It is easy for me to determine that Superman 271 (Jan. 74) was my earliest DC comic, simply because I had no other issues printed before 1975. At this time I was only 8, and most of what I bought was Richie Rich, Uncle Scrooge and Sad Sack.
Something about the cover grabbed me, and I’m pretty sure I know what it was. The idea of holding and crushing an entire city in one’s hand. I blame disaster movies.
At any rate, I started off thinking Morgan Edge was a really great guy, because in this issue, Maggin, Swan and Oskner put him in the spotlight, softening his image significantly. The WGBS staff are on strike,and though Edge personifies management, he agrees that the worker’s demands are valid, as he explains to Clark Kent and Steve Lombard as he crosses their picket line.
Then he gets into some broad comedy, attempting to helm the newsdesk himself for that day’s broadcast.
Then the action gets going. Brainiac is back, his first appearance in these pages since the 60s, although he had appeared the year before in Action Comics. He now has jets on his boots, enabling him to fly, and force beams from the knob things on his head. He has also created a mirror of Metropolis, coming down onto the city from above. When Brainiac’s Metropolis touches the real one, both disintegrate.
Superman does all he can to stop Brainiac, but cannot make physical contact with the deadly version of the city, nor get through Brainiac’s force-field. He does send a message for help to someone, though. But it seems too late as we, and Brainiac, see the cities come together in destruction.
But as the ending reveals, after Brainiac has been captured, the image Brainiac’s sensors received was not reality, but a broadcast be Morgan Edge, of a model of the city being disintegrated against its mirror. But even at 8 years old this really confused me, as Superman and Edge are standing right next to the model they are referring to – which has not been destroyed. That mystified me for many, many years, until I was old enough to realize the fault was the comic’s, not mine.