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Action Comics 310
"The Secret of Kryptonite Six"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND March 1964, reprinted in Superman #227 June - July, 1970

Story: Unknown Art: Curt Swan

There is glee in the Phantom Zone! The twilight dimensional prison where Kryptonian criminals are incarcerated! For they have succeeded in subduing The Man of Steel's heroic career with the mystery of -- The Secret of Kryptonite Six! (Holy Abbie Hoffman, Batman! Sounds like an Kryptonian Civil Rights Case!) On the splash page, Superman tells his pal not to worry, for the Jewel Kryptonite can't affect him at all, for there's only five varieties of Kryptonite! (Holy 31 Flavors, Batman!) In the Phantom Zone, Jax-Ur laughs, as he anticipates how this harmless form of Kryptonite will soon complicate The Man of Steel's life! Mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent and cub reporter Jimmy Olsen are covering a "mock" invasion by U.S. marines, with Jimmy impressed by the sight, and Clark unnerved by the sound of shell-fire! The next moment finds Clark remembering an important appointment, while Jimmy wonders how scared his fellow Daily Planeteer can be?

Under the cover of battle-smoke, the mild-mannered reporter changes to Superman, who prepares to head for a vital mission in Kandor, but on the way there, he sees Lori The Mermaid, who is acting weak and whose skin is all blotched! She tells him that a deadly spotted plague has struck Atlantis and it has weakened their telepathic powers, making it impossible for her to contact him earlier! Superman's telescopic-vision shows that an epidemic has struck the underwater continent, and the Atlantean doctors are unable to help their fellow citizens. A cure must be found or else Lori and her fellow Atlanteans will be destroyed by the spotted plague! The Man of Steel tells Lori that as soon as he's finished a crucial meeting in Kandor, he'll begin work on a cure for the spotted plague, and she urges him to hurry, for their lives depend on him! Travelling at super-speed, Superman uses a reducing ray to enable him to enter the bottle!

Parachuting down to the city, Superman is greeted, and is told that he is chairman of the Phantom Zone parole board. At The Hall of Justice (Holy Hanna-Barbera, Batman!), the board watches via a special monitor screen and listen with a Zone-O-Phone as they hear an appeal from The Phantom Zone. The case of Vorb-Un is first to be heard, and he has been sentenced to ten time cycles for experiments with forbidden elements without the council's permission! (Holy Sele-Gue, Batman!) With his sentence up, Vorb-Un repents his crime and pleads the Kandorians for his release. Taking into account his advance age and genuine remorse, Vorb-Un is released, and he thanks Superman, as well as promises to be a good citizen of Kandor. The next case involves the Phantom Zone prisoner known as Jax-Ur, who is under a life sentence, but seeks to appeal to the board for his release! The others on the council remember Jax-Ur's crime of creating a ray which destroyed an inhabited moon of Krypton! He tells them that he's learned his lesson, and asks to redeem himself -- then tells Superman that he can help him find a cure for the spotted plague in Atlantis!

When he was a young scientist on Krypton, and before he turned to crime, Jax-Ur saved an aquarium which was stricken by a similar disease, by devising a special fungus antidote. A council member urges Superman not to trust Jax-Ur, who will no doubt betray him, and The Man of Steel will be unable to return him to the Zone! Jax-Ur asks for twenty-four hours to prove himself, and Superman recalls how this Kryptonian criminal has a habit of making escape attempts from The Phantom Zone. (Holy Stalag 13, Batman! Probably more than Colonel Hogan!) In the Fortress, Superman has failed to find a cure for the spotted plague, and with death a certainty for Atlantis, he has no choice but to release Jax-Ur! Using his super-speed, The Man of Steel makes preparations, then uses the Zone-O-Phone to contact Jax-Ur, who will gain a temporary release so that he can find a cure for the spotted plague. As he materializes in The Fortress, Jax-Ur sees that a ring has been fastened to his arm, and The Man of Steel tells him that it is a Zone-Shackle, which will return him to The Phantom Zone after twenty-four hours anyway. When Jax-Ur points out that as a Kryptonian, he too possesses super-abilities under Earth's yellow sun, and could remove the shackle, Superman directs his attention to a flame-breathing creature from a distant world! The Man of Steel removes the beast's muzzle so that it can try to remove the Zone-Shackle...

As soon as the creature begins to use its flame-breath to remove the Zone-Shackle, it vanishes into thin air, and re-materializes on its native world... a fiery, barren planet... under a red sun! Jax-Ur gets the point and assures Superman that he's sincere about reforming. Jax-Ur enters a time capsule, and bids The Man of Steel to follow him, for the antidote for the disease can only be found in the past! The capsule arrives at Krypton, before it was destroyed, and by using the time capsule rather than his super-powers to travel through the time barrier, they will be able to return to 1964, than be stranded under Krypton's red sun! Landing the capsule near the Jewel Mountains, they make their way to Jax-Ur's secret laboratory, and the capsule will be safe, for within the mountains, its controls may be damaged. As they climb the glittering peaks, Superman is amazed by the sight of a skeleton of a huge crystal bird... a species which once filled the skies of ancient Krypton!

