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  1. #256
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    Default Clark Kent is so fake

    When Kent switches to Superman, a fake Clark takes his place as the Artnig's captive--so Towbee's song story can continue. The Action Ace confronts the Minstrel in his spaceship, but he then has to go and save Danny Victor, who himself is trying to save the simulacrum of Clark.

    Having "saved" Clark, Danny books the bogus broadcaster along with the Caped Kryptonian on Nevada's show. And after the two appear together on live television, Superman convinces his dummy doppelganger to take off, eh.




  2. #257
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    Default The Minstrel of Space



    When Richard Donner's SUPERMAN hit the screens, one would have expected a novelization of the movie. My understanding is that Warner Books couldn't publish such a book owing to the unique contract Warner had with Mario Puzo--the writer of the original story for the movie.

    Instead they published a new novel by Elliot S! Maggin--SUPERMAN, THE LAST SON OF KRYPTON. Towbee had his encore in this novel.

    Appearing on Fifth Avenue--

    Pulled by a herd of seven Indian elephants each in a different color of the rainbow was a 90-foot-long transparent fishtank. The tank was filled with water which in turn was filled with a great blue whale floating calmly on the surface. On the whale's back was Towbee rocking in an easy chair with his feet up on the edge of a tub in which a large baboon was bathing. With one pair of hands Towbee played a melody on his instrument as he sang "Annie Laurie," and with the other pair he held a copy of the previous day's Daily Planet and read. And curled up under his legs was a Siberian tiger, sleeping like a fallen redwood.

    Police cordoned the entrances to Fifth Avenue from traffic. Thousands of people followed the procession past Governor's Plaza toward the park. Towbee and his bizarre litter passed within sight of the offices of all the city's television stations and by the time he had rolled a block the swarm of newsmen and police who were following him were in danger of being trampled by the calm elephants as they mechanically pulled their load.

    The alien wailed "Annie Laurie" gradually louder and louder. When he was finally loud enough so that his voice drowned even the din of midtown, the elephants and the aquarium ceased their progress up the street, and the grand marshal rose from his seat to address the world from the back of his whale.

    Towbee's instrument fashioned other-worldly sounds into a haunting, buoyant melody, and he and his pets and the faces and minds of everyone who saw him were clouded with remarkable shapes and colors in an ineffable random pattern as he sang:

    A clown has come
    A splash of rum
    I'll make you grin
    Halibut's fin
    And send your tears
    Out of your day
    Apples and pears
    Hurrah and hooray
    With shape and sound
    Cashews by the pound
    And colors flying
    Laundry drying
    Dreams and streams
    A clock you wind
    Gleams from themes
    An organ grind
    You'll surely leave your mind behind


    --Towbee has actually come to Earth to secure secret papers written by Albert Einstein that contain a new theory; however, Lex Luthor had already stolen these papers. Yet when Superman has arrested Luthor, the secret documents are gone. Superman must take Luthor along with him on a space odyssey to other alien worlds, in search of the Einstein papers and an intergalactic Genghis Khan called the Master.

    The Man of Steel ultimately tracks down his quarry and the Master turns out to be Towbee. The Last Son of Krypton abandons the Minstrel of Space on the far side of the galaxy and returns with Luthor back to Earth.
    Last edited by Jim Kelly; 01-16-2021 at 05:24 PM.

  3. #258
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    Default Wade Halibut, Jr.

    SUPERMAN 274 (April 1974)--"Protectors of Earth, Inc." by Elliot S! Maggin, Curt Swan and Vince Colletta:

    Listen: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., was a huge influence on Elliot S! Maggin and several references to the author appear in Elliot's work. No more so than in "Protectors of Earth, Inc." which reads like a love letter to Vonnegut. The character of Wade Halibut, Jr., looks like Vonnegut. As well, the name Wade Halibut, Jr., is a sorta mash-up of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and Kilgore Trout--who, in Vonnegut's BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, is a minor science fiction writer, most of whose works appear in gentleman's magazines.

    A plot point in "Protectors of Earth, Inc." is based off of SIRENS OF TITAN. In that Vonnegut novel there is something called a Chrono-Synclastic Infundibulum, which is a kind of cosmic wormhole (but also so much more) which allows space travel across vast distances, just as the Space Tunnel in SUPERMAN 274 allows the same thing.

    When Wade Halibut, Jr., is a guest on Johnny Nevada's show (to promote MERMAIDS OF ICARUS), Danny Victor does Clark Kent a favour and arranges for the T.V. reporter to meet the famous author.





