Superman Revenge Squad
A loosely knit organization of extraterrestrial villains, founded originally by the warlike inhabitants of the planet Wexr II but now comprised of aliens from many planets, who have for years, ever since Superman was a teen-ager, sought to wreak vengeance on the Man of Steel in retaliation for having repeatedly thwarted their attempts to subjugate peaceful planets and "dominate the universe" (Act No 287, Apr 1962: "Perry White's Manhunt for Superman!"; and others). In the words of one Squad member:
We of the Superman Revenge Squad have tried for decades to get even with Superman! We have hated him ever since, as Superboy, he stopped [us] from conquer- ing peaceful planets in outer space! Our squad has tried to destroy him many times--but we've always failed! [Act No. 295, Dec 1962 "Superman Goes Wild!"].
The Members of the Superman Revenge Squad are fully aware the Clark Kent is secretly Superman (Act No. 286, March 1962: "The Jury of Super-Enemies!" and others).
In March 1962 members of the Superman Revenge Squad set in motion an elaborate scheme to wreak vengeance on Superman by destroying the Earth (Act No 286: "The Jury of Super-Enemies!"). "Only when his beloved Earth lies in smoking ruins," snarls their leader, a blue skinned alien named Rava, "will he realize that we have finally repaid him for wrecking all our plans to dominate the universe!" (Act No. 287, Apr 1962: "Perry White's Manhunt for Superman!").
The first phase of the villains' scheme involves surreptitiously exposing Superman to a variety of red kryptonite whose effect they know, from having previously tested the substance on Krypto the Superdog, will be to make Superman experience terrifying nightmares set in the future. In one such nightmare, for example, Superman dreams that, in the distant future, the great-great-great-great-grandson of Pete Ross and the great-great-great-granddaughter of Lana Lang are husband and wife, and that they attempt to destroy him by overexposure to green kryptonite. The nightmares are frightening and deeply disturbing, but after having deduced that they are being caused by exposure to red kryptonite, Superman reasons that the nightmares are, after all, only harmless fantasies and that the effects of the red kryptonite will soon wear off (Act No. 286, Mar 1962: "The Jury of Super-Enemies!")
It is then, however, that the Superman Revenge Squad initiates phase two of its scheme: the invasion of Metropolis by an army of extraterrestrial robots which shoot "jets of deadly anti-chlorophyll acid at the ground, converting the earth into a crawling blight that will spread like wildfire till not a blade of grass is left!" "Then," gloat the villains, "all humanity will starve to death!"
At first, as the ruthless extraterrestrial aliens had correctly anticipated, Superman assumes that the deadly robot invasion is merely another of his recurring red-kryptonite-induced nightmares. Ultimately, however, he realizes that the robot invasion is real and destroys the alien robots before they can overrun the Earth.
"Curse Superman!" mutters Rava angrily to his comrades, hovering high above the Earth in their flying-saucerlike spacecraft. "He's foiled us again!" But we of the Superman Revenge Squad will never give up hope! Some day we will execute the perfect revenge against Superman! (Act No. 287, Apr 1962: "Perry White's Manhunt for Superman!").
In December 1962 two members of the Superman Revenge Squad set of to "wreak a vengeance on Superman that is worse that death" by transforming him "from a hero beloved by all...into the most feared and hated person on Earth!" Hovering just outside Earth's atmosphere in their flying-saucerlike spacecraft, the aliens employ a "telepathic signal gun"--a diabolical "telepathic-hypnotic weapon" which is specifically "tuned to Superman's brain"--to bombard Superman's mind with a series of powerful "hypnotic commands" which the Man of Steel is powerless to disobey.
Under the baleful influence of the aliens' fiendish weapon, Superman embarks on a rampage of insanely destructive acts, demolishing the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Sphinx, and the Eiffel Tower; denouncing the United Nations on a television program devoted to the cause of international goodwill; maliciously shoving the moon out of its proper orbit, causing massive tidal waves on the Earth's surface and an undersea disaster in Atlantis. Confident that they will succeed in their scheme to "humiliate Superman beyond his endurance" by forcing him to commit acts of destruction "that will disgrace him forever," the villains even go so far as to communicate with Superman by means of "a hypnotic-telepathic beam that penetrates [his] mind," informing him exactly what they have been doing to him and gloating over their ability to "compel him to do anything we want!" Indeed, before long, the villains have made Superman the most despised man on Earth.
Fortunately for Superman, however, the aliens periodically "turn off the telepathic beam and let Superman regain his sanity for a brief time" so that they can force him to endure the painful humiliation of being hated by almost everyone on earth. It is during one of these periods on metal lucidity, while he is no longer under the baleful control of the villains' telepathic signal gun, that Superman enlists the aid of Perry White in a ruse designed to throw the Superman Revenge Squad members off their guard long enough for the Superman Emergency Squad to apprehend them. By and large, the ruse succeeds, but as the Superman Emergency Squad closes in on the aliens' spacecraft, the villains blow themselves and their craft to smithereens rather than submit to capture (Act No. 295: "Superman Goes Wild!").
