Last issue, Superman and Superboy both tried to travel through time and ran into the same weird time-storm which caused them to switch minds and be catapulted back to their respective times. So now Superboy’s mind is in Superman’s adult body in the present, while Superman’s mind is in Superboy’s teenage body about fifteen years in the past. (That part of the story was told in concurrent issues of Superboy, which I don’t have and won’t be reviewing.) Superboy—I’ll be referring to him as Superboy all through this review, but remember it’s Superboy’s mind in Superman’s adult body—heads to Smallville to see what’s happened there in the last decade or so. After saving a guy and his kid from a bear (coincidentally a guy he just remembers saving from a snake as Superboy in the past), he heads to his parents’ house. After changing to Clark Kent, he runs into Chief Parker, who looks after the house now, and learns his parents are dead. I’m surprised he didn’t glean that information from Clark’s scrapbooks. In Metropolis, some punk on a motorbike is spray-painting posters of Superman and wishing he had the power to stand up to the superhero. He passes by the taxi taking Euphor (the New-Agey goofball who can remove negative emotions from people) to his interview at WGBS. Suddenly, the guy’s bike starts flying and he finds himself clad in a costume that looks like a cross between Wildfire and a Shogun Warrior. He’s not sure what’s happening, but decides to just go with it. At WGBS, Lois and Jimmy are discussing Superman’s weird behaviour of late. Euphor shows up and offers to remove Lois’s negative feelings, but she says she prefers to work things through on her own. Euphor does his interview with Lana and uses his power right over the airwaves, removing negative feelings from viewers all over the city. The studio is flooded with calls and Lana pronounces Euphor a genuine miracle worker. At Clark’s apartment, Superboy is crying over his dead parents when he realizes someone is running amok downtown. It’s the newly-costumed weirdo on the flying motorcycle, destroying a statue of Superman. He doesn’t do quite so well against the real thing; Superboy slaps him down pretty quick and the guy tells him he doesn’t know how he suddenly gained super-powers and a flying bike. At WGBS, Lois is telling Lana about her problems with Superman and Lana says she needs to be patient, since Superman has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Lana asks Clark to dinner again (which Superboy’s teenage mind thinks is rather forward of her), leaving Lois to wish she and Superman could be so at ease with each other. Clark reports on the biker’s sudden transformation and Euphor is watching the broadcast. Euphor figures the biker must’ve come close to him earlier that day and absorbed some of the residual energy he’s been siphoning from people when he drains their negative feelings. Euphor decides it’s time for him to move to the next step of his plan. He runs an ad in the Daily Planet inviting everyone who hates Superman to attend a rally in Metro Park that night. Perry sends Lois to cover the event. Meanwhile, Superboy saves the space shuttle by replacing some heat-proof tiles on the hull, then heads to Lana’s place. The sight of her lounging around in a bikini gets him all worked up and he tries to put the moves on her, but Lana rejects him, (and almost breaks her hand slapping him). She tells “Superman” that Lois loves him completely and that he’s an asshole to try and cheat on her. Superboy flies off, hoping Clark gets a better reception later on his date with Lana. In the park, a small group of people have shown up who hate Superman. Euphor (who’s wearing a costume but not a mask, so I guess he’s not trying to hide his identity) picks three of them and uses the negative energy he siphons from the crowd (including Lois, who resents the way Superman’s been treating her lately) to transform them into villainous archetypes … a Flash Gordon reject, a robot, and something from the Monster Manual II. Superboy sees the disturbance and comes to investigate. The three transformed people attack him, but they can’t hurt him. He lures them into expending too much energy, but instead of turning human again, they dissipate into pure energy and float away. Euphor isn’t too concerned; he picks another person from the crowd who has strong negative feelings toward Superman … Lois Lane! Yup, Lois has been transformed into a pissed-off she-devil, and Superboy can’t fight her without risking her dissolving into pure energy like the others. We’ll see how he resolves this dilemma next issue.
