Welcome to the 2021 A to Z Challenge! My theme this year is DC Comics. And that’s mostly because of my undying affection for the comic book characters and stories that I grew up reading in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. So stay tuned all month to (maybe) learn a little something about 26 corners of the DC Multiverse.
E is for Eradicator… a character who has been both an enemy and an ally to the Man of Steel.
Some of my earliest purchases from the comic rack at the local 7-Eleven were a couple of Superman titles that were part of a storyline in which Superman was facing a Kryptonian bad guy that I’d never seen before. At that time and at that age, I was completely unaware of comic book continuity, nor was I aware that there were several Superman titles (three at that point) that all tied together to tell one complete story.
So I didn’t realize that I only had two parts of a three-part story. And I had missed the first part. Still, I’d bought a couple of Superman comic books with my own money, so I was pretty psyched.
As my collection grew and I delved into the back issues at the local comic shop, I discovered that this Kryptonian baddie was the personification of an artificial intelligence called the Eradicator.
Somewhere in Krypton’s history, a scientist (maybe an ancestor of Superman?) created the Eradicator as a means of preserving Kryptonian culture by any means necessary. Superman first encountered the Eradicator as a small device while he was exiled in space. When he returned to Earth, the Eradicator built Superman’s first post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Fortress of Solitude somewhere on the continent of Antarctica.
But the Eradicator proved to be a bit more powerful than that, taking over Superman’s personality and making him completely Kryptonian. For a while, Superman lost all of his humanity and his Clark Kent persona as he was influenced by the Eradicator.
Eventually, Superman was able to overcome the Eradicator’s influence and I’m pretty sure he tossed the device into the sun. I may be wrong about that… But whatever happened, the Eradicator returned in the issues that I was so psyched to buy at the 7-Eleven. Something that struck me was the cover image of one of those issues, which depicted a pair of hands holding Superman’s face and burning his skin. That was pretty crazy.
I can’t recall how Superman defeated the Eradicator at this point, but he pretty much vanished for a while.
And then that whole Death of Superman thing happened. One of the four fake Supermen was a guy who was known as the Last Son of Krypton. He wore a variation of Superman’s classic suit, but with some black mixed in. You know, to show how dark the character was. He also wore some kickin’ shades because his future was so bright. No, the shades were because light hurt his eyes. Oh, and he could shoot energy blasts from his hands.
It took a while to get the whole story on this guy, but eventually it was revealed that this pretender was actually the Eradicator. He was responsible for stealing Superman’s body from his tomb in Metropolis and placed him in the regeneration matrix at the Fortress of Solitude, leading to Superman’s eventual return. In the meantime, Eradicator continued his brand of take-no-prisoners justice, which brought him to blows with pretty much everyone.
By the time Eradicator was convinced that the real Superman would not act as judge, jury, and executioner, he found himself in Coast City at just the wrong time. Eradicator was seemingly destroyed by Cyborg Superman and then framed for the destruction of Coast City. Then the Eradicator would recover just enough to aid the resurrected Superman one more time by sacrificing himself.
See, when Superman returned to life, it was without any of his powers. Superman teamed up with Steel and Superboy to face Mongul and Cyborg Superman. The Cyborg revealed that the engine that was once Coast City was powered by a ginormous chunk of kryptonite and, as his last stand, he was ready to spend all that kryptonite to kill Superman all over again. Eradicator got in the way of the blast and somehow channeled the energy into Superman, restoring all of his powers. Because comics.
And somehow, that’s where my knowledge of the Eradicator basically comes to a close. I know the character has been in and out of the DC continuity in the years since the Reign of the Supermen. I think the consciousness of the Eradicator took over a dying man’s body at some point (maybe). I know he joined some version of the Outsiders, one of DC’s lesser known superhero teams.
Were you aware of the Eradicator before checking out this blog post? If so, what have I left out. I’m sure there’s a lot of comics history that has seen appearances by the Eradicator in the last 20 years or so that I’m just not aware of. Let me know what you think down in the comments!