Story by Bob Haney
Gorgeous art by Ramona Fradon
The Element Man is introduced to Element Girl and bad guy Stingaree.
The story opens with the unexpected wedding of Rex Mason, aka Metamorpho, to his longtime sweetie Sapphire Stagg. Daddy Simon is uncharacteristically happy, and Java the unfrozen caveman is upset ("I know Sapphire's doing this to make Java jealous - but I think she's going a little too far this time!")
Proceedings are interrupted by Urania Blackwell, who introduces herself as Element Girl. She looks like a female version of our hero, except she has a bikini top and long green hair ("My hair is all mine and a beautiful natural shade of bromine!")
She challenges Rexy to accompany her on one last mission to stop the evil criminal organization known as Cyclops and its even eviler leader, Stingeree, before he ties himself down in marriage. In fact, she says she purposely exposed herself to the same meteorite that changed Rex so that she would be powerful enough to challenge the bad guys, but she still needs Metamorpho's help. Sapphire, of course, hates this idea and begs Rex to stay ("OOOH! Daddykins! It's too awful to bear - being jilted on my wedding day! Make him change his mind!)
Rex is intrigued enough to postpone the nuptials and heads out on a plane with Miss Blackwell , wondering if she has told him everything. They land in an unnamed European country with windmills and dikes, which, unknown by its population is used as the underground secret headquarters for Cyclops. As they approach a secret entrance, Urania reveals she was once Stingeree's fiancée until he dumped her and she'll make him pay. See the irony in that Rex dumped his fiancée to go off with another woman? Get it? Rex has even more doubts about the mission.
As soon as they enter they are discovered, and our heroes are challenged by a giant red robot thingy remote controlled by Stingeree. (You fiend! You would destroy the woman who loved you?" But...wasn't she trying to do the same thing to him?
The red thingy, called the Liquidator, engages the elemental couple in combat that is more exciting to read than to describe, but I will say the battle involves lots of shape changing and carbon dioxide, carbon, iron, calcium, silicon carbide, and Rexy turning his head into a sulphur smudge pot ("You're new to the element business, sweetie...otherwise you'd know I'm not just keeping the frost off the orange crop!")
After the pair finally liquidates the Liquidator, they drift up to Stingeree's quarters as fluorine gas. Stingeree, who greatly resembles Marvel's Scorpion with a stinger on his tail (his cape and long flexible tail are supposed to make him look like a manta ray). It's more battle as the man and woman of molecules get melted down but escape through a vent ("Ooze, baby, ooze!") and rise away as hydrogen.
The faceless forces of Cyclops are sent to prevent their escape, but Simon, Sapphire and Java arrive to make sure this mission is on the up and up ("Secret mission my false eyelashes," sputters Sapphire. "That atomic hussy is really after Rex! My intuition tells me that.") Of course they are immediately captured and held hostage. More battles ensue, involving manganese and magnesium flares, but Stingeree uses his sticky tail to inject Rex with a chemical cocktail of "the world's most potent elemental poisons, from lead to arsenic, to chlorine, krypton, selenium and strontium!"
Rex still manages to slither away into the ocean water while Urania attacks as fuming nitric acid, but Stingeree's costume is acid proof. Of course. Urania is stung with the same chemical poisons and goes down ("Ha! Ha! Now there's nothing so dead as a dead love...unless it's a dead lover!")
The salt water somehow revives Rex enough to turn his hands into magnesium ankle yankers and he pulls Stingeree's feet out from under him, somehow rendering him unconscious, and rescuing the Staggs and their pet monkey boy. A change to an aluminum can opener and a silicon saw put an end to Stingeree's armor, and the day seems won, except that Urania gave her life. Rex overcomes one last threat by the bad guy to flood the countryside by turning into an iron bulldozer to push Simon's million dollar plane into a hole in the dike ("Hmmph! I guess I can contribute the plane to such a worthy cause!") and the battle is truly over. But what of Urania? Rex picks her up to Sapphire's dismay. ("Rex Mason! What are you doing with that...female? She's dead!")
Rex suggests that Daddykins might be able to revive her, a challenge Simon takes up excitedly. Will we see the element girl again?
This was the first appearance of Element Girl, but not the last. She appeared in several later issues as a partner to Rex, and the two made a great team, giving Rex someone to talk to during battle, and Sapphire someone to be jealous of. It's interesting that after many issues of wishing to marry Sapphire, he eagerly blew off the wedding to go off on an adventure with this intriguing new lady.
After the Metamorpho title was cancelled, Element Girl disappeared for many years until Neil Gaiman gave her a melancholy farewell in Sandman.
The letters page is full of names I don't recognize, but many of them were trying to convince the editor to change Rex's face to orange.
Those wonderful house ads spread throughout the issue include Captain Action (which I've scanned and placed in the photo section, along with the cover to this issue), Doom Patrol and Challengers of the Unknown, Showcase featuring B'Wana Beast ("Man and Animal Alike Cringe at the Sight of...B'wana Beast!" How true.), 80-page Giant Superman, Strange Adventures ("The Man with the Computer Eyes") and Tales of the Unexpected, and the "Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl" in Detective Comics.
This longer-than-necessary review is dedicated to our own Element Man, Jack Selegue, and Steve Cohen, just so he knows he isn't alone.
--your pal, Hoy