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Superman 227
"The Invasion of The Super-Ants!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND (80 Page Giant #72) June - July, 1970

Story: Unknown Art: Al Plastino

Whenever the world has been caught in a disaster, The Man of Steel has always come to its aid! But now, Superman has changed sides and has joined the side of the enemy! Unbelievable? His actions come to light in this incredible tale of --- "The Invasion of The Super-Ants!" On the splash page, Lois Lane stares in disbelief, as Superman comes bursting through the mountain wall, and sees that his face and head now resembles that of an ant, for he has decided to become one of them! (Holy Man In The Anthill, Batman!)

At the municipal zoo, Lois Lane and Clark Kent are covering a new ant colony exhibit, with her less than enthusiastic about the assignment, and the mild-mannered reporter insisting that insects may someday rule the world! (Holy Anthill Mob, Batman!) When she asks if he's joking, Clark assures Lois that he's serious! Ants, for instance, have a civilization all their own, as well as being the strongest creatures for their size in the world! (Holy Garrett Morris, Batman!) Their ant hills are proportionately three times the size of the Empire State Building! Their social system consists of solidier ants, who do the fighting -- worker ants who tunnel, build, and forage -- and the queen who treats her subjects like slaves! He asks Lois to look through the magnifying glass and into the ant colony! Peering through the lens, she sees the ants lifting objects many times their size, are capable of attacking all animal life in their way, and Lois asks Clark why they are touching each other's antennae... He tells her that it's how they communicate, and also notes their digging skills, plus their acrobatic skills in bridging a chasm!

Clark then asks Lois to consider what it would mean if ants were to grow to human scale, and she envisions them raising a skyscraper with their proportionate strength! The mild-mannered reporter knows that if ants were man-sized, they would use their engineering and science skills, coupled with their physical prowess to wipe out humanity! Lois takes a picture of the ant colony, then smiles, and tells Clark that they're not man-sized! She grabs his arm and tells him that ants are tiny things which men put behind glass in an exhibit, which can be dealt with by using bug spray, and assures her timid collegue that ants could never overcome mankind! He hopes that she's right! On a mountain region near Metropolis, a couple on their honeymoon are making their way up a cliff, when suddenly, the sharp cliff-wall causes their rope to break!

Their fall is broken by a ledge, but having lost their rope and unable to descend, they will freeze and die of exposure when night falls! Turning, they see giant-sized ants using their bodies to form a bridge across the chasm! The ants motion them to cross over on their backs, and the husband sees that he and his wife will be able to climb down the gentle slope. As they cross, the wife is certain that no one will believe their story, but her husband is glad that they'll be able to reach safety! Outside of Metropolis, an train engineer sees what he believes to be two men tearing up the tracks!

After bringing the train to a halt, the engineer and his men watch as the human-sized ants begin to take the train cars apart, as if they weighed next to nothing! The men flee from the bizarre sight, and miles away, several factories are being raided, as well as nearby plants, with bullets fired from security guards' guns unable to do damage! On a farm, the giant ants begin to burrow their tunnel, while anxious farmers head for the nearest phone to call the authorities and alert Superman! Thirty minutes later, a special report from station WMET announces the giant ant invasion, and unless Superman can be reached, the army will try to handle the gargantuan insects!

At The Daily Planet, Perry White reads the incoming news off the teletype to the others, and Lois urges Jimmy to use his signal watch to call Superman! As the cub reporter activates his signal watch, Clark uses his telescopic-vision to locate the army task force, which is moving into a valley about 20 miles from Metropolis! Seeing that the soldiers may be hurt in their fight... he leaves the newsroom, and changes to Superman in an empty store-room! The Man of Steel arrives on the scene and sees that the reports of man-sized ants were not exaggerations, and also witnesses their super-strength at lifting freight cars as if they were toys! As he prepares to land, Superman begins to weaken, and theorizes that there may be Green Kryptonite in the area, then heads away before he is further affected! The Man of Steel now has no doubt of the ants' intelligence, for they must have prepared the Kryptonite, knowing that it is his weakness, and prevent him from interfering with their raids! The Colonel has witnessed Superman's bout of weakness, and sees that the ants were prepared with Green Kryptonite, and The Man of Steel figures that they are prepared to deal with the army, as well!

Superman knows that there may be other invasion forces all over the world, and The Colonel had his men coat a tank with lead so that The Man of Steel will be protected from the Kryptonite, while he and his men see if the giant insects can deal with a tank! Since his x-ray vision can't pierce lead, The Colonel and his men will guide him via the radio in the tank, and soon, Superman is making his way, impressed by Colonel Larson's plan, and soon he overhears on the tank's radio that the ants have blocked the entrance to the valley! One of the ants begins to pick up the tank, and hurls it at the cliff wall, with Superman grateful that the Colonel didn't send any of his men in the tank, instead, but since the lead protection has been broken, he must leave before he's affected by the Green Kryptonite!

Rejoining the taskforce, he hears that Colonel Larson will order bombs and poison gas to be used against the ants, but The Man of Steel thinks that both will prove ineffective, and nevertheless tells him to do what he thinks is best! The air force strafes the valley, confident that either the bombs or poison gas will make short work of the giant ants, but using his telescopic-vision, Superman sees that the ants are unaffected, and worse... the poison gas is drifting towards Metropolis! Using his super-breath, he sends the poison gas into outer space! In Metropolis, the ants begin their foraging, not after precious metals, but after certain elements! (Holy Periodic Table, Batman! This is a job for... Jack Selegue!)

