This one continues from last issue, with Superman down for the count thanks to a brain-blast from Atomic Skull (aka Albert Michaels) and about to get wasted by Titano the Super Ape and his kryptonite vision. Jenet Klyburn (of STAR Labs) is free, but can’t do anything to save the Man of Steel. Luckily for him he was just faking unconsciousness and manages to evade Titano’s green-K vision. Supes wraps a lead pipe around Titano’s eyes to block the deadly rays and we get a quick recap of last issue. Superman stops Atomic Skull from summoning reinforcements, but gets brain-blasted again. Supes uses his cape to direct the brain-blast back at Michaels, knocking him out. Titano suddenly stops struggling and turns docile, which suggests a connection to Michaels being unconscious though Superman doesn’t notice it yet. He decides to deal with Titano, so he flies to a mine and extracts a pile of galena ore, fashions it into a lead spaceship, and launches the ship to intercept Michaels’s rocket. When both rockets explodes, the lead from Superman’s rocket covers the green-K dust in the atmosphere. Back at the launch base, Michaels has been faking unconsciousness and sends Titano after Superman, revealing that he can control the ape telepathically. Superman ruminates about Titano and we get a recap of his first appearance. He was a normal chimp being exploited on some TV show when he was taken to be a rocket test subject. His rocket ran into a combination of uranium and kryptonite, which grew him to giant size and gave him green-K vision. Lois managed to trick him into wearing lead glasses and Superman took him to a planet populated by giant apes. As Superman reminisces, he’s attacked by Titano’s green-K vision, then punched out. Superman realizes he’s weaker than usual, which means his “lead in the atmosphere” trick didn’t completely neutralize the green kryptonite floating around up there. At WGBS, the Titano story is breaking, but Lana sends Lois to the wrong place because she wants to cover it herself. She tells her cameraman that she still wants to bang Superman, and she again suspects Clark of being Superman. So if she goes after Clark, she figures he’ll appreciate her attention more than if she made a play for Superman. Yeah, I’m not sure it makes sense either. Anyway, Superman finally figures out that Michaels is controlling Titano (via an implant), but gets pounded before he can do anything about it. I guess the green-K in the atmosphere really is weakening him. The WGBS chopper shows up and Lois climbs down a rope ladder to get Titano’s attention. I guess Lois is like his Fay Wray, because he calms down immediately. But of course, this isn’t really Lois, it’s Lana in disguise, and when it starts raining and her makeup and hair dye are washed away, Titano gets pissed off. Superman wakes up just in time to catch Lana, then he flies back to the launch base and decks Michaels, telling Dr. Klyburn to knock him out if he wakes up again. Michaels being unconscious turns Titano into his old (though still huge) docile self, so Superman uses a giant marionette of a cameraman (!) to make Titano think he’s still a TV star. Supes leads him into a cage and plans to take him back to the giant ape planet. But first, Superman uses the Supermobile (which is now lead-shielded) to suck up all the kryptonite dust in the atmosphere. As he’s doing that, we see a shadowy figure watching on a monitor saying that in five minutes, he’s going to use a “sonic synapse-disruptor” on Superman, which will make the Man of Steel his slave. We’ll have to wait until next issue to see what happens with that.
- I’m not sure why Dr. Klyburn didn’t knock Michaels out once she knew he was controlling Titano.
- I’m not sure why Lana tells her deepest secrets to her cameraman, except as exposition for the readers.
- Lana’s whole thing about wanting to “snare” Superman as a husband isn’t exactly a step forward for feminism. Even the cameraman thinks she’s “old-fashioned”.
- Lana really hangs off the helicopter’s rope ladder; I hope she has good insurance.
- When Superman catches Lana, it looks like he cops a feel.
