"Superman versus Luthor": An earthquake rocks the city of Metropolis! Clark Kent is sent on assignment to cover the story, giving him an excuse to switch to Superman and rescue anyone trapped by the quake. After the tremors finally cease, Superman returns to the [[D
Superman #4 is an issue of the series Superman (Volume 1) with a cover date of March, 1940. It was published on February 15, 1940.
Synopsis for "Superman versus Luthor"
An earthquake rocks the city of Metropolis! Clark Kent is sent on assignment to cover the story, giving him an excuse to switch to Superman and rescue anyone trapped by the quake. After the tremors finally cease, Superman returns to the Daily Planet as Clark. He reports to Taylor that the quake was caused by a new military weapon that suffered a malfunction, and asks for a chance to interview its creator, Professor Martinson.
At his laboratory, Martinson greets Clark openly, but once the ace reporter sits down with his back turned, Martinson hits him over the head with a hard object, then tosses the "unconscious" reporter out the eighth story window. In truth, Clark had just been play-acting being knocked out, quickly shooting his hand out to grab the building's ledge. He takes off his civilian clothes, revealing the Superman garment underneath. When he climbs back up outside the lab window, he spies on a conversation between the professor and the face on a viewscreen of Superman's old nemesis, Luthor! It turned out the man in the lab wasn't really Martinson, but a thug hired by Luthor to throw off any snooping meddlers. Literally, in Clark's case... Luthor notices Superman spying outside the window and sends out a drone plane with a bomb that it drops on his location. Superman catches the nuke and flings it back at the plane, destroying it! He climbs into the laboratory to find the imposter professor gone, with only the image of Luthor left sneering at him. He reveals he has the real Martinson held hostage, though thus far he hasn't told him any details about his invention, the quake-maker.
While patrolling around the army camp, Superman watches one of the guards for the super-weapon knock out his companion, and then shoot his flashlight beam into the sky as a signal. A gyrocopter lands nearby, but Superman interrupts before they could steal the quake device, so the copter takes off again and heads back to base. Superman tries following, but almost in that instant, the copter self-destructs! Superman lands in a park nearby, where a projected image of Luthor greets him. Luthor offers a challenge to his foe, on the condition that if Superman wins, Luthor promises to admit defeat, but if he loses, he will have to retire from crime fighting! The challenge is accepted, and Luthor explains the first test. Superman must race Luthor's own super-speed sky-planes around the world, by foot. The feat proves easy enough for the son of Krypton, passing both planes early on, astounding Luthor. The second challenge is to see who can reach higher altitude while still maintaining a perfect landing. Luthor's sky-plane launches up higher and higher through the stratosphere, but Superman's mighty leap carries him even higher still. The plane loses control once it goes beyond the Earth's gravitational pull, but Superman is able to softly land back on the ground by moving his legs very quickly in a propeller motion. The following feat has Superman test his strength against Luthor's after the latter uses a gravity nullifier to make a boulder lighter. And yet again, he is beaten. Finally, Luthor calls for a test of vulnerability, just as he tosses a grenade at Superman! The explosion leaves the man of steel unharmed. Luthor tries twice more, with a cannon, and then poison gas. Neither cause Superman to even flinch. Superman announces that it was his turn now, lifting the shaken Luthor up with one hand. Frightened, Luthor concedes victory to Superman, releasing Professor Martinson into his custody. Superman takes the professor home, allowing Luthor to escape for now.
Back at Martinson's lab, Superman and the professor hear a newsflash over the radio about the theft of a secret weapon from the military base. It happened while Superman was being distracted by Luthor's contest, allowing his henchman to steal the device uninterrupted. Superman asks the professor if he could recall the place where Luthor held him, and Martinson is certain it was somewhere around Satan's Canyon. Meanwhile, Luthor still has a few tricks planned for his nemesis, who he knew would soon be coming for him.
