Friday, August 16, 2019

Like strapping a giant buzzsaw to your spine and flying around with it. Sign me up for that.

People--mainly romantics and/or chronic complainers--disappointed with the present have been asking "Where's my jetpack?" for years now; but to be honest they aren't as simple to create as science-fiction writers led us to believe. Everyone wants the Rocketeer, but as of today the best option...eek, that one's actually out of business. And it was basically strapping a couple big fans to your back. If you're going to go that route, why not go all in, and strap a propeller spinning god knows how many RPM to yourself, like Lex Luthor here? From 1976, Superman #302, "Seven-Foot-Two...and Still Growing!" Written by Elliot Maggin, pencils by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, inks by Bob Oksner.

Through sheer chance, from the some quarter bin (and possibly from the same collection) over the years we've seen Superman #282 and #292, and all three have kind of the same plot: Lex zaps Superman with something designed to disrupt his powers somehow, in today's case, "a ray which super-activated his pituitary gland." As the title suggests, he finds himself over a foot taller, which causes some problems in his usual Super-activities, as well as his secret identity. Still, when he catches himself about to make giant suits for Clark, he realizes he isn't thinking clearly, and calls for help to today's guest-star, Ray Palmer, the Atom!

Using an x-ray vision trick, Ray is able to see inside Superman's skull, which had grown considerably, while his brain had not. His brain was working harder and harder to keep up with his oversized body, leaving him dim and confused. Ray talks Supes through contacting WGBS for a remote newsvan, which Steve Lombard drops off; giving Superman a chance to scare him as a giant Clark. Building a fake set and using camera tricks and super-speed, Clark interviews Superman, both at normal size; mostly to cover for Clark's absence, but also to draw out the guilty parties. Meanwhile, Lex robs several banks, but Ray has time to set up a helmet with a camera and mike, so he can advise Superman. That only works for about the three seconds it takes Lex to figure out the helmet's importance, and zap Supes with the ray again so he outgrows it. Lex than kicks Superman around, but holds off on finishing him, leaving him "a giant vegetable--totally incapable of thought!"

Not quite yet, though: Superman calls to Ray with super-ventriloquism, then grabs Lex and flies him back to the fake news set. There, somehow, Lex now seems to be growing! Panicked over being somehow infected, Lex destroys the "growth-gland device," which somehow causes a sizable explosion, knocking him out. He'd never know Ray had been shrinking the set and Superman, to create the illusion Lex was growing. Superman figures Lex won't try that one again, but really, he needs to take like the last three things he zapped Superman with, and hit him all at once. If he found himself younger, huger, and uncoordinated at the same time? Shoot, Lex probably has three or nine other rays that 'failed,' throw 'em all in there.

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