BHOC: SUPERMAN #316

I bought this issue of SUPERMAN at my usual 7-11. That’s a nice cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, an artist who’d begun to pop up across the DC titles, giving them a more modern sheen. He’d eventually wind up doing much of his work for DC’s licensing department, his drawing appearing on apparel and toys and games and so forth more often than in comics. It’s a pretty great color scheme, too–the whole thing pops really nicely.

I was very taken with Marty Pasko’s run as writer on SUPERMAN, enough that I became a regular reader of the title during this period. Pasko maintained the Schwartz tone that I liked while often imbuing the material with a little bit more emotional complexity. And the artwork by the always-appealing, almost-omnipresent Curt Swan was comfortable and reliable as well.

This particular story opens in mid-fight, as Superman attempts to prevent the mysteriously-resurrected Metallo from making off with a meteorite containing Kryptonite, which he intends to use to power his mechanical body. As Metallo makes his escape, Superman muses on what brought him here, and we cut back to the conclusion of the preceding issue, and learn that the Skull agent who seemingly had a Kryptonite heart actually didn’t–it was just ordinary rock made to resemble Kryptonite. Still a pretty spooky calling card, though, and enough to alert Superman that Metallo was back from the dead and back in business.

Dr. Jenet Klyburn of S.T.A.R. Labs also informs Superman that her boss, S.T.A.R.’s director Albert Michaels has disappeared along with a new scientific breakthrough that he’d been working on. Back in the present, Superman continues his pursuit of Metallo, but the cyborg villain leads him on a chase through the Metropolis tunnel and is able to elude the Man of Steel by imperiling innocent motorists. And Superman can’t pick up the chase–he’s due back at WGBS for a meeting as Clark Kent.

Morgan Edge is waiting for Kent, with the terms of the newsman’s new contract. Edge intends to bring in a mysterious new female co-anchor for the news broadcast that Kent had been making solo, and he’s also hired on a new associate producer to take over Kent’s responsibilities in that area as well, Martin Korda. As the pair walks to the elevator and meets up with Lois Lane, Korda vanishes. Then, seconds later, his super-vision spots Metallo over the Metropolis skyline, and Kent does the same, leaving Lois typically baffled by his disappearance.

Metallo has made his way to State Caverns, where he knows that more Kryptonite has been carried by underground rivers. Superman catches up to him there, and the pair begin a death-struggle, but Superman’s efforts are hampered by all of the Kyrptonite in the surrounding area. I should probably note that this is all taking place a few years after all the Kryptonite on Earth had been turned into lead–the source of this new Kryptonite falling to Earth is a running mystery here. But Superman hasn’t really needed to deal with Kryptonite in some time.

Before Superman can defeat him, Metallo reveals that he killed the Skull agents in revenge for them having turned him into a cyborg like his brother, the first Metallo, before him. But he also hates Superman. The Man of Steel is able to get the upper hand, causing a stalactite to demolish Metallo’s chest-unit, and then replacing its deadly Kryptonite power source with ordinary Uranium. But Metallo isn’t finished yet–he gets the drop on the still-weakened Superman and makes his escape–and as he does so, he reveals his ultimate objective. He intends to transplant Superman’s heart into his own body. And on that strange note, we are To be Continued!

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