The Man of Steel faces the Last Son of Krypton in Action Comics #689.
Action Comics #689
Triangle Number 1993 – 20
Writer: Roger Stern
Penciler: Jackson Guice
Inker: Denis Rodier
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: Bill Oakley
This is the first place that the Triangle Numbers become important during the “Reign of the Supermen,” since while all the stories were happening within the same storyline, none of them moved directly between titles until this issue. Sure, there were moments in which Lois referenced her meetings with all of them and there are subplots winding their ways through each title, but the main plots haven’t spilled over until this issue. As a kid reading this story when it was coming out, I had Adventures of Superman #502 but never managed to find Action Comics #689, so it wouldn’t be until 15 years later when I would finally read how the Kid and Supergirl got out of the mess that Stinger had dropped on them. I would finally read it in the ill-fated 2007 omnibus that I’ve vilified in the past since I was never able to afford the “Return of Superman” trade paperback as a kid. While that omnibus was roughshod in regards to the “Funeral For A Friend” plot, it was much more complete in regards to the “Reign of the Supermen” and would not cut out anything until the issues that would serve as the epilogues to the stories.
While the four series had not been connecting as closely during this arc up until now, that would change from this issue forward as the books started to accelerate towards the climax of the story. As the Kid and Supergirl begin rescue operations, Tana Moon reflects on her part in enabling this incident, as it was strongly implied that Vinnie Edge was the one that set up the Stinger’s attack to get higher ratings for WGBS.
Meanwhile, at the Fortress of Solitude, the Kryptonian’s robots are monitoring situations both internally and externally, as the Regeneration Matrix is overloading and must be released. Out of the egg-shaped matrix emerges a man bearing resemblance to Superman in a black Kryptonian bodysuit with an “S” shield crest on his chest, minus the “S.” This man reviews the details of all the men claiming to be Superman, before deciding that something must be done and he must return to Metropolis.
In the second meeting of Supermen, the Man of Steel once again represents the morality and heart of Superman, as the Kryptonian kills yet another criminal. Unlike the Kid, however, the Kryptonian does not take the words of the Man of Steel somberly with reflection but reacts with anger and violence. As the two Supermen fight, a crowd gathers, led by the Kryptonian worshipping sect of the Superman cult.
As Lois Lane interrupts the fight, she appeals to the men with what the symbol on their chest stands for, and how they both did dishonor to it with their senseless violence. Tensions momentarily cool, as they both reflect on her words, but that changes as a process server hits them with cease and desist orders on using the Superman symbol. Once again, the Kryptonian loses his temper and burns the papers, and threatens the man who served them. The Man of Steel removes him from the situation, and they both fall back to Earth ending the issue in a crater.
And out in space, the ship continues to approach Earth, and a shadowy but familiar silhouette plots his revenge on the planet that was home to his greatest enemy.