Action Comics #566 (April, 1985)
“Traumas in the Bahamas!”
“With Love from Superman!”
Writers – Craig Boldman & Mindy Newell
Pencillers – Ron Randall & Howard Bender
Inkers – Karl Kesel & Bob Oksner
Letterers – Ben Oda & Milt Snapinn
Colorist – Gene D’Angelo
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.75
I’m surprised how much I’m digging these pre-Crisis Action Comics issues. I’d have never thought I’d get all that much out of them. Still wanted to have them, because I’m a
compulsive avid comics hoarder collector, but didn’t think I’d actually get around to tearing into them.
This one’s quite interesting so let’s get right to it… toot toot!
Lois and Clark have been invited on a free pleasure cruise of the Bahamas by old acquaintance Captain Strong. After a flight to the coast, they are greeted by a fellow that would gladly pay them Tuesday, for a Hamburger today. Meet J. Wellington Jones, the owner of the Fantasia cruise liner.
Well blow me down! On board, we meet up with Popeye and Olive Oyl… er, Captain and Olivia Strong. Clark notes a gleam in Strong’s one open eye that makes him a bit nervous. Captain Strong is granted his strength by eating an alien seaweed called spi– er, sauncha.
After setting sail, we get our usual scene of Clark changing clothes… however, he’s not changing into his “dress blues”, instead he’s rocking his Bermuda shorts… which Lois teases him about. After a brief chat with their hosts, Clark excuses himself to get a better look at a nearby island.
We shift scenes to a small island hut. Inside there’s a witch and a shadowy man watching the Fantasia via binoculars. The man “smells trouble” and asks the witch to sink the ship… and so, she wakes a giant slumbering stingray and instructs it to strike… and it does!
Clark, not dressed for the occasion has to pretend to be thrown overboard by the wild sea. Once in the drink, Clark proceeds to beat down the stingray and send it on its way. Unfortunately, Captain Strong had witnessed the entire event!
Thinking on his feet, Clark quickly zips into the galley and retrieves a bunch of cans of spinach (seriously). He proceeds to drape it all over himself to make it seem as though he’d been temporarily given super-powers by way of sauncha. Popeye tells Clark to hit the sack, as sauncha withdrawals are a bear… he than orders his crew to haul in the rest of the green stuff.
Strong eats some of the spinach, and thinking he’s been granted powers, decides to push the ship. Lucky for him, Superman is now underneath the ship giving him the assist.
A little later, Strong reveals the true nature of this cruise to Lois. He produces the diary of Captain Wynne, a man who was seeking the Fountain of Youth. After a brief Ponce de Leon related history lesson, he shares his intention of finding it himself. Superman is watching and listening from overhead, and notices Captain Strong palm a photograph from the diary… a thirty-year old photo, with a very similarly-aged Captain Strong… hmm, maybe he’s already found the Fountain of Youth???
Suddenly, the weather started getting rough… and the cruise ship’s getting tossed. Strong, who may just be an addict, swallows a mouthful of the phony sauncha and hops into action. Superman again gives the assist to make it look as though Strong is saving the day.
After the storm passes, Strong is lamenting the fact that he’ll never find the Fountain. Lois notices that the table that Wimpy is pigging out on is decorated with a map… well, wouldn’tcha know it… there’s a map… and an X marking a spot!
Strong orders a rowboat lowered and Clark Kent awakened (Clark was still supposed to be sleeping???), and they head toward the isle of Andros… with another CK assist.
Once on shore, Captain Strong separates from the group to go off ahead. Clark guides the rest inland and they happen upon a hot spring and a lonely hut… but, they are not alone. Olivia faints at the sight of a gun-wielding… Captain Strong… and a witch… but she’s probably more shocked about her husband pointing a gun at her.
Lois, Clark, Olivia, and Wimpy are tied to a tree, and the witch prepares a potion to “deal with” the trespassing pleasure cruisers. Clark gives the tonic a blast of heat vision, causing it to catch fire. Captain Strong panics, and throws the flaming jar into the nearby hot spring.
