"The Last Byline": Lois Lane is mortally wounded.
Appearing in "The Last Byline"
- Brainiac (Flashback only)
- Yod-Colu (Flashback only) (Destroyed)
Synopsis for "The Last Byline"
Lois Lane is mortally wounded.
She has been thrown through glass and landed on a rooftop. Building security race to her but Superman halts them and tends to his dying friend. Somehow Lois is aware of everything going on.
Lois' mind wanders back to a night when she was alone in the Daily Planet PGN offices. Video conferencing, or trying to at least, with her boyfriend Jonathan Carroll who is on assignment overseas. Poor signal and a call from Clark put an end to it and Lois probes her friend for the lead on a story, she also jibes him a little on clarkcatropolis.com and his career from award winning journalist to... unpaid blogger. She however wishes him nothing but the best even if she thinks it will kill his career.
From out of the shadows a young woman appears and asks Lois for help but despite Lois' attempt to comfort and probe her mysterious visitor she is hit by a psionic backlash and recovers only to find the young woman dying but physically deformed with a giant cranium.
The woman explains she tried to resist the call to arms from another female but failed and Lois is the only one who can help.
Lois takes the poor girl's body to S.T.A.R Labs where they can run tests and ushers a hovering Superman to be even faster at an autopsy with his microscopic vision. Clark explains that the girl is damaged on a cellular level, but the damage, psionic in nature was self inflicted.
Lois sneaks away the girl's belongings and heads back to PGN where she locates the girl's car in the parking garage. Finding the driver's license Lois is shocked to find her identity is Amelia Darling... One of twenty people that vanished five years ago.
Lois thinks back to Superman's rescue of Metropolis when Brainiac was trying to steal the city and to Lex Luthor's chagrin he succeeded. In the aftermath Lois began investigating twenty people, from completely different walks of life that seemingly all vanished on that same day.
None of them ever came back, all their trails ran cold until today and Amelia Darling's sudden reappearance.
Reopening her own cold case Lois began looking into Amelia. A reliable barmaid that was punctual and with a loving family that just went away one day. Lois hopes a fresh perspective will provide more clues and regrets not drafting in Clark to the story but Amelia approached her specifically so this was now a personal case.
Opening old wounds with surviving families was hard for Lois but her desire for the truth strengthened her resolve and she persevered. She found that of the twenty, five had passed away but all seemed to have some kind of mental power to mask their time away in the five years past.
At Amelia's funeral Lois watches the surroundings searching for another lead before it goes cold again and she spots a man hiding in the shadows and pouring rain. As she approaches a psionic attack like the one before knocks Lois off her feet. A soldier, Sung Lee appears, one of the twenty that vanished. He tells here the twenty are being hunted by someone and that she should stay out of it or she might share their fate. Lois refuses to back down demanding the truth.
Sung reveals his expanded cranium just like Amelia's which he has kept hiding with mental blocking. He reveals that he, like the others, had tried to resist but the mystery female wouldn't let them. Lois sees Sung readying to leave and begs him to stay so they can find a cure for the remaining victims. As Sung vanishes from sight he offers only one clue, "Senator Hume."
At a fundraiser, Lois notes that Hume was the one senator that was vehemently anti-Superman and spearheaded the campaign to investigate the Fortress of Solitude. Lois wonders if there's a link as this all goes back to the day of the attack. When Lois spots Hume she brushes off Clark's chit chat and makes a beeline for Hume.
Clark watches suspiciously as Lois is ushered away from the crowd into a private room. Hume is relieved that Lois knows much of the case and she demands to know how they were still amongst people but were 'invisible' to those that had searched.
Hume explains all he did was for the upcoming event, the best for all of us. He explains that he was a poor tramp pushing a shopping cart through the streets when Superman fought Brainiac. It turns out while distracting Superman miles above, Brainiac had entered the bottled city psionically and sought out twenty people to 'gift' as potential hosts for his cause.
Lois is shocked as she learns of Vril Dox and his quest to halt the Multitude, he shrank hundreds of cities across the galaxy in a hope to restore his planet, Colu's inhabitants. The mental stability of the populace of past cities hadn't worked, they had inferior capacity to 'rehouse' the Coluan minds so when Brainiac arrived and attempted to steal Metropolis he found some of them a close match.
Brainiac elevated the Twenty to 12th level intellect and they all instantly recognized one another with a psionic bond. They began using their powers for fun, profit or like Hume, for career.
Hume begins to weaken from telepathically telling the story to Lois and like Sung Lee and Amelia Darling, Hume's head expands and glows green. He asks Lois to reveal Brainiac is hunting for them, that he will return. Lois agrees but Hume doesn't want to take the chance her story might be buried so he infects Lois, transferring his power to her.
The force of the transfer blows Lois out of the office window and we return to the present, with Lois now one of the Twenty, her only fate, even with Superman's help - is death.
To Be Continued... In Action Comics and Superman "Psi War".
- The story continues in Superman #23.
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