Superman: Earth One Vol. 3
The follow-up to the NEW YORK TIMES #1 bestselling graphic novels SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 1 and 2 is here! Written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Ardian Syaf, SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE VOL. 3 follows a young Clark Kent as he continues his journey toward becoming the World's Greatest Super Hero.
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Feel free to read the previous storyline titled "Voodoo Childe" which was a prelude to the storyline on this page.
Plot: Gareth Baker and Nishan Jeyasingham
Writing: Gareth Baker
Art: Nishan Jeyasingham
Lois and Clark's Condo -
"I have to go."
"No, Clark, Wait!" shouted Lois as she watched her husband change back into Superman and leap from their condo. "What if he comes here?" Lois looked down at the card, and ripped it up into four pieces and let them drop to the floor. Rushing to the bedroom, she pulled out a backpack from under the bed. She began stuffing it with clothes, her's and Clark's.
He's here, thought Clark. Hiding down there. How is he back? This doesn't make sense. Superman began to sweep the area with his telescopic vision. What's that? Superman tightened up his telescopic vision onto a small hot dog stand far below. Superman changed his course and settled on the ground beside the stand.
"Hot dog, sir?" asked the vendor, an old man dressed in dungarees and an old straw hat.
"No thanks, but I'm interested in your postcards." said Superman as he pointed at the stack of cards - the same card he was sent.
"Hang on a moment. Don't I know you?" said the vendor as he reached out for a postcard.
"Of course, I'm Superm..."
"I know that. Just because I'm from the country doesn't mean I'm stupid. You look just like someone from my old home town. I know now. You're Jon Kent's son. Clark isn't it?
"You must have me mistaken with someone else." Superman said. He quickly got some money from his belt buckle, paid for the post card and left. What's going on? Wasn't that the old butcher from Smallville? Didn't he die three years back? Superman looked at the back of the card to see if there was any details on it about who printed them. There was nothing there.
"Postcards! Get your HyperSector postcards."
That voice, thought Superman. It's Lana's. Superman flew back to the ground beside another hot dog cart. Behind it where Lana and her husband Pete Ross.
"Hi ya, Clark. Want a postcard?" asked Pete.
"Pete? You know I'm Superman?"
"Of course. We all do. And you know what. The people of Smallville have a settle to score. Because of you, our town's favourite son died."
Suddenly Superman began to get pummelled by hot dogs and fists.
Shocked by the voice, Lois dropped the frying pan as she span around. A figure was sitting on the couch. A bright light behind him made it impossible for her to see his face. Lois bent down to pick up her makeshift weapon.
"You won't be needing that. I've just come to deliver you a small message. Since I have a second chance at life, I'm going to give you one too. I'm not going to kill you. I'm not going to even kidnap you. But, you can tell ol' Clarkie boy, that if he leaves you all alone once more, I shall. I do hope there is no reason why he would have too." A long cable snaked out from the figure and touched the frying pan Lois held. A serge of power shot through it and rendered Lois unconscious.
Carlingford, Australia -
The punch sent Green Lantern spinning wildly through the air. How did I get in this mess? thought Green Lantern. These guys are just too strong, I'm gonna need some help!
"God, how I hate you Clark Kent" shouted Pete Ross as he landed another punch on Superman's chin.
Superman raised himself off the ground and used his x-ray vision. Androids! Just as I suspected. Just like he used before. Superman cut loose with his heat vision, either leaving the androids with amputated limbs or as molten slag. I just hope no one heard what they were saying, Superman thought to himself as he made sure he had got rid of all the people from "Smallville".
"If this was a warning, I hear you. I don't know how you came back but I swear I shall send you back to the hell you came from" shouted Superman as flew up into the air and headed home.
JLA Watchtower -
"You are where, Green Lantern?" asked J'onn J'onzz.
"Australia, and I tell you these guys are harder than Supes himself."
"They must be Daxamites."
"Dax-a-what's? Isn't she in Star Trek?"
