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Superman '86-'99

A thorough chronological examination of the best/worst period in Superman history, by Maxwell Yezpitelok. All covers stolen from comics.org. Check out our collected editions on Toonbarn!
Apr 18 '14
Superman #39 (January 1990)
The ’90s are here! You probably thought a mullet would instantly appear on the back of Superman’s head as soon as we reached 1990, but no, we’re still a few years away from that. Don’t worry, we’ll get there.
As you might have guessed from the cover, this is another Jimmy Olsen-centric issue. What troubles has that little scamp gotten himself into this time? Oh, the usual: he’s now trapped in a white void filled with pieces of junk and bizarre flying creatures who look like him.

There’s also a dude living there named “Number One” who looks exactly like Jimmy’s long-presumed-dead secret agent dad, only with a robot eye that shoots killer rainbows. It was Mr. One who got Jimmy transported into this limbo by tricking an Egyptian-looking mutant bodybuilder named Husque to switch places with him (as seen last issue). Number One tries to tell Jimmy that his mother has been kidnapped by something called “The Evil Factory,” but then they’re ambushed by winged Jimbos.

Just at that moment, Superman, Professor Hamilton and Husque figure out how to bring Jimmy back to Earth, and he’s abruptly switched with Husque again. The semi-unconscious Jimmy mutters something about his dad and Hamilton wonders if that means something, but Superman is like “LOL, no, that guy’s dead” and declares the storyline closed. (It isn’t yet, obviously.)
Character-Watch:
First appearance of Project Cadmus’ renegade scientist, Dabney Donovan, and his twisted creations Mokkari and Simyan (also scientists themselves), although they only appear as photos on a flashback. Number One explains that Jimmy’s dad was a Cadmus agent tasked with finding those three when he disappeared. And now clones that look like Jimmy are popping up all over the place. Hmmm.
Plotline-Watch:
This issue combines three unresolved Jimmy Olsen plots into one unresolved (for now) Jimmy Olsen plot:
Where The Hell Are Jimmy’s Parents?: Almost two years ago in Superman #19, Jimmy’s hot mom saw a photo of her husband that was taken after he supposedly died. A few issues later it’s mentioned that Mrs. Olsen went to Southeast Asia to look for the guy. At least now we know she hasn’t been back because she was kidnapped and not because she’s a horrible parent.
Where The Hell Are The Exiles?: Husque and his sister Tehra first appeared in Adventures #443. Husque has been looking for Tehra since, but now Professor Hamilton promises that he’ll help find her in exchange for Husque helping Jimmy. (Then he apparently forgot about it, because this plot won’t come up again for two years.)
Where The Hell Is Jimmy?: And finally, Superman has sort of half-assedly been looking for Jimmy since his disappearence last issue, which is understandable considering the guy has been a huge pain in the ass ever since Superman innocently infected him with a genetic virus.
The most important development of the issue not Jimmy-related, though. Throughout the story Hamilton keeps bugging Superman because he isn’t taking Jimmy’s problem seriously enough (at one point, Supes just leaves because he has to go testify on Morgan Edge’s trial). Husque also refuses to talk to Superman because he’s “too cold” and communicates with Hamilton only. It turns out Husque and Hamilton were on to something, because the issue ends with Clark Kent shocking everyone by announcing he’s leaving the Daily Planet to accept that offer to become a magazine editor, since it’s the “logical” thing to do.

Damn. Look at poor Whit, he’s devastated:

Superman #39 (January 1990)

The ’90s are here! You probably thought a mullet would instantly appear on the back of Superman’s head as soon as we reached 1990, but no, we’re still a few years away from that. Don’t worry, we’ll get there.

As you might have guessed from the cover, this is another Jimmy Olsen-centric issue. What troubles has that little scamp gotten himself into this time? Oh, the usual: he’s now trapped in a white void filled with pieces of junk and bizarre flying creatures who look like him.

There’s also a dude living there named “Number One” who looks exactly like Jimmy’s long-presumed-dead secret agent dad, only with a robot eye that shoots killer rainbows. It was Mr. One who got Jimmy transported into this limbo by tricking an Egyptian-looking mutant bodybuilder named Husque to switch places with him (as seen last issue). Number One tries to tell Jimmy that his mother has been kidnapped by something called “The Evil Factory,” but then they’re ambushed by winged Jimbos.

Just at that moment, Superman, Professor Hamilton and Husque figure out how to bring Jimmy back to Earth, and he’s abruptly switched with Husque again. The semi-unconscious Jimmy mutters something about his dad and Hamilton wonders if that means something, but Superman is like “LOL, no, that guy’s dead” and declares the storyline closed. (It isn’t yet, obviously.)

Character-Watch:

First appearance of Project Cadmus’ renegade scientist, Dabney Donovan, and his twisted creations Mokkari and Simyan (also scientists themselves), although they only appear as photos on a flashback. Number One explains that Jimmy’s dad was a Cadmus agent tasked with finding those three when he disappeared. And now clones that look like Jimmy are popping up all over the place. Hmmm.

Plotline-Watch:

This issue combines three unresolved Jimmy Olsen plots into one unresolved (for now) Jimmy Olsen plot:

  • Where The Hell Are Jimmy’s Parents?: Almost two years ago in Superman #19, Jimmy’s hot mom saw a photo of her husband that was taken after he supposedly died. A few issues later it’s mentioned that Mrs. Olsen went to Southeast Asia to look for the guy. At least now we know she hasn’t been back because she was kidnapped and not because she’s a horrible parent.
  • Where The Hell Are The Exiles?: Husque and his sister Tehra first appeared in Adventures #443. Husque has been looking for Tehra since, but now Professor Hamilton promises that he’ll help find her in exchange for Husque helping Jimmy. (Then he apparently forgot about it, because this plot won’t come up again for two years.)
  • Where The Hell Is Jimmy?: And finally, Superman has sort of half-assedly been looking for Jimmy since his disappearence last issue, which is understandable considering the guy has been a huge pain in the ass ever since Superman innocently infected him with a genetic virus.

The most important development of the issue not Jimmy-related, though. Throughout the story Hamilton keeps bugging Superman because he isn’t taking Jimmy’s problem seriously enough (at one point, Supes just leaves because he has to go testify on Morgan Edge’s trial). Husque also refuses to talk to Superman because he’s “too cold” and communicates with Hamilton only. It turns out Husque and Hamilton were on to something, because the issue ends with Clark Kent shocking everyone by announcing he’s leaving the Daily Planet to accept that offer to become a magazine editor, since it’s the “logical” thing to do.

