Tag Archives: Jimmy Olsen

Superman 278 – Terra-Man kills Superman’s friends in the old west

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Terra-Man is back in the Bates, Swan and Oskner story from Superman 278 (Aug. 74).

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The story opens with a WGBS staff meeting, called by Morgan Edge.  Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White are there, as well as the newer staff, Steve Lombard and Lola Barnett, when all get teleported to an old west town by Terra-Man.

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He has hypnotized them all to believe in their new reality, and they adopt period lives suited to their characters.  Terra-Man is unaware that Clark is Superman, and left a message in the skies of Metropolis to lure him to the town, but of course Superman is already there.

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The premise allows for a variation on the usual Steve Lombard scene.  He is the town bully, with Lola as a dance hall girl, as Steve tries to humiliate nerdy Clark, but gets it himself.

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Terra-Man challenges Superman to seven fights, with a bullet for each one of his friends if Superman loses.  The first fight has Superman triumphant, and Lois’ life gets saved.

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But then Superman starts losing the fights, and Terra-Man starts shooting his friends.  It genuinely appears that Jimmy Olsen has died, even from Superman’s reaction.

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But in fact Superman used his heat vision to alter the chemically charged bullets, leaving his shot friends injured, but alive.  Superman is simply dragging things out until Terra-Man “kills” Clark Kent, at which point he makes his move.  Terra-Man picks up Clark’s body, not realizing he is with Superman, and Superman simply flies him right into the ground.

Not the best Terra-Man story, but still fun.

 

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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 242 – Superman vs the Sand Superman

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O’Neil, Swan and Anderson conclude the Sand Superman storyline in issue 242 (Sept. 71).

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The Chinese war-demon, brought to life by the entity from Quarrm, is joined by two bums as he beats on Superman in a junk yard.  The entity has no comprehension of this world as yet, and the bums become its partners.

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Jimmy Olsen, Diana Prince and I Ching find Superman, and bring him to the hospital.  His invulnerability is gone, to they are able to operate on him, and he did sustain brain damage when attacked with I Ching.

The Sand Superman winds up fighting the War-Demon, although he is surprised to find himself doing so, and wonders if he has also acquired the values, as well as the powers, of Superman.

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The bums find out that convincing a Chinese war-demon that he is an unstoppable force of destruction can wind up having a downside, when the creature feels it no longer needs any guides to tell it what to do.

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The entity can sense the two Supermen, and wants their energy.  He bursts into the hospital, and brushes past both Wonder Woman and I Ching.

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Together, the two Superman are able to overcome the war-demon, and the entity abandons that form and drifts away.  Then its down to the two major players, and a fight to the death, with I Ching as referee.  Their match winds up devastating the area that they are fighting in.

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I Ching wakes them both – their fight occurred only in their minds, in a trance state he put them in, in order to see how damaging a battle would be.  The Sand Superman decides to return to Quarrm, and simply vanishes.

While overall this was a good storyline, and it was great to see Superman vulnerable, the ending felt a little weak.

Though the Sand Superman never returns, this story is retold, in a way, in a Superman special in the early 90s.  And, as I just discovered, the Sand Superman DOES return, in the Superman vs Shazam special a few years later.  Always sincerely love it when someone draws attention to something I missed (or in this case, have not yet read).

Superman 236 – Superman among the angels, and the singing flowers of Krypton

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Looks like something supernatural is going on on the cover of Superman 236 (April 1971).

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O’Neil, Swan and Anderson give Batman a cameo at the top of this story, as he and Superman finish rounding up a criminal gang.  Batman is heading home for some sleep, but Superman does not sleep.  He has invented a brainwave machine, and tries it out, but it seems to short out, and Superman finds himself among angels, helping them fend off devils at the gates of Hell.  The angels tell him he has died, and order him to go battle the demons.

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Superman goes along with things for a while, but the demons don’t seem very demonic, and in talking to them, they break through the hypnotic effect that the ‘angels” have subjected him to.  Superman is really in the middle of a war between two alien groups.

The angels try to force him to stay on their side, threatening Batman, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, but once Superman knows what is really going on, he helps the good aliens beat the bad ones.

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Green Arrow and Black Canary guest in this issue World of Krypton story, by O’Neil and Giordano.  They are fuming about the pollution destroying the environment, and so Superman shares with them a tale from Krypton.

