This one starts with Josh Coyle, news director at WBGS, almost having a heart attack when Clark Kent shows up on time for his news broadcast. it’s kind of a running joke that Clark is always late—or absent—which has given Josh ulcers, so he almost can’t believe Clark’s there on time for once. This broadcast is special because it covers Lana Lang’s assignment in Egypt that’s been building over the last few issues. Lana held a joint interview with the leaders of Egypt and Israel, which was supposed to be an icebreaker between the two sides. Apparently it led to some sort of rapprochement, because now there’s a full-fledged peace conference taking place involving half-a-dozen other world leaders. Before they can start the live news broadcast, some weirdo shows up out of nowhere. Clark disappears (no doubt giving Josh another ulcer) and changes to Superman to zoom across the ocean. He arrives in Egypt to see that the interloper has taken eight world leaders hostage. The aggressor (who Lana describes as a “real nutsy coo-coo”) introduces himself as the Planeteer and claims to be the reincarnation of Alexander the Great. Planeteer figures he can take up where Alexander left off and conquer the world. Superman points out how things are different now, but Planeteer says might makes right, no matter how much time has passed. Planeteer has plenty of might, as Superman finds out when he tries to free the world leaders from their force cage. He can’t even dent it, so he knocks Planeteer on his ass instead. He doesn’t stay down for long and after deflecting Superman’s heat vision, he encases the Man of Steel in another force field that not even his great strength can throw off. Planeteer lets Superman go but vanishes with all the world leaders. Superman criss-crosses the globe looking for Planeteer and his hostages, but with no luck. Some TV reporters are questioning Superman’s effectiveness (or his commitment), which pisses Lana off. Meanwhile, Jimmy Olsen has been on assignment so he has no idea what’s happened with the world leaders. Jimmy has been watching a warehouse for the last fourteen hours and finally decides to call Superman to look inside with his x-ray vision. Superman is kinda pissed off that Jimmy would call him for something so stupid, but he changes his tune when he notices the logo on the warehouse is the same one Planeteer had on his outfit. Superman busts into the warehouse and finds two of the world leaders inside. Unfortunately, there’s also a strange monster made of animated dirt that attacks Superman. The dirt clumps are stronger than Superman expected and the monster not only coats him from head to toe, but starts grabbing the two politicians as well. Superman notices a giant magnetic machine in the warehouse and smashes it, which dissipates the dirt monster. He realizes Planeteer must’ve tapped into Earth’s magnetic field to gain its power and heads back to his Fortress to construct a compass that’ll help him track the magnetic forces. The compass leads him to the bottom of the North Sea, where two more leaders are stuck in a force cage. Superman takes them to the surface and he’s attacked by sea monsters. He fights the monsters, then notices another magnetic machine on the ocean floor. He blasts it to pieces and the monsters disappear. But the leaders tell him they never saw any monsters, so Superman figures Planeteer must’ve used magnetism to induce some kind of mirage. We see Planeteer watching Superman and he doesn’t seem too concerned that he’s rescued four of the world leaders so far; in fact, Planeteer says his plan is going off perfectly. Back in Metropolis, an older couple turns up at WGBS wanting to see the news anchor … and claiming to be Planeteer’s parents. We’ll see what that’s all about right away in my Action Comics review.
- The world leaders depicted in this story are from various countries: the USA (Ronald Reagan); the UK (Margaret Thatcher); the USSR (Leonid Brezhnev); West Germany (I assume this is meant to be Helmut Schmidt; Helmut Kohl was probably Chancellor by the time this issue came out, but Kohl had glasses and this guy doesn’t); India (I’m assuming this is Indira Gandhi … it doesn’t look exactly like her, but she’s wearing a sari so it’s probably meant to be her); Japan (I guess it’s meant to be Yasuhiro Nakasone, although it’s not an exact likeness); Egypt (Hosni Mubarak); and Israel (Menachem Begin). They were using different names for the Egyptian and Israeli leaders last issue, but the depictions here certainly look like Begin and Mubarak.
- If you’re wondering why the JLA didn’t show up to help, Superman’s telescopic vision revealed that Planeteer had them trapped on their Satellite with another force field.
