Adventures of Superman 444 – Luthor explains what happened

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John Byrne’s final issue of Adventures of Superman was number 444 (Sept. 88), the middle chapter of the Supergirl story, which began and ended in the previous and following issues of Superman.  Along with Jerry Ordway and Dennis Janke, this issue largely consists of flashbacks, as the Lex Luthor of the pocket universe reveals to Superman the events that followed the death of Superboy.

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Meeting with Pete Ross and Lana Lang at Superboy’s funeral, Luthor is taken to the Kent house, where he finds Superboy’s secret lab, and the Phantom Zone viewer.  Conned by General Zod, he releases Quex-Ul and Zaora, who immediately destroy the Phantom Zone projector, and any other tech in the lab that could be a danger to them.

Lex, Pete and Lana become the core of the movement to stop the Phantom Zone villains, and the battle winds up consuming the entire Earth.

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Diving into the centre of the planet, they open vents which wind up eliminating Earth’s atmosphere.  Now, only the protected bubble over Smallville keeps the one town safe.

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The earlier, Legion of Super-Heroes crossover that introduced the pocket universe detailed how the Time Trapper prevented many of Earth’s heroes from coming into existence.  In this follow up story we meet the Bruce Wayne, Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen of this world. Not costumed heroes, but men willing to risk their lives to save what is left of Earth.

An interesting, if not exciting, issue, it sets the ground for the big climactic battle to come.

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