Friday, December 31, 2010

Episode #156: The Supermobile!

The Supermobile only appeared in two issues, Action Comics #'s 481 & 482, March and April 1978. They were the middle issues of a four issue storyline, written by Cary Bates, and illustrated by penciller Curt Swan and inker Frank Charamonte. The story involved Superman's battle against the villain Amazo.

Amazo first appeared in The Brave And The Bold #30, June 1960. He was an android created by Professor Ivo in a quest for immortality. Amazo was a formidable foe of the Justice League, because he had the ability to absorb all of the powers and abilities of the League.

This particualr story began in Action Comics #480, February 1980. Amazo's Big Break Through told the story of how Amazo was somehow awakened from his electronic slumber in his display case on the Justice League satellite. Superman was on monitor duty, and Amazo knocked the Man of Steel all the way into the ocean.

Superman recovered in time to make it to his Fortress of Solitude and discover that Amazo was activated by a wave of red solar radiation that was sweeping Earth. That same radiation would deplete  Superman's powers, because he was born on a planet that orbited a giant red star. The Man of Steel figured he had twelve hours before his superpowers would disappear, while the red solar radiation swept past Earth. He returned to Metropolis and went to work as Clark Kent.

On his way out of town to cover a story, he was met by Professor Ivo, who had now reformed and was being pursued by his creation. Amazo attacked the cab they were in. The issue ended as Superman's powers gone and Amazo about to crush both of tme with one blow.

The story continued in Action Comics #481, March 1978. Superan teleported both himself and Prof. Ivo to the Fortress of Solitude with a mini-activator hidden in his mouth. It was part of the back up plan Superman had devised off panel in the previous issue during his earlier time at the Fortress. Amazo blamed his creator for the interruption of his electronic slumber and meant to kill him. Amzao pursued them to the Fortress, but Superman was ready for him. He burst out of a secret chamber and ran over Amazo with the Supermobile. After a short battle in the Arctic, Amazo flew away, and Superman flew the Supermobile to Metropolis.

Issue #482, April 1978, was the only one in this story I read when it was first published. Through a WGBS news report, Cary Bates gave a very clever recap of the prvious two issues. Superman displayed the capabilities of the Supermobile, which duplicated all of his superpowers. His invulnerability was duplicated in the Supermobile by Supermanium, the hardest substance known to the DC Universe. Superman rescued Lois Lane from Amazo and carried her in the Supermobile's back seat. Amazo punted the Supermobile into space, and Superman had to use his body as a brake to slow it form the g-forces that were crushing Lois.

They landed on an asteroid that had just enough atmosphere for Lois to breathe. Superman faced Amazo, and revealed that Prof. Ivo had been under the Man of Steel's protection the whole time, shrunken and hiding in the secret pouch of Superman's cape. Amazo's power ring restored the Professor to normal size as Superman gazed at the stars. He realized something, and then flew into the air and drove Amazo underground with one punch. Then he returned Lois and Prof. Ivo to Earth in the Supermobile. The Man ofSteel realized, by the positions of the stars, that Amazo had knoecked them a few days ahead through the time stream, so the red solar radiation had passed. The issue ended with Amazo bursting out of his tomb on the asteroid.

The final issue of the story, Action Comics #483, May 1978, Sleeps No More, was the least satisfying chapter of the whole plot. It told the lame tale of an unexpected side effect of the red solar radiation. It caused all of the plant life on Earth to secrete a gas that kept Earth's population from being able to sleep. When Superman returned to Earth, he had to face Amazo one last time. With help of the Justice League, they were able to knock out Amazo, and place him in Earth orbit to somehow collect that gas that had plagued humanity. A weak ending of what was a great story.

Next Episode: Happy Birthday, Al Plastino!

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