- No man on Earth has the amazing powers you have. Promise me you'll use them -- to become a force for good -- a champion -- of the downtrodden -- the oppressed. Never give up the fight to make this world a better place, son.
Synopsis for "When Superman Learned to Fly"
In a secret location, the man who arranged the train job between Lex Luthor and Glen Glenmorgan brings together the Anti-Superman Army to auction off the Kryptonite Engine core that he had them steal from the Kryptonian Rocket in the Fortress of Solitude. With this large chunk of Kryptonite, they can derive all of the radioactive isotopes of it that can kill or change Superman in some way. In return for giving each of the members a splinter of the Kryptonite, the man asks that they each perform one task in his name.
In his old Fortress of Solitude - a satellite orbiting the earth - the Superman of five years into the future expresses his confusion at having met members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who then brought him back to his past to this moment, to stop the theft of the engine - and failed. Saturn Woman and Cosmic Man explain that without the Kryptonite powersource, the escape pod on which Superman came to earth will die, and with that death, the Collector AI will re-infect the space station and Earth's computer network. They must first repair their Time Bubble, and then restore power to the rocket, or history will be changed for the worse.
With just a typical alkaline battery from Earth, they manage to get the Time Bubble up and running, but suddenly, they are attacked by Erik Drekken, a man who can evolve and devolve his genetic material at will. With Saturn Woman's help, Superman manages to get Erik to return to his humanoid form, long enough for him to warn of a dire future, and the location of the stolen Kryptonite. Saturn Woman's telepathy determines that the Anti-Superman Army is hiding in the one place no one would look for them - inside Superman's brain. At some point in his past, Nimrod the Hunter had used a teleport rifle to fire a microscopic lead pellet filled with tesseract space into Superman's brain. If she hopes to pinpoint its location, Saturn Woman will need access to Superman's memory.
Superman recalls a time when he was just 13 years old, and he'd helped his father to subdue their neighbour's rogue bull. Jonathan marvelled at the boy's strength, which set Clark to thinking about his alien heritage. Jonathan believed that the rocket was a lifeboat, meant to send Clark where he could do some good. Clark agreed, wondering if his parents might ever come back for him. He suspected that they would not, and Jonathan commented that without any knowledge of his family, it would be up to Clark to determine for himself what the S-shield meant. Later that night, Clark noticed that he was being watched by three strangers. As it happened, it was Garth, Imra, and Rokk, observing the boy would become a hero to them. They introduced themselves, and became fast friends.
When Saturn Woman asks whether there was anything strange about that memory, Superman realizes that the colour of the barn kept changing - a sign of the pellet's presence putting pressure on his amygdala, altering his memory. The Legionnaires plan to gain access to the pellet via their time bubble and a tessaract key given to them by Drekken - they can already sense their future selves inside.
Using the Time Bubble, the Legionnaires enter the lead pellet as impostors, before anyone is the wiser. Saturn Woman projects the image of the Sisterhood of Abiding Hate onto the Kryptonite Men, knowing that the Sisterhood cannot abide glass - in which the Kryptonite had been encased. This signals to the Army's leader that they are imposters, and he sets his minions upon them, only to realize too late that he was duped. Cosmic Man appears behind him and threatens that with his magnetic control over the iron in the man's blood, he has the upper hand. In desperation, the man turns the lead casing around the Kryptonite engine to glass, in hopes that the raw radiation will flood Superman's brain. The pull of Cosmic Man's field causes the Kryptonite to split into pieces and smash through the glass, exposing its radiation to the room. Their enemy utters a secret word, which teleports him away with most of the Kryptonite shards. With Cosmic Man left holding the only shard left, the Anti-Superman Army prepares to defeat them, and take it back for themselves.
On the satellite, meanwhile, Superman is succumbing to the Kryptonite poisoning coming from inside his own brain, and the rocket is beginning to experience power-failure. Suddenly, Superman realizes how he can save the rocket and stop the reboot of the Collector AI. Using the radiation of the Kryptonite in his brain, he can power the rocket - but, Drekker leaps out and holds him back from getting near it. Superman's struggle with Drekker and the urgency of the situation causes him to recall when he sat at his father's deathbed and Jonathan Kent had asked his son to promise him to use his powers to become a force for good; never to give up the fight to make the world a better place.
Finally, Superman throws Drekken off of his back and shoves his hand into the rocket's fuel core. The radiation gives the rocket enough time to reactivate, and it emits a blast that knocks Drekken back, fulfilling its mission to protect the son of Krypton. Moments later, the Legionnaires return in a roughshod state, having apparently succeeded in protecting the Kryptonite shard from the Anti-Superman Army. With little time left before the current era's Superman returns, they drag Superman into their Time Bubble. He falls unconscious, and Saturn Woman admits that she was ashamed to have looked back into his memories, seeing how they had been disappointed with him when they met him. But for him, they had been the proof that the planet earth had a future worth fighting for.
Appearing in "When Superman Learned to Fly"
- Anti-Superman Army
- Jonathan Kent (Flashback only)
Synopsis for "Last Day"
After the death of his parents, Clark Kent gives up the farm to his neighbour, Mr. Fry. The Frys' own farm has been foreclosed upon, and Clark feels it is the least he can do to help a friend. Still, the place has a lot of memories.
His parents had never been ashamed of his abilities, and though he had to keep them secret, his parents encouraged him to use them to stand up for those who couldn't stand up for themselves.
Later, when he told his friend Pete Ross about his intention to become a reporter, Pete was surprised. Clark's apparent obsession with astronomy seemed to indicate a future in that field to him. Pete on the other hand, joked that he might like to use his super-human powers to secretly fight injustice. It was just a joke, but the idea resonated with Clark.
Lana Lang felt that Clark had too much to offer to simply stay in Smallville. The important thing to her, though, was that no matter where Clark went, if he ever came back to Smallville for a visit, he would always have family there in her.
On that last day in the Kent house, Lana and Pete are there with Clark to help see him off at the train station. While his friends pack the car, Clark takes a moment to look over all of the family photos on the wall. Finally Clark accepts that he is on the path to doing what his parents always hoped for in him, and he joins his friends outside.
Appearing in "Last Day"
- Clark Kent (Flashback and main story)
- Mr. Fry (Single appearance)
- The main story takes place shortly after Superman defeats the Collector of Worlds - which is not shown in print until #7 & #8. The Superman who is shown in this issue is the Superman of five years into the future of that time period.
- Nimrod the Hunter's shooting Superman with the teleport rifle is not shown in print until Action Comics (Volume 2) #17, immediately after which, the Legion takes him back to the time period shown in this issue, and events play out as they did beginning at the end of Action Comics (Volume 2) #5.
- The "First" Superman that Lightning Man references before leaving in the Time Bubble is Captain Comet, who does not appear in print until Action Comics (Volume 2) #10.
- Superman Recommended Reading
- Action Comics (Volume 1)
- Action Comics (Volume 2)
- Adventures of Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- DC Comics Presents (Volume 1)
- Superman (Volume 1)
- Superman (Volume 2)
- Superman (Volume 3)
- Superman (Volume 4)
- Superman (Volume 5)
- Superman/Batman (Volume 1)
- Superman Confidential (Volume 1)
- Superman: The Man of Steel (Volume 1)
- Superman: The Man of Tomorrow (Volume 1)
- Superman/Wonder Woman (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)