Last issue, Superman came closer to reuniting his two halves, which had been split by evil magic-user Lord Satanis. The half of Superman that had been stuck in the future traveled back in time, only to find Satanis had projected his consciousness into Superman’s other half, using his invulnerable body to get rid of his rival (and ex-wife) Syrene. Superman confronts Satanis, but since the sorcerer is using the other half of Supes’ body, he can’t make much headway. Satanis’s magic gives him an edge, since Superman is vulnerable to it. In the present, Lois and Lana get into a bitchy catfight about Lana’s intentions toward Clark. Lana reminds Lois that her relationships are none of Lois’s business, but says she prefers a stable relationship to one with somebody who’s always taking off to save the world (like Superman). Jimmy asks Lois why she’s being such an asshole to Lana and Lois says she resents Lana waltzing in and getting the WGBS anchor job with no experience and acting all “continental” just because she lived in Europe for a while. Jimmy reminds Lois that Lana did have previous TV experience and she dropped her European schtick a while ago, so something else is obviously bugging Lois. In the past, Satanis tries to crush Superman with some magic tendrils, but the part of Superman’s consciousness that’s buried in the body Satanis is using tries to fight back. That consciousness forces Satanis to conjure a monster and Satanis has to blast it to get rid of it. That allows Superman to escape and come after Satanis, who decides he can’t fully concentrate while half of Superman’s mind is distracting him, so he leaves Superman’s body and reconstitutes his own. The two halves of Superman team up and play off each other to keep Satanis off balance. He summons giant crabs but the two Men of steel defeat the creatures. When the two Supermen touch, a dark copy of Superman, a being of evil created when Satanis took over Superman’s body, rises from them and attacks Satanis. He destroys it, but the two Supermen merge back into one and attack. Satanis is weak from fighting the demon-creature and Superman moves too fast for him to land a killing strike. Finally Superman decides to end it, flying straight at Satanis, who can’t understand how his mystic bolts go straight through Superman’s body. Superman decks Satanis, who disappears into the distant past. Superman is catapulted back to the present and we learn he avoided Satanis’s magic bolts by phasing back and forth in time. He also mentions that Syrene isn’t really dead; he somehow caused Satanis to send her back in time instead of killing her, when Satanis was using Superman’s body. So I guess Syrene will be waiting to kick Satanis’s ass in the distant past. Clark goes to WGBS, where he gets a big smooch from Lana and another dinner invitation. Lois looks pretty pissed off, so I’d say her problem with Lana is simple jealousy, which seems a bit weird since Lois is dating Superman. I guess some people are never satisfied.
- There’s an interlude with a guy being hired at WGBS; his name is Moore but we can’t see his face. Obviously it’s setting up some story to come.
This one starts with Superman saving a falling plane, losing his powers, and getting crushed to death. Well, I guess that’s it, no more Superman. Oh wait, it turns out it was just a Superman robot. The real Superman was running an experiment with gold kryptonite (which removes the powers from Kryptonians), so he used the robot to simulate his own physiological reactions. Superman has an “eerie feeling” that he almost lost his powers to gold kryptonite once before. (I believe that eerie feeling is called a “plot device”.) He travels back in time to when he was Superboy, delivering some papers to the district attorney in Brooklyn, New York. Since two versions of the same person can’t exist at the same time, the Superman from the present is just an incorporeal astral presence in the past, able to observe but nothing else. He watches as his younger self sees Air Wave (who he didn’t recognize at the time) zip by and decides to follow him, thinking he might be a villain. Air Wave is a good guy though and stops a robbery at a high-tech lab. When Superboy tries to help, Air Wave tells him to get lost and he does. But Superman now notices that there was a sample of gold kryptonite in the lab, so if Air Wave hadn’t been such a dick, Superman’s career might have been over before it had really started. Supes wonders about Air Wave, so he checks in on various points of his life while heading back to the present, which gives us a convenient look at Air Wave’s career. His real name was Larry Jordan (cousin of Green Lantern Hal Jordan); he married and had a kid (also named Hal) and ended up getting shot by crooks. Hal took over the Air Wave identity, gained super-powers, and moved to Texas. When he gets back to the present, Superman buries the gold kryptonite sample he used in his experiment deep under the Arctic ice, then heads down to Texas to look up young Hal Jordan. Hal is thrilled to see Superman, but mentions that he recently lost his powers and wonders if his special helmet might be malfunctioning. Superman checks the helmet and finds nothing wrong. Turns out Air Wave’s powers are back and he tells Superman how he lost them. Hal and his girlfriend Karen (who knows he’s Air Wave, but Hal doesn’t know that she knows, you know?) were at some train exhibit when a weirdo named Casey Jones busted in to steal a gold train. He ended up draining Air Wave’s powers, which makes Superman think of one of his old foes. Yup, it’s Parasite, who we see hanging out with Casey Jones in a crappy apartment. Apparently Parasite has honed his control so that he can steal specific amounts of power, transfer them to others, and even return them afterwards. Casey wants to get Air Wave’s powers permanently and Parasite says he’ll consider it, but first he wants to take care of Superman. A news report mentions Superman is in Dallas and Parasite assumes he’s there looking for him, so he screams out a challenge to the Man of Steel. Air Wave is ready for a fight, but superman says they have to have a plan first. Superman heads for Parasite’s hideout and is surprised when Parasite starts draining his powers from a distance. Parasite pulls Superman to the hideout and starts slapping him around. He keeps toying with him, taking him to a football stadium (which I’m assuming is Texas Stadium) and knocks him around in front of the crowd. Superman signals Air Wave, who zooms up to the Arctic to retrieve something while Superman continues to get pummeled. Parasite has Superman down when Air Wave shows up, opens the box he’s carrying for a few seconds then flies away. Of course, the box contains the gold kryptonite that Superman buried earlier, so when Supes punches Parasite this time, he knocks him right on his ass. Air Wave wonders if the gold kryptonite will take Parasite’s powers away for good, but Superman doesn’t think so. Supes takes Air Wave into the past so he can see his father fighting the crooks at the lab and (inadvertently) saving Superboy from the gold kryptonite that was stored there. Superman says young Hal saving him today was like history repeating itself.
