Reign of the Supermen #437: Vlatuu, Revenger of Steel

Source: Superman vol.1 #368 (1982)
Type: TransformationAnd they say the Silver Age ended in 1970... THIS 1982 classic (I use the term loosely) by Cary Bates and Curt Swan plays on the idea that the Fortress of Solitude has more convenient stuff in it than the sonic screwdriver has settings. "The Revenger of Steel!" features Superman transforming himself into the reptilian Vlatuu and infiltrating the Superman Revenge Squad. The "metamorphosis machine" is so good that Vlatuu doesn't know he's Superman, so as to better pass himself off as an assassin. He passes all the tests, which for some reason entail melting half a Superman statue. Why? Why not?
He also defeats a Superman android with synthetic powers and a ripped "S" shield, so they send him off to kill Superman. But they don't trust him, and in fact, suspect his true identity. How? How not? (I actually don't know. It's just described as an uncanny deduction on the part of the Squad.) Anyway, when Vlatuu goes through a nebula and ch-ch-ch-changes...
...they're watching. And they've got a contingency plan. At the Fortress, Superman extracts Vlatuu's mental impressions from his brain to study what his alter ego found out about the Squad. Later, he shows up at Lois Lane's apartment bearing gifts. Creepy, megalomaniacal gifts.
While she changes out of that cleavage, he checks his hair in the mirror.
And it sets off a hypnotic suggestion imbedded (as we'll find out) by the Superman android he fought as Vlatuu. Now he believes he IS that android and that he must destroy Superman. A weird plan since he can't find Superman anywhere. He goes to the Superman museum and destroys some effigies (so that's why the Revengers train so hard at melting Superman statues). It doesn't work. He kidnaps Lois Lane, but she intuits that he's the real Superman and not some robot, so she throws herself off a cliff to prove it. Superman snaps to in a nick of time, or even a little later than that:
The Revengers, still watching, surmise that though he doesn't think himself an android anymore, he'll still have the instinct to destroy Superman, ergo himself. When he flies off Earth with machinery strapped to his chest, they further intuit that he's trying to make his death count by blowing their world up, understanding Superman about as much as some Superman writers of the last couple years. There's an explosion in the Revenger planet sky, but it's not lethal.
Rather, it's the work of another magic gadget from the Fortress, creating mists that will cause any Revenger passing through them, even with the protection of a ship, to suffer instant amnesia, erasing all traces of Super-hatred. They can seethe in a pool of their own hatred on that planet, or they can fly off and be free to love. It makes perfect poetic sense, if nothing else. Love conquers all, fools!

9 comments:

snell said...

The Silver Age lasted a hell of a lot longer at DC, at least in some titles. Superman never got to discover Jimmy Olsen shooting up smack...

Siskoid said...

No, only shacking up with Cat Grant.

But that was post-Crisis and Superman's loss of innocence (Supergirl's death maybe?).

snell said...

And the banishing of Superboy. There was the loss of innocence...

Siskoid said...

His youth was LITERALLY taken away from him.

SallyP said...

Seriously, we NEED more stories like this!

Siskoid said...

I guess there's always Superman Family Adventures...

Jeff R. said...

Nah, this is as utterly Bronze as it gets. For Superman, bronze-age was about embracing everything that had been established in the Silver Age and then taking it all completely seriously and straight-faced.

(And Superman's loss of innocence was, retroactively, in the last issue of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. He doesn't remember it, but it still happened and affected him.)

And now that you've done Vlatuu and the Satanis-split Supermen, all that's left to complete my 80's favorites is Superman 2020...

Martin Gray said...

I'd say Superboy's loss of innocence was spelled M.I.S.T.Y

Talking of Superman Family Adventures, did you see the best-yet #4? There's a tremendous Reign of the Supermen candidate in there!

Siskoid said...

I love Superman Family Adventures. You'll see its candidates in these pages for sure.

 

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