Special Guest Villain – Isaac Asimov!

§ March 19th, 2004 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Special Guest Villain – Isaac Asimov!

Yes, the Good Doctor himself, Isaac Asimov, or, rather a reasonable facsimile thereof, was the antagonist in the lead story of Superman #355 (Jan 1981) – “Momentus, Master of the Moon!” At the beginning of the story (written by Cary Bates, illustrated by Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte), Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are attending a lecture by Dr. Asa Ezaak…a lecture with the fairly unwieldy title of “Science Says You’re Wrong If You Believe That–.” Yes, really, that’s what it says on the sign behind Lois on page 3, panel 6.

Dr. Ezaak is also a prolific writer, like Asimov. Jimmy relates to Lois that, spelling error and all, “Ezaak has written a whole library-ful [sic] of material…about every subject, from astronomy to zoology!” When Jimmy finally meets his idol in person and tells him that he owns all of Ezaak’s books, Ezaak’s reply is a surprised “all two hundred, Mr. Olsen–?” So Ezaak is bit of a piker next to his real life counterpart, but I guess 200 is nothing to sneeze at, either.

Anyway, Superman’s been busy in the meantime, investigating a break-in at the local science lab by a burglar that, according to reliable witnesses, appears to be “a hulking figure covered head to foot by oozing orange mud.”

The next morning, at the WGBS building (where Clark Kent and Lana Lang were TV reporters…hard to imagine that now, isn’t it?), Lois and Clark realize that Jimmy didn’t show up for work.

Cut to Dr. Asa Ezaak, delivering another lecture, this time on the effects of the moon on Earth’s tides: “I realized high tides were twice-monthly proof of the immeasurable strength of the universe’s most powerful natural energy source – gravity, my boy! Gravity!” Okay, all well and good so far…then the Not-So-Good Doctor reveals his cunning plan: “If I could devise a means of transforming a human body into synthetic liquid a thousand times more susceptible to gravity than water — that person would become a living ‘gravity sponge’ with unlimited power at his fingertips!”

Uh, okay.

Ezaak then injects himself in the neck with a hypo filled with his own chemical creation (called “Ezaakis”…isn’t that the name of a planet from Dune?) which turns him into, of course, the mystery burglar from the science lab break-in Supes was investigating earlier.

Okay, that image is from a fight scene later in the issue, and not from the scene I was just talking about.

Anyway, at this point we learn that audience for this particular lecture is just one person — Jimmy Olsen, trapped inside a cage. Ezaak (AKA “Momentus”) says to Jimmy “it is unfortunate that your ace reporter reputation preceded you, James” — believing the “big fan of your work” story was just a cover for Jimmy investigating his nefarious activities, Dr. Ezaak imprisoned Jimmy to cover his tracks. I’m having a hard time accepting the whole “Jimmy as ace reporter” thing, too.

After Momentus splits to wreak more havok, Jimmy manages to trigger his Superman signal-watch, which Ezaak had removed and placed on a table across the room, with a well-aimed shoe. Superman shows up shortly after, rips open the cage, and gets the full story from Jimmy. At this point, Superman asks “what does Ezaak hope to gain with his fantastic gravity-powers?” Jimmy points to a large metal door and gives the legally-dubious advice of “why not save the police the trouble of breaking down this door?” Busting it down, Superman discovers a room full of rare and valuable scientific devices, plants, and animals that Ezaak has apparently been hoarding with the help of his new-found powers.

Suddenly, Jimmy is yanked toward a wall! Superman tries to prevent Jimmy’s departure, with the immortal words “don’t worry, Jimmy! I’ve got a super-grip on you!” No dice, though, as both Superman and Jimmy are yanked through the wall…and are face to face with Momentus himself!

We get a couple pages of Momentus mopping the floor with Superman, since, as he says in that panel above, “coming to blows with you [Superman] seems to have an invigorating effect on me! I feel even mightier than before!” That’s the important clue — Superman realizes what’s up, and tries to get Ezaak to see the light: “Every atom in the universe exerts its own miniscule gravitational field! Since I come from Krypton…my super-dense atoms are compacted together by their own Kryptonian super-gravity — and that’s what your liquefied body has been gorging itself on since we met!” Supes related to Ezaak that he has to get out of range, or he’s going to overload from the gravitational power he’s absorbing from Superman’s body…which of course Ezaak, like any super-villain, thinks is a load of hogwash.

That leads to Superman pulling this next move, in an attempt to escape from Momentus and prevent the doctor’s impending destruction:

…but two panels later, Ezaak blows up anyway.

Superman and Jimmy wrap up the tale with some insightful words:

Superman: “Ironic, isn’t it? Ezaak found the means of drawing virtually unlimited power from the Earth, sun, and moon!”

Jimmy: “But it was a fourth body that did him in — a super-powered body from another world!”

Oh, sure, Jimmy, rub some salt into that wound. So the two fly off into the sunset, and Superman has one last parting thought:

“Every time I see a new or full moon from now on, I’m going to look…and wonder — if we’ve really seen the last of Momentus!”

And yes, pretty much, they’d seen the last of Momentus. I suppose, though, that there was a special memorial issue of Asa Ezaak’s Science Fiction Magazine.

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