Reign of the Supermen #560: The Clark Kent of 1906

Source: Superman vol.1 #168 (1964)
Type: Disguise + Red K transformation
So Luthor is just chillin' on Lexor, the planet of the Luthor worshipers, when he decides he can't leave well enough alone and must return to Earth to use his new red kryptonite dust on Superman, dust designed to take away most of his powers so he can be imprisoned or even executed on Lexor. Except something goes wrong on the return trip and Luthor crash lands back in time to San Francisco 1906. Because it's the Silver Age, he feels compelled to take a secret identity instead of just get on with repairs to his ship (which he means to turn into a time machine/teleporter). How he gets a 1906 identity is pretty gruesome, actually:
So was there actually a Daily Planet in turn-of-the-century San Francisco? My Google Fu is failing me; search engines keep throwing up the Berkeley Daily Planet at me. Well, whatever the case, back in 1964, Superman makes a telescopic check on Luthor and finds he's left Lexor. Unable to find him in the usual spots, he uses a Kandorian machine to track his archenemy's brainwave pattern to "anywhere in time and space", and that's how he finds him in 1906. A short time trip later, and the Man of Steel is likewise compelled to take a secret identity until he can find Lex.
And because there's a Daily Planet here, why not call yourself Clark Kent and ask for a job? It's worked before. Clark doesn't recognize Cyrus Groat, his editor, as Lex Luthor, but accounts him "tougher than Perry White". Lex DOES recognize Superman though. The Man of Steel has obviously taken the name from his "friend", and doesn't mind polluting the timeline with anachronistic bylines. To keep him busy while he completes his work Lex/Cyrus sends "Clark" on a series of terrible assignments, including a boring interview with real-life period actress Lillian Russell.
Does Clark do this often? Try to think of ways he can make a story more interesting? Perhaps by injecting a little Superman in it? Where's the super-integrity?! In this case, the jewels she's waiting for a waylaid by criminals, which he helps apprehend with a blast of heat vision out the window. Lex then sends him to write about what it's like to be heavyweight challenger One-Round O'Rourke's sparring partner. (Are you looking for Luthor at all, Clark?!) X-ray vision reveals O'Rourke uses brass knuckles under his gloves. There's a 100$ in it if you last a round, 1000$ if you knock him out. In 1906 dollars, that's 2600$ and 26,000$ contemporary dollars respectively! Worth it! And because Boxing Day was yesterday, you deserve the full sequence:
EAT THE BELL! Somebody really needs to start monitoring and regulating this sport. Clark gives his proceeds to the fire department so they can buy a new fire engine. So Lex sends him to cover the purchase. Except the engine's red paint was made with Lex's patented Red K dust! Tingling all over, Superman realizes he's lost all but his vision powers, one of which allows him to see a ship on fire in the bay.
Using heat vision, he burns a whole in a jug of sulfuric acid, which drops on barrels of baking soda, creating the world's first fire extinguisher. And if you think that coincidence is hard to believe, wait 'til you see who one of the passengers is:
Ladies and gentlemen, the Secret Origin of Perry White. But now Superman knows Luthor and Cyrus Groat are the same person, because of the Red K dust (he can leap to tall conclusions in a single bound!). Before he can confront Lex, however, the master criminal jumps him from behind with a gun and forces him to an island where he's set up his temporal teleporter. Weak from the Red K, Supes has no choice, but the machine malfunctions (oh, that shoddy Lexor technology!) and Superman isn't transported to Luthor's planet with him. He returns to San Fran just in time for the 1906 earthquake, which he is powerless to prevent.
Yes, Superman. Fate decrees you cannot change history. BUT WHY WOULD YOU TRY TO, YOU DANGEROUS NITWIT!!?! Falling in a crevice, he is rescued by Lillian Russell who though she is a historical figure, has enough "L"s in her name to be drawn to the Man of Steel. Together, they ride around on a tandem bicycle and help feed quake victims.
When his powers return, he flies back to the present where he discovers Luthor never materialized on Lexor. He eventually finds him - having conveniently forgotten he has a super-tracking machine at the Fortress of Solitude which he used just three days ago - on the same island in San Francisco Bay he teleported away from. That island's name? Alcatraz. And Lex 'ported right into one of the cells. And Superman laughed and laughed.

BONUS SUPERMAN BOXING COVER

Oh no! It's a knock-out! Right at the end of the year! What does that mean for the future of Reign?! Tune in next Saturday for the answer!

5 comments:

LiamKav said...

What are Clark's clothes made out of that mean that they don't show up on x-rays, but everything else does? (Er, apart from Luthor's moustache and hair.)

Siskoid said...

The supersuit is this amazing textile that's impervious to everything, even his own powers.

JeffJedi said...

Somewhere in Time joke was really funny. :D

Siskoid said...

Thanks for catching it! :)

Jeff R. said...

I'm not at all sure how the whole wearing the cape under the coat thing is supposed to work at all here. Wouldn't anyone standing to the right of Clark 1906 be able to see the cape when it's half-on like that? If the cape was somehow sandwiched into the coat then he couldn't take it one-shoulder-off like that at all...

 

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