Posts tagged ‘Jack Abel’

Adventure 462 – Batman dies, Flash stalks his wife, Deadman has trouble with in-laws, Wonder Woman vs Sargon the Sorceror and Aquaman battles corporate farms

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The Justice Society may not have had a long run in Adventure Comics, but as the cover to issue 462 (April 1979) makes clear, some of it’s most important stories occurred during it.  Paul Levitz and Joe Staton kill off Batman in a not-so-great, but certainly memorable, tale.

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Picking up from where the last issue left off, Dr Fate attempts to get Bruce Wayne to safety, and the rest of the team revive long enough to battle, and fall, to Bill Jensen again.

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But there is no avoiding where this story is going.  Bruce dons his Batman garb one final time to face down Jensen, and both die in a cataclysmic explosion.

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The funeral scene is the best part of the story, with grieving Helena persuading Dick not to take over the role of Batman.  Bruce’s identity has been exposed to the world in his death, and theirs have been compromised as well.  But it’s left to Dr Fate to point out that the story has climaxed,but not ended.  Who or what was behind Jensen’s attack?

The story concludes next issue.

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The Flash’s marital troubles had taken centre stage in his own book, and spill over in this story by Cary Bates, with dreadful art by Don Heck and Joe Giella.

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Barry Allen gets so jealous when he discovers Iris is meeting another man that he spies on her by vibrating invisibly and following her.  It turns out the “other man” is simply an old friend, a scientist who has been working on a device to access the astral plane.

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Flash follows her there as well, which is not such a bad thing, as he rescues her from an astral demon.  And though they do communicate their feelings for each other in the astral realm, Iris has no memory of it and is simply angered and humiliated when she finds that Barry has been stalking her.

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Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano take over the art on Len Wein’s Deadman saga with this issue.

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It turns out that Kronsky has been developing a helmet that would give thoughts physical form, and no one is more thrilled to hear this than Boston Brand, as it would mean he could get his own body again.  Cleveland would also likely be excited, if he knew his brother kept hitching a ride in his body.

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Solomon and his goons have come to the circus as well, in pursuit of Kronsky and the helmet, and Garica-Lopez does some great work with the battle between the mobsters and the circus folk.

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But it was the horrifying final page that really stuck in my mind as a kid, as Kronsky retrieves the helmet he had hidden with Inga, and uses it to murder Solomon and his men.  Turns out Kronsky might not be such a victim after all.

The story concludes next issue.

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The Ruby of Life, which gave Sargon the Sorceror his powers, has come into the possession of Queen Hippolyta in the Wonder Woman story in this issue, by Jack C Harris and Jack Abel.

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Sargon, originally a hero in the 1940s, had returned as a villain in the 60s, but his last appearance, in a Justice League story in the early 70s, had seen him back on the side of the angels.  In this story he convinces a young couple sailing near Paradise Island to land and steal the gem back for him.

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It turns out he needs them to do this because he is actually imprisoned within the stone, and is merely sending an image to the couple.  Wonder Woman shatters the gem, freeing Sargon and releasing him from the spell of the jewel.  But as he has the stone again a few years down the road, it is clear that the magical gem cannot be so easily destroyed, nor can its possession of Sargon end.

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I may not have cared for Don Newton’s art on Aquaman, but at least it was better than Don Heck, who takes over with this issue, as Paul Kupperberg continues his story of evil farmers bringing doom to Atlantis.

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Even with evidence of the environmental destruction the UFP are causing, Vulko remains completely unconcerned, convinced that they will find some solution in time.  Corporate greed versus the environment, been going on for a long time.

The story concludes next issue.

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Adventure 461 – Barry Allen framed for murder, Deadman finds the bad guys, Aquaman takes a stand against farming, Wonder Woman teams with Wonder Girl, and the Justice Society of America begins

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The number of series in Adventure 461 (Feb 79) drops from six to five, though with no drop in pages.  Rather, the Justice Society is given a double length series as they move from their own comic, cancelled as part of the DC Implosion.

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The Flash gets an entertaining and off-beat tale by Cary Bates, with art by Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin.  Barry and Iris are travelling by car, and stop at a gas station.  A hunter comes out, drops his gun, and Barry picks it up and shoots the man dead.

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Iris cannot figure out what is going on, and upon visiting Barry in prison, discovers that he has no idea either.  The gun shot itself, and when he raced to stop the bullets, he discovered there were none, the man had squibs planted in his coat that exploded.

