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"The Age of Wonder: Part 1": In 1876, the United States celebrates the centennial. In Philadelphia's Centennial Exposition, Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane conducts an interview with a youthful businessman Lex Luthor. Luthor pridefully tells her about his


Quote1 You stand for science and progress... who will stand for justice? Quote2
Green Arrow

JLA: Age of Wonder #1 is an issue of the series JLA: Age of Wonder (Volume 1) with a cover date of July, 2003.

Appearing in "The Age of Wonder: Part 1"

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Synopsis for "The Age of Wonder: Part 1"

In 1876, the United States celebrates the centennial. In Philadelphia's Centennial Exposition, Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane conducts an interview with a youthful businessman Lex Luthor. Luthor pridefully tells her about his partnership in Thomas Edison's company and how the company's technology will influence the world. But in mid-sentence of Lex's boastful monologue, Lois and many of the visitors are attracted to a spectacle outside: namely a flying man who is carrying the Torch of the Statue of Liberty (as was order by the President of its delivery from France) for the exposition. The flying strongman introduce himself to the amazed onlookers as Clark Kent and he has incredible powers and abilities that he wanted to use for good use during this specific time and place when America and the world is at the dawn of an "age of wonder." So he proposed to the inventors and scientists of looking for the the greatest inventor of our time whom he can help "speed things up." This prompted various and very eager inventors to rush up to Clark. Lois helpfully tells the much beleaguered Clark that Lex Luthor could vouch him to work for Thomas Edison. Before a hesitant Lex could completely answer, Clark too quickly accepts and flies to Edison's compound at Menlo Park.

A week later, Edison is not willing to hire Clark as he points out that Luthor is nothing more than a mere junior bookkeeper and therefore cannot vouch for him. Furthermore, while Edison consider Clark being a "real-life Paul Bunyan" he doesn't see any point to have another "workhorse" when he already has enough. However, Clark convince Edison otherwise by shaping a palm of sand with his heat-vision into a light bulb.

Clark molded ten-thousand filaments which impressed Edison's employee Nikola Tesla. Tesla shares his complaints to Clark about Edison and his own hubris, stating that the man only takes credits of everyone's contributions, including Clark's. Tesla is also confused why Clark didn't take advantage of his powers for his own benefits and never even claim any credits. Clark honestly reply that he doesn't seek personal fame and fortune, but rather how much he is learning. Overhearing this, Lex believes that Clark is using his honest outlook for an angle until he realize that he really does wants to help people. Annoyed with Clark's "anarchistic talk", Lex argues with Clark that in his view the business of making inventions is all about making money, not giving it away for free.

Meanwhile, Tesla tries to convince Edison of his proposal of his alternate current (A.C.) plans (which Clark has helped in developing), but Edison doesn't accept because he firmly believes direct current is the source of the future and he tells Tesla to either "live with it or leave it." Shortly afterward, Lex approaches Tesla and announces that George Westinghouse, Edison's business rival, is willingly to license Tesla's A.C. patents. Lex is willing to negotiate the best deal on Tesla's behalf in exchange for a small commission. Seeing a chance to leave Edison's "tyranny", Tesla agrees with Lex and Westinghouse's offer, but on the condition that Clark also work with them.

Since working for Westinghouse, Clark (who has been called the "Super Man" by the public) has been helping in constructing Westinghouse's hydroelectric power station at Niagara Falls that is overseen by Luthor. Lois Lane also arrives there and wanting to interview the two, especially Clark. Lois cannot help to note Lex's change in attitude towards Edison's company since the Exposition, in which Lex happily admits that he was wrong and realized that the future lies on those who control the means of production and marketing of inventions, namely himself. A large mob of reporters have also arrive at Niagara Falls whom were summoned by Lex. The reporters are too interested in seeing the Super Man and trying to push their way and Lex and Lois to the falls' ledge to see Clark. They accidentally pushes Lois off the ledge. Fortunately, Clark catches her. The rescue cause Lois to suggest to Clark of wearing a cape...

At the Kent's residence, Clark adopts his costume as Jonathan Kent reads the newspaper heralding his son as the "Super Man". Though his parents are impressed of their son, Clark wants to know why he have these powers. The Kents, believing that it is time for their son to know, lead Clark to their barn to show his "birthright": a small spaceship.

