"Unchained": Superman has fought Wraith from Gotham City to the Gobi Desert, and he is unsure of just how to beat his opponent, given that after all that, Wraith can still climb to his feet, and keep fighting. He considers what [[Dian
- My allies, Wraith... my friends? They're people I actually admire... Because they're brave. They do what they think is right. Even when no one agrees with them. Even when I don't agree with them. And they own their decisions. They live their lives in the light. They're heroes, Wraith.
- -- Superman
Appearing in "Unchained"
Synopsis for "Unchained"
Superman has fought Wraith from Gotham City to the Gobi Desert, and he is unsure of just how to beat his opponent, given that after all that, Wraith can still climb to his feet, and keep fighting. He considers what Wonder Woman would do - probably keep fighting too, ever the warrior. Unfortunately, Clark is not Diana, and when Wraith repels his attacks, he falters. Condescendingly, Wraith bemoans the lost opportunity between them. He could have taught Clark so much, if they hadn't had to become enemies like this. He tosses Superman all the way to Nepal, where he mocks the fact that he heard two of Clark's ribs crack.
Superman wonders what Batman would do in his position, supposing that Bruce would fight dirty, and go for the low blows. He has a sudden idea, though. If Wraith is as much like him as he seems, he needs to breathe oxygen to survive - so if he can prevent him from breathing until he blacks out, he can beat him. Grabbing Wraith, Superman speeds up above the Earth's atmosphere, attacking his enemy's airways with his fists, as they crash into the Moon. Wraith is able to counter him, though, manipulating his own energy signature to simulate the radioactivity of Kryptonite. Superman weakens, allowing Wraith to use the same strategy he had just botched by thrusting Superman under water.
On the ocean's floor, another rib cracks and Superman begins to doubt that he will make it out of this alive. He wonders what Lois Lane would say to encourage him right now. She would tell him to dig down deeper within himself - and that thought gives him an idea. He should dig literally. He drills his way down through the crust of the Earth to the space between the upper and lower mantle. Following him, Wraith is surprised to find that his abilities have been dampened. Superman explains that because Wraith's powers come from channelling electromagnetic energy, which is significantly altered by the magnetic force of the Earth's iron core. Both of their powers are nullified by it. All that remains are their strengths and their wits.
Superman uses the advantage of a finally fair fight to force Wraith into submission, and demands to know what is buried in the signal from the Earthstone - and who is behind it. Wraith responds that he doesn't know, and again tries to put Superman down for failing to live up to his standards. Annoyed, Superman knocks Wraith unconscious, warning that his allies are admirable people who own their decisions. They are heroes. Wraith's actions, though, are the actions of Sam Lane. Superman leaves him buried within the Earth's mantle, to return to Lois at the Fortress of Solitude.
There, he finds her with her father, holding the Earthstone. He explains that he senses a consciousness embedded within the stone, and it is transmitting something, from the centre of the solar system - perhaps it's coming from within the sun. Clark inserts the Earthstone into the matrix of the Fortress, and it causes an EMP blast that shuts down all of Lane's military machines.
With the sound of the devices drowned out, Superman hears the faint cries for help of Jimmy Olsen, who is freezing to death in the cold of the Arctic, nearby. Superman uses his heat vision to warm his friend, and after recovering somewhat, Jimmy explains that he was sent here by Lex Luthor. A hologram of Lex projects from a device around Jimmy's wrist, and gloats that the world would not be in the dangerous predicament it is now, if Superman had paid more attention when they last spoke. Lex explains that Earth is primed to be invaded. Five hundred ships are approaching. Wraith came with an equation that unlocked technological secrets for the American military - but it also has brought these invaders. He compares the scenario to that of the mythological Trojan Horse, smirking and commenting that it was not Wraith who was the Trojan horse in this story. This time, the Trojan horse is Superman.
The device on Jimmy's wrist opens to reveal a small syringe, which Lex explains is a solar fuel. This fluid will charge Superman's cells when he injects it, making him capable of doing what Wraith achieved when he destroyed Nagasaki, years ago. Superman coldly remarks that beating the invaders Lex's way sounds like just building bigger bombs. Lex admits that that is exactly what his solution is - and it comes with the added bonus of Superman being the bomb is that he will not survive the detonation.
- This book was first published on September 10, 2014.
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