Action Comics #332: "The Super-Vengeance Of Lex Luthor!"

Action Comics #332
"The Super-Vengeance Of Lex Luthor!"
January, 1966

Story: Leo Dorfman
Art: Al Plastino
Lettering: Joe Letterese

Everyone knows that Luthor is the Man of Steel's arch-foe, so why should he protect Superman from harm? Why would he do so? The answer to this mystery is found in "The Super-Vengeance Of Lex Luthor!"

As mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent types a story at the Daily Planet, Jimmy Olsen notes that things have quieted down ever since his pal sent Luthor to a prison asteroid for his crimes! Later, when Clark has changed to Superman, he finds the time to work on an important experiment at his Fortress of Solitude! Lex Luthor and his fellow inmates have been trapped for month's on the Devil's Island of Space! Brainiac suggests checking with their fellow convicts for assistance with their super-powers! Lightning Lord, Saturn Queen, and Cosmic King are unable to aid them because a sand of charged particles is counter-acting their powers, making them powerless on this prison asteroid! A prison guard shows Luthor who happens to those who try an escape! Their H-3 gun turned a group of convicts to solid crystal! The following day finds Luthor gathering vegetation for food, when he spots a small spaceship! A prison guard explains the space lifeboat was smuggled in by interplanetary criminals who planned on aiding some of their cronies to escape!

Power grenades smashed the space lifeboat and the fuel was removed, the wreckage was left as a warning to other would-be escapees! Luthor sees a space-suit and scrap parts from the smashed controls may be of some use. Later, the criminal scientist salvages the electronic parts and uses the atmospheric probe to analyze the composition of the crystal statues. Days later, Luthor salvages more parts from the wreckage, creating a magnet for cosmic energy from outer space, and concentrate it on the crystal statue. The starting button is pressed, with an energy bolt transforming the atoms of the crystal statue into solid-state rocket fuel! As he dons the space-suit, the others see his plans to make a getaway in the space lifeboat! Luthor sneers at them as he loads the solid fuel into the special jet devices he built! Seconds later, the criminal scientist double-crosses his fellow inmates, and flies to his destination!

The interplanetary space prison contacts the Man of Steel at his Fortress of Solitude. Superman uses his telescopic-vision to search outer space, and guesses his arch-foe would seek sanctuary on Lexor! On that planet, Luthor is regarded as a hero, and the Man of Steel is considered a criminal! Lexor has a red sun which nullifies his super-powers! Superman suddenly remembers an invention being tested by army scientists which would enable him to travel to Lexor and back! At the secret laboratory, the Man of Steel learns more about the new teleport ray which transports any object across vast distances instantaneously, by disassembling its atoms and reassembling them at their destination. A jeep has just made such a trip from the laboratory to the coast and back again -- in seconds! Superman rewires some of the circuits with his heat-vision! Once the changes are made, the teleport ray will dissolve the Man of Steel's atomic structure and reassemble them on Lexor! After five minutes, the timer on his belt will reverse the action, and transport him back to Earth!

HMMMMM His atomic structure is dissolving, leaving nothing but his consciousness... and thoughts of what would happen if his atoms fail to reassemble on Lexor. Seconds later, across outer space, a swirling cloud of minute particles reassembles on Lexor. The Man of Steel finds himself in the middle of a public square. He sees the thorn flowers which contain poison, and would kill him here, where he is not invulnerable! Once he has completely materialized, Superman surveys the statue of Lex Luthor! The planet was re-named after him because he recovered the forgotten super-science of their ancestors. No one, not even Luthor's wife know he is a wanted criminal! Accidentally touching a hidden button in the insignia, the Man of Steel triggers the door of a secret vault in the base of the statue. It contains souvenirs of Luthor's criminal exploits! At that moment, Ardora, the wife of Luthor, enters the public square. It has been months since Lex left on a mission in outer space. She misses him so! Looking at his statue brings him closer to her! Ardora sees the evil one who hounds her husband. Since Lex's foe must be planning some more mischief, she looks around for a weapon.

Ardora reaches into the shrubbery and throws a thorn-flower at her husband's arch-foe! Fortunately for the Man of Steel, his five-minute visit to Lexor is up! The timer is transporting him back to Earth and the poison thorns are passing harmlessly through his dissolving atomic structure! Luthor's wife finds her husband's secret vault filled with trophies of his career! Superman may have wanted to steal them! The mento-record discs contain records of Lex's past! She borrows one of them, and the mento-projector, too! She wants to see for herself some of his noble accomplishments! At her home, she activates the mento-projector. The record is about Earth's undersea kingdom of Atlantis and their experiment they began last year! An oxygen-filled dome would test their theory that one day they would be able to adapt to life in an air-breathing environment! Since the volunteers would be cut off from Atlantis for years, a collection of precious relics are being brought to remind them of their Atlantean heritage!