As soon as it his the water, Strong appears to have aged several decades… and, we are then joined by… Captain Strong? Yup, this old man is
Poopdeck Pappy, Captain Strong Sr… and, get this, that hot spring was the Fountain of Youth. Pappy shares his tale of discovery, and meeting the witch.
In an act of desperation, the witch summons forth a Superman-Wraith! This causes (the still tied to a tree) Clark’s strength to be sapped… this is one fight Captain Strong is going to have to win on his own! So, what does he do? Yup, eats the spinach… again.
Since the witch is in the middle of turning into dust, the Superman construct is not long for this world. Strong socks the wraith and he vanishes. Strong unties his friends, and promises to take his pappy… Pappy to Metropolis so’s he can teach him how to acts like an old geezer! How embarriskin!
In our back-up, we are introduced to the hottest super team in DC Comics history, the Autograph Hounds! The watch in awe as Superman flies overhead, and talk about how cool it would be to add him to their autograph books. A girl within earshot, named Molly bets that she could get his John Hancock. The bet is on, Molly’s got one-week to get it. If she’s successful, she can be a card-carrying member of the Autograph Hounds.
That night, Molly (in her awesomely 80’s bedroom) pens a letter to Superman, care of the Daily Planet. Her mother promises to drop it in the mail.
That night, Molly dreams that she is Supergirl! Even though she’s in costume, everybody seems to know who she is… guess that’s dreams for you! Anyways, she sees Superman locked in battle with a very pre-Crisis Lex Luthor, and flies in to lend a hand.
The two Supers make short work of Luthor, and when the dust settles Supergirl acts like a total newb and asks Superman for his autograph. Jeez really, Molly… be cool.
The next day in study hall, Molly’s mind wanders again. This time she’s not Supergirl, she’s actually Lois Lane in need of Superman to save her… which he does. After the rescue, she again asks for an autograph… you’d figure Lois already has Superman’s autograph…
Meanwhile, we check in on the man himself… as he reads his fan mail. I love that he reads it through the envelope using his x-ray vision! He comes across Molly’s missive, and finds it especially touching. She, like he, is an orphan.
We shift to a week later. It’s time for Molly to put up or shut up. The Hounds come a’calling, and are just about to ball her out, when the Man of Steel arrives. He’s more than happy to give Molly his autograph… using his heat vision even! They embrace, and I would assume Molly takes her rightful place as a member… nay, as leader of the Autograph Hounds… hopefully detroning the boy with the missing teeth! That’s a punchable face if ever I saw one… probably why he’s missing the teeth!
A couple of really fun stories here. Silly and very enjoyable. I’d heard whispers of Captain Strong here and there, but this is my first real encounter with the chap. I guess this is as close as we’re going to get to a Superman/Popeye team-up… and I suppose if I’m being honest, that’s probably a good thing. It was fun, but, it was about all’s I could stands… I can’t stands no more!
The art here is from one of the greats, Ron Randall. He’s responsible for the art on probably my favorite comic book ever produced, and he does a fantastic job here as well! In my opinion, Lois Lane can be a real hit or miss prospect when it comes to the way she’s drawn… Randall knocks it outta the park here.
This is another Craig Boldman script. The last time I discussed an issue of his, I mentioned that I would have to keep my eyes peeled for more of his work. I’m glad I said that, because he’s two-for-two on the humble blog. He’s a great storyteller, and cares enough about the readership to share the location of the fabled Fountain of Youth!
The Popeye characters all look great in their DC-ified forms. They look just Popeye enough to where they’re recognizable, but not exaggeratedly cartoony… I suppose there’s another “thumbs up” for Mr. Randall. In fact, when I first looked at the cover I thought “Hey, that guy kinda looks like Popeye…” I wasn’t sure it was meant to look like him until I checked out the roll-call.
The backup story, at first blush looked like a groaner… but wound up being rather touching. I shouldn’t have been surprised, given it was penned by Mindy Newell… whose work on the 1986 Lois Lane miniseries was something I’d gushed quite a bit about a few months back. This one could’ve been hokey… and I suppose, depending on your mileage, it might be… but I yam what I yam, and I really thought it was a nice little story.
All told, a fine issue of pre-Crisis Action Comics, a conversation-piece, and definitely worth your time. Ah-ga-ga-gah!