All posts by Symbifan

Avenging Knight

“Prep time” isn’t always the solution to everything. I just wanted to say that before I started my first article solely about Batman. Why do I say that? Because Batman fanboys the world over have used that answer forever on how the Dark Knight can defeat any character in all of comicdom. But the man is just a man, no matter how skilled. He can be defeated. In fact, he was. The monster called Bane accomplished what had been until then unthinkable. He broke the Bat. Beaten first mentally, and then physically, Bruce Wayne knew that he could no longer function as Gotham’s protector. Not from a wheelchair. Someone else would have to take up his mantle. And for whatever Bruce’s reasons, Azrael was chosen. This is his story….. (Presented in “Batman” #500)

He had been beaten. Defeated by the same beast that had broken the original Batman. Bane. Azrael had underestimated his enemy. He also blamed his loss on the Batman uniform and gadgets. Never again. He would be prepared next time. Not only would he prove himself Bruce Wayne’s equal, but his better. Hours had passed since their fight. And still Jean-Paul Valley, also known as the ex-chosen assassin for the Order of St. Dumas, could feel the sting of failure. (This guy has problems. That’s obvious. Hell, he acts like he was beaten up by a Will Smith slap, and not a guy whose muscles put a WWE wrestler’s to shame!)

Tim Drake, the newest youth to earn the right to be called Robin, entered the Batcave with trepidation. He knew that Jean-Paul didn’t see the need for a Robin. He preferred to work alone. He found the new Dark Knight shirtless and doing one-armed pull-ups in the section of the cave meant for training. He still wore the armored gauntlets of his own design. Tim began by talking about the level of brutality that he was using as the new Batman. Jean-Paul looked at him with a sneer and replied that the ways of the old Batman were outdated and ineffectual. He was fighting for the very soul of Gotham City, not his own. The conversation didn’t last for too much longer after that. Robin left Batman to his training, fearful of the days to come. (At least the Robin outfit has been updated. Can you imagine the old TV show Robin, Burt Ward, having this verbal fight? Holy Soiled Shorts, Batman!)

Jean-Paul barely noticed as the former sidekick left his presence. He let go of the exercise bar and let his mind go blank. He would now let The System take over. The System was a form of training that had been implanted into his brain, starting as a small child, by the Order of St. Dumas. It was meant to make him the perfect killing machine. While he was in this trance, he walked to the table and began to sketch out frightening new blueprints for a new armored suit. Bane was still out there. And he would be prepared next time. After he completed them, he immediately began to forge the new look for the new Dark Knight of Gotham. (I use a form of The System when I write these articles. It’s true! It’s not the combination of caffeine and nicotine keeping me going at all.)

Meanwhile, Bane was preparing himself. He needed the highly-addictive steroid, Venom. It would soothe the pain from the injuries he’d sustained as well as give his already extremely large muscles a boost of power. He located his minions in their prison cell, having been captured by this new, false Batman. Looking down from his hiding place in the police station rafters, he asked where more of the drug could be located. A henchman answered with haste and then quickly asked if Bane was going to free them. He replied that he would not. This pretender was his and his alone. (Azrael and Bane seem so obsessed with one another, I’m waiting for a passionate kiss when they next meet up!)

Robin waited in silence on the Wayne Estate grounds. He didn’t have to wait long before his contact made his presence known. It was Nightwing, the original Robin. Tim told his predecessor of Bruce’s injuries and about his terrifying replacement. Dick asked why he had not been chosen to take up the mantle instead of this Azrael. Tim replied that Nightwing had worked hard to get out from under the shadow of the Batman, to establish himself as his own man. Nightwing took this in and replied that if Bruce had chosen this man, he must’ve had a good reason. He then took his leave. Robin exited the grounds soon after. (Wow! Nightwing sure was alot of help. That was the equivalent of proclaiming, “My feelings aren’t hurt! Yours are!” Followed up by a stuck out tongue and a hasty retreat with tear-filled eyes.)

