically in this and other Superman books, eventually getting a regular spot in the pages of Superman Family.

 

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.

World’s Finest 300 – Superman, Batman, the Justice League, the Outsiders and the Cosmic Tree

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The Cosmic Tree storyline comes to a conclusion in World’s Finest 300 (Feb. 84), as writers Kraft, Barr and Wolfman are joined by Andru, Amendola and Mark Texeira, Smith, McLaughlin, Rodriguez, Klaus Janson and Rick Magyar, as well as George Perez on the New Teen Titans pages.

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Superman brings in the Justice League, and Batman calls in the Outsiders to help as the heroes each want to stop the Cosmic Tree from wiping out life on Earth.  There is tension between the two groups, reflecting that between Superman and Batman.  And though there are loads of heroes in this story, the Elongated Man, Firestorm, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Red Tornado and Wonder Woman all get at least a brief opportunity to show their stuff.

Overall, though, it’s the newer team, the Outsiders, who are given a bit more attention: Black Lightning, Geo-Force, Halo, Katana and Metamorpho.

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I have little positive to say about the use of the New Teen Titans in this issue.  Dick Grayson is in between identities, but Changeling, Cyborg, Raven, Starfire, Terra and Wonder Girl go into action against Gordanian slavers.  This is the result of the time warps created by the Cosmic Tree.  The New Teen Titans never interact with the other heroes, or the main plotline.

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Zeta is really the focus of the story, when the army of super-heroes are not being distracted by time warp problems.  Zeta has decided to aid the Cosmic Tree is wiping out life on Earth, as he plans to rule the planet afterwards, as well as the alien world the Tree is linked to.

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Sgt. Rock and Easy Company get to appear in one of the warps, although there is little room for them to do anything except watch the heroes get captured.

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In the end it is left to Superman and Batman to pull out a victory, though not by force. Once again, all it really takes is a good conversation with Zeta to get him to change his mind.  Zeta rips up the Cosmic Tree by its roots, saving the Earth and all its people.

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The conclusion does sort of save the issue.  With both the Justice League and the Outsiders wanting harmony between the heroes, Wonder Woman takes it upon herself to talk some sense into them, and Superman and Batman patch up their problems, becoming friends again.

It was clearly necessary to have some tension between the heroes in this book, to reflect the events that lead to Batman forming the Outsiders.  But if World’s Finest was to continue as a series, those problems had to be overcome.

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.