Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Groove's Faves: "Lightning Strikes...Thunder Kills!" by Conway, Swan, and Oksner

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Remember the time when Gerry Conway was head writer of Superman, and he tried to "Marvel-ize" the Man of Steel with sub-plots, continuity, and "hip" dialogue? You don't? Well, it happened for a short while (long enough to land Merry Gerry the Superman/Spider-Man tabloid gig), and there were a few gems from that era. Superman #303 (June 1976) is one of those gems, at least to Ol' Groove. Conway (and artists Curt Swan and Bob Oksner) took a terrible villain, Whirlicane (most...horrible...name...ever...?) and put him in charge of the simply named but very much cooler Thunder and Lightning. Young Groove had a soft spot for that ill-fated pair of A.I.s, and their fate gave this tale the right bit of pathos to make it the kind of tale Superman story Ol' Groove really digs! Hope you like "Lighting Strikes...Thunder Kills!", too!
Cover art by Ernie Chua and Bob Oksner


  1. I love this period of Superman, not for the scripts which often had him doing all sorts of outlandish things, but for the always ready-for-prime-time artwork by Curt Swan. Oksner gave his pencils a nifty life, though Swan was given many different inkers in this era.

    Rip Off

  2. I had this comic when I was a little kid in the '70's! Still have it, actually.
    Something about comics, the '70's, the summertime, and being a kid just made a wonderful combination.
    Great to see it again.
    I also had that one where Superman is being attacked by a shark on the cover. It was a "Jaws" thing.
    Ah, the '70's.

  3. I liked this SO much, when I was a kid, and the final revelation really surprised me (well, 8yo me, at least) probably thanks to the "cheating" cover. It's probably Swan/Oksner at their best, and they strongly contributed to make me love it, and it still does, as Conway's story looked a lot sillier when I re-read it as an adult. That hydrant thing Clark does to Lois is probably the reason behind the whole "Truth" story. Seriously, how could he get away with that? "Hi, this is Superman. this money is for the damage I caused to your property, your business and for endangering one of your employees' life, as well a public emergency asset, beacuse I had to screw up my friends' date. I'm a bit of jealous guy, you know." Now, ask why the whole nation wants a piece of you, Clark!

    The italian name of Whirlicane (Turburagano) anyway, sounded a lot better.

  4. I had this issue, my mom had found some mom and pop store that sold comics in a clear plastic bag with 3 comics inside without the covers for I think fifty cents, I think it had something to do with Whitman distribution.

  5. I didn't read many D.C. comics back then, but as a fan of Kirby's Superman I wondered who drew Kal-El's face (clearly wasn't Jack). I think Swan's Superman was also in a popular line of merchandise (exercise books and things like that), along with Adams' Batman, if I remember well.
    Another question was: "Is it Ernie Chan or Chua?" and the ultimate mystery for an Italian kid of the 70's: "Is Marv Wolfman a real name?".
    Whirlicane... it does have a certain ring to it. Sounds like a vacuum cleaner or something.
    Turburagano I don't like. Makes me think of an Autobot.

  6. I had this issue, too.......still do in a plastic storage box somewhere. I rarely read Superman when I was growing up, but I picked this one up on impulse and I enjoyed it so much that I actually started reading Superman and Action Comics for a short time.

  7. Aside from Al Williamson, I think Bob Oksner was my favorite Curt Swan inker. He gave Swan's pencils a lot more "meat", and made it look more dynamic. And the Ernie Chua covers during this era of DC we're almost always great.

  8. I think that Terry Austin inked backgrounds un-credited. - Jeff Clem



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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

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