Much later at Tesla's Pearl Street Workshop, Clark shows the spaceship to Lex, Tesla and his coworkers, Ted Knight and Barry Allen. He explains to them about his alien origins from planet Krypton, furthermore showing a holographic projection of his birth world and its destruction. Lex is astonished and he propose to replicate the Kryptonian technology from Clark's spaceship for profit. Knight is overwhelmed by this and states that the existence of Krypton and extraterrestrial life would undermine and shatter humanity's entire belief system. The revelation spurs Lex to accept Knight's theory of not upsetting the "status quo". But Clark and Barry Allen see that it doesn't mean it could stop them from using what they learn to benefit humanity.

Another week later in 1893, Tesla and his coworkers works for Lex's newly established Luthor Company. Ted Knight make headway in creating a gravity rod and is field testing it during a thunderstorm, becoming known as the "Starman" in the process. Knight returns to the others and test his rod's energy on Clark. This unexpectedly ricochet the beam of energy on Barry's experiment, causing the chemical to explode in front of him. His friends hurry to Barry's side but finds him totally unharmed. Barry then gets up and starts cleaning the mess with superhuman speed, thus becoming the "Human Flash".

Sometime later, Lois reports to Perry White from a phone booth that Clark and his friends are displaying a public charity event by giving away Tesla's latest invention, "cold lamps," cold wireless lamps for free. But when the stocks of cold lamps are exhausted the people who didn't receive the lamps are jealously upset and causes a riot over the lamps, attacking the people who got them. Super Man tries to calm the public without using any of his powers and promise to make more cold lamps but to no avail. The riot is brutally crush by the police. 34 people are injured and over 50 are arrested in the Cold-Lamp Riots.

Luthor is outraged over the riot and lashed out Clark and his friends for causing bad publicity for his company because of their naivety. This lead to an argument between Lex and Clark over the former's concerns over money rather than the people who were hurt. Lex states that "wealth defines society." This frustrated Clark who breaks Lex's desk and swearing that there is another better way for society. Lex sardonically reply to let him know. Clark later meet with Lois and express his regret for his responsibility in causing the riot. Lois tells Clark that his mistake is for putting too much faith in people that he assumed are good and pure as he is. She suddenly gives a kiss to Clark and telling that there is always another day.

By 1896, Clark is contacted by Captain Hal Jordan to a secret military airbase, called Lot 51 where a mortally wounded Green Lantern alien wants to speak to him. The alien explains to Super Man that he is dying and he wants to choose him as his successor. But Clark is hesitant because he has too many responsibilities as it is. Instead, he suggest Captain Jordan as the next Green Lantern for being a man of decency and courage. The alien accepts and explains to Jordan that the ring will help instruct him in using it before passing away. Burden with his new responsibility as Green Lantern of Earth, Hal give his predecessor a honorary burial outside of the base.

A year later, America has become a flourishing nation with cities peaked with skyscrapers, houses and streets lit up with electrical lights, and zeppelins and planes dominate the skies. At the Olympus Building owned by the Thomas Wayne Company, Clark is hosting the inauguration of the League of Science, an organization that will ensure that science cannot be misuse and help share their knowledge with the world and inspire people to benefit all humanity, bringing them to an "age of wonder." Among the guests, Hal Jordan is cynically unimpressed with Clark's "age of wonder" speech, privately sharing with Luthor that Clark is a dreamer who doesn't understand about human nature. During the party, Clark meet with the Waynes and their son Bruce. With his super-hearing, he overhears Lex proposal to Lois to be her husband. But Lois rejects him for Clark because of his kindness that Lex severely lacks. Enlightened, Clark walks to Lois and gives her a dance while in mid-air.

Within a year, Clark and Lois are married, the League of Science protect society from natural disasters and finding new scientific discoveries (such as building a observatory on the Earth's moon). Meanwhile, Luthor has taken a airship expedition to the Viennese Bohemian mountains for a shipment of mysterious cargo to be brought back to the United States...

In Lex's airship, he and his crew are overcome with an unknown illness and sent out a distress signal. The League, consisting Super Man, Starman and Green Lantern, arrive at the airship and finding some of Lex's crew dead or barely alive. They also discover that the crew are exposed from radiation poisoning from Lex's cargo, which reveals to be radium ores. The three evacuate everyone off the ship and have the ores destroyed much to Lex's extreme dismay.

