The Phantom Stranger helps Superman, who is suffering from a mysterious pain caused by magic.
Pete Ross sits in an asylum, tearing up posters of Superman. In his Fortress of Solitude, Superman experiences a momentary pang of pain and weakness. Suddenly, the Phantom Stranger appears. As Superman recovers, the Phantom Stranger suggests that a guilty conscience has left Superman vulnerable to a mystical attack. Before Superman can truly respond to the veiled accusation, the Phantom Stranger mysteriously disappears. In the carnival tent of Madame Benita, a ritual is coming close to fruition. The Phantom Stranger attempts to intervene, but he is too late to prevent Madame Benita from summoning Tala, Queen Of Darkness. The Phantom Stranger shields Madame Benita from Tala's attack, while the Queen Of Darkness boasts that Superman's soul will soon be in her possession. Superman wanders through a gallery of his greatest failures, in the Fortress of Solitude. Pausing at the statue of Pete Ross' son, Jon, Superman reflects on Jon's terrible fate. Jon had been abducted by aliens. Pete Ross came to Clark Kent desperate for aid, revealing that he had known all along that Kent was Superman. The Man of Steel's rescue attempt was thwarted by the Legion of Super-Heroes. Jon was destined to grow up to lead an alien star fleet in defense of Earth. Superman traveled into the future to try to fulfill Jon's destiny himself, and found that he could not. When Superman tried to explain Jon's fate to Pete Ross, his old friend went mad with grief.
Pete Ross actually tried to murder Superman, in retaliation for failing to save his son. The elder Ross was committed to an insane asylum. The younger Ross was left behind on an alien world, to grow up and fulfill his destiny. In Metropolis, Superman, as Clark Kent, continues to mull over the events surrounding Jon Ross' abduction. lost in thought, Kent is barely even aware of Lois Lane's presence in his office. Still, Lane's criticism spurs Kent to action. Tala torments Madame Benita, along with the man who stole samples of Superman's hair and fingernail clippings for Madame Benita's spell. The Phantom Stranger steps out of the flaming brazier Tala consigned him to, and openly challenges the Queen of Darkness. The forces of light and darkness dance about them as each tries to subdue the other. Superman returns to the planet Nyrvn to bring Jon Ross home. Intercepted by Nyrvn's automated warships, Superman destroys one, then uses the shrapnel from it to take out the rest. Swiftly locating Ross, on a Nyrvn target range, Superman defies Ross' destiny and carries the boy home. Tala has the Phantom Stranger on his knees before her. Superman's act though seems to rally the Phantom Stranger, who rises in defiance of Tala's dark power. Jon is reunited with his father. Pete's madness subsides and the rift between Superman, Pete and Jon Ross slowly heals. The Phantom Stranger triumphs over Tala, and rescues her two captives. The next day, Superman, as Clark Kent, thanks Lane with a rose.
Whatever Happened to Hourman?
Rex Tyler receives a bomb threat in his company's mail. Tyler contacts the police, who refuse to assist him due to budgetary constraints and lack of manpower. When the phone suddenly goes dead, Tyler races down to a secret vault, to collect his Hourman costume. Though he long ago retired his masked identity, seeing his old costume once again stirs up memories of his time fighting crime, alongside his teammates in the Justice Society of America. Tyler takes the one remaining pill of Miraclo, to give himself super-human abilities for the next sixty minutes. Hourman discovers a quartet of eco-terrorists ransacking the laboratories at Tyler Chemicals. With one mighty blow, Hourman fells one of the men. Held at bay by the flame of an acetylene torch, Hourman is put down by a chair, broken across his head. Hourman recovers several minutes later. He finds that his hourglass has been jostled, and can no longer determine how much of his "hour of power" is remaining. Nonetheless, he re-enters the fray. Catching up with three of the eco-terrorists outside, Hourman lays into them. Hourman quickly takes them down, then races back inside, to confront their leader. The man is in the process of setting a bomb to detonate in the lab. Hourman tackles the man, and wrests the bomb from his hands. After disarming the explosive, Hourman checks the time and realizes that he ran out of power nearly twenty minutes ago.
- "Judgement Night" written by Paul Levitz, penciled by Dick Dillin, inked by Frank McLaughlin, colored by Gene D'Angelo and lettered by Ben Oda.
- Continued from the stories in DC Comics Presents #13 and #14.
- The Fortress of Solitude has a Superman's Hall of Failures Room featuring the destruction of Krypton, the deaths of Jonathan and Martha Kent and the loss of Jon Ross.
- Dawnstar cameo flashback.
- "Whatever Happened to Hourman?" written by Bob Rozakis, penciled by Charles Nicholas, inked by Joe Giella, colored by Jerry Serpe and lettered by Ben Oda.
- Green Lantern, the Flash, Hawkman, the Sandman and Dr. Fate cameo flashback appearances.
- First issue to contain the "Whatever Happened to..." series.
- This issue contains the Hostess Superhero Ad, Batgirl in "A Matter of Good Taste".