Reign of the Supermen #105: The Leper of Krypton

Source: Action Comics #363-366 (1968)
Type: TransformationAnother amazing Silver Age thriller because YOU demanded it! (It's true!) Can Superman really get sick?!

It all starts thanks to another piss-poor performance by the DCU's penal system, letting Lex Luthor work from a lab to cure mad cow or something. Instead, he exposes a virus to kryptonite to recreate a Kryptonian plague he somehow knows about. After the murder of a cute bunny rabbit, he arranges for the "Virus X" to be smuggled out of prison in a ventriloquist's Superman dummy. The ventriloquist in question is the villainous Ventor who has brainwashed Clark Kent with a giant mesmerizing Superman head.
He passes the virus on to him and commands him to kill Superman. In this state, Clark doesn't know HE'S Superman and winds up following his instincts to his own apartment and dosing his own pillow with Virus X. Infected, he first exhibits the virus' trademark panic attack and rips off his clothes, revealing the Superman uniform underneath. And still he doesn't realize who he really is. Looking in the mirror and seeing his necrotizing green flesh, he finally remembers... Remembers all the way back to Krypton history where Virus X originated.
Right then, Lex Luthor hijacks every television channel from prison and gloats over infecting Superman with space leprosy. Metropolis citizens, knowing leprosy only from the Bible (just as the comic's writer probably does), immediately start shunning the Man of Steel, melting down artifacts in the Superman Museum, etc. They don't want his help no more. And as proof he's very much contagious, an alley cat brushes against him and immediately turns green.
The best medical science can do is put a thin, transparent film of fiberglass around him, but Luthor offers more. For a cool million, he says he can provide a cure. He can't or won't however, it's just a ploy using a made-up double for Superman's sick cat (how'd he know about it? the same way everybody knows things in these comics - they are magically aware of every panel featured) to screw with Superman AND make a few bucks. Yeah, the cat died within an hour of infection (LUTHOR KNOWS ALL!!!).
Watch out, this is where it gets particularly Silver Agey. Superman flies off to the Fortress. Supergirl is waiting for him with a plan to send him to the Phantom Zone until a cure can be found. The Kryptonian criminals use their mental powers as a barrier however and prevent him from entering. To make sure Supergirl isn't accidentally infected, Superman somehow makes the bottled city of Kandor's alarm go off, making Kara go check things out. There is no emergency, she's just trapped while Superman makes his funeral arrangements. He really doesn't trust her because he first destroys every weapon in his trophy room, then locks away his "secrets" in a vault for 100 years. Even his will kinda shafts Kara:
He then puts on a rubber mask so that the people of Earth don't need to gaze upon his leprous face and boards a rocket/coffin bound for the "universe's hottest sun", Flammbron, where he wants to be cremated. As some guy says "It's the saddest day in history!" (sorry, EVERY EVENT THAT EVER COST PEOPLE OR KITTENS THEIR LIVES!) Damnnnn, Kal! You even made Batman cry!
News travels fast in the DCU, and as Superman passes by various planets, they put on shows of grief, even on Luxor where they think Luthor's a hero. Well, if he unleashed Virus X on someone, he must be a baddie!
And Superman watches it all from the corner of his eye. It makes his super-recall flare up and the third chapter of this mini-epic turns into something of a clip show. He's awakened from his reverie by a pair of Bizarros throwing red and white chunks of kryptonite.
(Can you figure out where this is heading?) Then Supergirl shows up with Superman's three girlfriends under glass.
If you think this isn't very realistic, you're right. You'd expect at least a SMALL cat fight. Anyway, they leave before Superman enters Flammbron's corona (I'm not making this stuff up - why would I make this stuff up?). And look! There's people living on the surface of the universe's hottest spot!
They save him from the mother of all sunburns and he discovers he's cured of his Space Leprosy. Of course! White kryptonite is only deadly to plant life, and Virus X must be plant-based! The Flammbronians send him on his way. It's the least they can do to the guy who once PUKED FIRE INTO A FLAMMBRONIAN CORPSE AND RAISED IT FROM THE DEAD!
Superman returns to Earth and whines a great deal about his memorial being left unfinished, his name being used to support political candidates, and Superman costumes being sold at a discount. Turns out Supergirl has concocted a plan to make the JLA pose as Superman to give people - choke! - hope! Which only leaves one question... Which Justice Leaguer endorsed a politician in Superman's name in the 1968 U.S. elections?

9 comments:

Robert said...

Had to have been Green Arrow.

Matthew Turnage said...

Awesome! Thanks for including this one.

Siskoid said...

Robert: Haha, he's not seen, but I bet you're right!

Matt: It was literally a pleasure.

Adama said...

Robert, I was just about to say it HAD to be Ollie. He probably called a few people "fatcats" while he was at it, too.

Robert said...

I wonder if Ollie remembered to say "Great Krypton" instead of "Far freaking out".

Siskoid said...

Compromise: "Far Freaking Rao!"

Steve said...

I love the utter insanity of these old stories!

Nick said...

Thanks, been looking for this since 1968 no kidding. Now I finally know how Supes survived!

Siskoid said...

Happy to be of service!

 

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