"The Ultimate Battle"
Writer: Denny O'Neil
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: Murphy Anderson
Cover: Neal Adams and Dick Giordano
Reviewed by: James Lantz
Ching is explaining to Wonder Woman and Jimmy about the beings from Quaarm. They seem to be able to assume the forms of those they first contact when they enter this dimension. They also drain superhuman abilities should they encounter someone with them. Meanwhile, having been influenced by his contact with Superman, the sand double is battling the Oriental war beast. Both Quaarmers possess Superman's strength. However the Man of Steel's twin only has one third of it. There seems to be no way to stop the giant monster from causing more chaos.
Superman is making a splendid recovery. Unfortunately, the Quaarmer, Stewpot and Gemmi know that our hero is in the hospital and will stop at nothing to see him dead. The beast attacks the dormant Man of Steel. Suddenly, Superman awakens, and he feels his powers return to him as they are drained partially from the creature. Their battle is nearly a standoff when the Pseudo-Superman arrives to aid the genuine article. The conflict leads them to Central Park, where the Quaarmer returns to his dimension. While New York is finally safe from the war demon, Superman's troubles are just beginning. He must now battle his duplicate to the death. The winner will be declared the one true Superman of Earth.
I-Ching has made it so Superman and his double could make contact with each other without causing an explosion. Both beings were charged with opposite atoms when Kryptonite was rendered harmless. Now, the two titans are in a clash that has become cataclysmic for Earth. Superman sees what has happened to his adopted world and weeps for forgiveness. Soon afterward, Ching awakens Kal-El. He had placed our hero in a hypnotic trance to show that his pride would not allow anyone besides himself to be Superman. Seeing the error of his ways, Superman renounces the percentage of his abilities in which his sand twin possesses. Now, the being has returned to Quarrm leaving the Man of Steel alone to reflect on his life as a hero.
Story - 5: At first, I thought that there we moments when Superman felt a bit out of character, but I now see that O'Neil was trying to put his own spin on the Man of Steel. I enjoyed every page of this issue. One cannot help but feel sympathy for both Superman and his twin by the time the conclusion arrives. The entire "Sandman Saga" was fun to read, and I would recommend it to anyone.
Art - 5: The visuals were impressive. Much like Karloff as the Frankenstein monster, there is something creepy yet empathetic about the sand duplicate throughout every page. This is just one of the many examples of the beautiful artwork found in this issue and the whole story arc.
Cover Art - 5: The word "WOW" kept popping out when I saw it. This cover left me speechless. It's, by far, one of the best.
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