Tag Archives: Murphy Anderson

Superman 270 – a viking in Metropolis

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Valdemar, the viking with the giant bird and magical flaming sword, comes to Metropolis for a visit in Superman 260 (Dec 73).

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His earlier story had been popular enough to warrant a return, and this is a largely satisfactory one.  Valdemar comes to pay a friendly visit to Superman, but between the culture shock, and the effects of radiation from a nuclear experiment, the viking loses it completely, and begins a destructive rampage.

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But does any of that really matter?  Maggin, Swan and Anderson are really just crafting a Superman vs Thor story, without having to bother with a big multi-company crossover.  And for what it is, it works well enough.

Valdemar will return, but not until the 80s.

Superman 266 – Dr. Phoenix returns

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Maggin, Swan and Anderson bring back Dr. Phoenix for another round in Superman 266 (Aug. 73).

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Phoenix diverts Superman into space, and we discover that his ability to manipulate dreams, and send himself into a dream reality, is dependent on Superman not being on Earth.  Exactly why is not explained.

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But we do learn that Dr. Phoenix is not as human as his appearance suggests (that being said, he spends almost all of this story in the form of the Abominable Snowman).  Phoenix is some sort of dream creature, who got stuck in the human form he was dreaming of when baby Kal-El landed on Earth.  It took him many years to make the connection, but now that he has, he intends to kill or dispose of Superman, so that he is free to return to the dream realm.

Should have just asked the hero for help.  Superman does defeat him, but also puts him into an anti-gravity holding device, that keeps him from touching the Earth, and allows him to return, and stay, in the dream realm.

Superman 265 – Perry White on the story

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Perry White, largely sidelined since the introduction of Morgan Edge, gets to take centre stage in the Maggin, Swan and Anderson story from Superman 265 (July 1973).

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Edge shows himself at his worst, demanding that Perry prove himself, his Pulitzer Prize being twenty years old. What have you done for me lately?

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Perry is upset, and talks with Clark about the situation.  But he also decides to show Edge what he can do.  He spots two young people wearing gloves on a hot summer day, and thinks there must be a story in that.  He is more right than he imagines, but when he approaches the kids, they repel him with a force blast.

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Clark changes to Superman, but to is surprise, the force blasts are able to repel him as well.

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Steve Lombard has a small role in this story, a scene that will set the pattern for many of his appearances in this decade.  He attempts to humiliate Clark in front of the WGBS staff, but Clark turns the tables on Steve, and he gets made a fool of instead.

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Anyway, back to the story.  Perry White keeps digging, with Superman’s help, and they uncover a secret military base, mutant children, and a madman named Callixto who has been manipulating the kids, forming them into an army through which he intends to conquer the world.  Superman destroys Callixto’s plan, and machines, and frees the children.

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Perry White gets to broadcast the story, although a more in depth report will be printed in the Daily Planet.  And just as Clark turned the tables on Steve Lombard, the tale ends with Perry White blwoing smoke into Morgan Edge’s face.

The mutant kids return in a couple of years, in the pages of Action Comics, giving Perry White his super-cigars.

Superman 264 – Steve Lombard debuts

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Bates, Swan and Anderson bring a new supporting character into the WGBS family in Superman 264 (June 1973), Steve Lombard.

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Lombard looks a bit bigger and rougher in his first appearance than he would come to appear, but the football player is quickly established as a good person, as he rescues a child falling from a building, even though this ruins his knees, hours before a big game.

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Steve seeks help from a doctor who has a solar healer device.  It’s clearly new and experimental, as it winds up creating a energy-based double of Steve, complete with football uniform.

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Steve has some degree of control over his doppleganger, which he realizes as he watches his phantom play in the game he had to miss.  No on realizes it is not the real Steve Lombard, and he takes credit for the victory.  Steve meets Lois Lane and Clark Kent afterwards, and shows off his ego, sexism, and desire to torment those weaker than him.  All elements of earlier one-shot characters that had been seen working at the Daily Planet over the years, and Steve’s name even echoes that of Steve Bard, a minor supporting player in Lois Lane’s strip in the 1940s.

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To Steve’s dismay, his phantom does not simply cease to exist when no longer wanted, and winds up in a deadly battle with Superman.  The phantom is now out to kill Steve, until Superman disperses his energies.

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Steve mans up at the end of the story, admitting he did not really play in the game, and resigning from the team.  But to Clark’s dismay, Morgan Edge offers Lombard a job as a sports commentator on WGBS.