The scene now shifts to a man behind a large computer system. He rifles through papers for news on what traffic conditions or weather updates he should put on the big screen over the main highway in Gotham. But as he does this, he is unaware of Bane as he approaches from behind! In one swift movement, he picks the man up, snapping his neck! Bane then tosses the corpse aside and takes his seat. He begins to type. Robin enters a now empty Batcave at this exact time. He spies blueprints upon Batman’s desk. Examining them quickly, shock crosses his face! (I bet it’s designs for his new Spring line of casual wear. Y’all didn’t know Batman doubled as a fashion designer, huh? Shows what kind of fans you are.)

Batman soared through the skyline of Gotham City like a bladed nightmare! He tested his new armor and found it pleasing. Finally, he swooped down onto a gargoyle statue. He looked to the large, computerized sign glowing in the stormy weather not too far from his present position. It read: “BATMAN” NOW. So this was it, he thought. The rematch would begin sooner than expected. He welcomed it. Bane had put the word “Batman” in quotations on purpose. He was subtly stating that Jean-Paul was no more than a mere pretender. He would teach Bane just how wrong he was. (I wouldn’t have got the whole quotations thing. I just would have giggled that Bane had screwed up while typing. I’m a pretty big nerd though.)

The police surrounded the building that the aforementioned sign sat atop. Squad cars filled the streets. But just as the officers wondered aloud where the Batman was, his symbol illuminated the streets below. Gotham’s savior had arrived. Batman fired his grapple to the opposite skyscraper and swung. He then dismounted and roared for Bane to show himself. He didn’t have long to wait. Bane crashed through the electrical sign, sending sparks everywhere! Then he dropped to the street below, a parked car breaking his fall! (I wonder if the owner’s car insurance covers “Acts of Bane”?) Batman followed soon after and the two titans squared off while the surrounding police officers stood transfixed and helpless.

Suddenly, shurikens, fired from Batman’s gauntlet, embedded deep into Bane’s forearm! Batman then opened with a side kick to Bane’s skull! He followed up with an armored fist to the face and then a savage backhand! He finished by sweeping the monster’s legs out from under him as he threw him to the ground! First blood was his. Injured and enraged, Bane pushed a button on the device upon his forearm. This delivered the Venom steroid straight into his body! Bane roared as the toxin coursed through his veins! Bane rushed the Dark Knight and pinned him to the concrete. Blow after thunderous blow hit the Batman’s helmet until the bat symbol suddenly flashed from the chest light! Momentarily blinded, Bane’s assault stopped as he staggered away. (I feel like I missed my calling as ringside announcer in wrestling. That is if the wrestlers were superhuman. As old as some active wrestlers are, you’d swear they were!)

Recovering quickly, Bane attempted to boost his Venom intake once again. Batman was ready this time, however. Using his bladed fingertips, he cuts all of the tubing protruding from the beast’s mask! Bane roared in panic and fled down the street! Batman fired several more razor-sharp shurikens into the villain’s back as he ran, but the weapons were ignored as he leapt the nearby train station turnstile! (He should hold onto all of those Bat-shurikens sticking out of his body. Sell those on eBay for a mint!) Bane dove into the train just as it was leaving the station. Jean-Paul would not let it end this way. One way or another, this ended tonight! Using his gauntlet, he fired a grapple onto the now-speeding train and let it reel him in. When close enough, he dug his claws into the train’s metallic frame and followed Bane from the outside!

The muscle-bound monster ordered the passengers to give him a wide berth as he approached the front car. When he reached it, he seized the engineer by the back of his neck and threw him out the front window of the racing locomotive! Bane fumbled with the controls and sped up the train. Just then, the Dark Knight came crashing through the engine’s side window and the fierce battle continued! As this was going on, Robin swung by and witnessed the dangerously speeding train. He spied the fight in the front car and the panicked passengers in the back. Using quick thinking, he pulled a strong acidic substance from his utility belt to serperate the engine from the rest of the train! The people were safe. (I bet it was a can of Coke. I hear that’s highly acidic. Tasty though.)

Robin helped the last of the passengers off of the train in just enough time to witness the lead car derail from the advanced speed and come sailing through the air! It crashed into a building before it finally stopped moving! Batman used this opportunity to use both feet to kick Bane through the remaining glass! The villain plummeted down to where the police stood, still amazed by the epic fight they were witnessing. Batman followed soon after. He picked Bane up by what remained of his torn, blood-soaked costume. Bane begged for death. The surrounding police and Robin all collectively held their breath. Would he do it? No. Let the prisons have him. Bane was broken. Jean-Paul Valley was a worthy new Batman after all. And the night had a new guardian angel. A fallen one, but an angel nonetheless.

