In a small house on a Kansas farm, a proud father gently cradled a baby girl. He held her with extra care with hands that could shatter mountains. His name was Clark Kent, and he was a father for the first time in his long, action-filled life. He gazed down on his daughter Mary and smiled as she cooed softly.
“Who’s going to be a reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper someday?” he teased.
His wife Lois Lane Kent entered and dropped a stack of papers on the table. She had just finished turning an editorial for the town newspaper, which she helmed as editor-in-chief. She enjoyed seeing her husband play with their child, since it had been a long-desired goal of theirs to have a child. “She might grow up to go into your other line of work, you know,” laughed Lois.
Clark gently kissed her and said, “I’d like to think she would use her gifts to help folks. That was her grandfather’s wish for me, and it’s mine for her.”
Lois ran a hand across his broad shoulders. “John Kent would be proud of you both. I wish I could have known him.”
Clark nodded slowly. “He would have been impressed by you — a big city gal with so much spunk and vinegar!”
“I’ve sweetened over the years. I was a real witch when we first met!” she said, sighing.
Clark laughed and said, “Let’s just say you kept things interesting. ”
They stood in front of a window and watched as the sky began to darken, and the sun slowly faded over the horizon. “Nothing like a Smallville sunset,” said Clark as he held the baby higher.
“Kil seems to be too busy to notice. Look at him work!” marveled Lois.
She indicated the older man working in the fields. He had broad shoulders, a gleaming mane of white hair, and ruggedly clean features. He wore a plaid shirt and jeans and worked with amazing vigor.
Clark agreed readily. “I would never have believed it, but he’s proven himself. Kil-Lor, the infamous Benedict Arnold of Krypton, the scourge of the L family, the man who vowed to kill me and nearly succeeded three times, working as a contented and peaceful farm hand!”
“That red kryptonite made him temporarily forget his past,” said Lois. “When you put him in that rehab stasis chamber, it made the change oddly permanent.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See World’s Best: Power Girl and the Huntress: Power (Girl) Mad, Chapter 3: The Preserver.]
Clark shook his head. “Nope. He has his memories again, but he lost all hate for me. He’s happy just to live here and work for us. I’d better fetch him in for supper.”
He gave Mary to Lois and crossed the fields rapidly. “Kil, time for supper,” he said. “You’ve earned more than your keep today!”
Kil-Lor turned and said, “Kal, I lost track of time. There is something deeply enervating about working with the soil. During my years as a leader on Krypton, I often missed the simple pleasures of my youth. I grew up on a techno-farm. That was before war and politics made me first a hero, and then personal ambition and resentment made me a criminal.”
“You paid your sentence in that rehab satellite,” said Clark. “You’ve moved on to a better life.”
“Aye, it was like that red kryptonite did more than rob me briefly of my past,” said Kil-Lor. “It freed me from the bonds of malice and revenge that held me so long. I lost all desire to hurt you or rule anyone.”
Clark led him toward the barn and a bucket and hose. Kil washed his hands and stored a rake as he talked. “I have not been as content in years as I’ve been since you gave me this job and this haven,” he said.
Clark grinned. “You know, it isn’t that strange. One of our greatest war heroes, George Washington, was ever reluctant to leave his plantation for the call of duty.”
Kil smiled as well. “Our? Funny how you embrace this world so readily. There is little of old Krypton about you.”
Clark shrugged. “You forget I was a grown man before I learned that I came from Krypton. (*) All those years I never knew why I was different or where I came from.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Superman Returns to Krypton,” Superman #61 (November-December, 1949).]
“Truly, you belong here,” added Kil. “I feel as if I do, too.”
Clark said, “Better hurry, or Clark Junior will get all the beef!”
