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Superman 193
"The Death of Superman! (3)"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND (80 Page Giant #31) "The Death of Superman!" Part III January/February, 1967

Story: Jerry Siegel Art: Curt Swan and George Klein

How does the world and the entire universe react to the new of Superman's death? How do his closest comrades deal with it? Now that the man of steel is gone, will Luthor conquer the world? Will crime and injustice finally triumph with Superman's battle ended? This is the final chapter in this imaginary tale, which answers these questions and raises others by... "The Death of Superman!" On the splash page, among those who are paying respect to the man of steel: Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Linda Lee, Batman and Robin, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and the Flash! The sun has risen on a dark day... everyone on Earth knows that Superman has passed on... The streets outside of Metropolis Chapel are filled with hundreds of thousands of mourners, each waiting in silence for a last glimpse of the fallen hero...

Within the chapel, they pass by the man of steel's casket... among them are the leaders of the world, who have come to Metropolis to pay their final respects... The procession continues... with alien beings from other planets, who have come via space-warp to learn of the tragic news... Many of their worlds were saved by Superman, who could have ruled the universe, but who selfishly chose to help others. Many faces pass by... every race and nation... young and old... each filled with sorrow at the pass of the great hero... Lois and Lucy Lane see the man of steel for the final time. The girl reporter knows that there will never be another like him... and will love him always!

Next, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and Lori Lemaris take a last look... Lana Lang recalls growing up in Smallville, how she was a pest to Superboy, and how her crush became love when she grew up! Krypto the Super-Dog recalls the adventures he has had with his master...Linda Lee is a teen-aged girl whom none suspects as Superman's secret weapon, and who explored the universe... but even that wasn't as big as her cousin's gallant, noble heart... Legionnaires Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl salute their fallen comrade... At Superman's Fortress of Solitude, the man of steel's robots pay their final respects to their master... Inside the Bottle City of Kandor, Van-Zee and Sylvia join the Kandorians in a tribute... with the lowering of the Kryptonian flag, and the Earth-woman telling her daughter that a great man has died -- and Superman will never visit them again!

In contrast to the mourning over the man of steel's demise, there is glee at a secret party held by the underworld on a distant isle, which celebrates the news which has saddened law-abiding people... Luthor has decorated the banquet hall with exhibits capturing the moments of Superman... paintings and statues which have the other criminals green with envy. He tells them how he pretended to reform, how Superman fell for it, and when the man of steel was off-guard, he killed him with Kryptonite! Luthor describes how Superman suffered before succumbing to Kryptonite poisoning... and how the last thing he saw was the criminal scientist's grinning face! The others rise to their feet and raise glasses to Luthor...

Suddenly, the party is over as... the criminals see the man of steel crashing through the wall... Luthor in disbelief at seeing his dead foe... alive! The figure smashes the trophies while the others wonder if this is a ghost in their midst! As they watch, the super-being before them flexes super-muscles, and the disguise flies off... revealing to Luthor's horror... a girl with super-powers! Now the stunned underworld learn of Supergirl, cousin of Superman! She has been his secret emergency weapon for years... and now, she takes Luthor away... arresting him for murder in the name of Planet Krypton! The hoods fire their guns at the flying maid of might, but since she has her cousin's powers, the bullets do not harm her! Supergirl will continue her cousin's work of fighting for truth and justice. After the maid of might has transported the criminal scientist into Kandor via a transfer-ray, Luthor finds himself in a Kandorian courtroom, where he will be tried for the murder of Superman by Kryptonians!

The trial begins with the prosecutor seeking the ultimate penalty! The people of planet Earth watch the trial on their television sets, which have been linked up with Kandorian TV. In the bottle city, crowds of people watch the courtroom case on public viewing screens! Lois Lane testifies how Luthor wouldn't have been released from prison if not for Superman, and how the scientist repaid him for his kindness by killing him. She saw how Luthor murdered the man of steel in cold blood with Green Kryptonite Rays! As the testimonies of Jimmy Olsen and Perry White are placed into the record, Luthor does not crack, for he sees those in the courtroom as puny ants...

He knows that they are not dealing with an ordinary criminal! They are up against a criminal genius! Luthor is confident that he'll avoid paying the penalty with the ace he has up his sleeve! It's Luthor's turn to testify and he pleads guilty... His punishment is to be sent into the Phantom Zone at once! The Phantom Zone Ray is brought into the courtroom as the criminal scientist makes his play... Chained to the floor, Luthor tells them that punishing him won't bring Superman back! He asks for a compromise, in exchange for his release, he'll build a ray which will enlarge Kandor... back to the size it was before it was shrunk down by Brainiac! The criminal scientist figures that the Kandorians won't refuse since being normal-sized again is their greatest desire! To his dismay... Luthor learns that the Kandorians do not make deals with murderers! The executioner is told to send the villain into the Phantom Zone! The judge likens Luthor's act of villainy to that of Adolf Eichmann... and these are the last words the criminal hears, as he has become a phantom... and will remain so for all eternity... never to harm the world of men again!

On Earth, the newspapers tell of Supergirl's taking over her cousin's crusade... and wherever she flies, Krypto accompanies her... she hears the people wishing her luck... how they miss Superman, but how they're glad she's taking over for him! As they soar by Superman's crypt, she recalls how she was the man of steel's secret emergency-weapon, and how she was looking forward to the day Supergirl could appear in public! Now that the day has come, she feels no happiness at the "glory" which is now... hers! All she feels is a great sadness at the passing of the strongest, most powerful, kindest being she's ever known... her cousin, Superman...whom they see waving from the clouds... Fortunately, this was only an imaginary tale... the odds are a million to one that this will never happen! (Holy Kleenix, Batman! Pass the tissues!)

In the Silver Age, good and evil are things of black and white. There are no greys as there are nowadays.

I wonder why The Legion of Super-Heroes, with their knowledge of past events, didn't journey back in time to save Superman?

Silver Age Luthor is such a snake in this story, and much more interesting than Modern Age President Luthor.

Trouble for Luthor and the hoods comes in the form of Supergirl, who was Superman's secret emergency weapon.

To the criminal scientist, all before him are as puny ants!

The Kandorians do not make deals with murderers! They have a lot class in that Bottle City of Kandor, and the sight of Luthor's sneer fading in surprise from his face is priceless! His punishment much more humane than the torture he inflicted on the man of steel.

Now, it is the maid of might and the dog of steel who must take up Superman's mantle, and Supergirl learns just what are the qualities necessary to fight a never-ending battle against crime and injustice.

Maybe it's me, but this three-parter was much more effective than the latter-day "Death of Superman," which found the man of steel in a several issue slugfest with an alien killing machine in a battle which ended in the city of Metropolis. (Holy Poly-Bag, Batman!)

This Three- Part Review Is Dedicated To Greg Schienke

Steve Chung
"The Review of Superman!" Part III