skjam: Man in blue suit and fedora, wearing an eyeless mask emblazoned with the scales of justice (justice)
[personal profile] skjam posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Let's switch gears for a moment and return to the Bronze Age of comics, specifically Action Comics #556. We'll be looking at 7 2/3rd pages of the 23-page story, "Endings."

Not really a very good cover, but it does come pretty close to the events inside.

A bit of background: Vandal Savage was originally from Earth-Two, where he fought the Golden Age Green Lantern, and later the Justice Society of America. Thanks to the JLA/JSA teamups of yore, Mr. Savage learned of the existence of Earth-One and how to get there. He also learned that he apparently had no counterpart on that parallel world, which gave him an idea.

Vandal Savage comes to Earth-One where he has no criminal record. He somehow gets enough resources to build Abraxas Industries, and become a legitimate businessman. Since he has no criminal record, people are willing to give Mr. Savage the benefit of the doubt, despite Superman's warnings about his past behavior on Earth-Two. But just being free from the threat of prosecution isn't good enough for Vandal Savage, and he begins a plot to discredit and perhaps destroy the Man of Steel.

With a flashback of Superman smashing some robots built in his own image in front of Abraxas Industries HQ.

That was Phase One. Now, weeks and several issues later, Phase Two begins with the recently paroled criminal Neutron destroying a building with his nuclear punch. Superman subdues the villain, but notes that reporter Lana Lang wonders why he did that. It turns out that Neutron now has his own legal demolition business, a subsidary of Abraxas Industries, and was paid to demolish that building. Neutron's lawyer threatens to sue, and the viewing audience becomes divided as to Superman's behavior.

Shortly thereafter, a plague of prehistoric plant life sweeps over Metropolis, with the plants following Superman like the sun. (Phase Three) Vandal Savage claims that Superman wrecked the force field that kept the plants in check. Superman is unable to prove he didn't. Mr. Savage gloats that the tide of public opinion is changing.

At the Daily Planet, Perry White reluctantly okays a headline asking why Superman seems to be acting erratically. Jimmy Olsen nearly punches another reporter for doubting his pal. Lois Lane claims that even though she's no longer in love with Superman, she knows there must be a good explanation. But until Superman provides that explanation, well....

Clark Kent meets Lana, his current girlfriend, who also believes in Superman, but knows that the Man of Steel can never truly be intimate with a woman, unlike Clark.

Clark momentarily considers telling her the truth, but the Laser Erasers choose that moment to attack the city and challenge Superman. Superman's a bit confused by this, since they didn't bring any weapons that could actually hurt him and seem to be causing random property damage for no good reason. Turns out that was the plan, planting the idea that criminals are attracted to Metropolis by Superman, and thus his presence endangers the civilians. (Phase Four.)

Back at Abraxas, Vandal Savage gloats at the success of his plan. Mr. Savage believes that Superman thinks with his fists, and thus will be unable to figure a way out of this mess, until he's finally forced to leave Earth. And now for Phase Five!

Superman is removing a burning building from Metropolis, and Vandal Savage remarks that if he had such powers, he'd enslave humanity rather than serve them. So it's time to fire the sonic disruptor! This small dart goes into Superman's ear while he's distracted, then attacks his superhearing and balance.

In great pain, Superman drops the burning building, smashes through some offices and then plants himself in the street. Sadly for Mr. Savage. the sonic disruptor takes so much power that it has to be turned off now. But now starts Phase Five Part Two, in which he will turn even Superman's closest friends against him!

The judge releases Superman without bail, based on his known habit of showing up for trial. Outside, reporters wait. Superman refuses to say anything about his actions or Vandal Savage on the advice of his attorney, but will say "I'm a citizen like anyone else...I'm not above being questioned and I'm not above the law." He's pleased to hear that most of Metropolis still trusts him, but it's time he earned that trust.

Even a few minutes at the Fortress of Solitude doesn't help Superman's mood, but he does devise a plan.

We miss you, pre-Crisis Jason Todd.

...and pre-Crisis Lana Lang.

Some time later, Vandal Savage is alone in his Abraxas control room when the intruder alert sounds. It's Superman, looking grim. Mr. Savage reminds Superman that he's videotaping, so that anything the Man of Steel does to harm him will be known.

"I don't hurt people."

"That's not what I've been hearing, old friend."

I love it when Superman does that.

As a final treat, here's an ad from that issue.

Your thoughts and comments?


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