A silly cover for Superman 342 (Dec. 79), but the Wein, Swan and Chiaramonte story itself is not that bad.
It begins with Jenet Klyburn requesting Superman’s help after a STAR Labs project to reduce pollution goes horribly wrong, creating a deadly toxic cloud. As Superman tries to dispose of this accident, it interacts with a strange haze that he notices, and explodes.
The “haze” was really the discorporated essence of Chemo, the state he was left in after being destroyed by Superman and the Metal Men in DC Comics Presents a year earlier. But this accident allows him to reform himself.
There has been some effect on Superman as well, though at first we have no idea what. He seals himself in a glass box for safety. Lois Lane has a tearful scene with him, but it’s Lana Lang who brings him out of his funk, discussing the reason they can never be a couple, and hoping they can stay friends. Ironically, she shows far more faith in his ability to overcome this situation than Lois did.
When Chemo begins his rampage, Superman has no choice but to leave the box, and we see that exposure to air turns him into a beast. But Chemo’s blasts are a cure, even though it was his chemical make-up that helped cause his state. Cured, he tosses Chemo into space, although the creature comes back in three years.