Metamorpho #7 is a typical Element Man adventure. Simon Stagg, polymath, attends a conference of the world’s top vulcanologists, only to have someone kidnap them all. By default, the top guy in the field is now Otto von Stuttgart, who stayed home from the conference because of illness. Hmm, sinister German name, convenient absence from the kidnapping, do you suppose …?
It turns out that yes, Von Stuttgart is the issue’s villain, planning to touch off a series of volcanic catastrophes which nobody else will be able to stop. The purpose appears to be pure ego as he’s not asking for money, he just wants the satisfaction of becoming the man who saved the world. Of course, his plans go wrong and Metamorpho takes him down, but Bob Haney and Sal Trapani (who did the cover) still deliver an enjoyable yarn.
What I didn’t remember from reading this story as a kid was a scene in which Rex, exploring the volcano where Stagg and the others disappeared, comes across an inscription: CAVE CARSON WAS HERE 1963. I would have written it off back then as standard graffiti, like “Kilroy was here,” because I was a little too young to have seen Cave Carson on the stands. Now I get the entirely gratuitous in-joke; while Frances Herron originated Carson, Bob Haney took him over with Brave and the Bold #40 (Joe Kubert did the cover).
Not the biggest revelation I’ve had rereading the Silver Age but I did get a kick out of it.