End.

Flight of the Darkhawk

I remember being in Junior High. I normally had a miserable time in school, but this new, bigger environment was far worse as I have several mental disabilities. But I hadn’t yet been concretely diagnosed. People just thought I hated school. In truth, I was suffering from agoraphobia and severe social anxiety. My only happy outlet was when my grandpa would visit and take me comic book shopping at the local grocery store. At that time, I only collected horror comics and wrestling magazines. But one day, I spied a copy of “Darkhawk” #6. Intrigued mostly by his look, I brought it home. This character was about my age and had a lot of pressures resting on his shoulders. Way worse things than I was going through. I guess you could say he inspired me. More superhero comics followed soon after. But he was always my first. He was special to me. The rest, as they say, is history. Presented below is the story from “Darkhawk” #1. I hope this tale takes you on a trip back through memory lane and happier times as much as it does me. Enjoy!

It was a occurrence that New Yorkers had grown way to accustomed to. The thing you would hear first was always maniacal laughter. What followed was the sight of a bat-like glider as it burst through the clouds, a crazed goblin riding atop, and a stream of smoke left in the creature’s wake. That was if you were lucky! The goblin in question this time was the infamous Hobgoblin! And lucky for the people below, he was way to preoccupied to notice them this day. Like a missile, the Hobgoblin rockets up to an open window in a nearby skyscraper. He hovers there while the man in the office swivels in his chair to meet the goblin’s intense gaze. The man, Phillipe Bazin, never flinches as the impatient monster demands the whereabouts of the item he was hired to locate for him. Phillipe states that the Egyptian pottery was found, but nothing like what the Hobgoblin desires. The hovering supervillain enters the office window then. He fires a bolt of energy from his fingertip and shatters the ancient bowel! He moves so that his hideous face is even with Bazin’s and threatens that he’s in danger of putting him in a bad mood. (This Bazin guy’s cool as a cucumber under pressure. I mean, showing no fear at the sight of a being with a snake-like tongue and demonic eyes! I’d be terrified. I have actually. I went to a strip club once. Scary!)

Later that night, at the ruined wreckage that was once a popular amusement park, two thugs dressed in expensive suits are physically threatening a poor homeless man. They demand to know the location of a certain item. The man replies fearfully that he has no idea what they’re talking about. But before the men can get more violent, someone from a nearby limo tells them to stop. They do so immediately and enter the car. The man inside looks to the old bum and throws a wad of cash out of the car window. It splashes into a puddle. He remarks that the money is in case his memory should improve. Phillipe Bazin then orders the driver to leave. (Man, for the money needed to create a wad of cash this big, I’d be Bazin’s best friend for life. What? I gots comics ta buy!)

Our attention is then turned to the courthouse where Assistant DA, Grace Powell, rushes through the hallway, on her way to eat a very late lunch. As she rounds a corner, she’s surprised by the sudden appearance of a peculiar man dressed in a suit and wearing sunglasses. He pulls out an envelope from his inner jacket pocket. (The sunglasses are what makes this guy peculiar. We all remember the Unabomber, right? For all we know, the envelope could have exploded like on an episode of “Inspector Gadget”!) He offers it to her. She sees that it’s filled with a large sum of money. All she has to do is leave well enough alone and drop her case involving Phillipe Bazin and no-one gets hurt. Grace knocks the envelope to the ground. She replies that she can’t be bought at any cost. The man picks up the scattered cash and leaves. Grace then crawls into a corner and sits, shaking visibly. The obvious threat had left her frightened for her family’s safety.