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A couple of decades before the explosion of the planet, another scientist had figured out what was coming.  But when he tried to warn people, no one would listen.  They were all really into just chilling and listening to singing flowers.  Because the scientist kept ruining their groove, they sealed him up in the middle of a garden, until all he wanted to do was listen to singing flowers as well.  Twenty years later, Krypton blew up.

It’s kind of a dumb story, really.

Superman 213 – Superman’s vault

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An ominous cover for the story by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Jack Abel in Superman 213 (Jan. 69).

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It’s been quite a while since Lex Luthor appeared in these pages, but he returns in this story, obsessed with a mysterious vault that Superman has created, which can only be opened after his death.  Luthor drills from underground to reach the vault, and uses a shrink ray he stole from Brainiac to remove it completely and bring it back to his headquarters.

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But even as all this is going on, the story lets the reader in to the fact that it is some sort of hoax on Superman’s part, though the nature of it is unclear.

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Luthor then captures and kills Superman, exposing him to kryptonite.  But Jimmy Olsen and Supergirl are on hand to quickly revive the hero.

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Even with Superman dead, Luthor has great trouble opening the vault.  He finally succeeds, only to find Superman inside!

Superman had been trapped in the vault the whole time, sealed there magically by Mordru, an enemy of the Legion of Super-Heroes.  The kryptonite poisoned Superman was really Brainiac 5, and the entire scheme a plan to have Luthor save Superman, without any idea what he was really doing.

Pretty clever.

Superman 198 – the real Clark Kent

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An attention grabbing cover for Superman 198 (July 1967). Bates and Plastino open the story with the cover scene, as a man claiming to be the real Clark Kent arrives at the Daily Planet, and uses an x-ray gun to expose Superman.

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It quickly becomes clear that this man knows a completely different Superman, one who came to Earth as a criminal adult, kidnapping Clark Kent and stealing his identity.  Superman proves that he has always been Clark, and explains that the man must have come from a parallel universe.

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He takes the man back to world, and gets into battle with the other Superman.  But midway through he simply starts trashing the city, to the point where Superman intentionally causes a nuclear explosion to destroy Metropolis.

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Superman had spotted some clues that made him realize that the Clark Kent and Superman were both androids, along with everyone else on the world.  The entire thing was a huge trap set up by the Superman Revenge Squad, with satellites forming a force barrier that not even Superman can penetrate.  So Superman simply flies out the gap the Revenge Squad left for their ship, and the Revenge Squad smash into the barrier, killing this group of them.

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Heading back to the Daily Planet as Clark, he switches the x-ray gun with a projector, and shows Lois, Jimmy and Perry White how it makes anyone look like they have the Superman crest under their shirt.

Not the greatest story, but it does fulfill the cover.

Superman 179 – the outlaw Fort Knox, and the tale of gold kryptonite

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Dorfman and Plastino helm the cover story of Superman 179 (Aug. 65), in which criminals have a big hidden bank vault of their very own, to deposit their ill-gotten gains in.

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The criminal Fort Knox is introduced at the top of the story, but then set aside as the tale becomes about Superman performing wishes randomly chosen from coins thrown into a fountain.  The bad guys have rigged the contest, ensuring their victory.

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The winner asks for the largest diamond, a ton of gold, and money from the largest bank.  Jimmy Olsen expects Superman will use word play to fulfill the requests in a manner different from the intent, and expresses his ideas to Lucy Lane, but Superman fulfills the requests at face value, to Olsen’s puzzlement.

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With the set up of the bank at the top of the story (and on the cover) it really isn’t too hard to see where this is going.  The villain takes his winnings to the bank, where they promptly turn into a knockout gas.  Superman went along with the greedy wishes simply to uncover the location of the vault.

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The fourth and last of the Tales of Kryptonite is still narrated by the once green, then red, now gold, piece of the toxic metal, but Binder and Plastino introduce a Kandorian couple as well.

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Jay-Ree and Joenne are among the Kandorians who see the gold kryptonite in the Fortress, and volunteer to risk their lives to dispose of it.  They send it into the Phantom Zone, but lose their powers in the process.  At the end of the story, they are living in a doll house in Clark Kent’s apartment, although I imagine they wound up back in Kandor eventually, as we never see them again.

The mysterious ray that changed the kryptonite from red to gold is credited to a nuclear reaction, which doesn’t quite make sense.  But all in all, this story is the most disappointing of the run.