Damn. Look at poor Whit, he’s devastated:

Apr 15 '14
Action Comics #648 (December 1989)
The Brainiac Trilogy, Part 2: Superman vs. Metallo! And Metallo, and Metallo, and Metallo, and Metallo, and Metallo. They would have named this “The Metallo Sextology” but it sounded like a porno.
Oh, Brainiac is in this comic, too: as of last issue, Brainiac is in complete control of an advanced LexCorp lab in the Rocky Mountains (plus all the scientists inside of it). The problem is that the human body Brainiac hijacked in his first appearance is getting weak and dying, since it wasn’t constructed to house the mind of a powerful alien, so Brainy wants to upgrade it using a combination of cybernetic technology and some genetic engineering. For this last part he’s gonna need an actual genetic engineer, so he sends his new robotic friend Metallo (disguised with fake skin and a mustache) to fetch a famous one called Dr. Augustine and place a mind control gizmo on him. Augustine, in turn, leads mustache Metallo (Mustallo?) and Brainiac’s floating head projection to Project Cadmus to steal some genetic material. (I’ll spare you the sperm joke, since I’ve already filled my dirty joke quota for this issue.)
At this point we find out that Metallo has seen Star Wars, the big nerd:

Meanwhile, Superman is fighting some explosive Metallo duplicates sent to blow up the LexCorp tower (hence the cover image). Superman wraps that up just in time to hear the commotion at Cadmus, as Brainiac’s team is found out by good ol’ Dubbilex and Metallo kicks the Guardian’s ass for knocking the fake mustache off his face. Superman shows up and Metallo challenges him to a fight, but it turns out the guy isn’t such a formidable opponent when he doesn’t have a chunk of kryptonite in his chest.

(The real power was in the mustache.)
The mind-controlled Augustine manages to escape, though, and joins the Brainiac Science Cult in the Rockies. The issue ends with Luthor finally getting around to visiting the Rockies lab only for his own security people to point guns at him, since they are now loyal to the other bald supervillain. CONTINUED!
Character-Watch:
At the beginning of the issue we get a nice recap of the highlights of Metallo’s life, like that time he died in a car crash, or when that crazy scientist moved his brain to a robot body and sent him to kill Superman (in Superman #1), or his encounter with the Doom Patrol (in Superman #20). After that fight, Superman went “drat, he escaped” but we find out now that Metallo’s head was just buried in the rubble (Superman apparently didn’t look very hard), where it’s retrieved by Dr. Happersen and stuffed in a box until Brainiac freed him last issue. Now Metallo is back to being dismembered, but at least they left him his torso this time.
Plotline-Watch:
Clark Kent spends exactly four panels reminding us of the plotlines of the other Superman series, while drinking from a water cooler: Jimmy Olsen is still missing, the Eradicator is still safely turned off, and Clark is still mildly intrigued by that offer to become a magazine editor. Some interesting choice of words when he says “what possessed me to even consider Collin Thorton’s offer” — you were just thinking about the answer, Clark.
The poor guys at Team Luthor (last seen getting tortured by Mr. Mxyzptlk in Superman #31) appear again to try to stop the Metallo army from advancing into the LexCorp tower, without much luck. Their armors are still purple, but for one panel they appear white (or white-ish) due to the light coming from their blasters. I have a theory that whoever colored their next appearance used this panel as a reference, because they’ll be white from now on.

WTF-Watch:
I have no idea why there are references to Psycho and The Wizard of Oz in this short sequence of Mustallo putting on his tie, but I love it.

Action Comics #648 (December 1989)

The Brainiac Trilogy, Part 2: Superman vs. Metallo! And Metallo, and Metallo, and Metallo, and Metallo, and Metallo. They would have named this “The Metallo Sextology” but it sounded like a porno.

Oh, Brainiac is in this comic, too: as of last issue, Brainiac is in complete control of an advanced LexCorp lab in the Rocky Mountains (plus all the scientists inside of it). The problem is that the human body Brainiac hijacked in his first appearance is getting weak and dying, since it wasn’t constructed to house the mind of a powerful alien, so Brainy wants to upgrade it using a combination of cybernetic technology and some genetic engineering. For this last part he’s gonna need an actual genetic engineer, so he sends his new robotic friend Metallo (disguised with fake skin and a mustache) to fetch a famous one called Dr. Augustine and place a mind control gizmo on him. Augustine, in turn, leads mustache Metallo (Mustallo?) and Brainiac’s floating head projection to Project Cadmus to steal some genetic material. (I’ll spare you the sperm joke, since I’ve already filled my dirty joke quota for this issue.)

At this point we find out that Metallo has seen Star Wars, the big nerd:

Meanwhile, Superman is fighting some explosive Metallo duplicates sent to blow up the LexCorp tower (hence the cover image). Superman wraps that up just in time to hear the commotion at Cadmus, as Brainiac’s team is found out by good ol’ Dubbilex and Metallo kicks the Guardian’s ass for knocking the fake mustache off his face. Superman shows up and Metallo challenges him to a fight, but it turns out the guy isn’t such a formidable opponent when he doesn’t have a chunk of kryptonite in his chest.

(The real power was in the mustache.)

The mind-controlled Augustine manages to escape, though, and joins the Brainiac Science Cult in the Rockies. The issue ends with Luthor finally getting around to visiting the Rockies lab only for his own security people to point guns at him, since they are now loyal to the other bald supervillain. CONTINUED!

Character-Watch:

At the beginning of the issue we get a nice recap of the highlights of Metallo’s life, like that time he died in a car crash, or when that crazy scientist moved his brain to a robot body and sent him to kill Superman (in Superman #1), or his encounter with the Doom Patrol (in Superman #20). After that fight, Superman went “drat, he escaped” but we find out now that Metallo’s head was just buried in the rubble (Superman apparently didn’t look very hard), where it’s retrieved by Dr. Happersen and stuffed in a box until Brainiac freed him last issue. Now Metallo is back to being dismembered, but at least they left him his torso this time.

Plotline-Watch:

  • Clark Kent spends exactly four panels reminding us of the plotlines of the other Superman series, while drinking from a water cooler: Jimmy Olsen is still missing, the Eradicator is still safely turned off, and Clark is still mildly intrigued by that offer to become a magazine editor. Some interesting choice of words when he says “what possessed me to even consider Collin Thorton’s offer” — you were just thinking about the answer, Clark.
  • The poor guys at Team Luthor (last seen getting tortured by Mr. Mxyzptlk in Superman #31) appear again to try to stop the Metallo army from advancing into the LexCorp tower, without much luck. Their armors are still purple, but for one panel they appear white (or white-ish) due to the light coming from their blasters. I have a theory that whoever colored their next appearance used this panel as a reference, because they’ll be white from now on.

WTF-Watch:

I have no idea why there are references to Psycho and The Wizard of Oz in this short sequence of Mustallo putting on his tie, but I love it.

Apr 10 '14
Adventures of Superman #461 (December 1989)
Superman travels back in time and meets his real parents. Unfortunately, they can’t catch up properly with their son because they’re busy being murdered by their exploding planet. Also, because Superman’s mom thinks he’s gross.

