Day 103: The Big Boom!

Call it what you will — Blow-Up! Doom-Time! Holocaust Time! The Big Boom! — but it sure looks like the end of our heroes, The Project and all of Metropolis when The Four-Armed Terror, looking to munch on raw atomic energy is wrecking havoc with the facility’s atomic reactor, and Kirby builds up the anxiety as deftly as Hitchcock throughout this nail-biting issue!

It’s Mokkari and Simyan, the Apokolips agents in charge of Darkseid’s Evil Factory who first envision the Big Boom as they track the progress of the Four-Armed Terror as it closes in on The Project’s atomic power plant. After the D.N.Alien cocoons Superman, Jimmy and the kids in a giant, impenetrable shell, “Hunger has replaced fury! There is abundant food nearby! One pair of arms seeks leverage on the wall of rock — while the other arms grasp the metal leading to the food! Primitive, savage strength tears free all obstructions!! The path ahead is now clear and round and smooth! The smell of food is overpowering — the creature increases its pace!” The mutant is traveling through a tube and there is a sign reading, “CAUTION: DANGER ZONE!” with a notice to check clothing for leakage.”

Somewhere, in their hidden location, the operators of the “Evil Factory” follow the creature’s progress!

Simyan: There’s the blip! Our fledgling is in the main conduit!

Mokkari: Praise Darkseid!

Simyan: Yes, directly in his path is a giant atomic pile that supplies power to the entire underground world of The “Project!”

Mokkari: He must feed on radiation! He’ll rip that pile apart and trigger a chain reaction! Then a great white flash! A fire storm of indescribable heat! Shock upon shock as a mushroom cloud rises where once The Project stood! A job well done, eh, Simyan?

Simyan: It will be beautiful, Mokkari! And with it will go the rest! Yes — and even the city of Metropolis — which lies above, within range! We’ll have carried out, to the letter, the order of our great leader, Darklseid! Surely this is a triumph for the forces of our world — Apokolips! The pattern is set! We have bred the perfect instrument to challenge humanity!

Mokkari: Sprung from their own seed — and nutured by radioactive vapors!

Simyan: The others are stirring! They’re breaking free of their protective shells, Mokkari!

Mokkari: It is their time, Simyan! Their birth heralds the age of holocaust! Hail Homo Usurpus! Earth lies before you for the taking!

The final countdown is on! It isn’t waiting for Jimmy Olsen, his pal Superman, or for any of us! So stay where you are — on Ground Zero — so you won’t miss the following issue — and the Big Boom!

That closes JO #137, and the next issue opens with pandemonium at The Project. The opening caption reads: “The End of the World is at hand! But who would believe us!!?? You would! — If you knew what was going on, underground, in the world of The Project! Down there, it is fifteen minutes to The Big Boom!!” A commanding officers barks orders to his soldiers, “Snap to it, men! You know what our scanners show!” One says, “Yeah! Wow!” and the other, “It’s holocaust time at the atomic power plant!” Coming right at us on this opening splash page are the Guardian and the original Newsboy Legion wielding pistols.

Tommy, Sr.: Our rival project, the Evil Factory, has turned loose a destructive D.N.Alien in our area!

Flippa-Dippa’s Dad: Superman’s trying to head him off! But he’s run into trouble!

Big-Words, Sr.: Let’s go! Jimmy Olsen and our kids are with him!

Moments later, an armed convoy of battle-trained security troops races toward the alien danger unleashed by a hidden enemy!

We see a spectacular panorama of the giant cave that encompasses the main Project complex. Unidentified voices rise from various transports.

First voice: There’s no telling what’s happened! Our instruments show they’ve made contact with the alien!

Second voice: But the alien is heading for our atomic power plant! All traces of Superman and the boys have vanished!

Third voice: Go, men! The Evil Factory has jammed all communications with our atomic power plant! We can’t warn them! All we can do now is pour on the speed!

When the convoy reaches an entrance of the fabled “Zoomway” its vehicles switch to jet speed and roar towards where the action is!!

Big-Words, Sr.: Our destination lies in the Wild Area, outside of The Project! When we get there, Don’t think! Just act! Time is running out — but fast!

Gabby, Sr.: The old Newsboy Legion — the Guardian — and danger — you know, fellas, I’m getting like a lump in the heart!!

Scrapper, Sr.: Shaddap, Gabby! If we don’t pull this one off, that lump is gonna be a hole fifty miles wide!

Thirteen minutes to destruction! The D.N.Alien, driven by primitive fury and a hunger for radiation, gets closer to his objective — the atomic power plant! He moves without resistance, for those who would stop him are imprisoned in a trap of the alien’s weaving!

While Superman, Jimmy and their young cohorts are trapped inside the egg with “a wild atomic structure” and figure out how to escape, we on the outside know there’s only eleven minutes to Doomsday!

Closer! Closer! Ahead lies the great source of food on which the Four-Armed Terror can gorge himself! His arms tear out earth, rock and the buried equipment which leads to the atomic power plant! Suddenly, his path is blocked by a thick lead wall! It resists his brute strength! The alien digs! He hammers! But the wall stands! On the other side of the wall, startled workers and security guards converge on the sounds of attack!! But the D.N.Alien is already digging beneath the wall — digging toward his goal — it is nine minutes to holocaust!