The giant ants have climbed up the Daily Planet Building, with Perry White urging his staff to run, but Lois believes that there must be some purpose for their visit, and attempts to use sign language in order to communicate with them. No sooner does she ask, that Lois is grabbed by the ants, a fact not lost on the gruff Daily Planet editor, and she screams for Superman, as the ants make their way down the building! Watching from a distance, The Man of Steel sees that Lois is unharmed, and since the giant ants aren't carrying any Green Kryptonite, he could save her, but prefers to see where they'll go with his telescopic-vision! Outside of Metropolis, Lois is brought to a cave, where she is placed on a throne as their queen. Miles away, Superman sees this, and then has an idea...

Heading into space, Superman reaches a Red Kryptonite Cosmic Cloud (which he and Krypto once entered in Superboy #101) and remembers that this strange variety of Red K is able to affect him more than once, and upon entering it, he is able to concentrate and will a transformation which will make his head resemble one of the giant ants! He emerges from The Red K Cloud, which has also given him the temporary side-effect of being immune to Green Kryptonite! In the hills outside of Metropolis, Lois watches as Superman leaps through the rock wall feet-first, and warns him to leave, for he may be killed by the Green Kryptonite, but he reassures her that in his present state, he will not be harmed! She sees that he now has an ant's head, and he tells her about the Red K Cloud, which once turned Krypto into a collie, just by concentrating. As she watches, Superman uses his antennae to communicate with the giant ants...

He learns that they came in a spaceship from a world where they were the dominant race, and that centuries ago, they were the same size as Earth ants, but on their world, the humans were very scientifically advanced! They had invented atomic bombs, and foolishly used them in an H-Bomb war, with the deadly fallout wiping out all human life, leaving only the insects... and the radioactive fallout caused the ants to evolve to human-size within thousands of years!

Their intelligence and instincts grew with their size, and a new civilization grew, but they wondered... what if on other worlds, humans are also on the verge of war? Their government agreed that they had to alert other races to the dangers of atomic war, so in the years which followed, they travelled to other worlds, and told their tale to the human inhabitants. On one world, the humans had killed each other off, leaving the vegetable life to replace them, and become the dominant form of life on the planet. On another world, mineral life was the dominant form of life, and when the giant ants arrived on Earth, they witnessed the test explosions, but their ship's rocket engines malfunctioned, and caused them to crash into the valley! Superman sees that the ants were raiding the warehouses, depots, and trains for the resources to repair their ship!

Outside, the giant ants show Lois and Superman their rocketship, which is the size of three skyscrapers, and The Man of Steel asks if their intent was to warn humanity of the danger of atomic war, why didn't they tell of their reason for their visit instead of scaring everyone? The ants were unable to communicate with those on Earth, which is why they took Lois, and made her their queen, so that Superman would recall the other ant traits, such as how they communicate. One thing still has him wondering... if they arrived as friends, why did the ants use Kryptonite to keep him away, and make him think they were a threat. The ant leader assures him that this wasn't the case, and they'd see when the ants take their leave. Superman and Lois watch as the rocket takes off, and the vapor-trail is green! He tells her that the ants use a liquid green kryptonite rocket fuel, which was inside the ship while they were rebuilding it. At the U.N., The Man of Steel is once again himself, and brings the ants' message about the danger of atomic war to the world's governments, or else the ant's-head he grew will represent their world's future! If they can't live in peace, mankind will vanish and the insects will inherit the Earth!

In The Silver Age, the only "insect" invasion I'm aware of involves The Beatles coming to America, as part of The British Invasion!

Lois is wearing her '60s Jacqueline Kennedy pillbox hat in most of this story.

Her face appears to have been re-drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger in parts of this story.

Clark seems to be quite taken by the ant colony exhibit, as much as a certain bespectacled teen-ager was likewise enthused about an exhibit on radioactivity.

In Metropolis, you'll believe a man can fly, but be skeptical that he can turn his head into that of an ant's!

Lois gets to be Queen For A Day in the giant ants' cave!

Leave it to Superman to use a Red K Cosmic Cloud in order to undergo a bizarre transformation, as well as overcome his weakness to Green Kryptonite, if only temporarily.

Interesting that the ants were able to communicate with other planets, but had difficulties on Earth.

I'm surprised that Lana Lang, the once and future Insect Queen didn't appear in this story to communicate with the giant ants, not to mention once-up her rival for Superman's affections.

The Ant-Headed Superman was saluted by Fred Hembeck.

Comic Shop News has its annual Red K Awards, which is named after the Kryptonite which caused Superman to undergo bizarre transformations back in the days of Mort Weisinger. It covers the year in comics, and invites readers to submit their own nominations for the good, the bad, and the dubious achievements of the previous year.

In the Post-Crisis/Zero-Hour/et al Age, it would seem that Red Kryptonite is responsible for Superman being killed by Doomsday, then coming back as four different characters, being transformed into an electrical being (temporarily, thank goodness), as well as becoming "The Manga Superman" in the pages of his books, but this year, the art should be reverting to more familiar styles associated with The Man of Steel.

Steve Chung
"The Invasion of The Super-Reviews!"