A really good intro for the character.

Superman 263 – a wolf melts Superman, and birthday tears

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I’m not convinced that the photo element adds anything to the cover of Superman 263 (April 1973).

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Superman raises the ire of an irresponsible film director in this story by Maggin, Swan and Anderson.  After publicly humiliating the man, the director wants vengeance against the hero.

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The director answers an ad by a scientist named Dr. Phoenix, who brings the director’s dreams, of creating a giant mythological wolf to kill Superman, to life.  Although Phoenix uses scientific means, he is also well versed in magic and mythology, resurrecting the legendary wolf.

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Superman dives right into the wolf, destroying the glowing pentagon powering it.  The director is left a babbling madman, but Phoenix continues to scheme against Superman.

Percy Bratten is back in a small role in this tale.

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Bates, Dillin and McLaughlin explore the reason Kryptonians cry every sixth birthday in this Fabulous World of Krypton story.

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The reason dates far back into the past of Krypton, which apparently was a society where people never expressed any emotions.  The pent-up feelings would erupt in destructive bursts.

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Rather than simply deal with their emotions, a scientist created a fluid that would allow Kryptonians to go on suppressing their feelings, but prevent the emotional build-up by crying out the destructive energy through tears every six years.

What a messed up culture.

Superman 262 – Superman destroys a building, and the Marigold twins debut

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A dramatic image on the cover of Superman 262 (March 1973).

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The story itself, by Maggin, Swan and Anderson, is serviceable.  It deals with a Greek millionaire, likely inspired by Aristotle Onassis (though I’m just going by self-made Greek tycoon on that), builds a new skyscraper in Metropolis, but the building seems out to get him.

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There is an alien life form behind it, taking over the millionaire’s body, and already inhabiting the building itself.  It takes Superman a while to figure out what is going on, but once he does, all he has to do is fulfill the cover image to save the millionaire.

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The same creative team provide the Private Life of Clark Kent story, which introduces two more of his neighbours, twin sisters April and May Marigold.  In this story, the girls have telepathic powers, although those abilities are starting to wane.

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Clark Kent interviews them for a WGBS show, Stranger than Fiction, but during the taping becomes aware that the balcony on the auditorium is about to collapse.  He shorts out the lights, allowing the girls to see the balcony.  And once they see it, they foretell its collapse, and people flee in time.

The twins also announce that this was their final burst of telepathy.  Good thing, or Clark would not feel nearly so comfortable around them.

Of all the neighbours that get introduced, the Marigold twins make the most frequent appearances over the next decade.

Superman 261 – Superman vs Star Sapphire

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Carol Ferris makes her only appearance as Star Sapphire in the 1970s in Superman 261 (Feb. 73), in a story by Bates, Swan and Anderson.

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The story also brings back the Green Lantern tavern, seen in an issue of Action Comics in the mid 60s.  Superman is dealing with a criminal there, while Carol Ferris is flying overhead.  Carol had last been seen in Green Lantern, cancelled a few months earlier.  She had learned about her Star Sapphire persona, but seemed to have things under control.  This story has her go totally nuts.  The destruction of the Green Lantern tavern becomes the death of Green Lantern himself in her mind, and she comes to believe Superman murdered him, for no apparent reason.

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She is not in possession of her powerful gemstone, though.  It is on display, along with a duplicate of her outfit, in Metropolis, where Lois Lane is doing a story on it.  But Carol takes mental control of Lois, making her bring the sapphire to her office.

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Lois is completely unaware of her actions, and somewhat embarrassed when Clark reveals the costume in her bag.  But things turn deadly once Carol gets the gem back, and becomes Star Sapphire again.

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The conclusion of the tale seems derived from Luthor’s Powerstone story.  Carol puts the sapphire on a chain around Superman’s neck, and orders him to perform humiliating tasks.

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Lois dons the spare outfit (Carol’s costume is manifested by the gem itself), and pretends to be the “real” Star Sapphire, giving Superman commands as well.  Superman catches on to Lois’ plan, which involves him changing direction in the air, causing the chain to fall off of him.

The spell gets broken, and Carol winds up with no memory of what has happened.

Carol Ferris returns in a few years, in Green Lantern’s back-up series in the Flash, but does not become Star Sapphire again until the 80s.  For the remainder of the 70s, there is a different woman, Debbie Darnell, who takes on that identity.