Action Comics #294:"The Kryptonite Killer!"

Action Comics #294
"The Kryptonite Killer!"
November, 1962

Story: Edmond Hamilton
Art: Al Plastino

A roll call of the Man of Steel's most dangerous enemies includes Brainiac, Lightning Lord, Saturn Woman, and Jax-Ur. Of all Superman's foes, Lex Luthor is the most relentless! The renegade scientist seeks to enslave the Earth, but the Man of Steel has foiled his ambition time and time again! This time, Superman is about to become the intended victim of Luthor's latest creation - "The Kryptonite Killer!"

The Man of Steel is at his Fortress of Solitude and is putting the finishing touches of his new "Hall of Enemies"... His arch-foe Luthor might have been the greatest benefactor the world had ever known, but the loss of his hair in an accidental explosion causes young Luthor to blame Superboy for his baldness! He then became the renegade scientist the world knows today! Superman molds a final exhibit out of molten wax with his invulnerable hands of how Luthor looked when the Man of Steel left him on the robot world of Roxar! Right now on Roxar, the unwanted inhabitant is busy spraying robot heads as a useful function! For Luthor, the current conditions on Roxar are intolerable... His fuel capsules are the same as those given to the androids, and are made of the finest synthetic carbohydrates and proteins! Unfortunately, they also taste like straw! Every day, the renegade scientist returns under guard to his inoperative rocket -- just like prison... Number 43061 is the former Superman robot whose robot controls were powered by the radium fuel in Luthor's spaceship, and prevented him from leaving Roxar!

The former Superman robot was converted into a robot citizen of Roxar in order to save Luthor from the murder charge of Autom 43061! The robots have built a statue of the Man of Steel next to the spaceship! One night, Luthor watches as the Dynos attack two of the Automs, and the energy insects feed on their metal until there is nothing left but a puddle of molten slag! The criminal scientist realizes he could make good use of the Automs from the molten metal left by the Dynos! That evening, within his stranded spaceship, Luthor isolates the poisonous qualities of the Dynos from the slag left behind...

The following day finds Luthor presenting a repeller ray for driving the Dynos away to the Automs! That evening, as the swarm of Dynos attack, they are stopped by the repeller rays, and the next morning finds the assembly of Autom masters and android slaves declaring Lex Luthor as an honorary robot! As his reward, he names two things he wants! The first is to have the statue of Superman destroyed! As the destructor Automs dismantle the statue, Luthor's second request is for his own personal laboratory so that he can continue designing more beneficial inventions, and to be supplied with samples of all known elements! One of those elements is radium, which is needed to refuel his spaceship! The following day when Luthor enters his new laboratory, he finds that the Automs did not give him any radium! For the Automs, radium is the life force of every Autom on Roxar! No one else may possess this but the Automs themselves!

Their radium is guarded in the pyramid vault, which is made of the toughest alloys! Should Luthor be tempted to try and rob the pyramid, his punishment would be swift! He would be frozen in suspended animation along with those androids who rebelled, and were locked in blocks of ice! The androids in the freeze pits fit quite nicely in his own plans! In the following days, the renegade scientist is hard at work, and the Automs believe he will turn over his new inventions as soon as they have been perfected! One day, Luthor now has all the necessary equipment and weapons he needs to make his escape from Roxar! Unseen, Luthor makes his way to the freezing pens, and uses a heat-gun at a low-setting to partially defrost the captive androids!

He then asks for volunteers to aid him in his revenge against the Automs who captured him! Unwilling to free all of the androids, he administers a special test for intelligence and loyalty by analyzing their brain patterns! The readings help to determine which of them he can use! The three most intelligent are freed and the rest are frozen in place!

The androids soon learn not to question their new master and are led into his laboratory... A converter machine alters their molecular structure, and gives each of the transformed androids new powers! A single beam of light is mirrored from three reflectors... one made of diamond, one made of lead, and one made of Kryptonite... They are now Diamond Man, Leadman,and Kryptonite Man! Their first assignment involves Diamond Man breaking into the permium vault, and reaching the radium supply! Diamond Man's fingers drill through the walls of the vault...

With the radium in his possession, Luthor now has enough to fuel his spaceship for one hundred years! Lead Man carries the radium and follows his new master! The Automs have discovered the theft of the radium and arrive to stop Luthor! It is almost sunset when the Dynos return to attack! As the Automs prepare to activate their repeller rays, Luthor uses his deactivator beam to short-circuit them, and leave the Automs helpless!

As the Automs panic amidst the Dyno swarm, Lead Man is told to place one of the radium blocks in the fuel cell of the spaceship, and follow the others inside! Having outwitted both the Automs and his arch-foe, Lex Luthor prepares to make the universe tremble! Weeks later, the Man of Steel is checking his space monitor at the Fortress of Solitude and receives a call from Galaxy Procyon about space pirates attacking one of their transports. A cargo of rare flame jewels was seized! A moment later, another alarm from planet Cybernia regarding the theft of their cosmic clock by space raiders is received, and this means disaster for Cybernia because the cosmic clock is necessary to regulate the orbit of their entire planetary system! The space monitor is soon swamped by frantic signals from various systems, and the Man of Steel knows that the one person who could organize space piracy on such a huge scale is... Lex Luthor!

