Action Comics #585
Written and Penciled By John Byrne
Inks By Dick Giordano
Colors By Tom Ziuko
This issue of Action Comics opens up with the Phantom Stranger. Why is he here, you might ask? Why, back in the day, (1986) Action Comics was pretty much the Superman team up. Think Spidey with Marvel Team Up. Only with more art by John Byrne. Byrne was firing on all cylinders at this point and had his flow for the Man of Steel down pat. The Phantom Stranger is talking about a plot of land where killers, rapist and maybe Hitler were buried a mile off of Metropolis. The tale then switches to high above the city and Superman is looking old a gray haired. Why’s that? It because he’s battling Arathaza. She’s really a co worker of Supes who finds a magic diamond that turns her into a hulking amazon. (Not Wonder Woman.)
So Superman prevails over Arathaza
by just waiting for her to drop her guard and knocking over her staff with the Diamond in it. Holy shit, that was easy. So Supes gets his youth back and Arathaza flying fortress starts to fall from the sky. In small parts that don’t harm anyone, no doubt. But remember that plot of dirt that housed the dead bodies of all those killers? Well, hey, that’s where the damn gem lands. Who could have know? The writer, perhaps? Sounds about right.
Superman is dead beat and heads home to grab some apple pie. Cuz the dude is all American! Just don’t ask him about Donald Trump! He’d call Superman an illegal and ask to see his birth certificate. While he and Lex Luthor cackle in a lone room. While avoiding to pay income taxes. So yeah, Superman goes home and The Phantom Stranger is just chilling in his easy chair. Hey, Stranger, Supes pays the cost to be the boss. Get out of that chair! Ahem. Phantom Stranger wants to team up, But again Superman wants to eat pie. Just leave the man (of Steel.) alone, he already saved the city once. No word on if the city of Metropolis pays overtime.
The Phantom Stranger ain’t got time to mix words so he just teleports them to the site of the plot of land and lo and behold the gem has given life to a giant dirt monster that wants to kill more people. Geez, you’d think that after being dead of so long, you’d want to go off and do something different than you did before. But you know what they say, old habits die hard. (Bruce Willis?) While Big Blue deals with the monster, The Phantom Stranger goes into to confront the spirits themselves. Stranger ain’t strong enough, so he calls on the spirits of all the victims of the spirits. Too many dang team ups in this issue if you let me tell. But it does the trick and gives Phantom Stranger the edge needed to weaken the spirits power with the gem and Superman lifts the blob of dirt and mud from the earth itself. Supes even manages to sneak in an “Up, up and away.” in a panel. Because it’s not a Superman comic if he doesn’t say that at least once. I smile at the thought if Paul Levitz hitting John Byrne with a stick while standing over him at his typewriter making sure that line got in.
With the evil spirts separated from the earth and thrown into the sun, Superman crushes the gem and starts to ask the Phantom Stranger, just what all that was about. Stranger then goes, “Go eat your damn pie,Dude!” Okay maybe he didn’t say that, but he should have. Stranger then just smiles and says that some thing are better left UNKNOWN!!!
Great team up here. It also shows that in a Post Crisis DCU, Superman is not the power house that he used to be and now able to take some damage. So you know, when he overcomes those odds, it’s seen as even more heroic! No complanits , here.