Tag Archives: Cary Bates

Superman Annual 12 – Superman and Luthor vs the super-suit

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Cary Bates, Alex Saviuk and Pablo Marcos bring a conclusion to the saga of Lex Luthor’s super-suit in Annual 12, which is also the final appearance of the pre-Crisis Luthor.

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The story follows up on the last big Luthor storyline, ignoring the issue where he and Superman were much more chummy.  Once again, the two are in vicious battle with each other.

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The situation becomes more complicated when an alien energy form arrives on Earth.  It penetrates the Fortress of Solitude, and enters Superman’s computer, accessing all the information it contains on Luthor.

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The energy form then seeks out Luthor, and takes control of his super-suit, possessing it and flying away.

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Luthor knows what the energy form is, and is forced to seek out Superman for help.  He had built the suit using tech from the lost civilization on Lexor, and now we learn much more about those people.  The suit had been partly constructed when Luthor came across it, and it was intended to eliminate all warring cultures.  But the potential for destruction that the suit would have possessed caused the original builder to abandon it.  Luthor had over-ridden the basic programming, but his use of the suit has caused the energy form to activate, and to bring the suit’s original intent back.  Unless Superman and Luthor can stop it, the suit will destroy the Earth.

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Superman believes Lex, and the two work together to stop the super-suit.

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Superman is able to distract the suit, simply by battling it, until Luthor is able to find and use a fail-safe device that causes it to shut down, and destroy the energy form.  Luthor then takes control of the suit again, intending to use it against Superman.  But the hero was prepared for this, and doesn’t give Luthor the opportunity, bringing him back to prison.

Though Luthor does appear again, with the suit, almost immediately in the Heroes for Hunger one-shot, that story is out of continuity, and this is the true final appearance of the pre-Crisis Lex Luthor.

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Superman 421 – Mr. Mxyzptlk on tv

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The 80s are in full force in Superman 421 (July 1986), in a tale by Bates, Swan and Hunt that reflects the newcomer to the airwaves, MTV.

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Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Perry White and Jimmy Olsen all discover that their normal television shows have vanished, replaced by Superman, now a captive in a weird world, seemingly under the spell of Mr. Mxyzptlk.

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Superman is being tormented by rock versions of his friends, but oddly, so is Mxyzptlk, who winds up on a leash held by that world’s version of Lana Lang.

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The real villain of the story turns out to be Mr. Mxyzptlk’s older cousin, who looks much the same.  He hates Mxyzptlk, so is out to both torment him, and out-torment him when it comes to Superman.  But Mxyzptlk worries about both of their lives, as his cousin is a much nastier imp.

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When Superman goes up against a rock version of Clark Kent, he gets the idea to replace him, and get close enough to the real villain to take him down.

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It works, and Mr Mxyzptlk is not only grateful, he even expresses that he has seen how awful it is to be tormented this way, and more or less promises to stop pestering Superman.

But it’s not much of a promise, as he is back in two months in the final issue of DC Comics Presents.

 

Superman 415 – the groom of Supergirl

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When I first read Superman 415 (Jan. 86), I was not at all pleased by the story served up by Bates, Swan and Williamson.  It barely seemed to qualify as a Crisis crossover, and just seemed pointless.  Later, as I read more of Supergirl’s original run in Action Comics, and her first, short-lived series, I saw how much of a romance series it had been.  So very many stories toyed with the idea of Kara getting married.  While I still do not consider this a great story, I see the purpose that it served, of finally resolving her romantic life.

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It begins as Superman gets alerted about a break in at the Fortress, and finds an alien, Jasma, who has stolen an object from Supergirl’s room.

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Superman chases Jasma to retrieve the small globe, and Jasma links with Superman’s mind, telling him his story. he had encountered Supergirl a few years earlier, floating in space, near death.

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He brought her back to his planet and nursed her back to health.  She had no memory of who she was, and the two fell in love, and married.  Then a big, scary monster attacked the planet, and Supergirl fought it off, but received a head injury during the battle.

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The next morning Jasma awoke and found her gone, as well as the globe, a gift which recorded all her thoughts.

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There is another nasty machine thing that shows up and needs to be defeated, but that’s really just a distracting bit of filler.  The end tells us what we want to know.  Supergirl regained her original memories, but lost all memory of Jasma.  So I guess she woke up, wondered who she was in bed with, and took off, grabbing the green globe as a memento of her one-night stand?  At any rate, her memory of Jasma was restored during the fight with Blackfire in her own book the year before. She leaves a message for both him and Superman.

So not the greatest, but he really was the groom of Supergirl.

Superman 413 – where did everybody go?

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Bates, Swan and Williamson conclude the Luthor storyline in Superman 413 (Nov. 85), which also leads in to Crisis on Infinite Earths.

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So many former workmates of Clark are concerned about him that Lois Lane calls up Steve Lombard, and enlists him in a plan to lift Clark’s spirits, getting him to come to a supposed charity event that night.

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Clark agrees to go, unaware of the true purpose of the event.  But then he gets very distracted as objects around him begin disappearing.

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The effect continues, eliminating buildings and people, as Superman flies around frantically, trying to understand, and not sure whether this is real or not. Luthor follows, taking huge pleasure in it all.

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Arriving at the Daily Planet, he sees Perry, Jimmy and Lois all vanish, as well as the building itself.

