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Several decades ago, at the same time than Jonathan and Martha Kent found the rocket carrying baby Kal-El, two prospectors happened upon a spaceship. They were turned to ashes right away, and out of the ship stepped a

Quote1 Maybe I can't lead a double life anymore! The time has come for me to make a choice-- and decide once and for all if I'm to live my life as Clark Kent-- or Superman! It's got to be one or the other! Quote2
Superman src

Who Took the Super out of Superman! is a 1976 storyline in Superman (Volume 1), written by Cary Bates and Elliot S. Maggin.


Several decades ago, at the same time than Jonathan and Martha Kent found the rocket carrying baby Kal-El, two prospectors happened upon a spaceship. They were turned to ashes right away, and out of the ship stepped a human-looking being.

Sixteen years later, Xviar is watching Superboy's exploits from afar. Although time has passed, his defective human disguise shows no signs of aging. He's informed by his superiors that he's to move to Metropolis, where Superboy will most likely resettle, and wait for further instructions.

Fourteen years later, Clark Kent solves several crises as Superman and makes his way to J. Schwartz's Judo School where he's awaited by Lois Lane and Steve Lombard. Clark saves Lombard from being run over by a cab. The cab hits Clark instead, and surprisingly, he gets injured and knocked out unconscious. As Lois checks on Clark and shouts Steve to call an ambulance, Xviar is observing the scene. Clark Kent feigned illness many times in the past, but it'll be different from now on.

A while later, Clark Kent wakes up on a hospital bed and realizes he has no powers. Once he's alone, Clark decides he needs to get out of there immediately to investigate what's wrong with him. Clark takes his hyper-compressed suit out of its hiding place, changes to Superman and walks out.

As soon as he leaves the building, Superman sees a trio of Inter-Gang sky-crooks. At the beginning frustrated with being unable to stop them, Superman realizes his powers have returned and quickly and easily captures the Intergang thugs.

Afterwards, Superman flies back to his apartment and examines his present trouble. For some reason, he loses his powers when he wears his civilian clothes but gets them back when he suits up.

Superman changes back to Clark, too focused on his dilemma to notice a big crate sitting next to his apartment door, when he hears the lobby buzzer ringing. As he answers the call -warning him about the crate's delivery-, an Inter-Gang robot bursts out of the crate and attacks Clark Kent. Guessing this is Inter-Gang's reaction to his articles exposing them, Clark Kent rushes to take off his civilian clothes as dodging the robot's relentless and deadly assault. It's only when Superman has gotten rid of every clothing article that he can easily dismantle the robot.

After his victory, Superman hears someone knocking on his door. Superman quickly changes into Clark, goes out and greets his neighbor Mrs. Goldstein, excusing his apartment racket on his rearranging the furniture. As Clark pushes Mrs. Goldstein's wheelchair past his neighbor's door on their way to a tenants' meeting, Mrs. Goldstein wonders if Clark's mysterious next door neighbor Mr. Xavier whom nobody has ever seen will attend.

After they've marched down the hall, Xviar opens his door and peeks out, grumbling about troublesome, annoying neighbors. He goes to report to his superiors, who praise him for his mission's progress and let him know his assignment's ultimate purpose: carrying out Earth's destruction using Superman as weapon.

Meanwhile, Clark is sitting on the meeting, pondering maybe his problem's origin is psychosomatic. Maybe his body is telling him he can't lead a double life anymore and he has to choose between both identities once and for all.

Not long afterwards, Intergang has taken over the Olympus Observatory and transformed "Big Eye", the world's most powerful telescope, into an energy cannon. After collecting enough energy from orange-type stars, Big Eye shoots a massive burst of orange flame towards Metropolis.

Below on Metropolis, Clark Kent has spotted the flame streaking towards the city while riding a WGBS News copter. Swiftly he changes clothes, sets the autopilot and flies towards the tongue of fire. His super-breath fails to put the fire out and similarly an artificially created water spout is ineffective, but a sand tornado created by Superman finally smothers the flame. Superman tracks its trajectory all the way back to the observatory where he makes quick work of the Inter-gang crooks. Superman flies back to his hovering copter, and since he couldn't record himself, he makes sure his x-ray vision botches the film before delivering it.

Unbeknownst to Superman, Inter-gang boss Max Danner reacts to the news with delight. Superman played right on their hands, and Metropolis will very soon belong to Inter-gang thanks to him.

Meanwhile, Clark is putting away his Superman costume at his apartment. Since he can't lead a doble life due to his fluctuating powers, he'll try to live like a normal Earth man for at least seven days.

After Clark leaves his apartment, Xviar reports to his superiors. As instructed, he caused Superman lose his powers while wearing his civilian clothes. And as expected, Clark Kent is going to experiment with being just a normal human for a while. His report done, Xviar uses a device to walk through the wall between his apartment and Clark Kent's and find the secret compartment storing Superman's space trophies.

