Action Comics #259: "The Revenge Of Luthor!"

Action Comics #259
"The Revenge Of Luthor!"
December, 1959

Script: Jerry Siegel
Art: Al Plastino

Who is the most powerful man on the planet? The Man of Steel! And who was the most powerful boy on the planet? The Boy of Steel! Superboy grew up in Smallville and as Superman, made Metropolis his home. His feats as the Boy of Steel will never be forgotten, but there is no longer any need for mere memory. Superboy exists once again, existing at the same time as his older self! And this incredible situation inspires -- "The Revenge Of Luthor!"

As the Man of Steel does an aerial patrol of Metropolis, he sees an aircraft about to be struck by a meteor! Superman catches the meteor and discovers it's Red Kryptonite! As he tries to get rid of it with his super-breath, the Man of Steel recalls the dreaded substance was formed years ago when fragments of Green Kryptonite passed through a cosmic cloud. While Green Kryptonite can kill Superman, Red Kryptonite has unpredictable effects upon him! He becomes dizzy and loses all control of his movements! He starts to fall... The Red Kryptonite has affected him, for the Man of Steel's fall has knocked him unconscious! Superman is plagued by nightmarish faces rushing towards him!!

A crimson haze blots out all thoughts. After a supreme effort, the Man of Steel open his eyes once more. He is grateful to have escaped this particular encounter with Red Kryptonite with no serious after-effects! No bones are broken! Everything appears to be normal. As he starts feeling lucky, Superman turns and sees Superboy! The Boy of Steel sees the man he will grow up to be... Superman! Superboy can't exist at the same time as the Man of Steel! He ceased to exist years ago when Superman became an adult! The Red Kryptonite must have pulled him out of the past and deposited him in the present! If this is true, the Boy of Steel will never see Ma and Pa Kent again!

With Lana Lang grown up now and his adopted parents deceased, Superboy feels like his whole world has collapsed from under him. Recalling that villains have tried this trick on him, Superman uses his x-ray vision to determine if Superboy is a robot! The Boy of Steel does the same. Both are flesh and blood, and both share the same bone structure! Superboy suggests they test their fingerprints. Microscopic-vision reveals the markings on their hands are identical! Both of them are now existing simultaneously! At a nearby freight yard, the Man of Steel would like to see if Superboy possesses all of his super-powers! Both are stronger than a locomotive! As the Man of Steel uses his heat-vision to melt a mountain, the Boy of Steel bores underground.

Now at a molten strata, Superboy kicks up a fuss, and heaves a new mountain up out of the ground. After telling the Boy of Steel the location of his Fortress of Solitude, the Man of Steel changes back to Clark Kent, and is about to return to the Daily Planet. Superboy is about to change back to Clark, but is reminded by his older self if people learn they now exist simultaneously, and if they see a young Clark Kent with an adult Clark Kent, their secret identities would be undone. Older Clark wonders if his younger self has been made stupid by the Red Kryptonite. If it made him stupid, his older self must have been given a terrible temper! Superboy is ordered to go to the Fortress of Solitude and remain there until he is summoned with an ultra-sonic whistle!

At the office of the Daily Planet, Perry White asks Clark to go interview the president of the Metropolis Trust Bank about their new branch. The mild-mannered reporter can't stop thinking about his younger self! He hopes Superboy won't make any silly mistakes that will seriously affect his activities as the Man of Steel. As Clark reaches the bank, a strange ship descends from the sky. A startled guard figures it must be a Martian spaceship! The beams from its portholes may turn out to be death rays! As the costumed crooks exit from their disguised helicopter, they enter the empty bank, and plan to wipe out any stragglers! After swiftly assessing the situation, the mild-mannered reporter changes to Superman, and uses his x-ray vision to identify the alien invaders as wanted criminals! As he soars in, the Man of Steel collides with his younger self!

Both Man and Boy of Steel are stunned for several seconds, giving the criminals enough time to make their getaway! After apologizing for losing his temper, Superman asks Superboy to help him catch a counterfeiter! At "Flashy" Burke's hotel room, the Boy of Steel seizes a locked box, and uses his x-ray vision to peek inside! As he sees the counterfeit bills, they suddenly catch on fire! The counterfeiter laughs at the accidental use of heat-vision to destroy the evidence. His older self demands to know if he can control his super-vision powers?

The Man of Steel recalls being rather clever as a youth, but this Superboy... has suddenly become distracted by a rodeo! The sight of the flying Boy of Steel causes the bulls to get excited. The rodeo has become a riot! After rounding up the bulls, Superman tells Superboy to stay away from him! The Boy of Steel doesn't want anything to do with a hot-headed Superman, either!

