Written by Richard Meyer
Lex Luthor, imprisoned in Metropolis Prison, gave a set of plans for his powerful "X-Gun" to his cellmate, Bert Talbot. Talbot was about to be released and he was going to build the weapon according to Luthor's instructions so that Luthor could defeat the Man of Steel and escape prison. Talbot located funds that Luthor had hidden before going to prison and he got together both a gang and the X-Gun. For their first job, Talbot disguised himself as Amos Dexter, the owner of Ace Newsreels. "Dexter" caught up with the Man of Steel as Jimmy Olsen was photographing him after buying the one-billionth copy of the Daily Planet, and offered to donate $5000 to the newsboys' fund if Superman would perform a feat for his cameras. Superman agreed, and the two met later, with Superman demolishing a ruined building. "Dexter" gave Superman the $5000 and left.
What the Man of Steel didn't know was that the camera had no film in it, but instead had a power battery that would fit into the X-Gun. The camera and the newsreel van were fakes, instead using special technology to absorb Superman's energy while he performed the superhuman feat. Talbot took the battery from the camera and installed it into the X-Gun, charging it with "super-force". Talbot decided not to bother to free Luthor from jail, preferring to use the X-Gun to go on his own crime spree, starting with an assault on an armored truck. Superman investigated the robbery, and was shot once by the strange weapon, which knocked the Man of Steel back... way back, into the Sun.
The next day, Luthor fumed upon hearing that Talbot was straying from his plan and using the X-Gun for his own purposes. Later, "Dexter" once again came up to Superman and offered $5000 to a children's orphanage for film of another super-feat. Superman agreed and borrowed the ball from a nearby crane and converted it into a giant bowling ball, which he used to "strike" down a grove of old, rotting trees. Having recharged the X-Gun with more super-force, Talbot and his gang attacked the Metropolis Bank exhibit at the local fair, stealing over $250,000. The X-Gun once again deterred the Man of Steel from capturing Talbot and his men, this time sending him deep within the Earth. Over the next few days, Superman was alternating between getting charity money from "Dexter" and being pushed away by Talbot and the X-Gun. While trying to prevent a robbery at the Metropolis Mint, Superman was hit so hard by the blast of the X-Gun that he was thrown back in time. He happened to turn up right when "Dexter" was offering him money for a super-feat, and stayed long enough to listen to Talbot's men in the newsreel van.
Returning back to his normal time period, Superman went to see Jimmy Olsen to hatch a plan to capture Talbot and his men. A newscast told everyone that Superman was going to donate priceless jewels from other planets to the Metropolis Museum, which easily caught Talbot's eye. Superman managed to trick him when he was asked to lift a giant stone obelisk at the museum for a donation of $10,000 - Superman had replaced the icon with a very lightweight one, so the X-Gun battery had nothing to absorb. He also had Jimmy expose him to kryptonite to make sure that the X-Gun wouldn't get any charge that time.
Talbot and his gang believed that Superman had somehow become invulnerable to the gun and he was able to take the weapon and destroy it. Luthor began haranguing Talbot the minute the traitorous cellmate had returned to his cell.
- Superman #144 ("The Super-Weapon"; reprinted in DC Super-Stars #9 as "The Super-Gun" with minor changes to text captions to fit theme of issue)