    Halibut is trying to work out the plot for a new novel and decides to use Clark Kent as the prototype for his protagonist. Unfortunately, his interference brings unwanted attention upon Kent from thugs working for the Protectors of Earth, Inc.--an international crime syndicate that deals in weapons of mass destruction.

    At S.T.A.R., the Man of Tomorrow is assisting scientist Dr. David Trump with his invention of the Space Tunnel. Meanwhile, thugs from the Protectors of Earth have tracked Kent to S.T.A.R. and happen upon Superman and Trump, just as the Man of Steel is holding the triggering device for the Space Tunnel.

    Superman must keep very still, because any movement could open the wormhole; however, when the thugs threaten to shoot Trump, the Metropolis Marvel springs into action to stop their bullets, dropping the triggering device. The entire Earth is about to be sucked through the Space Tunnel, but the Caped Kryptonian uses his own body to stop up the hole in the space-time continuum.

    The story ends with an epilogue, where Halibut is being interviewed by Kent on his T.V. show and the writer gives away spoilers for his would-be novel. So it goes.

    🇨🇦
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    by a bear.

  4. #259
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    Default The X Files

    A Mr. X Checklist:

    SUPERMAN 254 (July 1972)--2nd story "The Baby Who Walked Through Walls" by Len Wein and Neal Adams
    SUPERMAN 258 (November 1972)--2nd story, "Who is Mr. X?" by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Dick Giordano
    SUPERMAN 296 (February 1976)--"Who Took the Super Out of Superman?" by Cary Bates, Elliot S! Maggin, Curt Swan and Bob Oksner
    SUPERMAN 297 (March 1976)--"Clark Kent Forever--Superman Never" by Bates/Maggin/Swan/Oksner
    SUPERMAN 298 (April 1976)--"Clark Kent, Get Out of My Life" by Bates/Maggin/Swan/Oksner
    SUPERMAN 299 (May 1976)--"The Double--or--Nothing Life of Superman" by Bates/Maggin/Swan/Oksner

  5. #260
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    Default Clark Kent's Neighbours

    When the Private Life of Clark Kent began as a recurring feature in the back pages of SUPERMAN--in 247 (January 1972), the same issue as "Must There Be a Superman?"--it gave the writers the chance to introduce some of Clark Kent's neighbours.

    In fact, in SUPERMAN 112 (March 1957), there was a story called "Superman's Neighbors" by Bill Finger, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye, which may have partly inspired the Clark Kent feature, as it was reprinted in SUPERMAN 241 (August 1971). That 1957 story established Clark Kent lives at 344 Clinton Street, apartment 3-B--a factoid revived in the Private Life back-up, although by SUPERMAN 258, Clark resides at apartment 3-D, not 3-B.



    In "The Baby Who Walked Through Walls," as Clark is leaving his flat for an interview*, he's met by Petra Lewis (to me she looks like Glynis Oliver, then married to writer Len Wein, and herself a prolific comic book colourist). Mrs. Lewis importunes Kent to look after her baby, Michele, for a few minutes (artist Adams modelled Michele on his own baby, Zeea). As Clark is left alone in the Lewis apartment with Michele (who talks the baby talk of Sugar and Spike), he rings his interviewee to say he'll be late. But when he gets off the phone, the infant is gone.

    After searching the apartment, with no sign of her, he concludes the baby has "walked through the walls" and inspects the hallway. There he notices that the newspaper, which would always rest against Mr. Xavier's door, has fallen flat on the floor, suggesting the baby passed this way.



    This is the first time that Xavier is mentioned--and then it seemed simply a sly nod to the X-Men comics. At that time X-MEN had become purely a reprint title, their new adventures sidelined. Neal Adams had worked on X-MEN just before they fell on hard times--while Wein would later be one of those to bring the team back to glory. Perchance Charles Xavier was hiding out at 344 Clinton Street.

    Clark next asks at Mrs. Goldstein's flat, but she's taking care of her infant grandson, Lance. Furtively searching the building, Clark sees something at the bottom of the stairwell and worries it's Michele, but it's her ragdoll. Finally he finds the baby right where he started back at the Lewis apartment. He reenacts the baby's disappearance and sees that when he picks up the phone she makes for a doggy door hidden in the wall. Mystery solved. But the mystery of Mr. X continues.

    *note: Clark's delayed interview is with Victor Dennison--until recently, he was a miserly business magnate, but apparently turned over a new leaf and became a philanthropist after an encounter with Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, who saved his life and the life of his young son, in the pages of THE FLASH 212 (February 1972)--"When Money Grows On Trees" by Len Wein and Dick Giordano.



