Action Comics #342: "The Super-Human Bomb!"

Action Comics #342
"The Super-Human Bomb!"
October, 1966

Story: Jim Shooter
Art: Wayne Boring

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to
leap tall buildings in a single bound! Look... up in the sky... it's a
bird... it's a plane! It's Superman? No -- on this occasion, the Man of
Steel means doom for three billion people on the planet. The hero who
fights for truth, justice and the American way has become a threat for
mankind as "The Super-Human Bomb!"

The new interstellar saucer of Brainiac makes its way through the far
reaches of outer space. Within the starship, the android is in his
"Reminder Room", and is watching films of the Man of Steel defeating him.
He hopes to increase his hatred of Superman and become inspired to come
up with a new revenge plan. Later, Brainiac adds a transistor hookup to
his computer brain and concentrates his mental powers on coming up with a
foolproof plan. Hours later, the android's evil ponderings have left him
in a hopeless state. Another spaceship appears and begins its attack.
Brainiac activates his force-shield, but the pilot of the other ship is
determined to prove his superiority.

The rays from the alien ship cuts through the force-shield. The android
is no match for the armed might of Grax. Once the battle is over, the
victor uses a space transfer beam to cross over without a space-suit.
Although Brainiac possesses a twelfth order mind, his invader possesses a
twentieth order brain, and he has used his knowledge to create weaponry
for his defeat. Aware of the android's hatred for the Man of Steel,
Grax's hatred is greater. An army of robot invaders were crushed...
prior to this, Grax's flying disc machines were stopped when they stole
Venusian Radonite.

With his twentieth level mind, Grax has come up with a way to defeat the
Man of Steel, and needs a force-shield to do it. Unable to create one of
sufficient strength, he has decided to steal Brainiac's. The android's
computer brain is short-circuited, and while his built-in recharger works
to revive him, Grax disposes of his victim. Brainiac is set adrift in a
space life-boat. The starship heads for a red sun, where its power
charger is extended into the center of the star. Now, all has been
prepared for Grax's attack on the Man of Steel.

In the offices of the Daily Planet, Lois Lane asks Clark Kent to give
some papers to Perry White. Before the mild-mannered reporter can comply
with her request, he sees something else which demands his immediate
attention. After changing clothes at super-speed, Superman flies towards
a weird space capsule he had seen with his telescopic-vision. The
falling capsule contains many deadly alien weapons. As the Man of Steel
hurls the capsule into outer space, he doesn't notice the small missile
approaching him. A device emerges from the missile, and attaches itself
to his belt.

No sooner has Superman determined that the strange object is a bomb, does
a giant spaceship with an alien aboard. Grax advises him not to remove
the bomb. The K-Meson in the bomb holds atoms together, and when they
are destroyed, the atoms explode with enough force to exterminate an
entire world. The K-Meson Bomb will explode if it's removed. All the
Man of Steel must do is to head into deep space, and remove it. A good
idea, but Grax had foreseen this possibility, and has placed an invisible
force-shield to prevent such a departure. It has been reinforced with
energy from a red sun, and will resist his super-powers.

The bomb is set to go off in twenty-four hours, and any attempt to pass
through the time barrier prior to the bomb's creation will set it off.
When asked why he is doing this, Grax states that his reasons are far too
many to mention. His bomb can't harm the Man of Steel, but the sight of
his adopted world... his friends dying before his very eyes will be
sufficient to end his career forever. The lives of three billion people
mean nothing to Grax. He tells Superman that there is a way to disarm
the K-Meson Bomb, but he'll never find out what it is. The starship
heads off into outer space, with the lives of three billion people
hanging in the balance. Superman uses his x-ray vision to try and find
the bomb's wiring. It's lined with lead, which his x-ray vision can't

A nearby observatory has witnessed what's happened, with the anxious
astronomer alerting the press. When the news is made known, the public
begins to panic on the streets. "Superman Is Super-Human Bomb! Dooms
Earth! Zero Hour 7 P.M. Tomorrow Lip-Reading Astronomer Views Clash
Through Telescope" Superman lands in front of the Daily Planet. The
startled citizens demand to know the truth, hurling bricks and debris at
their hometown hero. After flying to the top of the highest building in
Metropolis, the Man of Steel super-shouts to the fearful mob below. An
enemy has turned him into a living super-bomb. He doesn't know how to
prevent it from destroying the planet... but he suggests that they return
to their homes, and to remain calm. The crowd agree with what has been
said, and leave the authorities to handle the bomb.