The gang finally gets out of their predicament and immediately the Man of Steel takes to the air. Jimmy cries out, “Superman! Wait for us!” and Scrapper adds, “Yeah, We wanna get dat alien too!

Superman takes no time to reply! Speed is the answer now! It is seven minutes to fiery end! Like a supersonic dart, the Man of Steel follows the trail of torn rock and metal on the heels of his quarry!

Superman thinks, “Got to stop him! Got to!” The next caption reads, “His momentum almost hurls him agains a great lead wall — built to stop radiation leaks!” Superman says aloud, “The alien was here — I can see his marks! But where is he now?”

After an interlude with Terry Dean and Perry White, we see more wide-angle shots of the Project trooper convoy traveling into the Outsiders’ realm.

It is six minutes to disaster! And the fates are gathering the principal players in their death game swiftly together!

Voice: This is it! A camouflaged Zoomway exit!

Second Voice: We’re entering the Wild Area! Alert the convoy! We’re almost at our destination!

Third voice: There’s our kids’ Whiz Wagon! Wherever Superman is, we’ll find them on his trail!

Scrapper, Sr.: There’s a tunnel ahead! It looks like the alien is digging his way to the atomic plant!

Big-Words, Sr.: Then that’s where Superman and our boys are! Let’s go!

Then Mokkari and Simyan, observing the Project forces on video screen, send their army of Four-Armed Terrors into the Dimensional Threshold! Morgan Edge, thoughtfully tipped off by Inter-Gang to get the hell out of Dodge, flies away from Metropolis before the Big Boom!

Three minutes to violent eruption! Beneath the blast area, Superman frantically scurries in the wake of the Four-Armed Terror!

“I hear sounds of shooting up ahead!” thinks Superman. “He’s broken into the atomic power plant!” Guards scream, “Stop him! Stop him!” and fire at the creature, who uses his four upper appendages to throw them aside in his ceaseless quest for satiation. Thinks the Man of Steel, That thing mustn’t reach the reactor!” Jumping from behind, Superman puts the beast in a headlock. “This is as far as you go, mister!” says our hero. “AARRUK!” says our villain. “Maddened by his hunger for radiation, the D.N.Alien increases his power! He hurls Superman from him!!” Superman says, “Wha-?” and Four-Armed Terror says, “ARUK!” Then, “the creature lunges at the reactor — tearing at the metal…” A cringing scientist helpfully explains, “Good lord! He’s pulling out the damper rods!”

That’s done it!” thinks Superman. “The damper rods regulate the flow of radiation! And he’s using them as waepons! — Against me!” Four rods flung by four arms fly with a ZZZWWOOOSH towards the last son of Krypton. “The great boron steel rods shatter like matchsticks upon impact with Superman!” (KRAKANNKKLE) Our hero thinks, “Now what? Without the rods, the radiation flow will rise to the danger level — where the reactor reaches critical mass!

The reactor begins to run wild! And the alien feeds upon the escaping energy!

Four-Armed Terror: ARUK! ARUK!

Superman: Come down from there, you animal!

It is one minute to Blow-Up! And it can’t be stopped! As if to nail down this fact to Superman, the glistening Threshold appears — and from it pours an army of D.N.Aliens! And to meet their charge at this incredible moment, The Project security forces arrive to close in for battle!!

Soldier: Open fire! Give ’em all you’ve got!

Superman: [Thinking] They’re too late! It’s just about doom-time!

Big-Words, Sr.: Superman! We found the boys! They filled us in! — They — Wha–!? The reactor’s reaching critical mass! It’ll melt — flood the area with deadly radiation!

Gabby, Sr.: No! No!

Superman: It’s worse! Those aliens could trigger an atomic blast! Are the test tunnels still here?

Big-Words, Sr.: Yes! Beyond the reactor chamber! We’ve been planning to tap the Earth’s core for power!

Superman: Fine! Now! When I give the signal — halt the firing! Break ranks and let the D.N.Aliens come through!

It is thirty seconds SECONDS to eternity! The battle rages in full fury!

Superman: Hold them back! Just for one second more!

Bracing himself against the sizzling reactor, Superman pours his might into one lifting motion…

Superman: It’s got to be now!

Then he jars the reactor from its foundation!

Superman: This is it! Stop firing! Let the aliens through! Let them through!

Lifting the great reactor, Superman runs with his burden toward the test tunnels! The security lines suddenly open! And the aliens break through! Countdown has begun! 10 — 9 — 8 — 7 — 6 — 5 —

Superman: The aliens are following the trail of radiation — as I’d hoped! I’ve got to use sonic speed now!

4 — 3 — 2 —

Superman: The deep core tunnel! And down she goes!

Like maddened lemmings, the aliens ignore Superman and hurl themselves after the plummeting reactor!!

Superman: They’re blindly following their food supply!

Then thousands of feet below, an immense, fiery blast occurs — which sends seismograph needles waving hundreds of miles away!

Phew! That was a close one! And, okay, you’re right, the Big Boom is more a non-event, huh?