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Action Comics 355
"The Mighty Annihilator!"


Story: Unknown Art: Wayne Boring

On the Curt Swan-drawn cover, the man of steel is petrified as he spots a mysterious figure changing into his secret identity. Superman must leave Earth before the only man he fears carries out his threat to kill him! (Holy Reach Out and Touch Someone, Batman!)

Two scenes appear on the splash page: one features a boxer knocking out his opponent in the ring, while the other has the man of steel being kayoed by a colorfully-clad new super-villain! Both scenes have one thing in common, both show Superman being slugged by his newest foe! Lex Luthor will loathe him... Brainiac will short circuit... when they learn of the victory of the only man the man of steel fears... "The Mighty Annihilator!"

It's morning behind the Iron Curtain, and at a forced labor camp, Karl Keller is rudely roused from his bunk! The winner of the Nobel Prize in Biochemistry is forced to eat slop which even the rats wouldn't touch! In the courtyard, he and the other prisoners see the special sentry dogs tear into the hanging dummies, as an example of what will happen to them if they try to escape. As they head for work, Keller sees the four-legged guards and thinks that the two-legged ones are bad enough! The guards taunt Keller as he labors deep within a mineshaft... and they remember how he criticized the dictator.

After digging his quota of ore, Keller reports to the "rest home..." where he uses his talents as a bio-chemist to conduct experiments in biological warfare! Half a world away at the Daily Planet, Perry White tells mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent to head to the airport and interview some far east diplomats! Changing to Superman, he soars from the roof of the Daily Planet, where he begins his daily world patrol at super-speed! He swiftly spans the ocean... and sees that in an Iron Curtain country, all seems quiet below, including some sort of rest home for the people. At that moment, Karl Keller sees the man of steel soar pass, and curses the guardian of the Earth, defender of the weak, and protector of the oppressed! Keller is being oppressed and Superman has done nothing for him!

He vows to make the hero pay for the years of suffering he has endured. One day, Keller makes a discovery in the mine... his pick has uncovered the remains of a rocket... he finds a small container inside. There are samples of three liquid chemicals sent by an advanced scientific civilization... and a mind tape which helps him learn more about the alien writings. After covering the remains of the rocket, and knowing that the guards are having lunch in another tunnel, he puts on the mind tape, and listens to the mental images from Krypton! Keller knows that this was the man of steel's native world, and he hears how a young science apprentice named Sarr-Penn was the one who discovered the incredible power contained within the chemicals... He was vacuuming some bits of mineral dust...

The boy had vacuumed up the crystalized residue of the three liquid explosives... and when the particles mixed... WHOOOMMMP! After an investigation, the technicians discovered that the dust specks caused a powerful concussion, and as liquids, they would produce a more potent super-blast! One of the technicians pours the liquids down three separate drains, but the drains led to the same disposal pit beneath the underground lab complex! Seeing the explosion from a distance, the technicians vow to get rid of the chemicals before they inadvertantly cause the destruction of Krypton! The stock of liquids were destroyed, and sent the three samples into space... The guards are approaching as the mind tape ends, and Keller buries the tape and the capsule... then slips the Kryptonian chemicals under his clothing, for he may have use for them!

Since Keller hasn't dug his quota, he'll get no supper, and he's glad he won't have to eat the swill. In the night, Keller is in his bunk and has an idea to make his body tolerate the chemicals, then inject them into his bloodstream... The following day in the lab, the guards believe that Karl Keller is experimenting with biological warfare, but he's actually altering the molecular composition of the explosive liquids so that his body will absorb them safely like a nutrient fluid! (Holy Selegue, Batman!) If his theory is correct, drinking a few drops of each Kryptonian explosive... will give him a new fearsome power! Seconds pass.. and he feels the bio-chemical reaction surging through him... changing every fiber of his being! It will take hours for the maximum result to be reached. Keller sees a strange side-effect in his now-glowing hands! He dons gloves and tells the guards that he has developed an infection.

At suppertime, Karl Keller rebels and the guards figure that the infection has affected his mind, too! Keller is dragged by the guards to the vault, where only one man in twenty has ever come back from that tomb! (Holy Haunt of Horror, Batman!) Keller vows that the solid steel walls will not hold him, and inside, he removes the gloves, and believes that he'll be able to crack the walls like an eggshell! KAPPOWW! BARRAMM! POW! The Kryptonian explosives have given his fists the impact abilities of a human bomb! His body as as deadly as nitroglycerine!