Speaking of Grace Powell’s family, things didn’t exactly improve for her mental state upon returning home. Her two youngest boys were fighting while her eldest son, Chris, tried to tear them apart and calm his mom’s frazzled nerves at the same time. To top things off, her husband, Mike, was a beat cop and he was extremely late for supper. Chris tried to talk calmly to his mother, to make her feel better. But it turned out, this wasn’t needed as Mike came in through the backdoor. Grace threw her arms around her husband in an instant relieved. She confided in him that she was threatened at work by one of Bazin’s goons. He replied how they should both just give up their jobs, move out of the city. If the good guys only had a type of edge against all of this crime….. Chris exclaimed how he wished he could help out somehow, but this conversation was cut short by the twin boys’ growling stomachs. (Trust me, these two kids don’t need a reason to start another fight. Seriously, I lost track of how many times this happens in just this single issue! As if brothers really fight that much. I mean, there was this one time with deuling pistols at dawn as kids…..)

The meal was pretty uneventful except that one of the twins asked their father to take them to see the abandoned amusement park before it was demolished completely over the weekend. He agreed that he would have the time that coming Sunday. The kids were both overjoyed. But as Sunday came, their father and mother were both too busy with work to take them. They implored Chris to take them instead, but the teen youth had promised that the three of them would stay inside for safety. Of course, this rule went out the window when a couple of Chris’ friends arrived and wanted him to accompany them to get some sodas. (“Sodas?” What decade is this anyway that he’s so horribly tempted by a soda at their local malt shop? What’s next, a trip to the pictures to take in the newest Bela Lugosi movie? Sheesh!) The twins are less than pleased, but agree when they’re promised milkshakes upon his return.

Chris arrived home much later than expected. But instead of finding his brothers, he was greeted by the frantic face of his mother! The twins were missing! After the initial shock wore off, Chris came to the realization that they had to be at the amusement park. He calmed his mother as best he could and then set out to find his younger siblings. It didn’t take long before he located the place. Spying a homeless man, he questioned him if he’d seen two boys in the area. He replied that he had and pointed in the general direction. Chris heard his brothers’ hushed voices upon entering the remains of the funhouse. He began to scold them after they were discovered, but the sound of male voices below caught his attention. Carefully and quietly, he crept to get a better look. What he saw were men that identified themselves as associates of Mr. Bazin. They handed over a large sum of money to someone seated across from them…..Officer Mike Powell! (Man, this Bazin dude has cash coming out of his ears! I bet he never pays with a check in a supermarket. No. Only the truly ancient hold up the line with this archaic practice. Monsters!)

Mike looks at the money. But one of the gangsters decides to get a bit too mouthy, causing Mike to strike out with his fist! A shot is fired and the crooked cop ends up being clubbed in the back of the head by the butt of a pistol as he turns towards the sound. The criminals decide then to just kill Officer Powell! They aim downward to fire when a child’s voice cries out in terror! The gunman spies the cause of the sudden noise and pulls one of Chris’ twin brothers from his hiding place! He aims the weapon at the boy’s head and prepares to pull the trigger! Chris leaps from the shadows, knocking the gun flying and freeing his sibling! (Talk about an action-packed scene! I’m on the edge of my seat! And it’s not just because I slept goofy last night and my back’s out! Gotta love being in your 40’s!)

There’s a brief struggle and Chris tells the twins to run. He then throws the bribe money in the gunman’s face and quickly follows. The three of them don’t get far, however, as the floor beneath them gives way! They fall onto another level. After checking for injuries, they take in their surroundings. It appears to be a type of storage for the Hall of Horrors exhibit. The three brothers make their way through the maze of mannequins dressed up to look like gruesome fiends and monstrosities, as the gangsters make their way downwards. When they finally do appear, guns drawn, Chris thinks quickly and shoves his twin brothers into a nearby locker. He throws every item at his disposal at the enemy to distract the men until only another metal cabinet remains. Chris tears it off of the wall, using it as a barricade/shield. He then turns and spies a strange amulet sitting on a pedestal in a hole in the wall where the cabinet had been! (Things are warming up here, folks! I sense an origin story coming on! Plus, who wouldn’t stop to admire strange jewelry while their life is in mortal danger? No-one, that’s who!)

Chris grabs the strange amulet. Maybe he could use it as a weapon. He thinks about how these men want to murder his brothers. He wants to protect them. Then, as if in response, Chris Powell is no more and a strange, armored being stands in his place! (I tried this with several pieces of my mom’s jewelry as a teen. The only result was that I looked fabulous!) The villains break through just then. Wanting nothing more than to protect his family, a blast of eerie energy shoots from his chest, knocking the criminals flying! Guessing that he must be dreaming, Chris lifts the cabinet overhead, as if it were made of tissue paper, and tosses it at the men as they try to recover! Shots are then fired, but Chris dodges the bullets almost as if they’re in slow motion! The men keep getting back up and rushing him, but he throws them as simply as darts through the air!

