This continues the Metallo/SKULL storyline from a few issues ago. We see Metallo robbing the Metropolis Natural History Museum of some kryptonite and Superman trying to stop him. Supes gets zapped by Metallo’s green K chest beam and Metallo takes off with the kryptonite. We get a quick flashback to fill us in on how Superman got here: he realized the SKULL agents who died at STAR Labs didn’t have real kryptonite hearts, just green-painted rocks. He figured Metallo could be behind the fake green K hearts and Jenet Klyburn told him Albert Michaels has disappeared along with a top secret project he was working on. A list of new sites of green K meteorite landings was also stolen at the same time. Supes got a copy of that list and staked out the Museum, which is why he was there when Metallo struck. He’s sure there’s a connection between Michaels’s disappearance, the green K list, and Metallo, whose body also “disappeared” from the morgue. So, that brings us back to the present, where a still-weak Superman goes after Metallo, chasing him into a highway tunnel. They fight again, but Superman has to let Metallo go in order to save a transit cop from getting run over. Supes can’t chase him at the moment, since he has a meeting with Morgan Edge as Clark Kent. Edge tells Clark his contract is up for renewal, he’s still getting a female co-anchor, and he’s no longer associate producer. On the brighter side, Clark is getting a raise. He meets his new producer, a guy named Martin Korda, who looks like a cross between Lee Majors and a porn director. Clark and Lois head off for lunch and Korda disappears (there’s a lot of that going around). Clark sees Metallo cruising around Metropolis on his sky scooter and ditches Lois to go after him. Supes catches Metallo in some underground caverns, robbing tourists of their rock sample souvenirs. But a bunch of the rocks turn out to be kryptonite and Metallo gets the upper hand on Superman. Supes manages to blow the green K away, but keeps getting zapped by Metallo’s chest ray. He finally impales Metallo (!), wrecking his kryptonite heart. Superman uses some convenient uranium to keep Metallo alive (apparently any radioactive mineral can power Metallo’s heart, not just kryptonite). But Metallo recovers quicker than anticipated and decks Superman, leaving him to die surrounded by pieces of green K. Metallo figures once Superman is dead, his super-heart will make a perfect replacement for Metallo’s own. We’ll see what happens with that next issue, as well as getting the answers to some other big questions.
- This whole extended storyline about kryptonite is kind of a retcon of a story from a few years before about all the green K on Earth being turned into lead. At the time, I think the editors and writers thought that green K was overused as a storytelling device, so they got rid of it. But now they seem to want it back; I’m not sure if that was because of fans demanding it, or if they felt too constrained with no green K stories, but it’s definitely proliferating.
- I don’t know who the new female anchor is; the obvious answer is Lois, but maybe that’s too obvious? Supposedly we find out next issue.
- There’s another beef bourguignon mention by Lois.
- I’m not sure what’s up with this Korda guy, but I’m sure Pasko is laying the groundwork for something. Two dangling plot threads in one issue? He musta been hanging out with Chris Claremont.
This one follows straight from the last panel of last issue when Clark Kent was attacked on the air by crazy alien Karb-Brak. Apparently, Karb-Brak has some weird allergy to superpowered people that turns him from a mild-mannered construction worker into a murderous alien. He was supposed to be cured, but something set him off last issue—and it wasn’t Superman. So, Clark’s about to get strangled (or have his secret identity exposed) on live TV. He blows the lights in the studio and rams Karb-Brak through the wall. He then takes him through a smokestack chimney and slams him into the ground. Clark manages to change to Superman befre any onlookers figure out what’s what. He and Karb-Brak fight some more, until the alien suddenly keels over—which is just what happened the first time they fought. Supes takes Karb-Brak to the Fortress of Solitude and remembers that he basically let the alien die the first time they fought, then revived him with no trace of the mysterious affliction. He debates whether to take such a chance again, but while he’s dithering, Karb-Brak dies. Supes is despondent, but Karb-Brak pops up full of life and says he’s been cured of what ailed him. He tells Superman the guy who set off his “super powers allergy” this time was Vartox. Back in Metropolis, Lois and Jimmy are in the WGBS news chopper looking for Karb-Brak and the still-missing Clark Kent. They don’t find either one, but they do find a parachutist (!) who almost gets sliced up by their blades. He’s saved at the last second by a blurry figure, but his chute tangles in the chopper blades and Lois and Jimmy plummet toward the ground. They’re saved by an electrical net of some kind and meet Vartox. He takes off and runs into Superman and Karb-Brak. Vartox admits he was responsible for Karb-Brak losing his shit and proceeds to show Supes a nice little vignette of what happened. Unfortunately, Vartox’s head is all fucked up because he feels guilty for endangering Karb-Brak to recharge his own powers, so he says Superman is the one who was losing his powers, traveled a trillion miles to set off Karb-Brak’s madness, and should now turn around and go home. Supes tries to reason with him, but Karb-Brak backs Vartox’s story—probably under some kind of mind control—so Superman backs off. He figures out a way to shock Vartox back to normal, though it’s a pretty shitty thing to do. As they’re fighting, a good-looking blonde shows up nearby and begs Superman to go back home with her. He agrees, but Vartox freaks out and comes back to his senses. Turns out the “blonde” was Lois pretending to be Vartox’s dead wife … yeah, super-dickery at its finest. But it worked and Vartox goes home, leaving Superman and Lois to get all smoochy.
