Posts tagged ‘David Michelinie’

Adventure 458 – Superboy and Eclipso end

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Superboy’s second run in Adventure Comics comes to a close in issue 458, with the xenophobe story by David Michelinie, Joe Staton and Jack Abel.

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Thanks to his mental control of Ma and Pa Kent, Lester Wallac learns of the Phantom Zone projector, and uses it against Superboy, sending him to the Zone.  There Superboy encounters Zan-Em, who has been mentally influencing Wallace and controlling his actions!

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Seeing Wallace about to attack Lana Lang with a knife, Superboy defeats Zan-Em and re-emerges from the Zone.  With Zan-Em defeated, Wallace regains control of his mind, realizes what he has done, and uses the Phantom Zone projector on himself.

Superboy’s series moves briefly back into Superman Family.

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The conclusion of the Eclipso story by Len Wein and Joe Orlando reveals that, permanently split, Eclipso and Bruce Gordon will each fade from existence.  Eclipso has rigged a Zeiss projector to draw stellar power that will enable him to survive while Bruce perishes.

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But of course Bruce tracks him down, and the combination of the black diamond, and Professor Bennet’s re-rigging of the Zeiss projector re-merge Eclipso and Bruce Gordon.

An adequate Eclipso story, but nothing memorable.

Both Eclipso and Bruce Gordon next appear in the pages of Green Lantern through the early 80s.  Professor Bennet and Mona have to wait until Eclipso’s next solo outing for their returns, in the Eclipso: The Darkness Within mini-series and follow-up book in the mid-90s.

 

 

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Adventure 457 – Superboy takes on xenophobes, and Eclipso begins

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A group of effigy-burning alien haters are the problem in Adventure 457 (June 1978), the first half of the final Superboy story in Adventure, by David Michelinie, with art by Joe Staton and Jack Abel.

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Lester Wallace leads the group of extremists, who want Superboy to leave Smallville.  The people of the town are not so convinced that Superboy is a menace, but there is more to Wallace that it seems.

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Superboy finds himself becoming intangible at times, and the town begins to turn against him.  The final panel, in which Wallace has Ma and Pa Kent under his spell, makes it clear that he has some degree of powers.

The story concludes next issue.

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Eclipso begins a 2-part story in this issue, written by Len Wein, with art by Joe Orlando and Frank Giacoia.  Eclipso had last appeared the previous year in Metal Men, but had not had a solo story since the end of his original series in House of Secrets in the 60s.  Mona Bennet and her father Simon are also in the tale.

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Together they succeed at splitting Eclipso from Bruce Gordon’s body, but fail completely to capture him.  Though it doesn’t appear they put much thought or effort into that part of their plan.  Mona wants them to just enjoy that Bruce is free of the demon, but Bruce insists he has a responsibility to capture his evil half.

The story climaxes with Bruce becoming intangible.  The similarity of the situations with Bruce and Clark Kent were not planned, but when the editor noticed he added a blurb to the letter column, running a contest for readers to come up with a resolution that tied both stories together.  Those were printed a few issues later.  And I have to admit, some were much better than the actual conclusions from the following issue.

Adventure 452 – Aquaman ends with a shocking death

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Aquaman’s third run in Adventure Comics ended with issue 452 (Aug 77), a truly ground-breaking story by David Michelinie and Jim Aparo, with a highly unexpected ending.

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Still pursuing Topo and Aquababy, Aquaman runs straight into the Idyllists, and the waiting hands of Black Manta, who had taken control of the tribe, and their “lost city,” thanks to the map he acquired from the Shark.  Aqualad and McCaan are also his captives, and some history of the Idyllists is given.

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For the first time ever, Black Manta removes his helmet, and we discover why, in his own words, he is called “Black” Manta.  He reveals his plans to build an underwater kingdom for black people, making him sort of an aquatic Malcolm X.