"Daxamites. They must be left over from the Dominion invasion a few years back. Australia came off quite bad during that war. I think we best call in the JLA. J'onn out."
Lois and Clark's Condo -
"Lois!" Clark had barely stepped through the window when he knew something was wrong. He ran across the apartment and scooped up his unconscious wife's body.
"I'm here, Lois."
"Don't leave me, Clark"
"I'm not going anywhere, honey."
"No you don't understand. He was here. He said that if I was ever alone he'd kill me."
"I think we should go, somewhere far away."
-JLA priority alarm-
"Clark? What's the matter?
"J'onn is contacting me telepathically. I'm needed, in Australia."
"You can't leave me!"
Lois and Clark's Condo
"I must go Lois." said Superman.
"I know, but I can't stay here."
"Wait a minute." said Superman. *This is Superman on telepathic link. Anyone at the Watchtower?*
"Clark?" asked Lois, puzzled as her husband just stood still, his head cocked to one side.
*Barda here, Superman. How can I help you?*
*I need you to pick something up.*
*We are in the middle of a battle, Superman* replied Barda.
*I realise that, but I'm having a crisis of my own. If you need my help...*
*What is it you need, Superman?*
*Meet me on top of The Daily Planet building, ASAP, Superman out.* Superman turned to his wife. "You're taking a little trip." Superman scooped up his wife and flew to The Planet building.
"Where am I going? Are you coming?" asked Lois as they gently landed on the roof.
"You've been there before. This time there won't be any madmen like Prometheus."
Lois' question was cut off by a very loud Kra-koom. The Boom-Tube opened and Barda flew out on her aero-discs.
"Barda. I need you to take Lois to the Watchtower, and... a Boom-Tube to Australia if you please."
"This is Steven Younis reporting live from Carlingford. Not ten minutes ago the costumed hero know as Green Lantern was viciously attacked by five Super-powered beings. The aliens, believed to be Daxamites left over from the invasion that devastated our county, burst out from under the re-built library." The TV reporter stopped to take a breath. "Get some shots of the fight, Sonia." The camerawoman turned the camera from the reporter and pointed it up at the fight above. Green Lantern had captured three of the Daxamites inside a large net. One of the struggling aliens grabbed the glowing green rope and tore it to shreds.
"Look!" shouted one of the many people who were watching as their homes were destroyed. Wonder Woman and J'onn J'onzz appeared in the sky above. "I'll take the woman!" shouted Diana. Wonder Woman flew down with her fists before her, knocked the female Daxamite out of the air, burying her into the ground. J'onn flew to GL's side and began to help peel off the three Daxamites that had escaped from the net.
"Lantern, where is the fifth?" asked The Manhunter.
"He's behind you." The voice caused Green Lantern to look. He received a blow to his stomach.
"He has come at last, the Superman." said the fifth Daxamite. "Squad, attack!"
JLA Watchtower, The Moon
The Boom Tube opened in The Watchtower's Operations Room.
"Quite a trip, Miss Lane?" said Barda.
"Superman has mentioned these before, but I've never been down one myself."
The way Lois said it seemed to suggest that she didn't want to do it again either.
"And now I must go..." began Barda.
"No! I mean, you can't."
"But the others might need me. Daxamites are even stronger than Superman himself."
"I know, but you must protect me. There's a madman after me. For all I know, the madman released those Daxamites to take Superman's protection from me."
"I shall wait," Barda paused "for now."
For the second time that day, Superman was buried under a heap of people determined to beat the living daylights out of him. One of the invaders slipped his fingers around the Man of Steel's neck. Superman could feel the pressure mounting. Next to Doomsday, these fellas were probably the strongest beings he had ever fought. GL, J'onn and Wonder Woman each grabbed a Daxamite, freeing Superman. Superman leapt into the air and span at superspeed hoping to throw the last two attackers off. One span off, spinning wildly to the ground. It crashed and rolled. When he came to a stop it found itself looking at a pair of yellow boots.
"J'onn, we're gonna need a strategy." shouted Superman.
"I'm working on that now."
"Lead, Superman. That's what we need." added Flash.
