BHOC: ACTION COMICS #480

I bought this issue of ACTION COMICS on one of my weekly runs to the 7-11. This would have been right after the second INCREDIBLE HULK television movie aired for the first time. That production led to a regular weekly program for the green goliath and turned my brother into a short-term Hulk booster. But this post is about ACTION COMICS, right? Here, somebody didn’t consider the copy-safe area on this cover well enough, and so much of the copy in that lower right corner gets trimmed off. That’s not a problem with the trim on this copy, it’s a mistake on the production end.

This issue began a four-part storyline that I can remember enjoying. In these days, a four-part tale was a rarity, an epic. Different times. It was written by Cary Bates, a DC mainstay of the period who was probably my favorite writer of the period, though I didn’t think of it in those terms. He was one of the few writers I knew of, though, thanks to his on-panel appearances in FLASH and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. And the main threat was Amazo, an android who possessed the powers of the entire Justice League, and who I had encountered previously in the JLA’s own series. I also had no way of knowing that this entire storyline had been conceived to introduce a new bit of merchandising–but we wouldn’t get to that for another issue or so.

The story opens with a bang. A bored Superman is trying to get through his final hour on monitor duty in the Justice League’s satellite when suddenly a fists crashes through the floor at his feet. It’s the fist of Amazo, who has somehow been reactivated and has escaped from the tube the JLA held him in. Amazo has no idea who or why he has been reactivated, but he recognizes Superman as an enemy, and that’s good enough for him. He clocks the Man of Steel, sending the Kryptonian smashing out of the satellite into space.

Amazo is incredibly overpowered, and Superman is feeling sluggish–he assumes this is due to Amazo tapping into his own powers. Either way, Superman is send crashing to Earth behind a runaway meteorite, smashing into the ocean. He’s ultimately unharmed by this, but Amazo has gotten away. A worried Justice League prepares to attempt to track him down. Meanwhile, though, in his Fortress of Solitude, Superman has diagnosed what the problem with his powers is. A billion years ago, a huge red star went super-nova, sending out an enormous wave of red sun radiation. That radiation is now passing through Earth’s solar system–it’s what caused Amazo to reactivate. But it’s having a detrimental effect on Superman himself, steadily reducing his powers. He estimates that he’s currently at no more than half-strength, and getting progressively weaker.

Superman radios his findings to his Justice League comrades, who have gathered in the satellite headquarters. Unfortunately for them, Amazo uses this as an opportunity to seal them all into the satellite using Green Lantern’s powers backed by Superman’s will, and project them into another dimension. So the JLA are out of the fight, and only the power-impaired Superman remains to confront him. Elsewhere, in New England, a Professor Ives reacts to an alarm that alerts him to Amazo’s activity, and he proceeds to run for his life. This is clearly Professor Ivo, the man who created Amazo in the first place.

Back at WGBS, Clark Kent uses his powers to hypnotize the staff into allowing him to take on a week-long assignment in a remote Death Valley desert for a week rather than Jimmy Olsen–clearly as a ruse to explain his absence for whatever he plans to do next. As Clark gets in a cab to head for his assignment, Professor Ives joins him, and reveals his identity to Clark, hoping that the reporter can help him contact Superman. Ivo’s life is in danger from his creation Amazo–but before he can explain more, the roof is ripped off of the cab, and Amazo is there.

But strangely, what Amazo wants is to be deactivated, so that he can resume his untroubled sleep. He assumes that it was Ivo who reactivated him, and nothing the scientist tells him can dissuade him of that notion–nor do Ivo’s protestations that he cannot deactivate Amazo again without understanding what reactivated him. Amazo attempts to force Ivo to do what he wants, but then Superman is there, having covered his transformation from Clark by causing the taxicab’s gas tank to explode with his heat vision. But the Man of Steel is on his last legs power-wise, He’s able to momentarily liberate Ivo from Amazo’s crushing grip, but then the pair crash down to Earth as Superman’s flight ability loses its potency. Amazo melts the tar of the road to stick his prey in place, and then moves to annihilate Superman with a single super-powerful blow. To Be Continued!

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