This one continues from Superman 387 above, with the WGBS anchorman (Walter Conrad, who looks a hell of a lot like Walter Cronkite) getting the Planeteer’s origin story from his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Mason. Their son (named Alex naturally) grew up obsessed with Alexander the Great and became convinced he was the reincarnation of the ancient conqueror. Alex was a brilliant scientist and discovered a way to master Earth’s magnetic forces, which he now wants to use to rule the planet. The Masons go on live TV to appeal to their son to stop being such an asshole, but the entire TV studio starts breaking apart around them. Meanwhile, Superman has tracked two more world leaders (and another magnetic device) to a volcano. Superman has a bit more trouble freeing them this time; he can’t smash the machine without exposing the politicians to the molten lava, and Superman himself catches on fire soon after arriving. While the fire can’t harm him, it would kill the leaders if he gets too close. He realizes the magnetic machine is resisting the lava, so he peels the metal coating off the machine and wraps it around the force cage, allowing him to get the leaders out of the volcano before the magnetic machine melts. Superman finally figures out that Planeteer’s machines are connected to the classical elements—earth, water, and fire—so the remaining one must have something to do with air. He finds he device (and the last two leaders, including Reagan) in a cloud formation over Siberia. But when he tries to grab the machine, it moves away from him before he even touches it. Superman realizes that his exposure to the other magnetic devices has charged his body with magnetism which is now repelling this last device (since like charges repel and opposites attract). Planeteer is watching on his monitors and figures out what’s happened. He’s not happy, since he actually wants Superman to destroy his four devices. Their destruction will apparently increase his power to unbelievable levels. Superman tries various ways of disrupting the magnetic field around the device (an old iron battleship, creating a thunderstorm) but nothing works. He finally figures out that his own presence is creating a disruption in the field, so he sets up a counter-rotation, bombarding the device with magnetic force from his own body. That disrupts the field, destroying the device and freeing the world leaders. It also charges Planeteer with untold power and he immediately broadcasts a threat across the world that he’s going to be taking over. Superman confronts him in Egypt and they start pounding the shit out of each other. Their fight flings them around the world, from Egypt through the Indian Ocean, the Great Wall of China, a redwood forest in California, and a stereotypical British pub. Superman finally knocks Planeteer up to the North Pole, where Planeteer says he’ll give Superman one last shot before obliterating him. But Superman surprises the villain by knocking him out with the flick of a finger. Since Planeteer’s power comes from Earth’s magnetic field, he was powerless at the North Pole since the magnetic field is basically non-existent there (which is why compasses don’t work there). I’m not sure if Earth’s magnetic field actually works like that, but it’s the explanation we got. Superman zooms around the world fixing all the damage from the fight and Lana reports that the peace talks are back on and look promising. And, wonder of wonders, Josh is again stunned when Clark shows up on time for his newscast. (There was no mention of how the authorities would hold the Planeteer after his capture by Superman, so I’m assuming maybe his powers were permanently canceled by being at the North Pole.)
I was never a big OMAC fan, since it was so far removed from the regular DC continuity I found it hard to get interested, but I’m pretty sure I had this issue as a kid and I remember being impressed with the fight scenes. Of course, the Perez art certainly helps. This one starts in the future with OMAC (which stands for One Man Army Corps, in case you were wondering) invading a hidden base belonging to his enemies, Intercorp. He smashes his way through to the control room where some Intercorp scientists have constructed a huge robot that they’re about to send back in time. The robot goes through the time portal and OMAC follows right before the portal blows up. Brother Eye (the satellite intelligence that feeds OMAC power and info) realizes OMAC has disappeared, but has no idea where to. In present day Metropolis, a scumbag named Nick Bravo and his thugs are shooting it out with the cops from inside a liquor store they tried to rob. The future robot (designated Murdermek) pops into the building, scaring the shit out of Bravo and his men. One of them shoots at Murdermek and gets pounded, but the robot quickly scans the others and decides its target isn’t there, so it busts through the wall to leave. The cops figure the robot works for Bravo and try to stop it, but it smashes right through them. Bravo is loving it until he notices Superman showing up. The Man of Steel tries to stop Murdermek, but it’s tougher than it looks and blasts him into a condemned building. Murdermek leaves to find its target, followed by Bravo and his gang. OMAC pops into the store moments later and heads outside to look for the robot. The cops try to stop him and he starts pounding them until a recovered Superman jumps in. They mix it up for a bit before realizing they’re both good guys and finding a quiet place to talk. OMAC tells Superman his origin from the future … basically, he was an ordinary schmo who was picked (unknowingly) to be part of an experiment to gain super-powers from Brother Eye and he ended up becoming OMAC. Now Intercorp has sent a killer robot back in time to waste one of Buddy Blank’s ancestors, insuring he’ll never be born. But OMAC has saved so many people in the future, removing him from the timeline could have catastrophic results. Superman scans the city to look for Murdermek, who has explained his mission to Bravo’s gang and forced them to help him track down Martin Blank, Buddy’s ancestor. Murdermek ends up at Metro Central Station, where he scans various people until he locates Martin Blank. He sends rockets at Blank but Superman shows up in time to protect the hapless victim. He takes Blank to safety above the terminal and tackles the robot, smashing it down into the subway tunnels. Murdermek beats the shit out of Superman, while up top Bravo and his gang try to waste Martin Blank using high-tech flying war-buggies that Murdermek built for them. OMAC shows up and starts trashing the war-buggies … and the guys inside them. Superman finally stops Murdermek by melting a subway car over the robot and flash-freezing him with his super-breath. In the future, Brother Eye has figured out what happened to OMAC and starts remotely rebuilding the destroyed time portal. Murdermek breaks free of its confinement and Superman gives one of his sanctimonious speeches before pounding the robot. His super-punch finally knocks it down and it explodes. He and OMAC congratulate each other and talk to Norman Blank … except it isn’t Norman Blank after all. The guy Murdermek targeted is named Arnold Berkowitz and he’s been tying to tell them all along that they had the wrong guy. Superman is confused and OMAC disappears when Brother Eye finishes reconstructing the time portal in the future. As Superman wonders what the hell just happened, we see the real Norman Blank sweeping up the debris behind him. Yeah, this cleaner was standing behind Arnold Berkowitz when Murdermek scanned him and the robot focused on the wrong guy.