Let’s backtrack: on Superman #38, the whole planet is hit by bizarre natural disasters, including a tidal wave that turns Metropolis into Venice. Now we find out what was behind all of it: that pesky Kryptonian Eradicator that Superman brought from space, dumped in Antarctica, and then forgot all about (because the thing erased itself from Superman’s mind). Superman remembers the Eradicator just in time to find it melting the ice caps in an attempt to turn Earth into Krypton 2.0. When Superman’s usual approach to problem-solving (punching things) fails, he goes into the portal where the Eradicator is getting all its construction materials and finds himself in a sort of “Phantom Zone” filled with Kryptonian junk. Also in there is the sort-of ghost of Superman’s xenophobic ancestor Kem-L.

Kem-L tells Superman that in order to control the Eradicator, he must first pass the Kryptonian “Rite of Passage,” which is like their Bar Mitzvah. In order to do that Superman enters another portal that sends him back in time to the beginning of Man of Steel #1, when his biological parents Jor-El and Lara have just sent his rocket into space. Jor-El helps Superman do the Rite of Passage (while Lara presumably barfs in a corner), which involves putting on a headband and seeing a vision of a scientist murdering a caveman.
Once that’s done, Krypton’s explosion propels Superman back through both portals (conveniently destroying them) and back to the Eradicator, which he’s finally able to control — as a result, the Eradicator apparently winds down, and Superman is left with a new Antarctic base full of Kryptonian memorabilia. A Fortress of Solitude, if you will.
Plotline-Watch:
On the surface it might seem like this whole plot was just an excuse to bring back the Fortress of Solitude into the Superman mythos, but that weird vision with a scientist murdering a caveman (both of which are Superman) is more significant than you might think, and foreshadows a major upcoming saga.
You might recognize some of those Kryptonian artifacts from the World of Krypton miniseries, especially the Awesome Kryptonian Battle Robot, which Superman will make good use of during Reign of the Supermen.
Speaking of which, those first few pages from Man of Steel #1 are getting a little crowded: World of Krypton #4 added some more dialogue, Action Annual #2 added Jor-El and Lara using the Kryptonian Death Chant (which is also used here) and now it turns out a time-traveling Superman was running around the place, too.
At the Planet, Clark Kent finally meets Colin Thornton, the guy who wants to offer him a job at his magazine. Clark says “nope” but does seem a little intrigued. Meanwhile, there are more hints about Alice the Intern’s dark secret (she’s running a meth lab):

As a side-effect of forgetting the Eradicator, Superman also forgets all about Jimmy Olsen. That must have been the best day of his life. It’s during a visit to Professor Hamilton to search for the missing Jimmy that Superman remembers the Eradicator and goes “never mind that little brat, gotta go deal with this first.”
WTF-Watch:
While on that subject, I love how exasperated nice old Professor Hamilton gets with Superman for neglecting Jimmy. Dude, you were threatening to blow up hookers when Superman met you. Shut up.
Metropolis Mailbag:
vivvav said: “Baldy award? What?”
The Baldy Award was a sort of no-prize that the Superman comics gave out to letter writers in the ’90s. Apparently it was a postcard signed by Lex Luthor and featuring his portrait from the cover of Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography. Did anyone reading this ever get their hands on one? (Remember people, I can’t reply to comments if you leave them through the dashboard, for some reason.)

Adventures of Superman #461 (December 1989)

Superman travels back in time and meets his real parents. Unfortunately, they can’t catch up properly with their son because they’re busy being murdered by their exploding planet. Also, because Superman’s mom thinks he’s gross.

Let’s backtrack: on Superman #38, the whole planet is hit by bizarre natural disasters, including a tidal wave that turns Metropolis into Venice. Now we find out what was behind all of it: that pesky Kryptonian Eradicator that Superman brought from space, dumped in Antarctica, and then forgot all about (because the thing erased itself from Superman’s mind). Superman remembers the Eradicator just in time to find it melting the ice caps in an attempt to turn Earth into Krypton 2.0. When Superman’s usual approach to problem-solving (punching things) fails, he goes into the portal where the Eradicator is getting all its construction materials and finds himself in a sort of “Phantom Zone” filled with Kryptonian junk. Also in there is the sort-of ghost of Superman’s xenophobic ancestor Kem-L.

Kem-L tells Superman that in order to control the Eradicator, he must first pass the Kryptonian “Rite of Passage,” which is like their Bar Mitzvah. In order to do that Superman enters another portal that sends him back in time to the beginning of Man of Steel #1, when his biological parents Jor-El and Lara have just sent his rocket into space. Jor-El helps Superman do the Rite of Passage (while Lara presumably barfs in a corner), which involves putting on a headband and seeing a vision of a scientist murdering a caveman.

Once that’s done, Krypton’s explosion propels Superman back through both portals (conveniently destroying them) and back to the Eradicator, which he’s finally able to control — as a result, the Eradicator apparently winds down, and Superman is left with a new Antarctic base full of Kryptonian memorabilia. A Fortress of Solitude, if you will.

Plotline-Watch:

  • On the surface it might seem like this whole plot was just an excuse to bring back the Fortress of Solitude into the Superman mythos, but that weird vision with a scientist murdering a caveman (both of which are Superman) is more significant than you might think, and foreshadows a major upcoming saga.
  • You might recognize some of those Kryptonian artifacts from the World of Krypton miniseries, especially the Awesome Kryptonian Battle Robot, which Superman will make good use of during Reign of the Supermen.
  • Speaking of which, those first few pages from Man of Steel #1 are getting a little crowded: World of Krypton #4 added some more dialogue, Action Annual #2 added Jor-El and Lara using the Kryptonian Death Chant (which is also used here) and now it turns out a time-traveling Superman was running around the place, too.
  • At the Planet, Clark Kent finally meets Colin Thornton, the guy who wants to offer him a job at his magazine. Clark says “nope” but does seem a little intrigued. Meanwhile, there are more hints about Alice the Intern’s dark secret (she’s running a meth lab):

  • As a side-effect of forgetting the Eradicator, Superman also forgets all about Jimmy Olsen. That must have been the best day of his life. It’s during a visit to Professor Hamilton to search for the missing Jimmy that Superman remembers the Eradicator and goes “never mind that little brat, gotta go deal with this first.”

WTF-Watch:

While on that subject, I love how exasperated nice old Professor Hamilton gets with Superman for neglecting Jimmy. Dude, you were threatening to blow up hookers when Superman met you. Shut up.

Metropolis Mailbag:

vivvav said: “Baldy award? What?”

The Baldy Award was a sort of no-prize that the Superman comics gave out to letter writers in the ’90s. Apparently it was a postcard signed by Lex Luthor and featuring his portrait from the cover of Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography. Did anyone reading this ever get their hands on one? (Remember people, I can’t reply to comments if you leave them through the dashboard, for some reason.)