While Chris is preoccupied, one criminal pulls loose an electrified cable from the rotting wall and tries to attack him! Instinctively, Chris dodges and hits the fuse box to the park! He drops dead moments later. Never seeing a corpse in his life, Chris pauses. ( Wussy. I remember my days, back in the ‘Nam…..) He then uses some discarded rope to tie up the remaining, unconscious goons. Chris sees his reflection in a cracked mirror while he binds the gangsters. To say he’s shocked is an understatement. His thoughts are interrupted by the twins as they cry out from the locker. His brothers can’t see him like this, he thinks. And then, in a flash, the being is gone and Chris is back! That’s when he remembers his father. Climbing back up through the hole in the floor, he finds him in a nearby room.

As his father turns to him, Chris pleads that he tell him that this isn’t as it looks. Mike looks ashamed as he replies that he can’t. He continues by asking his son to look after his mother and brothers. He leaves then without another word. Chris returns to his twin brothers and frees them. They’re less than pleased about being shoved into a musty, old locker, but he gets them home safely. He holds the amulet as he does so. The next day, Chris returns to the site only to see it demolished completely by the city. He thinks about how he’ll never know more about the amulet now as he stands there in the debris. That’s when he hears the old bum’s voice tell him that the power must be used, not abused, by a Darkhawk. Chris turns but he’s alone. (Good God! I know who the old, homeless man is! He’s Batman!)

Grace receives a call when the boys are all home. The voice on the other end tells her to leave Bazin alone or she’ll have one less mouth to feed! Enraged by this, Chris goes to his bedroom and concentrates upon his other form. He quickly transforms once again. He then vows that he will be the edge that justice needs. He will be the Darkhawk! Phillipe Bazin gets off of his phone at this exact same time and turns to the perching nightmare that is the Hobgoblin. He tells the goblin how the item was found, along with the body of one of his men, but it was lost when the amusement park was bulldozed over that morning. The men did report being attacked by a strange being. Hobgoblin swears that whoever has the relic he desires will suffer greatly before he dies.

End.

Dedicated to my brother, Eric James Miller. He’s dealing with some tough medical problems right now and I wanted him to know just how much I love him. Take good care of yourself, bro. I’m always here if you need me. Always.

A Superman Will Rise (part 2 of 2)

Happy Holidays, Unspokenites! And welcome back to my look back at the Elseworlds epic from “Superman: The Man of Steel” Annual #3! I know it’s been awhile since part one dropped, but rest assured, your loyal Symbifan never forgot about you. So, that said, I present my gift to you all. Let us return to the conclusion of our story‚Ķ..

Gotham City. The only place on Earth free of the Kryptonian ultranet and therefore free of the invaders’ supervision. But that didn’t stop them from trying. Presently, an ultranet command outpost had secretly been erected on the outskirts of this old, war-torn city. This had come to the attention of the Human Resistance. Now, armored humans from this secretive sect raised their devastating weapons and fired at the before-mentioned structure. Bazooka shells exploded upon impact at the building’s support beams, causing considerable damage. That is until the lead Resistance fighter is hit in the back by a strange, foam-like substance! The others turn to see Lex Luthor’s high-tech goons hovering close by! (Speaking of bazookas, who remembers when Bazooka Gum had actual comic strips in them? What about what now constitutes as a “prize” in a Cracker Jack box? This now concludes my rant about how I hate the internet. Now, back to my online blog…..)

That’s when a large, metal cable suddenly surrounds Luthor’s men! It then pulls taught and they’re all yanked off of their hovercrafts and into the air by a flying man garbed in red, blue, and gold, the colors of the Human Resistance! It was Kal-El! But he now went by the name that was stitched into the uniform that Batman had gifted him, Superman! (My name’s stitched into my undies. It’s so I don’t forget they’re mine and just how cool I am. Studly.) Superman sets his captives aside and unleashes his heat vision upon the various satellites atop the building! He then utilizes his superior strength to finish off the supports, toppling the entire structure! Swooping to the ground, he lands to check on the band of “renegade” humans’ leader. He is not exactly greeted with open arms.