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Sticking around to try to figure out the situation, Barry is set up by another faked death, and then meant to be killed escaping.  But of course he uses his super-speed to avoid that fate, and manages to find the supposed victim and clear his name of the crime.  It was all an attempt to frame and kill an outsider, while allowing a wanted criminal (the hunter) to fake his own death.

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In this instalment of the Deadman story, Len Wein and Jim Aparo slow down a bit, recapping past events as Deadman tries to figure out what is going on.  He figures out that the man behind the fire and attempted murder was Solomon, a wealthy industrialist, and tracks him down, learning that the other man who escaped, Kronsky, was being held by him to extract information.

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Inga reveals more of her past to Cleveland, that her father was a prominent scientist who disappeared a few years before she escaped from Russia.

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So all in all it’s really no surprise when Kronsky shows up at the circus, and we discover he is Inga’s father.

But at least the story has taken a clear form before its climax.

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The Justice Society begin their run in Adventure with a three-page introduction, of the team itself, as well as Earth-2. Paul Levitz and Joe Staton then give  play to Power Girl, trying to prove herself to the dismissive older heroes, Green Lantern, Flash and Wildcat.

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Robin shows up at the headquarters, where he reveals that he has known Helena was really the Huntress all along, even if Bruce never figured out what his daughter was up to.

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Then the action gets going as a powerful madman, Bill Jensen, takes over some twin towers and demands that Bruce Wayne, the current Police Commissioner of Gotham City, be turned over to him for vengeance.  Jensen quickly takes down Power Girl, Flash, Green Lantern, Huntress and Robin before Wayne arrives.

He blames Wayne for framing him for a murder he didn’t commit, and his attempt to kill Bruce is only thwarted by the power of Dr. Fate.

The story continues next issue.

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This beginning chapter to a new Aquaman storyline is a less than impressive start, although the story will improve as it goes on.  Paul Kupperberg and Don Newton have Aquaman discover that a company, Universal Food Products, has begun extensive farming of the lands around Atlantis.

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Aquaman distrusts the company immediately, and Vulko’s defense of them certainly calls into question his abilities as king.  Aqualad joins Aquaman as he seeks out information on land from the company headquarters, and discovers that UFP’s real plan is the destruction of Atlantis.

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Wonder Woman gets an extremely rare team-up with Wonder Girl in this story by Jack C Harris and Jack Abel.  Wonder Girl had been introduced as a member of the Teen Titans, an a backstory involving Wonder Woman was ascribed to her (and flashbacked to in this story), but in truth she had never been a sidekick in Wonder Woman’s comic.

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Wonder Woman finds her at a special school, while tracking down some Amazon-costumed thieves.  Donna refuses to accept any connection between the school and Diana’s case, but Diana sticks around and discovers that the head of the school is really the old, lame, JLA villain Headmaster Mind.  He has conned the girls into believing they are drawing powers from Wonder Girl as she sleeps.  The Wonder women simply turn the tables on him, convincing the girls that they have stopped the fake device from working, their powers in reality just came from their belief in the machine.

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It’s not a bad story in concept, though not great in execution.

Wonder Girl had last appeared in a Flash Super-Spectacular, and next appeared in an issue of Brave and the Bold later in the year, both times as part of the Teen Titans.

Headmaster Mind had not appeared since battling the JLA in the late 60s, and as he made no further appearances, it seems he really did die in the explosion at the end of this story.

 

Adventure 460 – Barry Allen lives Jay Garrick’s nightmare, Deadman deals with a circus fire, Wonder Woman battles for Steve Trevor’s soul, Green Lantern and New Gods end, and Aquaman begins for the fourth time

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The line-up changes almost immediately with the second Dollar Comic issue of Adventure, 460 (Dec 78), partly as a result of the infamous “DC Implosion.”  Having lost his own comic, Aquaman moves back into Adventure, which causes the abrupt end to Green Lantern’s run.  Other victims of the Implosion would also find homes in this book in the coming months.

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Cary Bates, Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin craft an enjoyable variation on the long-running team-ups of the Earth-1 and Earth-2 Flashes.  After hanging out for the first couple pages, Barry Allen tries to head home, but instead gets pulled into a weird alternate reality.

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He encounters The Shade, and though he tries to fight him, the Shade appears confused by this, and insists they are friends – as well as insisting that Barry is really Jay Garrick.

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Jay’s wife Joan has the same view of Barry’s identity, though in this world she has become the wife of the Fiddler, another of Garrick’s old foes.

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Finally the Wizard shows up, bragging about his plan to drive Jay Garrick insane.  Barry simply fell into the magical trap by accident, but as it was not designed for him, he also escapes with ease.

