Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Supergirl Stats: Early Days Of The Parasite

Back in the day, it was Superman, not Supergirl, who first faced the Parasite, who started as Maxwell Jensen, being a failure at his life....but over time he grew to be one of Superman's most deadly and powerful foes.

Here's a look back at how the original Parasite came to be!

Power Of The Parasite

Action Comics #340 (August, 1966) was the first appearance of the Parasite, by Jim Shooter and Al Plastino (with a cover by Curt Swan and George Klein).  Superman was helping a lab with radioactive materials, and Jensen was the man assigned to dispose of them when they were done.  But, Max had also heard that the lab sent money out disguised as radioactive disposal, so took a "quick look" to be sure (planning to take money if there had been any.....).  Problem was, there really was waste in the box, and he was scarred over his entire body.  But, he did gain a power, that of absorption, and quickly put that to work for himself.  After draining smarts from scientists, the Parasite planned to drain Superman, and started to, at a construction site (where he had also discovered Superman's secret identity), and would have taken all of Superman's power....were it not too much for him to contain....with the Parasite's body exploding into dust!

The Power Of The Parasite

Action Comics #361 (March, 1968) saw the unlikely return of the Parasite, by Jim Shooter and Al Plastino (and a cover by Neal Adams.).  A passing alien geographer reassembles the misty Parasite, restoring him to his previous form.  Returning the favor, the Parasite absorbs the alien's life energy and knowledge, and returns to Earth.  Using his knowledge of Superman's identity, Parasite joins the Daily Planet staff in disguise, to slowly leech away Superman's powers.  This works for a while, but, Superman had figured out what was going on, and found a way to defeat his foe, finding friends of the alien geographer to take the Parasite into off-world custody (insuring the Parasite would not return for a long time.

The Parasite's Power Play

Superman #286 (April, 1975) was when the Parasite returned, courtesy of Elliot S! Maggin, Curt Swan and Bob Oksner, under a cover by Bob Oksner

After escaping his alien prison and returning to Earth, the Parasite was such a menace that he faced both Superman and Luthor (stealing a little of Luthor's intelligence along the way), and forcing Superman and Luthor to work together to stop the leeching menace (with Luthor showing off his recently acquired super-suit as well....).

The Double-Or-Nothing Life Of Superman

Superman #299 (May, 1975 by Cary Bates, Elliot S! Maggin, Curt Swan and Bob Oksner) saw the Parasite return at the end of a four part Superman story, where a mysterious villain had been manipulating Superman to use his powers at full for a time, and battle against some of his nastiest villains, including the second Toyman, the Prankster, Terra-Man, Amalak, the Kryptonite Man (formerly the Kryptonite Kid), Brainiac, Mr. Mxyzptlk and Luthor...


...but, oddly, it was the Parasite (unknowingly, or more accurately, Superman using power absorption) who helped saved the day!

The Parasite's Prism Of Peril

Superman #304 (October, 1975 by Gerry Conway, Curt Swan and Bob Oksner, and cover by Oksner) had the Parasite return solo.....but using some of the intelligence he had borrowed. 

This time around, the Parasite was using a prism to absorb Superman's powers, and transfer them to others (like the son of Clark Kent's best friend, Jon Ross), and getting those individuals to battle Superman. 

Things still turned out in favor of the son of Krypton, though, eventually!

Break With Batman

Bob Haney and Kurt Schaffenberger oversee the next return of the Parasite in World's Finest Comics #246 and #247 (August-September and October-November, 1977 with a Neal Adams cover and interior inks by Murphy Anderson on #246, and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez cover and Tex Blaisdell inks on #247).  This time around, the Parasite returns disguised as a non-existent deformed brother to Superman...who enslaves the Earth (including the Justice League), and only Superman and Batman can defeat him.  Oh, those wild and wacky Bob Haney stories!

Behind the Scenes

Superman #319 to #321 (January to March, 1978) sees a sneakier Parasite, hanging around behind the scenes, draining Superman slowly as he faces a new version of Solomon Grundy who recently formed in Metropolis, in these three issues by Marty Pasko, Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte, all to weaken Superman in preparation for a final battle in the skies.....