Apr 9 '14

Anonymous asked:

Keep the good work!

Thanks! Have a Baldy Award.

Apr 9 '14
Superman #38 (December 1989)
Remember that time Metropolis got hit by a tsunami? I didn’t! It’s weird that when Metropolis had an earthquake in 1994 it was a huge multi-part storyline, but when a huge wave inundates half the city, I’m pretty sure it was forgotten within two issues. (Or maybe I’m forgetting that too.)
The freaky weather isn’t exclusive to Metropolis: the issue starts with Superman looking for Brainiac (after the events of Action #647) in the circus where they first fought, which has now moved to Wisconsin. Superman is having some fun with the same asshole elephant trainer from that old issue by wrapping him in his own whip and then making him spin at super-speed, when an earthquake hits the city, followed by a thunderstrorm. Superman saves the circus and heads back to Metropolis, only to run into this fine mess:

Once again, Superman saves a bunch of people by leaving them on rooftops, but then they’re like “How are we gonna get our cars down from here?!” Dude, Superman could have left your car at the bottom of the river. Five hundred people probably died because Superman took the time to carry and organize all those cars on that roof. Show some respect.
Character-Watch:
At the Daily Planet, Alice the Intern answers Clark Kent’s phone and when they ask who she is, she says “No one important.” Awww. That’s totally foreshadowing for her upcoming spotlight issue. Also, that Colin Thornton fellow is still looking for Clark to offer him a fancy job in his magazine, but obviously Clark is kinda busy fighting the weather right now.
Plotline-Watch:
We’ll find out on the next issue of Adventures what’s behind this climate change (is it those shoes with lights all the kids had back then?). Obviously, they couldn’t fit that little detail into this issue because then everyone would complain that there wasn’t enough Jimmy Olsen. Last we saw Jimmy, the guys at Project Cadmus cured him of his painful elastic powers, but it turns out there’s a little side effect to the medicine:

"Now I’m not a ginger anymore! How am I gonna continue to not get laid?!"
Professor Hamilton puts Jimmy inside that isolation chamber from a few issues back to see if there are any other side effects he should worry about — just at that moment, a lightning bolt hits the lab and electrocutes the chamber, replacing Jimmy with a muscular Egyptian-looking dude (Husque from Adventures #443, who recently contacted Jimmy telepathically). The confused Husque escapes the lab as the even more confused Hamilton wonders what the hell happened to Jimmy. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t “he died.”
Reference-Watch:
I never noticed this before, but I’m pretty sure Jimmy losing his hair and blaming Superman for it is a reference to Lex Luthor’s Silver Age origin, which was literally that. Will Jimmy be putting on a purple armor next?
WTF-Watch:
When Superman arrives at the circus in Wisconsin he notices that “The Amazing Brainiac” is still listed as an attraction, which leads to this truly awesome sequence:


See, it’s for stuff like this that we need Jerry Ordway in more comics today.

Superman #38 (December 1989)

Remember that time Metropolis got hit by a tsunami? I didn’t! It’s weird that when Metropolis had an earthquake in 1994 it was a huge multi-part storyline, but when a huge wave inundates half the city, I’m pretty sure it was forgotten within two issues. (Or maybe I’m forgetting that too.)

The freaky weather isn’t exclusive to Metropolis: the issue starts with Superman looking for Brainiac (after the events of Action #647) in the circus where they first fought, which has now moved to Wisconsin. Superman is having some fun with the same asshole elephant trainer from that old issue by wrapping him in his own whip and then making him spin at super-speed, when an earthquake hits the city, followed by a thunderstrorm. Superman saves the circus and heads back to Metropolis, only to run into this fine mess:

Once again, Superman saves a bunch of people by leaving them on rooftops, but then they’re like “How are we gonna get our cars down from here?!” Dude, Superman could have left your car at the bottom of the river. Five hundred people probably died because Superman took the time to carry and organize all those cars on that roof. Show some respect.

Character-Watch:

At the Daily Planet, Alice the Intern answers Clark Kent’s phone and when they ask who she is, she says “No one important.” Awww. That’s totally foreshadowing for her upcoming spotlight issue. Also, that Colin Thornton fellow is still looking for Clark to offer him a fancy job in his magazine, but obviously Clark is kinda busy fighting the weather right now.

Plotline-Watch:

We’ll find out on the next issue of Adventures what’s behind this climate change (is it those shoes with lights all the kids had back then?). Obviously, they couldn’t fit that little detail into this issue because then everyone would complain that there wasn’t enough Jimmy Olsen. Last we saw Jimmy, the guys at Project Cadmus cured him of his painful elastic powers, but it turns out there’s a little side effect to the medicine:

"Now I’m not a ginger anymore! How am I gonna continue to not get laid?!"

Professor Hamilton puts Jimmy inside that isolation chamber from a few issues back to see if there are any other side effects he should worry about — just at that moment, a lightning bolt hits the lab and electrocutes the chamber, replacing Jimmy with a muscular Egyptian-looking dude (Husque from Adventures #443, who recently contacted Jimmy telepathically). The confused Husque escapes the lab as the even more confused Hamilton wonders what the hell happened to Jimmy. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t “he died.”

Reference-Watch:

I never noticed this before, but I’m pretty sure Jimmy losing his hair and blaming Superman for it is a reference to Lex Luthor’s Silver Age origin, which was literally that. Will Jimmy be putting on a purple armor next?

WTF-Watch:

When Superman arrives at the circus in Wisconsin he notices that “The Amazing Brainiac” is still listed as an attraction, which leads to this truly awesome sequence:

See, it’s for stuff like this that we need Jerry Ordway in more comics today.

Apr 7 '14
Action Comics #647 (November 1989)
Yes! Finally! “The Brainiac Trilogy,” part one of three! Or part one of seven, if you count all the parts in between that don’t say “The Brainiac Trilogy” on the cover. It’s confusing. I’ll explain later.
This is the storyline that transformed Brainiac from pudgy circus performer (as introduced in Adventures #438) to the lean, green badass who will give Superman headaches for the next decade. At this point, poor Brainy had spent the better part of a year going in and out of comas (mostly in), courtesy of his “buddy” Lex Luthor, who is keeping him sedated in a special lab in order to study his mental powers. After weeks of laying still on a metallic bed while under the care of cyberneticist/bedpan-changer Dr. Sydney Happersen, in this issue Brainiac finally goes “BOO!” and shoots a mind-control ray at Happersen.
Meanwhile, Superman recently unlocked his repressed memories from that confusing time in his life when he thought his name was Gangbuster (in Superman #36), and as a result he suddenly remembers that time he found out Brainiac and Luthor were working together. The dramatic revelation comes in the middle of the night, while Superman is in his nighttime pajamas.

