This issue continues the story from last issue about the mysterious illness at the World News Conference in Central City. We get a WGBS report recapping the outbreak and Morgan Edge freaking out because a bunch of his top people (Clark, Lois, Steve Lombard) are at the conference and he doesn’t even know if they’re still alive. Superman flies in a bunch of supplies and builds a treatment center for the patients right beside the hotel. A reporter asks him about Flash (who was taken to the JLA Satellite last issue) and Lois, who caught the disease. Supes has no comment. As he’s about to leave, he runs into his cousin, Linda Danvers aka Supergirl. She asks about Nam-Ek and why Supes didn’t use his horn to cure everybody. We get another recap of last issue and Supes admits that he accidentally killed Nam-Ek, thus dooming every one of the plague victims. Supergirl tries to make him feel better, but Supes says he’s quitting the League and hanging up his superhero identity. He goes up to the Satellite to check on Flash and Supergirl joins him later. Green Lantern tells them there’s some kind of electronic interference from a teleportation beam being directed out of space to the West Indies. The West Indies is where Supes fought Nam-Ek, so they figure maybe he was beamed away instead of disintegrating as Superman feared. They go to the West Indies and track the beam to a spaceship disguised as a meteor. Inside, Nam-Ek is telling someone he was trying to help Superman with the plague last issue but now he’s mad because Supes attacked him. He’s decided to join the pilot of the spaceship, who turns out to be … Amalak, the Kryptonian Killer. Amalak uses an electro-surrogate to fight the Kryptonian cousins and Nam-Ek jumps Superman. He explains how he and Amalak met and why he’s mad at Supes now. Superman leads Nam-Ek out of the ship and fights him in a meteor shower. Supergirl destroys the electro-surrogate, but the resulting explosion blinds her. Amalak was protected thanks to his funky shades. Amalak uses a teleporter (the same one he used to grab Nam-Ek right before he “died” at Superman’s hands last issue) to retrieve a star-cannon from Superman’s Fortress. The star-cannon is the only weapon capable of killing Kryptonians when they have their super powers, but he only stuns Supergirl with it. Out in space, Superman makes a quartz prism out of a meteorite and imprisons Nam-Ek in it, cutting off the yellow sun rays that give him his strength. When he goes back to the ship, Amalak has Supergirl chained up, which she’s really not into. He says Superman can take Nam-Ek to Earth to help the plague victims, but Supergirl remains his prisoner on the ship … or he could just shoot her right then and there and get it over with. Supes knows he has to help the plague victims, so he takes off with Nam-Ek. Amalak gloats that curing the present plague victims is meaningless—unless the plague is stopped at its source, more people will get sick. He then prepares to kill Supergirl … and on that dramatic note, we’ll have to take a break until next issue.
- The WGBS reporter refers to the outbreak as “Journalists’ Disease” which is a play on the real life Legionnaires’ Disease, a type of pneumonia that first broke out at a Legion convention in Philadelphia in 1976.
- I have to say, I much prefer the Supergirl costume to Linda Danvers’ stylish pantsuit.
- When Superman and Supergirl bust into Amalak’s ship, the breach in the wall seals automatically, and Amalak is protected by an Oxy-Aura … just in case you were wondering why nobody suffocated or was pulled out into space.
- Amalak’s story is simple: his home planet was supposedly destroyed by Krypton, so he’s made it his life’s mission to eliminate anything Kryptonian … including Superman, Supergirl, and even Kandor. Talk about holding a grudge.
- Amalak looks like a space-hippie when he puts his sunglasses on.
- Why would Superman have a weapon capable of killing Kryptonians in the Fortress? Is he expecting trouble from Kandor? Or maybe it’s for Krypto, in case he goes all “Old Yeller” some day.
This is the next chapter of the Phantom Zone story, where Faora gets out by pretending to be some guy’s dead wife. Superman is going through the Phantom Zone records trying to figure out who he’s up against. He finds out her name is Faora Hu-ul and she was sentenced to the Zone for killing 23 men in a male concentration camp. Superman’s only comment is: “A man-hater! It figures!”; ahh, more 70s feminism from the male perspective. Supes heads home and right next door to Clark’s apartment we see his new neighbour, Jackson Porter, talking to the ghost of his dead wife.