- This story obviously takes place on Earth-1, and apparently the historical part does too, since it involves Superboy. But Air Wave was originally an Earth-2 hero; he was a member of the All-Star Squadron during the war. I guess he must’ve moved to Earth-1 at some point and gotten married, although that doesn’t explain how he could be related to Green lantern Hal Jordan, who’s always been on Earth-1. Maybe Larry Jordan was born on Earth-1, moved to Earth-2 for a while (when he first became Air Wave), then moved back again? This makes way more sense post-Crisis, since everyone is on the same Earth.
This one starts in Wizard World, in Skartaris’s distant past. Travis Morgan’s daughter (Jennifer) is using her magic to probe Rostov’s psyche and determine how deep his curse of lycanthropy runs. He almost eviscerates her before she changes him back, but she learns what she needs. Jennifer says in order to cure Rostov they have to understand how his curse came to be. She uses a crystal Mongo had lying around to look into the past, giving us an extended flashback. The story begins in Russia, in 1899, where a Cossack named Mikhail Rostov runs into a camp of Romany and immediately falls for a woman named Gitana. Gitana is quite taken with Mikhail too, but she already has a man who challenges Mikhail for her hand. Mikhail wins and he and Gitana get married and start banging like crazy. While out hunting, one of the dead suitor’s relatives shoots Mikhail, who rides back to camp half-dead. Gitana uses her Romany magic to heal him, pulling him back from the brink of death, but such spells always carry a price. When Gitana gave birth to twins the following year, one (a girl) was normal, but the boy was born with a white streak of hair on his forehead and fangs. Mikhail knew they had to get rid of the cursed child, so he took the boy out in a snowstorm and jumped off a cliff with him, hoping to end the blood curse then and there. But the girl carried the curse (which Jennifer refers to as a chromosomal imbalance) of lycanthropy, so when she married and has a son it was passed on to him. Rostov is that son. We’ll have to wait until next issue to see if Rostov gets cured.
Barren Earth – “The City in the Sands” – Gary Cohn/Ron Randall
Last time, Jinal (sole survivor of an expedition to re-establish contact with Earth bases after hundreds of years) was saved by a guy named Skinner, who dresses like the reptoid inhabitants of the desert and seems to be pretty adept at surviving in the unforgiving environment. Skinner says he’ll take Jinal to the city where he stays, but she starts getting worried when Skinner seems to have no clue what’s going on. He doesn’t know who the Qlov are (aliens that humanity has been fighting for millennia) and when she asks about the garrisons he doesn’t know what she’s talking about. They’re interrupted by a giant badger that flips their skimmer and chases them into a cave. Jinal finds some underground caverns and Skinner pretends he knew they were there all along. While making their way through the caverns, they stumble upon something fascinating, but we don’t get to see what it is. Eventually, they find an exit and walk the rest of the way to the city. The cities were originally spaceports serving the garrisons, but Jinal first look at this one is disappointing; it’s a complete shambles. Jinal gives Skinner shit for letting the place get so decrepit (since the bases were supposed to be kept in combat readiness until further orders), but Skinner has no clue what she’s talking about … although he points out they’ve done their best to keep things functional. He takes Jinal to meet the Council at the top of the tallest tower in the city (no functioning elevator, of course). The Council aren’t impressed that Skinner lost his transportation and came back empty-handed. He introduces Jinal, saying she’s a hell of a fighter and that she should become a citizen, but the Council aren’t enthusiastic … especially one particular woman, a snotty brunette. Before they can discuss it further, there’s an alarm and they realize the whole city is about to be attacked by the reptilian humanoids they call Lizards.