Someone has stolen Superman’s body in The Adventures of Superman #499, and the question is who?

The Adventures of Superman #499

Triangle Number 1993 – 7

Writer: Jerry Ordway
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inker: Doug Hazlewood
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: Albert De Guzman

Well now here’s a story where I don’t have to distinguish what was and what wasn’t in the 2007 Omnibus. But that’s only because the only thing to make it into the Omnibus from this issue was its cover in the cover gallery.

The last page of Superman #76 had the revelation that Cadmus and Westfield had drilled into Superman’s tomb and stolen the casket. But thanks to Lex Luthor’s paranoia and controlling behavior, he had the tomb wired with high-quality security measures, including a secret access tunnel. Lex dispatches Supergirl to investigate the missing body, and in a show of naivete that is true to the character, she sees the bored hole in the wall and missing casket and still thinks it’s something hopeful.

Even subplots that had been featured in the 2007 Omnibus are cut from it in this issue. There’s a page of both the Kents and Lois ruminating that they don’t feel like they’ve done enough for each other, yet it’s clear that both are in better places than they had been prior to the Kents visiting.

In an odd scene, a woman in a negligee (and the biggest hair I’ve ever seen) is offering Lex wine. Up to this point, Lex has been portrayed as faithful but controlling of Supergirl. This is the first time there is a sense that he may be philandering on top of being abusive. As to the abuse though, that’s on full display as he throws a wine glass at the woman, shouting at her to leave. More and more of his violent nature and out-of-control temper is starting to shine through, despite the cool and controlled visage that he presents to the public.

Also returning to his roots is Jose Delgado, who has a short scene with Inspector Henderson at Superman’s memorial where he’s weighing what to do with his life. Cat broke up with him after the outburst he had that ruined her TV and hurt Adam, and he just doesn’t know how to deal with the dual identity thing right now. He then goes on to help Bibbo with some thugs, making quick work of them.

As Supergirl investigates the tunnels, Inspector Henderson, Officer Rusty, and Dan Turpin investigate her point of entry. Turpin goes in alone, his face determined in the light of his flashlight. It’s not long before Turpin catches up with Supergirl, who has been ambushed by the underworlders. Rambeau (a sheep-headed commando, yeah, I know) initiates “Sequence Number Seven” which we’ve come to learn in past issues is using a grenade as a diversion tactic. This time, in particular, he drops the grenade down Turpin’s pants, and Turpin pulls the pins on the other grenades on his belt. Supergirl saves Turpin, flying him back topside sans pants. The explosions of the grenades did have the problematic side effect of caving in the tunnels, so the search for Superman would have to resume some other way. However, Turpin has a clear idea of who took the body, because only one person had wanted it. The hunt for Cadmus is on.

Of note, on the letters pages of the Superman books of this time period were always four “Next Issue” boxes that would give you an idea of what’s to come over the next month. It would always be “Next Week:” “In Two Weeks:” “In Three Weeks:” and “In One Month:” going through the titles in order. However, in Adventures of Superman #499, they read as follows:

  • NEXT WEEK: The ACTION is heating up in Metropolis on the surface while the S.C.U. leaves no stone unturned as they comb the Underworld for Superman’s missing body, and with Terrible Turpin on the case, they’ll get their answers or else! ACTION COMICS #686 by Roger Stern, Jackson Guice and Denis Rodier.
  • IN TWO WEEKS: The Kents are dealing with Clark’s death very differently — Martha strives to go on living, but Jonathon finds he might not be able to. MAN OF STEEL #21 is by Louise Simonson, Jon Bogdanove and Dennis Janke.
  • IN THREE WEEKS: The darkest hour in Pa Kent’s life is upon him as he realizes that his son who has survived so many battles over the years is almost certainly not coming back from this one. SUPERMAN #77 is by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding.

In a time where many readers didn’t even use comic shops, but picked books up at grocery and convenience stores this next issue box had to hit them hard. Suddenly it must have felt very real that Superman might actually just stay dead? Even if you were more attuned to comic shops and solicitations, there were no solicitations for issues past Adventures of Superman #499. Did they really do it?

Miss any previous entries in The Never-Ending Battle? The early entries can be found at Comfort Food Comics, while more recent ones can be found here at The Beat.