The next day, Superman catches up with Luthor at a LexCorp weapons factory to ask him if he’s been teaming up with any supervillains lately, but just at that moment Brainiac mind-hacks into the building and all the robots start trying to kill Luthor. Superman saves Luthor, who is like “Brainiac? Who?” Lex then turns around and calls his Brainiac-studying lab and asks what the hell is going on. Happersen assures Luthor that everything is fine in the lab now but Brainiac escaped — of course, that’s just the mind-control talking, because Brainy is still there, now in complete control of the highly advanced facily, and enjoying the company of a new friend.

"Fine. Miss Corben. I don’t judge.”
Character-Watch:
Yep, Metallo is back too! Last time we saw him was in the Doom Patrol crossover in Superman #20, when his body was destroyed but his head managed to escape. Somehow, Metallo’s parts ended up back in LexCorp, and at the beginning of this issue Happersen has them brought into the lab as a desperate attempt to use their technology to study Brainiac’s brain. What does a Terminator have to do with mind powers? No idea.
Plotline-Watch:
As I mentioned before, this is an unusual storyline for this period: all the Superman titles are still connected, but only Action Comics will feature developments in the Brainiac saga. So, Superman will still worry about the whole “there’s an evil alien intellect out there taking over buildings with his mind” situation in the Superman and Adventures issues, but mostly he’ll be dealing with more urgent matters (like, you know, “Jimmy Olsen is mad at me”).
Also, it’s curious that Superman had some memories erased by the Eradicator in the latest issue of Adventures, and then in this one he suddenly gains back other memories he’d lost long ago. Maybe Superman’s brain only has space for so many repressed stuff.

Action Comics #647 (November 1989)

Yes! Finally! “The Brainiac Trilogy,” part one of three! Or part one of seven, if you count all the parts in between that don’t say “The Brainiac Trilogy” on the cover. It’s confusing. I’ll explain later.

This is the storyline that transformed Brainiac from pudgy circus performer (as introduced in Adventures #438) to the lean, green badass who will give Superman headaches for the next decade. At this point, poor Brainy had spent the better part of a year going in and out of comas (mostly in), courtesy of his “buddy” Lex Luthor, who is keeping him sedated in a special lab in order to study his mental powers. After weeks of laying still on a metallic bed while under the care of cyberneticist/bedpan-changer Dr. Sydney Happersen, in this issue Brainiac finally goes “BOO!” and shoots a mind-control ray at Happersen.

Meanwhile, Superman recently unlocked his repressed memories from that confusing time in his life when he thought his name was Gangbuster (in Superman #36), and as a result he suddenly remembers that time he found out Brainiac and Luthor were working together. The dramatic revelation comes in the middle of the night, while Superman is in his nighttime pajamas.

The next day, Superman catches up with Luthor at a LexCorp weapons factory to ask him if he’s been teaming up with any supervillains lately, but just at that moment Brainiac mind-hacks into the building and all the robots start trying to kill Luthor. Superman saves Luthor, who is like “Brainiac? Who?” Lex then turns around and calls his Brainiac-studying lab and asks what the hell is going on. Happersen assures Luthor that everything is fine in the lab now but Brainiac escaped — of course, that’s just the mind-control talking, because Brainy is still there, now in complete control of the highly advanced facily, and enjoying the company of a new friend.

"Fine. Miss Corben. I don’t judge.”

Character-Watch:

Yep, Metallo is back too! Last time we saw him was in the Doom Patrol crossover in Superman #20, when his body was destroyed but his head managed to escape. Somehow, Metallo’s parts ended up back in LexCorp, and at the beginning of this issue Happersen has them brought into the lab as a desperate attempt to use their technology to study Brainiac’s brain. What does a Terminator have to do with mind powers? No idea.

Plotline-Watch:

As I mentioned before, this is an unusual storyline for this period: all the Superman titles are still connected, but only Action Comics will feature developments in the Brainiac saga. So, Superman will still worry about the whole “there’s an evil alien intellect out there taking over buildings with his mind” situation in the Superman and Adventures issues, but mostly he’ll be dealing with more urgent matters (like, you know, “Jimmy Olsen is mad at me”).

Also, it’s curious that Superman had some memories erased by the Eradicator in the latest issue of Adventures, and then in this one he suddenly gains back other memories he’d lost long ago. Maybe Superman’s brain only has space for so many repressed stuff.

Apr 3 '14
Adventures of Superman #460 (November 1989)
It’s Superman vs. the cosmic egg his grandpa’s grandpa made: Round Two! And this time, the egg wins.
So, last issue, Superman dropped the Eradicator (the aforementioned egg) into a hole in Antarctica, after realizing that the damned thing was to blame for everything bad that’s happened to him recently. In this issue Clark Kent is bantering with Lois Lane at the Daily Planet offices when he gets a splitting headache. Clark is able to figure out who’s behind the mental attack thanks to this subtle clue:

Yes: The Coca-Cola Company! Nah, it’s the Eradicator. Superman flies back to Antarctica to see what’s going on and finds out that the Eradicator has been pretty busy: it built some sort of giant antenna in the middle of the icy landscape, using Kryptonian technology it’s getting from some sort of portal. It even recreated some of those floating servant robots Superman’s dad had, and brainwashed two human scientists into talking and dressing like old-timey Kryptonians.
Superman tells the Eradicator to stop whatever it’s doing, but the Eradicator reacts by trying to, well, eradicate him. Eventually Superman is subdued by the Kryptonian machines and knocked unconscious, and then…

…we cut to Clark Kent back at the Planet again, feeling perfectly fine and with no memory of what happened. Which is a pretty disturbing ending, considering what happened the last time Superman had memory problems.
Character-Watch:
This issue introduces us to Kem-L, Superman’s racist great great great grandpa (or thereabouts). In a flashback, we find out the Eradicator was created by Kem-L when Krypton’s ruling class asked him to figure out a way to keep alien visitors off the planet (Krypton wasn’t big on tourism). Kem-L’s solution was to create a device that genetically chained all Kryptonians to Krypton while murdering any dirty immigrants who dared to step on the planet. Unfortunately, an old troublemaker called Cleric ended up stealing the Eradicator and taking it off-planet (as seen in Action Annual #2), so even if Kem-L ever realized “Wait, no, that was a stupid idea,” it was too late to fix it.
Another first appearance: a dapper fellow named Colin Thornton, the publisher of Newstime magazine. We don’t know this yet (because not even the writers knew this yet) but he’s actually an ancient supernatural evil, and the brother of the Satanic voice who transformed Skyhook in Superman #34.
Plotline-Watch:
Colin Thornton shows up at the Daily Planet looking for Clark because he wants to offer him a job as Newstime's managing editor. Of course, Clark would never leave the Planet in his right mind. In his right mind.
Those two scientists the Eradicator brainwashes are the same ones Superman met in Antarctica after being eaten by that giant bug, in Action #646. Poor guys, first they get their base leveled by a monster and now they’re kidnapped by an alien egg. Worst of all, it doesn’t look like the Eradicator is letting them wear proper attire for this weather.
Lois (who is showing off her new Annie Hall/Perry White look) mentions Jimmy Olsen’s recent Superman-caused problems, and Clark gets kinda defensive about it:

"Just because he’s super strong and smart and awesome doesn’t mean he can do anything, Lois! And handsome and a talented singer."