Elsewhere, another proud father gazed at his own son. He, too, had become a parent late in an exciting life. He was a portly, balding man in a paramilitary uniform. He led a criminal organization based roughly on a military format. He held the self-claimed rank of colonel, and his name was supposedly Edmond H. Future, but the name was likely as made up as the rank. Colonel Future watched as his son gave orders to some of their henchmen. The young man was confident, smug, and condescending. How proud he made his father.
Using that magical talisman to create my son was the finest thing I’ve done in years, he thought. Of course, giving myself eternal vitality was rather well done, too. (*) The way the lad takes cutting-edge technology to his own uses inspires me. Why, that body armor he wears would never have occurred to me. I prefer the brains over brawn method. Still, I do like that nom du crime he has chosen. The Futurian has a ring to it.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Power Girl: Kara’s Quest, Chapter 2: In Search of Superman and Power Girl: Kara’s Quest, Chapter 5: The Futurian Strikes.]
The Futurian saw his father and waved him over. “Good news, sir. I have given the men their orders as we discussed earlier. All seems to be going according to plan. If all goes well, we’ll soon see your long-cherished dream become a reality.”
Colonel Future placed one hand on his son’s shoulder and said, “Excellent, lad! Soon, Superman will die!”
That night, Superman stood before a handsome man in the courthouse of Metropolis. He still checked on his old home regularly and answered occasional calls to action. He smiled as he listened to the new leader of the huge city. He was in his mid-fifties.
“Mayor Burke, I didn’t mean to stare,” said the Man of Steel. “You remind me so much of your late father. You know, Chief Burke was a fine police officer. I’m afraid in my early days in town he didn’t quite know what to make of me.”
Wayne Burke nodded. “When I was a kid, Pop could not decide whether you deserved a medal or a firing squad. (*) Not that one could have hurt you! He told me how you once crushed a gun to scrap metal in his office.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Superman, Action Comics #8 (January, 1939).]
Superman shook his head. “I was a bit headstrong back then. I’m afraid I acted up a bit in those days.”
“Well, I know he came to admire you as much as we all do,” said Burke. “That’s why I’m glad you answered the call I put in to the JSA.”
“What is the exact problem, sir?” asked Superman.
“Well, in this day and time I’m almost timid to tell you,” said Burke. “It sounds like something out of an old Hammer horror film. We’ve been hit by a rash of grave robbings!”
Superman frowned. “Great Scott! That does seem like something from a horror novel. Any leads?”
“All the bodies taken came from the Metropolis Round Hill Cemetery,” said Burke. “Nothing connected the victims — er, I mean the bodies — except for their locale. Some were recently buried. Some had been there for nearly a century. It was such a massive job. I mean, somebody took them all overnight. No one saw or heard anything. That means technology was involved. No army could have done the job so swiftly, silently, and deftly.”
“No doubt about it,” said Superman. “You were right to call me. This certainly looks like a job for Superman!”
Back at the headquarters of Colonel Future, the clever rogue inspected the grisly remains of the pillaged cemetery. Ugh! Rather grim, thought Future. Hope the lad hasn’t developed a taste for the unseemly. Still, I can’t fault his ambition. I did dabble in the supernatural when I hired the Wizard all those years ago. (*) Perhaps this is no different.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Superman Takes a Wife,” Action Comics #484 (June, 1978).]
The purple-and-green-clad Futurian entered and smiled broadly. “Excellent! With these bodies, we are one step closer to realizing your dreams. How I relish the image of a broken and defeated Superman!”
Colonel Future laughed, “That’s my boy!”
Superman rushed out of the mayor’s office and flew through the sky as people began the old familiar cry below.
“Look — up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Superman!” they shouted.
The Man of Steel grinned and waved as he cleared the city, changing his expression drastically by the time he landed in the old graveyard. “Great guns! This is a truly ugly crime. I’d like to think even the thugs I’ve faced over the years could value the sanctity of the dead. Of course, Luthor and his ilk never valued human life, so why should this so surprise me?”
