Posts tagged ‘Phantom Zone’

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 400 – Supergirl vs Black Flame

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Supergirl had few notable villains of her own.  Black Flame had made an impressive debut in Action Comics, but had to wait until Adventure 400 (Dec 70) for her second battle with Supergirl, written and drawn by Mike Sekowsky.

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Zora lost her powers at the end of her first battle with Supergirl, and was returned to Kandor.  She escapes back to Earth, and releases three Phantom Zone villains to aid her.

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She lures Supergirl, using a phony plea for help, and then for some reason puts her in a giant bowling alley.

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After that silly sequence, Black Flame gets down to business, pouring gold kryptonite onto Supergirl, to permanently remove her powers as well.  Gold K is usually shown to act immediately, but in this story it’s effects are slow.  Slow enough that Supergirl manages to escape from it.

She calls on the Kandorians, who aid her in capturing Black Flame, and take her back to the bottle city of Kandor.

A disappointing return.  Black Flame does not appear again until the late 70s.

 

Adventure 325 – The Legion vs Lex Luthor

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Both Superboy and Supergirl take part in the story in Adventure 325 (Oct 64), which pits the Legion against Lex Luthor.  It starts strong, but in the end  is one of my least favourite Edmond Hamilton stories from the period.

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The Legion encounter a time-travelling Lex Luthor, who aids them against the Brain-Lords of Kahnn.  Because he has hair, they believe him to be from the time before he hated Superboy, and befriend him.

In fact, he is wearing a wig, and getting the Legion to trust him solely so that he can kill them all.

He builds a disintegrator ray that he spotted in the Clubhouse, and uses it to kill the Legionnaires, one group at a time.  But oops, he actually built a Phantom Zone projector.  Mon-El of course realizes where he is immediately, and helps the other Legionnaires use the mental abilities the Zone endows them with to make Luthor reverse the ray and free them.

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Adventure 305 – A mysterious new member for the Legion

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Marvel Lad, who also calls himself Legionnaire Lemon, competes for membership in Adventure 305 (Feb 63), another Jerry Siegel tale.

Open auditions are held again, and it becomes a regular feature of Legion tales, in which rejected applicants are briefly introduced, many of whom would return, sometimes decades later.  This issue introduces Antennae Boy, who is not seen again until the mid-80s.

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The focus of the story is on Marvel Lad, who displays a staggering range of powers, and even invents an anti-gravity metal as part of his initiation.  More significantly, he battles and defeats a Sun-Eater.  This creature bears little resemblance to the more deadly version that would be seen a few years down the road, but still is a challenge.

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In the end he is revealed as Mon-El, a complete surprise for anyone who cannot reverse the letters in Lemon.  Brainiac 5 developed a cure for his lead poisoning and released him from the Phantom Zone. As they waited to see if it would function on a long term basis, Mon-El came up with the Marvel Lad identity to have some fun with the team he had joined months earlier, without being able to participate.

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It`s a bit sad seeing that Jax-Ur is still in the Phantom Zone, more than a thousand years after the destruction of Krypton.  As evil as he is, being sentenced to eternal punishment is a bit much.

Adventure 300 – The Legion of Super-Heroes get their own series!

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After a few years in which the Legion of Super-Heroes appeared with increasing frequency as guest stars in various Superman books, they finally got their own series, beginning with Adventure 300 (Sept 62), with a classic cover by Curt Swan

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The story pits them against a robot built centuries earlier by Lex Luthor, which has the ability to activate the powers of the various Legionnaires and use them against each other.  Although nine Legionnaries are shown on the first page, only Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Sun Boy have roles in the tale.

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Superboy is very much the star of the story, though it’s Mon-El who saves the day, temporarily released from the Phantom Zone.  He joins the Legion in this tale, but still much return to the Zone at the end, until a permanent cure is found for his lead poisoning.

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The World Wide Police appear in this story.  They are usually considered a forerunner of the Science Police, although looking at the dangerous craft they fly I think it just as likely that they died in those machines and were replaced by Science Police who were smart enough to build safer airships.

