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Action Comics 343
"Eterno the Immortal!"


Script: Jim Shooter
Art: Wayne Boring

More powerful than a million mastodons... more intelligent than an army of scientists... and unaffected by H-Bombs. Who is he... the Man of Steel? No. It's that 50-foot construct, Eterno! What happens when these two meet? Duck and cover when Superman matches might with the gigantic threat of... "Eterno the Immortal!"

Out of the void, outside of our galaxy, a spaceship makes its way towards our solar system. Arl alerts Garan that they are entering the Sol system. This is where the Man of Steel resides, on Earth. They are members of the Superman Revenge Squad, a group who have met frequent defeat against Superman. This time, Arl has got a plan to defeat their foe for all time. Garan reminds Arl all the massive and powerful weaponry they have used in the past, each with a "perfect" plan behind it. Each and every one was beaten by the Man of Steel. At great expense in time, money, and members. The other plans have failed, but Arl's plan is different. He has researched the history of Superman's adopted world, Earth, with their time viewer. He has found something of interest from a billion years ago, a supercivilization called the Xan. They dwelled in sky-cities built by their own superior science.

The Xan also constructed Eterno! The sunthoflesh is applied to his robot frame, while an android brain is readied for encasement in the robot's head. At fifty feet high, the half android, half robot stood over his creators, and was powered by the energy of the stars themselves. Its artificial brain contained all the Xan's knowledge. Armed with their wisdom and power, Eterno could perform amazing feats, such as using his destructo-beams to cut mountains in two. Eterno was too wise and too powerful. He planned in secret to conquer the world. Biding his time, the half android, half robot dreamt of making the tiny creatures his servants. Before he could act, a different threat came to Earth in the form of space gas. Knowing that the gas would wipe them out, the Xan were aware that only the life in the sea would survive. Only the element Absorbium could contain the gas, but it existed only at the planet's core. Realizing that a ruler needs subjects, Eterno vows to retrieve the Absorbium for them.

Eterno's destructo-beam blasted a four thousand mile path to the center of the Earth, to save the Xan who would soon be conquered by him. At the core, the half android, half robot finds himself unable to move, due to the strange properties of the Absorbium. Eterno was paralyzed and the Xan soon died out. Arl plans to release Eterno with a cyclo-ray. The material will be disintegrated and the fifty foot creation will return to the surface world. His conquest will bring him into battle against the Man of Steel, and "poof" no more Superman. The spaceship is now within range. The tele-viewer is activated, the z-ray radar is focused, and the ray beam is fired. From outer space, it enters our atmosphere, then cuts through the ocean floor, and the Earth's crust. The Absorbium is vaporized, and after eons, Eterno is free once more.

With the power of solar energy, Eterno smashes through the wall of the inner core, and begins digging towards the surface. Hours pass, and in a mountain observatory near Metropolis, a scientist checks out his seismograph. R-R-R-U-MMBLE The scientist wonders to himself if a nearby mountain is moving? BLAMM! It couldn't be a volcanic eruption, but there it is. The author of the eruption is now visible. KRRUMP As the scientist heads for his automobile, and drives away, he watches as the fifty foot automaton begins tearing the giant telescope in two.

At the offices of the Daily Planet, mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent is on the alert for any further earth tremors, and sees a helicopter broadcasting a call for Superman. Editor Perry White tells the reporter to head over to the Metropolis Science Institute at once. Clark makes a change of clothes in a stock room at super-speed, and the Man of Steel heads for the institute. The scientists tell Superman that Metropolis, the entire world... may be in danger. Only he can possibly stop the threat. As the scientist from the observatory begins to tell his story, the Man of Steel's telescopic-vision has just spotted the creature entering Metropolis.

It is not the Xan who flee from him, but Eterno will conquer them none the less. His mighty brain has already deciphered their strange speech. He tears the top off of a deserted building, then holds it above his head, and laughs at the fleeing gnats. CR-RASHH! As the deadly debris is hurled, a flash of red and blue soars forward to intercept it. If it's an opponent he wants, Eterno is about to meet the number one contender. The half android, half robot wonders how the mere mortal could have such power.

The building is shattered against the construct, but the impact fails to faze it. The Man of Steel will try again. Seeing that he is the only one who dares to attack, Eterno admits that the human is mighty, but as a gnat to him. THUD! Startled citizens watch as their hero is knocked to the ground. KR-RAK! The pavement cracks from the collision. Superman assures the public that he's okay, and asks a police officer to have the authorities clear the area. Returning to the fight, the Man of Steel constructs a series of thick walls at super-speed, in hopes of slowing his foe down until the evacuation has been completed. A wrecked building and shattered street provide adequate ammo against his towering opponent.

