Lois Lane Kent told her story as her friends listened anxiously.
“I found myself falling through the air high above a futuristic city,” she said. “I was surprised, but not scared, since… well, you know how often in my life I’ve found myself falling through the air. I almost expected Superman to swoop down and save me like always — and he did!”
Superman smiled. “You mean some future version of myself? I already was treated like a senior citizen in a cape by Wildcat! Don’t tell me that I was bald and had a belly!”
Lois grinned. “That’s what you get for eating your ma’s cookies at super-speed.”
“He calls you Ma?” joked Chuck Grayson.
“No. I just learned how to make cookies like the late Mrs. Kent,” explained Lois, unamused by the comment.
“So you were saved by me?” continued Superman.
“No, it was a Superman but not the Superman! He was someone you knew and told me about — Craig King from the thirtieth century. He was wearing his antigravity boots, and he rescued me. He nearly fainted from shock at seeing the Lois Lane Kent!” She laughed.
“Good old Craig. He was, or will be, rather, a man from the future who became a Superman when a string of major scientific thefts began in the year 2956, an era that knew little of crime,” explained the Man of Steel. “A group of leading scientists that chose him for the role rigged up some scientific devices that allowed him to mimic some of my powers, and — with a costume like mine to a man and looks not too different from my own — Craig King became a future Superman for a time.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: Although a version of this character exists on Earth-Two, the original character appears on Earth-One, as seen in “The Superman of Tomorrow,” Action Comics #215 (April, 1956).]
“That sounds like Brane — one of the future Batmen,” noted Red Robin. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Year 3000,” Batman #26 (December, 1944-January, 1945).]
Superman nodded. “It is about the same idea, except that Craig vowed to give up his role, since I helped him eliminate crime in his era.”
“Right,” said Lois. “Well, he donned the costume again after all a few years later, and lucky for me that he did. He brought me to his home — guess where he lives?”
Superman smiled. “She loves to tell a story.”
Lois elbowed him and said, “He lives in the Secret Citadel! He bought the land it’s on and made it into a shrine of sorts. Poor dear, almost bowed to me!”
“Wife of the legend,” said Red Robin, smiling.
“More like mother of the legend!” said Lois. “In his possible future, our Mary became a Superwoman and carried on your role, Clark. She looks so wonderful in the videos. She wore a costume like yours, except it had a skirt. She looked a bit like I did when Hocus and Pocus tried to make me a Superwoman!” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Lois Lane, Superwoman,” Superman #45 (March-April, 1947).]
Superman smiled. “Remember, Lois, when dealing with time travel, you may just be experiencing one of a million possible futures. Our baby may never develop super-powers.”
Lois nodded. “True, but in Craig’s history she did, and she eventually led the JSA for years, along with another hero called Nightwing.”
Red Robin blinked. “Are you saying Kara and I have… had… a child?”
Lois grinned broadly. “Bruce Clark Grayson, no less — the perfect union of the world’s best heroes!”
“So what happened next?” prompted Superman.
“Craig showed me why he had suited up again after several years in retirement from costumed crime-fighting,” said Lois. “Since our kids and their descendants were long gone, he felt the world needed a hero.”
Red Robin frowned. “That sounds like crime still exists in that future, as it did in Brane’s.”
“Worse than that,” said Lois. “A criminal we know still existed and was almost set to topple the nation’s government.”
“Not Luthor back somehow!” said Superman.
Lois shook her head. “Would you believe Metalo?” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Man of Steel Versus Man of Metal,” World’s Finest Comics #6 (Summer, 1942) and “Back to Square One,” Superman Family #217 (April, 1982).]
Craig King shrugged ruefully in the Secret Citadel in the year 2972 as Superman’s wife listened to his story.
“Mrs. Kent, Metalo runs this country, and soon he may rule the world,” he said. “I have been hiding away here. No one ever discovered the location of the Citadel and lived to our time. I found it due to my life’s work — a devotion to the legend of Superman.”
Lois frowned. “Craig, from what I understand, things had settled back to normal when Superman visited back in 2956. Crime still occurred, even though it was rare, but Metalo was certainly not in the picture, nor did he have such power. He was just a brilliant man named George Grant who had invented a formula that boosted his strength and a metallic-armored suit that helped even more.”
