Action Comics #559 (September, 1984)
“The Once and Future Peri(l)”
“A Superman of a Different Color!”
Writers – Bob Rozakis & Paul Kupperberg
Pencillers – Kurt Schaffenberger & Alex Saviuk
Inkers – Dave Hunt & Dennis Jensen
Letterers Milt Snapinn & Phil Felez
Colorist – Gene D’Angelo
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.75
Hey everybody, it’s time for a Reader Requested Review… well, sorta. Ya see… when I wrote my 400th piece here at the humble blog, I mentioned that I’d be down to take requests. In the 313 days since… I got three requests.
Hey, I was bracing myself for “zero” so I’ll take what I can get!
One of those requests came from friend of the blog, Joe Cabrera… who suggested I check out an issue of New Adventures of Superboy featuring Yellow Peri.
These weren’t issues in my collection, sooo… onto the list they went. And stayed. In the many, many weeks that followed… anytime I was in the vicinity of a longbox… you know I was diggin’ for Peri. I’m not sure if the Phoenix area is secretly a hotbed of Yellow Peri fans… but, she was nowhere to be found.
Yellow Peri was suddenly becoming a hunt of Lady Cop proportions… where no matter where (and how often) I looked… I jut kept coming up empty.
Enter: this issue of Action Comics with a familiar blonde on the cover. I came across it earlier this week… and thought… holy smokes, that’s gotta be… that’s gotta be… Yellow Peri!
And so, to hold us over until I find those New Adventures of Superboy… let’s check in with a grown-up Peri! Big thanks to Joe Cabrera for the suggestion… and my apologies for taking so dang long to talk some Yellow Peri!
If anyone’s still reading at this point (who isn’t Googling several hundred times a day for a certain member of the Doom Patrol… and a certain team of teen-agers), I don’t mention it much, but I’m still open to taking requests and recommendations… lemme know if there’s a book you want me to take a peek at!
We open in Apple Creek, Oregon… which is sort of a real place… there’s an Apple Creek Campground in Oregon… though, I doubt this is it. Anyhoo, a mustachioed gentleman watches in horror as a meteor crashes through his brand new $3,000 roof. He rushes inside to check on his wife, Loretta… who is, in fact… (the) Yellow Peri!
Over in Metropolis, Clark and Lana are being razzed about their relationship. On Morgan Edge’s (ahead of its time) flat-screen television, they watch the Lola Barnett gossip show where the Kent-Lang romance is the talk of the day. Suddenly, the news cuts in to report on the Apple Creek Meteor. Clark recognizes the woman as… (the) Yellow Peri.
He thinks back to having met her as Superboy… and kind of gives us the quick and dirty. She used a spellbook… and cast these almost “monkey’s paw” sort of spells. Seemingly well meaning, but often caused more problems then they solved. Superboy was able to save her from herself… and hurled the spellbook into space. In the present, Clark notices that Loretta is holding a book… and wonders if the Yellow Peri is due to make her grand return.
Back in Apple Creek, we get a better look at Loretta and her husband Alvin. She tells him all about her magical exploits… and it’s pretty clear that Alvin intends to exploit those… er, exploits. He’s really kind of a scumbag. I mean, just look at that face…
Anyhoo, it’s not long (two seconds, in fact) before Superman arrives on their doorstep. Uncharacteristically, instead of bursting through a wall… he rings the doorbell! Loretta answers, and is surprised at the sight. Alvin, on the other hand, is just angry. He gives the Man of Steel the ol’ (figurative) heave-ho… and slams the door in his face.
Over the next few weeks, Loretta and Alvin make a ton of money by exploiting her magical powers. Worst of all, they’re not breaking any laws… so Superman is powerless to stop them. Plus, it seems he’s too busy signing autographs for blood donors to actually look into what they’re doing.
So… what exactly are they doing? I’m glad you asked… they’ve gone the ol’ snake-oil route of traveling from town to town making promises. We join them in Oak Town… where there is a cloud of pollution looming on the horizon… threatening to drench the small hamlet in… well, gunk. Peri works her mojo, and suddenly the funky rain reverses course back into the cloud!
Superman pretty much immediately gets the “angle”. He knows that the gunk-cloud will simply drift to another town… which would obviously be Alvin and Peri’s next destination. Before splitting Oak Town, Alvin does some “cleaning up” of his own.
