Tuesday, November 14, 2023

That's mildly annoying: that's the second time in recent memory, I've picked up an old Superman comic that I thought was new to me, and recognized it from an old digest reprint about three panels in. Still, it's easier to fit this in the scanner, so I probably shouldn't complain. From 1971, Superman #244, "The Electronic Ghost of Metropolis!" Written by Denny O'Neil, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Murphy Anderson. I would've probably read this first in 1985's Best of DC #56, the "Superman vs. More Aliens" digest. (There's a small chance I might've read this earlier, borrowed from a relative!)
When Superman sees a mysterious energy aura surrounding the GBS building, he's pretty sure trouble's brewing; and sure enough there's an energy monster tearing up the studio! Although it's probably closer to Zzzax, and predates this by like 30 years, the creature reminds me of an old pal: Kineticlops from War of the Monsters and Downhill Domination, two probably forgotten PS2 games that were both super-fun. Anyway, the creature seems taken aback, when Lois scolds and thrown a lamp at it, so Superman figures he should be able to handle it easily, but he gets shocked and slapped around, until the creature "seemed to seep into the electric cables!" (I always think that was intended as a clue, that the creature maybe couldn't touch another electrical circuit; but it isn't touched back upon.)
Supes switches to Clark Kent, to get yelled at a bit by Morgan Edge, which doubtless seems toxic as hell now but was just sort of the background noise of Clark's life then? Still, he decides to consult the spanking-new GBS computer system, which might have been state-of-the-art for 1971; that is, massive. Probably sounds like an industrial thresher, too. The computer says the monster was not in the building, and the aura he saw earlier was "radiation from quark energy," which is a new one on Superman; so it feels kinda doubtful the computer would even be able know it was there: kids, computers didn't know, or do, squat back then. If you spent weeks inputing a bunch of numbers, you could maybe crunch them into some other numbers, if you knew what you were doing, so probably not.
Clark's news broadcast is interrupted by a report of the creature, now at the television transmission tower. Clark ducks out, "to get more information," and on his way out Superman remembers Lois would've been in that area covering a pageant for the Planet--wow, that seems dated. Even then Lois should've been covering bigger stuff...maybe. Of course, Lois has put herself in danger to get a picture, and Superman saves then lectures her. He then opts to "take a leaf from the Batman's book," and huck a big chunk of metal at the creature, which disappears--disintegrated? Doesn't Superman have a code against killing? Even weirdies like this. Elsewhere in Metropolis, small-time criminal "Teach Dilbert" and his boys watch the news, and hatch a scheme with his "wraith-raiser" box. Teach Dilbert, that would be an unfortunate name. The scheme is blackmail, with a double-exposed trick photo of his machine 'creating' the creature. Superman puts a stop to that pretty quickly, then the creature appears at a local atomic pile, and Superman has to throw it into space before it melts down.
Next, Superman checks with Morgan Edge--maybe? At Edge's penthouse, an unseen figure watches them, but laments Superman can't hear him in a soundproof room, and thus can't stop "the insane plan to conquer the earth!" Who is this mystery man...I'm probably wrong, but I think it was the real Morgan Edge: didn't he start out as a pawn of Darkseid's? Then I suspect they might've wanted to backpedal that, so they could keep him in the same role without him seeming to get off too easy for working with Darkseid or selling out humanity.
Anyway, Superman's realized everywhere the creature appears is connected to...the GBS computer system! Or pointing in that direction; feels like a bit of a leap. Also a bit of a leap: the last three pages here. Did I say leap? More like a series of leaps, as Superman discovers the computer system had gained sentience. Still, mechanical or artificial life wasn't given a lot of consideration back then, so Superman was there to "destroy" it. Moreover, the creature wasn't a manefestation of the computer, it was its child! Which Superman even acknowledges as a baby; but it was too dangerous, so it had to go. When Superman cuts the computer's power, the creature dies as well, while pleading for its "papa" to not die. Yeesh, this story seemed a lot lighter and fluffier in the digest...Superman admits to not feeling "very triumphant!" in the closer, but yeah, you shouldn't? In fact, you should feel worse!

1 comment:

Mr. Morbid said...

You definitely raise a good point about how realistically unadvanced advanced technology was back then, especially in the real world. Given those particular limitations, how the hell was Bruce’s tech do advanced? Like the Bat-Computer should’ve been stuck at the tv show levels of sophistication & even that’s being extremely generous. I’m thinking he quietly adapted alien technology he & the League came across during various missions, and just never told anyone he did.

Bronze Age Superman being a baby killer? Sure why not…

Honestly never heard of those old PS2 games you mentioned & I honestly don’t know how, especially the war of monsters one.