The Kent house, Smallville, Earth-One, 11:42 A.M.:
Jonathan Kent sat in his big chair in the living room quietly watching the emergency signal lamp blink on and off, on and off. He truly felt for Chief Parker right now, a man he had known for years, who was desperately trying to contact Superboy, but to no avail. The lamp had been blinking on and off like that for the last twenty minutes, and Jonathan knew that Superboy wouldn’t be answering the call.
“Jonathan,” came Martha Kent’s voice from behind him, “come out of this room, get dressed, and go to work. You are not doing yourself any good sitting here right now, staring at that blinking lamp.”
“I don’t know what to do, Martha,” he replied to his wife quietly, the words catching in his throat.
“Well,” she said, placing her hand on his shoulder, “if you sit here, you are just going to start feeling worse.”
“I know, Martha. I know. I’ve just been thinking about that last conversation that Clark and I had before he left Saturday night.”
“Oh? What was it about?”
“He said that he was thinking about revealing his identity to Lisa Davis. He felt ashamed about having to lie to a girl that he cared about and was dating, and he wanted my advice as to what he should do.”
“And what did you tell him he should do?”
“Honestly, I didn’t really know what to tell him, but the last couple of days that he has been missing, I have been thinking long and hard about it, and even though a part of me thinks that he should have no secrets from the girl, I can’t see him doing to her what he does to us.”
“Land sakes, Jonathan, do you hear yourself? It almost sounds like you wish he would give up being Superboy.”
“Don’t misunderstand me, Martha. I would never wish him to give up being the person that he is, but you and I can handle this. We have been going through this kind of thing, the worrying, the dread, all of it, since he was nine years old. You and I understand that every time he flies out of this house and off to some emergency, he might not be coming back. She’s a girl of sixteen. She hasn’t the years, nor the experience, nor the maturity to handle that. I could never wish that upon someone else, let alone someone so young.”
Martha gently squeezed her husband’s shoulder, smiling at him as she did so. “I really hate to agree with you when it comes to matters of the heart where sixteen-year-olds are concerned, but you’re right. When he comes home — and I didn’t say if, because I have not lost hope for our son — we’re just going to have to sit him down and make things clear to him why he can’t tell her, and hope that he understands.”
Jonathan Kent nodded in response as his wife walked from the living room.
Martha stopped midway through the hallway, leaned her back against the smooth wall, and took a few tissues from the pocket in her sweater vest. As she lightly dabbed at the corners of her eyes, she looked up, and in a low whisper, she said, “God, please bring my boy home.”
Shuster Beach, Earth-33, 11:45 A.M.:
“All right, everyone,” Superboy said in his head as his thoughts were instantly transmitted to the other heroes through a temporary mind link created by the Kryptonite Kid, “stay sharp, remember your target, and don’t get cocky — that goes double for you, Dav-Im.”
“All right, all right,” thought back the young crusader from Krypton, “I gotcha. Man, you are really a bit of a drag.”
As the heroes nodded at one another in unison, each took off toward a different opponent and engaged in battle.
Professor Order threw balls of coalesced mystical lightning at Garok, who deflected each bolt by forming a mystical energy shield in front of him. Garok, like his counterpart on Superboy’s Earth, was possessed of flaming red hair that seemed to glow in the sunlight and pointed elven ears, and he seemed to have an air of self-importance about him, a very stark contrast to the Garok that Superboy knew. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “When the Sorcerer Strikes,” Superman Family #194 (March-April, 1979).]
The Golden Genie used her magic book to send swarms of insects at the Insect Empress, who just shrugged them off. “Did you forget, blondie,” the Insect Empress laughed back at the teen in the golden harem outfit, “my bio-ring enables me to not only assume the form of any insect, but also to control them!”
Mega-Mind used his telekinetic abilities to shape the beach sand into solid blocks that he sent hurtling toward Owl-Boy the Dominator and Trickshot. The criminal duo were way ahead of Mega-Mind, and used a combination of exploding trick arrows and exploding owl-shaped boomerangs to destroy the hero’s sand constructs. Neither of the two teen criminals said a word, but both shot back glances at Mega-Mind that told the young hero that not only did they believe his efforts were a complete waste of time, but pathetic to boot.
Solar Boy and Dav-Im were trading punches with Marsboy and Zenith. Each of the pairs was holding their own, but of the heroic duo, Dav-Im was taking the initiative and the lead, employing his recent training with the Boy of Steel to send the super-powered boy from the red planet hurtling toward Barracuda. Dav-Im next motioned for his partner, the green-and-yellow-clad Solar Boy, to go take down the Brute while he handled the black-clad Zenith.
The Kryptonite Kid and the Kryptonite Dog were using a combination of telepathic bursts and kryptonite force blasts to stun Kid Quantum. With each blast they threw at him, he was knocked down but not out, and he kept getting back up and used his own force blasts on the green-and-red-skinned duo. This was not going to be an easy fight for them.