"Lead?" asked Green Lantern. A green machine gun wrapped itself around his arm and began to pump out glowing bullets at his opponent.
"Daxamites are vulnerable to lead, like I am to Kryptonite" added Superman.
"Then what are we waiting for?" asked Lantern.
"Batman, who else..." added Wonder Woman.
The Dark Knight had ignored the call for the last fifteen minutes. He had his own fish to fry and the JLA could do without him, for once.
Green Lantern was beginning to look weary. His reactions were becoming slower. The Daxamite moved in faster than he expected and grabbed his wrist. The other hand moved in and tried to rip off his ring along with his finger off of his hand. The female Daxamite had moved in behind Wonder Woman and using her lasso began to strangle her. J'onn was on the run trying to avoid blasts of heat vision from the Daxamite he fought.
JLA Watchtower, The Moon
*Superman to Watchtower. We need help down here.*
Barda stepped away from her computer terminal. "I'm sorry Lois I must go. I'm needed."
*Bring in the reserves, I'm the only one left...* the transmission was suddenly cut off.
"There's no time." said Barda to herself.
"What?" asked Lois, confused.
"The JLA are in trouble. The Daxamites are just too strong. Superman wants me to call in the others, but there's no time, I have to go now before it's too late."
"Did you say Daxamites? I have an idea." said Lois urgently.
Superman could not believe the speed at which the five Daxamites had torn through the JLA. He was in a bad state himself. If the reserve members of the JLA didn't arrive soon, he feared he might suffer a similar fate as the one he had when last he had to fight so wantonly. With J'onn down, there was no telepathic communications. Superman felt utterly alone. As he began to get to his feet he started to black out. The last he remembered was feeling his cape being grabbed.
JLA Watchtower - The Moon
"Make it fast, Lois," said Barda. "Superman's life depends upon us."
Lois suddenly felt a weigh crash down upon her. For once she may be saving her husband. Did Barda know about her and Superman?
"A few months back, Superman fought a Daxamite controlled by an evil magician called Tolos. Professor Hamilton, a friend of Superman's, built him a unit that could spray a fine lead compound. If we can get that to him..."
Barda didn't wait for the rest of the explanation. Using her Megarod, she called up a Boomtube.
The lead Daxamite flew up dragging a semi-concious Superman up into the air by his cape.
"Has no one ever told you? Don't tug on Superman's cape!" Wonder Woman's fist smashed into the smug Daxamite's face. The Daxamite let go of the Man of Steel as he span off. Wonder Woman caught Superman. "Kal come on. Wake up!" Wonder Woman cried as she shook her friend. She knew that she had to get Superman away.
The Daxamites had taken out the JLA very quickly. It was obvious to Wonder Woman's tactical mind that that was so they could concentrate on Superman. What they needed was a miracle. Where 's Bruce? she thought.
Suicide Slum - Metropolis
The Boomtube opened in front of Professor Hamilton's top floor lab. Barda exited it flying on her Aerodisks, Lois in her arms. Lois found it a new experience being carried around by a female hero.
Hamilton was somewhat surprised to see the tall woman, even taller than Superman, swoop through the window. "Miss Lane? Hamilton asked, slowing as he peered at the two women. Barda let Lois to the ground.
"Professor, I need your help desperately. It's Superman."
Hamilton cocked an eyebrow but said nothing. "I'll always help Supe...."
Lois cut him off. "I'm afraid we don't have time for a chat. I need something. The lead spray you made so Superman could beat the Daxamite Tolos inhabited."
"Ah! I know what you mean. Now, where did I put it?" Hamilton began to look through the filer's nightmare that was his lab.
The Batcave - Outside Gotham City
"Ready the Bat-Wing, Alfred. I'm needed in Australia." Batman said as he climbed from out of the Bat-Mobile.
"How were things in the city, Sir?"
"All taken care of, for now. Now I'm needed by an old friend."
