"Hybrid, Part 1": In Qurac, Lois Lane has just successfully fast-talked her way into getting an interview with a pro-democracy rebel leader while he was imprisoned - saving a dozen political prisoners in the process. Needless to say, [[Kal-El (Prime Earth)|Clark K
- As for the so-called Superman - one never attacks a stronger opponent head on... you use his own strength against him.
- -- Lex Luthor
Appearing in "Hybrid, Part 1"
- Dr. Lagarde
Synopsis for "Hybrid, Part 1"
In Qurac, Lois Lane has just successfully fast-talked her way into getting an interview with a pro-democracy rebel leader while he was imprisoned - saving a dozen political prisoners in the process. Needless to say, Clark Kent is impressed. After speed-typing her article into her phone and sending it off into the planet, she insists that the two of them have multiple drinks to celebrate. Their conversation soon becomes flirtatious, but Clark is called away by news that his contact in the country is ready to talk. Grumpily, Lois watches him leave, bemoaning the fact that the only available guy worth talking to has left. Overhearing her, Jon Carroll of the Metro Star approaches and introduces himself to her.
Clark, meanwhile, attempts to convince himself that it would never have worked out with Lois anyway, considering his big secret. Stripping himself of his civilian clothes, he allows his Kryptonian armour to take over as he becomes Superman. His contact had warned of an illegal weapons smuggling ring with intent to help crush the pro-democracy uprising. He uses his X-Ray vision to scan the containers on a fleet of cargo ships, but finds that they are impervious to that ability - which means that they were expecting him. Suddenly, all of the containers give way to human-piloted war machines.
Rather than engage with these things, Superman insists that they simply talk. Not unexpectedly, the pilots take the opportunity to blast him with a Railgun. Angrily, Superman decides that since he didn't throw the first punch, he will throw the last. After destroying one of the machines, Superman grabs its pilot, and notices his American accent. Confused, he demands to know who sent them to Qurac. Before the man can answer, he is attacked again by more war machines. After evading their projectiles, he manages to survive their other attacks, and dismantles the machinery entirely.
Returning to get the information he wanted, Superman discovers with some surprise that the man he captured moments before has changed in appearance to that of his young friend Jimmy Olsen. Before any answers can be given, a subdermal thermite implant causes the man to spontaneously combust before Superman's eyes. Superman can only assume that this wasn't actually Jimmy - but someone certainly didn't want these pilots to talk.
Elsewhere, Lex Luthor visits with his psychoanalyst, Dr. Lagarde. Though she has treated a number of very prominent and powerful patients, Lex believes that she may simply be placating him with her analyses of him, and he warns that he will have her terminated if she isn't more forthcoming with her insights. Dr. Lagarde admits that he is certainly a genius, but that he shows other symptoms - obsessive behaviors and a lack of empathy or conscience - which indicate a tendency toward malignant narcissism, sociopathy, and likely psychotic megalomania.
In fact, she says, if his symptoms go unchecked, he could quite certainly develop into the most dangerous man on the planet. Lex responds that as a genius, he cannot be judged by the scales of conventional thought. He insists that she take some time to re-calibrate before their next session. Tearing up, the doctor asks whether he will let her go afterwards. Stepping through the barred doors to her office, Luthor responds that there is too much more to be done. The world must change, and he is the one to change it.
After hearing word that his mission in Qurac was a failure, in as much as the mechs were destroyed and the pilots self-terminated, Luthor responds that they were merely a distraction meant to trigger a U.S. invasion of Qurac. As for the Superman, he has other methods for dealing with him. The mechs' weaponry was tipped with Kryptonite, which means that he was able to embed sensors under Superman's skin, and can now download his genetic blueprint - the key to his powers. With this, he can recode Superman's DNA at will.
Three weeks later, while flying over Metropolis, Superman's hand suddenly cramps with pain as Luthor begins enacting his plan. Examining his palm, Superman determines that he is suffering from some kind of spreading infection - one which appears to be transforming his body into something monstrous.
- This issue (and the following issues thru issue 21) is set approximately one year prior to the events of Superman (Volume 3) #1, and approximately five years after Action Comics (Volume 2) #1-18.
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