Action 544 (June 1983)is a double-sized anniversary issue, with two stories, as Lex Luthor and Brainiac each get an upgrade for the 80s.
Luthor’s story, by Bates, Swan and Anderson, comes first. It begins as he loses yet another battle with Superman, and his robots send his wounded body off to Lexor.
The anti-Luthor revolution that was going on when the planet was last seen must have fizzled out, as he is once again considered a planetary hero. Ardora has had a son by Lex since the last time he was on Lexor, presumably a visit that did not make it into the comics, or else Ardora had an extremely long gestation.
Lex decides to live out his life as a father and husband on Lexor, and be a good person. Still, he knows that Superman will one day come for him. He stumbles into a laboratory form a forgotten, advanced culture, and gets an idea…
Lex performs numerous good deeds for Lexor, including a weird huge pole, going right into the centre of the planet, that will keep it safe from a Krypton-like destruction.
But at night a mystery marauder wreaks havoc. Who could it be?
Superman shows up to take Lex back to Earth, and he publicly battles Superman in his new armor, which synthesizes a number of power sources, and proves dangerous to Superman. But the Lexorians recognize the outfit, and are horrified that Lex is the mystery villain. They shouldn’t be.
Lex fires a blast at Superman that rebounds and hits the rod. Lex realizes this will destroy his planet.
Luthor tries to save Ardora and his son, but fails.
Refusing to admit he had any part in this disaster, he blames Superman, and swears vengeance. This storyline continues in the pages of Superman.
George Perez’s rendition of the costume looks great,although that headpiece just doesn’t work for me.
Wolfman and Kane handle the Brainiac story, which brings the character back to the aritifical world he had created. He merges with the central computer, but loses his android body in the process.
After a journey through all of time and space, in non-corporeal, mental form, which basically drives him insane, Brainiac constructs a new body for himself out of the planet.
Brainiac also fashions the headship, which I think is the coolest Brainiac-related thing ever.
Superman enters the ship, expecting the Brainiac he knows, and is stunned by the mechanical construct in front of him.
The story continues in the next issue.