The Shade and the Fiddler, both last seen in JLA/JSA team-ups, do not really appear in this tale, they are simply magical constructs.  The Wizard appears between the final story in Secret Society of Super-Villains, and its follow-up in the pages of Justice League of America.  But again he is not really there, hia appearance is part of the spell he had set-up before the events at the conclusion of SSoSV.

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Len Wein and Jim Aparo continue the Deadman saga begun in the previous issue, as Lorna finds herself pestered by agents of a mysterious businessman trying to take over the circus.

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Once again Inga is certain that she is the cause of the problems, even though this appears unlikely to the other characters.  The bad guys start a fire in the circus, and Deadman inhabits his brother’s body once again to help save people.

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Meanwhile, a second mysterious man, being tortured at orders of the first, escapes from his captors.  The story continues next issue.

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The New Gods saga by Gerry Conway and Don Newton comes to a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion in this issue.

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Darkseid beats up Highfather, in a sequence that is not particularly impressive for either character.

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On Earth, the humans assembled by Darkseid join together and emit the Anti-Life Equation, which simply wipes out the Antagonist.  Lightray, Forager, Metron and Jezebel just sort of stand around looking impressed.

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Darkseid attempts to pierce the Source Wall, but his approach causes him to increase in size, like the Promethean Giants.  DeSaad mistakes this as an attack, and fires a cannon at him, blasting Darkseid to pieces, and the story comes to an end, without even the long forecast battle between Darkseid and Orion.

Most of the major players return a couple years down the road in the JLA/JSA crossover in which the Apocalyptians try to bring Darkseid back to life.  Others have to wait until Kirby’s next work on the series, in the mid-80s.

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His own book having fallen prey to the DC Implosion, Aquaman returns to the pages of Adventure, Mera in tow, as he deals with Landau, an arrogant hunter of whales.

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The story, by Paul Kupperberg, is pretty basic, and Don Newton is far from my favourite artist on Aquaman.

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Green Lantern’s last story in this book, by Cary Burkett, with art by Joe Staton, sees him deal with one of his rarer foes, a magical being called Myrwhydden.

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Their last encounter had been back in the mid-60s, in Green Lantern’s own book, and concluded with Myrwhydden imprisoned inside Hal’s ring.  He reveals that the energy leeches from the previous issue had drawn him out of the ring, and so once again he pursues his goal of stealing Green Lantern’s battery and ring to use to power his own magic.

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And once again Green Lantern whups him.  But this time, rather than putting him back in the ring, he delivers Myrwhydden to the Guardians of the Universe to imprison.  Myrwhydden returns in the early 80s, in Green Lantern’s own book.

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The final story in the issue, a Wonder Woman tale by Jack C Harris and Jack Abel, is the best in the book.  It’s an epilogue of sorts to the death of Steve Trevor that occurred the previous month in her own book.

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Distraught, Diana pleads with Aphrodite to bring Steve Trevor back to life, as she had done once before, in the early 70s.  Aphrodite refuses, and Diana decides to head to the afterworld to take on Pluto himself in order to save Steve.

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They battle, but it becomes apparent to Wonder Woman that Pluto does not have Steve Trevor, that he has passed on to a different plane.  Pluto was merely delaying Diana in his realm, waiting until her separation from her physical form brought about her own death.  Steve’s ghost leads Diana back to her body, and she has no choice but to accept his death.

In fact, Steve’s absence from the realm of Pluto was due to more of Aphrodite’s manipulations, but that will not be made clear, or even hinted at, until the 80s.

 

Adventure 459 – Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Deadman, New Gods begin, plus an Elongated Man story

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Major changes in Adventure Comics 459 (Oct 78), as the book expands to be a “Dollar Comic,” and the format becomes reminiscent of the 1940s anthology series “Comic Cavalcade, ” which also featured Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, as well as a host of other characters.  Deadman begins as a regular feature, and the New Gods conclude the storyline from their recently cancelled book.  The Elongated Man story was always intended as a one-shot, rather than the start of a new series for him.

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The features that had their own comics tried to do something different with their runs in Adventure.  For the Flash, this meant telling single issue tales, without the emphasis on the Rogue’s Gallery.  Still, the story had the standard creative line-up for the hero, with Cary Bates writing, and Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin on the art.

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The story sees Barry Allen go to a high school reunion, and chaos and crime take hold when a psychic ex-classmate reveals that she has read the mind of one of the alumni, and discovered that he is the Flash.  She chooses to share this information with a man in debt to the mob, who kidnaps the Flash in order to have him fight the mobsters who are out to get him.

