Tag Archives: Robin

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.

Superman 156 – The Last Days of Superman

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Hamilton, Swan and Klein execute another classic story in Superman 156 (Oct. 62).

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A Kryptonian artifact lands on Earth, and Superman and Jimmy Olsen come to investigate.  It contains samples of Virus X, an incurable plague from Krypton.  Although Superman shatters the container, he falls ill quickly, and realizes he must have caught the disease.

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For fear of infecting any other Kryptonians, Superman has himself and Jimmy Olsen sealed up as he gets sicker and sicker.  Superman enlists Supergirl and Krypto to complete a number of projects for the benefit of mankind before he dies, and Supergirl in turn enlists the Superman Emergency Squad and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

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Brainiac 5 tries to find a cure for Virus X, hoping to balance out his evil ancestor’s actions, but fails.

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As death nears, Superman reflects on his romantic interests.  Lana Lang, Lois Lane and Lori Lemaris all appear, as does Lyla Lerrol – although she does not much look like how she appeared.  Superman bids farewell to Batman and Robin, and burns a message into the Moon, revealing his secret identity.

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At the last minute Mon-El, still in the Phantom Zone, contacts Saturn Girl telepathically.  Superman was never infected with Virus X. A tiny piece of kryptonite got jammed in Jimmy Olsen’s camera, and had been slowly killing Superman.

With the help of Supergirl and Krypto, Superman removes the writing on the Moon that would have revealed his identity.

A really well done tale, giving lots for the huge supporting cast to do.  Virus X would appear and infect Superman, a number of years down the road, in a multi-issue story in Action Comics.

Superman 132 – if Krypton had never exploded

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Binder, Boring and Kaye spin a full-length “Imaginary Story” in Superman 132 (Oct. 59), exploring a reality in which Krypton did not explode.

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Batman and Robin stop by the Fortress of Solitude to give Superman a present, a simulation of how his life would have been had Krypton never exploded.

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With no reason to shoot his son into space, Jor-El and Lara raise Kal, and even give him a brother, Zal-El.  Kal joins the Kryptonian version of the boy scouts, and as a good deed helps a middle aged couple of Earth – Ma and Pa Kent.  With no alien baby in the field, they head to an adoption agency and pick up a somewhat startled looking young girl.

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Kal has dreams of becoming a space explorer, but his computerized aptitude test does not rank him anywhere near high enough, and he instead is made a lab assistant for Dr. Xan-Du.  Xan-Du is working on an enlarging ray, but instead it winds up endowing super-powers.  Both Xan-Du and Krypto get exposed to the ray.

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Xan-Du adopts the secret identity of Futuro, and becomes a super-hero on Krypton.  The story weaves back and forth between things that are different, and things that are the same – Kal-El still winds up dressing as Clark Kent, for example.  Jor-El and Lara, as well as Zal, all wind up dying in a crash, so Kal still winds up an orphan.

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Kal learns Futuro’s identity, and becomes his “Jimmy Olsen,” complete with signalling device.  He also saves Futuro’s life, which leads to a re-assessment of his aptitude test.  They find that the machine had a short, and Kal is qualified to become a space pilot.

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The Superman suit returns, as a design for Kryptonian pilots, although the only person we see wearing it is Kal.  Lois Lane gets into the picture, coming to Krypton and falling in love with Futuro.

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The story ends as Futuro and Lois Lane head back to Earth to marry.  Futuro uses his ray on Kal, leaving him the Superman of Krypton.

Not a bad story, despite the amount of “coincidental” things that are just the same (like the use of the costume).  It also set the pattern that many of Superman’s “Imaginary Stories” would follow.

Superman 76 – the 1st Superman/Batman team-up, and Lois gets a new roommate

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Superman and Batman had shared the covers of World’s Finest Comics for years, and even shared an adventure with the Justice Society of America.  Their characters had met and become friends on the Adventures of Superman radio show, but it was not until Superman 76 (May/June 1952) that their characters teamed up in the comics.

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Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan and John Fischetti were the creative team on this tale, which opens as Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne discover that they have to share a stateroom on a sea voyage.  Before they even depart, a fire breaks out on shore, and the two men reveal their secrets to each other in a darkened bedroom.  This all happens within the first few pages.

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They stop the fire, and find out that the criminal activity is linked to the ship, so they wind up travelling on the ship in both identities.