Somehow Wonder Woman was able to take the blows and protect Superman at the same time. She was almost in a similar state to Superman by the time Barda arrived. "Wait here!" Said Barda to Lois as she placed her down on the ground away from the combat zone. With the lead spray primed Barda flew up beside the Amazon Princess.
"Hey, Ugly!" Barda shouted at the Daxamite. As the alien turned to face her, he received a face full of the spray. As the Daxamite began to fall to the ground, Wonder Woman and Superman began to drop too.
Suddenly Barda was set upon by another two Daxamite males and one female. Barda sprayed wildly, coating the two men. The female Daxamite kicked out wildly and knocked the spray from Barda's hand. Being fresh to the battle, Barda soon recovered and began to pound the female Daxamite with her fists.
Lois began to run when she saw Superman falling from the air, just as he and Wonder Woman were about to hit the ground, Superman flew up and grabbed the Princess. Having caught her, he placed her gently on the ground and flew straight up to help Barda. Lois could see that her husband was in a bad state. Lois' pace slowed once she saw that her husband was going to be alright.
"Hello, Lois." came a voice from behind her. She turned to see the the same man who had warned that if they met again, he would take her.
Up in the air. The female Daxamite was joined by the last remaining male. The pair launched themselves at Barda. Before she could stop her, the Daxamite programmed Barda's Megarod. A Boomtube suddenly opened and Barda was dragged away by it. The two Daxamites headed towards Superman. It didn't take much in his weakened state for the Daxamites to grab Superman and hold him in a double nelson. Superman was forced towards the ground. Below him he could see Lois lying on the floor beside an unconscious Wonder Woman, a man standing over them.
"If you've hurt them... I'll get you, CONDUIT!" roared Superman.
"'I'll get you.' That really is lame Superman. Have you no passion, Superman? 'I'll Kill you, Conduit', would be so much better don't you think?" taunted Conduit. His Kryptonite cables extended out of his arms and slowly wrapped around the necks of both Wonder Woman and Lois.
Superman struggled against his captors, but to no avail. He was severely weakened having drained his solar energy and the Daxamites were holding him sufficiently close to Conduit that the Kryptonite radiation was effecting him.
"But of course you don't kill, do you Superman." Conduit said calmly and then shouted. "But you killed me!"
"I didn't kill you. You killed your own twisted self. Your hatred for me, of yourself, killed you."
"Be careful, Kent." The cables tightened around Lois' neck. "Hate for you to become a widower so soon after getting married."
"How did you do it?" Superman asked.
"Come back? Oh, I have some very powerful friends. Friends who you have annoyed greatly over the years, and now the time is right for us all to strike."
"Let them go!" demanded Superman. He shifted himself, hoping to get some leverage but it was no good. He was too spent.
12,000 Feet Up, Twenty Miles From Carlingford, Australia
"Approaching Mach 3.5. Arming weapons." Batman said pressing the "Arm" button.
"I cannot guarantee they will work, Master Bruce."
"I'm sure you did everything I instructed Alfred."
"What if it doesn't work. What if we kill Superman?"
"It'll work. I know Superman better than he knows himself."
"Launching Missile One"
The Daxamites heard it coming first. The weakened Superman turned and looked in horror as the missile slammed into his chest. The explosion released a short but intense burst of yellow sun radiation. Now Superman could hear a second missile, which exploded just above his head. Small particles of lead began to flutter down.
Superman made his move. With one great buck of his shoulders the now weakened Daxamites were thrown off like someone taking off their night-gown.
Conduit merely smiled as a portal opened and he and his captives disappeared. Superman ploughed into the ground. "Where are you, you coward?!!" shouted Superman as he climbed back out of the hole he had made. Suddenly the two Daxamites leapt upon him. They were far weaker than they had been. Superman grabbed them both and bashed their heads together, and bashed their heads together and bashed their heads together and...
Superman turned to see Batman. He dropped the two unconscious bodies of the Daxamites and then fell to his knees.
"He has her. I've lost her, Bruce."
"Not while there's The Worlds Finest on the case, he hasn't." said Batman as he placed a hand on Superman's shoulder.