    The next time that Mr. X was featured was in another Private Life story. One night, when Clark is bored, he decides to figure out "Who is Mr. X?" He has never used his powers to identify the mystery man, that would be too easy. As he hears someone leaving apartment 3-E (Xavier's flat, next door) and sees them going from the door, he follows on foot.

    Kent tracks the stranger onto the subway, to a diner, foiling a mugging, until he finds the man working as the day watchman at a city building. However, it's all been a wild goose chase. This is not Mr. X--he's an old friend of Xavier, who had been visiting him at 3-E, 344 Clinton Street.

    The mystery of Mr. X continued to be unsolved--until 1976!

  6. #261
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    Default Xviar is Who!







    Finally, Xavier is revealed in the opening scenes of "Who Took the Super Our of Superman?"--he's actually an alien named Xviar sent to Earth by his Homeworld at the same time as Kal-El arrived on Earth. But Xviar's superiors didn't reckon on how Earthlings age, so Xviar stays looking the same as the day he arrived and thus tries to keep his existence on the down-low so no one will notice that Mr. Xavier never ages.

  7. #262
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    Default Who Took the Super Out of Superman?



    When Clark pushes Steve Lombard out of the way of an oncoming car, he takes the brunt of the hit. Waking up in the hospital, Kent realizes that he has lost his powers. Yet when he puts on his super-suit--that he compressed into a small ball and stowed away inside his mouth--he regains all his powers.

    It's a complicated scheme hatched by Xviar's superiors on Homeworld for their own reasons.

    And, at the same, Inter-Gang also has Superman in their sites--as well as Clark Kent, whose investigations have the gang boss up on charges.



  8. #263
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    Default Clark Kent Forever--Superman Never

    Because of his power conundrum, the Last Son of Krypton decides to try being only Clark for one week. Meanwhile, Xviar continues to follow orders from Homeworld.



    In Superman's absence, the people of Kandor worry why Kal-El isn't in action. And Gregory Reed poses as the Man of Steel to keep the peace. However, during this down time, Clark displays a new strength of character which kindles a romance with Lois Lane.

    Lois comes over to Clark's to cook him dinner and the two become intimate.




  9. #264
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    Default Beef Bourguignon



    It's a controversial encounter between the two reporters. In the original version, it was supposed to be more strongly suggested that Clark and Lois had slept together, but editor Schwartz insisted Lois be wearing different clothes the next day and changed a line from Steve Lombard--the next morning, that she is still wearing the same dress as yesterday. A change which didn't sit well with Maggin.

    However, if one considers how things end up with Lois and Clark later in the story arc and going forward from there--if Smallville's favourite son had slept with Lois and then immediately after treated her like yesterday's newspaper, that could make him a loathsome cad. Perhaps Julie's editorial wisdom left Kent with a modicum of decency intact and we can hope Clark wasn't leading Lois on.

  10. #265
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    Default Clark Kent, Get Out of My Life



    All of the splash pages for this four issue arc display a distinct pride in the material being offered. During this era, when National Periodical Publications believed that something was really good, they made sure to say so. As well, both Cary Bates and Elliot Maggin considered Superman the greatest and they didn't feel awkward about stating that fact.

    After his week as Clark, the Metropolis Marvel takes another week to see what life is like being Superman all the time. Meanwhile Lois worries when Kent has gone missing.



    And the Red and Blue Blur runs into a would-be super-human, calling himself Solarman, who has made himself a costume of solar energy transformers that gives him powers almost equal to those of the Action Ace.


  11. #266
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    Default The Nine Super-Foes

    Xviar's homeworld has actually been contracted by Galactic Spaceways Company to remove the planet Earth because it's in the way of a teleportation route. The Man of Tomorrow remains oblivious to why Xviar is doing what he's done.



    In ACTION COMICS 511 (September 1980), Luthor had said he met Terra-Man before--that was in SUPERMAN 299, when Mr. X transported nine of Superman's deadliest enemies to Clark Kent's apartment. They are then sent off in smaller groups to other parts of the world and the Man of Steel is compelled to find them.



    Terra-Man is teamed with the Prankster and the new Toyman in a fight that must have been degrading for the Space Cowboy.



    The Metropolis Marvel battles his perennial foes Luthor, Parasite and Mr. Mxyzptlk. Then he faces down those space renegades, Brainiac and Amalak. All is going according to plan for Xviar--these fights are powering up Superman with lethal energy for a cataclysmic explosion that will wipe out the Earth and clear the path for Galactic Spaceways.

