Thursday 13 September 2012

Action Comics #441.

Action Comics #441, Superman punches the Flash as he runs towards him, Nick Cardy cover
Life can be full of crushing disappointments.

Take me, for example. I pick up a copy of Action Comics, led by the cover to expect the sight of Superman punching the Flash's teeth in and, once inside, I get nothing of the sort.

Instead, I get a weather forecaster on Clark Kent's TV show who keeps predicting freak but destructive weather events.

Needless to say, Superman's soon on the case and, after dealing with the aforementioned events, he heads off to see the Flash, having reasoned the Weather Wizard must be behind it all.

So, together, they're off to see the Wizard who's currently in jail.

Upon being confronted, the Wizard confesses he's behind the scheme. Not only that but it was all a plot to lure Superman and the Flash into seeing him so he can zap Superman with some Kryptonian black lightning.

Action Comics #441, the Flash watches on as Superman is zapped by black Kryptonian lightning
According to the Weather Wizard, upon being struck by such a phenomenon, a Kryptonian must kill the person nearest to him when it struck – and that person is the Flash!

Can nothing save our Hermes heeled hero?

Well, yes. It turns out it can because, before going to see the villain, Superman and the Flash disguised themselves as each other, and so it was really the Flash who the Weather Wizard zapped, meaning the black lightning had no effect on him. A quick chop across the back of the neck, from Superman, soon deals with the foolish felon.

Apart from the fact it hinges on him somehow bouncing hypnotic commands off the ionosphere, there does seem to be a fairly obvious flaw in the Weather Wizard's plan, which is that if Superman hadn't bothered to bring the Flash with him, the person standing closest to Superman at the moment the lightning was fired would've been the Weather Wizard who Superman would then have killed. With smarts like that, I think we can see how come he's in prison in the first place.

Actually the main disappointment of the tale is the Weather Wizard's declaration that it's been proven the Flash can't outrun Superman. I do tend to feel that, if Superman gets to have a zillion powers and a character like the Flash only has one, then the Flash should be better at his one super-power than Superman is, otherwise who needs the Flash?

Action Comics #441, Green Arrow and Black Canary drop in through the skylight, Mike Grell
And who needs a dog?

The Green Arrow and Black Canary do. Because in the issue's back-up tale, they've taken in a stray one - and they don't know where it came from.

But the mystery of where that was can wait as, first, the duo have to burst into a bad guy's lair.

Disastrously for them, the crook has an ageing ray.

Not so disastrously for them, the stray dog turns out to be Krypto who promptly bursts in and saves them before once more disappearing.

Maybe there's something wrong with me but it gives me a warm feeling to see Krypto back in the Superverse after his mystery disappearance, even if he vanishes immediately afterwards.

The main selling point of the tale is a slick and stylish art job by Mike Grell that mostly avoids the oddly amateurish lapses in draftsmanship he was sometimes prone to.

But I'm not sure I'll be able to sleep tonight for worrying what'll become of Krypto now his whereabouts are once more unknown.

Then again, where's Streaky the supercat? Streaky, where are you?


Anonymous said...

Flash can't outrun Superman? They raced in World's Finest #198-199 (December 1970) and the Flash won. (Before that, they raced to a draw in JLA #53, Superman #199, and Flash #175. So many fans complained about the inconclusive outcomes that ads for the last race promised, "No hedging. There will be a winner." Most fans agreed that the Flash should win, since he would be a fifth wheel if Superman were faster.) So when was it "proven" that the Flash is not faster? That's the trouble with bad guys like the Weather Wizard. Always telling lies. :)

Steve W. said...

I shall never trust the word of a super-villain again.

Steve W. said...

Thanks. :)

Boston Bill said...

Too bad. The drama of having The Flash pursued at top speed by a homicidal Superman would have compensated for the flimsy plot. Did the Flash pull off his disguise to reveal his flash mask underneath his Superman mask in classic DC-style.

Oh, and thanks. I purchased 440 years ago and worked out that the stray dog must have been Krypto, but I never got to find out how the story ended. Now I know.

Steve W. said...

The Flash did indeed pull off his Superman mask to reveal his Flash mask beneath.