Superman runs through the canyon, looking for signs of an encampment. What he finds as he continues on, is a large stone tower built into the cliff-face. Avoiding hazard after hazard, including a rockslide and hungry wolves, Superman makes his way forward. Luthor resorts to firing a laser ray of his own design at Superman, which actually works at slowing him down, if only temporarily. The force of the ray's beam creates a crevice in the earth that Superman falls into. The crevice then closes due to the continued force, burying Superman alive. But, thanks to his super strength and endurance, the man of steel is able to burrow his way to the surface. He immediately gets to work on the tower, knocking bricks away from the foundation until it all comes crashing down. The earthquake machine is completely crushed in the aftermath... but Luthor's body is nowhere to be found...
back at the lab, Superman finds Professor Martinson dead, having committed suicide as penance for inventing such a horrible weapon. At least the secret of its design died with him...
Appearing in "Superman versus Luthor"
- Luthor (First appearance)
- Professor Martinson (Only appearance; dies)
- Autogyro (Destroyed)
- Luthor's Planes
Synopsis for "Luthor's Undersea City"
The Daily Planet receives startling reports through the wire: Several oil wells across the world have suddenly stopped flowing. Superman races toward the site of one of the wells. High above, a small rocket alters it's flight path once it detects Superman moving below. The man of steel soon finds he is being chased by the odd projectile, grabbing onto the rocket so he can ride it, giving him a chance to get a closer look. The rocket is being controlled remotely, Superman deduces as he tears out its wires. The image of Luthor materializes on the side, warning Superman to stay away from the oil wells mystery. Superman leaps clear just as the rocket crashes to the ground. Undeterred by his nemesis, Superman continues on, speeding to the Oklahoma oilfields in a matter of seconds. Right as he arrives, an earthquake hits, causing the oil derricks to sway and crack. With his mighty strength and super speed, Superman rushes from one tower to the next, stabilizing each one until the quake passes. Then he takes off for the next site, determined to save as many of the wells as he can.
Meanwhile, at the Oklahoma City airport, Lois Lane just steps off her flight when she hears the news regarding the quake's beneath the oil wells, and how Superman managed to save some from destruction. She drats her luck for missing Superman in action. Later, she meets up with Clark Kent at the Oklahoma Bulletin, where they learn that the Pacific Coast was being threatened by flooding, already under two feet of water that was steadily rising. Clark and Lois decide to take a slight detour from the oil well story to investigate the reports for themselves. Two of Luthor's hired thugs ambush them on the way to the car, and they are forced at gunpoint to take a ride. The goons tell them that Luthor remembered how Clark and Lois stuck their noses in his business before, and he wanted to meet with them personally.
As they are being driven along the mountain road, Clark stealthily brings his hand around to the back of Lois' neck, pinching a nerve ever so slightly to make her pass out. Then, Clark reaches forward and rips off the steering wheel, tossing it over the edge, and then crushes the emergency brake with one hand. The thugs turn on him, and one fires his gun, but the bullet bounces harmlessly off the mild-mannered reporters skull. He knocks the two thugs' heads together, then grabs Lois and leaps away as the roadster plunges off the road to certain destruction. When Lois awakens, she finds they are at the airfield, and Clark had just booked a private plane to fly them over the coast.
The plane carries them over the flooded grounds, where the water has nearly consumed whole towns. Clark's supervision allows him to see an odd disturbance occurring far off in the water. He orders the pilot to take them further out to sea. Lois gasps as a city enclosed in glass begins to rise out of the ocean. Seconds later, the glass cover folds back, and a prehistoric creature, a pterodactyl, swoops out and begins attacking the plane! The pilot is killed, and Lois falls unconscious, leaving Clark on his own. He holds tightly to Lois as he jumps from the spiraling plane, but the mighty pterodactyl grabs him in its talons mid-fall. Clark manages to fight off the prehistoric bird, landing him and Lois on the island housing the strange city. Changing to Superman, Clark fetches water from a spring for Lois, who is in a state of shock. When he returns, however, she is nowhere to be seen, although a plane flying towards the city suggests she was kidnapped. Superman follows the plane until it lands, when he is warned not to make any hostile actions or the girl will die! Luthor greets his old foe, telling his men to take miss Lane to the "green room", while he gives Superman a tour of the city. Luthor admits the city was built thousands of years ago, all he did was salvage it, enclosing it in glass to pump all the water out and raising it to the surface. He uses the oil he tapped from the wells across the world to power the project, the ocean rising was just a side effect of the city's upheaval from its depths. Within, Luthor had been busy with many experiments in genetic recreation. The prehistoric beasts would terrorize the armies of all the world, easily weakening their spirit and allowing Luthor to move in as world leader! He then makes a deal with Superman: If he swears to join forces, Luthor'll be much more merciful in his global takeover. Superman responds that he'd need time to think. A little ways off, Luthor's men carry Lois towards a vat of acid chemicals. Thanks to his super-hearing, the man of steel hears the henchmen 's intents and bursts through the wall! They are knocked away as Superman takes Lois away from the cauldron.
