"The Ghost in the Fortress of Solitude": Long ago, the mad Dr. Xa-Du was found guilty by the K-Council of Krypton of having unleashed the horror of Living Death upon the planet's citizens by performing forbidden experiments in suspended animation. Therefore, suspended animation was banned, e
Synopsis for "The Ghost in the Fortress of Solitude"
Long ago, the mad Dr. Xa-Du was found guilty by the K-Council of Krypton of having unleashed the horror of Living Death upon the planet's citizens by performing forbidden experiments in suspended animation. Therefore, suspended animation was banned, even as a means of punishing criminals. This required the council to develop an entirely new kind of punishment: the Phantom Zone. Xa-Du would have to stay there for the next twenty years, when he would at last be allowed to plead his case for release. At the time that his sentence of total physical de-materialization was passed, Xa-Du turned to Jor-El and promised to visit vengeance upon him and his family, once he escaped. Coldly, Jor-El warned that there would be no escaping the Phantom Zone. Twenty years later, on the day of what would have been Xa-Du's first parole hearing, Krypton exploded.
With the help of Professor Ray Palmer, Superman has finally completed a catalogue of all of the artifacts he has salvaged and de-shrunk from the bottle-city of Kandor. When a report of anomalous weather patterns comes in, he prepares to leave for the South Pacific - until he hears a strange sound within the Fortress of Solitude. Searching, he is soon horrified by the the image of a burning man within a mirror, who proclaims that Kal-El has been judged from beyond the grave. No sooner has he seen it, and is it gone.
He examines a certain piece of equipment that he recovered from Kandor, but never was sure of how it worked. He is surprised to find its screen cracked, and large paw prints in the image projected on it. He suddenly feels as though someone is behind him, but when he turns, the intruder activates the machine, and Superman finds himself trapped in the Phantom Zone, tormented by those criminals who had been imprisoned there for far longer than their original sentences were meant to be.
As Xa-Du revels in his freedom, he looks on Kandor with contempt, and determines that they are vulnerable to his Living Death, and he will make them the first members of his army of living super-zombies. Ignoring the cries of betrayal from those left in the Phantom Zone, he watches the multitude of screens on the Fortress' computers, and realizes the size of the world he has escaped into. Jor-El is dead, Krypton is dead, and Xa-Du is alive.
In the Phantom Zone, Superman soon finds himself in the centre of a congregation of angry Kryptonian convicts - all of whom remember the son of Jor-El, and are full of hatred for him. The brings to mind some of his earliest memories of life on Krypton, just before its destruction. One of the prisoners had found a way to reach through the Phantom Zone portal, and the dog, Krypto had bitten the criminal's hand, and was consequently yanked in along with it. Realizing that Krypto must still be there, he lets out a sharp high-frequency whistle, which brings Krypto running to his side.
Despite this, Superman can't see any of those attacking him, but as he struggles with them, he feels a pair of goggles against his fingers and tears them off of his assailant's face. Peering through them, he realizes that they allow the Phantom Zoners to see one another. He watches as Krypto defends another prisoner against the others, and introduces himself to to the man, who explains that he is a Stranger to the Phantom Zone, and was imprisoned there after investigating a haunting in Metropolis. As it happens, this was no haunting, but rather it was the prisoners of the Phantom Zone conspiring to escape to Earth - a successful mission, so far, as Xa-Du is now free.
The stranger explains that if Superman can use the Zone to steal control of Xa-Du's suit, he can open the Phantom Zone portal, and let himself out. He will, however, have to leave Krypto behind. Superman swears he will find a way to bring the dog home with him, and as Xa-Du takes his first steps outside, he feels his thoughts shifting. He feels as though the best in man will triumph over the worst; that good will triumph over evil. These are Superman's thoughts, as he takes control of the suit, and displaces Xa-Du back into the Zone.
The stranger and Krypto hold off the Phantom Zoners while Superman steps closer and close to the Phantom Zone Projector's controls. Slamming his fist down on them, Superman's earthly body is expelled from the Phantom Zone, landing on the floor of the Fortress in front of the cracked screen.
Kal-El had promised to save his dog, and taking the remains of Xa-Du's hand, reaching with it into the Phantom Zone, he grabs hold of Krypto's collar and yanks him into the real world. Unfortunately, the dog is weak and dying. Desperately, Superman wraps his friend up in his cape, and flies with all haste to outer space, where the light of the sun can wash over him unimpeded. The radiation of the yellow sun returns the dog's strength, and Kal-El is reunited with his canine companion at last.
Later, though, Xa-Du receives a visit from Lord Vyndktvx, who recruits him into the Anti-Superman Army.
Appearing in "The Ghost in the Fortress of Solitude"
- Phantom Zoners
- Lord Vyndktvx
- Nimrod the Hunter (Cameo)
Synopsis for "A Boy And His Dog"
Once, though, as Krypton began to collapse, Jor-El and his family watched as someone tried to escape the Phantom Zone. An arm reached through the portal, groping for Jor-El's child, and Krypto leapt up and closed his jaws around the arm, to protect the boy. The dog was then dragged through the portal, and Kal-El watched his best friend disappear.
As a phantom, Krypto followed Kal-El all the way to Earth, as he sped away from the doomed planet Krypton in his rocket. Though Kal-El could not see him, he stood by his charge, even as he stood, much older, at the graves of his adoptive parents. Krypto had followed him next to Metropolis, and fought beside him when he became Superman - though he could do little to help as a phantom.
At night, while Kal-El slept, the dog would watch over him, and the the boy - now a man - would dream good dreams.
Appearing in "A Boy And His Dog"
- Xa-Du (Cameo)
- Metallo (Cameo)
- Drekken (Cameo)
- Kryptonite Man (Clay Ramsay) (Cameo)
- Collector of Worlds (Cameo)
- This issue is dedicated to Ray Bradbury.