Superman saw the opened graves and the silent tombstones looming above the gaping holes like foreboding or condemning signs of his own failure. “George Taylor, Curly McGuire, and so many other friends from the Star were buried here. I’d say many of my foes were laid to rest here, too. I’ll try to give justice to them all!” he vowed.
As he flew away, he failed to notice one of many tombstones. This one had the name of such an old foe inscribed upon its cold surface. The marker read, Dr. Benjamin Kane. Superman would have known the infamous old scientist by his nom du crime as well: Doctor Kryptonite. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: Although a version of this story takes place on Earth-Two, the original story takes place on Earth-One, as seen in “The Face of Fear,” Action Comics #349 (April, 1967).]
Back on the farm, Kil-Lor bent his knees and lifted a massive track of land into the air. He nodded in approval as Clark Kent Junior seeded the soil and moved back to allow the older man to return the upper layer of dirt.
“Boy, you sure make this job easy,” said the teenager. “Even with super-speed, it would have taken me longer to do the work without your help.” He looked greatly like a younger version of Clark Kent, although in truth he was Clark’s parallel world double and was an adopted son rather than the hero’s flesh and blood. The fact that he came from another doomed world was merely one of several intriguing parallels between himself and his father.
Kil-Lor nodded and said, “I can finish up. You are needed in space. I see the signs of a craft in peril from an asteroid storm.”
Clark Junior stared upward and agreed. “Thanks. Got to fly!” As Superboy, he raced off to help the distant craft, leaving the older man alone.
The lad shares the heroic idealism of his father, thought Kil-Lor. I like that. Once I would have mocked such selflessness.
At that moment, he heard a whine of a high-pitched alarm. His keen gray eyes narrowed in concern. The boy is busy, as is Clark, he mused. Perhaps I could respond to this siren. What could possibly challenge an old warrior like me?
He jumped upward and flew at super-speed across the country until he reached an isolated mountain peak in Colorado. He frowned as he uncovered a gleaming, top-like device. “Odd, the small device emits the siren. This is nothing more than a trap!” he said as he whirled around to see a squad of uniformed men.
“You aren’t the victims we sought, but you’ll do,” said the squad leader. “Our equipment shows you to be a Kryptonian.”
“You thought to lure Superman or Power Girl here. You’ll find you bit off more than you can chew!” scowled the warrior. He slapped his hands together, and the sheer shockwave he created sent the nearest row of troops tumbling down the slope.
Another trooper fired a long rifle and laughed as red solar energy lanced out to envelop the silver-haired soldier. “Now, while I can focus the red solar energy upon him, drug him!” he shouted. The troops obeyed, and with precision fired tiny darts that struck the old man and brought him crashing down to earth.
“Good. The red energy sapped his powers just long enough for our drugs to work upon his alien metabolism,” said the squad leader. “He almost had us. The gun is empty now. Well, no matter. We have a Kryptonian.”
Back at Colonel Future’s headquarters, he stared at the stunned Kil-Lor with dismay. “I wanted to trap the girl,” he said. “Power Girl would have been a particularly delightful target. Using her for our experiment would have hurt my old foe even more than suffering the process himself. Still, if she was busy with some other case or out of the way, then we’ll be like Edison and improvise. Genius can work with what it is given. Remember that maxim, my boy.”
The Futurian nodded. “Yes, sir. I, too, would have enjoyed subjugating Power Girl. She stimulates me greatly.”
Colonel Future smirked coldly. “Steady, lad. Keep your mind on the mission ahead. I’d like you to kill this old man for me now. He is helpless and powerless. A simple and swift cutting of his throat will be best.”
The Futurian nodded and stepped over the fallen form of Kil-Lor. He pushed a button, and a sharp blade slid out of his purple and green armor. He coldheartedly used it to end the life of the man who had been both hero and villain on Krypton.
“Done and done. I was fearful that his invulnerability would have returned, but his cells were saturated with the red solar energy for just long enough,” said the Futurian. “Rest in peace while you can, old boy!”