Superman #357 (March, 1981)
“Food For a God!”
“The Troublemaker of New Metropolis!”
Writers – Cary Bates & Bob Rozakis
Pencillers – Curt Swan & Denys Cowan
Inkers – Frank Chiaramonte & Joe Giella
Letterers – Ben Oda & Milt Snapinn
Colorists – Adrienne Roy & Phil Rachelson
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.50
For this bit of Vartox Week merriment, we’re going to be picking up on a cliffhanger we discussed a couple of months back. Quick and dirty version is, Vartox believes he’d finally found a new planet to both be champion of, and also call his home. Turns out, his new pals keep concocting all of the threats he has to face… so, he enlisted the aid of Superman to try and get to the bottom of it.
It was be revealed at the end that Vart’s new planet-mates all prayed to a melty gummy Lifesaver in the sky… but why?
Well, let’s find out!
We open with a recap. Lois and Jimmy are concerned that they hadn’t heard from Clark since he went skiing with Lana and Lombard up at Mammoth Mountain. Lois can’t shake a feeling of dread… but Jimmy is able to talk her down. Elsewhere, Lana is upset that she was only able to spend a scant couple of hours with her beloved Vartox during his visit to Mammoth Mountain. Also, Superman has no-showed an event at the Metropolis Civic Center where he was set to receive a Humanitarian Award.
Now, all three of those fellows are currently on the planet
Tylenol Tynola… and we join Vartox as he is in the middle of a hyper-feat. One that is being watched by a handful of fans, naturally. It’s here that he recounts the events of last issue… as mentioned in the intro, the Tynolans have been manufacturing all of the threats the great Vartox must neutralize… but why?
Elsewhere on Tynola, Superman has been captured. Toward the end of the previous issue, Superman allowed Vartox to “kayo” him in front of the Tynolans. This way he can be a “prisoner” of the geeks and perform some super-surveillance while Vartox keeps up the con. Now, he finds himself trapped in a spheroid prison-ball thing, floating in a liquid-filled dome… which really puts a pinch on his super-momentum… but, that’s part of the plan too! It’s one of those “Dagwood Sandwiches”… so so many layers.
Superman “tunes in” on some of his Tynolan prisoners, and learns that they are more or less “fattening” Vartox up (full of energy, that is) so that he could be sacrificed to a being referred to as Moxumbra (that’s the melty Gummy Lifesaver)! What’s more, if Moxumbra ain’t satisfied with Vartox… they’ll just feed Superman to it!
Superman then turns his attention toward Vartox himself… who, as you might expect, is in the middle of yet another hyper-feat. Ya see, the Tynolans are keeping him constantly busy so that he is constantly “operating his hyper-powers” at full capacity… this way he’d never notice that the Tynolans are regularly bombarding him with “mosmic beams”, which are easily edible by the giant hungry Gummy Lifesaver in the sky! Another Dagwood Sandwich! Now I’m starting to get hungry.
Now, Superman’s heard all he needs to hear, and proceeds to make an actual escape attempt. What he doesn’t realize is that the Tynolans have done their homework on him… just as he busts out of the sphere… his jailers close a dome over his head, which bombards him with Red Sun Energy!
Next thing we know, Superman is loaded into a cannon! The Tynolans are planning to send him up as an appetizer for Moxumbra… or, are they? Vartox arrives just as they trigger it to blow.
And so, Superman is launched into space… and before he knows it, is right before that melty Gummy Lifesaver, Moxumbra! Vartox arrives a half-second later to save his super pal. Superman warns him that this is yet another manufactured situation by the Tynolans… they sent Superman to Moxumbra knowing that Vartox would attempt to save him, putting him in just the right spot to be eaten himself!
Wouldn’tcha know it… looks like the Tynolans’ plan is going to work! Moxumbra zeroes in on the “mosmically-charged” Vartox… and gets right to eating! Superman watches as his buddy begins to fade away… but then, he has an idea!
He asks Vartox to blast him and transfer over his mosmic energy! Ol’ Vart looks like he might finally be at peace… and doesn’t seem to be terribly interested in even struggling, but ultimately comes around. After pumping Superman full of mosmicocity, Moxumbra goes to take a bite… but comes to learn that the Man of Steel’s super-powers are… get this, indigestible. Aye yai yai. The Space God leaves… and Superman assures Vartox that it’ll never come back to Tynola again.
We wrap up with Vartox deciding to stay on Tynola. Seems like they’ve come around to their folly… and, without Moxumbra, might just be in actual need of a champion… a role Vartox is excited to fill.
But… we’re not done yet! We’ve got a back-up… and, it’s from a series of back-ups sure to be “discovered” by the “funny, ha-ha” comics websites in about a year and a half. This is, Superman 2020… and it stars the Grandson of Superman! We open with him fighting some baddies over a the rarest of collectors items… a copper penny!
After saving the… uh, cent… Superman III returns to his civilian role of Traffic-Controller, Jon Hudson. No longer a Kent… because, as a helpful editor’s note informs us, his father (Superman II) was forced to “kill off” his, get this “Kalel Kent” persona. Yikes. Anyhoo… back at the office, he meets up with his boss, Ms. Mellodee Sellers… and boy howdy, is he smitten!
Then… he’s alerted that all of the solar-powered flying cars are suddenly falling out of the sky! This is most definitely a job for Superman….’s Grandson.
After saving the day, Jon returns back to work… and he still can’t shake his lust for Mellodee. I mean, dude’s obsessed. He finally gets the guts to ask her on a date… and she accepts!
Then… a report comes in about a fire! And so, Jon “supes up” to deal with it. He actually inhales the entire inferno… rushes to the Atlantic Ocean (which New Metropolis floats over in a dome), and exhales it into the (polluted) drink.
Superman then returns to New Metropolis, just as a regularly-scheduled thunderstorm is about to begin. He notices that the lightning that goes along with it is going out of control! He heads to the “Weather Machine” and fixes it up.
But… even with the sun shining in, the solar cars still can’t take off. He thinks on it… and comes to the conclusion that he’a actually at fault for this! Him flying in and out of the dome has disturbed the air molecules… which blocked the solar hooziwatzits from powering the cars. He uses his super-icy breath to bring everything back to normal… but doesn’t seem to pay much mind to the hundreds… thousands of solar-powered cars that likely came crashing down due to his error.
We wrap up with Jon Hudson finally having his date with Ms. Sellers. Yay.
Not gonna lie… this one was pretty unpleasant. At least Vartox found himself a new home… I guess!
Our lead off story… I used the term “Dagwood Sandwich” a few times… which, I suppose might be a dated reference for some… so I should probably explain it, and save ya the Google.
You see that disaster of a sandwich right there? That is what the Tynolan set-up reminded me of. Ya know, when a couple of cold cuts and a slice of cheese might suffice… our man Dagwood just keeps piling it on. I mean, I think there are peas in that sandwich!
The Tynolans’ (and the Vartox/Superman) plans… could’ve been so much simpler… but, they just kept piling unnecessary extra steps, which only served to eat up more and more panels just to explain ’em! By the time of the pay-off… I was already over it! But… at least Vartox has himself a new home… right?
The back-up… was also rough. I suppose I should be thankful for it, otherwise the first story would have needed to add at least another half-dozen gratuitous steps in order to fill the extra pages!
Overall… definitely the weakest entry of Vartox Week… but, ya know… they can’t all be winners! I guess issues like this make us value the good ones all that much more! Only for Vartox completionists… all four of us!