Monday, April 4, 2016

Superman Annual (vol.2) #5 (1993)

Superman Annual (vol.2) #5 (1993)
Writer - Dan Jurgens
Pencils - David Lapham
Inks - Mike Machlan
Letters - John Costanza
Colors - Glenn Whitmore
Assistant Editor - Jennifer Frank
Editor - Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $2.50

Today's discussion is a special one.  It pertains to an issue taking place during the 1993 DC Comics Annuals event, Bloodlines.  Chapter One: Outbreak, if I'm being specific.  This coming week, DC Comics is revisiting the concept of Bloodlines with a six-issue miniseries written by J.T. Krul.  As such, the great guys over at Weird Science DC Comics were looking for some Bloodlines-flavored nostalgia for their excellent site's Just For the Hell of it Mondays column.  When their main JFTHOI man Reggie contacted me to see if I would be interested in submitting such a piece, I jumped at the opportunity.  Both excited to be asked and wildly intimidated, I rummaged through my long boxes digging up anything and everything Bloodlines in my collection.

Over the past week I put together a piece discussing some of what was going on in comics at the time while interjecting an anecdote or two, as well as composing something of an overview and look at the events (few) lasting ramifications.  The post can be read at the Weird Science DC Comics blog today, and can be found here.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the fellas over at Weird Science for all the work they do on their fine site and podcast, as well as for thinking of me for this piece.  It really does mean a lot!  If you are unfamiliar with Weird Science DC Comics, I encourage you to pop over for my Bloodlines piece, and stay for all the tremendous content Jim, Eric, Reggie, and company create most every day.

Today's post here at the homestead will be my normal in depth look at a single issue... and it's a Bloodlines issue.  This post is intended to be something of a companion piece to the Weird Science article.  I sincerely hope you enjoy them both.


We open several weeks back at a Lex Luthor run landfill.  There are a few trashmen discussing the day's events.  Superman's dead and they now hate being from Metropolis.  One of the crew event compares the event to the John F. Kennedy assassination, which makes me feel like less of a doofus.  They are taking turns shooting a pistol at the scourge of garbage rats that threaten to overrun the dump.  We take a closer look deep into the piles of trash, and see a woman's hand (wearing a ring) sticking out of one of the bags.

Flashing forward to today, Superman's back... kinda.  This issue takes place during the Reign of the Supermen.  Being a Superman (vol.2) issue, that means our star is the one and only Cyborg Superman.  He is attempting to assist Commissioner Henderson in a case involving a mass grave found in the Metropolis sewers.  Henderson is none too keen on 'borg hanging about, despite the President of the United States giving this Superman the thumbs-up.

It turns out this is the third mass grave found in Metropolis on this day alone.  Upon closer inspection they all appear to have puncture wounds at the nape of their necks into their spinal column.  Earlier issues of Bloodlines explain that the Parasitic Alien baddies of this epic rely on ingesting spinal fluid for survival, these poor victims were simply prey to them.

Returning to the landfill, two of those said parasitic aliens have arrived on the scene.  They are introduced as Venev and Gemir.  They attack and feed on an unfortunate security guard.

Still hungry, they locate a body of a woman (potentially the same woman as in the flashback?  Though, if that's the case... Metropolis garbage has some awesome preservative powers!) in the trash heap.  Gemir decides he's not above dining on the dead, much to Venev's disgust.

As the two leave the scene, we watch the woman open her eyes and reenter the land of the living.  She has no idea who or where she is, and she stumbles her way out of the dump.

Henderson arrives at Lexcorp to discuss "police business" with Luthor.  As they speak, they are approached by an older gentleman who asks the Commish if he's located his missing daughter Sasha.  Lex knows of this Sasha Green, and tells the gentleman that he's sure she's okay... she is after all a martial arts expert.

We observe a quick flashback indicating that she was Lex's sparring partner who had one-upped him in front of both Supergirl and Lois Lane.  This humiliation led to Lex... well, killing her, and presumably stuffing her remains into a garbage bag to be buried at his landfill.  Sasha Green looks suspiciously like our Jane Doe from the dump...

Speaking of which, our newly revived lady friend has wandered into a nearby Athletic Club.  She meanders into the showers and manages to clean herself up.  As she exits, a friendly woman named Muriel approaches.  She mentions that our Jane Doe looks unwell, and places her hand on her shoulder.  At that  moment, the kindly woman passes out, and... we'll just go ahead and call her Sasha absorbs her psyche and (in her head) becomes her.

She is suddenly relaxed and with purpose.  She dresses in the woman's clothes and attempts to leave in the woman's car.  Another woman notices her as she leaves and begins questioning the whereabouts of the "real" Muriel.  Sasha drives away in a panic as she sees the real (now conscious) Muriel approach.  She doesn't understand how she sees the same person in her reflection and in the parking lot.

