Action 583 (Sept. 86) brings to a close the era of the Pre-Crisis Superman, with the concluding half of an Imaginary Story by Alan Moore, Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger.
The entire story is one of dark foreboding, and is related by Lois Lane, now married and with a son, to a reporter, writing a story about the last days of Superman. Many of Superman’s friends and enemies appeared in the first half of the story, and most of the villains have died. Superman has brought Lois, Lana, Jimmy, Perry White and his wife to the Fortress of Solitude. Cosmic King, Lightning Lord and Saturn Queen have come from the future, knowing that this was the end of Superman, to join in the fun. They find the Kryptonite Man, as well as a disturbing union of Luthor and Brainiac.
Many of Superman’s friends are shown throughout the issue, trying to get through the force-field surrounding the Fortress. Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Captain Marvel and the Martian Manhunter are shown, along with Vartox, and pre-Crisis Superwoman.
The story is filled with heart-wrenching sequences. Jimmy takes his Elastic Lad serum, and Lana bathes in the pool that gives her super-powers, so they can join the fight against the assembling villains. Her super-hearing allows Lana to hear Superman explain to Perry White that it is Lois that he truly loves, but he cared too much for Lana to ever let her know.
Lana and Jimmy both fall to the Legion of Super-Villains, while Krypto sacrifices himself to take out the Kryptonite Man.
This is all turning far too bloody and dangerous for the villains from the future, and they flee in their time bubble. Luthor and Brainiac are the last, but perish in the snow.
Who was the villain that brought this all about? Mr. Mxyzptlk, the most powerful adversary Superman has, who chose to be a pest, but has now chosen to be a destroyer.
Superman winds up using the Phantom Zone projector to rip the 5th dimensional being in half, but he has knowingly, and willingly killed.
Though Lois gives him all manner of justifications, Superman has violated his own code. He enters a chamber of gold kryptonite, which permanently removes his powers, and is never seen again.
The reporter leaves. I was teary eyed and emotionally drained by this point when I read this the first time, but so thrilled at the end, as the baby turns a lump of coal into a diamond. And then I really looked at the face of Lois’ husband.
I believe Alan Moore has now dismissed this story as garbage, as he is wont to do.
I don’t care what he thinks. This is the crowning gem of the first 50 years of the character.