This one starts with that idiotic story device where we see a scene then learn what led up to it in a flashback. Pretty much this entire issue is a flashback, which might be a new record. Anyway, we start with Superman signing autographs in front of the UBC Building and learn that Supes has signed an exclusive (and lucrative) contract with UBC to appear on air. Lois, Lana, Perry White, and Morgan Edge are nearby, upset that Superman seems to be selling out, especially to UBC. Lana points out that if Superman signed with WGBS, none of them would be bitching about it. She then prepares to interview Superman about his new “job”. This is where the flashback starts. You’ll remember last issue Superman had defeated Atomic Skull, turned Titano back into a docile (if oversized) chimp, and sucked up all the kryptonite dust put into the atmosphere by SKULL’s rocket. In the last panel, a shadowy figure was boasting that he would use a sonic synapse disruptor on Superman. As the flashback starts, we don’t see the shadowy guy, just Superman returning from space in his Supermobile. Supes then experiences a twelve-minute time skip that he can’t explain, so he heads for the Fortress of Solitude to give himself a medical checkup. At SKULL’s launch facility, Jenet Klyburn is still standing guard over the unconscious Atomic Skull, when his SKULL minions show up to rescue him. Dr. Klyburn almost gets blasted, but Superman shows up just in time. He pounds the SKULL guys, but suddenly freaks out and starts carving an anti-violence diatribe against WGBS into the floor of the room. The SKULL agents take off in their ship and Superman comes to his senses, wondering what just happened. Klyburn fills him in and he chases the SKULL ship. He’s afraid they might still have some kryptonite, so he uses a rocket to pound the ship into the ocean (where the kryptonite will sink) and fashions forceps to pluck the SKULL agents from the water. He takes the SKULL agents to jail and returns to Klyburn, who tells him his blackouts must be some kind of fugue state, where he’s doing stuff (like carving the screed against WGBS) but isn’t aware of it can’t remember any of it afterwards. We see more of his fugue-state handiwork as Lana sees some glowing skywriting, which badmouths WGBS again. Lois gives Lana shit for sending her on a false trail last issue and says Superman gave her a ring, so Lana’s wasting her time. It’s not exactly an engagement ring, but Lana’s still hut and tells Lois she should’ve checked her sources on the story instead of rushing off blindly. Superman and Dr. Klyburn return Titano to the distant planet where Superman exiled him using a device Supes found on the SKULL ship. Klyburn has never seen it before, which surprises Superman, as he’d assumed it was something Albert (Atomic Skull) Michaels stole from STAR. After dropping Klyburn off, Superman has another fugue episode and wakes up next to a cliff with insults about Morgan Edge burned into the rock. He drops the teleporter doohickey at home and heads to work, where he finds that Superman used the Supermobile to do the skywriting the previous night, right when Superman had his first blackout. Jimmy comes in saying Superman has signed an exclusive contract to appear on UBC, which Clark doesn’t remember doing. Superman breaks into the UBC Building and goes through the files, finding a contract with his signature on it. He’s attacked by a giant black fist that seems to be made of sand or something. That finally tips him off as to who’s behind everything, though I’m sure most of you figured it out a long time ago. He smashes the black fist into dust, but Peter Silverstone (UBC’s resident inventor) says his career depends on making Superman his slave. The particles reform into Blackrock, who knocks Superman out. That takes us back to the beginning of the story, where Lana is interviewing Superman. He tells her he’s not only going to appear on air at UBC, he’s going to reveal his secret identity on live TV! We’ll have to see what happens with that next issue.
- I’m surprised it took so long to figure out UBC was behind everything. Superman knows they’re unethical, and the constant slams against WGBS and Morgan Edge should’ve been a huge tip-off. And as soon as he knew UBC was behind it, his first thought should’ve been Blackrock; even I could figure that out, and I’m not even all that familiar with Blackrock.
This is a partial reprint of Superman #233, the issue that removed all the kryptonite from Earth by turning it into iron. There’s a framing sequence that starts with Superman flying to meet Professor Bolden (the guy who changed the green K to iron years ago), but Supes gets hit by a beam and lights on fire. We see a couple of thugs using a projector made of “k-iron”, which is iron that used to be green kryptonite. The k-iron is so volatile that merely holding a match to the metal made it blast Superman with a superheated beam. The flaming hero angles his fall so he hits a lake, which puts out the fire but burns off all the lake’s water as steam. Superman seems to be unconscious, so the thugs prepare to finish him off by using a blowtorch on the k-iron. As Superman lies there, his mind goes back to the earlier story. I won’t go into depth since it’s a reprint, but in a nutshell: Professor Bolden accidentally turns all the kryptonite on Earth to iron, Superman foils the sabotage of a rocket, and Clark starts working as a newscaster for WGBS. In the present, Superman comes to just in time to avoid being burnt to a crisp. He uses his super breath to cover the thugs in sediment from the lake bed and take the k-iron projector away from them. He returns the projector to Professor Bolden and tells him of the potentially deadly side effects. Bolden says he’ll keep doing research. (He was apparently trying to solve the energy crisis.) There’s nothing really spectacular about this story, except a funny sequence when Superman freaks out a crook by chowing down on some “green K” (which has been turned to iron). Also, Lois’s 1971 dress is pretty hot.