Superman deduces their next stop will be Stroud… and so, he heads off to beat them to the punch. He arrives just in time to stretch his cape into a sort of tarp… with which he catches all of the gunky-rain. Kinda begs the question… why didn’t he just do this in the first place? Oh well…
Anyhoo, with the job done… there’s nothing left for Loretta and Alvin to do. Superman confronts them at the city line and informs them that he’s got his eyes on ’em.
A week passes, and while zoning out during a conversation with Jimmy Olsen (that’ll happen), Clark hears the frantic cries of… Alvin! He supes-up, and flies across country… just in time for the A-man to jump into his arms. Alvin claims that he is being pulled into another dimension… and needs Superman’s strong arms to hold on to him as tightly as possible. Uhhhhhh huh.
Turns out… this was a sham (go figure!) to trick Loretta into thinking Superman is out to get him. She enters the room… and I swear, at first blush it looked like her pants were… er, “seatless”… had to do a double-take there.
And so, (the) Yellow Peri summons a giant hand to grab Superman. Now we know that Superman is powerless against magic (and people not breaking the law), so he’s going to have to outsmart this… hand. He exhales a bit to give himself some wriggle room…
… and intensely vibrates! It’s enough to shatter the fist into… er, stone?
With the evil hand out of the way, Superman super-inhales… drawing the spellbook into his hands. He then… get this… gives it back to Loretta. Wha–? Well… there’s one way to ensure we get a visit with (the) Yellow Peri in the future!
Onto the back-up story… and boy is it a doozy. Clark and Jimmy head to the barber shop for haircuts.
Clark sits in the chair and… well, wouldja lookit that… he’s getting his haircut! B-b-b-but how can that be?
Well, ya see… as Superman he was recently on a caper that brought him to the Rthalta Vi System… a lush and colorful planet, loading with beautiful foliage…
… and a giant orange monster, who attacks Superman on sight… paying special attention to his hair.
Quick-thinking Superman realizes that his black hair is sort of a trigger for the beast, not unlike “waving a red cape before a bull”. On this planet… black doesn’t exist as a part of their spectrum! And so, Superman douses his hair in some plant pollen, turning it to a bright orange. This appears to tame the big critter.
It also “depowered” Clark’s hair for a time. A very brief time, in fact… as we wrap up back at the barber shop… where the scissors have already gone dull.
Well… we finally got to meet (the) Yellow Peri.
And what do we think? I think this was really quite fun! Not sure I would’ve wanted her to become a staple in the Super-books, but for a one/two-off, I really dug it!
I’m kind of a sucker for the “monkey’s paw” thing (if I’m even using that right)… I think it forces the writer to think outside the box and come up with interesting wordplay. A well-meaning wish turning into something sinister… or just plain silly, opens up a whole lot of fun artistic/narrative possibilities.
I like the idea of having her controlled by her husband… as it assuages her from any real guilt. She only wants to do good… and she only wants to believe that her husband is looking out for everyone’s good. There’s a character we can get behind… though, if she were to become a recurring character (she won’t), I’d imagine this would become tiresome.
I gotta say, I love the idea of bringing a character introduced in the (at the time, ongoing) New Adventures of Superboy into the “present day”. It makes those Superboy stories feel like they really happened… and give the line a sort of continuity that I never really knew it had!
Now, this story isn’t without its flaws… but, we can say that about most Superman stories. We’ve got this cloud of gunky rain travelling across the country leaving… gunk in its wake. Why didn’t Superman just ixnay the loudcay himself? Doesn’t that sort of thing kinda fall in his job description? It shouldn’t have taken until the Yorks pulled the snake-oil bit for him to take care of things.
And of course… there’s the whole “giving the book back” thing. Doesn’t seem like the wisest decision Superman will make that day… but, whattayagonnado?
Onto the back-up… boy, I probably sound like a broken record but… I just don’t care for back-ups. If it ain’t Mr. and Mrs. Superman or a Private Life of Clark Kent, I just can’t get interested. I’ll say it was a bit clever… but also, a bit one-note. This doesn’t feel like a story that needed to be told.
Overall… I think a lot of Superman fans would get some fun from the Yellow Peri story, and would recommend taking a look if you come across it. It (unsurpisingly) isn’t available digitally… so, this’ll require some bin diving.
Before I wrap up, just want to thank/apologize to Joe Cabrera one more time! My eyes are still peeled for those New Adventures of Superboy books (it’s almost become personal at this point!) Hopefully one’a these days it’ll surface!
Letters Page (featuring Beau Smith!):