When strange and unusual incidents involving elements occur, Superman suspects that Metamorpho, the Element Man, may be involved, in "The Day the Elements Went Wild."
The Day the Elements Went Wild!
Inexplicably,the proton count in elements on the periodic table is increasing by a factor of one. This results in the oxygen in a scuba tank suddenly converting to fluorine, nearly killing a would-be diver. An iron wrecking ball becomes brittle cobalt. Several helium-filled balloons sink to the ground, due to being filled with lithium. Morgan Edge sends reporter Clark Kent, along with a cameraman, to Haneyville, to investigate the phenomena. En route, the carbon molecules in the asphalt of the road convert to nitrogen. Lou, the cameraman, loses control of their vehicle. Lou is knocked unconscious, when his head impacts the steering wheel. Kent takes the opportunity to change into his Superman costume. After keeping their vehicle from flipping over, Superman studies the road with his microscopic vision, bearing witness to the transformation. The excess nitrogen in the air begins to affect onlookers with nitrogen narcosis. Acting fast, Superman inhales all the nitrogen, exhaling it away from population centers. Meeting with the mayor of Haneyville, Superman learns that Metamorpho, the Element Man, is also on the case. Superman finds Metamorpho outside the home of billionaire industrialist Simon Stagg.
Metamorpho attacks Superman, then transforms himself into a magnesium flare to escape. Before Superman can get after him, his is stopped by Stagg's daughter, Sapphire. By way of explanation, Sapphire reveals the origin of Metamorpho. Her father had disapproved of her relationship with adventurer Rex Mason. Stagg sent Mason to the lost pyramid of Ahk-Ton, to seek out the Orb of Ra. Stagg's man servent, Java, ambushed Mason, stealing the Orb of Ra. Mason was left behind in the pyramid, where automatic systems carried him into a chamber housing a large meteor. The radiation given off by the meteor transformed Mason into the Element Man, Metamorpho. Though Stagg had never approved of Mason, still was he horrified at Mason's transformation. Stagg vowed to find a cure. Recently, Stagg discovered a way to affect the molecular structure of elements. That's when the trouble began. Using his telescopic vision, Superman spots Metamorpho, unconscious, in a cave. Upon entering the cave, Superman is attacked by Java, wielding the Orb of Ra. A second blast from the Orb of Ra fells Superman. After the two heroes recover, they travel deeper into the cave, encountering a lead-steel alloy door.Before Superman can punch his way through it, Metamorpho converts his body into gas, passing through the door, and opening it from the other side.
Inside, they find Stagg, unconscious. Once revived, Stagg reveals that it was he who re-created the Orb of Ra, to try to revert Metamorpho back into Rex Mason. Unforeseen side effects of the Orb's power, though, are causing the elements to move down one place on the periodic table. Worse, increasing the number of protons and electrons within the element's atoms upsets the delicate nuclear balance. In effect, the Orb of Ra has the potential to become a powerful fusion bomb. Superman and Metamorpho race back to Stagg's mansion. As expected, they find Java forcing himself on Sapphire. Superman's heat vision makes the Orb of Ra too hot for Java to hold. Metamorpho recovers it, but drops it when Java throws Sapphire into his arms. Java reclaims the Orb of Ra, just as Superman whisks him high into the air. Java blasts Superman out of the sky, as the Orb of Ra begins to glow brighter and burn hotter. Transforming his legs into a liquid oxygen rocket, Metamorpho surges into the air, snatching the Orb of Ra away from Java, then carrying it, ever higher, until it explodes. Superman catches Java, as he falls from the sky. Despite the force of the explosion, Metamorpho survives the Orb of Ra's destruction, reuniting with Sapphire on the ground. With the crisis over, Metamorpho grants an interview to Kent.
Whatever Happened to the Original Air Wave?
At home, preparing for trial, District Attorney Larry Jordan takes a break to test out his new Air Wave costume. A police bulletin comes in over his helmet's receivers, indicating that a prowler has been seen, outside of his very home. Activating the radio-wave converter in his costume, Jordan is surprised when only his uniform vanishes. With no time to lose, Jordan races downstairs, desperate to warn his wife, Helen. Jordan is too late. Helen, and his infant son, Hal, are being held, at gunpoint, by escaped convict, Joe Parsons. Jordan had put Parsons away for 20 years. Now, Parsons has come for his revenge. Jordan struggles with Parsons, and is shot dead. Seeing Helen and Hal sprawled on the floor, Parsons mistakenly believes that the bullet that killed Jordan, took the lives of his family, as well. Hearing police sirens in the distance, Parsons flees. Days later, Helen dons her husband's Air Wave costume, to bring Parsons to justice. Taking her investigative cues from her husband's old cases, Helen is able to find Parsons, holed up in a decrepit old tenement building. Helen uses her ballet training to avoid Parsons' gunfire, before delivering an electric shock to him, via the exposed filament of a lamp bulb. Parsons is turned over to the authorities. Helen retires Air Wave's costume, until such time as her infant son is old enough to take up the mantle.
- "The Day the Elements Went Wild!" written by Gerry Conway, penciled by Irv Novick, inked by Frank McLaughlin, colored by Gene D'Angelo and lettered by John Costanza.
- "Whatever Happened to the Original Air Wave?" written by Bob Rozakis, penciled by Alex Saviuk, inked by Vince Colletta, colored by Jerry Serpe and lettered by John Costanza.
- This issue contains the Hostess Superhero Ad, the Penguin in "Penguins on Parade".