Adventures of Superman #460 (November 1989)

It’s Superman vs. the cosmic egg his grandpa’s grandpa made: Round Two! And this time, the egg wins.

So, last issue, Superman dropped the Eradicator (the aforementioned egg) into a hole in Antarctica, after realizing that the damned thing was to blame for everything bad that’s happened to him recently. In this issue Clark Kent is bantering with Lois Lane at the Daily Planet offices when he gets a splitting headache. Clark is able to figure out who’s behind the mental attack thanks to this subtle clue:

Yes: The Coca-Cola Company! Nah, it’s the Eradicator. Superman flies back to Antarctica to see what’s going on and finds out that the Eradicator has been pretty busy: it built some sort of giant antenna in the middle of the icy landscape, using Kryptonian technology it’s getting from some sort of portal. It even recreated some of those floating servant robots Superman’s dad had, and brainwashed two human scientists into talking and dressing like old-timey Kryptonians.

Superman tells the Eradicator to stop whatever it’s doing, but the Eradicator reacts by trying to, well, eradicate him. Eventually Superman is subdued by the Kryptonian machines and knocked unconscious, and then…

…we cut to Clark Kent back at the Planet again, feeling perfectly fine and with no memory of what happened. Which is a pretty disturbing ending, considering what happened the last time Superman had memory problems.

Character-Watch:

This issue introduces us to Kem-L, Superman’s racist great great great grandpa (or thereabouts). In a flashback, we find out the Eradicator was created by Kem-L when Krypton’s ruling class asked him to figure out a way to keep alien visitors off the planet (Krypton wasn’t big on tourism). Kem-L’s solution was to create a device that genetically chained all Kryptonians to Krypton while murdering any dirty immigrants who dared to step on the planet. Unfortunately, an old troublemaker called Cleric ended up stealing the Eradicator and taking it off-planet (as seen in Action Annual #2), so even if Kem-L ever realized “Wait, no, that was a stupid idea,” it was too late to fix it.

Another first appearance: a dapper fellow named Colin Thornton, the publisher of Newstime magazine. We don’t know this yet (because not even the writers knew this yet) but he’s actually an ancient supernatural evil, and the brother of the Satanic voice who transformed Skyhook in Superman #34.

Plotline-Watch:

  • Colin Thornton shows up at the Daily Planet looking for Clark because he wants to offer him a job as Newstime's managing editor. Of course, Clark would never leave the Planet in his right mind. In his right mind.
  • Those two scientists the Eradicator brainwashes are the same ones Superman met in Antarctica after being eaten by that giant bug, in Action #646. Poor guys, first they get their base leveled by a monster and now they’re kidnapped by an alien egg. Worst of all, it doesn’t look like the Eradicator is letting them wear proper attire for this weather.
  • Lois (who is showing off her new Annie Hall/Perry White look) mentions Jimmy Olsen’s recent Superman-caused problems, and Clark gets kinda defensive about it:

"Just because he’s super strong and smart and awesome doesn’t mean he can do anything, Lois! And handsome and a talented singer."

Mar 31 '14
Superman #37 (November 1989)
Jimmy Olsen hates Superman, and punches him with a flying car. Unfortunately other kids happen to be in the car at the time, otherwise I’m pretty sure Jimmy would have burned to death in a heat vision-caused explosion.
Why does Jimmy hate Superman so much? Because a few weeks ago in Action #643, Superman gave him a hug upon returning from outer space and accidentally infected Jimmy with an alien virus. The Eradicator then mutated the virus and thus Jimmy himself, turning him into an elastic monster with freaky DNA (in Adventures #458). Luckily, Superman happens to have buddies at a secret government facility specializing in freaky DNA experiments, so he takes Jimmy there to be cured. Jimmy thanks Superman for all his help by throwing a huge tantrum and being rude to one of Superman’s friends, simply because of his hideous appearance:

The science guys at Cadmus inject Jimmy with a plot device that will eventually cure him, and then they leave him to rest — unfortunately, Project Cadmus happens to be inhabited by a group of mischievous newsboy vendors from the 1940’s (it’s a long story) who are feeling restless that day and decide to break out of the facility in the aforementioned flying car, the Whiz Wagon, taking Jimmy with them.
On their way to Metropolis, Jimmy and the Newsboys run into Superman, and since Jimmy is driving the car with his mind, his feelings of hostility make the Whiz Wagon start throwing explosives at Superman and then ramming him in the head. Superman manages to deactivate the Wagon’s engine and, in a remarkable demonstration of self-restraint, he picks up the car and flies it back to Cadmus instead of just letting Jimmy fall to a certain death. The Newsboys get a mild scolding from their guardian, The Guardian, but Jimmy has learned nothing from the experience and insists on being a little shit towards Superman.
Plotline-Watch:
When Superman is first taking Jimmy to Cadmus wrapped up in his cape, Jimmy gets a vision of Husque, that otherdimensional guy from Adventures #443, asking Jimmy for help to find his sister. Jimmy’s like “Oh, yeah, I remember her…” but the vision ends just as it was getting to the good part.
The Misadventures of Jose Delgado: Lois Lane definitely breaks it off with Jose (for the second time), but at least the poor guy manages to get some goodbye smooching action out of her. Then Jose gets caught up in a bank robbery and is forced to shoot a machine gun at a woman… but you know what, at this point he’s so used to his bad luck that I bet the event barely registered for him.

Reference-Watch:
This is like a remake of an old Jack Kirby issue of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen (even the cover is an homage to this one), with the only difference that instead of being so damn preppy all the time, Jimmy spends the whole issue feeling sorry for himself, hating Superman and making zingers at his expense. My favorite is this one:

WTF-Watch:
When the Newsboys hear there’s a friend of Superman at Cadmus they think it might be another superhero, and Tommy (the leader) says “Like The Flash?” Then Flip (the token black kid) adds: “…or Cyborg, from the Titans.” Come on, DC. You could have at least gone with a more prominent black DC hero, like… uh… never mind.

Superman #37 (November 1989)

Jimmy Olsen hates Superman, and punches him with a flying car. Unfortunately other kids happen to be in the car at the time, otherwise I’m pretty sure Jimmy would have burned to death in a heat vision-caused explosion.