Using his telescopic-vision, Superman learns that Luthor has escaped from Roxar! Now in outer space, the Man of Steel uses his telescopic-vision to locate Luthor's rocket landing on a ringed planet in the Bruno V1 star-cluster! Meanwhile at Luthor's planetary lair... Lead Man asks how long he and the other transformed androids must perform these evil deeds! He learns that Luthor is intent upon controlling every space lane in the universe and is finishing painting another symbol on his spaceship to mark another successful raid! His radar system warns him of his arch-foe's approach and Luthor orders the transformed androids to set up the apparatus, and cover it with a cloth! As Superman arrives... Diamond Man is ordered to attack, and the Man of Steel wonders why Luthor would think a Diamond Man would be able to stop him!

A light tap from Superman is enough to turn a Diamond Man into so much dust... Lead Man stand aside so that Kryptonite Man can weaken the Man of Steel, and Luthor's invention triples the strength of the Kryptonite radiations! The triple-strength Kryptonite rays are far worse than any Superman has ever encountered! There is only one chance remaining -- one ally on Roxar -- who can be reached by a supersonic call for aid! The signal reaches Autom 43061, who answers his former master's call at once!

The former Superman robot is still able to fly! Just as he is about to save his former master from his current predicament, he is cut down by Luthor's heat-gun! With no one left on Roxar to save him, it appears that the Man of Steel will not escape his arch-foe's revenge! Once he is finished off by the Kryptonite rays, the renegade scientist will go after Supergirl! At that moment, Lead Man rebels against his new master's evil plan, and is also blasted by the heat-gun! Luthor has just done what Lead Man wanted him to do! His final act is to hurl his melting body over Kryptonite Man, and shield Superman from the deadly rays! Luthor cannot understand why the former android would act this way!

Seeing the renegade scientist was willing to destroy anything in his path, including Diamond Man, Lead Man was willing to give his own life to stop him! Superman has recovered from the Kryptonite rays and is about to take Luthor back to Earth to pay for his acts of piracy! The proof of his participation in the ten acts of piracy are painted on his spaceship! The stolen loot is hidden somewhere and reasoning that his arch-foe would have all that wealth close by, the Man of Steel heads for the planet's rings... His super-hearing picks up ticking frm outer space, and he finds the cosmic clock from Cyberna concealed within a phony asteroid!

Using his super-strength, the Man of Steel sends the phony asteroids containing the stolen loot back to the planets they were stolen from... and even carving the addresses to make certain they are returned where they belong! Luthor is unable to bear the thought that Superman has figured out where the loot was! In the psychiatric ward at Metropolis Prison, the capture has affected Luthor's mind, and he now believes himself to be a pirate captain!

On the cover of Action Comics #294, Luthor triples the strength of the Kryptonite Man's deadly radiations, and there's no way for Superman to save himself!

Luthor once turned himself into a Kryptonite Man in Action Comics #249.

Superman's Hall of Enemies includes busts of Saturn Woman, Mr. Mxyptlk, Jax-Ur, Brainiac, and young Luthor before and after the explosion that left him bald.

Al Plastino redesigned Mr. Mxyzptlk, co-created Brainiac with writer Otto Binder, and drew "How Luthor Met Superboy!" in Adventure Comics #271.

Luthor is given food for thought on the robot planet, but these thoughts are best left unspoken.

A heat-gun and a cold-gun are the chosen weapons of Heat-Wave and Captain Cold.

Leave it to Luthor to come up with a pyramid scheme of his own.

Diamond Man was Lead Man's best friend and enough reason for the former android to rebel against his new master.

Flame gems was being sold by Cyrano Jones (Stanley Kamel) in "The Trouble With Tribbles" episode of Star Trek TOS.

The Man of Steel had to beat the clock to save the planet of Cybernia from total destruction.

Diamond Man wasn't up to a little roughhousing with Superman.

Kara Zor-El was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.

The cosmic clock took a licking but kept on ticking for the Man of Steel's super-hearing to pick it up in the asteroid belt.

In the Metropolis Mailbag, Steven Grant of Madison, Wisconsin writes:

"Dear Editor: I enjoyed the recent story, "The New Superman." But I think I spotted an error. In one sequence of this story you establish the fact that every time Superman is near gold, he becomes weak and dizzy, just like when he is exposed to green kryptonite. Well, as I see it, even after he got out of range from all golden objects he still should have felt weak. For isn't his belt made out of gold?"

The Editor replies:

"You're wrong. The Man of Steel's belt was made from one of the yellow blankets in which he was wrapped when as an infant, his Kryptonian parents sent him to Earth in a rocket."

Steve Chung
"The Kryptonite Review!"