Action Comics #343: "Eterno The Immortal!"

Action Comics #343
"Eterno The Immortal!"
November, 1966

Script: Jim Shooter
Art: Wayne Boring

More powerful than a million mastodons... more intelligent than an army
of scientists... and unaffected by H-Bombs. Who is he... the Man of
Steel? No. It's that 50-foot construct, Eterno! What happens when
these two meet? Duck and cover when Superman matches might with the
gigantic threat of... "Eterno the Immortal!"

Out of the void, outside of our galaxy, a spaceship makes its way towards
our solar system. Arl alerts Garan that they are entering the Sol
system. This is where the Man of Steel resides, on Earth. They are
members of the Superman Revenge Squad, a group who have met frequent
defeat against Superman. This time, Arl has got a plan to defeat their
foe for all time. Garan reminds Arl all the massive and powerful
weaponry they have used in the past, each with a "perfect" plan behind
it. Each and every one was beaten by the Man of Steel. At great expense
in time, money, and members. The other plans have failed, but Arl's plan
is different. He has researched the history of Superman's adopted world,
Earth, with their time viewer. He has found something of interest from a
billion years ago, a supercivilization called the Xan. They dwelled in
sky-cities built by their own superior science.

The Xan also constructed Eterno! The sunthoflesh is applied to his robot
frame, while an android brain is readied for encasement in the robot's
head. At fifty feet high, the half android, half robot stood over his
creators, and was powered by the energy of the stars themselves. Its
artificial brain contained all the Xan's knowledge. Armed with their
wisdom and power, Eterno could perform amazing feats, such as using his
destructo-beams to cut mountains in two. Eterno was too wise and too
powerful. He planned in secret to conquer the world. Biding his time,
the half android, half robot dreamt of making the tiny creatures his
servants. Before he could act, a different threat came to Earth in the
form of space gas. Knowing that the gas would wipe them out, the Xan
were aware that only the life in the sea would survive. Only the element
Absorbium could contain the gas, but it existed only at the planet's
core. Realizing that a ruler needs subjects, Eterno vows to retrieve the
Absorbium for them.

Eterno's destructo-beam blasted a four thousand mile path to the center
of the Earth, to save the Xan who would soon be conquered by him. At the
core, the half android, half robot finds himself unable to move, due to
the strange properties of the Absorbium. Eterno was paralyzed and the
Xan soon died out. Arl plans to release Eterno with a cyclo-ray. The
material will be disintegrated and the fifty foot creation will return to
the surface world. His conquest will bring him into battle against the
Man of Steel, and "poof" no more Superman. The spaceship is now within
range. The tele-viewer is activated, the z-ray radar is focused, and the
ray beam is fired. From outer space, it enters our atmosphere, then cuts
through the ocean floor, and the Earth's crust. The Absorbium is
vaporized, and after eons, Eterno is free once more.

With the power of solar energy, Eterno smashes through the wall of the
inner core, and begins digging towards the surface. Hours pass, and in a
mountain observatory near Metropolis, a scientist checks out his
seismograph. R-R-R-U-MMBLE The scientist wonders to himself if a nearby
mountain is moving? BLAMM! It couldn't be a volcanic eruption, but
there it is. The author of the eruption is now visible. KRRUMP As the
scientist heads for his automobile, and drives away, he watches as the
fifty foot automaton begins tearing the giant telescope in two.

At the offices of the Daily Planet, mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent is
on the alert for any further earth tremors, and sees a helicopter
broadcasting a call for Superman. Editor Perry White tells the reporter
to head over to the Metropolis Science Institute at once. Clark makes a
change of clothes in a stock room at super-speed, and the Man of Steel
heads for the institute. The scientists tell Superman that Metropolis,
the entire world... may be in danger. Only he can possibly stop the
threat. As the scientist from the observatory begins to tell his story,
the Man of Steel's telescopic-vision has just spotted the creature
entering Metropolis.

It is not the Xan who flee from him, but Eterno will conquer them none
the less. His mighty brain has already deciphered their strange speech.
He tears the top off of a deserted building, then holds it above his
head, and laughs at the fleeing gnats. CR-RASHH! As the deadly debris
is hurled, a flash of red and blue soars forward to intercept it. If
it's an opponent he wants, Eterno is about to meet the number one
contender. The half android, half robot wonders how the mere mortal
could have such power.

The building is shattered against the construct, but the impact fails to
faze it. The Man of Steel will try again. Seeing that he is the only
one who dares to attack, Eterno admits that the human is mighty, but as a
gnat to him. THUD! Startled citizens watch as their hero is knocked to
the ground. KR-RAK! The pavement cracks from the collision. Superman
assures the public that he's okay, and asks a police officer to have the
authorities clear the area. Returning to the fight, the Man of Steel
constructs a series of thick walls at super-speed, in hopes of slowing
his foe down until the evacuation has been completed. A wrecked building
and shattered street provide adequate ammo against his towering opponent.