Why does Jimmy hate Superman so much? Because a few weeks ago in Action #643, Superman gave him a hug upon returning from outer space and accidentally infected Jimmy with an alien virus. The Eradicator then mutated the virus and thus Jimmy himself, turning him into an elastic monster with freaky DNA (in Adventures #458). Luckily, Superman happens to have buddies at a secret government facility specializing in freaky DNA experiments, so he takes Jimmy there to be cured. Jimmy thanks Superman for all his help by throwing a huge tantrum and being rude to one of Superman’s friends, simply because of his hideous appearance:

The science guys at Cadmus inject Jimmy with a plot device that will eventually cure him, and then they leave him to rest — unfortunately, Project Cadmus happens to be inhabited by a group of mischievous newsboy vendors from the 1940’s (it’s a long story) who are feeling restless that day and decide to break out of the facility in the aforementioned flying car, the Whiz Wagon, taking Jimmy with them.

On their way to Metropolis, Jimmy and the Newsboys run into Superman, and since Jimmy is driving the car with his mind, his feelings of hostility make the Whiz Wagon start throwing explosives at Superman and then ramming him in the head. Superman manages to deactivate the Wagon’s engine and, in a remarkable demonstration of self-restraint, he picks up the car and flies it back to Cadmus instead of just letting Jimmy fall to a certain death. The Newsboys get a mild scolding from their guardian, The Guardian, but Jimmy has learned nothing from the experience and insists on being a little shit towards Superman.

Plotline-Watch:

  • When Superman is first taking Jimmy to Cadmus wrapped up in his cape, Jimmy gets a vision of Husque, that otherdimensional guy from Adventures #443, asking Jimmy for help to find his sister. Jimmy’s like “Oh, yeah, I remember her…” but the vision ends just as it was getting to the good part.
  • The Misadventures of Jose Delgado: Lois Lane definitely breaks it off with Jose (for the second time), but at least the poor guy manages to get some goodbye smooching action out of her. Then Jose gets caught up in a bank robbery and is forced to shoot a machine gun at a woman… but you know what, at this point he’s so used to his bad luck that I bet the event barely registered for him.

Reference-Watch:

This is like a remake of an old Jack Kirby issue of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen (even the cover is an homage to this one), with the only difference that instead of being so damn preppy all the time, Jimmy spends the whole issue feeling sorry for himself, hating Superman and making zingers at his expense. My favorite is this one:

WTF-Watch:

When the Newsboys hear there’s a friend of Superman at Cadmus they think it might be another superhero, and Tommy (the leader) says “Like The Flash?” Then Flip (the token black kid) adds: “…or Cyborg, from the Titans.” Come on, DC. You could have at least gone with a more prominent black DC hero, like… uh… never mind.

Mar 29 '14
Action Comics #646 (October 1989)
Continuing Superman’s brief antarctic excursion: now he gets swallowed by a giant bug. You know, one of those pesky giant bugs they have in the South Pole.
The issue starts with a flashback to 300 million years ago, when some aliens dump a deadly “spore” in our planet because they figure “Meh, no one lives here anyway.” Cut to the present: Superman happens to be in Antarctica because he just tossed the legacy of his ancestors into a crevice (in Adventures #459), and the alien spore picks that day to finally hatch into a bug the size of a city. The megaworm starts causing mayhem and Superman goes and punches it, because that’s his job.

The worm reacts by eating Superman, but before he can be fully digested, Superman uses his heat vision to try to shoot his way out — however, it turns out the worm’s stomach was full of methane, so by lighting up a fire, Superman caused the monster to explode into a million gross pieces. They’ll be cleaning out giant worm parts in Antarctica until 2050.

And then… THE END! (So much for Superman’s no killing rule.)
Plotline-Watch:
If this issue seems weird that’s because it’s a special fill-in by Keith Giffen, since George Perez had the shits that week. (The lettercol says “pneumonia,” but we all know what they mean.)
At the beginning of the comic Superman checks on the Eradicator with his X-ray vision to make sure it’s still safely contained inside that metal egg he put it in. Unfortunately, all the tremors caused by the giant worm apparently caused the egg to open, because at the end we see that the Eradicator is free. Uh-oh.
There’s a short update on the still-unconscious Brainiac and his caretakers, the comical duo of Dr. Happersen and Dr. Kelley. The doctors are nervous because their boss, Lex Luthor, went through a considerable amount of trouble to acquire an entire super-advanced lab exclusively dedicated to exploring Brainiac’s mind powers, but no progress has been made on that front. This is because, as we saw in Superman #35, Brainiac’s mind is actually roaming the lab as a ghost while his body sleeps. This means the stage is set for one of the coolest Superman storylines, “The Brainiac Trilogy.”
It’s interesting (to me) that Superman eventually returned to Antarctica to fight another giant bug, this one with electric powers, right before he got electric powers himself (in 1997). The theory at the time was that the monster somehow caused Superman’s year-long transformation into a sparkly blue dude, but it was never confirmed. Hey, I wonder if that monster was another one of the spores the aliens left behind? We’ll find out when I get to that issue, in about 200 years. And speaking of giant bugs…
WTF-Watch:
For those keeping count, this is the second time Superman is almost pooped out by a gigantic creature: the first one was the space monster Superman accidentally teleported into in Adventures #451, which is actually mentioned in this issue because at some point someone must have said “Wait, didn’t we just do this?” (but it was too late to redraw the whole thing). I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last time “Superman potentially turning into bug poo” is a major plot point, either. I’ll make sure to keep track of that.

Action Comics #646 (October 1989)

Continuing Superman’s brief antarctic excursion: now he gets swallowed by a giant bug. You know, one of those pesky giant bugs they have in the South Pole.

The issue starts with a flashback to 300 million years ago, when some aliens dump a deadly “spore” in our planet because they figure “Meh, no one lives here anyway.” Cut to the present: Superman happens to be in Antarctica because he just tossed the legacy of his ancestors into a crevice (in Adventures #459), and the alien spore picks that day to finally hatch into a bug the size of a city. The megaworm starts causing mayhem and Superman goes and punches it, because that’s his job.

The worm reacts by eating Superman, but before he can be fully digested, Superman uses his heat vision to try to shoot his way out — however, it turns out the worm’s stomach was full of methane, so by lighting up a fire, Superman caused the monster to explode into a million gross pieces. They’ll be cleaning out giant worm parts in Antarctica until 2050.

And then… THE END! (So much for Superman’s no killing rule.)

