Another month had gone by, and so another issue of ACTION COMICS had shown up at my local spinner rack in the 7-11 I frequented. ACTION was, by this point, a regular buy for me, despite the fact that most of the individual stories in this particular stretch were pretty forgettable–and indeed, I don’t know that I could have told you a thing about this issue before cracking it open once again in preparation to do this write-up. The Superman titles of this period were always entertaining, but they were also undemanding, as befits their position as the titles most likely to be picked up by the youngest audience (at least in terms of super hero books.)
Writer Gerry Conway attempts to set the stakes by opening the issue with a three-page recap of the preceding chapter, courtesy of WGBS owner Morgan Edge. Edge tells his viewers, and the reading audience by extension, that over the past ten hours, natural disasters have broken out worldwide–tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes–the entire planet is in upheaval. To make matters worse, all of Earth’s super heroes appear to be missing. In the case of Superman, a WGBS news crew got footage of him combating the storms and being laid low by a pair of alien beings, who took the Man of Steel into their craft and vanished skyward.
From there, our focus shifts to the moon, inside the moon to be precise, where Superman has been brought by the Lunarians who have been causing Earth’s troubles, and who claim to be the rightful owners of the planet. Centuries ago, they say, the Earth and the Moon were one body. But when the Earth portion was “infected” with vegetation, the Lunarians jettisoned it from the Moon. But now they need space to expand their civilization, so they’re taking it back–but not before scouring it of all of that inconvenient life crawling along its surface. Superman rightly objects to this, and turns his mighty strength against them–but their weapons are once again able to knock him unconscious.
Back on Earth, mankind struggles to survive in the hostile environment it finds itself in–and that includes people such as Bruce Wayne, heroes whose awareness of their heroic identities have been stripped from their minds by the Lunarians so that they will not interfere. Back on the moon, Trena, the Primor of the civilization, finds Superman much more exciting than her Secundus, Ormons, and she begins to scheme to take the Man of Steel as her new consort. This doesn’t sit well with Superman, but he does get Trena to tell him that Ormons can be unseated as Secundus through challenge–and so the Man of Tomorrow issues said challenge.
And so, the two combatants face off on the surface of the moon. Ormons is armed with the same sort of energy weapon that has clobbered Superman twice so far, whereas Superman’s only weapons are his natural super-powers, so this is a genuine fight. As the two battle, Superman attempts to destroy Ormons’ weapon with his heat vision–but it’s impervious to the increased temperature. Undaunted, Superman reverses his strategy, hitting the weapon with his super-cold breath, which ultimately causes it to shatter.
Things would seem to be all over for Ormons now, but appearances can be deceiving. Because, having lived entirely beneath the surface of the moon, the rays of the Sun hyper-empower Ormons, very much in the same manner that they give Superman his own abilities, and the battle continues out into space. What’s more, Ormons’ performance as champion is reigniting Trema’s feelings for him. Superman is now worried that the only way to stop Ormons will be to kill him, and that’s something that he will never do. but he reasons that what the Lunarians really want is land, and so as he and Ormons fight, he constructs a small planet out of the asteroids he and Ormons hurl at one another.
With this new planet now constructed, Superman harnesses all of his power into a single blow to knock Ormons into solar orbit, unconscious. Then, he lays down an ultimatum to the Lunarians: abandon their claim to the Earth and vacate the Moon in favor of this new world he and Ormons have constructed in their fight. Otherwise, he’ll crash this new planet into the Moon, destroying both. (And let’s not even think about what the gravitation effects of a new celestial body that large in such proximity to the Earth must be doing–Earth has enough problems at that moment.) Not realizing that Superman is bluffing, the Lunarians agree to ago–Trema with some sadness, as her flip-floppy attraction for Superman’s virility means that she wonders what might have been. Presumably, everything is restored on Earth, including the memories of the other heroes–there isn’t enough time in this issue to deal with any of that apparently.