The captain removes their helmet revealing a woman underneath. She not only doesn’t thank Superman, but states how his Kryptonian aid is not needed. Human beings will win their own planet back. And they’ll do it without the help of one of their oppressors. Her name is Lois Lane. She orders the others to retun to base. As they leave, Superman suddenly takes her into his powerful arms and rockets into the sky! Once they’re alone, her tone of voice changes drastically . She tells him how much she has grown to care for him since he saved her life a mere couple of months ago. Superman hold her tighter as he descends into an apartment building window. They kiss passionately as he carries her towards her bed. (The next part of this scene is rated “R” for graphic, off-panel sexual situations.)

But not all were pleased with this union. Jor-El looked on with the elders of the ill-fated Krypton with looks of revulsion and horror. Superman’s birth father then switched off his overhead monitor. He’d seen enough from the secret viewing device that was planted within Lois’ bedroom. (He watched his own son get busy?! Talk about sick! Not only that, but the old farts from the council watched too?! I think I’m gonna need therapy just from reading this!) The Council of Elders waste little time in proclaiming their verdict. As Kal-El was Jor-El’s son, this was his problem to resolve alone. After the Elders disappeared from view, Jor-El wasted no time in contacting Luthor. He demanded that the human resolve this issue immediately. Lex merely responded that Jor-El possessed the same exact powers as his son. Why not get his own hands dirty for once?

Kal-El awoke and dressed himself. He found Lois at her coffe table, pouring over numerous documents and blueprints. She remarked about the building that Batman had died trying to gain entrance to. The ultranet files on it were definitely incomplete. What was inside that was so important that Bruce would give his life for it? They decided to find out. Lois had heard of the infamous Batcave, so she gave Kal directions as they flew. Soon, they were inside the secret, technological marvel that was Bruce Wayne’s hidden sanctuary. They approached a large computer system and tried to gain access to the files they needed. Sadly, this was to no avail. Password required. Both were then surprised by the voice of a young man that seemed to materialize behind them. (Bruce left an orphan out. He really should take better care of his sidekicks.)

They questioned the youth, but the boy wouldn’t even give his name. All he would say is that he and Bruce had worked together in the past. He did admit that even he didn’t know Bruce’s password. Kal was then struck with inspiration. Wasn’t it rumored that Batman once had a trusted butler? Lois gave Kal a more human name to go by for this next step. She named him after the cigarette brand she used to smoke, Clark. (I smoke Aunt May’s personally. Remember kids, with the act of smoking comes great responsibility.) He added the last name of his beloved foster parents to that and Clark Kent was born. The couple then dresses accordingly and makes their way to a nearby retirement home. It didn’t take long into the conversation to come to the realization that this old man, Alfred, was hopelessly senile. But presented with the name to the building in question, he said one word that struck Clark Kent like a fist, “plague.”

Superman set Lois gently down on her feet in her apartment upon their return. He looked shaken. When questioned, he told her of a genetic flaw that plagued his people. A flaw that was a leftover from Krypton’s Clone Wars. (I wonder if that villainous Emperor Palpatine was up to his old tricks against the Jedi? Yeah. I know. You all saw a Star Wars joke coming. Have I become that predictable? Sigh…..) It was almost as if their very planet wanted them all dead. Being born here, Kal-El was immune. And now that Clark knew what that building contained, he knew what he must do. Come morning, he would break into this complex and release this plague upon the world. It wouldn’t take long before he was the last remaining Kryptonian on Earth. Lois tried to comfort him throughout the night. But when she awakens the next the morning, Clark is gone.

Panicked, Lois grabs for her phone. Surprisingly, the man that answers on the other end is none other than Lex Luthor! Lois begins by telling Lex that the plan has gone awry. Luthor replies that if anything has gone awry with their plan, it’s that she’s letting her feelings for this alien cloud her judgement. Ignoring this, she reports that Kal-El is gone. Before Lois can continue, Jor-El bursts in through her front door! Terrified, Lois goes for her gun, but using his heat vision, he melts the weapon! Grabbing her up by the throat, he demands to know his son’s whereabouts. Lex answers through a planted spy device that he’s pleased to see Jor-El finally lifting a finger himself. What’s his next move? Jor-El looks to the device’s screen with obvious rage and replies that he’s bringing his son home, no matter the cost! The screen goes dead, leaving Lex Luthor to ponder if he has just overplayed his hand. (This place has more bugs than a roach motel! Am I right, folks?)