The birds came to this area to die and their skeletons were transformed into the Living Jewel Mountains, which are similar to the legendary Elephant Graveyards of Africa! After spending hours in climbing, they arrive at Jax-Ur's lab and he seeks the record of the spotted plague antidote there. Inside the headquarters, however, Superman enjoyes the automatically prepared dinner, but grows sleepy, and figures that it's from the long climb, but Jax-Ur doctored his food and has hours in which to enact his scheme! He climbs to a nearby pinnacle, and obtains some jewel minerals, whose atomic structure he's affecting with a device he's carrying! He has calculated that when Krypton explodes, this jewel chunk will be hurled towards Earth, but since he has transmuted its elements, the mineral will be transformed into a new form of Kryptonite, with incredible powers!

In the lab, Superman awakes, and sees Jax-Ur checking a map for the location of the antidote they seek for curing Atlantis, and according to Jax-Ur's notes, the fungus grows in The Scarlet Jungle! Landing the capsule near the weird wilderness, Jax-Ur tells The Man of Steel to keep a sharp eye out for the fungus, while Superman notes that the jungle floor is tangled with vines, and it's akin to finding a needle in a haystack! Suddenly, a Thought-Beast appears, and as Jax-Ur takes cover behind a giant purple mushroom, he tells Superman that the thought-screen image shows what it plans to do to The Man of Steel, who is unable to run, for his foot is caught in the vines! Jax-Ur throws one of the plants at the Thought-Beast to stop its charge, and as the startled creature stomps away, Superman thanks Jax-Ur for the save, but the scientist tells him to forget it and concentrates on the plant which he threw at the Thought-Beast, which contains the spore-dust needed to cure the spotted plague! They gather up the fungi, then make preparations to return to Earth.

As they head through the time-barrier, Superman watches as Krypton meets its end, and Jax-Ur silently regards the sentimental fool seated next to him, for the explosion will create a weapon which will end his heroic career! On Earth, Superman heads for Atlantis with the spore antidote, and since Jax-Ur's twenty-four hours aren't up yet, he is permitted to spend it as a free man. In space, Jax-Ur heads for the transformed jewel mineral, which has been transformed into Jewel Kryptonite, and has been hurled into orbit around Earth! Only he knows what its powers are, and to continue with his plan, Jax-Ur breaks off a piece, then leaves the rest in orbit. Back on Earth, Jax-Ur uses his telescopic-vision to find Jimmy Olsen, Superman's Pal, and who will be the perfect tool for his scheme. Jimmy is by himself in the Daily Planet darkroom. Jax-Ur arrives and hypnotizes Jimmy by spinning the jewel like a top, while in Atlantis, Lori and the Atlanteans are cured!

Above The Daily Planet, Jax-Ur meets with Superman, and he hopes that his aid in curing the Atlanteans will prove that he's atoned for his crimes. The Man of Steel promises to put in a good word with the Kandorian parole board, but as Jax-Ur returns to The Phantom Zone, he is greeted by jeers for aiding Superman, but he assures them that it was all part of a plan he's set up! Jimmy uses his signal-watch to call his pal, and asks him to pose with a display of imitation Kryptonite in order to settle an argument among readers about how many types of Kryptonite there are. Happy to oblige, Superman assures his pal that there are only five types of Kryptonite: Green, Red, Gold, White, and Blue... but in The Phantom Zone, Jax-Ur smiles, for The Man of Steel will soon learn of the fantastic powers of Jewel Kryptonite! The flashgun goes off and Jimmy breaks out of his trance, then tells Superman about Jax-Ur's scheme to use this new type of Kryptonite on him! Hearing the commotion, Daily Planet Editor Perry White enters...

Feeling no reaction to the Jewel Kryptonite, Superman hurls it out of a window and into space, while the gruff editor thinks that it was just a dream of Jimmy's. Perry asks The Man of Steel if he can fly Jimmy to the airport for some interviews with celebrities since the Planet helicopter is being repaired, and Superman is glad to oblige, while Jimmy finishes loading up the flashbulbs. As he carries Jimmy past a tank farm outside of Metropolis, they see a fuel tankbegin to explode as soon as they came near it. As Superman prepares to land and deal with the fire, the other tanks in his flight-path begin to explode, and Jimmy wonders if Jewel Kryptonite could have something to do with it? Dropping Jimmy at a safe area, Superman leaves Metropolis before anything can happen, then at Jimmy's suggestion, he heads for open sea, but floating mines from World War II begin to blow up due to his very presence. He has become a menace, for whenever he comes near anything explosive, it blows up!