And that left Superboy and Krypto to deal with Ultraboy and Neutro. For long moments, the Boys of Steel and their canine companions stood facing each other, neither wanting to make the first move, just like the events of Saturday night that had started this whole thing.
“I see that Alex isn’t here,” Ultraboy finally said. “What happened? Did his daddy say he couldn’t come out to play?”
“Yeah,” Superboy replied as he slowly exhaled, “but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a Plan B.”
Ultraboy chuckled very derisively. “Oh, really? This I gotta hear. What did the amazing and heroic Boy of Steel come up with to take me down?”
Superboy smiled as he pulled the small baseball-sized metal ball from the secret pouch in his cape. “This.”
“A metal ball?! Is that the best you could do? That is so rich, pork-chop.” Ultraboy was holding his stomach as he guffawed, tears streaming down his cheeks.
“It’s not a metal ball, Ultraboy. It’s more like a grenade.”
Ultraboy stopped laughing. “What kind of grenade?”
“A special kind. You see, instead of exploding, it generates a momentary dimensional implosion, thus creating a rift into another place.”
“I think you know where, but just in case you don’t, it opens a rift into the Phantom Zone, long enough to allow a mass escape of all the prisoners. I set this off, and they will be swarming down on you like flies to honey. You won’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell, excuse my language.”
“Normally, no, I wouldn’t. But the thing is, I am sick and tired of playing your game. I just want to go home.”
“You don’t get it, Superboy,” Ultraboy was almost pleading with the hero, “not everyone who is in the Phantom Zone is a law-enforcement official from Krypton. Some who are in there were the heads of rival syndicates that my father Jur-Ll put in there so that he could take over their territories.”
“I know, but you see, they don’t have a grudge against me… just you.” Superboy was hoping that the Smallville scoundrel couldn’t see through his bluff; the last thing he actually wanted to do was cause a mass jailbreak in this universe.
“You’re bluffing. You won’t do it.”
Damn, Superboy thought, he does know me. Superboy was completely at a loss as to what he should do.
“He won’t have to, Ultraboy,” came a voice from above them. Both Superboy and Ultraboy looked up and found Alex Luthor floating above them in a specially designed red and black costume with a silver belt and chest emblem. Superboy was smiling.
“No colorful super-suit is gonna make you a match for me, Luthor.” Ultraboy’s voice was arrogant, boastful.
“Really, Ultraboy?” Alex had a look of grim determination on his face. “You don’t know what me or my suit are capable of.”
“Oh, yeah, pipsqueak? Bring it.”
“As you would say, Ultraboy,” Alex said with a devilish grin, “let’s rumble.”
Smallville City Hall, Earth-33, 11:59 A.M.:
“Boys, I’m a little perturbed at the moment,” Mayor Douglas “Boss” Parker said aloud to the thugs in three piece suits in his office as he gently pulled a Cuban cigar from the inside pocket of his coat, put it in his mouth, and lit it, blowing thick, salty smoke out. “Luthor and his fine officers got in the way again.”
“Now, boss,” began Paul “Choker” Kupperberg, “it ain’t our fault. Luthor does his job, he protects the citizens, and makes it look like he actually wants to stop the crimes goin’ on in this little burg, but he didn’t really get in the way of Ultraboy’s little smash and grab operation — it was those other supa-heroes. They’s the problem.”
“Choker, I’m well aware of that. But Luthor and I had an understanding; he keeps those teenage heroes under control and out of our business, and I continue to allow his son to live. That means he has to stop any new ones from showing up. That is why the warning sign is up outside of Smallville, to keep any would-be heroes from trying to come here and make a name for themselves by apprehending Ultraboy.” Parker stood up and began pacing around the lush and extravagantly decorated office, the cigar clenched between his teeth. He looked very much like the Douglas Parker of Superboy’s Earth, white hair and mustache, but he was semi-portly, with more lines across his face.
“What ya want us ta do, Boss?”
Parker shot Choker an intense look that was a seething cauldron of rage, annoyance, and frustration. “Go to the Luthor house and kill the goddamn kid. It is quite obvious to anyone with half a brain that Chief Luthor needs another object lesson. Let’s hope that this time he listens.”
“Boss, you want us to kill a kid?” There was revulsion in Choker’s face. Sure, he was a crook and a hired killer, and he had killed for “Boss” Parker before, but never a kid.
“Are you deaf as well as stupid, Choker? Of course I want you to kill the kid! It’s the only way to keep Luthor in line.”
“Boss, I don’t know if I could do something like–” Choker’s words were cut short by a loud smashing sound coming from the other side of the door to Mayor Parker’s office. With each crash against the thick wooden door, the door seemed to bend further inward until after a few moments of creaking and snapping, the double doors flew open, and in stepped Chief Luthor and about eight heavily armed police officers.