  12. #267
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    Default The Double--or--Nothing Life of Superman

    Before battling Amalak and Brainiac, Clark must give testimony in court against Inter-Gang--and he wears a suit borrowed from his wardrobe at Galaxy Broadcasting. Wearing that suit, he still has his powers--his other clothes in apartment 3-D had been treated by Mr. X to remove his powers.



    Once Amalak and Brainiac are deposited in space prison, the Man of Tomorrow is compelled to find his last foe, his boyhood enemy the Kryptonite Kid now called the Kryptonite Man. The Action Ace is able to defeat the lethal rogue because he's worn his super-suit over his de-powering Clark Kent clothes. When he has no powers, Kryptonite has no effect on him. And having no powers, the fight does not cause a build up of energy to the critical level.

    Bates has swiped from himself--the Red and Blue Blur used a similar ploy in "The Forbidden Costume," ACTION COMICS 384 (January 1970).




    When the World's Greatest Super-Hero transported Brainiac and Amalak to space prison, Xviar had actually taken Amalak's place as a ruse to escape capture, but Superman figures out the switch.

  13. #268
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    Default Epilogue



    In the end, Kal-El has discovered he needs both Clark and Superman to keep him sane. When he was Clark all the time, he missed being Superman. And when he was Superman all the time, he missed being Clark.

    However, Lois is not happy. Although she makes light of Clark's personality shift in the "Epilogue", the consequences of their brief romance will haunt the couple in many issues after this.

    There are a few conundrums in this saga.

    Given Clark had found someone who was an old friend of Xavier--in "Who is Mr. X?"--was this old friend also an alien agent?

    If Clark's power loss was due to Xviar doctoring his clothes in apartment 3-D--why, when he was struck by a car, did he have no powers when he was only in a hospital gown? Mind you, Mr. X was close by when Clark got hit, so maybe Xviar directly caused that first power outage.

    In THE ESSENTIAL SUPERMAN ENCYCLOPEDIA (2010) by Robert Greenberger and Martin Pasko, they say that Xviar was also manipulating Clark's psyche. I didn't get that from reading the story. I thought it was a domino effect or Boolean logic--if this happens then Superman does this and if Superman does this then that happens. Probability dictated how Superman would react. I guess it was psychological manipulation--but I don't think Xviar had any psychic control over Clark.

    The whole plot by Homeworld to have Xviar set up Clark as a living bomb to destroy the Earth seems to take a long time to play out--why did they need to go to all that trouble?

    Maybe there was supposed to be more done with Mr. X in the future, but with Maggin leaving the Superman books soon after this (and not coming back to them for a few years), Schwartz might have pulled the plug on Xviar returning.
    🇨🇦
    [Exit, pursued
    by a bear.

  14. #269
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    Default

    This is a great run of Superman comics, I read them as a kid, and they are lost classics. I see that Kryptonite Nevermore is being reprinted again and in my universe it would be this run that would see constant reprints. I liked the change in Clark and I imagined adult relationships like the ones between Clark and Lois. The novel is a great read too. I feel like Maggin and Bates were able to merge high concept sci fi with character development and the supporting cast effortlessly. Also, Silver and Bronze Age Superman felt like the same guy. Long before Grant Morrison’s Batman, and with the multiverse nice and vague, everything “counted”.

  15. #270
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Thunders! View Post
    This is a great run of Superman comics, I read them as a kid, and they are lost classics. I see that Kryptonite Nevermore is being reprinted again and in my universe it would be this run that would see constant reprints. I liked the change in Clark and I imagined adult relationships like the ones between Clark and Lois. The novel is a great read too. I feel like Maggin and Bates were able to merge high concept sci fi with character development and the supporting cast effortlessly. Also, Silver and Bronze Age Superman felt like the same guy. Long before Grant Morrison’s Batman, and with the multiverse nice and vague, everything “counted”.
    I didn't know they were doing another "Kryptonite Nevermore" collection. Checking amazon.ca, I see it's out in about a week. I wonder if this time they will do the reprints properly. I guess that "Kryptonite Nevermore" title has stuck--I wish they would call it something else. That was never the title of any story in the run--it's just what appeared on the cover of issue 233--and it's pretty misleading as that's not what the story arc is about at all. I call it the Sand Superman Saga.

    The "Who Took the Super Out" or whatever you want to call that arc was reprinted in THE GREAT SUPERMAN COMIC BOOK COLLECTION in 1981. I don't have that book, wish I did. I never knew it existed until long after--so I never found it any store. Not having it, I can't say for sure, but the original panels for Lois wearing the same dress might have appeared in that book.

    Whenever Curt Swan drew Superman, it felt like the same guy.
    🇨🇦
    [Exit, pursued
    by a bear.

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