Batman held out his gloved hand. Superman turned his head, looked up at the hand and followed the arm all the way to Batman's face. Although it was barely noticeable Superman was convinced there was small smile.
"Come on my friend" said Batman, his voice much softer, more like Bruce Wayne's. His eyes stared at Superman's through his black mask, and then moved to watch the Man of Steel take his. Superman slowly rose to his feet.
"I will need your help, Bruce. Right now I'm more vulnerable than if you had Luthor's Kryptonite ring held at my throat."
"I know Clark."
"Remember when the Joker poisoned Lois? Who knows what I would have done if it were not for you reminding me of who and what I am." Superman said simply.
"I know you are a man who is willing to sacrifice everything, but trust me, you won't need to today." Batman let go of Superman's hand and walked over to the area where he had last seen Lois and Conduit standing. "We don't have much time. This is their last position?" Batman asked. He already knew the answer, he could tell by the foot prints in the ground. Lois had certainly put up a fight. The object here was to get Clark thinking, and keep his mind off of what might be happening.
"Yes. X-ray, thermal and telescopic vision shows no sign of them."
"Has Conduit ever shown any signs of teleportation before?"
"No. It's obviously a new power."
"Have you ever come across anything like this before?"
"Of course, Gates from The LSH, and Steel had a power...."
"Think Superman" Batman urged as he bent down over the earth, "Lois' survival could count on it."
"There was that zombie that teleported away with Dan Turpin." Answered Superman.
"When was this?"
"It was a good ten years ago. I hadn't been in Metropolis long. It had never been sorted out. If I remember Dan said something about a person who changed sex before his eyes."
"Anything else?" asked Batman. Superman shook his head. "Think Superman. Think!"
"Whoever it was said that they had plans for me and that they had plenty of time to wait."
"This seems like a good place to start, Superman."
Suddenly the ground beneath their feet began to shake. Superman rose off the floor slightly to counteract it. Batman, spread his stance out to created a lower centre of balance and pulled out a batarang.
"Hope it's not more Daxamites!" said Superman. "I'm still beat."
"Look!" shouted Batman. Something began to rise from the ground. A wooden box, which got wider and then tapered down. The coffin sprung open to reveal a body inside. The rotting corpse stepped out and began to walk towards the heroes. Batman got ready with his weapon, and was about to throw it when Superman ordered him to stop.
"It's Jerry. Jerry White. Don't harm him." said Superman.
The zombie began its march towards The Dark Knight and The Man of Tomorrow. Batman moved in and delivered a solid karate chop to the undead things neck. The zombie simply smashed his backhand across Batman's face sending him spinning through the air. Regaining his posture, Batman hit the floor with a roll and sprang back up to his feet.
"He's solid and no doubt as strong as you. If I hadn't have rolled with that punch...."
Superman got ready, his arms outstretched as if to ward off the dead think. The zombie grabbed Superman's hands in a wrestling hold.
"He is strong! This definitely ties in with the zombie bank robbers from all those years ago."
"Who do we know who could do this?" asked Batman as he pulled an omnigadget from his belt and a pair of titanium handcuffs. Pointing it at the zombie he fired it. A small, but incredible strong line fired from it and wrapped itself around the thing's legs. Running in Batman swept the feet away from the zombie and it crashed to the floor. Soon the handcuffs were slapped on and the zombie was captured for now.
The zombie exploded, throwing both Superman and Batman off their feet. When the dust cleared, the ground was covered with small slips of green paper. Batman picked one up and examined it.
"It's an admission ticket to a night club. 'Blazes'?" Mean anything to you?"
"Yes" said Superman. "Jerry White and Jimmy Olsen were shot there."
[Editor: Adventures of Superman #469].
"Jerry later died, but I managed to save Jimmy."
"Sounds like a time you'd rather forget."
"I would, sadly the person behind the shooting would bother me again, and looks like she's up to her old tricks."
"Who? We must hurry."
"It's Blaze, the she-demon"
Superman had to keep his speed down, so that Batman could follow in the Batwing. The headset that Batman had supplied him, allowed for the pair to speak.