News of this startling development spreads throughout the entire world. One person in particular is extremely interested in this startling development, Luthor! For years, the Man of Steel has been the bane of his existence, but now thanks to Red Kryptonite, Luthor has got an excellent opportunity to get rid of Superman! He will pit the Man of Steel against himself, in the form of the Boy of Steel! The stupidity of Superboy against the temper of Superman will prove to be their utter downfall! One day, as the Boy of Steel is on aerial patrol, he spots Luthor's trap to capture him! Figuring no one would deliberately put him on guard by putting up a sign on a real trap, he decides to enter! He soon passes out within the Kryptonite-lined trap!

Later that very day, Superman is challenged by his younger self, and loses consciousness while fighting a Superboy robot whose interior is packed with Green Kryptonite. Man and Boy of Steel revive within an underground arena. Luthor reveals Lois Lane and Lana Lang are both his prisoners! If either of them attempt to penetrate the force-globe, the force rays will kill Lois and Lana, who are not properly insulated against the rays. As Superman warns his younger self not to do anything stupid, Superboy warns his older self not to lose his temper!

Luthor orders them to battle to the death! If the Man of Steel dies, Lois Lane will die! If Superboy dies, Lana Lang will die, too! If they refuse to fight, both Lois and Lana will die! With Lana Lang's life at stake, the Boy of Steel moves at super-speed, and forces his older self to the floor! The Man of Steel rebounds from the hole in the ground and delivers a kick...WHOOSH! As Lois yells for them to stop fighting and get Luthor, the evil scientist assures the girl reporter that he understands human nature, and has thoroughly planned this!

Man and Boy of Steel fence with one another via heat-vision! Both are equally invulnerable! Luthor realizes this is a case of the irresistible force meeting an immovable object! He has prepared an alternate plan. After ordering Superman to lie face down, a double-chambered metallic cabinet rises from the floor. The Boy of Steel enters one of the chambers and closes the door. After that, the Man of Steel is allowed to rise once more. The lead cabinet is impervious to his x-ray vision. His younger self is in one of the chambers. There is a Green Kryptonite meteor in the other. Superman is to open one of the doors immediately! If the Superboy door is opened, the Boy of Steel will be killed with Kryptonite, and the rest will go free! If Superman opens the door with the meteor, the Man of Steel will die, and the others will go free! Luthor has calculated Superboy's return to the past, when the effects of the Red Kryptonite wear off. Now, Superman must choose who will die!

He can't possibly win. No matter what choice he makes! If he chooses the Kryptonite door, he will die! If he chooses the Superboy door, his younger self will die! If Superboy dies, he could never have grown up to become an adult, and would cease to exist! His super-hearing detects the Boy of Steel's foot behind the left door tapping in morse code the word H...E...R...E... Is his younger self sacrificing himself.. or... is Superboy trying to trick him via super-ventriloquism? He would do anything to save Lana! Luthor's voice urges him to choose now, or Lois and Lana will die! Luthor's laughter rings in the Man of Steel's ears as he awakens at the very spot where he had fallen after the collison with the Red Kryptonite meteor. It was all a Red Kryptonite-induced nightmare! Luthor is currently in prison! If his younger self had materialized, they would have made a fine team! Superman is relieved, but as he reflects upon the dream, a question remains. What if it hadn't been a dream? What choice would he have made? The Superboy door or the Green Kryptonite door???

This story was reprinted in 80 Page Giant #1 (August, 1964).

Viewers of The Adventures of Superman know that the Man of Steel is more powerful than a locomotive.

Green Kryptonite is fatal to Kryptonians. Red Kryptonite has unpredictable side effects. White Kryptonite affects plant life. Blue Kryptonite affects only Bizarro. Gold Kryptonite permanently robs a Kryptonian of their super-powers.

Superman lost his adopted parents when he was Superboy.

Lana Lang was a childhood friend of Superboy in Smallville.

The Man of Steel may subconsciously blame himself for his adopted parents' death and was taking it out on his younger self.

Superboy had his Secret Citadel and Superman has his Fortress of Solitude.

J'onn J'onzz is the Manhunter from Mars.

The Man of Steel and the Boy of Steel both built robots in their own likeness to take care of their dual identities.

Lana Lang, Lois Lane, and Lex Luthor all share the same initials.

There is a classic saying about a comic book story not being a dream, imaginary tale, or a hoax.

This story was a Red Kryptonite-induced nightmare and the Man of Steel is spared from making a life-threatening choice.

Steve Chung
"The Review Of Luthor!"