As he makes his way across country, Keller spots a train... heading west for the border! As the engineer slows down for a curve, he has his chance, and vows to have his revenge on Superman for the time spent in the labor camp! Weeks later in Metropolis, Clark Kent is covering a boxing exhibition... with a packed arena, citizens are eager to see the exploits of the One-Punch Kid! The referee introduces the mysterious boxer, and the arena management will pay $1,000 to the one who can withstand more than one punch! Clark believes that this must be a put-on, but the One-Punch Kid strikes a glancing blow on his first opponent, and the mild-mannered reporter wonders if the other boxer is throwing the fight...

Carl Keller, who according to the thought balloon changed his first name, is the One-Punch Kid! He plans to maintain this secret identity until he finishes his revenge on the man of steel. As the bouts go on, the One-Punch Kid begins to pick on his opponents two at a time! Using his x-ray vision, Clark sees that there are no metal inside the gloves, but there is a strange glow! He heads off to check out the defeated challengers to make certain they weren't cheating. In the dressing room, Clark meets Pug Mullins, a has-been boxer getting ready to fight! In his condition, the mild-mannered reporter knows that Pug doesn't have a chance, but the boxer has his reasons... With the door closed, he tells Clark that his wife is ill and needs an operation. Knowing that Pug might get killed by one of those punches, the mild-mannered reporter takes his place by using his super-speed to grab a liniment bottle, and using his x-ray vision to molecularize the chloroform so that the fumes will put the boxer to sleep!

Thanks to some first aid ointments from the dressing room, Clark is disguised as Pug, and meets the One-Punch Kid in the ring! KAPPOWW! The first punch punch knocks "Pug" off his feet... even though he is invulnerable! The One-Punch Kid has won again, and "Pug" pretends to be kayoed to avoid suspicion, then heads back to the dressing room when the real Pug revives... When he wakes up, Pug is told by Clark that he must have fought the One-Punch Kid on pure instinct! He also tells Pug that Superman will arrange an operation for his wife! Changing to the man of steel, Superman presents the $5,000 to the One-Punch Kid, who declines answering the question from where his amazing punch came from.

When Superman suggests an exhibition match between the two of them, the One-Punch Kid declines, then heads off to use the money to buy a hideout and a secret identity! In his new lair, Carl Keller dons an action costume of his own, and dubs himself, "The Annihilator!" He amplifies his explosive energy by drinking the Kryptonian chemicals and doubling the explosive power of his fists! In the evening, at Superman's Fortress of Solitude, the man of steel sees the alarm coming from the Metropolis Jewel Exchange, which has a large collection of diamonds! He figures that the crook hasn't got a chance of getting through the six-feet thick vault walls! When Superman arrives, he sees a new super-villain using his fists to gain entry to the vault, then BAROOM! His first punch sends the man of steel staggering backwards!

CRASH! CRUNCH! KWAM! Superman gasps as the next punch blasts him through the vault wall like a guided missile, and only his invulnerability saves him from harm! As the man of steel readies to retaliate, the Annihilator tells him that his body is like nitro-glycerine, and if one of his powers touches him, the result will be the ultimate horror! Earth will be blasted to bits, and Superman along with it! Knowing that his new foe is not bluffing, and seeing that the Annihilator's atomic structure is as deadly as a million hydrogen bombs, the man of steel soars away to think things over! The Annihilator yells to the retreating Superman to get off the Earth or he'll blow it up! Days pass, and the Annihilator has struck again and again! Guards wonder with the villain's latest raid... has Superman chickened out? As Carl Keller changes to the Annihilator in a phone booth, the man of steel peers from behind a brick wall. He must stop the Annihilator... but... ULP! He'd better leave Earth before the villain carries out his threat to kill the man of steel!

An intriguing cover, as the reader can only wonder what could terrify the man of steel!

Boxers in comic books include Ted Grant, aka Wildcat and Battlin' Jack Murdock.

The Annihilator has a purple and green costume: purple torso and boots, yellow belt, green cape, gloves, and pants.

Other Iron Curtain scientists include: The Gargoyle from Incredible Hulk #1 and his son, The Gremlin.

Other explosive villains include: Nitro from Captain Mar-Vell, and Blastaar from The Fantastic Four.

Other super-heroes with concussive powers include: Iron Fist, and The Human Bomb from the Freedom Fighters.

Interesting that the Fortress of Solitude's World Wide Top Security Areas alarm system includes: United Nations, White House, Cape Kennedy, and the Metropolis Jewelry Exchange. (Holy Sesame Street, Batman! One of these things is not like the others.)

Steve Chung
"The Mighty Review!"