Eterno is in no mood for any further games. POW! CRASH! The fifty foot
creation has broken through the last wall, but the evacuation has been
successful. Eterno plans to find the fleeing humans, and conquer them.
But first, he will put an end to the mighty human's interference.
Superman's punch is barely noticed by the towering automaton. Since he
can fly and Eterno cannot, the Man of Steel evades him, in time to reach
the top of the Daily Planet Building. He borrows the Planet globe to
give his foe a lesson in bowling.

Superman bowls a perfect strike. CRASH! Eterno is felled, his own
weight sending him through the street, and down into a subway tunnel. To
his surprise, the fifty foot creation recovers, and seizes him in one
hand. Caught in his grip, the Man of Steel unleashes a blast of
heat-vision. The rays are cancelled out by Eterno's destructo beams.

Fortunately, Superman can weather the strong blast. The half robot, half
android has just witnessed the impossible sight of a human defying his
destructo beams. In the spaceship of the Revenge Squad, Garan has
piloted the ship too low, and is now within the Man of Steel's line of
sight. He is certain that Eterno will win and he wishes to witness the
victory in person. How he longs to tell the Kryptonian that Eterno is
merely a pawn of the Superman Revenge Squad, and he will no longer live
to foil their plans. Garan has foolishly turned the loudspeaker switch
on, and the words have come out on the ship's speaker. Eterno is no
tool, no puppet. He will destroy anyone who dares to call him such
things. The Man of Steel is hurled aside, as Eterno turns his attention
on the fleeing spaceship.

ZZ-Z-ZAAP! They try to flee, but cannot elude his powerful destructo
beams. Inside the ship, the Revenge Squad prepare for a crash landing.
The ship comes down between two skyscrapers in Metropolis. Superman
recognizes the ship, now knows that it was the Revenge Squad behind
Eterno's arrival, and their pawn doesn't like the idea. Their new
experimental weapons are readied.

ZAA-P ZZ-ZAP WHAM! Their most powerful blasts fail to have an effect.
It would seem that Eterno has no weaknesses, save one. Absorbium! Their
atomic transmuter turns the nuclear capsules to Absorbium, and are
inserted into their guns. ZZL-LMM The fifty foot creation feels the
impact. FZZ-AMM KLZZZ! His entire frame is now charged with Absorbium,
and his artificial life-force has been neutralized. The fifty foot
automaton falls towards his attackers.

CRASH! AAAHHH! Eterno's last act is to crush the Revenge Squad ship.
The Man of Steel lifts the inert form and checks for any survivors.
Inside the ship, there are none to be found. The records show how the
Revenge Squad freed Eterno from the Earth's core. By destroying him, they
destroyed themselves.

On the cover of Action Comics #343 by Curt Swan, the Man of Steel is
punched by an purple glove attached to an orange arm. "From The Center
Of The Earth A New Menace Challenges The Man of Steel... "Eterno"
Gigantic Immortal! More Powerful Than Superman Himself!"

Orange and purple are the color scheme of Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Eterno is a fifty foot half android, half robot, orange in color, with a
red triangle on his chest, and purple gloves, trunks, and boots.

Arl is human in appearance, while Garan, and the other unnamed Revenge
Squadder is bald, has blue skin, and yellow bug eyes.

Clark Kent must be a pretty good bowler, especially if the Man of Steel
is able to use the Daily Planet Globe in order to get a strike.

The Revenge Squad spaceship is green in color, equipped with sufficient
switches to cause a perfect plan to go awry at the slightest touch.

It's unknown what happened to Eterno, but I assume that the Man of Steel
took his remains to the Fortress of Solitude.

In the Metropolis Mailbag, Dave Cockrum of Miramar, Calif. writes:

"Dear Editor:

Once in a while, along comes a Superman story which stands head and
shoulders above the rest. Such a tale was "Power Of The Parasite." The
best thing in this story, aside from a villain nearly beating the Man of
Steel without the aid of Kryptonite or magic, was an insight - underdone,
in my opinion, but there nevertheless - into Superman's personality. The
Parasite very nearly killed him, after thoroughly knocking the living
daylights out of him, and yet he arose, again and again, for another try.
It shows that, even without his super-powers, Superman has the will to
fight back, no matter how hard you kick his brains out. Until now, I
hadn't believed him capable of performing like that under such
conditions. After all, how much indomitable spirit do you need when
you're strong enough to shoot billiards with planets for balls and suns
for pockets? You just knock the villain's block off and forget it. But
you didn't carry it far enough. Anyone else would have been so mad he
was blue in the face. Superman, admittedly, wasn't very calm - but he
wasn't mad enough. I regret your having killed off the Parasite. You
need more villains (not Kryptonians) who can take Superman on without
using Kryptonite or magic."

(Credit for this great story goes to Jim Shooter, our new discovery.
Jim's had such a landslide of applause for this tale, he's promised to
dream up a way of bringing back the Parasite for another go-round with
the Man of Steel - Ed.)

Steve Chung
"Eterno The Review!"