Meanwhile, Clark Kent has gone to a restaurant to meet with Lois and Steve. Rather than putting up with Steve's bullying patiently, Clark knocks him down.

Shortly later he sees a subway is getting flooded. Clark is about to ditch his previous plan and suit up when he remembers he isn't wearing his costume underneath. Fortunately, the firemen arrive in time and resolve the situation. Clark is feeling guilty about what could have happened but he reminds himself the world got along fine long before Superman's coming.

Later, Lois comes over, and both reporters enjoy a romantic dinner and movie.

A few days later, Clark Kent is reporting a protest rally which is rapidly degenerating into a riot when, before Clark's bemused gaze, Superman appears and calms the crowd down. Clark spots a film crew nearby and guesses the impersonator is Gregory Reed, an actor who became famous playing Superman. Clark takes the opportunity to interview "Superman".

Meanwhile, Max Danner is watching the news and getting angry. Superman turned up but nothing happened. A henchman suggests it was because Superman didn't use his powers.

Later, Morgan Edge is rudely ordering Clark to travel to Chile, if he likes or not. Clark loses his patience, declares he's sick of putting up with Edge's abuse and he isn't going to Chile. Edge is so impressed by his nerve he gives Clark a raise and agrees to his suggestion to send Steve Lombard instead. When Steve gets angry and picks a fight with Clark, Clark punches him out again.

Later that day, Clark meets with one of his informants, who has discovered Inter-Gang has camouflaged one of their secret bases as a transport truck. Clark then visits Professor Pepperwinkle and borrows an anti-gravitational device. Clark surreptitiously climbs onto the truck's roof, opens a hole with a blowtorch and drops into. Before the Inter-gang crooks have time to gun him down, Clark switches the anti-gravity device on. Gravity gets nullified inside the truck, and Clark exploits his long experience maneuvering in weightless space to take them down.

Later Clark is walking Lois to his apartment. Clark's investigation has revealed the orange flame shot by Big Eye was meant to super-charge Superman and make him explode as soon as he used his powers, taking half city with him. Lois declares she isn't interested in more work talk right now.

Over the next door, Xviar looks over several alien jewels stolen from Clark Kent's apartment. Thanks to them he expects to be able to channel Superman's power to destroy Earth.

One week later, Clark suffers a nightmare where he and Lois are taking a calm stroll around Metropolis, insensitive to people begging help and dying around them. Clark wakes up and notices he put his uniform under his sleepwear in his sleep. Clark feels guilty about not having been Superman for days, even though he has enjoyed being Clark Kent for real.

At this, Clark hears Lois knocking on his door. Superman forces himself to ignore her and fly out of there, determined to find out what to be Superman full-time for one week is like. Concerned, Lois gets the doorman to open the door. Finding nobody inside, Lois wonders if Clark is avoiding her because she was mean to him in the past.

After Lois and Frank leave, Xviar again sneaks into Clark's apartment and steals a number of ultra-advanced devices.

Superman arrives at his Fortress of Solitude. As checking his world crisis monitor, the equipment starts malfunctioning. Wanting to see what or who is interfering with his monitors, Superman heads out.

Somewhere else, a man is testing his solar-powered costume. It should give him strength equal to Superman's but he's barely mightier than a circus strongman. He deduces something is interfering with his costume's energy-absortion.

Meanwhile, Superman has reached the Sun and gets to dissolve a massive sunspot interfering with trasnmission equipment all over the world. At the same time, the costumed man notices his suit works properly at last, and prepares to make his greatest dream come true.

While, Superman resumes his heroic activities, pondering Earth deserves a full-time Superman who doesn't get distracted with everyday life trivialities. Unfortunately, Superman remembers Clark Kent was supposed to testify in a trial against Max Danners. Again, Superman forces himself to walk away, determined to not turn up unless there's not sufficient evidence to convict.

Instead, Superman beats three bank robbers. All of sudden, a floating, costumed man shows up, steals the loot, and vanishes, declaring his name is Solarman.

On Galaxy Communications Building, Morgan Edge is furious due to Clark Kent missing the trial. Lois reveals he wasn't in his apartment this morning, and suggests he was kidnapped by Inter-gang or gotten himself into a different kind of trouble. Superman then flies in the office. Both Lois and Edge plead with him to investigate Kent's disappearance.

Meanwhile, an Inter-gang assassin sneaks into Clark Kent's apartment but gets swiftly murdered by Xviar, who has already nearly completed his weapon to carry out the Earth's destruction while Superman is away and preoccupied with his own problems.

After spending one day averting Crisis all over the world, Superman goes back to Metropolis and decides to stay at Jimmy Olsen's place to unwind. However, Jimmy tells him Solarman went on a rampage as he was out of town and is hovering on the city square right now, challenging Superman. Superman leaves, feeling he's beginning to miss his friends and upset because he isn't allowed to take time out.

