DC Comics

Super Powers #1 (1984)

Super Powers #1 (July, 1984)

“Power Beyond Price!”
Plot – Jack Kirby
Script – Joey Cavalieri
Pencils – Adrian Gonzales
Inks – Pablo Marcos
Letters – Ben Oda
Colors – Carl Gafford
Editor – Andrew Helfer
Cover Price: $0.75

You ever have that one set that just screams at you to rescue it from the cheap-o bins?  That one little set, that nobody seems to want.  Months, nay, years go by and still it remains.  For me, it’s Super Powers.  I know little about this series other than it was a toy-tie-in.  I suppose that may have caused me to lump this in with Marvel’s Secret Wars.  The covers were interesting enough, I guess.  I just never got urge to pull the trigger.  Well, that all changed this past weekend.  I saw the same sad little dog-eared copy of Super Powers #1 that I’d seen at the Mesa, Arizona Bookman’s and that I’ve gently moved out of the way time and time again in my pursuit of coveted Superman issues… and for whatever reason, I was compelled to rescue it from cheap-o purgatory.

Was this a wise decision?  Let’s find out…

We open in the Colosseum of Darkseid (who is sitting in the shadows, but it is clearly him).  Two warriors are locked in combat, attempting to impress their their ruler.  He however, is not pleased.  Once the battle is ended, Darkseid orders both killed.  Turning his attention to his Emissaries of Doom, Darkseid orders them to find and test themselves against the superheroes of Earth.

Our first (yellow) Emissary comes across Lex Luthor who is clinging to an asteroid, which was presumably part of a destroyed planet.  He is despondent over the loss of his wife and son, and blames Superman for the destruction of the planet they’d inhabited together.

Yellow decides to test Luthor’s mettle by siccing parasitic leech spores unto him.  Lex struggles, considering the danger he now finds himself in… ultimately using his War Suit’s electrical charge to eradicate the threat.  The Emissary informs Luthor that he is deemed worthy and endows him with “Power Beyond Imagining”, which in this case is time manipulation.

Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Superman and the Flash are readying for their annual race for charity.  As they take off, the heroes find that their surrounding appear to be moving at incredible speeds.  Lex Luthor swoops in and announces that he now has the power of TMDSTN!… er, Time Distortion!

It is revealed that Luthor did not speed up the world, he simply slowed the heroes down to a crawl.  He takes this opportunity to blast them both.

We now join the Penguin, who is being transported to a Gotham City prison via helicopter.  These must be the most inept transporters ever to graduate transporter school, as they fail to notice one of the Penguin’s umbrellas being on board.  It comes to the surprise of absolutely nobody (transporters excluded) when they are engulfed in a cloud of gas that the parasol produced.

Penguin hops out of the chopper and when his umbrella fails to act as a parachute, begins plummeting toward the ground.  He is saved by Darkseid’s (gold) Emissary.  He decides he likes the cut of Cobblepot’s jib, and bestows upon him incredible powers (ability to talk to birds, apparently).

Later on, Aquaman receives a telepathic alert from a dolphin.  Upon rising to the surface he observes a sky lousy with birds.  The Penguin has unleashed the fury of thousands of birds upon the country in his latest bid toward world domination.

All the way on the other side of the country, Hal Jordan is dealing with the bird plague.  He rushes off and becomes Green Lantern.  He transports himself to Gotham to face the Penguin.  Cobblepot exhibits that his mental control powers are not limited to birds by giving Hal a zap of his own!

Meanwhile, in deepest space we join Brainiac on board his skull ship.  He endeavors to be the first to pilot through a black hole.  As he readies his approach, he finds himself joined by Darkseid’s (purple) Emissary.  He offers Brainiac the… power to stir “racial memories”, that he may use to cause havoc for Wonder Woman and her fellow Amazons.  Okay…

At that same time, in a charming hou… wait, that’s Arkham?  Not quite Arkham Asylum, instead the Arkham Home for the Criminally Insane.  How quaint!