"Tell me more about this Blaze?" asked Batman.
"She's a spiteful she-demon, always fighting against her brother, Lord Satanus, for control of their domain. Several times they have dragged me and others from Metropolis into their conflicts. Once the Newstime building was whisked away and placed in another dimension. She has tried to capture my soul in the past, and now she has Lois, she has the perfect tool to do so."
"The man who took her?"
"Conduit." Superman answered.
"Didn't you tell me he was an old school friend who grew to hate Clark because you always won everything?" began Batman.
"Yes, and then he discovered my secret. I thought he had killed my parents and Lois." Superman turned to look at Batman as he sat in his cockpit. "I don't intend to let it happen again."
Having landed the Batwing outside of Metropolis City limits, Superman and Batman flew into the very centre of the great city and landed in front of the old church.
"What sort of person turns an old church into a nightclub?" asked Superman.
"I have worked against sick people all my life, Superman. This comes as no surprise to me." The two heroes looked at each other, clasped hands in a good luck gesture and strode up to the front door. As they approached, a blazing neon sign appeared over the church door advertising the nightclub. At the same time as it flickered into life, lightning struck through the night sky above. "I thought you said this USED to be a nightclub? Looks like it's open for business."
The doors opened before them.
"Come in, my mistress awaits" said Jerry white's corpse as it stood in the door way. The two heroes walked though the door, and it slammed shut behind them. "My mistress is very glad you have decided to come, Superman. It would have been a terrible shame if you hadn't. We've been preparing everything for you. We're so glad that you brought a friend."
Thunder cracked outside, almost as if it were right above the church.
The zombie lead them through the ruins of the old church and then up the stone spiral staircase that went up and into the church spire. Jerry offered the two heroes a chair and then walked away. As he turned around again to face them, he morphed his shape into that of Conduit's.
"Hello, Clarkie-boy." Conduit stood and smiled.
Suddenly the spire was filled with a blinding light as a fork of lightning flashed down and struck the weather vain above their heads. The explosion caused the spire to shatter. Batman was tossed like a rag doll. Had the wall of the spire still been there, The Dark Knight would have been seriously injured. However, the blast threw Batman out into the night sky. Just before he blacked out, he fired a grappling hook.
Superman could see the night sky above his head where there was once a roof. As Superman looked to find Batman, Conduit made his move. His cables snaked out and wrapped themselves around the Man of Steel. The Kryptonite radiation began to burn through his skin. Superman had to act fast. He let rip with his heat vision, but just before hitting the cables, it darted away, curved around and slammed back into Superman's face.
Something wasn't right, and it wasn't just the Kryptonite!
The Kryptonite radiation from Conduit's cables began to bite into Superman's flesh, even the suit that was normally protected by his bio-electric aura was beginning to smoulder.
"Think, Clark!" Superman shouted to himself. Superman looked up at the lightning piercing the sky above. It illuminated a small area of the spire that was still left intact after the last bolt hit it. If he could fly up and through it, maybe it would rip Conduit off of him, giving him some breathing space and some distance to use some heat-vision.
Superman prepared his muscles and leapt... about an inch off the floor. Superman was confused for a moment. The cable that had wrapped itself around his neck squeezed tighter. The Man of Steel could feel himself slipping away.
Lois was begging to find the heat unbearable. Her back was raw, and her head buzzed. After Conduit had kidnapped her in Australia he had brought her here, to this damned world of lava and misbegotten souls. She had been tied to a large stalagmite by chains, and no matter how hard she had tried she had not managed to escape. All she had to show for it was pain.
The loud crack and the a forceful wind blowing across her face alerted her to the arrival of Conduit.
"Clark!" she shouted. The Man of Steel's nemesis had the unconscious hero slung over his shoulder like a rag doll.
"Don't worry, my dear. You'll soon be joining your husband. Neither of you can withstand the fires of hell." Conduit removed his helmet to reveal his mutilated face. He smiled and carried Superman around a corner and disappeared.