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Lois decides to come along, so the boys have to cover their identities with her as well.

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But Lois overhears them plot to keep her decoyed with a phony romance with Batman.  Now we’re into full comic mode, although the crime plot continues, to give an excuse for some action.

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The story even ends on a good laugh.  Superman and Batman are so obsessed with covering themselves that Robin winds up getting the date with Lois.

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Lois Lane has a new roommate in this story, by Woolfolk and Plastino, Lorraine Jennings.

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Lois decides to matchmake Lorraine and Clark Kent, and Clark is polite enough to go along with it.

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This is also one of the earliest uses of a Superman robot to cover his identity, although the Clark Kent robot malfunctions, when the two couples go on a double date, and Superman has to use his powers to cover for it.

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After the double date, Lois becomes convinced that Superman is in love with Lorraine, and does the only rational thing.  She throws Lorraine off of a ship, and jumps as well, to see who Superman will rescue.  No wonder she can’t keep a roommate.

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It is hard to feel sorry for Lois, pulled up with the fishies, and crying for herself.  But Lorraine has fallen for her hairdresser, and gets married.  Probably faster than intended, just to get out of living with Lois.

World’s Finest 287 – Batman possessed

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Burkett is joined by Trevor Von Eeden for this chapter of the two Zodiacs, in World’s Finest 287 (Jan. 83).

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Batman spends a lot of this story trying to fight off the possession of the dark god invoked by Madam Zodiac.  Robin is the first to notice, but he has no luck standing up to Batman.  Superman fares a bit better, but neither hero is able to break the spell over him.

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Dr. Zodiac, who was really just a small time con artist and thief, is getting very distressed about Madam Zodiac’s plans, and finds himself now just another pawn in her game.

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Some excellent art by Von Eeden, who shows his versatility with this issue.  The style he uses really works for a magic based tale.

The story ends with Batman completely under the control of the dark god.

The story concludes in the next issue.

World’s Finest 286 – Superman and Batman vs Dr. Zodiac and Madam Zodiac

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Burkett, Buckler and DeLaRosa continue with the tale of two Zodiacs in World’s Finest 286 (Dec. 82).

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This issue goes into the backstory of the couple, as we hear how Madam Zodiac sought out her male counterpart, the only person to ever possess the powers of the Zodiac coins.  She used her magical powers to create an illusory double of him, which is still sitting aimlessly in prison, and duplicates of the Zodiac coins, to cover their thefts.

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She is using the Zodiac Wheel and coins to call forth an elder god, a powerful force of evil, and this has effects which spread across Earth. Superman battles a demonic cult that has formed.

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Robin guests as he and Batman deal with a resurgent Ku Klux Klan, who try to make Lucius Fox their next victim.

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In fact, there are a lot of guest stars in this story – many of whom so recently had series in this book.  Zatanna, still in a coma, is brought to Paradise Island by Wonder Woman to be cured.  Green Arrow fights a werewolf, and Hawkman faces a vampire.

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By the end, the riding tide of evil has allowed the dark god to come forth and take a human host – Batman.

The story continues in the next issue.

World’s Finest 271 – the many origins of the Superman/Batman team

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Roy Thomas joins Rich Buckler and Frank McLaughlin for a full-length anniversary story, which weaves together all the various origins of the Superman/Batman team, 200 issues after their team-ups began, in World’s Finest 271 (Sept. 81).

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The villain in the story, Atoman, is kryptonite powered, and dressed in a costume almost identical to that of Powerman, from one of the origin stories given for the team.  Superman and Batman find themselves dreaming about first meetings, but ones they never actually had. These refer to the first time the heroes actually teamed up, on the Superman radio show, back in the 1940s.

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This story really ought to be a lot more fun than it is.  Roy Thomas does a very good job pulling all the contradictory tales together, and even works in the Superboy/Robin team-up story from Adventure Comics.

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But therein lies the problem.  Page after page after page of this story simply recaps one meeting story after another.  It puts them all in a chronological order, and tidies up various continuity mistakes.  But it takes the story an awful long time to really move forward.

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It does finally pick up towards the end, as the heroes figure out that Atoman is from Earth-2, and the versions of Superman, Batman and Robin from that universe join in with the Earth-1 heroes to defeat him.

But in truth, what I found, and still, find, most entertaining in this issue is the one page explanation of the various sources that Roy Thomas drew on to craft this tale.