Inside, the Joker is undergoing a bit of psychoanalysis with his therapist.  Suddenly the (blue) Emissary pops in and offers Mr. J the power to create his own psychoactive dimension.  He gleefully accepts and… well, I want to say escapes… but from the looks of it, I think you could probably just check yourself out of this place.

A bit later, we join Batman and Robin as they pursue Retrorocket.  He appears to have stolen a… purple box of some sort.  Retrorocket takes flight and runs directly into Hawkman.  Once Retrorocket is in police custody, the three heroes pop out of existence.

Moments later, they find themselves in a bizarre dimensional void.  The Joker serves a flaming corndog to a young girl, and announces his new found power to our men.  He drops them into a bottomless pit, and we are… [to be continued…]

Well… it’s better than Secret Wars… and Contest of Champions while we’re at it.  So, it’s got that going for it…

I do so dislike being negative on the blog… but, yeah… this wasn’t all that great.  It looked pretty nice, but overall… this probably isn’t a series I’ll continue reading.  What’s worse, it’s a Jack Kirby story.  I hate harshing on anything with the King’s fingerprints on it… but, I really cannot recommend this one to anybody who isn’t already a Kirby Kompletionist… and if that’s what you are, you likely already have this one in your collection.

With a heavy heart, I’m gonna have to give this one a pass.  If you somehow come across any of the Super Powers action figures, however… snap those babies up!

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Hey Maw, Grandpa’s makin’ flyin’ saucers again!


Can’t believe I haven’t reviewed an issue of Blue Devil yet.
Gonna have to do something about that…

UPDATE 5/7/23 – “Remastered” for WordPress!

6 thoughts on “Super Powers #1 (1984)

  • The Crabby Reviewer

    I bought some kind of omnibus a few years back that has all of the Kirby Super Powers stuff in it…haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I remember being very disappointed by these books as a kid, and I'm really not expecting much. Kirby wasn't much of a writer, but I'm hoping it at least holds my interest long enough to let me slog through it.
    And the Super Powers toys blew away the Secret Wars toys!

    • Hey Dan!

      "Slog" is a very apt term for this miniseries. It was tough to get through… felt like a chore, unfortunately… and that's not what I want the blog to be about.

      Kirby's writing has always been a bit hit or miss with me. I think he's great at concepts, Mister Miracle is definitely one of my favorites… this, ehh… not so hot.

      The Super Powers toys looked so much cooler than the Secret Wars, though, I was unfortunately a couple of years late for both. I was a Star Wars and He-Man kid… I sadly passed up the hero figs.

  • SonOfCthulhu

    Oh, I so covet one of these fmcpbxkdssctn*

    *for my crapbox kid stuff section

    • I see you've had a visit from the yellow Emissary. Don't worry, there's a cream for that!

      I feel bad ranking this one so poorly, I'm sure if I came across this one as a kid I'd have loved it!

      This one is a mainstay in crapboxes in my neck o the woods, I'll keep an eye out!

  • Yeah, THIS SERIES, volume 1 — was pretty crappy. The 2nd series, imlustrated fully by Kirby, and featured the Apocalypse Villains and other Heroes, was much much better IMO. Third series then went on to suck too. It's also hard to like these Retroactively if you haven't read them before. I enjoyed them as a kid, when I loved everything cool, long before I became a cynical critical Adult. I guess with the toyline out at the same time in '84-'86, it made the comic a little more palatable, but they weren't anything special. Marvel made action figures of their special comic book event, Secret Wars. DC just gave the toyline a seperate mini-series that had no bearing on the DCU.

    • Hello Gerald! Thank you for stopping by. I've heard the actual Kirby-drawn Super Powers is a lot better… the thing just doesn't surface in my neck of the woods.

      I remember trying to track these (or any comics) down as a kid from, of all things, a Burger King cup. If I remember right, it was a plain white cup… with Darkseid (or, if you were to ask five-year-old me "Darkseed") as the handle. I really wish I came across them way back then… I'm sure I'd have really dug it!


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