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Action Comics 396
"The Invaders From Nowhere!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND January, 1971

Art: Swan & Anderson Story: Geoff Brown

Who would be brazen enough to enter the Fortress of Solitude? The man of steel is entering a trap... one which has been baited by the most unlikely foes he'll ever meet! Even with all of his super-abilities, Superman will find himself at the mercy of... "The Invaders From Nowhere!" BRRRRANNNNNGGGG RIPPP BEEP BEEP BEEP HOWWWEEEEEE The man of steel pulls the door to his fortress off of its hinges, and hears all of his security alarms go off! Entering at super-speed, he sees that his super-weapons are intact! The communications room hasn't been disturbed! The Krypton memorial room, with the model of the Kryptonian solar system has not been touched!

In the next corridor, Superman comes face-to-face with the Seekers, from the world known as Krann! They come and go as they please! They also take what they want... and they want the man of steel! They were sent from Krann to bring back the most powerful lifeform on Earth to study and to experiment upon... Superman, himself! Not eager to become a zoo specimen, he soars at them, but his fists pass through them as if they were smoke! They boast of having powers which even his intelligence couldn't begin to understand! Figuring that time has been wasted, Klurr uses the Dormite Ray from his power gauntlet to tranquilize the man of steel! Tirrik uses the Levitron Beam to carry Superman to their waiting transport!

When he revives, the man of steel finds himself imprisoned within a compulsor-force, which negates his powers until they can safely land on their world! Krann orbits a red sun, and when Tirrik asks his crony if they should tell Superman what he can expect, Klurr believes that the man of steel's reaction will be most amusing when the experiment begins! On Krann, Superman is floated to the generator area, while the man of steel wonders what the nature of their experiments can possibly be! The compulsor-force is deactivated, and the Krannians understand that they must not use their gauntlet powers on Superman during the experiment. The man of steel is surprised to find himself released, and knowing that he is powerless beneath a red sun, he is nonetheless determined to fight them with any weapon at hand!

Superman is surprised to see that he can crack some rocks like they were walnuts! He still has super-powers under the red sun! He intends to wreck their equipment, but the Krannian scientists activate the synchro-reflector, and modulate power relays! The man of steel is surprised to see a faint electronic image of himself! (Holy Reeves, Batman!) Charging into the reflection, he feels like he crashed into another man of steel, and it is he who was bounced off! As he continues to plow into the other devices, more images appear, and prevent him from smashing his way free!

The Krannians see that the man of steel is unaware that the feedback energy reflectors are tapping his super-abilities, and turning them against him! The more strength he expends, the more he is repelled by his own reflected might! His energy is being siphoned off into their kinetic circuits, and the giant relays are transmitting it down into the core of their planet! The man of steel is unaware that the Krannian scientists are draining his limitless power to renew the heat at the center of their dying planet! This is why they've brought him here! Without the internal heat to warm Krann, their world will be as an icy tomb, but thanks to Superman, the threat is a thing of the past! They watch as he begins to grow weaker... as he loses his strength!

He has collapsed! The remote tele-meter shows that the man of steel's pulse has stopped! (Holy Contino, Batman!) In his frustration and exhaustion, Superman has lost the will to live! This is of no concern to the Krannians, who have gathered enough thermal energy to heat their planet for centuries! The power continues to rise! The next moment finds the man of steel soaring out of their hands, unaware that he could stop his heart-beat... and his super-hearing had overheard their plan to drain his energy! They fire at the flying figure, who zigzags out of their line of fire! He is unable to fly far, for the kinetic circuits had drained off some of his super-power! He has found the craft which brought him to Krann, and uses it to escape! They see the ship leave, and know that Superman will soon learn their secret! The Krannian scientists have more important things to worry about, as the energy readings have come in...

The ultra-kinetic power they stole from the man of steel has begun a chain-reaction at Krann's core! The ultimate effect has begun! (Holy Jemas, Batman!) Aboard the craft, Superman notices that the star patterns seem strangely familiar... but the Krannians have left the programming tape to guide the craft back to the Fortress of Solitude! (Holy 8-Track, Batman! Hopefully, the tape will provide more than easy listening for the trip back!) The tape is guiding him home... but he sees that something is wrong! Instead of home, the craft is heading for Krann's red sun! (Holy Sun block, Batman! Is Superman seeing red!) The next moment finds the man of steel surprised that the sun's heat hasn't incinerated the spacecraft, much less him! A warning light has activated... and he feels incredible pressure beginning inside of him! (Holy Bat-room, Batman! The man of steel has got to go!) He begins to grow... to expand!

The red sun has gotten smaller... and he has gotten larger! The ship has expanded from infinitesmal to normal size! (Holy Aurora, Batman! What a fantastic voyage this has been!) The red sun was the sun of his anti-gravity Kryptonian solar system memorial... which was given to him by the JLA. He realizes that he had travelled to Krann without ever leaving the Fortress! Superman feeds all information about his experience into the super-computer in order to see if his suspicions were correct. The computer confirms that Krann is a microcosmic world... within a mote of space matter in orbit of the model solar system. The Krannians had used their techology to monitor the man of steel for years! When their world was endangered, they planned to shrink Superman down to their size, and use his power to re-start the subterranean heat of their world!

The "stars" which he had seen on the trip back were minute specks of dust, and the "spacecraft" was a device to shrink or enlarge the passengers! The artificial red sun couldn't affect his powers! Superman wonders how the Krannians had the nerve to capture him, and how they came up with a science which could overcome his abilities! He wonders... did they save their world? POWFF There is an explosion in the model solar system... and the transport has vanished! He is afraid to guess what might have happened. Using an electronic super-scope to amplify his microscopic-vision, he sees the debris of what once was a world! The super-energy over-heated their planet... and destroyed it! Just like his homeworld of Krypton! They were brilliant scientists... with devices which even the man of steel couldn't comprehend! Now, Earth will never learn of their secrets!

Hmm... if this is Superman's Fortress of Solitude, why would it have an alarm system? Who would steal from the man of steel?

Swanderson present Superman in the '70s at his best!

The Krannians are blue-skinned aliens with bald heads and pointed-ears.

Fantastic Voyage dealt with a group of scientists travelling in a craft, which passed through the bloodstream of a patient.

In the Marvel Universe, The Hulk has visited K'ai (home to Jarella), Tarraconia (home to Kronak The Barbarian), the micro-world which was a base for the Shaper of Worlds.

In the Silver Age, Dr. Doom lures The Fantastic Four to a micro-world where he ruled.

The F.F. also met Psycho Man when they travelled to his micro-world.

The Hyperion of The Squadron Sinister was once believed to have come from a micro-world, which was destroyed by Earth's scientists. It was known as Yttrium, but this turned out to be part of false memories implanted by The Grandmaster, who created the artificial being to serve as a pawn against The Avengers when Kang used them as his pawns in Avengers #69 - #70.

The Micronauts came from the Microverse to Earth in their own late '70s mag. Stories were by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden, Steve Ditko, Pat Broderick, and Tom Orzechowski. Many happy reads, indeed.

Steve Chung
"The Review From Nowhere!"