Bought this issue of ACTION COMICS at my regular 7-11 outlet. ACTION had become a routine purchase for me, and as this was the third part of what would turn out to be a four-part storyline featuring Amazo, I was definitely going to be there for it. This is a pretty nice cover, with the singular exception of the logo color. It’s not represented anywhere else on the cover, nor does it make the logo pop against that orange background. A rare misstep in this era when comics were still largely an impulse purchase so making sure that your logo could be seen at distance was considered critical. (You can see Superman’s logo quite well, which is maybe the more important component–but since it’s so relatively small, you wouldn’t get the full benefit from just it.)
This was the storyline that introduced the Supermobile into continuity. As I’ve said when discussing the prior installments of this storyline, as a young reader, I didn’t immediately dismiss the Supermobile as a bit of crass marketing (though that was very clearly what it was.) No, I simply accepted it just as I accepted any other new creation that debuted in the pages of my beloved comics. On that level, those people behind the decision to debut their new marketing item in the books made the right decision, at least as far as I was concerned. I never bought the Supermobile toy, but I also didn’t look on it as being illegitimate. And when the Supermobile turned up on an episode of Super-Friends a bit later, I had a second of genuine excitement.
So, where were we? Well, the solar system was awash in red sun radiation from a far-off star that had gone super-nova. As a result, Superman’s powers were curtailed. As a side effect, Amazo, the android with the powers of the Justice League, was awakened–and he longed for a return to blessed slumber. He also desired revenge on his creator Professor Ivo, who had gone straight. Superman intervened to protect Ivo, fashioning the Supermobile which would protect him from the red sun radiation and allow him to manifest all of his super-powers normally while inside it. Think of it as the world’s most awkwardly designed exo-skeleton. At the end of the last chapter, Amazo gave Superman an ultimatum: hand Ivo over to the android or Amazo would start killing off the Man of Steel’s friends.
So we open with an extended recap of events, and a short action sequence showing the Supermobile in action against some criminals attempting to pillage the U.S. Armory in Metropolis. There’s also a bit of fun with Steve Lombard and Lana Lang, and an appearance by weatherman Oscar Asherman (who had been named after long-time DC archivist, Allan Asherman.) But then it was time to get down to brass tacks, as we cut to Lois Lane being cornered in an alleyway by an enraged Amazo. But before the android could lower the book, the Supermobile’s big metal hands burst through the wall behind Lois, grabbing her and throwing her into the sky, where it could pick her up and carry her to safety.
But Amazo is not so easily dissuaded, and so a protracted super-battle takes place between the multi-powered android and the super-powered vehicle. At one point, Amazo winds up hurling the ship into space so hard that it passes into a hyper-dimensional rift. Within the cockpit of the Supermobile, Superman is invulnerable–but Lois is not, and the extreme acceleration is crushing her with the G-force. Superman hastily works to bring the Supermobile to a halt on a nearby asteroid that somehow has Earth-normal gravity and a breathable atmosphere. He carries Lois out of the cockpit, attempting to make sure that she’s all right. It’s a pretty stupid move given that Amazo is right behind them, but chalk it up to Superman being concerned about Lois’s well-being.
Lois wakes up before too long, not really any worse for wear. But then, suddenly, Amazo is there–and he reminds the Man of Steel that even on this far-off asteroid, the red sun radiation that is passing through this area of the galaxy will see him robbed of his powers. Amazon reiterates his ultimatum to Superman: hand over Professor Ivo or else Amazo will annihilate Lois. And then, there’s a tiny voice from the pouch in Superman’s cape where he typically stashes his Clark Kent clothes while in action. Turns out that Superman had miniaturized Professor Ivo and has been carrying him around in his cape this whole time. It’s a wonder the Professor didn’t get sat upon! Anyway, the self-sacrificing Ivo can’t let Superman or Lois die in his place, so he offers himself up to his creation Amazo.
As Amazo moves to kill his creator, Superman suddenly leaps into the air, pile-driving the android into the asteroid. As he, Lois and Ivo evacuate in the Supermobile, Superman explains that he realized that the Hyper-Warp they passed through wasn’t merely a space warp but actually the time barrier. They’ve skipped five days into the future–at which point the red sun radiation has finished its pass through this area. So Superman is his super-powered self once again, and no longer needs the Supermobile to use his mighty abilities. But as the trip rockets away back towards Earth, behind them Amazo bursts free from the asteroid that momentarily held him, vowing that their fight isn’t over. And that’s where this story is To Be Continued!
This issue also included an advertisement for DC’s new clubs, the DC Super-Stars Society. I was interested enough to send away for information on three of the chapters: The Flash, Green Lantern and the Justice League. Unfortunately, when the information arrived, it turned out that it would cost $4.00 to join each chapter. That was way too rich for my blood (that dollar amount represented a lot of comics I could buy instead) and so I never bothered to join up officially. The clubs ran for a couple years, mainly offering discounts and merchandise, an early form of direct marketing as DC tried to capitalize on the dedicated audience that it had in the rapidly-eroding mainstream newsstand marketplace.
4 thoughts on “BHOC: ACTION COMICS #482”
Tom, as someone who was reading the late 1970s Superman comics in real time as a kid, what did you think of Curt Swan’s penciling?
Swan has never been a favorite of mine, but I recognize he did solid, professional work. Of course, my appreciation for him varies great due to who happened to be inking him. Swan and Murphy Anderson were a fantastic team. On the other hand, I really do not think that Frank Chiaramonte, who inked Swan here and on a lot of other stories, was a good fit at all. Every time I look at a Bronze Age back issue and see Swan inked by Chiaramonte I sort of cringe.
I always liked Curt Swan’s work. It was almost quintessentially of that clean, open DC style of the period that always appealed to me. And while I tended to like him best when inked by Bob Oksner, I wasn’t so discerning that other inkers bothered me (except Vince Colletta once or twice.) He wasn’t as flashy or sexy as some, but as you say, he was a solid craftsman who got the job done month after month, story after story.
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Curt Swan to me will always be as linked to Superman as Ross Andru was to Spider-Man.
I also got the JLA flyer for the DC Super-Stars Society, and I’ve seen the LSH one online. I’d love to see all 12 quizzes.