Superman meets and engages Solarman. In the beginning, Solarman seems to get the upper hand but it was all a ruse: Superman was letting Solarman beat him up while he bombarded his costume's receptors with heat beams until overloading them. Solarman's costume starts overheating and smoking and he has to beg Superman to take it off. Superman obliges, while thinking as long as power-mad men are around there must be a Superman. Now Superman needs to choose what identity will he give up.

Meanwhile, Xviar's doomsday device is ready, and he reports his progress' mission to his superiors, who have been hired by the Galactic Spaceways Company to destroy Earth, so clearing the path for their planned intergalactic teleportation route.

As Superman finds himself in his Fortress of Solitude, writing his life's last events in his private diary, Xviar sneaks back into the Clark Kent's apartment again and sets his trap. He has turned the jewels he stole from Clark's apartment into teleporting beacons to transport Superman's nine worst enemies in his apartment. Xviar activates the jewels and trips Clark's burglar alarm.

Superman hears the alarm and checks his apartment with his X-Ray vision immediately. He sees Lex Luthor, Amalak, Brainiac, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Parasite, The Prankster, Toyman (Jack Nimball), Terra Man and Kryptonite Man hanging around in his apartment. Superman flies back to his apartment within seconds, but he is surprised to find it empty. As he looks around, searching his villains, his body is bathed by invisible rays coming from behind his bookcase.

Suddenly, Superman just knows three of them are lurking around the Pyramid of Giza. Feeling more confused than ever, Superman heads off. He doesn't know Xviar planted the mental suggestion to seek out his villains in Egypt, or Xviar teleported his enemies just so Superman would bring them back. Xviar's devices hidden in his apartment have transformed Superman into a living bomb that will detonate when he spends enough energy, destroying both Superman and Earth.

Superman arrives at the Valley of the Kings and quickly takes Terra Man, Toyman and Pransker down. As he flies back to Metropolis, Xviar sends telepathically his next battle's location. Unexpectedly, Superman doesn't change his route. Xviar wonders why.

Superman has ascertained Clark Kent must appear in court right now or Max Danner will escape justice. In a flash he picks up a spare suit from Galaxy Communications's wardrobe room, changes clothes and goes to deliver his testimony. Afterwards, he's accosted by a mob of reporters. Superman wants to bolt out and uses his super-speed by accident. He realizes whatever was making him powerless as Clark is gone, but he can't dwell on the why now. He keeps getting a mental tug towards the Rocky Mountains.

Superman streaks across the country and battles Luthor, Parasite and Mxyzptlk. He manages to trick Luthor and Parasite into taking each other out and then knocks Mxyzptlk out cold. Superman turns them over to the authorities and returns to his apartment.

Following a hunch, Superman scans his closet. Every suit in his closet has been treated with some kind of alien chemical which counteracts yellow sunlight. Since he kept his spare suit in the WGBS wardrobe, he didn't lose his powers when he put it on. Superman is pondering who could know his secret identity and access to his apartment when another mental image reveals Brainiac and Amalak's location, and he is off.

Meanwhile, Xviar is still monitoring him. He's just transmitted Brainiac and Amalak's location, which will bring Superman's energy up to a critical level. As soon as he battles Kryptonite Man, Superman and Earth will explode. All that remains for him is to escape back to his homeworld.

Superman takes Amalak and Brainiac down, builds a protective bubble for them and takes them to a galactic prison compound located in the outer rim of the solar system. Superman is returning to Metropolis when another mental image alerts him of Kryptonite Man's location. Superman realizes that entire set-up is too convenient, and a quick scan confirms someone was sending brain beams in his head. Superman traces the beam back to its source: the apartment next door. He finds "Mr. Xavier" lying asleep on a kind of floating bed, and alien tools scattered around his apartment. He figures out his neighbor is responsible for his recent woes and feels tempted to look around his apartment, but he decides that putting Kryptonite-Man down is more urgent.

Superman finally confronts Kryptonite-Man. He knocks his old enemy out, but nothing happens. When Superman found out his wardrobe had been tampered with, he x-rayed the rest of his apartment and found the devices that turned him into a walking bomb. He didn't dare to use his powers until the explosive effect wore off, but he still had to fight a Kryptonite-powered enemy, so he solved both problems by wearing his sun-screened clothes under his Superman suit.

Hours later, Superman confronts Amalak in his cell. He reveals he knows he isn't Amalak but Xviar, who swapped bodies with Amalak right after the latter's defeat, expecting Superman would take him to a space prison where he'd be freed from by his superiors. Superman points out, though, that his superiors won't bother freeing a failure.

Far in the space, Xviar's superiors are both angry and shaken. Now their contract will be forfeit; even worse, sooner or later Superman will track them down.

Meanwhile, Clark Kent behaves again as a mild-mannered pushover in work to Lois' despair. Superman can't help it, though. His power problems showed him he can't give up neither of his identities.


Recommended Reading

Links and References

Superman Our Worlds at War Vol 1 TP
Superman Family Storyline
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This event or storyline is specifically related to Superman, or to members of the Superman Family. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Superman Storylines category.