In May 1963 two members of the Superman Revenge Squad, piloting their flying-saucerlike spacecraft at such "incredible velocity" that it hurtles across the time barrier, cunningly lure Superman into perusing them into the distant future, to the vicinity of Metropolis one million years from now. In this far-future ear, when Earth's sun is no longer yellow, but red, Superman realizes, to his horror, that he has completely lost his super-powers. "The sun...it's red now not yellow!" muses Superman ruefully as the villains soar away gloating in their spacecraft, confident that they have lured Superman into a deathtrap from which he cannot possible escape. "In this far future [era], Earthâ€™s sun has become red as suns usually do as they get old! But...but...but under a red sun, like that of perished Krypton, I have no super-powers! Only the rays of a yellow sun give me powers!"
Stranded without his super-powers in the world of the far, far, future, at a time when the Earth is a barren wasteland devoid of water and all that is left of the human race has long since migrated to more hospitable planets, Superman is literally "the last man on Earth," alone except for the weird creatures that have managed to adapt to a life without water. The only remaining vestiges of humanity are a half dozen lifelike androids of Superman's old friends and adversaries that were created by the people of the distant future to "march like real people in each year's Superman Commemoration Parade."
"What a mockery," sighs Superman dejectedly, "--I'm the last man on Earth with only androids of my past comrades for company! And I'll never escape from this dead world!"
Ultimately, however, after a perilous and arduous journey, Superman finally reaches the ruins of his Fortress of Solitude, clambering up the face of the jagged rock cliff and entering the Fortress through the massive keyhole. Inside the Fortress, after reducing himself to lilliputian size with the aid of a sample of red krpytonite that he knows will render him temporarily tiny, Superman climbs aboard a Kandorian (see Kandor) rocket ship and skillfully pilots back across the time barrier to the city of Metropolis in the year 1963. Once retuned to the yellow-sun environment of the twentieth-century Earth, Superman finds his super-powers restored to him, and once the effects of the red kryptonite have worn off, the Man of Steel returns to his normal size. "Will Earth really be like a million years from now?" wonders Superman. "Or was that only one of many possible futures? I may never know--but I hope I'm never again the last man on Earth!" (Act No. 300: ""Superman Under the Red Sun!").
By August 1963 several members of the Superman Revenge Squad have set in motion an intricately convoluted scheme to destroy Superman. To lay the groundwork for their complex scheme, the villains deliberately caused an "accident" in outer space in which Ajax, one of Superman's own Superman robots, was seriously damaged by a hurtling meteor. Taking the mortally injured robot aboard their spacecraft, the villains, feigning friendship, performed a delicate operation that transferred Ajax's super-sophisticated robot mind out of its robot body and into a "chemically-made android body" that is utterly lifelike.
"Our science," explained one of the aliens to Ajax, "enables us to take only the contents of your mind and transfer them to the brain of this chemically-made android body...which has super-powers! You talked during your come and we learned that you were a robot-servant of Superman on Earth! But now that you are a person, you need not be a servant!"
"Why, that's right," exclaimed Ajax happily as he surveyed his unbelievably lifelike synthetic body, a body capable of human thought and human emotion, "...Superman was my master, but now I have no master!"
Overjoyed at the prospect of living out the remainder of his life as a true human being, Ajax could hardly wait to return to Earth to embark on a super-heroic career independent of Superman, The aliens renamed him Wonder-Man and provided him with a colorful new costume "made of super-durable fabric." Warning him that Superman would be resentful of his new independence, they gave him a chunk of green kryptonite--harmless to Wonder-Man but potentially fatal to Superman--which he could use as a weapon against the Man of Steel in the event he attempted to interfere with Wonder-Man's super-heroic career.
Hovering outside the aliens' spacecraft preparatory to returning to Earth, however, Wonder-Man overheard the villains gloating over their plan. Their real motive in "helping" him, he learned, was to create a rival for Superman in the hope that this rivalry would result in a violent conflict between the two heroes in which Superman would be destroyed. Wonder-Man also learned that the villains had deliberately endowed him with a defective android body, thereby assuring his demise within the space of several days.
And so, having overheard the scheme, Wonder-Man returns to Metropolis, where he performs a series of stunning super-feats that soon have him eclipsing Superman as the city's foremost hero. "...in the days that follow, Superman becomes half-forgotten and Metropolis honors Wonder-Man as its new hero!" Wonder-Man even goes so far as to make romantic overtures to Lois Lane and to dispossess Superman from his Fortress of Solitude, In the inevitable confrontation that follows, Superman falls helpless to the ground, half-paralyzed by the baleful radiations emanating from Wonder-Man's chunk of green kryptonite. "Well, Superman, I've won our duel," sneers Wonder-Man, "...and I'm leaving you here with the kryptonite to keep you immobile...until you die from its deadly rays!"