Due to his radiation exposure, Lex has lost his hair and spent recuperating in a hospital. Lex meets with Nikola Tesla and consult on a project that Tesla is building which involves with nuclear energy. Tesla assure him that he will make a prototype within a year before leaving just as Lex is then visited by Clark and Lois. The industrialist is none too please in seeing them and is confirm by Clark that he had overheard what Tesla and Lex had been discussing: they are building a weapon of mass destruction, a Death Ray. Clark explains that he will not allow it to be built. Lex fiercely defends his project, ranting that he only wants to achieve something without the help of supermen. Lois and Clark pressure Lex to abandon his project and be acceptable of what he achieved as much as Kent. But Lex isn't convinced.

By 1900, the League of Science including Lex meets at the Olympus Building concerning about the manufacture of weapons which this discussion reveals that their charter prohibits weapons based off of their scientific sources. The discussion shift to the use of their powers in military ventures as the charter also prohibit the League members from using their powers in resolving political disputes. Hal Jordan, who despite resigning his commission in the Army, had recently participated in "the war in Mexico" at the behest of Secretary of State Roosevelt and defend his actions, arguing that what he done prevents both sides from suffering heavy casualties, and that he is a patriot obligated to serve his country in contrast to his colleagues' "unrealistic" thinking. Though his fellow Leaguers still insist that their charter prohibits weapons of war, Hal argue that it was then and it's a different world now as their inventions has remake wars all over as it gave nations a new reason to fight wars over. Hal continues his tirade that America with its advanced technology and prosperity has become an envy of the rest of the world and that they must be prepare when they decide to "get a piece of it." Clark exhaustively decides to adjourn the meeting and plans his tomorrow with the Wayne family for a tour of their headquarters. After everyone left, Lex and Hal discuss over the latter's concerns and agreeing that they must protect America's interests.

The next day, the Waynes are walking to the Olympus Building. As they see Clark, a wagon containing a bomb explodes near the Waynes which heavily damage the Olympus Building's foundations. The League rescue the civilians and Super Man tries to dig survivors out from the debris. He then finds to his horror that only Bruce survive. After the ambulances and rescue workers help escort the victims and recovering the dead, the League learn from Lois that the bombing was committed by a terrorist group called the Spartans, who are dissatisfied low-class workers posing against corporations. Supplied with Lois' information, the League head over to the lower east side of New York City and finds the Spartans' headquarters.

They find the place deserted, knowing that the Spartans may have heard of their arrival. They are then attack by the vigilante known as the Green Arrow, who easily defeats both Starman and the Human Flash. The group are quickly confronted by a angry mob who pelt them with garbage. Confuse, Super Man ask them why they are doing this in which Green Arrow speaks for the people. He explains that they are workers who are unfairly paid less in grueling working conditions, fired for getting a raise or joining a union, and intimidated by strikebeaters and the police, all due for miserably building for the utopia established by the League. The Spartans are the result and they took violence as a way to "fight back." Arrow finish his criticism to the League that for everything that they have done, they did not even stand for justice. But Arrow agreed with League that the Spartans cannot be condone for the murders and he makes his promise that he will capture them before disappearing.

Later in the late afternoon, Green Lantern meets with Luthor on his new zeppelin outside of the city's coast. Lex announce that Super Man pose a threat to America and decide "it's time."

That night at Central Park, Clark talk with Lois about everything that has happened. Just as the couple discuss about their marriage, they are met by Hal who reports that there is trouble on the moon. Once above the moon, Hal and Clark had been talking on the way concerning Clark's overbearing attitude towards Lex and Tesla's construction of their Death Ray. Clark remains absolute that his view on the matter remains the same. But as Clark's back is turn, Hal points his power ring at him and remorsefully apologize before shooting Clark into deep space.

On Earth, Hal create a cover story of Clark's absence to the League and Lois that Clark died when he was crushed to death by the gravitational pull of a comet and that his body cannot be recover. Lois emotionally breaks down while comfort by Ted Knight and Barry Allen. Hal is guilt-ridden and demands Lex that they need to talk.

The nation mourn Super Man's death, and the story ends with a distraught Lois lying in her living room as Lex outside knocks on her door to court her.



Notes

  • No special notes.

Trivia

  • Nikola Tesla's dissatisfaction with Thomas Edison occurs in real life especially over the argument over alternate and direct currents as seen in this issue.
  • Tesla is very anxious around Lois Lane at the hospital, as he was very shy towards women in real-life.



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Links and References

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