Bates, Swan and Adkins continue with the Vartox story in Superman 374 (Aug. 82).
Vartox begins the story seeking out Superman to kill him for kissing Lana, but when he reaches the hero, Vartox can no longer remember why he was seeking him out. It’s clear (to the reader) that the mystery woman from the previous issue is to some degree able to control his mind.
Lola Barnett gets a rare cameo, and possibly her final appearance, announcing Lana Lang’s forthcoming departure on UBC before Lana has a chance to say it herself on the air, to Morgan Edge’s fury. But she does make the announcement during her final broadcast with Clark Kent, before heading off to see Vartox.
We discover that the woman behind the manipulations was Vartox’s first love, before he met and married his wife. But she turned out to be a criminal, and he had to banish her from Valeron. She is trying to manipulate Vartox and Superman into a situation where Vartox will either be killed, or kill his best friend.
By the end of the story, she has completely taken control of Vartox’s mind and made him psychotically jealous of Superman, and ready to kill him to win Lana Lang.
The story concludes in the next issue.
Pete Ross and Professor Lang make appearances in the final installment of the In-Between Years, by Rozakis, Schaffenberger and Hunt. While on the train to Metropolis, the ancient crown that the professor is bringing for a talk gets stolen.
Pete convinces Professor Lang to use a fake for the seminar, and watches to see who reacts. As he follows the thief, he encounters Clark Kent. Knowing that Clark is Superboy, but not wanting Clark to know he knows, he intentionally acts suspicious.
And just as Pete planned, this gets Superboy into the case, and he saves Pete’s life when the thief almost kills him.
One of the better Pete Ross tales, and also one of the better from this run.
Although the In-Between Years ends with this story, the concept continues in a forthcoming miniseries, Superman – The Secret Years.