Before there was a character named Eradicator it was a long concealed Kryptonian device with many strange properties. If you’d like to know how Superman acquired it, everything’s laid out in Exile, although Dan Jurgens’ opening chapter offers the reduced essential information. After several problems with the Eradicator, Superman buried it in the Antarctic snow, where it once again activates.

In addition to the problems from the Eradicator, Superman’s targeted by two pairs of alien beings, each determined to take him on to prove their superiority, and by another alien being with very different intentions. The soap opera plot thread is Clark Kent being given a new job at which he becomes increasingly authoritarian and distant, combined with musings about whether he can legitimately continue to masquerade as human and so deny his Kryptonian heritage. It’s not an ethical dilemma that withstands much scrutiny, although there is a complication that most readers will surely realise early, particularly those familiar with the later Eradicator character.

This is efficient late 1980s Superman material with all the pros and cons of that era. Writers Jurgens, Jerry Ordway and Roger Stern match Superman with a parade of foes able to provide a viable physical challenge even if their motivations are sometimes suspect, and at the time where it led wasn’t predictable. Time has diminished that aspect. The downside is every character explaining almost everything they do either via dialogue balloon or thought balloon, and panels often struggling to contain the vast amount of words. It’s an odd limitation considering both Jurgens (sample page) and Ordway also illustrate their own plots, and so could be more subtle. Kerry Gammill and George Pérez also supply high standard superhero art.

Multiple revisions of Superman have changed much of what he was in the late 1980s, but the essential Superman/Clark Kent duality is effectively examined, and Eradication! still has more than a little in the way of entertainment value.