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Unfortunately, the mind she read was not that of Barry Allen, but instead a different classmate, who had become an actor, and was recently cast as the Flash.  Still, amid all the confusion the Flash swoops in to save the day.

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Deadman had been a frequent guest star in the DC Universe throughout the 70s, most recently in the Challengers of the Unknown revival, but had not had a solo series since his back-up in Aquaman in the early 70s.

This storyline brings Boston Brand back to his Hill’s Circus beginnings, and brings back much of his original supporting cast: Lorna, Vashnu, Tiny and his twin brother Cleveland, as well as introducing Cleveland’s wife, a Russian defector Inga, and their daughter Lita.  Len Wein scripts, with Jim Aparo on the art.

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Deadman spends a few pages remembering his origin and recapping his original series from Strange Adventures, while inhabiting his brother’s body as he performs his aerial act.  A gunman tries to kill him, and then manages to kill himself while Deadman inhabits his body, which should not be possible.

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Though there is no real explanation given for the events in this issue, Inga suspects it has something to do with her past and her defection, and later issues will prove this correct.

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Green Lantern had been sharing his comic with Green Arrow for the better part of the decade, so his short run in Adventure gave him solo stories for a change.  Cary Burkett and Joe Staton provide this brief tale, as a beautiful alien woman comes to Earth seeking Hal’s help.

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He fights off the energy leeches that have crippled her ship, but his ring informs him that she is disguising her identity, so he also blasts apart her deception.

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She reveals that she is not the hot babe she pretended to be, but lusted for Hal and figured he would not be interested in her if he saw what she really looked like.  Silly woman.  Hal Jordan will bed anything that moves.

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The New Gods continues the storyline from its recently cancelled revival in this and the following issue.  Gerry Conway and Don Newton did some commendable work on the series, but it paled next to Kirby’s original.

DeSaad gives a brief recap to Orion, explaining how the captured human Orion has freed were taken by Darkseid because they unwittingly possess the Anti-Life Equation he has been searching for.

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Highfather also gives some background on the New Gods and the long war between the forces of New Genesis and Apokolips, before the story shifts to Earth, as Lightray, Metron, Forager and Jezebel deal with the Antagonist and his mind-controlled hordes. as they attempt to assassinate President Carter.

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Darkseid and Orion meet and finish the recapping, discussing the long-foretold final battle between the father and son.  All of this basically a set-up for the big finale next issue.

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The Elongated Man gets a fun little mystery, which apparently needed five writers for a seven page story, as Len Wein, Paul Levitz, Mike Gold, Ann Delany-Gold and Steve Mitchell are all credited, along with George Ruppert and Bruce Patterson on the art.

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The story sees a group of diners at a chinese restaraunt receive fortune cookies stuffed with thousand dollar bills.  Raplph runs headlong into the mystery, while Sue calmly sits and watches, filling him in on the important information he missed by running around.  Gotta love her.

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Some fun stretchiness as Ralph boards a airplane already in flight, and confronts the mysterious cookie stuffer, who turns out to be a well-known comedian with a criminal past, trying to right his long ago wrongs.  As the comedian is known for being a cheapskate (and is pretty clearly based on the non-criminal Jack Benny), he wanted to pay back the town without ruining any part of his reputation, and Ralph, satisfied with the solution, agrees.

Though the Elongated Man appeared regularly in Justice League, he had not had a solo story since his run in Detective Comics a couple of years earlier.  His next solo outing was a couple years down the road, a back-up story in an issue of Justice League of America.

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Wonder Woman faces the Shark in this story, by Jack C Harris, with art by Jack Abel and Frank Giacoia.  Most of her tales in Adventure pitted the Amazon against other heroes villains, which was not such a bad idea.

The Shark, who last appeared in these pages battling Aquaman, invades Paradise Island in his quest for Wonder Woman.  She is secretly flattered by his interest, as she deems it an indication that he views her as a hero on par with Superman, Green Lantern and Aquaman.

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Sad that she bases her view of her worth on the attitudes of those who want to fight her, but even worse is the fact that the Shark simply wants her as a mate.

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It takes her an embarrassingly long time to realize that she did not lose her powers by being bound by the Shark, as he is not a human male.  You’d think she would actually be able to tell whether she had her strength and such, but not in this story.

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She compounds this error at the end, using her lasso to command the Shark to never “return to human form.”  But he WASN’T IN HUMAN FORM!  That was the whole point of why she did not lose her powers!

While not a bad story, per se, it certainly does not come off making Wonder Woman seem particularly competent.

The Shark returns the following year, battling the Justice League in their book.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

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