Laser War Over Metropolis

In Superman #322 (April, 1978 by Marty Pasko, Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte, with a cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez). 

This time around, the Parasite's plan was revealed, and how he was taking bits of Superman's power over time, and targeting some specific abilities of Superman's as well (such as his control over his scenes), all to make Superman easier to beat. 

This leads into an all-out war with an evenly matched Superman and Parasite....for a time.  Problem is, Superman did figure out how to beat the Parasite, and did!

Sitting In Prison

Superman #331 (January, 1979) and World's Finest Comics #270 (March, 1982) saw the Parasite in jail, with the Master Jailer using the Parasite's power to imprison Superman in Superman's title, and an even quicker cameo in World's Finest Comics as Metallo broke out of the prison of Superman's Island (which holds the deadliest of Superman's foes, but Parasite was still in his cell inside!).

Superman's Last Christmas

What says Christmas more than a purple and green villain smashing the Man of Steel into a Christmas Tree?

Superman #369 (March, 1982 by Cary Bates, Rich Buckler and Frank McLaughlin, and a cover by Buckler and Frank Giacoia) answers that question, with the Parasite returning for the holidays, looking for powers from the Man of Steel for his stocking, and using Clark Kent's old friend, Cory Renwald to get them.

Yule enjoy this one!

The Parasite's Power Ploys

DC Comics Presents #55 (March, 1983) sees the Parasite facing Superman again, this time with some help from new hero, Air Wave, in a story by Bob Rozakis, Alex Saviuk and Pablo Marcos (and cover by Saviuk and Robert R. Smith). 

The young legacy hero uses his radio wave powers to help Superman against the Parasite in the present, while Superman thinks back to his time as Superboy, when he worked with Air Wave's father (who was also a costumed hero known as Air Wave).

More of Clark Kent's earlier days are brought to light thanks to the Parasite!


Action Comics #555 (May, 1984) was a special issue by Paul Kupperberg, Curt Swan and Dave Hunt (and a cover by Eduardo Barreto and Bob Oskner), marking Supergirl's 25th Anniversary (in real time, since Action Comics #252). 

This also marked the first time Parasite faced Supergirl...well, almost. 

It was Superman who faced the Parasite, breaking free in time to rendezvous with his cousin for her special day (which actually happened in Supergirl #20 of June, 1984, where the Kryptonian cousins faced a Parasite clone together!). 

The Most Popular Man In Metropolis

The last appearance of the Parasite before the Crisis On Infinite Earths was in Action Comics #578 (April, 1986)...

....where Superman is facing a drain on his overall approval ratings in Metropolis as a new darling of the public, Joe Blohe, seems to absorb it from him (is this a subtle enough reference for you to figure out the plan of the Parasite in this story by Craig Boldman and Kurt Schaffenberger, under an Eduardo Barreto cover?). 

Then the whole DC Universe changed with the Crisis On Infinite Earths, and there wasn't a Parasite anymore....

Return Of The Parasite

At least until a waste management specialist named Ruby Jones decided to check out the toxic waste dump at S.T.A.R. Labs looking for the company payroll. 

Thanks to a little manipulation from Darkseid, Rudy turned into the Parasite (though shaded green this time) to face Firestorm in Firestorm #58 (April, 1987) by John Ostrander, Joe Brozowski and Pablo Marcos, and that Parasite faced Firestorm, joined the Suicide Squad, and eventually got around to facing Superman...

...and then bonding with Dr. Torval Freeman in Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #2 (Fall, 1995 by Roger Stern, Tom Grummett and Brett Breeding), and even mutating into more of a Parasite as well, as seen on the cover of Action Comics #715 (November, 1995 by Kieron Dwyer, and interiors by David Micheline, Gil Kane and Denis Rodier).

While a sucker may be born every minute, the Parasite is more like a cockroach, surviving and returning time after time....but that leach is beaten by truth, justice and the American way!

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