Well, it’s actually Faora pretending to be his dead wife, but she’s bamboozled him enough to get him to steal a weird-looking sculpture from Clark’s place. Clark realizes what’s missing and goes to ask Porter if he saw anyone hanging around When Clark knocks on Porter’s door, he’s rubbing the sculpture really hard and concentrating on his wife; is that meant to be a euphemism for masturbating? Anyway, Porter rubbing one out makes Faora fully materialize outside. She calls out Superman and they fight. Apparently, Faora’s some kind of Zen master, because her precise strikes cause Supes to scream loud enough to shatter glass, and make his “super treadmill reflex” kick in. She hits him in the ribs and doubles him up, then brags about how she used Porter’s longing for his dead wife to establish a connection from the Phantom Zone. She then had him steal Superman’s sculpture because it was made of a rare space metal that gave her the power to cross over from the Zone. While she’s dragging Superman around and saying how stupid men are, Porter is looking all over for his dead wife, who he expects to be alive again. Faora prepares to use the Phantom Touch of Death, but Superman clocks her one and takes off. Porter sees it and thinks Faora is actually his dead wife. We then see Superman projecting himself into the Phantom Zone because he’s decided Faora is unbeatable and doesn’t want to face her again. Huh? Superman wimping out? We’ll have to wait until next issue to see what happens.
- If Faora latched onto Jackson Porter because his feelings for his wife were so strong, was it just a coincidence he was Clark’s neighbour, or did she arrange that somehow?
- The dialogue says Faora hit Superman in the ribs, but it looks like a ball-shot to me.
- The rare space element Superman’s sculpture was made of was called Paskorium … an obvious nod to Marty Pasko.
- Going by the photo of Porter’s wife, she really didn’t look much like Faora (though they both had short hair), but I guess love is blind.
- The back up story is “The Sporting Life of Steve Lombard”; this one’s about everyone making Steve think he has a double as an April Fools’ Day joke. Turns out the double was played by Bruce Wayne, who you’d think would have better things to do. No way the post-Miller Batman would be doing that kind of thing.
Since Morgan dragged Mariah into Skartaris last issue a little time has passed. Enough to teach her some of the language, and for them to get to Kiro. Morgan’s hoping to find Machiste so he lead them to Shamballah, where Morgan can be reunited with Tara. Mariah gets jumped by some guys and Morgan rescues her, but she ends up saving his ass by shooting one of the attackers. He finds a smith who can forge Damascus steel and gives him the rifle to melt down for it. Mariah objects, but he says her rifle is underpowered and impractical for running around Skartaris. He also suggests she get some new clothes to blend in. Morgan tries to sound superior when talking about swords, but feels like an idiot when he finds out Mariah was the Russian Sabre Champion six years running. They get conked out and wake up in the King’s dungeon. They’re given back their weapons and taken to see the King, who turns out to be Machiste. They trade stories and Mariah admires Machiste’s axe—and no, that’s not a euphemism. He tells them how he acquired the axe: after leaving Morgan, he was jumped by Beastmen , retreated into a cave, and found the axe with a bunch of skeletons. Unfortunately, the axe is cursed—not only does it cause blood lust in Machiste, but he can’t let go of it. He’s about to execute a serving wench for spilling some food when Morgan stops him (and gives him a speech about slavery and such). When Morgan and Mariah try to leave, Machiste calls his guards, who promptly get slaughtered. Machiste attacks Morgan and they fight. Mariah saves Morgan’s life again and Morgan frees Machiste from the curse by cutting his hand off—which Machiste’s basically cool with. Machiste sends one of his guards to throw the axe into a volcano, but of course the guard touches it and is instantly cursed. We’ll see the axe again in a future story, but in the meantime, Morgan still wants to get back to Tara in Shamballah. We’ll see how (or if) that works out next issue.
- Morgan says time in Skartaris is relative, so while Mariah took a bath and got dressed Morgan ate and slept twice and the smith forged two swords. I’m thinking that might be a bit of plot handwaving; I know time in Skartaris flows differently, but I always thought that meant in comparison to the outside world. I’m not sure how time can flow differently in the same location.
- Mariah’s new outfit is pretty hot, though I’m not sure how well it’ll make her blend in. (I also have to wonder how it stays on!) Normally, I’d say it’s kinda sexist, but Morgan and Machiste ain’t wearing much either, so I guess the eye-candy is balanced as far as gender goes.
- Seriously, Morgan must have brain damage from getting knocked out so much. He really gets bashed in this one. Maybe I should keep a running count of how many times he gets knocked out?
- The story of Machiste finding the cursed axe in the cave is somewhat reminiscent of how Conan got the sword from the skeleton king.
- Since he knew how strong the curse was, why would Machiste send a guard to throw the axe in the volcano? Something that dangerous, he should’ve done himself.