Wednesday, April 30, 2008

40 Years Ago Today From DC Comics -- Action Comics #364

Action Comics #364 (On Sale: April 30, 1968) has a really nice cover by Neal Adams; all those years on the Ben Casey strip set him in good stead on this cover.

"The Untouchable of Metropolis" is by Leo Dorfman, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. This story is the middle of a three-issue arc. Superman has been infected with Virus X, a Kryptonian form of leprosy. Criminals and police alike are afraid of being touched by the Man of Steel and catching the deadly virus. The greatest scientists on Earth are unable to cure him, but they do provide a fiberglass bodysuit to prevent the spread of the disease.

Supergirl comes up with a plan to send Superman into the Phantom Zone until a cure is found. However, the Phantom Zone criminals destroy the projector to keep the Man of Steel from entering the Zone. Superman then makes arrangements for his weapons and trophies and is sent into space aboard a rocket to die.

The back-up Supergirl story, "The Kiss of Death," is by Otto Binder and Kurt Schaffenberger. Professor Vandarr, a teacher at Stanhope, gets married to Count Durkla. Linda Danvers attends the wedding and witnesses her die just after kissing the groom. The dead woman also has a strange tattoo which emits x-rays.

Supergirl later saves the life of Dorah, a stunt diver. She has the same tattoo and Vandarr and is scheduled to marry Colonel Durkla. Supergirl keeps an eye on the couple, but again the bride dies after kissing the groom.

Supergirl suspects Durkla's kiss is poisoned. She finds a third woman with the same tattoo, Miss Jacquella. Supergirl gets her a job at Stanhope to replace Prof. Vandarr, then takes her place. Durkla approaches her and proposes. Supergirl then discovers that her wedding ring was poisoned.

Supergirl survives, then Durkla tells her that the three girls were escaped alien criminals. He had been sent to Earth to execute them. Jacquella claims to be innocent, so Supergirl leaves her at the Fortress. When the girl tries to steal some gems, Supergirl knows that she is lying. Jacquella tries to flee from the Girl of Steel, but falls into a vat of liquid helium. Durkla then takes the three dead bodies back to his own world as proof that the criminals are dead. This story was reprinted in Superman Family #172.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

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