Cyborg Superman infiltrates the Lexcorp Tower in search of answers.  He sneaks into the building and into what appears to be a server room.  With his cybernetic powers he is able to slip by a keypad and many electronic monitoring devices.  Superman links his wiring into the Luthor mainframe and absorbs all of his data.  He discovers another cache of bodies at the landfill and using his voice modulation to mimic the Commissioner, sends a squad car and advises them to cooperate with the "robotic Superman" should he arrive.

Back with Sasha, she loses control of the car and crashes down an alley.  There, she is held up by a street punk called Wendell who places her in a headlock.  The moment their flesh makes contact, she absorbs his psyche (I'd assume this is somewhat like Rogue from the X-Men's power set).  Wendell gets shot dead by some jerk called Roscoe.  Sasha, with Wendell's psyche takes his gun and heads off for revenge.

Superman meets up with Luthor.  After investigating the landfill with the officers, a ring was located.  A ring belonging to Sasha Green... he feels Lex may have some answers.  Henderson interrupts the conversation and he and Superman leave.  Luthor is informed that there is a deranged woman approaching the tower... he instantly suspects it must be Sasha.

Outside, Henderson and Superman meet Sasha.  She approaches, and suddenly recognizes the Commish.  She claims to be his sister, Muriel.  It appears as though her powers are not one-off engagements... she holds within her, a... wait for it... Myriad of personalities... get it?  That's her superhero name... in case you missed the title above.

Luthor watches on, now knowing for sure his Sasha has come home to roost.  Rather than allow her to speak with the police, he aims all of the towers fire-able weaponry at her and attempts to blast her to smithereens.  Lucky for her, Superman blocks the blast.

Sasha/Myriad is taken to Lexcorp Tower for observation at Luthor's request.  Lex triggers an explosion of one of Lexcorp's generators via remote control to draw the attention of Superman and the police... he wants some one-on-one time with Sasha.

He wakes her up, and she does not recognize him.  He tells her she is going to be taken away by helicopter... to someplace safe.  Ms. Simmons is called in to perform the transfer.  Simmons just so happens to be one of Lex's assassins.  The two women board a helicopter and lift off.

Once airborne, Simmons draws her pistol.  During the struggle Sasha manages to make skin-to-skin contact... absorbing the psyche of Jillian Simmons.  It turns out that Sasha also has a measure of mind-control powers, as she commands Simmons to blow her own brains out... and she does.

Myriad is hardcore!
Back at the tower, Lex informs Superman that Sasha ran off and stole (and crashed) one of his helicopters leaving behind a body that was burned beyond recognition.  It was Lex's plan for the burned body to be Sasha's... however, unbeknownst to him, this was not the case.  We close as we watch Sasha walk away from the wreckage of the chopper.


Call me a 90's apologist or whatever, but this issue wasn't half bad.  It's not a story arc I have much interest in following, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the Internet told me it would be.  I know it's fashionable nowadays to bag on comics of this vintage, but if you were actually there (maaan) you'd know that the comics companies were actively making books that people were excitedly buying.  As I mentioned in my piece for Weird Science, it's almost as though the marketplace trained us to buy/read books like this.

I was 13-years-old during Bloodlines... I was promised a ton of "first appearances" (that I could look up every month in Wizard Magazine's price-guide) and "extreme action".  For young, impressionable... and perhaps stupid fans such as myself, we really couldn't ask for more.  As much as I may try and think otherwise, it is because of these types of books that I became a fan... and hell, sometimes we all just need a little "90's cheese" in our four-color reading regimen.

It's certainly not the best thing I've ever read, so please don't think I'm just being all contrarian for the sake of it.  All I'm saying is, it's an okay story crafted by one of may favorite writers that features (mostly) above-average art.  If I tried to deeply read the entire Bloodlines epic, I concede that I may be singing a different tune... but, for a one-off, you could do far worse.

Recommended?  Probably not.  Unless you have any real interest in Reign of the Supermen era Superman, there's not a whole lot of meat here.  If you do come across this, or any Bloodlines book in your local cheap-o bins... maybe flip through it.  If it's a quarter (or less), maybe pick it up.  No promises, you may dig it... you may hate it... how's that for riding a fence?

I guess it is what it is.  If you go into it expecting a shallow story with a shoehorned New Blood character... you'll be okay.  If you are expecting challenging high-concept stuff, you're barking up the wrong tree.


Interesting Ads:

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  1. I love the fact that this is a story where Cyborg Superman is being (deceptively) heroic...or is the protagonist, at least. I remember, at the time, I felt that this was most likely the "true" Superman, though how he'd been infused with the body of the Terminator I had no idea...but he seemed so dadgum nice!

    1. This is what made the Reign of the Supermen so fun... they all sorta-kinda had a claim to the title. When I first saw the image of the four, I thought for sure the Cyborg was THE Superman too!

  2. The Cyborg Superman is pretty high up on my list of favorite comic-book characters. (Yeah, I'm the one.)

    1. Haha, I feel like I'm in good company now!


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