Eterno is in no mood for any further games. POW! CRASH! The fifty foot creation has broken through the last wall, but the evacuation has been successful. Eterno plans to find the fleeing humans, and conquer them. But first, he will put an end to the mighty human's interference. Superman's punch is barely noticed by the towering automaton. Since he can fly and Eterno cannot, the Man of Steel evades him, in time to reach the top of the Daily Planet Building. He borrows the Planet globe to give his foe a lesson in bowling.

Superman bowls a perfect strike. CRASH! Eterno is felled, his own weight sending him through the street, and down into a subway tunnel. To his surprise, the fifty foot creation recovers, and seizes him in one hand. Caught in his grip, the Man of Steel unleashes a blast of heat-vision. The rays are cancelled out by Eterno's destructo beams.

Fortunately, Superman can weather the strong blast. The half robot, half android has just witnessed the impossible sight of a human defying his destructo beams. In the spaceship of the Revenge Squad, Garan has piloted the ship too low, and is now within the Man of Steel's line of sight. He is certain that Eterno will win and he wishes to witness the victory in person. How he longs to tell the Kryptonian that Eterno is merely a pawn of the Superman Revenge Squad, and he will no longer live to foil their plans. Garan has foolishly turned the loudspeaker switch on, and the words have come out on the ship's speaker. Eterno is no tool, no puppet. He will destroy anyone who dares to call him such things. The Man of Steel is hurled aside, as Eterno turns his attention on the fleeing spaceship.

ZZ-Z-ZAAP! They try to flee, but cannot elude his powerful destructo beams. Inside the ship, the Revenge Squad prepare for a crash landing. The ship comes down between two skyscrapers in Metropolis. Superman recognizes the ship, now knows that it was the Revenge Squad behind Eterno's arrival, and their pawn doesn't like the idea. Their new experimental weapons are readied.

ZAA-P ZZ-ZAP WHAM! Their most powerful blasts fail to have an effect. It would seem that Eterno has no weaknesses, save one. Absorbium! Their atomic transmuter turns the nuclear capsules to Absorbium, and are inserted into their guns. ZZL-LMM The fifty foot creation feels the impact. FZZ-AMM KLZZZ! His entire frame is now charged with Absorbium, and his artificial life-force has been neutralized. The fifty foot automaton falls towards his attackers.

CRASH! AAAHHH! Eterno's last act is to crush the Revenge Squad ship. The Man of Steel lifts the inert form and checks for any survivors. Inside the ship, there are none to be found. The records show how the Revenge Squad freed Eterno from the Earth's core. By destroying him, they destroyed themselves.

On the cover of Action Comics #343 by Curt Swan, the Man of Steel is punched by an purple glove attached to an orange arm. "From The Center Of The Earth A New Menace Challenges The Man of Steel... "Eterno" Gigantic Immortal! More Powerful Than Superman Himself!"

Orange and purple are the color scheme of Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Eterno is a fifty foot half android, half robot, orange in color, with a red triangle on his chest, and purple gloves, trunks, and boots.

Arl is human in appearance, while Garan, and the other unnamed Revenge Squadder is bald, has blue skin, and yellow bug eyes.

Clark Kent must be a pretty good bowler, especially if the Man of Steel is able to use the Daily Planet Globe in order to get a strike.

The Revenge Squad spaceship is green in color, equipped with sufficient switches to cause a perfect plan to go awry at the slightest touch.

It's unknown what happened to Eterno, but I assume that the Man of Steel took his remains to the Fortress of Solitude.

In the Metropolis Mailbag, Dave Cockrum of Miramar, Calif. writes:

"Dear Editor:

Once in a while, along comes a Superman story which stands head and shoulders above the rest. Such a tale was "Power Of The Parasite." The best thing in this story, aside from a villain nearly beating the Man of Steel without the aid of Kryptonite or magic, was an insight - underdone, in my opinion, but there nevertheless - into Superman's personality. The Parasite very nearly killed him, after thoroughly knocking the living daylights out of him, and yet he arose, again and again, for another try. It shows that, even without his super-powers, Superman has the will to fight back, no matter how hard you kick his brains out. Until now, I hadn't believed him capable of performing like that under such conditions. After all, how much indomitable spirit do you need when you're strong enough to shoot billiards with planets for balls and suns for pockets? You just knock the villain's block off and forget it. But you didn't carry it far enough. Anyone else would have been so mad he was blue in the face. Superman, admittedly, wasn't very calm - but he wasn't mad enough. I regret your having killed off the Parasite. You need more villains (not Kryptonians) who can take Superman on without using Kryptonite or magic."

(Credit for this great story goes to Jim Shooter, our new discovery. Jim's had such a landslide of applause for this tale, he's promised to dream up a way of bringing back the Parasite for another go-round with the Man of Steel - Ed.)

Steve Chung
"Eterno The Review!"