Last issue, a unicorn came through Jennifer Morgan’s magic mirror and infected Shakira with a deadly disease before running off into the wilds of Skartaris. Travis Morgan followed the unicorn, hoping its blood contained some antibodies that might cure Shakira. A warrior named Scarheart also came through the mirror, tracking the unicorn that wiped out his village and killed the woman he loved. Scarheart went after Morgan, thinking he was trying to save the unicorn, and found Morgan about to be devoured by a carnivorous plant. Scarheart is ready to kill Morgan when a weird demon-bird attacks him. Morgan gets loose from the plant and kills the bird and when the plant grabs Morgan again, Scarheart returns the favour by cutting him loose. Even though they don’t share a common language, they agree to track the unicorn together, although Morgan knows Scarheart wants to kill it. They follow its tracks into the forest and notice some smoke. It turns out to be the Kash’baan (who Morgan met in issue 63), who are able to communicate with animals. He explains things to them and they send animals out to search for the unicorn. One of the Kash’baan uses empathic powers to communicate with Scarheart and learns how the unicorn killed his woman and his whole tribe. The animals come back to report the unicorn is stuck in a bog. Morgan, Scarheart, and the Kash’baan empath go to the bog and Morgan tries to pull the unicorn out. But he’s come down with the disease and doesn’t have the strength to get the unicorn out of the mire. Scarheart pushes him aside and puts an arrow through the unicorn’s neck, killing it. Morgan freaks out and decks him, but the empath pulls him off, saying Scarheart was just avenging his people. Morgan wonders how Scarheart survived the destruction of his entire tribe and figures maybe he has a natural immunity to the disease. The empath communicates with Scarheart again and finds out he drank from a sacred pool while chasing the unicorn and felt reinvigorated immediately. They head back to Castle Deimos, where Shakira is getting worse and Jennifer has also caught the disease. Morgan explains things and Jennifer sends him and Scarheart through the mirror to Scarheart’s world. They find the sacred pool and collect some water, but are beset by a gigantic swamp serpent. Morgan doesn’t have time to fuck around, so he fills it full of .44 caliber bullets from his Automag. They bring the water back to Skartaris, curing Jennifer and Shakira, who Scarheart’s kinda taken a shine to. Guess he forgot about that dead girlfriend already. Shakira’s kinda hot for him too, so the two of them decide to leave with the Kash’baan. Morgan says his farewells, but he’s sure he and Shakira will meet again some day.
Barren Earth – “Rescue” – Gary Cohn/Ron Randall
Last issue, Jinal and Renna led a mission to rescue Skinner and another human from the Mulge, a mold-people who live in underground tunnels. They found Skinner and the other guy tied down in a Mulge garden, being infected by the Mulge spores. The rescue party scares the Mulge off with their weapons, but it’s too late for one of the victims. The spores have infested his body completely, so Renna blows him away to keep him from turning into a Mulge. Skinner has some spores on his chest and Jinal thinks Renna’s going to kill him too, but she just burns the spores off with a torch, since they hadn’t invested Skinner’s body yet. The fungal garden starts closing in around them, so Jinal sets her blaster on overload and blows the fungus to shit, clearing a path for them to escape. Back in the city, Jinal and Renna convince the Elders to let the Harahashan heal Skinner, since the lizards are masters of herb lore. Jinal and Renna seem to be getting along okay for once; they even thank each other for help during the fight with the Mulge. They’re called in to see Skinner, who pretends to be in distress so he can grab both women when they get close. Skinner is sure both of them are in love with him, since they risked their lives to save him. They both deny it, but we already know Renna is hot for Skinner … she pretty much admitted it last issue. I’m not sure about Jinal; her boyfriend died not too long ago, and she doesn’t seem to be as interested in Skinner as Renna is … but maybe she’s just better at hiding it.