Saturday, October 11, 2008

Superman #253 (6/72)

In a story too complicated yet nonsensical to delve into deeply, Ferlin Nyxly was scouring the desert in search of a new source of super-powers. He had recently tangled with Superman, aided by a "Devil's Harp," but needed a new edge against the Man of Steel. Suddenly, a sort of super-science chapel materialized before him. Stepping inside, he found a suit of armor that conformed to his body, and came with a special sling attached to the back of his right gauntlet. The sling could be used to fire energy bolts, fly, move at invisible speeds, and track anyone Nyxly brought to mind. The sling led Ferlin Nyxly to Clark Kent's apartment in Metropolis, where he lay in wait. There was also this whole deal where the sling accidentally caused a boy named Billy Anders to switch minds with a lynx, and form a telepathic bond with his former self. It isn't resolved in this issue-- nor the next-- and is way more of a tangent than we want to be bothered with here.

Clark Kent was sent by his boss Morgan Edge to report on strange happenings at the Utah Salt Flats. After a brief and mostly pointless appearance by Lois Lane on the scene, Superman was led to where the strange building intermittently manifested out of the ether. Superman tried to fly into the building, but his timing was poor, and he ended up tossed about like a beanbag as the construct vanished. His x-ray vision revealed Ferlin Nyxly inside, which I guess makes this a good time to note this story was told out of chronological sequence, adding to the confusion.

Superman visited Dr. Farr at S.T.A.R. Labs, who explained "For years, we scientists have theorized that matter can be broadcast-- like television images! I'm guessing the stuff of the structure you described is being broadcast... perhaps from another planet! I'll further guess that it's caught in some sort of space-warp!" Superman returned to the Flats, where the building had reappeared. Inside, he found an alien arsenal of devices advanced beyond Earth's abilities. Superman flew back to Metropolis, where he visited a comatose Billy Anders at the hospital, who warned him about Ferlin Nyxly through telepathic lynx link (don't ask!) Superman ambushed Nyxly by bursting through the wall of Kent's apartment, ripped the sling off Nyxly's gauntlet, threw it into the sun, and dropped him off at a police station. An archnemesis, Ferlin Nyxly was not.

Superman sensed the answers behind Nyxly and Billy's condition were in the alien structure, which was vanishing as he tried to return to it...
"Superman! Help me..."
"A voice... A familiar voice! Can it be--"
"Hurry, Superman!"
"Yes! It's J'onn J'onzz... the Martian Manhunter! The hero who abandoned Earth two years ago! He's fading, too... My hand is passing right through his! Gone...! Leaving the greatest mystery I've ever grappled with-- a mystery I must solve!"

Because things weren't messy enough already, the story then diverged into two series-- one resolving Billy Anders' dilemma, while the other involving the Alien Atlas and the otherworldly devices, in Martian Manhunter's first appearance after three years in limbo...

"The Kid Who Saved Superman!" was by Denny O'Neil, Curt Swan, & Murphy Anderson.

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