Art by Ivan Reis & Marc Campos
A story running as a b-plot through Action Comics involved the return of the xenophobic Preus, a former patrolman of the bottle city of Kandorian who had gotten loosed upon the Earth with powers rivaling Superman's. Preus found himself a new adoptive home in God's Peake, a white supremacist encampment where he found a willing and disposable army to aid in his pursuit of racial purity and the death of the "pretender" Superman (who had become a deity in Kandor years prior.) After raping a series of women to death, Preus was confronted by the Manhunter from Mars, who had been dispatched by the Man of Steel while Clark Kent saw to a convalescing Lois Lane. Speaking of people "almost as powerful as Superman," whenever those magic words are spoken, it is safe to assume the Alien Atlas is going to be humiliated once again. One assumes Preus, hailing from a shrunken city, is used to dealing with things on a smaller scale than most. His dark-hued energy blast either managed to effect the intangible J'Onn J'Onzz on a sub-quark level, or through some other unexplained means, and the Martian Marvel was a goner. Shortly afterward, J'Onn was found by an investigating Jimmy Olsen chained to a St. Andrew's Cross, morphing uncontrollably and surrounded by flaming pits. Olsen joined him in bondage, strapped shirtless to a giant metal S-Shield. Is it just me, or is it getting kinky in here?
Now, brief words on story author Chuck Austen: A talented artist and the writer of soap operatic adult comics in the late 80's/early 90's, Austen was rescued from obscurity by Joe Quesada's Marvel. He soon transitioned from a black & white War Machine mini-series to scripter of one of their biggest moneymakers, Uncanny X-Men. Whether due to his noted disinterest in continuity, his shady background, or his tendency toward incredulous turns of events, Austen found himself out of favor at the House of Ideas, and followed the traditional route of exiting a burning bridge into the DC Universe, especially toward the Superman line. While his sarcastic Superman in intense action situations won him some fans and raised sales, the controversy surrounding Austen led to his removal from Action Comics. While Austen brought the action to a head in the book length Action Comics #824, it was an editor writing under the nom-de-plume of "J.T. Finn" who wrapped the tale in the extra-length follow-up issue when Austen was unceremoniously dumped. Most of the art was by Ivan Reis and Marc Campos, though a host of others also contributed, including Luke Ross, Renato Guedes, Shane Davis, Cliff Richards, Fabio Laguna, Larry Stucker, Will Conrad, Art Adams and Ian Churchill.
Summoned by Jimmy Olsen's signal watch, Superman arrived to save the day from Preus, who only served as part of the master plan of the futuristic villain Gog. Also involved was a now fully sentient Doomsday, who joined the party as part of an odyssey that spanned millennia. Insult to injury, it was shirtless Jimmy Olsen aiding the weakened J'Onn J''Onzz in walking out of harm's way. Due to Doomsday's presence, the Justice League evacuated all other heroes and civilians from the area. As part of these Doomsday Protocols, a revived Manhunter was prohibited by Batman from rejoining the action. Long story made short, Preus nearly died in battle with Superman, while Gog and Doomsday vanished due to alterations of the timestream, and Martian Manhunter remained punked.