Within the domes, the volunteers emerge from the shallow canals for long periods, until they become air-breathers! The oxygen valves must be controlled! Too much air will dry up the canal and kill them all! Ardora watches as Lex opens the outside valves! He has cased the dome for weeks. He increased the oxygen to knock out the Atlanteans so they can steal the valuable relics! As she watches in stunned silence, Ardora sees the extra oxygen has dried up the canals! Without water, the Atlanteans died like fish! This does not matter to Luthor, as long as they got the loot! Ardora now knows her husband is a criminal! His conscience does not bother him... or else he would not keep the trophy of this terrible crime! Days later, Lex Luthor lands on Lexor, where he is a hero, not a villain! His wife greets him with tears. She knows the truth about him by listening to one of the disc-tapes he has hidden away.

The Man of Steel has betrayed his secret and ruined his only chance for happiness! He will get him for this! He will DESTROY HIM! Enraged and with a thirst for vengeance, Luthor heads for Earth in a spaceship encased within lead to evade detection from Superman. As the spaceship arrives on Earth, it lands at an abandoned island prison which serves as one of Luthor's secret lairs. It is equipped with his most advanced weaponry. Who would ever suspect him of using a prison as a hideout? Within the lead-lined prison, the criminal scientist is greeted by his support crew. He is concentrating on the biggest job of his criminal career! He is going to destroy Superman once and for all! As he searches for his arch-foe on the monitor, he spots the Sea-Hawk, part of a smuggling fleet! The smugglers are shooting at the Man of Steel with a Kryptonite gun! Luthor is determined to prevent this from happening!

A missile is launched toward sector 2-4! His guidance system has got an exact radar fix on the Sea-Hawk! The missile strikes its target at sea. The Kryptonite guns are blown away miles away by the blast! At his hideout, Luthor explains he wants the pleasure of destroying the Man of Steel for himself! Superman investigates the ocean floor and finds the mysterious projectile that saved him! The shattered tail assembly has Luthor's image on the tail fin! Lex Luthor is back on Earth... and he fired that missile! Why would his arch-enemy want to save him? It doesn't make sense! A national emergency occurs on the following day, as the hot-line rings in Washington from a country behind the Iron Curtain. Their military has accidentally launched nine nuclear missiles at the United States of America, and they can't stop them! The president knows there is only one chance to prevent a nuclear catastrophe! Superman must be contacted at once!

Alerted about the emergency, the Man of Steel soars at super-speed, and his telescopic-vision locates the first three nuclear missiles! They are plunging down towards a desert! High above the desert area, Superman tackles the trio, and performs three forward passes to take care of six missiles! BARROOOMM BLAMMM Superman ends the game of "nuclear football" by drop-kicking the remaining missiles into the sun, where the heat and radiation will evaporate them!

As the Man of Steel returns to Metropolis, he is cheered by the grateful citizens for saving them from a nuclear disaster! One man is not cheering and is taking aim with the teleporter gun he stole from the army experimental laboratory at Superman. The Man of Steel is not wearing the "reverse timer," and his atoms will be dissolved by this would-be killer who will collect a one million dollar reward! At that fateful moment, the would-be assassin is knocked out! After the trigger-man is arrested, Superman searches the surrounding area, and finds a stun-gun! This was used to stop the would-be killer... and it bears Luthor's image! This is the second time the criminal scientist has saved his life. But why? At the Daily Planet, Perry White compliments Clark on his Superman interview, and also wonders why Luthor is acting so strangely. The mild-mannered reporter feels like he's sitting on a time-bomb! The following day at Luthor's hideout, he reads the Man of Steel's interview, and considers sparing his foe's life! But, as he tunes in on Lexor, Luthor sees his wife still tormented because she discovered his criminal past! Their marriage will never be the same, thanks to Superman!

The Man of Steel will never escape his vengeance! He will hound him until Superman is destroyed... Mere death would be far too easy for him, after what he has done to Luthor. The criminal scientist has got a far worse punishment in store for Superman. He has been conducting an experiment since his return. A rabbit is running in circles because it is trapped in a maze and can't figure a way to get out to eat its food! The rabbit is so baffled that its brain has been permanently affected! Luthor is using psychological warfare to drive the Man of Steel mad! The criminal scientist can see him now... a mindless vegetable! How sweet his vengeance will be!

Brainiac was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino.

Lightning Lord, Saturn Queen, and Cosmic King are the Legion of Super-Villains.

Martinex of the Guardians of the Galaxy is a crystalline life-form.

Adam Strange uses the Zeta-Beam to teleport from Earth to Ranagar.

Atlanteans like Lori Lemaris have fish-tails, while Atlanteans like Aquaman do not.

Lex Luthor is determined to give Superman "L.L.!"

If the criminal scientist is determined to make the Man of Steel run like a scared rabbit, then he must possess the determination of Elmer Fudd.

Steve Chung
"The Super-Review Of Lex Luthor!"