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But we see that there is nothing at all wrong them.  They, as well as Morgan Edge and Lombard, are all at the banquet, hosted by Lana Lang, to show Clark that people still love and care about him.  It’s a bit awkward, as Clark is not there, but they proceed with it anyway.

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Superman thinks that he is seeing the entire world disappearing, and hearing Luthor gloat about being behind it. The gloating is real, but Superman has really been in Lex’s clutches for quite a while now, experiencing the hallucinations Lex implants into his mind.

The only thing that breaks him out of this is his super-hearing, and so many voices he recognizes expressing love and concern for him at the banquet.  This defies the reality that he is living through, and the contradiction breaks him out of Lex’s spell.

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Superman is furious.  Probably even moreso as this is the second time this year that a villain has taken control of his mind. His pursuit of Luthor is cut short by a mysterious funnel cloud, that spirits the villain away, and takes him to Brainiac, although neither we, Luthor, nor Superman know that that is what’s going on.  But it’s made sort of clear in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

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With Luthor out of the way, and the situation over, Superman arrives at the banquet to clear Clark’s name, and explain that the phony story was designed to draw Luthor out.  Everyone is so happy that no one questions this, and Clark gets his job back.

Superman 412 – Clark’s new job

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Bates, Swan and Williamson get back to the main storyline in Superman 412 (Oct. 85).

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Superman does not trust his own experiences after the debacle with the satellite in issue 410, and after stopping a construction site from being destroyed, wants confirmation that it actually took place.

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Luthor is loving it.  We learn that he used a mind-ray on Superman, causing him to hallucinate the entire experience with the satellite.

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Meanwhile, Clark runs into Steve Lombard, now running a sporting goods store, with more success than his used car lot.  Glad to see a former colleague, Steve offers Clark a job, running his computers and balancing his books, which Clark proves quite adept at.

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On the other hand, Lana Lang is none too glad to see Superman, and after covering his latest deeds, pulls him aside to dump on him for leaving Clark out in the cold.  Superman has no idea what to say, and Lana’s concern about Clark shows how much he means to her.

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Luthor allows himself to be spotted, and Superman gets into battle with him, but winds up killing him.  Or so it seems.  When he removes his hand from inside Luthor’s chest it sets off a bomb that destroys the world.  Except it doesn’t.  This was all just another hallucination, leaving Superman more upset than ever.

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Luthor gloats, while Superman stresses over feeling like he is going insane.

The story concludes in the next issue.

Superman 410 – Clark Kent gets fired

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Superman 410 (Aug. 85) lives up to its cover as Bates, Swan and Al Williamson bring Clark’s career at the Daily Planet to an abrupt ending.

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The story begins simply enough, as Superman disposes of a falling NASA satellite before it can do any damage.

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He then writes up the story as Clark, getting it to Perry White just in time to make the front page of the morning edition.

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But then NASA denies the satellite crashed, and no one can be found who witnessed Superman’s actions.  Heading back out into space, Superman sees the satellite is still there, and has no idea what is going on.

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Morgan Edge calls on Superman, wanting to know whether he really gave Clark Kent the fictitious story.  Superman can only save the reputation of one of his identities, and sacrifices that of Clark, insisting that Kent made the whole story up on his own.

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Morgan Edge fires Clark, and the staff have a variety of reactions.  While Jimmy stands by Clark, and Lana offers to console him, Lois demands that Perry stand up to Edge, but White feels he has been made a laughingstock and is just as furious at Clark as Edge is.

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Superman knows someone must be behind this, but can find no clues to help him figure it out.  We see that this is all a plot by Luthor, who is delighted with the results.  Even though he does not know Superman is Clark, he loves that the hero has had to destroy his “friend’s” career.

The story continues, but not in the next issue.

Superman 401 – Superman vs the super-suit

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Bates, Swan and Oskner pull off one of the better Lex Luthor stories from the early 80s in Superman 401 (Nov. 84).  It was a pleasant surprise after an extremely disappointing issue 400, which saw a huge amount of artists on a messy mish-mash of interpretations of the character.

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This issue has a clean and direct story, not to say there aren’t plot twists.  Two of Luthor’s recruited goons burst into the WGBS studios as Clark Kent and Lana Lang are anchoring the news, announcing a forthcoming attack by their boss.

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Meanwhile, Luthor is making plans with his semi-sentient suit, which flies off on its own.

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As Luthor planned, Superman catches up to the two henchmen.  The attack they announced was just a ruse, the whole plan was to lure Superman, and allow the suit to capture him.

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Superman winds up in the suit itself, but only partly in control of it.

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When he heads to Jimmy Olsen to get help, he discovers that the suit makes him look and sound like Luthor.  Jimmy does not believe this is really Superman, no matter what he says, and no one else is likely to either.

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But the story takes a twist when a giant alien warrior shows up, going on a rampage and challenging Superman.  Superman fights the guy, even though to the rest of the world it looks like Luthor is the one standing up to him.  Lex himself is furious, as it appears he is fighting on behalf of Superman, and he releases the hero from the super-suit, calling it back.

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And that was exactly what Supergirl intended.  When Superman was a Jimmy’s, he used the suit to burn an explanation, written in Kryptonian, into the wall.  Jimmy realized Superman really was in the suit, contacted Supergirl, and they devised the plan, playing on Lex’s ego.

A good evil scheme, and a good resolution.