Jim Shooter introduces a new villain, and tries to introduce a new supporting character, in Action 378 (July 1969), with art by Swan and Abel.
An alien travelling towards Earth gets captured by another alien, who calls himself the Marauder. The Marauder wants vengeance against Superman, for some previous defeat, though this is the first time we have seen this villain. He brainwashes the alien into believing that he is the Devil, and gives him a trident with kryptonite.
The character seems supernatural when he attacks Superman, though the kryptonite gives the game away to some degree.
Superman tries and fails to break the “devil’s” programming, but fails at that. To his good fortune, as the “devil” moves in for the kill, his own mind takes control. He is, in reality, Superman’s godfather, having visited Krypton shortly before it exploded, and made friends with Jor-El.
It’s funny that the end of the story insists that this character, Rol-Nac, will return soon, and be a new regular supporting character. He never appears again, but the Marauder, so forgettable in this tale, does come back in the early 70s.
Jim Shooter also pens the Legion of Super-Heroes story, with art by Win Mortimer and Mike Esposito, as the super-team begin their run in this book.
While none of the Legion stories from this period in Action would be considered great stories, one has to credit how well the strip handled the savage decrease of pages. Instead of large, cosmic adventures with the bulk of the team, the stories now would often focus on only a few of the Legionnaires, and on smaller, more personal events.
This story stars Timber Wolf and Light Lass, and gives Brin Londo a sort of drug addiction, although it’s to a lotus fruit.
His addiction is messing up his hero-ing, as well as his relationship with Light Lass. She figures out the root of the problem, and tries to talk to Brin about it, but he just pushes her away.
Lightning Lad has a cameo, as Ayla opens up to her twin about her concerns.
We see that the lotus plant gives Timber Wolf some hallucinatory effects, though the art team doesn’t make it look particularly exciting. Light Lass forces Brin to choose between her and the lotus plant, and although his addiction makes him struggle, he does pick Light Lass.
While this story is never directly referred to, later tales would make reference to Light Lass devoting a lot of time and energy to Timber Wolf’s problems.