BHOC: SUPERMAN #319

I’m pretty certain that I bought this issue of SUPERMAN at the same time as the MARVEL’S GREATEST COMICS and possibly the MARVEL TRIPLE ACTION. Like the MGC issue, I can recall biking back to my house with it. Having spent a week during the summer working out that new comics were released on Thursdays at my local 7-11, I became a regular Thursday visitor, with whatever cash I’d been able to cadge during the week. It’s a habit that continues to this day (albeit these days on Wednesdays.)

The cover and this splash page make a big deal out of the mystery identity of the monster in the issue, but I believe I already knew who it was, and I’m not certain how. Perhaps the in-house Daily Planet promotional page had given the game away the preceding week. Or maybe it’s as simple as me flipping through the issue at the spinner rack and seeing the solution. Either way, I knew the deal going into the story for whatever reason–but I’ll preserve that mystery for you for the moment.

The issue opens in Metropolis, as a series of small purple particles begin to coalesce and come together into a thinking entity–one with a vendetta against Superman. It’s not hard to figure out which Superman foe was being reborn here, given the color scheme. Elsewhere, there are reports of a monster stalking the sewer system, reports which Morgan Edge is eager to capitalize on, if only he could find his star newsman. But Clark Kent is busy as Superman meeting with envoys from military intelligence, who have a mission for the Man of Steel. But the details they provide seem fishy, so Superman is wary about the whole matter.

Elsewhere, Lois Lane and Lana Lang are sharing a cab ride and talking about recent events in a nicely-written scene by author Marty Pasko. Here, Pasko gives some substance to Lois, as she admits that she’s ashamed that she told Clark Kent that she’d marry him only if he revealed to her that he was Superman. She’s felt guilty about it ever since, and the more Clark is nice to her in the aftermath, the lousier she feels about it. But suddenly, their taxi is attacked by a figure who erupts up from a manhole cover in the roadway. Superman is in the area, and he races to the rescue, creating a ring of flame around the creature before knocking him into a nearby fountain–where the outer muck is washed away from him and he is revealed as…

…Solomon Grundy! But this isn’t the Grundy we’ve seen before, who hails from the parallel world of Earth-2. No, this is an indigenous Grundy, who has come into being on Earth-1 in a repeat of the Earth-2 Grundy’s origin. This new Grundy has the personality of a child, and reads as nothing so much as a take on the Incredible Hulk, providing a Superman vs the Hulk fight years ahead of time. Superman and Grundy duke it out for several pages, but their battle ends inconclusively as Grundy hurls Superman blocks away into the air and then makes his escape.

Back at WGBS, just as Lois is about to apologize to Clark, he snubs her in favor of Lana and the two go out to lunch together, leaving Lois fuming. Meanwhile, down in the sewers, Solomon Grundy realizes that he’s somehow got an awareness of his Earth-2 predecessor, and both a desire to whip Superman and an idea as to how to even the odds. That night, he emerges to go on the rampage, but Superman is waiting for him. Superman works out that this new Grundy must have been an outgrowth of his recent battle with the original Grundy several issues before–but the two battle for so long that Superman is in danger of missing the time of the assignment brought to him by the Pentagon guys.

Using his telescopic vision, Superman sees that there’s a lot more to this mission than he was led to believe, as a giant mechanical octopus moves to attack the lighthouse in question. But Superman can’t break free from Grundy’s grip to intervene. And it’s no wonder, because this whole conflict has been orchestrated by the mysterious purple figure who came back to life on the opening pages–and who is now revealed to be the Parasite! And with that, our story is To Be Continued!

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