Craig waved his hands in the air. “That’s what he was! Now that same metal suit has been — or was — improved upon by alien science in the late twentieth century when he was a frail old man. It enabled him to become more machine than man. It enabled him to spread his influence around the nation over countless years when he slumbered on within that computerized suit gaining power and knowledge, and becoming ever more dangerous. He is no thug in armor now. He is a cyber-savvy killer.”
“Then we’ll have to be extra careful and do anything it takes to stop him,” vowed Lois.
Craig smiled as he witnessed the beauty, brains, determination — and spunk, if that was the old term — that characterized the legend of Mrs. Superman. “OK, we’ll do it,” he said.
Craig King and Lois Kent arrived at the White House. “This is it,” he explained. “He actually lived in the place. He blackmailed the U.S. government into turning over control to him. He got away with it, since none of the government officials wanted to risk his unleashing photonic bombs on the rest of the world. He has the access codes in that armor.”
“He is still human, though, at least partly, right?” asked Lois.
Craig nodded. “Yes, and he is artificially preserved by the life support in the armor. He has to be almost mad from the isolation of his cold, sterile, machine life.”
Lois smiled. “That’s what I’m counting on. Just get me in to see him.”
They flashed through the sky with Lois wrapped head to toe in what appeared to be her husband’s original cape. They emerged in the Oval Office, where Craig abruptly fell flat.
“Lois, my anti-grav equipment that gave me my super-strength and flight powers is dead,” gasped Craig. “He shut them down!”
Bending over his fallen form, Lois said, “Don’t worry. I know all about this creep. I can handle him.”
Craig watched from the floor as his own equipment kept him trapped. The high heels of Lois Kent clicked over the floor as the brainy and brave reporter confronted the man behind the machine.
“George Grant, it’s Lois Kent from your past. I’m here to reason with you. You can’t hide within that cold metal shell forever,” she pleaded. “You must remember me. I’m your only link to the past.”
A cold voice that echoed as if coming through some artificial filter replied, “Kent? I do recall you. You and Superman put this entity behind bars more than once. So long ago… so very long ago.”
“That’s right,” said Lois. “You must recall that. Do you feel the pain of being trapped any less now than you did then? George, you’ve exchanged one prison for another. You cling to this half-life within the network of wires and computer chips, but what about the blood, breath, emotion, and human contact that make a person human?”
“I have your ally helpless before me,” stated Metalo. “I could burn you to ashes at a whim. I could destroy Earth with a blink of my eye. Still, you dare to rouse me from this electric sleep that is my existence? I cannot call it a life.”
Lois put her hands on her hips. “That’s right. I do challenge you — you, George Grant, the man within, not that machine. I’m the woman who helped send you away last time. I am the flesh and blood female who cost you your freedom. Come and face me, person to person — or aren’t you man enough to live without that frigid metal shell?”
A hum filled the air. “Mrs. Kent!” Craig cried out. “He’s capable of anything! Be careful!”
Lois shushed him, poising with all the cocky defiance of her youth. The same fire and spirit that had driven men to love and hate her flamed out from her every gesture, word, and movement. She was playing a desperate game, and she knew it.
“Metalo? Did your batteries run down?” she taunted. “Step out if you aren’t afraid this little woman will beat you.”
Slowly, a metal shell appeared, and wires parted to reveal an ancient man. George Grant blinked as light touched his paper-thin skin for the first time in years. Emerging from the armor, he said, “I will kill you with my bare hands. I’ll feel those limbs of yours before I end your life and wipe that alluring smile off your pretty face.”
As he staggered forward, Lois tripped him with one smooth move. He fell forward, a few of his brittle bones snapped, and he lay still in unconsciousness.
She walked over to the shell and dropped a small device that she had taken from the Secret Citadel. A pulse caused the lights to blink. “I just did the equivalent of Control-Alt-Delete to his armor with an EMP,” she said. “He won’t bother you again. He does need a doctor, though.”
The old man on the floor gasped in rasping sobs as he realized all he had lost and all he had gained. His humanity was back for however long futuristic medicine could preserve it, but he would never again control the world.
Craig jumped up, freed once more. “You did it! One woman brought down the tyrant who ruled America! How did you know he’d risk all to face you outside of the armor?”
Lois smiled sadly. “Because, beneath all that metal, George Grant was still a man, and I’ve tempted and manipulated men who were a lot smarter than him in my youth. I figured he’d remember his own human needs and passions and forget everything else. I may have been the first woman to flirt with him or tempt him in centuries.”
Craig smiled. “No wonder you are a legend.”
At that moment, Lois suddenly blinked back to her own era.