“What is the meaning of this, Luthor?” Boss Parker’s voice was raised at least two to three octaves and was barely less than a rasping scream.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Mayor,” Chief Luthor said as he confidently strode up to the crime boss and mayor of Smallville. His face was set firm and steady as he spoke to the man he had hated for so many years. “The meaning of this, Mr. Mayor, is that me and my boys are here to return Smallville back to the people by finally placing you and your boys under arrest.”
“Is that so?” Boss Parker arched an eyebrow as he spoke. He was ready to laugh as he blew out more smoke from his cigar.
“Yes, Mr. Mayor, that’s so. I am sick and tired of cowering to you for fear of my life or the life of my son, and not doing the job that I was hired to do a long time ago. Mr. Mayor, consider me the garbage man, because I’m about to take out the trash.”
“Don’t make me laugh. When did you develop a backbone, Jules?”
“About an hour and a half ago, when a colorfully clad young man from another reality reminded me that ‘the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’ I’ve been doing nothing for a long time, but now, that comes to an end. You and your boys are getting rounded up and sent to jail.”
“We won’t stay in there ten minutes, Jules. You lose.” Boss Parker had an arrogant, smug grin on his face.
“Oh, trust me, Mr. Mayor,” Chief Luthor began as he personally slapped the cuffs on the mayor’s wrists, “I’m not going to lose this time, but you are. Boys, take this trash away.”
Chief Luthor watched as each of his officers led the mayor and his hired thugs from the office. For years he had dreamed of this moment, and now that it had finally happened, he was finally at peace. Smallville was once again in the hands of the town’s honest, decent people. Law and order was finally coming back, and all thanks to a strange young man who reminded him of the town’s most dangerous juvenile delinquent.
“Thank you, Superboy,” the chief said as he quietly followed his men out of the vacant office, shutting the lights behind him.
Shuster Beach, Earth-33, 12:09 P.M.:
Superboy was transfixed by the sight before him. Alex Luthor, wearing his red and black super-suit, was actually holding his own with Ultraboy. The devices that young Luthor had built into the suit were astonishing, and the way that Alex manipulated them in combat against the Smallville scoundrel was simply amazing. Ultraboy couldn’t touch or grab or punch Alex, because every time he tried, Alex either used a device in the suit to render himself intangible or project numerous holographic images of himself. Ultraboy was taken totally off-guard.
“I am getting a little sick of this, Luthor,” Ultraboy shouted, the frustration in his voice tangible enough to spoon as another of his punches failed to connect with the teenage scientist. “Stay solid long enough for me to punch you.”
“Not a chance, Ultraboy,” Alex replied, laughing. “Superboy, I’ve got him… you go help the others.”
Superboy nodded toward Alex and flew up and over to Dav-Im, who at that very moment was being double-teamed by Zenith and a recovered Marsboy. “Mind If I cut in, Dav-Im?”
Dav-Im sidestepped a power punch from Zenith at super-speed just as Marsboy grabbed his cape and pulled him back and into a clenched fist in his back. “B-b-be… my… guest, Superboy.”
OK, Superboy thought to himself at super-speed, Zenith is this world’s version of Astralad, and Marsboy is… Marsboy. (*) Neither one on my world had any particular weaknesses, which means I’m going to have to outthink them. Pretty easy in Zenith’s case, since he is really Joe Silver and not too terribly bright, but Marsboy will be a problem. All right, I think I got it. Superboy focused his heat-vision tightly on Marsboy’s foot, blasting out a thin beam that was hot enough to get his attention.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The New Super-Star of Smallville,” The New Adventures of Superboy #3 (March, 1980), “Look at Me, World: I’m Astralad,” The New Adventures of Superboy #4 (April, 1980), “The Boy from Mars,” Superboy #14 (May-June, 1951).]
Marsboy screamed in pain as the beam struck his ankle. “Why, you lousy do-gooder! I’ll get you for that!” Marsboy flew straight at Superboy at top speed.
Using super-ventriloquism, Superboy spoke in Zenith’s ear, mimicking Marsboy’s voice. “Zenith, fly at the do-gooder! We’ll crush him with the double impact!”
Zenith nodded back in response and began flying at the Boy of Steel from the opposite direction of Marsboy. Superboy had to time this just right for it to work; plus, he was hoping on both of them being, well, stupid.
A fraction of a second before the two super-thugs would have crashed into him, Superboy negated his power of flight and dropped back down to the sand. As he plummeted to the ground, the Boy of Steel watched as the two super-criminals collided with each other at such tremendous speed and force that they knocked each other unconscious. Superboy could almost have sworn that he heard a loud bong sound as they hit.
“Works every time,” he said, looking over at Dav-Im with a smile. “Two down, eight more to go.”