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Manta announces that he has suppressed the ability of Aquaman and Aqualad to control the sea creatures, and indeed they find themselves incapable of doing so.  Manta has imprisoned Aquababy in a glass ball of air, in which he will die, and commands Aquaman and Aqualad to fight to the death for his own amusement.  Pretty sick and twisted guy, that Manta.

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The battle scene is extremely well done.  Aqualad is hurt and horrified to discover that his friend and mentor is sincerely trying to kill him.  Aquaman finds out that the fish they cannot control are actually mechanical, and commands Topo to free Arthur Jr.

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But too late.  Aquababy has died.  It was very rare for heroes to die at this time, and beyond imagining that the infant son of one would be killed.  On top of that, Aqualad finds it hard to simply forgive and forget that Aquaman tried to kill him, and cannot just go back to Atlantis with him.

Black Manta escapes, having sealed his position as Aquaman’s main enemy.

Aquaman jumps into his own comic at this point, and his search for Black Manta, as well as his difficulty with Mera after the death of their child, are handled in that book.  Although this would be pushed to the side for a while, the death of their child would cause a rift between Aquaman and Mera for well over a decade.

Aqualad stays on in Adventure, gaining his own back-up series.

And I cried myself to sleep after I read this, at 12 years old.

Adventure 451 – Aquaman vs Starro, and Martian Manhunter ends

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Even as a kid I was not impressed by the Aquaman story in Adventure 451 (June 1977).  The cover was dramatic, and it was cool to see Starro the Conqueror, who had not appeared since battling the Justice League in their very first outing back in 1959.  The art by Jim Aparo is strong, as usual, but David Michelinie’s story was just too easy.

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Topo grabs Aquababy yet again, and this time makes it out of the Aquacave with him.

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Aquaman follows, and discovers Starro in a hidden underwater cove, now able to mentally control sea creatures, as well as the purple-eyed Idyllists that had featured in the Aqualad sub-plot.

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Starro promptly explains to Aquaman that his new powers only exist if he stays in the polluted waters of the cover.  Just great when a villain immediately explains how to defeat him.  Aquaman has a bunch of puffer fish spray clean water into the cove, Starro loses his abilities to control others, and Aquaman trounces him.

Not very impressive, even for a starfish.

Starro’s next outing, 4 years down the road in the pages of JLA, takes a different slant on the character, and makes him a far more viable villain.

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The conclusion of the Martian Manhunter story, by Denny O’Neil, with art by Mike Netzer and Terry Austin, pits him against Hawkman and Hawkgirl, whose spaceship he encounters.  He immediately jumps to the conclusion that they must have come from New Mars, and attacks.

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I love that page.  Look at it as a whole, and you will notice that the various components form an outline of Hawkman’s head.

Hawkgirl manages to talk some sense into J’onn, and the reader is allowed to see that N’or Cott is now openly scheming against the Manhunter, and clearly not the noble being he had appeared to be in the first two instalments.  He builds a Superman robot-bomb, and sends it onto the ship with the three heroes.

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Instead of resolving the storyline, this final chapter actually serves as a lead-in to a Superman/Batman/Martian Manhunter team-up in the pages of World’s Finest Comics, with the Hawks having cameos in it.

 

Adventure 450 – Aquaman vs Weather Wizard, and Martian Manhunter vs Supergirl

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David Michelinie contributes the Aquaman story in Adventure 450 (April 1977), which pits him against the Flash’s foe, the Weather Wizard.  Jim Aparo stays on the art.  The Weather Wizard had last appeared in DC Super-Stars, with other villains, playing baseball against super-heroes.  I am sooo looking forward to writing about that story!

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General Morgan turns to Aquaman for help when a NATO plane goes down over the ocean, and Aquaman discovers it in an area of dry land, where the water is being held back by the Weather Wizard.

Mark Mardon had done this in order to lure the Flash, and is disappointed when Aquaman shows up instead, which is a nice touch.

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Some good art on their battle, and it’s interesting to see Aquaman battling on dry land, even if it is an ocean bed.