Plotline-Watch:

  • If this issue seems weird that’s because it’s a special fill-in by Keith Giffen, since George Perez had the shits that week. (The lettercol says “pneumonia,” but we all know what they mean.)
  • At the beginning of the comic Superman checks on the Eradicator with his X-ray vision to make sure it’s still safely contained inside that metal egg he put it in. Unfortunately, all the tremors caused by the giant worm apparently caused the egg to open, because at the end we see that the Eradicator is free. Uh-oh.
  • There’s a short update on the still-unconscious Brainiac and his caretakers, the comical duo of Dr. Happersen and Dr. Kelley. The doctors are nervous because their boss, Lex Luthor, went through a considerable amount of trouble to acquire an entire super-advanced lab exclusively dedicated to exploring Brainiac’s mind powers, but no progress has been made on that front. This is because, as we saw in Superman #35, Brainiac’s mind is actually roaming the lab as a ghost while his body sleeps. This means the stage is set for one of the coolest Superman storylines, “The Brainiac Trilogy.”
  • It’s interesting (to me) that Superman eventually returned to Antarctica to fight another giant bug, this one with electric powers, right before he got electric powers himself (in 1997). The theory at the time was that the monster somehow caused Superman’s year-long transformation into a sparkly blue dude, but it was never confirmed. Hey, I wonder if that monster was another one of the spores the aliens left behind? We’ll find out when I get to that issue, in about 200 years. And speaking of giant bugs…

WTF-Watch:

For those keeping count, this is the second time Superman is almost pooped out by a gigantic creature: the first one was the space monster Superman accidentally teleported into in Adventures #451, which is actually mentioned in this issue because at some point someone must have said “Wait, didn’t we just do this?” (but it was too late to redraw the whole thing). I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last time “Superman potentially turning into bug poo” is a major plot point, either. I’ll make sure to keep track of that.

Mar 27 '14
Adventures of Superman #459 (October 1989)
Superman finally realizes that the Eradicator gizmo he found in space might be evil, so he decides to toss it in a crevice in the antarctic. He probably got the idea from watching Superman II.
So what makes Superman suspect that this harmless little Kryptonian artifact that killed hundreds of thousands of his ancestors centuries ago (Action Annual #2) is no good? Jimmy F. Olsen. Last issue, Jimmy suddenly mutated into Plastic Man for unknown reasons and Superman left him in the care of Professor Hamilton. Hamilton is then able to track down the virus that messed up Jimmy to the moment when Superman hugged the kid upon returning from space in Action #643. And guess what Superman was carrying in his pocket at the time? The Eradicator.
At that point, and despite the mountain of evidence, Superman still isn’t completely sure that the Eradicator is to blame, so he agrees to bring it to the S.T.A.R. Labs facility Hamilton is using to be examined. Unfortunately, Hamilton is a bit of a butterfingers and accidentally triggers the thing’s murder mechanisms.

The lab explodes as the Eradicator becomes suspended in the air and starts shooting bolts of energy. When Superman warns Jimmy to stay away, the Eradicator goes out of its way to shoot Jimmy with energy and thus proves that not only does it have a conscience, but that conscience is a dick. Jimmy turns elastic again and ends up bouncing all over the destroyed lab while Superman tries to figure out what to do.

Eventually the Eradicator just sorta turns itself off and Superman wraps it inside a metal egg while he has the chance. We then circle back to the scene of Superman in the antarctic throwing the metal egg into a crevice, and whelp, guess that’s the end of the Eradicator storyline!
Plotline-Watch:
Haha, no. We’ve still got a few years left of Eradicator shenanigans. The issue ends with an ominous light going on at the bottom of the crevice. So the thing was on all along, but it just let Superman drop it there. I guess it wanted some… Solitude.
Also, Superman mentions that he’ll be taking Jimmy to Project Cadmus next, since Hamilton couldn’t help him. Hamilton, perhaps a little offended, makes a good observation: Cadmus is all about cloning people, and that’s exactly what started this whole Eradicator business in the first place (remember it was created to get rid of the anti-cloning protesters in Krypton).
WTF-Watch:
It takes an hilariously long time for Superman to even start suspecting that the ancient murder machine he brought from space is, you know, a murder machine. Upon reviewing the events of the past issues with Hamilton, it very, very slowly dawns on Superman that the time when the Eradicator exploded on Matrix/Supergirl’s face (also in Action #643) must have been what drove Matrix crazy. But before realizing that, Superman actually thinks it might have been her who’s responsible for all of Jimmy’s woes.

Wait, how would Matrix pass the virus to Jim- ewww.

Adventures of Superman #459 (October 1989)

Superman finally realizes that the Eradicator gizmo he found in space might be evil, so he decides to toss it in a crevice in the antarctic. He probably got the idea from watching Superman II.

So what makes Superman suspect that this harmless little Kryptonian artifact that killed hundreds of thousands of his ancestors centuries ago (Action Annual #2) is no good? Jimmy F. Olsen. Last issue, Jimmy suddenly mutated into Plastic Man for unknown reasons and Superman left him in the care of Professor Hamilton. Hamilton is then able to track down the virus that messed up Jimmy to the moment when Superman hugged the kid upon returning from space in Action #643. And guess what Superman was carrying in his pocket at the time? The Eradicator.

At that point, and despite the mountain of evidence, Superman still isn’t completely sure that the Eradicator is to blame, so he agrees to bring it to the S.T.A.R. Labs facility Hamilton is using to be examined. Unfortunately, Hamilton is a bit of a butterfingers and accidentally triggers the thing’s murder mechanisms.

The lab explodes as the Eradicator becomes suspended in the air and starts shooting bolts of energy. When Superman warns Jimmy to stay away, the Eradicator goes out of its way to shoot Jimmy with energy and thus proves that not only does it have a conscience, but that conscience is a dick. Jimmy turns elastic again and ends up bouncing all over the destroyed lab while Superman tries to figure out what to do.

Eventually the Eradicator just sorta turns itself off and Superman wraps it inside a metal egg while he has the chance. We then circle back to the scene of Superman in the antarctic throwing the metal egg into a crevice, and whelp, guess that’s the end of the Eradicator storyline!

Plotline-Watch:

Haha, no. We’ve still got a few years left of Eradicator shenanigans. The issue ends with an ominous light going on at the bottom of the crevice. So the thing was on all along, but it just let Superman drop it there. I guess it wanted some… Solitude.

Also, Superman mentions that he’ll be taking Jimmy to Project Cadmus next, since Hamilton couldn’t help him. Hamilton, perhaps a little offended, makes a good observation: Cadmus is all about cloning people, and that’s exactly what started this whole Eradicator business in the first place (remember it was created to get rid of the anti-cloning protesters in Krypton).

WTF-Watch:

It takes an hilariously long time for Superman to even start suspecting that the ancient murder machine he brought from space is, you know, a murder machine. Upon reviewing the events of the past issues with Hamilton, it very, very slowly dawns on Superman that the time when the Eradicator exploded on Matrix/Supergirl’s face (also in Action #643) must have been what drove Matrix crazy. But before realizing that, Superman actually thinks it might have been her who’s responsible for all of Jimmy’s woes.

Wait, how would Matrix pass the virus to Jim- ewww.