As he heads for space, The Phantom Zoners laugh, for they know that the Jewel Kryptonite isn't affecting Superman, but if The Man of Steel believes himself a menace, then it should be easier for Jax-Ur to persuade him to release him from The Phantom Zone. The chunk of Jewel Kryptonite magnifies the mental commands of The Phantom Zone criminals and changes them to energy beams which can explode any explosive material they seek. They concentrate as Superman passes by a space rocket, and causes the fuel to explode! Superman believes that he's responsible for blowing up the rocket, then sees only one way out of this dilemma, by heading for his Fortress! Inside the Fortress of Solitude, Supergirl has been told of her cousin's problem, and asks how she can help,but Superman brushes her aside to use the Zone-O-Phone and contact him! Jax-Ur has betrayed him, and by exposing him to Jewel Kryptonite, he has made The Man of Steel a threat to the whole world! Jax-Ur assures him that there is a cure, but for it, he must release every criminal in the Phantom Zone!

Unable to accept Jax-Ur's demand, Superman will be forced to leave Earth forever, and Supergirl vows to find a way to change her cousin back to normal. As he makes one final patrol over the green fields of Earth, Superman is seen by a father and son riding their power lawn mower, with the dad telling his son about The Man of Steel being mankind's greatest friend, but unbeknownst to them, Superman believes himself to be mankind's greatest enemy, for if he should fly over an atomic base, he could blow up an entire city! The next moment finds The Man of Steel making a sudden realization, and as he waves back to the father and son, he is determined not to have Jax-Ur and his fellow Kryptonian criminals drive him from Earth! At the Fortress, Jax-Ur is surprised to see Superman still on Earth, and warns him to leave before he blows up the world, but The Man of Steel is wise to his game. Jax-Ur's plan to convince him that his mere presence would cause explosive materials to blow up in the area might have succeeded if not for three mistakes! Superman became suspicious when he flew over a suburban home, and saw the power lawn mower, which operates on gasoline, didn't explode!

Likewise, Perry's cigarette lighter and Jimmy's gas-filled flashbulbs didn't explode, either! Upon his return to the Fortress, Superman received a telepathic call from Lori Lemaris, whose mental powers detected Jax-Ur's thoughts of his Jewel Kryptonite plot! Upon learning the details from Lori, The Man of Steel hurled the Jewel Kryptonite into the sun to destroy it forever! Jax-Ur's scheme was clever, but it was uncovered by Lori Lemaris' telepathy. Jax-Ur could have been a hero, but he outwitted himself, and to the Kryptonian scientist now a prisoner, he'd rather be notorious as the worst criminal in the Phantom Zone! Superman and Supergirl leave the Fortress, relieved over the close call of Jewel Kryptonite, whose power may have enabled the Phantom Zone Criminals to take over the world, and within that twilight realm, Jax-Ur and his criminal cronies vow that it will someday come to pass!

The Phantom Zone, a twilight dimension which must have Rod Serling as its host and prison guard.

In the first Superman movie, three Kryptonian criminals were sent into it, and in the second movie, they were released, but the motion picture Phantom Zone resembled a record album cover in its dimensions.

The Atlanteans are suffering from a spotted plague which is killing them, but Superman must first head to Kandor to be the chairman of The Phantom Zone Parole Board. Priorities... priorities. Nice to see that in the person of Vorb-Un, a Phantom Zoner can reform. Jax-Ur's crime of blowing up Wegthor is not likely to earn him friends on the board.

Jax-Ur bears a striking resemblance to B-Movie actor Fred Clark, who appeared in "Doctor Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine, The Twilight Zone, The Mummy's Hand(?)), and he reminds me of my grandfather, who also resembled Fred Clark, to his dismay. The flame-breathing creature from a distant world looks like the same one from "Superman's Return To Krypton," the story where he met Lyla Lerrol and his parents.

The Thought-Beast resembled a triceratops, and its thought-screen gives new meaning to the song, "Can You Read My Mind?"

Another form of Kryptonite would be X-Kryptonite, which gave Streaky The Super-Cat temporary super-powers.

Nice to see a parent introduce their child to Superman...who smiles and waves back. Now that's cool!

As Tom Orzechowski pointed out about the earlier version of Superman, he was a gregarious guy, but the 1964 version is from the suburbs, commutes from Metropolis to his Fortress of Solitude, and has his Zone-O-Phone to keep up on the Phantom Zone criminals, and a reducing ray which enables him and Supergirl to go shopping at the Bottle City of Kandor's mini-mall (the phrase has to come from somewhere, and where else would be more appropriate?).

Steve Chung
"The Review of Kryptonite Six"