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Intercut with this is the confrontation between McCaan and Aqualad and Aquagirl.  Garth’s purple eyes are the key, a trait of the Idyllists, whom McCaan blames for stealing his son.  He has been tracking Aqualad over the past few issues, convinced he was part of the group because of his eyes.  Garth disabuses him of this notion, but agrees to help him find his son.

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This story is also notable because Aquababy finally gets a name, mentioned in passing by Mera.  After what must have been seconds of thought, he is called Arthur, Jr.

The Weather Wizard, defeated by Aquaman, next appears a few months down the road in The Flash.

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The Martian Manhunter approaches Earth in this chapter of his story, written by Denny O’Neil, with are by Mike Netzer and Terry Austin.  He is pursued by N’or Cott, though unaware of that.

He winds up in a confrontation with Supergirl, appearing between issues of Superman Family, though he claims to have mistaken her for someone else.  Exactly who he thought she was is not explained.

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Once again there is little use of his extensive powers, and the best thing about this chapter is the art.

Adventure 445 – Aquaman gets a new Aquacave, and the Creeper begins

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Adventure 445 (June 1976) has a largely forgettable tale by Paul Levitz and David Michelinie, though the Jim Aparo art is, as always, excellent.

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The Aqua-Family move into a spiffy new four story Aquacave, which gets a cutaway diagram.  As it turns out, little of this cave will actually be shown or used in the coming stories.

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Aquaman fights a scary monster, at the behest of some underwater religious freaks who kidnap Mera.  But really the only interesting moments in this story have Topo sneaking up on the oblivious Aquababy, which continues next issue.

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The Creeper begins a three-part back-up story in this issue, written by Marty Pasko, with art by Ric Estrada and Joe Staton.  The Creeper had last appeared in a team-up with Wildcat in Super-Team Family, and his last solo outing was in an issue of First Issue Special.

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The story has Jack Ryder interview a physical therapist whose patients have been dying mysteriously, then coming to her aid as the Creeper, when she gets attacked by a strange robotic figure.

Not a bad beginning, but it feels pretty generic. It doesn’t really capture Ryder’s abrasiveness nor the Creeper’s manic side.

Adventure 443 – Aquaman vs the Fisherman, and Seven Soldiers of Victory ends

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Aquaman did not have many recurring villains in his own comic, but Adventure 443  (Feb 76) brings back the Fisherman, a third-rater at best.  Still, the story, by Paul Levitz and David Michelinie, with art by Jim Aparo, is pretty good.

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Aquaman intercepts some people hunting a dolphin, but discovers that they are French police, and the dolphin is being used for heroin smuggling.  Following the animal, Aquaman discovers the Fisherman is running the operation.  This was the first appearance of the character since the 60s, and though he captures Aquaman, another long-unseen character frees him.

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Topo had not been used in an Aquaman story since issue 36 of his old book, but becomes a regular supporting character again with this issue.

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The kicker to the story comes only on its last page, as Aquaman is dethroned by vote of the council, and the mysterious Karshon becomes the new King of Atlantis.

 

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The conclusion of the Seven Soldiers of Victory saga, with art by Dick Dillin, is a bit of a let-down.  The team reconvenes, and Willie the Wisher sends a battery of beasts against them.

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They defeat the creatures, and make Willie feel bad for his actions simply by talking about it.  Willie makes himself disappear.  Well, that was easy.

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In the end we discover that the events were all made into a film, but no one believes it because no one remembers Willie – even though all the activity occurred not on Earth, but in the Land of Magic.  So why would anyone on Earth be aware of it anyway?

Still, most of  the original tales of the Seven Soldiers of Victory were similarly pretty weak, so this is simply on par with their published adventures.

As a team, the group never appears again, except in flashbacks, or in All-Star Squadron issues, set in the 1940s.  The story clearly takes place before the events in Justice League of America 100-102, as Wing is still alive.

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