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80 Page Giant Magazine 6 (Superman), January 1965
©DC Comics
"The Mystery of Monster X"

Script: Otto Binder
Penciler: Al Plastino
Inker: Al Plastino
Colorist: unknown
Letterer: unknown 

This Superboy story was reprinted from Adventure Comics 245, February 1958, with two pages cut out.  The story was written during the height of the late 1950s monster movie craze.  As it opens, a group of tourists is passing Science Fiction Studios in Hollywood, with a row of billboards advertising their latest features, "The Deadly Claw," "The Giant Bee" and "The Flying Shark."  That last one doesn't really look very scary.  The tourists are turned away at the studio gate by a guard who say that they will see "Monster X" (now shooting) only when the movie is released.  "Meanwhile, by a quirk of fate, a volcano eruption elsewhere releases an extinct giant centipede from ancient caverns."  People seeing the huge, winged centipede flying overhead dismiss it as a publicity stunt.  Young Clark Kent spots the big bug from Smallville and realizes that, "This is a job for Superboy!"  As Superboy arrives on the scene, Superbug has attacked a blimp advertising the movie "Monster X."  As the blimp falls to the ground, Superboy catches it and discovers that it has been turned to lead.  Do you suppose Robert Plant and Jimmy Page read this comic book when they were kids?  Superboy continues to suspect that Superbug might be a publicity stunt despite the studio's denial in the next day's newspaper.  He inspects Superbug with his X-ray vision and finds no mechanical parts inside. When Superbug gets its wing tangled in a tree, kindly Superboy is about to free it and take it to the zoo when then whole field is turned to mercury, a liquid metal!  Superboy digs a giant pit to contain the quicksilver flood, saving a farmhouse.  He tests Superbug's legs by using leg #36 to turn a boulder into copper.  He soon determines that each of Superbug's legs can create a different element.  Superbug apparently does not count very well, as leg #36 creates copper with atomic number 29.  Superboy takes a powder when he realized that the Midas legs are Superbug's defense mechanism. 

Superboy soon lectures a group of scientists with a table of nine familiar elements and their atomic numbers, with "phosphorus" spelled wrong as usual.  A helpful footnote explains that less than a hundred elements were known in Superboy's time.  Superboy is very worried that Superbug will figure out how to make kryptonite to defend itself against Superboy.  It's interesting that Binder treats kryptonite as an element this is not generally accepted in the DC universe.

Superbug later turns the mud in a dry creek bed into hydrogen and oxygen, which spontaneously combine (no explosion) and fill the creek with water, providing itself a drink and flooding the drought-stricken fields of a grateful farmer.  The army opens fire at Superbug, who turns their shells to harmless carbon.  Superbug lands in an army camp and hurls a pile of bombs around.  Superboy jumps in front of each exploding bomb to prevent damage.  He somehow begins to suspect that there is a strange pattern to Superbug's actions.  Under the sea, the inventor of a new submarine dons an oxygen mask as is trapped inside his vessel that is filling with fumes.  Superbug grabs the sub and turns the air inside into helium, causing it to float up to the surface and into the air!  Superbug next grabs the Rock of Gibraltar, lifts it into the air, then drops it into the sea. 

Many days later, Superboy is still following Superbug, who heads toward Smallville.  Professor Lang and daughter Lana  have just discovered a perfectly preserved dinosaur egg in a cold cave.  Superbug flies by and gives Lana the heebie-jeebies. Superboy flies down to rescue his girl friend, when the bug changes a whole forest into kryptonite!  Superboy takes off, the forest begins to collapse from its own weight around the Langs, but Professor Lang is only worried about his dinosaur egg being eaten by the bug.  Superboy visits a hemp factory (those were the days) to borrow a huge rope, with which he lassoes the Langs.  After the rescue, it occurs to Superboy that Superbug has repeatedly grabbed only large, egg-shaped objects.  "She" sadly leaves Professor Lang's dinosaur egg.  Superboy quickly scours the world and locates Superbug's lost egg, hidden in an arctic cave.  He uses the egg to lure Superbug into space, to another planet.  Some time later, Superboy uses his telescopic vision to see that the egg has hatched and mother and child are doing well.

This story introduces several chemical elements to the reader, including a little about their properties. The plot is fanciful, following along typical monster-movie lines until the surprisingly sympathetic ending.

 

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