Tag Archives: Kandor

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.

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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.

Superman 172 – the replacement Superman

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There’s a new Superman in town in issue 172 (Oct. 64).

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Hamilton, Swan and Klein are the creative team on this tale, which sees a comet with gasses deadly to all, even Kryptonians, approach the Earth.  Superman knows he may not survive the encounter with it, so he recruits a potential successor from Kandor, Ar-Val.

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Superman diverts the comet, and survives his contact with it, but loses his powers.  The panels of Clark Kent grieving as he hears the crowds cheer his replacement are excellent.

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Ar-Val proves to be pretty useless as Superman, simply wanting the glory of it.  He ignores Jimmy Olsen, who warns him that Brainiac has busted Luthor out of prison.  Luthor got shot during the breakout, and Ar-Val simply insists that Luthor must be dead.

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Superman wants to step up, but has no powers.  Jimmy Olsen provides him some of his elastic serum, while Legion of Super-Heroes members Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl and Invisible Kid temporarily charge Superman with their powers.  As he is no longer allowed to wear a Superman costume, he dons a really awful “Former Superman” costume.

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It is fun to see the hero formerly known as Superman fight Luthor and Brainiac with a wildly different set of powers.  But the villains get the best of him in the end.

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Ar-Val finally shows up, but the Former Superman winds up sacrificing himself to save him.

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Ar-Val finally realizes what a washout he is, and with the aid of Kandorian scientist Nor-Kan, he revives Superman, using his life force, but winding up turned to stone.

Superman indicates at the end that he wants to find a way to revive Ar-Val, but this never actually happened.

 

Superman 170 – the John F Kennedy story, and Lex Luthor courts Lara

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Despite the absurdity of the cover scene on Superman 170 (July 1964), there is actually no need for it to be an Imaginary Story.

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The issue opens with the delayed story that has Superman working for John F Kennedy on his program for improving the health of American youth.  Bill Finger and Al Plastino put this story together, and it was pulled because of the president’s assassination.  At the request of Johnson, the story was run in this issue, despite Kennedy having died.

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Lana Lang is doing a television special on how Americans are behind Europeans when it comes to health.  Apparently nothing has changed in 50 years.  Kennedy gets Superman to promote health among the youth, and he does so over the next few pages.

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But eating well and working out is not just for the young, and Clark Kent has to fake weakness as Perry White puts the Daily Planet staffers through their new health regime, despite the complaints of Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.

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The health program serves Clark well when the staffers get trapped during a hike, and Clark can claim its Kennedy’s workout program that has increased his strength enough for them to escape.  Supergirl cameos, along with her fan club, and Jimmy Olsen’s.

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Now for the cover story, by Siegel, Swan and Klein.  Luthor escapes from prison, and decides to head back in time to Krypton, woo and win Lara, and by doing so prevent Superman from coming into existence.

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The plan works pretty well at the start.  Luthor claims to be the hero of the planet Marlat, with some faked movies to back up his story.

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He wins the trust of the Krytonians when he warns them about Brainiac coming to steal Kandor. No one believes him, until it happens.  But once it has, the council are happy to listen to Luthor.

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Lara is quite taken with him, despite being engaged to Jor-El.  Luthor arranges for Jor-El to get trapped while on an exploration, and quickly wins over Lara.

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They get to the wedding ceremony, and Jor-El is racing frantically to stop them, as if this were The Graduate.  But fate intervenes, as Luthor’s anti-gravity device wears out, and he collapses under Krypton’s higher gravity.  He has to admit that he is really from Earth.  Once he has admitted being a liar, they brain scan him, and find out that he is from the future, and send him back to Earth.

So really, there was no need to make this an Imaginary Story, outside of making the reader think there was a possibility of Luthor’s plan succeeding.

Superman 167 – Luthor learns Brainiac’s secret

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A great cover on Superman 167 (Feb. 64), as we reach the apex of the 1960s Superman stories, in this issue and the following one.

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It’s Hamilton, Swan and Klein who reveal new information about Brainiac, and set up a number of characters, places and events that will have long repercussions.  Luthor breaks out of prison, and invents a scanner that allows him to learn about alien worlds.  He winds up tuning in to Colu (although the planet is not named in this story), and learns that Brainiac is not an alien, but an android, created to be the operative of the Computer Tyrants.  To help disguise his mechanical nature, the Tyrants provided him with a son.  Only called Brainiac 2 in this story, the boy, Vril Dox, runs away from Brainiac at the first opportunity.

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Luthor heads to the planet where Superman has imprisoned Brainiac and frees him, revealing that he knows Brainiac’s true nature.  He also takes advantage of this to implant a bomb within the android’s computer brain, to prevent Brainiac from turning on him.

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Together they scour the galaxy gathering resources for their new device to kill Superman.  While doing this, they stop off on the planet where Luthor is considered a hero, now called Lexor in his honour.  Luthor meets a woman who is very interested in him.  Her name is given as Tharla in this story, but she will later be called Ardora.  They also pass Brainiac’s world, and see a monument to the revolution that overthrew the Computer Tyrants.  Although not stated in this story, it was Vril Dox (Brainiac 2) who lead the revolt.