- When Vartox leaves, he seems to take Karb-Brak with him. Is he taking him back to the Andromeda Galaxy? Now that he’s cured, why couldn’t Karb-Brak stay on Earth? Or maybe he wanted to go home all along, but the Andromeda Galaxy was too far for Superman to take him?
This starts with Morgan, Machiste, and Mariah plodding through a blizzard. A blizzard on tropical Skartaris? Yup. At the end of last issue they crash landed their makeshift gliders in a remote valley after escaping the sky citadel. Apparently, the valley is perpetually shrouded by clouds, so the sun can’t warm it and the weather is cold as hell. Before the three can find shelter, they’re attacked by what looks like a cave bear, but (according to the caption) is a Megalictis, an ancestor of the wolverine. Morgan fights it and gets torn up. It goes after Mariah and Morgan puts seven .44 AutoMag shells into its head, then he keels over. A bunch of barbarian types on mastodons show up and grab Mariah and Machiste, leaving Morgan for dead. But this is Travis Morgan, baby! He don’t die that easily! He gets up and staggers through the blizzard, bleeding like a stuck pig. He finally passes out, but he’s rescued by a naked woman with butterfly wings. He wakes up (naked—there’s nudity for everyone in Skartaris) in a cave and his wounds are completely healed. He wonders if e was found by a witch, but before he can look around too much, a Yeti-looking thing shows up. Morgan goes after it and gets knocked around a bit before realizing the Yeti is the one who saved him. He apologizes, knowing there’s an intelligent being trapped inside the Yeti’s body. He mentions his missing friends and the Yeti points to a tower near the edge of the valley. Morgan heads out to rescue his friends, leaving the Yeti all sad and alone in the cave. Morgan wastes a guard and climbs up to the tower. He finds Machiste and Mariah at some weird Bacchanalian ritual and swings in like Tarzan to rescue them. But there are too many barbarians and Morgan is about to be overwhelmed when the Yeti jumps in to help him. The barbarians freak out and the Yeti kicks the shit out of them and grabs Morgan. Machiste and Mariah think it’s trying to kill him, so Machiste throws a spear into its back. Morgan freaks and gives Machiste shit, but the hot butterfly woman rises up out of the Yeti’s corpse. She says she was imprisoned in the body of the beast while practicing necromancy and couldn’t get out until someone came along who could see through the beastly exterior. She thanks Morgan, slips him some tongue, and takes off. Mariah wants an explanation, but Morgan says they need to get out of there first. We’ll see where they end up next issue.
- Morgan, Machiste, and Mariah are wearing green cloaks of some kind, but I have no idea where they came from. They didn’t have them last issue … maybe they’re from the remains of the crashed gliders?
- Cloak or not, Mariah has got to be absolutely frozen in that outfit.
- Yeah, so this was basically a gender-swapped Beauty and the Beast. There’s nothing wrong with that, but they could’ve just made the snowbeast an intelligent, caring creature without saying there was someone hot trapped inside.
- Grell’s art is still amazing.