No sooner has Wonder-Man departed that the Superman Revenge Squad members arrive on the scene in their spacecraft and begin to gloat over the fallen Superman. Wonder-Man's rivalry with Superman and the violent confrontation it provoked, however, were only part of Wonder-Man's own plan for luring the villains into the open where they could be easily apprehended. Streaking back to the scene, he hurls the debilitating green kryptonite far into outer space, and, when the villains attempt to flee in their spacecraft, he and Superman seize the craft and hurl in light-years away into the interstellar void. "Itâ€™ll be years...years of prison in the ship," observes Superman, "...before they can brake impetus of our mighty throw!"
Superman had already deduced that Wonder-Man was once a Superman robot and the his pretended ruthlessness was only a ploy to trap the villains. Now he proposes to reveal the true story of Wonder-Man's heroism to the world and to form an enduring super-heroic partnership with his former robot. But already Wonder-Man's time has run out, and he collapses, mortally stricken, in Supermanâ€™s arms. "It has been wonderful to be human, even for a little while," whispers Wonder-Man, "...to have felt, thought and loved! Goodbye...Superman, my master..."
"Not your master now, Wonder-Man!" replies Superman gently. "You die as you lived, as a human being and as my frined!" (S No. 163/1: "Wonder-Man, the New Hero of Metropolis
In November 1963 Saturn Woman (see Saturn Girl) becomes Superman's ally in an elaborate, and ultimately successful, ruse designed to prevent three members of the Superman Revenge Squad, hovering over Earth in their flying-saucerlike spacecraft, from learning the true effects of the diabolical "counter-energy ray" they recently fired as Superman, i.e., its ability to prevent Superman from exercising any of his super-powers except while he is upside down. The ruse, in which Saturn Woman, posing as the enchantress Circe, pretends to force Superman to carry out a series of menial, humiliating tasks--ostensibly in retaliation for his having once spurned her love--by threatening to use her magical powers to turn the Man of Steel into an animal if he fails to carry out his everyday tasks in an upside-down position until such time as the effects of the villains' counter-energy ray have worn off and the Superman Revenge Squad members have fled into outer space, convinced that their weapon has had no effect whatever on Superman (S No. 165/1: pts. I-II--"Beauty and the Super-Beast!"; "Circe's Super-Slave"). This story is in many respects similar to Action Comics No. 204 (May 1955: "The Man Who Could Make Superman Do Anything!". (See Spulby, Sam.)
By June 1964 two members of the Superman Revenge Squad--one of them known as the Android Master--have kidnapped Batman, Lois Lane, Lori Lemaris, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White and replaced them with lifelike android imposters as part of an elaborate scheme to torment Superman and destroy his morale by making him believe that his closest friends have inexplicably turned against him, learning the secret of his dual identity, for example, and then demanding blackmail in exchange for their silence. Demoralized, for a time, at having been betrayed by his best friends, Superman eventually comes to realize that his friends are being impersonated by lifelike androids. Before long, Supergirl has rescued his real friends from the cave beneath Metropolis where they have been imprisoned in a state of suspended animation, and the members of the Superman Revenge Squad, their scheme to break Supermanâ€™s spirit thwarted, flee defeated into outer space (Act No. 313: "The End of Clark Kentâ€™s Secret Identity!").
In March 1965 two members of the Superman Revenge Squad, hovering above the Earth in their flying-saucerlike spacecraft, bombard Clark Kent--whom they know to be Superman--with a "cowardice ray" with the intention of transforming Superman into a cringing coward, only to discover, to their dismay, that their ray has malfunctioned, affecting "only the 'Clark Kent identity' part of his brain" and leaving the Superman portion unaffected. The effect of the ray barrage has therefore been to transform Superman into a craven coward, but only when he is dressed in the clothing of his Clark Kent identity. In the words of one of the villains, "Heâ€™s still brave as Superman!"
Although Superman retains his super-powers in both identities and remains invulnerable to harm, the irrational fear and terror he experiences whenever he becomes Clark Kent represent a serious threat to his super-heroic career. Ultimately, however, Supergirl succeeds in curing him of the cowardice rayâ€™s effects. And when the villains return to Earth to bombard him with their ray again, Superman seizes their spacecraft and hurls it into "a far-distant galaxy" many light-years away, where the "outlaw vessel" is sure to be spotted and taken into custody by the "space police" (Act No. 322: "The Coward of Steel!").
Appearances: (as Superboy Revenge Squad) SB Nos. 94, 114, 118, NSB Nos. 32,54 (as Superman Revenge Squad) Act Nos. 286, 287, 295, 300, SPJO Nos. 163, 165, S Nos. 163, 165, Act No. 313, SGLL No. 52, SPJO No. 83, S No. 322, Act No. 343, S. No. 198, WF No. 175, Act Nos. 367, 380, 445, 501, S Nos. 366, 367, 368, DCCP 87, S No. 414