Scientists all over the world work on the problem of dealing with the
threat of the K-Meson Bomb. They are dealing with scant data, but they
must work quickly, and begin mixing their test tubes. Dr. Weinhout
speaks out on possible solutions... using missiles to crack the
force-shield so that the Man of Steel can head into deep space, and
dispose of the bomb. This has proved impossible, so far. Superman is in
a meeting with two of the world's foremost locksmiths, three army bomb
disposal men, and Professor Potter. Together, they have not been able to
come up with a way to deal with this advanced threat. They would require
more time, but there isn't any time, and the Man of Steel must work on
deactivating the K-Meson Bomb himself.

Twenty miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, the water pressure
fails to damage the bomb. The molten metal at the Earth's core fails to
affect the K-Meson Bomb, as well. Despite his pleas, people are rioting
once more, and he must spend time handling the problem. One hour is
left, with one more thing left to try... but it may detonate the bomb
early. Superman heads for the tower, which is the target of an H-Bomb
test today. Seconds pass, with an explosion and an enormous mushroom
cloud rising several miles into the sky.

Even at the center of the nuclear test blast, the bomb isn't even
scratched, and the Man of Steel can't think of anything else to try.
Grax has been watching the proceedings, and gloats at the thought of the
Man of Steel not discovering the bomb's secret in time. Brainiac has
been watching, too. The small lifeboat has a monitor screen for the
android to witness Grax's triumph. Brainiac is determined to have his
revenge on the one who stole his force-shield, and aid Superman in
defeating him. The twelfth order mind works on a plan, and comes up with
a way for the Man of Steel to beat Grax. Now, Brainiac must find a way
to communicate with his foe. Back on Earth, diamond drills and laser
beams fail to break through the K-Meson Bomb's outer shell. There are
only ten minutes left. Now on a hill outside of Metropolis, Superman has
the knowledge that no matter where he goes, the bomb will destroy the
entire planet.

The Man of Steel surrenders himself to Grax in exchange for disarming the
bomb. The monitor aboard his spaceship enables Grax to read the message
carved on the side of a mountain. There is no answer to the message, but
Superman receives a reply from an unexpected source. Brainiac is
thought-casting from a device he made from spare parts of a monitor
screen, and asks his foe to trust him. Following the android's
instructions, Superman swiftly creates a giant super-magnet.

Grax's ship is pulled down to the force-shield. CLUNK! In less than a
minute, the K-Meson Bomb will go off, and Grax's ship with it. The
android with the twentieth order mind knows that this is so. He tells
the Man of Steel to twist the small pin on the side of the bomb... up for
half a turn, then down for a full turn. SCREEEEE The five-second
warning goes off... with the pin doing no good. A small portion of the
force-shield is opened. Grax hopes to disarm it in time, but there's no
chance now. As the android screams, Superman hits a fateful switch.

A force-shield forms around Grax's spaceship, just before the bomb goes
off, and the blast is contained. The explosion also cracks the
force-shield around the Earth. The planet is safe and the Man of Steel
has managed to save an item wrapped in his cape. The force-shield used
by Grax to try and destroy the Earth has enabled Superman to save it.
Once he's been rescued, Brainiac is given his force-field device by the
Man of Steel, and a spaceship for him to travel into space. As he shakes
hands with Superman, the android agrees that their score is settled, but
they will meet again. Unbeknownst to the two of them, Grax has used a
device to turn himself into a phantom, and has been hurled far out into
space by the blast. When he arrives on a planet, he'll regain his
natural form, and gain his revenge on the Man of Steel.

Being turned into a Super-Human Bomb really ticks off the Man of Steel.

Brainiac's interstellar saucer looks like it was made by Whammo!

For someone with a twelfth order mind, a transistor hookup is considered
to be state of the art.

Some people have "Reminder Rooms", while others would rather forget about
the whole thing.

Grax knows that forewarned is four-armed.

It's interesting that with all the power of his own brain, Grax couldn't
create a force-shield of sufficient strength, and took the easy route of
taking Brainiac's invention.

Boy, those lip-reading astronomers are either peeping toms or real
party-poopers, aren't they?

It's safe to say that the Man of Steel's super-shouts are not as
hazardous as the singing voice of Black Bolt.

The panel which stands out in the story is that of the two scientists
holding onto their test tubes in much the same way as a gunslinger would
be handling his trusty six-shooters.

It's good to see that when confronted with a greater evil, Brainiac and
Superman could work together to save the day.

Their score settled and their debt repaid, the Kryptonian and the android
with the twelfth order mind would meet again one day.

Grax returned in the pages of Super Friends, as well as in an issue of
Wizard (where the JLA met their Super Friends counterparts).

Steve Chung
"The Super-Human Review!"