This one starts with agents of SKULL breaking into STAR Labs (so many acronyms) and stealing radioactive material. Superman shows up and slaps them around, but one of the SKULL guys is accidentally caught under some falling debris. After Supes leaves, we see Albert Michaels, STAR Labs scientist, cooperating with another SKULL agent. Back at WGBS, Clark learns that Lois is leaving to work someplace in the Midwest, and Steve Lombard “borrows” a camera to investigate the STAR Labs robberies. Of course Lombard gets in trouble, and when Clark finds out he traps Lois in his bathroom and goes to help Steve. But it turns out to be a trap; the guy who was supposedly killed at STAR Labs shows up and says he’s Roger Corben, brother of John Corben aka Metallo, the man with the kryptonite heart. Now Roger is the new Metallo, with a kryptonite heart of his own courtesy of SKULL. Metallo gives Superman a rough fight, but Supes soon realizes that the kryptonite powering Corben’s heart weakens whenever Metallo exerts himself. Metallo uses a flying platform to conserve energy, but Supes scares him into thinking he’s about to die, basically giving him a heart attack. Harsh. The kryptonite heart’s emanations peter down to nothing and Supes seals off Metallo’s chest. Metallo then “self-destructs”, basically committing suicide. Supes rounds up the SKULL guys and gives Lombard shit for stealing the camera. Unfortunately, when Clark goes home to let Lois out of his bathroom, she’s not too happy. Maybe it’s good she’s moving. And in a brief epilogue, we see Metallo “waking up” in the morgue … anyone surprised? Didn’t think so.
- It’s said that Corben is with SKULL during the robbery, and Superman assumes so, but Corben’s not wearing a SKULL uniform and we never find out why.
- If you’re thinking about all the green k on Earth being turned to lead, Metallo’s heart is powered by synthetic kryptonite (hence the robberies at STAR Labs … SKULL was collecting materials).
- When Superman gives Steve shit for taking the camera, isn’t he risking his secret ID? Clark was the only one who knew Lombard took the camera; sure, the SKULL guys were broadcasting Lombard’s plight to WGBS to lure Superman there, but how would Supes know Lombard took the camera without permission? He’s lucky Lombard’s so dense.
This is the last part of the Terra-Man story, thank God. Everyone’s still freaking out about Superman’s “death” at the hands of Terra-Man last issue. So when Flash shows up to fight Terra, people are happy, but Flash doesn’t last long and we readers soon see that the guy strutting around Metropolis isn’t Terra at all, but Superman, Apparently Terra changed Supes into a double of himself while Supes was buried. So now everyone hates Terra-Man, and other superheroes (like Flash and Green Lantern) want to kick his ass. A spaceship shows up in orbit above Metropolis and Flash and GL are knocked out (Green Lantern knocked out? I can’t believe it!), so Supes (as Terra-Man) checks it out. Turns out the spaceship’s occupant is looking for Terra-Man, who killed his brother. So Terra’s really screwed Supes over this time. But who shows up to fight the alien? Superman, of course! He slaps the alien around, then Terra shows up to waste Supes once and for all. That’s when the real Terra drops his disguise (as a cop) and jumps into the fight, only to be pounded by the other Terra-Man, who’s still actually Superman—got all that? The Superman who beat the alien was the mopey actor Greg Reed, helped by GL and Flash doing all the heavy lifting, so to speak. Terra changes Superman back to normal before being hauled away, and Lois is so glad Supes is okay that she slips him some tongue right in the middle of the street.
- I’m not sure what the whole “green gas from GL’s ring” stuff was about; was Greg hypnotized or something? He seemed pretty lucid when he was explaining things afterward. Or was GL planting the idea in Greg’s head? He said he was already daydreaming about helping, so I’m not sure why GL was using the “green gas”. Maybe Greg was toking up and GL took a hit.
- I’m not sure if Terra-Man knew this alien dude was gunning for him and that’s why he changed Superman to look like him, or if it’s just a coincidence. To me it kinda reads like Terra did it on purpose, because he knew the alien was coming after him.
- I guess we’re supposed to assume the bum is Terra in disguise and be surprised when it turns out to be the cop who keeps rousting him; I was surprised, so mission accomplished, I guess.
This one starts where the last one left off; Travis Morgan is stumbling around the Andes (half-concussed from the knock on the head he took last ish) after finding himself back on the surface world. He finds an encampment and heads for the tent with the most interesting silhouette, where he finds a half-dressed redhead who quickly aims a rifle at him. He says hi, then keels over. He wakes up and meets his hosts, a group of archaeology professors on a dig in Macchu Picchu. The redhead is Natasha—er, I mean Mariah Romanova, a Russian archaeology prof.
Morgan tells them about being in Skartaris and they tell him it’s now 1977, so he’s been gone for eight years. Apparently time passes differently in Narnia—I mean, Skartaris. The professors take his wild tale at face value and show him a chamber they found that predates the Incas by ten thousand years. They speculate it may be Atlantean, which might explain why there’s a passage to Skartaris nearby. Morgan and Mariah argue over ideology (yawn) as they check out the mysterious chamber. Morgan translates some of the writing, which says the chamber is a tomb of the Cat-Demon, Tikal. There’s a curse too, natch. They open the tomb, then hear a helicopter coming. Turns out the professors called the Air Force about Morgan. He isn’t too happy, since the guys coming after him aren’t Air Force, they’re CIA. They think he defected or something when he disappeared over Russia eight years ago, so they aren’t there to welcome him with open arms. The CIA dudes start pushing everyone around and Morgan goes nuts. Before they can kill him, the Cat-Demon statue comes to life (because the sun shone on its eyes or something) and slaughters most of the CIA agents before Morgan subdues it by covering its eyes. Morgan decides he better get back to Skartaris and convinces Mariah to go with him. They use the Atlantean shuttle that Morgan arrived in, and the professors dynamite the tunnel behind them so no one can follow. When they get back to Skartaris, Tara is nowhere to be found. Morgan assumes he’s only been gone for a day or so, but the cobwebs on his helmet (which he’d left behind) say otherwise; obviously the weird time difference stuff works both ways.
- Morgan has a bit of a mid-life crisis when he realizes he’s now (technically) 51 years old. I guess he was 43 when his plane was shot down in 1969.
- Morgan and Mariah argue about politics; it’s the usual Cold War bullshit (she actually uses the words “capitalist warmonger”), but Morgan sounds pretty cynical about governments in general. I think we’re getting some authorial voice there.
- The guys who come for Morgan aren’t identified as the CIA, but he calls them the Company and they’re in an Air America chopper, so I think it’s obvious who they’re meant to be.
- Was Air America still around in 1977? Did they ever operate in South America? For that matter, why would the Air Force send the CIA? I can understand why they might think Morgan had defected or whatever, but wouldn’t the military go pick him up? He’s technically never been discharged.
- The CIA guys are almost insanely paranoid; the leader freaks out as soon as he hears Mariah’s Russian accent. But she’s obviously there legitimately as an archaeology professor, so I’m not sure what they could do to her. I’m not sure how they’d even have jurisdiction in South America, not that it ever stopped them before … *cough*-Allende-*cough*
- Mariah agrees to go with Morgan pretty fast; he says she’ll have trouble with the CIA (and with Mr. Paranoid in charge, maybe he’s right), but she seems a little too eager to go off to a mystical land with a guy she could hardly stand a couple of hours ago.
- I’m not sure how Morgan expected Tara to react to him bringing Mariah: “Honey, I’m home … and I got you a present. Well, it’s for both of us, really …”.
- The head CIA dude doesn’t die from his wounds; we’ll be seeing him again.