As you can probably guess from the title (and the “Daily Star” building on the cover) this is an Earth-2 story. It takes place sometime in the past, before Superman had the greying hair he sports in All-Star Comics. A bunch of robots commit a robbery in Metropolis and Superman shows up to pound them. He’s being watched by a guy who looks like he escaped from a Flash Gordon serial, named Colonel Future. Col. Future is the one who sent the robots and he’s getting pissed off that Superman keeps screwing up his plans. Superman returns to the Daily Star and changes to Clark Kent in a supply closet. We see Lois retrieving a camera from the closet, but the film is ruined, almost as if it’s been exposed to x-rays. Lois figures Clark spotted the camera and exposed the film with his x-ray vision. Elsewhere, Col. Future has his men bring in the JSA’s old foe, the Wizard. He says he’ll give Wizard a valuable wand if Wizard makes Superman disappear; Wizard agrees. Next day, Clark pushes Lois out of the way of a concussion beam from some of Col. Future’s men (which makes Lois even more suspicious) and changes to Superman. As he’s dealing with the gang, Wizard uses his powers to bring Superman to him and then makes him disappear in a puff of smoke. Wizard leaves and we see Clark Kent rise out of the ground where Superman disappeared. Over the next few weeks, Superman is missing but Clark Kent becomes a two-fisted, crusading reporter, doing his best to bring Col. Future to justice. He also starts dating Lois and ends up proposing to her. They get married and while they’re on their honeymoon, some of Future’s men show up and blast Clark. Since he still has his powers (but doesn’t remember having them) the bullets are ineffectual and the crooks think something is wrong with the gun, so they leave. Lois saw the whole thing ad freaks out, expecting Clark to be eviscerated, but he didn’t even feel it. Lois’s suspicions about Clark come back and she tries to cut his hair while he’s sleeping, which breaks the scissors. She realizes Clark is Superman, but has no memory of it. Lois does some research on all te people claiming to have gotten rid of Superman and figures Wizard is the most credible, so she tracks him down. He’s a derelict, having fallen in the world since nobody believed his claims of making Superman disappear. His self-confidence is shot to hell, which makes his magic not work properly. Lois says he can prove his tale by bringing Superman back and he agrees. Lois figures her marriage will be over, but she knows the world needs Superman, so she organizes a big press conference and Wizard does his magic. Clark Kent disappears from his bed and Superman rises up through the ground, proving Wizard was telling the truth all along. Superman shows his gratitude by decking Wizard and throwing him in jail. He finds Lois packing her stuff and says he wants to stay married to her, but he wants to make it really count. He takes her to his secret hideout (which isn’t the Fortress of Solitude, it’s just some cave or something) and marries her again, this time in the traditional Kryptonian manner. So, that’s how Earth-2 Superman and Lois got together. There’s going to be a “Mr. & Mrs. Superman” back-up series in Superman starting in a few months, but I probably won’t bother reviewing that since it’s Earth-2 stuff and has no real impact on the main story.
- There’s an Earth-1 character named Colonel Future, who wore a purple and white costume, but I don’t think there’s any connection between him and the villain in this issue besides the name.
- I’m not sure how the whole “has super powers but doesn’t remember them” thing would work. Wouldn’t he inadvertently use them? Like when he punches someone, or when he tries to lift something heavy, or even when he’s plowing Lois … wouldn’t his super strength still be there, even if he’s not aware of it?
- I’m not sure how Lois found Wizard when he’s living on a park bench.
- The Col. Future storyline isn’t really resolved; we see Future freaking out when Superman comes back, but we don’t see him getting his ass kicked.
This issue and the next two are written by David Michelinie. They’re the only ones in the entire run not written by Michael Fleisher. I’m not sure why Michelinie wrote these; maybe Fleisher was on vacation or something. Anyway, this issue continues not long after last ish, with Hex on a train coming back from Louisiana after his adventure in the bayous. He lost his guns in that debacle, so his holsters are empty. As the train passes through Oklahoma Territory, somebody blows up the railway track. The train stops before wrecking, but everyone is freaking out. A couple of passengers decide to take advantage of he panic and start robbing people. When they get rough with a woman (and her snotty husband) Hex stands up to them and blows them both away. Seems he brought along the old man’s shotgun from last issue to replace his missing pistols. In a nearby town, Hex runs into a kid who stole some bread and spends half the money he has left (which isn’t much) to pay for the bread so the kid won’t get in shit. He spends the rest of his money on booze, but soon meets a guy named Gittes who works for the Pinkerton Agency. Hex figures Gittes is going to collect the bounty on his head (from the double murder Hex was set up for back in issue #4), but Gittes says whoever kills Jonah Hex will have a target on his own back, so he can’t be bothered. Gittes tells Hex whoever blew up the railway tracks has been doing it regularly and he was sent to hunt them down. He offers to split the reward ($5000) with Hex if he helps bring in the saboteurs. Gittes is kind of a dick, but Hex needs the money so he goes back to the scene of the crime and starts tracking the saboteurs. He ends up at a ranch where he meets a suspicious guy with a rifle named Roy Cooper. Before he can ventilate Hex, his son Billy comes out and says Hex is the one who bought the bread for him earlier. Hex is invited in for supper and Cooper bitches about how the railway screwed up his land and put him out of a job (he used to drive cattle to the railheads, but now cattle are shipped in boxcars). Hex realizes Cooper and Billy are the saboteurs, so he follows them later as they prepare to plant more explosives. Hex gets the drop on them, but Gittes shows up and says he’s going to collect the rewards for all of them, Hex included. He says he’ll blame Hex’s death on Cooper so he doesn’t have to worry about watching his back. Hex’s feet are manacled, but Billy tries to light some dynamite and toss it at Gittes. Gittes shoots Billy, who falls off a cliff where the dynamite blasts some rocks onto the tracks. Gittes shoots Billy’s dad too and Hex tries to jump him but gets conked on the head. Cooper gets up long enough to knock Gittes out, then keels over dead. When Gittes wakes up, he’s manacled to the railway tracks. Hex says Gittes is going to serve as a warning about the rocks on the track, as the engineer will surely stop the train to see “what the big bump wuz”. Ah, poetic justice.
- Whoever was blowing up the railway tracks never tried to rob the trains, which was a pretty good clue that they weren’t run-of-the-mill thieves.
- Cooper just wants to cause the railway financial damage, he doesn’t want anyone to get hurt. He makes sure to plant the dynamite so the trains have time to stop.