This was the fourth chapter in Superman’s clash with the super-powered android Amazo, a conflict designed as the backdrop through which to introduce a new and marketable new piece of Kryptonian lore to the mythos: the Supermobile. Having accomplished that over the past two issues, it was time to get this story wrapped up this month. And so when this issue turned up on the spinner rack at my local 7-11, I was an eager purchaser.
At this point in the story, the wave of radiation from the years-ago destruction of Krypton that had sapped Superman’s powers has passed through teh solar system, leaving the Man of Steel restored and no longer needing his hastily-devised Supermobile to simulate his powers and allow him to take on the irate android Amazo. However, writer Cary Bates and editor Julie Schwartz add an additional wrinkle to the story in this concluding chapter, as a way to both increase the stakes and to create some additional interest–in these days, a four-part story was an event in a DC book. The company tended to like single and two-part stories as a rule, so a four-parter was a genuine epic by their standards.
In order to get the better of Amazo last time, Superman and company (Lois Lane and Amazo’s creator Professor Ivo) inadvertently jumped forward five or six days in time, to a point where the Krypton radiation no longer debilitated Superman. But now we learn that during that time, a new malady has overtaken the human race. It’s an awakeness plague, and so everybody on Earth had discovered that they can no longer sleep. Which sounds like a good deal at first, but after five days with no rest, everybody’s minds and bodies are at the breaking point, with no hope for a cure in sight. The Justice League members have been trapped all this time in another dimension, where Amazo imprisoned then and their satellite headquarters at the beginning of this adventure. So Superman is still on his own.
Dropping Lois and Professor Ivo off at WGBS, Superman heads out into Metropolis to try to seek out the cause of the crisis. Along the way, he comes across a series of near-accidents caused by drivers and pilots being too sleep-deprived to safely operate their equipment. He’s also attacked by Amazo–but the Android ends up actually assisting the Man of Steel in saving lives. Amazo has no grudge against any of these people–it’s only Superman that he wants to destroy, for protecting Professor Ivo from Amazo. The android is convinced that Ivo is responsible for summoning him back from the blessed oblivion in which he’d been kept, but Superman thinks that the Krypton radiation is what reactivated Amazo, and he believes it is also connected to the sleeplessness plague. He convinces Amazo to join him in his efforts to get to the bottom of things.
Superman does take the time out of his busy schedule to drop in on WGBS as Clark Kent to preserve his secret identity, and as a means of getting the truth of what he’s discovered to the rest of the world. As is reported on the WGBS News that evening, while the Krypton radiation itself was harmless to human beings on Earth, the plant life absorbed it, photosynthesizing it into a gas that is causing the sleeplessness problem across the world. His secret I.D. secure for the moment (and what kind of a goon is Superman to be worrying about that while billions of people are suffering from the sleeplessness?) Kent becomes the Man of Tomorrow again and rendezvous with Amazo. The android tells him, however, that he cannot free the Justice League from their interdimensional prison. The res sun radiation that awakened him is wearing off, and so he cannot summon up sufficient will power for his power ring to reverse the process.
Superman is pissed off at this development and immediately attacks Amazon, smashing straight through the android’s chest. Amazo is confused–and even more so when the members of the Justice League appear one after the other and begin to trounce him. It’s a kinetic dogpile as the League pushes Amazo to exhaust his last reserves of energy in battle with them, returning him to the blissful slumber that he’s been trying to reach all along. It turns out that teh League was able to get itself out of the other dimension by using their combined will to propel Green Lantern’s power ring–which still retained its power after five days because time conveniently ran differently in that dimension (despite the fact that the League had been monitoring Earth for five days and presumably lived that much real time.) It’s a huge contrivance, but it gets us a fast-paced action slugfest, so there’s only so much to complain about.
And finally, with Amazo’s android body inert once more, Superman and Professor Ivo are able to reconfigure its absorption properties to soak up all of the gas in the atmosphere that is keeping everybody awake. And with that simple bit of mop-up, the adventure is concluded and everybody can get a good night’s sleep again.
The letters page for this issue of ACTION COMICS also included that year’s Statement of Ownership. From it, we can learn that the series had been selling 180,132 copies out of a print run of 465,982, giving the title an efficiency of 38 1/2%, which is about par for the course in this era. That’s not a bad number of copies being sold, but with a print run that high, you’re still needing to sprint close to three copies in order to sell one, and then have the remainder shipped again and destroyed. A wasteful process all around.