Saturday, March 7, 2009

Action Comics #585 - Feb. 1987

"And Graves Give Up Their Dead..." by John Byrne and Dick Giordano.

The Phantom Stranger found time to get away from his gab-fest with Darkseid over in Legends to do another team-up with Superman, this time in the pages of Action Comics, which in the post-Byrne Superman world took over the Superman team-up format once used by DC Comics Presents:
In Metropolis, we start our story with Superman seemingly on the losing end of a fight with the amazon-like supervillain Arathaza. She seems to be draining Supes' life-force, leaving him little more than a withered husk.

Arathaza, standing over him, gloats over her victory, but of course she speaks too soon--Superman gets close enough to grab the magical staff she's holding, and he smashes it, returning him back to normal and Arathaza back to the normal, non-powered being she was.

But what does all this have to do with The Phantom Stranger? Well, he's narrating this little tale, and he shows us that, in the explosion of Arathaza's staff and floating ship, a gemstone from it falls to the ground, landing in a cemetery. Uh-oh...

Superman heads home, and has someone waiting for him:
(I really think Byrne missed a bet here--I would've loved to have seen the Stranger with a drink in his hand. Oh well.)

Anyway, the Stranger tells Superman about the upcoming trouble, transporting him and himself to the cemetery where the gemstone landed. And the trouble is obvious:
Superman does what he does best, attacking the creature head-on.

After a few moments of fighting, he's concerned that this thing is alive, sentient, and therefore he can't go full out and try and destroy it.

The Stranger assures Superman it is not alive, and heads inside the creature to deal with the problem at its source--the Kingdom of the Damned!:
While Superman tries to lure the creature out to sea, away from Metropolis, The Phantom Stranger goes through his paces with the dead.

He tries appealing to their hearts, by showing them the faces of the souls whose bodies are not at rest, being caught up in this mad quest: the shopkeeper, the school teacher, the cop, the farmer, and others.

He then shows them that it was the addition of the magical gemstone which helped this evil come forth--without it, they are nothing, and the Stranger plans to take it from them.

They don't like what they hear:
...after the gemstone falls away, the creature's power to grow larger and larger seems to stop.

This gives Superman the chance to scoop an entire chunk of the Earth that the creature is drawing from, and he carries it into space!

As he is about to hurl the clump of Earth into the sun, the Stranger's gloved hand reaches out of it, grabbing Superman in time. Superman, a tad surprised that the Stranger can survive (and communicate) in airless space, returns them both home:
...the end!

I remember really liking the run of Action Comics that were devoted to Superman team-ups. John Byrne's work was fun and fast-paced, and this issue is a fine example of that.

1 comment:

Jacob T. Levy said...

"Sing me no sad songs, dead things" is a great line.

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