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Superman is tearing apart a vinyl chloride plant when he gets pounced from behind by a flying, energy-glowing, costumed stranger. Superman tries to fight back, but the stranger -a mutant with the ability to change his molecular structure at will who calls himself [[Protector (


Quote1 I thought we'd come to this someday! Well, now that we have, I've got to tell you, Superman-- There is no planet Krypton! Moreover, Clark-- There never WAS! Quote2
-- Supergirl src

Synopsis

Superman is tearing apart a vinyl chloride plant when he gets pounced from behind by a flying, energy-glowing, costumed stranger. Superman tries to fight back, but the stranger -a mutant with the ability to change his molecular structure at will who calls himself Protector- claims he'll let nobody destroy polluting industries and blasts Superman down before getting away.

A factory worker called Milton Slotvik hurries to check on Superman. Superman isn't really hurt, but he feels tired and embarassed as reminding himself how he got himself into that mess. Right after a news broadcast at the Galaxy Communications Building the evening before, Clark Kent was visited by Mr. Slotvik, who talked about his workplace's non-existent safety measures and his coworkers dying because of cancer caused by vinyl chloride. Clark Kent suggested he'd send a neutral party as Superman to look into the matter. Before leaving the building, though, Clark Kent was approached by his co-worker Terri Cros. Terri flirted with Clark, much to jealous Lois Lane's extreme disgust, but Clark thought being an outcast alien he's doomed to be alone, so he left without a word.

After a sleepless night, Superman visited the Metro Chemical plant and met his president, Morton Kalmbach. Superman got disgusted when he learnt Kalmbach was aware his factory was unsafe but he considered sick workers an "acceptable" risk. Superman exploded, declaring he was sick of seeing people and the very planet dying in the name of greedy and profit, and set out to tear the place down until he was interrupted by the Protector.

Superman flies off and heads to a mountain to ponder over the Protector's indentity... and his own feelings. When he saw that factory and those men dying he couldn't help but remember Krypton. He lost his homeworld, and he's deadly afraid of losing his adoptive world if the planet's environment gets badly damaged. Kal-El swears himself he'll not allow the Earth's destruction.

Shortly afterwards, Kal-el attacks a supertanker. After dumping the whole crew into a nerby island, Superman lifts the ship off the sea, intending to throw it into orbit so it can't spill oil all over the sea. Suddenly he gets hit by a blast of extreme cold, courtesy of the Protector. The Protector calls Superman out on setting himself up as judge, jury and executioner and attacks Superman again, but runs away as soon as Superman gets the upper hand. Superman considers to chase after him before deciding against it.

Superman bursts out of the water and unexpectedly meets himself face to face with his cousin. Superman thinks Supergirl has come to help him destroy the supertanker, but Kara stops him, yelling they have no right to interfere. When Superman asks if she wants Earth to end like Krypton, Supergirl replies there never was a planet Krypton.

Superman gets stunned. Supergirl leads him back to his Fortress of Solitude, which she states he built driven by his delusions about a false planet, and smashes his parents' statues into bits to wake him from his fantasy.

Superman replies his cousin has just gone crazy and the Bottle City of Kandor is proof of Krypton's existence. Upon close inspection, though, he realizes the bottle is filled with plastic buildings and dolls. Supergirl angrily destroys the bottle and declares Clark created the whole Krypton fantasy because he couldn't face the reality of their true origin: they didn't come from Krypton. Her respective fathers Fred Danvers and Jonathan Kent were human scientists that received huge doses of radiation as working in an atomic lab. Linda plays a video showing their fathers working in a lab and Clark's birth as stating Clark and herself are Earthborn, human mutants.

Linda Danvers' words have barely sunk in when the Protector bursts into the Fortress, intending to finish his fight with Superman. Superman is happy to oblige, but the Protector turns himself intangible to avoid Superman's blows. The Protector reveals his powers are fueled by pollution, which is because he's antagonizing Superman.

Superman isn't impressed and fights back. As Supergirl stays out of the fight, Superman scans the Protector and learns his heart glows every time he's about to make a molecular change. So Superman uses his X-Rays to force the villain into a gaseous form, and then Superman hits Protector with his heat beams. Protector's gas body explodes, and the villain reverts back to normal and faints.

Supergirl congratulates her cousin for his victory, but Superman feels physically and emotionally worn-out. He doesn't know what to believe after what he has just been told. Supergirl starts breaking another display in order to emphasize her point until Superman stops her, and both cousins start arguing again.

While they're distracted, the Protector comes around. Realizing he needs help to take on Superman, he takes advantage of Clark and Linda's argument to run away. Infuriated, Supergirl wants to track him down, but Superman thinks it's useless. He needs to be alone so he flies off. Once he's gone, Supergirl pulls a comm device out and reports the plan seems to be working... and she prays it's the right thing.

Superman flies back to Metropolis and changes into Clark Kent before going inside his apartment. Lois Lane is waiting him inside, having just fixed his favorite dinner. After watching Terri throw herself into Clark's arms, Lois decided to pursue Clark more aggressively. Clark is initially reluctant, but then he reconsiders: he resisted a romance not only because it would put Lois in danger but also because he considered himself an outsider. Now he knows he is not, maybe he should reconsider his stance and enjoy his dinner-date.