When Superman came to, he was immediately aware of the pain in his shoulders. He was almost sick as he felt himself sway slightly and breathed in the acrid sulphur smell that seemed to be everywhere.
Conduit looked down at his nemesis. The man who had robbed him of everything in school and beyond. Superman was hanging above a large lava pit twenty metres in the air. He hung suspended by a pair of handcuffs on the end of a large pole. Conduit lowered himself before Superman, hovering before Superman's limp body.
"You still haven't beaten me, Kenny. You've had to use both magic and kryptonite and I'm still alive. I will always be better than you."
"Be quiet alien. You won't rile me. Being dead has enabled me to calm my temper. Besides, I am now immortal. Try as you might, you shall never beat me. You're still alive because it amuses me." bragged Conduit.
"I am only alive because your mistress wishes it. You have no control over me. You are controlled by Blaze. When are you going to take control of your own life, Kenny?"
"I have my own agenda. For now she serves my purpose. She has given me life. And now she has requested to see you..." Conduit's cables slid out and snaked themselves around Superman's arms. He lifted him from the pole and carried him across the lava pit till they reached a throne. It was built of skulls, and bound together with blood.
"Kneel" hissed Conduit as the curtains behind the throne opened to reveal the she-demon, Blaze.
"Ahaaaaaa. Superman. It has been some time. This time I shall have your soul. I have finally found someone who hates you just enough." She looked at Conduit as she sat down upon her throne. In her hand she carried a black gem. She placed it on the arm rest of her throne. "Something catch your attention, Superman?"
She stroked the egg, almost lovingly. "You recognise this? You should do. After all, you gave it to me."
Superman looked up at her blankly. "I would do nothing for you."
"Let me explain. Years ago you and The Phantom Stranger destroyed something called The Sherabite Stone." [Editor - Action Comics #585] "One of the fragments landed in my domain. Ever since I have been collecting the rest so that I can have my revenge. With this stone I have been able to resurrect Conduit. Just think who else I could bring back? There must be many people who'd like another shot at you."
"But what would you get out of it, Blaze?" asked Superman.
"Indeed. Conduit, place him over the pit whilst I have a think. After all, I have all eternity." As Conduit took the Man of Steel away, the sound of her maniacal laugher filled his ears.
As Conduit began to walk off, the Man of Steel kept at bay by his Kryptonite cables, Superman called out, "Wait. I have a suggestion". Conduit stopped and turned to look over his shoulder and at his mistress. The expression on Blaze's face suggested that she was interested in hearing it, so Conduit stopped and forced Superman back onto his knees before the she-demon.
"What is it?" she hissed.
"You have me for eternity, right?" Superman said.
"Yes what of it?"
"You'll want my punishment to last that long. You'll want something that won't bore you after a few millennia" carried on Superman. Blaze raised one of her eyebrows and stifled a yawn with her skeletal like hand. "See I bore you already."
"Quite, little man. Say your piece, before you bore me further."
"Here's my idea..."
When Batman had been thrown from the top of the old church, he released a grappling hook. The hook soon found a home, and whilst the line saved The Dark knight's life, be had passed out when his body slammed into the old stone work.
Now, Batman stood on the top of the destroyed spire and tapped away at his portable Bat-Scanner. "Oracle?"
"Yes, Bruce?" replied the information merchant and old friend of Batman's.
"My hunch was correct. The sensors pick up a faint disruption, just like the one left by the teleporter back in Australia."
"I'm checking the data of that portal now. It seems to be some sort of phase disruption."
"Yes, but can we recreate it, Oracle?" Batman asked.
"It should be possible, but neither of us have the technology or the know-how." Oracle stopped for a moment and tapped away at her own keypad. "Batman? I might just have what we need. I'm sending Steel over to find Professor Hamilton and bring him to you. Oracle out."
"None of your suggestions have been up to much so far, Superman. I think I'll put you back over the fire pit and call for you when I have any of my own ideas." said Blaze. She waved her hand and Conduit disappeared dragging the helpless Superman behind him.
