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“Action Comics #252: The Menace of Metallo!”

DC Comics Superman

Writer: Robert Bernstein
Pencils: Al Plastino

John Corben, reporter for the Eastport News who is similar in appearance to Superman, is basking in the glory of getting away with murder. The perfect crime, eliminating the one man who could expose him as an embezzler. His satisfaction is short lived however as he is gravely injured in an automobile accident. He is discovered and nursed back to health by a Professor Vale.

Vale’s experimental surgery saves the life of Corben and his body is now protected by metallic armor plates, covered with synthetic skin. His new body can be powered on a temporary basis by uranium. There is one other power source which will not need any replenishing, but Vale suffers a stroke before he can disclose what the source is. Corben is unsympathetic towards Vale and looking forward to his new life as the other “Man of Steel.”

Corben is then hired by Perry White and goes to work for the Daily Planet. Corben does not pay the mild-mannered Clark Kent much mind, but does take notice of Lois Lane. He asks her on a lunch date, but she rebuffs his advances. When an atomic submarine suffers an emergency in the Artic Sea, Clark Kent transforms into Superman and saves the day. This book finally takes the time to explain what Superman actually does with Clark Kent’s clothes. They are made of fibers that can be compressed and tucked away in a pouch hidden on his cape. I always wondered where he hid Clark’s stuff. If you can believe a man can fly, you can accept that his clothes shrink. While Superman is busy, Corben raids research laboratories, hospitals, and military installations, stockpiling all the uranium he can find. After this spree, the media dubs him “Metallo.”

Gangsters attempt to whack Lois Lane as retribution for all the exposure she has given them in the Daily Planet. Bullets intended for Lois instead strike Corben, who was still hounding her for a lunch date. Since Corben withstands the onslaught of bullets, Lois is led to the false conclusion that he is Superman. Corben takes advantage of her mistake and finally takes her out for that lunch date. Corben goes one step further and poses as Superman, so he can steal the last of the uranium from Fort Taber. Superman arrives, but cannot apprehend Metallo because another emergency pulls him away. Even if you are faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive, the workload of a superhero can really pile up.

Professor Vale has recovered from his stroke and informs Corben that the other power source is Kryptonite. Corben is overjoyed because he can now vanquish Superman and become immortal all at the same time, so he sets his trap at the Metropolis Exhibit Hall. Metallo, again masquerading as Superman, uses the Kryptonite given to him by Vale as a weapon against Superman, then he escapes with the Kryptonite that was meant for the Superman exhibit. Superman is fading, but musters what strength he has left to melt the Kryptonite with his x-ray vision. By his own admission, this was the first time he ever conquered Kryptonite without anyone else’s assistance. Metallo drops by the apartment of Lois, probably looking to take advantage of her, but luckily she realizes he is a fraud. Just as Superman arrives, Metallo keels over. The Kryptonite which Metallo took from the exhibit hall was not genuine. The police have also linked Corben to the murder he committed prior to his accident, so everything was wrapped up in neat little package.

Metallo may not make a top five of Superman villains, but the Silver Age version of this character does have a heart of Kryptonite and eyes for Lois Lane, so he is a heel who can combat Superman on both a physical and emotional level. Malcolm McDowell voiced Metallo on “Superman: The Animated Series.” Metallo also appeared as a boss in the “Superman Returns” video game.

“Man of Steel” (2013)

Super Man of Steel

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