Meanwhile, Protector heads into a secret facility hidden in the Rocky Mountains to meet his mentally-unstable old partner Radion, the only survivor of a nuclear disaster that altered his body, giving him radioactive powers. Later Radion found Protector, taught him to develop his powers and swore him to secrecy. Radion remarks Protector revealing himself to the world and then seeking him out threatens his master plan. Protector replies it's Superman who he should be worried about.

The next morning, Clark Kent finds himself restless. After testing his Phantom Zone Projector, he decides Supergirl must be telling the truth. Superman's angry and grieving reaction is cut short when he hears a radio broadcaster reporting someone is attacking Hooley nuclear power station.

Superman arrives at the facility and is attacked by Radion right away. Radion manages to trap Superman in an energy sphere which greatly increases his atomic weight. Radion then declares he intends to overload the nuclear reactor and rule over the mutated humans that will survive the nuclear fallout. He planned to do it eventually, but Superman declaring war on Earth's environmental pollution forced him to act ahead of his schedule.

Superman, though, manages to stop the reactor's meltdown and break free. Radion runs away but Superman is too weak to follow him. Superman flies back to his Fortress of Solitude. After resting and pondering over his origins for a bit, he heads off and tracks Radion and Protector down. During the battle, Superman tricks Protector into becoming a reflecting surface and Radion into shooting his partner. Radion's blast knocks both mutans out.

Despite his victory, Superman isn't feeling happy. Maybe it's time to stop living a lie and give his life a new meaning. But which one?

Somewhere else, a group of persons are observing an alien fleet approaching planet Xonn. Usually, Superman would deal with that kind of threats, but maybe he'll not be interested in helping alien worlds out after they've caused him to abandon his Kryptonian heritage. Maybe their actions have doomed Xonn as well as Earth.

Meanwhile, Superman is busy busting Metropolis' crimelord Samuel Simeon's operation. When he turns them over to the authorities, the police chief remarks it's unusual for Superman, who is often very busy with the big picture, helping police out with local crime. Superman just mutters he'll be more focused on the "little stuff" from now on because Earth is his home and a man must always prioritize his home, and flies off.

Meanwhile, Supergirl meets up with a third party who warns her about a giant alien fleet raiding planet Xonn, far away in the Cygni-Gi system. Supergirl decides to go call her cousin and intervene immediately, but she's warned Kal-El may refuse to interfere: Krypton's loss caused him to identify with every soul in the universe, but now he believes he's an Earthman... Kara Zor-El refuses to believe their theory and heads off, determined to prove them wrong.

Supergirl meets Superman shortly later and tells him about the J'ai army besieging planet Xonn. Though, Superman refuses to help the Xonn, feeling Earth is his priority. Supergirl slaps him angrily and goes ahead herself after telling him where he can put his "priorities".

Several hours later, Clark is having dinner with Lois, but he can't get his mind off his own cousin calling him a coward. He decides on a whim to check on Kara via telescopic vision and he sees her and Krypto in space being beaten and captured by an invading armada on the planet Xonn. Clark hurries to come up with an excuse to throw Lois out, changes clothes and streaks towards Xonn.

Superman arrives in Xonn and initially seems to have an easy time, even though the J'ai prove to be dangerous warriors, until he finds out Xonn's orange sun cuts his powers in half and makes him blind. Superman is overpowered and knocked out by several J'ai warriors.

When he comes around, he finds himself confined in a crystalline cell right with Supergirl, Krypto and a Xonn leader. Their Xonn ally explains the J'ai are able to easily conquer worlds thanks to their peculiar reproductive system: every dead J'ai spawns eight new J'ai. Superman compares them with the human myth of the Hydra monster, and his wording makes Supergirl realize he's figured out she was lying all along. Supergirl collapses on one knee while Superman lists off all details didn't add up but he didn't question previously because he was too shocked: she kept calling him "cousin" and "Kal-El", and she never explained Krypto away.

Kal-El demands an explanation and Supergirl explains it was the Kandorians who cooked up such a scheme. All of them were increasingly concerned over his mental health due to his growing obsession with Krypton's loss. When he decided to protect Earth even from mankind itself the Kandorians convinced Kara that her cousin's obsession was driving him crazy and the best way to deal with his issue was to remove it.

Superman gets furious, breaks out of their cell and resumes his battle against the J'ai. He's getting overpowered by their sheer numbers again when he comes up with an idea to paralyze them through a sonic pulse.

After defeating and imprisoning the J'ai and help clean Xonn up, Superman, Supergirl and Krypto return to Earth. Kara asks Kal if he'll ever forgive her, and her cousin replies he's still angry about her lying to him, but he understands her reasons and will forget about it in a few days. However he adds he wasn't obsessed with Earth because of Krypton but because he loves his adoptive planet and isn't ashamed of it.

Issues

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Weapons: None known.

Notes

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Trivia

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Recommended Reading


Links and References

Superman Our Worlds At War Book One
Superman Family Storyline
DC Rebirth Logo

This event or storyline is specifically related to Superman, or to members of the Superman Family. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Superman Storylines category.

Supergirl v.5 38
Supergirl Storyline
DC Rebirth Logo

This event or storyline is specifically related to the character of Supergirl and/or her supporting cast. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Supergirl Storylines category.