Clark sat at the Kents’ dinner table in Kansas. After his adoptive father returned from tending to the fields, Clark rose to his feet and asked both of the people that had raised and cared for him if he could keep the Kent name. Of course they were overjoyed. He then asked for their advice. If he were to release this plague, Earth would be free. But he would have committed mass-genocide upon his own people. What should he do? Before much could be said, a voice from the doorway spoke. It was Lex! He was sorry to interrupt, but there was a situation….. (Is it me, or is Luthor in almost every scene, working every single angle in this issue? I don’t know how he keeps track of which side he’s on at the moment! No wonder he was elected President of the United States in later storylines!)

Superman rocketed through the skies at top speed! When he reached Gotham City, his fears were confirmed. Jor-El had gone mad! He was hovering above the people with a large vehicle raised over his head as a weapon, firing heat vision down at the screaming crowds! He demanded he see his son right now! Superman rams his shoulder into his father’s ribcage with all of his might, sending the crazed Kryptonian flying! He then catches the plummeting vehicle and sets it down on the street carefully. But this action took far too long! Seeing his chance, Jor-El blasts his son off of his feet with a full blast of heat vision! (It’s definitely on now! I don’t see a Father’s Day card in Jor-El’s future! Maybe a tie, but that’s a given.)

The battle then takes to the skies! Back and forth fists are thrown that could topple mountains! But Jor-El simply doesn’t have the fighting experience that his son does. Superman throws him through a nearby water tower. And before he can fully get back to his feet, Clark unleashes the fullest extent of his heat vision! Jor-El falls, unconscious at last! Superman arrived at the building in question in a flash. He punched through the thick steel of the wall and flew in. Lex Luthor sat nonchalantly in a lawn chair on the other side! In his hand was a drink with a little umbrella leaning lazily inside. Superman went for the proper panel to release the plague. Nothing. Luthor had rewritten the circuit board! (Does anyone get what side this guy’s on? I feel like I’m trying to do algebra here!)

Lex explained that the Kryptonian race, though arrogant, didn’t deserve to die. Kal could teach them a better way. Tired of Luthor’s numerous head games, Superman grabbed him up by his armor and smashed him through several floors of the building! He demanded that Lex fix the panel. Luthor’s reply was a blast of green energy from a cavity within the armor’s chest! As he stood up, he grabbed an large iron bar. He explained that Jor-El had equipped him with a weapon powered by a small rock called Kryptonite. He then finished by gleefully striking the hero again and again with the weapon! Kal stirred to rise, but Lex revealed a large chunk of rock within his armor! It seems that Luthor wasn’t content to simply subdue Superman, he was going to kill him! But as he raised the bar for a final strike, he was shot from behind! Lois Lane stood with a smoking energy rifle! (Now she’s on Superman’s side?! Anyone have a scorecard I can look over?)

Luthor lies there demanding to know why. Her only reply as she helped Superman to his feet was that she loved him. Not to be defeated yet, Lex’s armor shot out several blasts of energy! Unfortunately for him, he missed his intended targets. He did however hit the weakened support beams above him! A large chunk of the complex came crashing down upon him. It was over. Superman never did use the deadly Kryptonian plague. Instead, he began work on teaching them a better way. Luthor was right after all. Speaking of Lex Luthor, though badly injured, he managed to survive too. As Superman raised the new flag of humanity atop a large building, he looked down to see a strange black car race by below. Batman sat within with a familiar youngster dressed in a colorful costume. Batman slowed the Batmobile long enough to smile at Superman and say, “Welcome to the party, pal.” (Batman survived too?! I feel like my brain just turned to jelly! This comic had more twists and turns than a “Pirates of the Caribbean” flick! Jack Sparrow 4-Life, y’all!) Superman smiled back and flew onwards. Batman was right. The fight had only just begun.

End.