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Returning to Earth, they hit Superman with a shrink ray, and toss him into a bird cage.  He escapes by using his Clark Kent clothes as a rope ladder, while Brainiac decoys Luthor into sitting in front of a mind control machine.

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Brainiac forces Luthor to remove the bomb he had implanted, and also wipes his mind of the knowledge that Brainiac is an android.  Keeping that a secret is so important in this story, which is a bit odd, as soon everyone will know about it anyway.

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While the villains do succeed at putting Superman into a deathlike trance, they wind up getting captured by the Superman Emergency Squad and taken to Kandor, where they are prosecuted by Nor-Kann.  Although they are both sentenced to the Phantom Zone, they bargain their way out of it, promising to bring Superman back if left to go free.  They keep their word, and are allowed to head off into space, with Luthor returning to his new hot babe on Lexor.

I consider this the best Superman story from the 1960s, rivalled closely by the one that comes next.

Superman 162 – Superman Red/Superman Blue

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The cover of Superman 162 (July 1963) insists that Superman Red/Superman Blue is the greatest Imaginary Story of them all.  And you know, it just might be right.

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Dorfman, Swan and Klein open this tale with Kandorians acting like total dicks.  They summon Superman, and list off his failures, including not enlarging their city.  Among his other “failures” is not wiping out all crime on Earth.  You gotta feel sorry for the children of these people.

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But Superman takes it all to heart, and with the aid of Supergirl, uses a variety of coloured kryptonites in an experiment to boost his powers.  It has the result of splitting Superman into two identical beings, Superman Red and Superman Blue, named for their costumes.

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With twice the super-brain power, they have no trouble coming up with a cure for kryptonite, and enlarging Kandor on a new planet, terraformed to be just like Krypton.

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With the aid of Supergirl and Krypto, the two Supermans help Lori Lemaris and the Atlanteans move their entire city to a new planet, without ever having to leave a giant waterspout.

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Then they create satellites to beam goodness and peace into everyone’s minds, stopping all wars.  The Superman Revenge Squad and Brainiac are both affected, and decide to leave Earth alone, while Luthor reforms, cures blindness, broken bones and baldness, and gets re-united with his sister Lena.

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Even Mr. Mxyzptlk is affected, and decides to never return to this dimension.  With the list completed, and nothing much else to do, the two Supermen turn their minds to romance.  With the kind of ease and harmony that characterizes this entire story, one is in love with Lois, and the other with Lana.

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So they have a double wedding, which turns into a triple one, when Lucy Lane proposes to Jimmy Olsen.

Superman Red and Lois head to the new Krypton to live out their days, while Superman Blue stays on Earth with Lana.

The story does tease a sequel, asking which couple is happier, but I think it’s a good thing none ever came.  This is the ultimate happy ending story, the “goal” that all the Superman stories from this era are striving for.

But the concept would live on, and was re-worked with the electric Superman in the late 90s.

Superman 158 – Nightwing and Flamebird debut

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It’s another full length classic tale by Hamilton, Swan and Klein in Superman 158 (Jan. 63).

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Super-powered thieves appear in Metropolis, men who not only can go toe to toe with Superman, but also know him, and have a grievance against him.  Superman recognizes some of them, as being from the bottle city of Kandor.

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Bringing Jimmy Olsen with him, for no particular reason, Superman heads to the Fortress and they descend into Kandor.  Superman runs into Nor-Kann, a friend of his father’s, who informs Superman of how Than-Ol has made the Kandorians comes to blame Superman for their captivity, and how he intends to enlarge the city, despite the risks.

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With everyone hating him, Superman decides to adopt a disguise for his time in Kandor, and figures Jimmy should have one as well.  They name themselves after two Kryptonian birds, the Nightwing and the Flamebird.  But really, they are patterning themselves on Batman and Robin.

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Superman also enlists the help of Van-Zee and the Superman Emergency Squad.  Van-Zee looks identical to Superman, and allows the hero to impersonate him.  Sylvia, Van-Zee’s human wife, who looks identical to Lois Lane, has a cameo.

Superman’s impersonation gets exposed, and Van-Zee dons the Nightwing costume to aid Jimmy Olsen in freeing Superman, but the two wind up getting sent into the Phantom Zone.

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Superman gets him and Jimmy out of the Zone, but not before Than-Ol manages to get Kandor out of the Fortress, and enlarges it.

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But as Superman knows, the enlarging process makes the atomic bonds unstable, and the city begins to disintegrate.  The Kandorians will as well, but Superman shrinks them all, and puts them back into the bottle.

Early in, the Kandorians had torn down a statue of Superman.  But at the end of the story, grateful that he saved their lives and city, a new pair of statues are erected, to Nightwing and Flamebird.

Nightwing and Flamebird will go on to a long life, with many variations, over the years.  Van-Zee will take over the identity for quite a while in the 70s, before Dick Grayson adopts the name after shedding the Robin identity.  Playing off of that, Bette Kane, the first Bat-Girl, would get re-chirstened Flamebird.  A completely different version of the pair would go on to a run in Action Comics shortly before the New 52.