Action Comics #569 (July, 1985)
“The Force of Revenge”
Story & Layouts – Dennis Yee
Script – Paul Kupperberg
Writer (back-up) – Michael J. Wolff
Pencillers – Irv Novick & Howard Bender
Inkers – Rodin Rodriguez & Pablo Marcos
Letterers – Duncan Andrews & Gaspar
Colorist – Gene D’Angelo
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.75
Toss an arrow in the bins… where it lands, I guess we’ll read that one. Sorry, my rhyme game is way off this morning. Been awhile since I used that gimmick.
Today we’re going to look at a completely random issue of Action Comics… we don’t do nearly enough of those. Normally when I choose the books we’re going to discuss there’s at least a little bit of a reason why… today, however, we’re just flyin’ by the seat of our pants.
Our first story opens with Clark Kent returning to his office at the Galaxy Building after some Supermanning. He arrives just as there is a knock at the door, from… Lois Lane. She enters, and… wow, does her hair look like a helmet… maybe a hood. Anyhoo, she asks that Clark take a look at a chapter she just roughed up for her book. He’s more than happy to comply. Before Lois leaves him to it, she asks about his relationship with Lana… but doesn’t get all that much information in response. We can see that Lois regrets that she might’ve “missed the boat” on our Mr. Kent.
We then shift scenes to Del Mar High School where Tina “Dogface” Gerber is walking toward her locker. As she enters the hallway, we see a pair of goofs (one with a really bad mohawk) messing with it. Turns out they just stuffed a mean Valentine into it. Tina throws it to the ground, and runs home… where she proceeds to throw herself down on her bed. She falls asleep thinking to herself how much she hates everyone… and herself.
From those thoughts manifest… Rhavenj (say it out loud)… a creature who feeds on a lust for, well, revenge.
It turns out that tonight is the annual Del Mar High “Boogie Night”, or maybe it’s the Prom… or maybe the Prom’s theme is “Boogie Night”, which feels at least a decade passed its “sell by” date in 1985. Lois Lane is there in order to research “today’s proms”… and finds herself with a front-row seat to Rhavenj’s rampage!
She manages to slip away, and makes a phone call to Clark Kent to see if he might be able to get a hold of Superman. That’s all he needs to hear… even though he’d be leaving Lana and their romantic din-din behind.
Superman arrives at Del Mar High, and a fight is on! We can see that Tina Gerber is still dreaming, and can feel all of the pain and anger she’s inflicting. Superman slams Rhavenj with some heat vision… to which, the baddie then hits Lois Lane with some “heat vision” of his own… which fills her with hatred toward Superman! Wrapping her fingers around his throat, she lets out all of her frustration of having her heart broken time and again by the Man of Steel.
Superman is finally able to talk her down… and it’s pretty strange. He doesn’t tell her he “loves” her to get her to cool her jets… he instead explained how he “loved” her, like past tense. She eventually calms down.
This love… or former love… or whatever, is enough to turn Rhavenj into a pile of ash and a waft of brimstone stench. I didn’t see a “BAMF!” sound-effect, so we can probably assume he’s gone for good.
We hop back to Tina Gerber’s bedroom, where she groggily wakes up… recalling the “dream” she just had. Suddenly, the phone rings! It’s one of those bullies from earlier. It would seem his recent brush with Rhavenj has made him change his tune. He apologizes to Tina and asks if they could put the past behind them, and be friends!
We wrap up with Superman dropping Lois off at her apartment. They kinda linger in the embrace for a few seconds too long before stepping apart. Superman suggests maybe they give their romance a try one more time… to which, Lois tells him that neither of them will be able to change enough to make that actually work. The same problems will continue to arise. And so, Superman bids her g’nite.
That story might be over, but we’re not done yet! Let’s get to the back-up… where we find a line-up of people in Superman costumes (uh, just like the cover). We learn that this is a “casting call” for a Superman movie to be produced by the M’Vorn aliens… who kinda look like mutant octopuses. They’re a peaceful bunch who wish to make the movie in tribute of the Man of Steel to thank him for saving their planet.
Since their entire race looks like… well, mutant octopuses, they needed to come to Earth in order to find the perfect bi-pedal actor.
Superman, the real one, arrives and checks in with Tufta’Dl, the M’Vorn First Minister for Pleasurably Stimulating Optical Results (oy), and tries to get the skinny on what’s going on. Ya see, the crowd in the street is a very mixed one, and frankly… not very many of them look like the Real Steel Deal. Then… we get the punchline (for the first time… second if you count the cover) the M’Vorn can’t tell humans apart… if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.
We head back outside and take a look at one very desperate actor… who proceeds to strap a makeshift jetpack to his back in order to get the aliens’ attention. This doesn’t go all that well… and results in the apartment the aliens are occupying being filled with smoke.
From the smoke the aliens hear the sound of coughing… which they confuse with poetry. They find the culprit, Michael Betker, and decide he’d make the perfect Superman for their film.
We get the “all humans look alike” schtick again… because, admit it, it was so funny the first couple of times, and Superman decides to let this poor goof leave with the aliens… not knowing if he’ll ever return home again.
Well, this is kinda the very definition of “mixed bag”, ain’t it?
Let’s get the back-up out of the way first… because… well, let’s just get that out of the way. The entire thing is just the gag from the cover. It’s like they had this “wacky” idea that an alien might not be able to tell humans apart… then decided to stretch that concept into an eight-page story.
I mean, it’s not the worst thing… but it joke was sure stretched thin by the end of it. The art was fun, I’ll give it that. It was pretty neat seeing a Julius Schwartz cameo… and izzat John F. Kennedy making that funny face at us on the cover? I guess he was back from his adventures in space.
Onto the “main” feature… it was equally silly, in that odd “revenge fantasy” kinda way. I mean, I guess when you’re bullied you might fantasize about taking all of the power away from your tormentors… and in the DC Universe, I suppose that might cause you to manifest a punny-named revenge demon. No harm, no foul… but, if you ask me, that’s not what sticks with ya after reading this.
The best bit, at least to me, is the weird love tria… er, rhombus, between Lois, Clark, Lana and Superman. It’s especially interesting seeing Superman really conflicted about who he might want to be with. I mean, in his civvies, he’s Lana’s guy… but he runs off to help Lois without much coercion. Also, that bit at the end… he suggests they (Lois and Superman) give their romance one more try. That’s some pretty complicated stuff… what then happens to the Lana/Clark relationship? Do we go full-blown “Superman Red/Superman Blue” here? It’s all very interesting.
I’m not sure if we’re supposed to feel sympathy for Lana here… clearly being the thir…er, fourth wheel (fourth wheel doesn’t sound terribly inconvenient, does it?). I can say… I really don’t. Maybe that makes me a bad dude… but, Lana just irritates the heck out of me… especially in this pre-Crisis, calling everybody “luv/love” persona. Yuck.
Overall, I’d say this isn’t required reading by any stretch… if you’re an Action completionist (like the idiot whose words you’re reading) then it’s a no-brainer… otherwise, ehh.