This week's Twice-Told-Tales is a real head scratcher. But then, most of Vandal Savage's schemes were just that, from his first published appearance assuming (of all people) Doiby Dickle's identity, to his perpetual grabs to regain his immortality and conquer the world.
After twice battling the Flash of two Earths on both worlds with the goal of restoring his long-lived state, Savage was left as a solid being on Earth-One and an energy form on Earth-Two. Somehow, he became tangible once more on his native planet, and devised a scheme that involved ancient Camelot and King Arthur himself! Or did it?
After returning to the 9th century C.E. with the Shining Knight, Superman and his Justice Society allies were enlisted by the monarch into defending his kingdom from an onslaught of Roman soldiers. Since this didn't jive with ancient historical facts, the JSA interceded in behalf of Britannia.
Only as it turned out, the "Arthur" for whom the heroes initially met on this adventure wasn't the true historical figure, but a disguised Vandal Savage pulling the string to lure the man of steel and his cousin Power Girl into a trap that would lead them to another world across the cosmos (20,000 years light years away). What machinations would he set in motion?
Years later, on Earth-One, that world's Superman awoke one morning to a new reality. His city Metropolis was now a modern-day Camelot, and he was in the service of one...Emperor Vandal Savage!
Sent by his emperor to round up rebels to the royal court who dissented from Savage's autocratic rule, this placed the man of steel against his otherwise best friend Jimmy Olsen. Little did he know that Savage's chief military officer, Lois Lane, and head information minister, Perry White, were also collaborating with the rebel faction to overturn this dictator.
From Kal-El's point of view, this world of Savage's making had always been a reality. Arriving on Earth as an infant, Jonathan and Mary Kent brought the youth to Savage who had the Kryptonian child raised to adore his master. That is, until Savage had Lois Lane put to death for insurrection.
And what of Vandal's scheme back on Earth-Two? Well, he brought the cousins of Krypton to an alien world (which we've previously discussed) filled with androids and robots doing their creator's bidding.
Interestingly, a select android... very bald and cerebral, was instrumental in leading the girl of steel into a trap. This would remind us of a main pawn in Savage's Earth-One scheme, a bald scientific adviser known as Lex Luthor.
Capturing Power Girl, Savage placed her in an energy draining chamber which transferred her superhuman powers to the immortal villain himself. Meanwhile, Kal-L was weakened under the artificial Kryptonite suns (which must have been minature suns since Krypton itself wasn't the size of a star), which caused him to be on par if not less mighty then Savage.
Now, back over of the newly reinvented Earth-One, Superman travels through time to seek revenge against the madman who put his true love to death. Traveling back through time (sound familiar?), Superman chased Savage from one age to another, repeatedly caught in explosions which set into motion the time changing events to begin with!
Luthor explains to Superman, and later to Olsen as well, that Savage's plan was to have his superhuman foe be the catalyst to set off various temporal bombs throughout history which would mold Earth-One into a modern day Savage world.
Unbeknownst to either Kal-El or Jimmy, Luthor rigged the final bomb in pre-historic times to reshape history once more and leave the bald fiend himself as ruler! The stage is set for a final confrontations between Savage and steel!
Here is the point in which both of Vandal's manipulations fell apart. Over in the Earth-Two universe, in a coliseum chanted on my crowds of his robotic minions, Savage seems to be gaining the upper hand against Kal-L. From behind the scenes, however, JSA allies Hawkman and Star-Spangled Kid and Hawkman tip the balance of power... with Hawkman freeing the Kid from a device draining his powers, and Star creating a protective suit insulating Superman from the Kryptonite radiation while freeing Power Girl.
This leave Savage fleeing unwittingly into the arms of two darkened individuals. Who, prey tell, were these blokes? We're never told, but since his next appearance is the other tale we're considering today, perhaps these were minions sent by his future self to transfer Vandal to Earth-One?
And speaking of that world, the final battle between Kal-El and Vandal after the various occasions through the centuries when they mix it up leads to a dramatic wrap up.
Savage baits Superman into thinking the cosmic twin of the comet which gave him immortality on his native world would reinvigorate him. Instead, the man of steel sees through this bluff and rather than the final bomb detonating Savage himself his consumed by the comet which converts him (albeit temporarily)_into energy once more. And history on Earth-One is restored to normal.
Of course, Savage would return on a couple more occasions to torment Superman as well as Vandal's oldest foes, fellow Earth-Two migrant Immortal Man and his Forgotten Heroes, before returning to his home world during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Interestingly, we learn of an untold conflict Vandal Savage had with the Justice Society involving the Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Hourman and Doctor Fate. This is undocumented as this particular assemblage is never shown battling the irritable immortal. Given the silver age look to the Justice Society, this case apparently occurred after Savage first imprisoned the Justice Society (and were ultimately freed thanks to Barry Allen aka Earth-One Flash) when the team resumed their JSA career in the 1960's. And hence, the untapped potential for future story telling in the Multiverse!