For his betrayal, Superman is set upon by a T-Rex that Luthor has released. He flips the beast on it's back. Grabbing Lois, the last son of Krypton rushes past the armed goons and breaks out through the glass. Behind, the ancient beasts begin to attack Luthor! The hole in the city's glass enclosure lets the ocean pour in! The waves crush down on the city, demolishing everything in its wake...
Hours later, Lois begins to feel her normal self again after Clark took her to the doctor. At the Daily Planet, Clark is commended for his sharp reporting on the sunken city.
Appearing in "Luthor's Undersea City"
- Rocket (Destroyed)
- Luthor's airplane
Synopsis for "The Economic Enemy"
The Daily Planet sends Clark Kent to interview Paul Dorgan, an eminent sociologist. Dorgan is publishing a manuscript naming an individual who was trying deliberately stop the nation's progress into prosperity. Mr. Dorgan is murdered in his home, sending Clark off as Superman, to find the one responsible. A series of sabotages across the nation occur, bombs being set on bridges, trains being run off their rails. Each of these disasters are prevented, albeit barely, by Superman, who finds the out the source of the problem from a gang of thugs working under J. F. Curtis. Curtis, it turns out, was being paid off by foreign powers to subdue the American industry. When he confronts Curtis at his home, the man of steel finds himself the victim of an electroshock trap when he tries to grab the criminal! But due to his super human structure, Superman is unaffected, and the shock instead rushes through him and back to Curtis, electrocuting him to death.
Later, back at the Daily Planet, reports start arriving of the nation returning to its former prosperity. Clark's article on the P.F. gang's activities makes the front page.
Appearing in "The Economic Enemy"
- Barney Calhoun (Only appearance; dies)
- J. F. Curtis (Only appearance; dies)
- Barney Calhoun's band
- Louie (Only appearance; dies)
- Paul Dorgan (Only appearance; dies)
Synopsis for "Terror In the Trucker's Union"
The truck driver's union is being taken over by a crooked racket that plans to hold back food supplies to the city unless people pay the blackmail price. Superman infiltrates the gang until he can gather enough evidence to put the boss away for a long time.
Appearing in "Terror In the Trucker's Union"
- Gus Snide (Single appearance)
- Nick (Single appearance)
- Pete (Single appearance)
- Carlson (Single appearance)
- Carlson's wife (Single appearance)
- Amy Carlson (Single appearance)
- This issue is reprinted in The Superman Archives Vol. 1.
- "Superman versus Luthor" is reprinted in Superman: From the 30's to the 70's, Superman: From the 30's to the 80's, The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told and Lex Luthor: A Celebration of 75 Years.
- "Superman versus Luthor" and "Luthor's Undersea City" are the mad scientist's second and third big and evil schemes. Luthor will return in Superman #5.
- This issue is the first time Clark Kent works for the Daily Planet rather than the Daily Star; this discrepancy with Earth-Two history would be used to suggest the existence of an Earth-Two-A.
- Superman Recommended Reading
- Action Comics (Volume 1)
- Action Comics (Volume 2)
- Adventures of Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 1)
- Batman/Superman (Volume 2)
- Batman/Superman: World's Finest (Volume 1)
- 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: Son of Kal-El (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)