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The Earth is being disassembled by aliens, and even Superman can't stop them. The aliens' ships mark ground with long red lines before cutting, and the pieces are taken away, no one knows where. No one knows what happens to the people living there, either. There is a striking illustration of the Earth opened up like a diagram in a geology textbook with the core and mantle showing, as Superman flies in space wondering what's happening and what he can do about it. (Incidentally, I would love to see a copy of this illustration again.)

I'm not sure what happens next, but evidently he allows himself to be taken along with a slice of planet in order to find out where it's all going. To his surprise and relief, he finds the missing people lolling in a resort. They're taking great care of us, he is told. The aliens, who have been careful to say nothing up till now (for reasons that make no sense whatsoever other than to increase dramatic tension), now explain that one of their spacecraft leaked some extremely dangerous fuel onto Earth while passing by, and in order to decontaminate the planet they have to take it apart and process it. Earth is put back together and not a teacup is out of place.

I read this in a comic book published in English, presumably "Superman" comics, in the 1960s.

10

DC published a story that is similar to this, but it is not a Superman story.

In nr 38 of Tales of the Unexpected (1956) the second story was called Dissection of planet Earth. It was about an inventor called Rod, living in the far future of 2026. Rod and his friend Clay had just tested his latest invention, a spray that makes everything super magnetic, when they notice two beams coming from nearby spaceships. The beams cut into the Earth and the ships flies off with a part.

Landscaping by aliens

They contacted the president of Earth, but he didn't seem to care. Soon it happen again, and the heroes could clearly see the aliens had marked the parts they will cut with red.

Red markers

Rod start to wonder what will be left of Earth if they continue.

Say cheese

When they see the president talk in secret with one of the aliens Rod decides to take the battle to them. He sprays the aliens ship with the magnetic spray and expect that it will magnetically attract some iron comets that will destroy them. The aliens responded by teleportering Rod and Clay on board their ship and the president explained that the aliens were just try to clean up some chemicals that they accidentally spilled into our atmosphere.

Ship taking a leak

The chemical is neutralized by ultraviolet rays, but since Earth atmosphere stops that from reaching the ground they decided to pick up affected parts and clean them in space before returning them.

enter image description here

Rod realized that bombing the aliens with comets was not a good thing to do. To avoid a disaster he sprays the comets with his magnetic spray too, but of a negative charge. The comets were reflected away and the aliens could finish their job.

This story match your description in several ways.

  1. There was a ship of aliens that cut away parts of the Earth
  2. The aliens marked the cuts by red lines
  3. There was a diagram that showed the Earth partly dissected, even though it was quite small.
  4. The aliens did this because of a spill that would kill us.
  5. The aliens was expected to put everything back the way it was when the story is over.

There are also some differences.

  1. Superman was not in this story.
  2. No one was taken away from Earth. What happened to the people that lived on the cut out slices was never mentioned.
  3. There were no resort, and no one claimed the aliens had taken good care of them.
  4. We never learn about how Earth was reassembled, it was just expected that the aliens would do it afterwards.
  5. The chemical was not a fuel.
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    For the record, I'm pretty sure that the description doesn't match any Superman story of the 1960s unless it's very very obscure. – Valorum May 4 at 17:57
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    Probably, but the Silver age of comics was weird. Some just doesn't get mentioned as much as others. Besides there were "imaginary stories" too where practically anything could happen. Earth getting dissected by aliens would be quite normal among them. – Bjorn Eriksson May 4 at 18:17
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    It certainly matches the tone, but I've read pretty much everything Superman from the 1960s (aside from weird, obscure stuff) and I like to think I'd remember a plot where the entire world was destroyed by aliens with gigantic lasers. – Valorum May 4 at 18:22
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    OK, a question for Bjorn Eriksson, who evidently has access to a copy: Did one panel show drips falling from the alien spacecraft toward Earth, in a flashback to the original accident? – Invisible Trihedron May 4 at 22:38
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    That is correct. I edited the answer to include that detail. – Bjorn Eriksson May 4 at 22:39

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