DC Comics Presents #52
"Negative Woman Goes Berserk!"
Script by Paul Kupperberg
Art by Keith Giffen and Sal Trapani
Cover by Keith Giffen and Dick Giordano
SYNOPSIS: Superman arrived on the scene of a New Jersey power plant that was in the process of going "blooie", rescuing the workers there and encountering a strange energy that moved very fast and was capable of causing him pain. He returned to Metropolis to the WGBS Studios, to write up the story as Clark Kent. The studio was abuzz because of a location shoot for the Metropolis Day Parade. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen were performing sound checks from the parade stands, and zoomed in on District Attorney Syms in the VIP Grandstand, only to see the man murdered by a character in a green suit with orange antenna, who then proceeded to simply disappear from sight. Clark changed back into Superman and headed for the grandstand.
On his way there, he encountered the energy source again, noticing this time that it had a vaguely female form. Seeing all the damage it was causing, Superman again tried to intercept it, but it flew directly through him, stunning him and making him fall from the sky. Down in the streets below, the scene had been viewed by Tempest and Celsius of the New Doom Patrol, who had been tracking the energy source, which was actually their teammate Negative Woman run amok. They went to help Superman in hopes of getting his aid in containing their friend.
Lois and Jimmy were continuing with WGBS' coverage of the parade when the man in the green costume reappeared. He declared that he was Ambush Bug, and that he was a "bad guy". He disappeared again as the wall behind him started to crumble as Cliff Steele, better known as Robotman of the Doom Patrol, crashed through. Cliff leapt away before Lois could ask him any questions, and at about the same time, Negative Woman flew through the Galaxy Communications building, knocking the station off the air.
Jimmy Olsen was out on the streets with a camera trying to figure out what was going on, but got caught under one of the giant parade balloons that was destroyed by Negative Woman's flight. Meanwhile, Tempest and Celsius had managed to wake up the Man of Steel who, having never met the new Doom Patrol, was hesitant to believe that they were the DP. Ambush Bug overheard this (via one of the bugs he used for teleportation) and popped in, zapping Superman and telling Celsius and Tempest to attack them, and then teleporting away to let the three fight. On the roof where Ambush Bug ended up, he saw Negative Woman take off the top of a skyscraper and immediately professed his love for the berserk hero.
Tempest and Celsius were definitely at a disadvantage against the Man of Steel until Cliff showed up. He quickly explained both about the new team and what had happened to Negative Woman. She had been able to contain the Negative Energy with no problem until the previous day, when it started to leak through her skin, and she was suddenly beset with pain and finally went berserk from it. Superman overheard the sounds of destruction across town and took off, with Tempest in pursuit to make sure that he didn't use more force than was necessary to apprehend the woman he loved.
Superman took care of the falling rubble Negative Woman caused, while Tempest tried to capture Ambush Bug, who simply teleported away again. Jimmy Olsen finally crawled out from under the balloon and moved in on the action, only to get entangled in another deflated balloon. Ambush Bug popped in front of Superman to tell him to keep his hands off "his woman" and teleported away. He appeared on the ground and Celsius encased him in ice, but he teleported out of the ice block and attacked Cliff. Celsius shot a burst of flames at the two, but Ambush Bug was gone, reappearing behind her and knocking Celsius out, which really got Cliff teed off.
Superman figured out Ambush Bug's teleportation gimmick, which was to use a large number of small flying electronic insects that were actually matter-warping devices. Superman flew at superspeed and caught all of the bugs and crushed them, and again turned his attention to Negative Woman. On the ground, Ambush Bug let Cliff take a swing at him, and since he couldn't teleport anymore, Cliff knocked him out (and halfway down the block).
Superman flew away at superspeed and then came back with a lead container to trap Negative Woman. Back in Midway City, Negative Woman had been stopped in the time to save her life and was swathed in the same kind of bandages that her predecessor had been forced to wear, to prevent the Negative Energy from possessing her again. Ambush Bug was in the Metropolis State Prison planning his escape and next caper.
COMMENTS: This has always been one of my favorite issues of DC Comics Presents ... and really the Ambush Bug issues and the Jim Starlin stories were probably the highlights of the whole series. This was a simply but effective super-hero tale. No big twists or strangeness, and I think the story was very welcome in the Doom Patrol annals because it began to bring the "freak" aspect of the team back into play by having Negative Woman take up the bandages of Negative Man in order to stay alive. Getting back to the teams roots was really needed, since the outcast angle is really what made the original Doom Patrol work.
Keith Giffen's artwork is the real star of the book, though. His "Shuster"-style with Superman is great, almost as good as the Kirby-esque he used over at Marvel Comics on The Defenders and The Jack of Hearts. He was just starting to hit his stride on Legion of Super-Heroes, and wasn't really experimenting beyond stylistic homages yet.
As with almost all of the post-Showcase appearances of the New Doom Patrol before they got their regular series in 1987, there is at least one error in how they were handled. Somehow, Keith Giffen drew the effects of Tempest's power as some sort of whirlwind or vortex effect instead of the energy blast he had used in every other appearance (I guess considering his name is Tempest, Giffen took some license there). At least Giffen did have him fly like he was shown to have been able to do in most of his appearances, but you'd think Paul Kupperberg would've caught the vortex thing.
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