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Adventure 289 – Does Pa Kent really gain super-powers again? And Bizarro hunts for heroes

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Oh, no, is it yet another story where Pa Kent gets powers?  Nope, it just seems to be.  Otto Binder does a great job decoying the reader with this tale, in Adventure 289 (Oct 61)

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Clark, and the reader, are lead to believe that Pa Kent has gained powers as the result of exposure to an alien gem, and with two such stories in the last few years, no one was likely to be surprised, or question it.

Pa Kent adopts the identity of Super-Dad, and acts quite obnoxiously towards Clark.  But then, not so different from how Pa Kent behaved in the story where he became Strongman.

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Ok, maybe throwing a lead bucket onto Superboy’s head is a bit much, but it almost feels like it’s being played for laughs.  Things get serious though, when Clark discovers his father stockpiling kryptonite in order to kill him.  Would Pa Kent really do this?

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No, he wouldn’t.  This is Jax-Ur, an escapee from the Phantom Zone, making his first appearance.  We learn that he was sentenced to the Zone for destroying an inhabited moon of Krypton, and Superboy sends him back there at story’s end.

This is a good tale, almost a great one, except for the revelation of how Superboy figured out Pa Kent was not Pa Kent.

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Groan.

 

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Bizarro goes time-travelling in this little romp by Jerry Siegel.  He promises the citizens of Bizarro World that he will find real heroes from the past that they can feature on tv on their world, and heads in search of the Abominable Snowman, Frankenstein’s monster and the Devil.

In each case, it is Bizarro himself who is assumed by people in that time period to be the monster he is seeking.

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He winds up in the prehistoric era, and runs into Titano, who he calls Tiny. and returns to Bizarrow World to tell them all about the great hero he found.

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He is accused to ripping off King Kong for his story about Tiny, which makes Bizarro World cheer him, for hoaxing them all.

Bizarro logic, what can you do?

 

Adventure 283 – Superboy discovers the Phantom Zone and Congorilla ends

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Unlike so many stories that retroactively put people and items from the Superman series into the Superboy one, Adventure 283 (April 1961) really is the first appearance of the Phantom Zone, which would quickly become a major element throughout the Superman books.

A box of deadly Kryptonian weapons lands on Earth, just outside Smallville (where else?), and Superboy discovers that it was Jor-El (who else?) who sealed them away.

Superboy examines the weapons, including a disintegrator gun and an enlarging ray, but its the Phantom Zone projector that is the important one.

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We learn, in flashback, of Dr Xadu, the first person sentenced to the Zone for failed experiments on suspended animation, and of General Zod, who attempted to overthrow the government of Krypton with a Bizarro army.  This is the first appearance for both characters.

Superboy then accidentally sends himself into the Phantom Zone, so we get to see how they exist as insubstantial beings who can see and hear what is going on in the real world, but cannot be perceived themselves.

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Superboy manages to escape by mentally causing a typewriter to work, detailing his situation, and Pa Kent uses the projector to free him.  Never again would anyone in the Zone find it so easy to affect real objects.

While Dr Xadu would appear rarely, General Zod would become one of Superman’s greatest foes.

 

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Congorilla’s final story gives him a decent villain, so it’s sort of a shame that it ended here.

A greedy scientist finds King Solomon’s Mines, and wants to keep the treasure for himself.  He devises a way, much like the magic ring, to transfer his brain into a lion’s body.  As the lion he scares off anyone who approaches.

Congo Bill at first believes he is facing a nasty lion, but eventually realizes there is a human mind behind it all.

At the end, he raises the possibility for the lion to return, and if the series had not ended at this point, I expect he would have.  It’s not like Congorilla had much of rogue’s gallery.

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Congo Bill and Congorilla would both return a few months later in a story in Action Comics, and continue to appear on occasion throughout the DC Universe.  Janu would have to wait until the 1980s, and Swamp Thing Annual 3, for his return, as an adult.

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