Reporters Clark Kent and Lana Lang are in Time's Square, covering the New Year's Eve ball drop. As the clock strikes midnight, ringing in the New Year, Kent and Lang passionately kiss, live on camera. Kissing Lang, Kent spies a man, in the crowd, level a gun at the descending ball. Kent tackles the man, and signals for a police man. On New Year's Day, Kent and Lang attend the man's arraignment in court. The case is presided over by Judge Adrian Chase, formerly the masked crime fighter known as the Vigilante. Unbeknownst to Chase, his bailiff, Dave Winston, has taken on the mantle of the Vigilante. Without any corroborating witness to back Kent's version of events, the case against the gunman, Mark Griffen, is considered too weak to precede to trial, and is dismissed. Winston can't shake the nagging suspicion that he knows Griffen. Kent, as Superman, decides to investigate the scene of the crime, wondering why anyone would want to shoot at the ball. A quick scan of his x-ray vision reveals that the ball is filled with nerve gas. Superman carries the ball into orbit. Despite the extensive cosmetic surgery, Winston finally recognizes Griffin as Professor Arthur Bryan, astonishingly, by his ears. Bryan had sold nerve gas to various criminal organizations. The nerve gas had been used in several robberies, resulting in multiple deaths. Bryan was brought to trial, but was able to beat the conviction by poisoning the surviving witnesses to his crimes. Afterwards, Bryan disappeared, re-emerging as Griffen.
Superman confers with the mayor, regarding Griffen's extortion scheme against the state of New York. Winston, as the Vigilante, raids the records room at One Police Plaza, to garner information on Bryan/Griffen. Interrupted by Superman, the Vigilante finds that the Man of Steel does not approve of the Vigilante's methods. Nonetheless, the threat from Bryan/Griffen is great enough, that Superman reluctantly agrees to work with the Vigilante. After the two heroes split up to pursue their leads, the Vigilante shakes down an underworld contact for information on Bryan/Griffen, garnering the man's whereabouts. In Philadelphia, Superman foils a second extortion plot to release poison gas on an unsuspecting city. The Vigilante storms Bryan/Griffen's hideout. In Newark, Superman foils a third extortion plot to release poison gas on an unsuspecting city. The Vigilante finds Bryan/Griffen, along with 4 other men, preparing to launch mortar shells, filled with poison gas, on New York City. Bryan/Griffen and his men spread out across the roof top, and begin firing on the Vigilante's position. The Vigilante returns fire, felling one of Bryan/Griffen's gunsels. Largely pinned down by covering fire, the Vigilante cannot stop Bryan/Griffen from firing the mortars. Superman, however, can and does. Having foiled a fourth extortion plot to release poison gas on the unsuspecting city of Boston, Superman arrived in the nick of time to stop Bryan/Griffen's second attack on New York City. Superman carries Bryan/Griffen, and his men, away, ostensibly to the authorities. Though he finds the Vigilante's methods questionable, the Man of Steel's super-senses can tell that the Vigilante is honest. If a situation should arise in the future, Superman will not be so reluctant to work again with the Vigilante.