This is a new series (obviously) that I basically think of as Superman Team-Up, since Supes teams up with a different guest star in every issue. Of all the new comics introduced just before the DC Implosion, I think this one lasted the longest, right up to the Crisis in 1986. I’m not sure why this one was kept when so many others were cancelled; maybe it had something to do with the Superman movie that came out in late 1978. They probably wanted to feature Superman in as many comics as possible. Anyway, this one starts with Superman investigating a spaceship that’s landed in a small town called Rosemont. The ship is empty, but it’s enveloped by a strange ray that causes vibrations so intense even Superman is shaken. The vibration ray seems to come from outer space and soon destroys the spaceship. Meanwhile, Flash is approaching Rosemont at super speed, checking on the UFO sighting. By the time he arrives, the vibration ray is sweeping through the town, making buildings and other objects disappear. Superman and Flash figure the ray must be vibrating stuff into another dimension, so Supes saves the townspeople while Flash tries to counter the ray by running around the town and setting up a counter-vibration. Superman uses his cape to block the ray and follows it into space, where he finds two starships blasting at each other. One of the ships has similar lines to the destroyed craft down below and Superman’s vision tells him the ships are organic—they’re actually made of living cells. In Rosemont, Flash is hit by a different ray and pulled into space inside an unbreakable bubble. Superman saves one of the organic ships from being blown away, but he has to hang back when he sees the attacking ship has captured Flash. A pink-skinned alien addresses him and says he’s sorry but what he’s doing is to preserve the universe. Superman is distracted and is grabbed in another bubble. Just before he passes out, he sees the two ships dock together. Supes wakes up in a force cage and meets his captors. One, a short, ugly-looking dude, is called Islayn and his people are the Volkir. The tall, pink-skinned guy is Aylem, leader of the Zelkot. Superman sees Flash nearby, but he’s in a cage that automatically gets denser as soon as he tries to vibrate through it. Superman’s cage is made of Q-Energy, which renders him powerless. Aylem says the Zelkot and Volkir are mortal enemies who both evolved from a single race, but have been fighting for eons. The Zelkot want to end the feud (since neither side even remembers what the fight was about in the first place), but the Volkir want to keep fighting. The Zelkot came to Earth to find a way to stop the fight and they didn’t mean to do any harm; They’ve been tracking a Zelkot revolutionary called Iylar who was sent to Earth to stop the fighting, which is why Islayn tried to blow him up, but his vibration ray got away from him. They say Superman and Flash are the only two people who could stay in the way of their plans, so they must be executed. Supes gives Flash a hint on how to get out of his cage (just vibrate slowly through the bars instead of trying too hard … or something. It doesn’t really make sense). Flash gets out and frees Superman, who decks the aliens. But Aylem has a crew who hold the heroes at gunpoint. The aliens say they want Flash to help them. They explain that time is cyclical, so Iylar was sent forward in time (Zelkot can only travel forward in time, not backward) so he can pass through the “cosmic curtain” at the end of time and loop back around from the beginning to when the civil war started, then he can prevent it from happening in the first place. But the Volkir have set booby traps for Iylar, so the Zelkot want Flash to make sure he gets past them. They threaten to use the vibration ray to slaughter people on Earth, so Flash agrees to help them. The Zelkot give Flash a bracelet to monitor his progress (i.e. to spy on him) and say if Iylar fails to prevent the civil war, Earth is doomed. Flash goes back to Earth and starts running in place and zipping through the centuries. In the 25th Century, Flash runs into something—or someone—that stops him. Back in the present, Superman is “rescued” by a Volkir crew, who want him to be their champion and go into the future to prevent Iylar carrying out his mission. Superman isn’t inclined to do something that might get Earth blown away (nor to help perpetuate a war), but the Volkir tell him their ancestors settled Krypton ages ago, so if the civil war never happens, Krypton will never be settled and Superman will cease to exist. Faced with that, Supes agrees to stop Iylar. The Volkir give him a tracking bracelet and say only one person can penetrate the cosmic curtain and then it closes really fast, so Superman has to hurry. In the 25th Century, Flash realizes he’s been captured by his old nemesis Professor Zoom, who beats the shit out of him and says he’s going to kill him. We’ll see if he does next issue.
- Pasko never really says where Rosemont is; he just refers to it as a “middle-American town”.
- There’s a sign in Rosemont that says Metropolis is 322 miles one way and Central City is 102 miles the other way. I’m not sure about that; as far as I can tell, Central City is in the middle of the country, somewhere near Kansas City, while Metropolis is on the East Coast (possibly Delaware). From Washington, D.C. To Kansas City is a little over 1000 miles, so there’s no way Metropolis and Central City are only 424 miles apart. Unless Metropolis was set in southern Illinois at this point, like the real Metropolis … but it’s always been depicted as a coastal city, so I doubt it.
- Another sign says Rosemont has a population of 575, but it seems pretty big (and has a lot of businesses) for a town that size. Speaking as someone who’s from a town that small, I think they should add a zero to the population figure to make it fit with the place depicted in the art.
- The Zelkot claim their species was on Earth millions of years ago and when they left, their exhaust left behind the building blocks for life. He also claims his race were the first settlers on Krypton. I don’t think either of those “origins of species” is ever mentioned again.
- The idea that time is circular was mentioned in the Legion of Super-Heroes story where they fought Infinite Man. I have no idea if this story is meant to play off that one or if it’s just a coincidence. I’m not sure if the idea of circular time was ever made canon in the DCU, but I suspect not. Too bad; it’s kind of a cool idea.
- It’s said Flash doesn’t need a cosmic treadmill to travel through time since he’s not trying to pinpoint an exact moment.