Blaze rose from her skull throne and walked the short distance to where she had Lois Lane tied to a stalagmite. "Hello, Lois. I'm sorry to say that I think my plans are going to involve you. I think that nothing will destroy Superman more than seeing you die."
"I doubt that, Superman has far more important things to think about than me. I think you over-estimate my importance."
"Rather, I feel, you under-estimate your's." said Blaze. The she-demon bent down before Lois and kissed her on the cheek. A burn mark soon appeared on the reporter's face.
"You know Clarkie-Boy, this is almost too easy." said Conduit as he shackled him back over the lava pit.
"Then let's even up the odds a little."
"Nice try, Clarkie, but it's not going to happen. I'm alive because of her," Conduit nodded towards Blaze's throne. "but I have my one plans. As soon as you're finished there'll be no one to stop me."
The pain was really beginning to eat into Lois's cheek. She would have loved to have rubbed it, but her hands were tied. Suddenly the arms swung free, and a red cape floated up before her eyes.
"Clark?" she whispered, as she began to climb to her feet.
"We're working on it, Lois." came the deep voice. The first time she had heard it, it had seemed quite threatening, but now she was very happy to see John Henry Irons. "I have to take you back. Batman doesn't want you getting in the way." As soon as he had said it, Steel knew it had been a mistake.
"Oh did he?! Wait I must tell you about something. It gives her her powers"
"Come on Kenny. You want me. You can't let Blaze have all the fun." Superman had been taunting his old adversary for the last two hours, and now Kenny's patience had snapped.
His cables whipped out and cut through the chains that were holding Superman's body above the lava pit. Superman fell.
Batman acted quickly. One Batarang to Conduit's head, and a grappling hook at Superman's ankle. The line pulled tight as Superman was preparing for death. Even in the magical environment he should have been able to take the lava's heat, but he had been subjected to Kryptonite poisoning for well over four hours.
Batman staked the cable into the ground and prepared to fight Conduit.
Above, Steel's hammer rocketed through the air and knocked Blaze off of her feet before she could react. Lois ran past her fallen body to where she knew she would find Superman.
Below, Superman began to climb out using the cable. His weaken muscles trembled.
Conduit aimed many punches at Batman, but the Dark Knight was able to avoid the blows easily.
"The radiation may not hurt you, but..." shouted Conduit as he sent his cables out to entangle Batman.
"Return!" ordered steel as he ran towards the large black gem. The hammer settled neatly into his hand. "You better be right about this Lois." The sledge hammer whistled through the air and impacted on the Sherabite stone, shattering it into thousands of small pieces.
The cables around Batman seems to slacken slightly. The Dark Knight kicked out and knocked Conduit backwards and over the edge of the lava pit. His body crashed into Superman's as he tried to climb back up and knocked him lose sending him plummeting back down. The cable snapped tight, and the Man of Steel swung inches above the lava pit.
Conduit held onto the cable, above Superman's dangling body. "What have you done to me? I have no power?!"
"You never did, Conduit," Superman strained his aching muscles and pulled himself up so he could grab Conduit's ankles, "and since you're already dead..." Superman tugged as hard as he could. Conduit's hand slipped free of the cable and he fell into the lava below.
Superman climbed up the cable and into the arms of his beloved wife.
"Thank God, I was so worried." Lois said.
"It's not over yet, Lois." Superman pointed to where Steel and Batman were in an all out fight with Blaze. She had called forth several undead, and the odds were not looking good for the heroes.
Batman turned to face Superman and shouted "The green button" and threw something. Superman neatly caught the device and pressed the green button.
Steel used his boots to fry some of the undead, whilst his hammer was good at shattering their bodies. Batman fought his way out and the pair ran towards Superman and the the vortex he had opened and leapt through.
The four lay on the side walk outside the Planet building.
"Just the right place." said Lois and she ran inside to begin writing up her story.
The three men all clasped hands. "Welcome to The World's Finest, Steel" said Batman.
This is the conclusion to this storyline!