Sunday, July 31, 2016
Adventures of Superman #444 (September, 1988)
"The Supergirl Saga, Part II: Parallel Lives Meet at Infinity..."
Plot & Script - John Byrne
Plot & Pencils - Jerry Ordway
Inker - Dennis Janke
Letterer - Albert De Guzman
Colorist - Petra Scotese
Assistant Editor - Renee Witterstaetter
Editor - Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $0.75
Enjoyed yesterday's introduction to the post-Crisis Supergirl Saga, figured I may as well keep on keepin' on...
We open up pretty much dead in the middle of the scene portrayed on the cover. Superman is kneeling before the graves of his foster parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent... this universes, Kents. To make matters even worse, Lex Luthor informs him that their version of Superboy has also perished. Superman mourns, and makes mention that it actually feels as though a part of him has died.
We get a bit of Time Trapper 101 to follow. While the Trapper scanned the timestream, he found that in the far-flung future there was a team called the Legion of Super-Heroes, who assembled due to their being inspired by Superboy. Only, this is the post-Crisis DC landscape... there never was a Superboy. The Time Trapper had to act to ensure the team still came into existence, and did so by... well, removing everything from the universe except the Earth and Krypton.
Krypton was a scientific utopia, while the Earth... well, was the Earth. Apparently world history is so heinous in and of itself, Lex Luthor believes it to have been a construct of the Time Trapper. Superman breaks the news that, nah... the Earth has had its share of nastiness. What this (pocket) Earth doesn't have, however, is superheroes!
We get a bit more of a flashback from Lex regarding his first day in Smallville. He arrives in search of Superboy to tell him about his proposed cure to Kryptonite poisoning... only to find he's arrived a bit too late. We learn that Ma and Pa passed shortly thereafter.
He introduces himself to Pete Ross and Lana Lang, and posits that there may be a way to find the fallen Boy of Steel... but no guarantees. Lana and Pete bring Lex to Superboy's laboratory... and show him the secret room inside. The trio comes across a locked cabinet, and Lex can't contain his curiosity. He shoos Lana and Pete off so that he may try and open that sucker up.
Lex eventually finds his way through to find Superboy's Time-Viewer Scope inside it. While flipping the channels in search of anything Legion-related, he comes across three "trapped" Kryptonians. One introduces himself as Von-El, Superboy's Uncle! He claims that he and his family, Mara and Ston-Ar have been trapped in what he refers to as the Phant--... er, Survival Zone. They've always depended on the kindness of strangers, and hope that Lex might just be able succeed in "rescuing" them, where their nephew had failed. Lex shrugs, and goes "ehh, what the hell?", and frees the poor disembodied bunch.
Now, we know what Lex just did... now Lex is about to find out what he just did. He freed General friggin Zod, Zamora and Quex-Ul from the Phantom Zone. It doesn't take them terribly long to, ya know... take over the world. Zod proclaims himself King of the world, and destroys everything and everyone in his path. Man, woman, child... it don't much matter...
In an interesting and fun scene, Luthor erects a base of operations in Smallville, and drafts some familiar faces to his cause... Bruce Wayne, Hal Jordan, and Oliver Queen!
Luthor continues... he found a way to give Lana superpowers. He also outfitted her in similar togs to Superboy as a way to provide inspiration to the survivors on this Earth. Pete and Lex continued to do their best to hold up the resistance... including continually scanning for any sign of Superboy...
By this point the King Zod and company have grown tired of dealing with the insurgency... and decide to swat a fly with a cannonball... to get rid of the resistance, they should... get this, just wipe out all life on Earth. And so, all three start boring down to the molten core of the planet. This is likely what led to the pocket Smallville being under the dome in our opening chapter.
Luthor continues s'more... in order to make contact with the Superman he'd found on the scanner... he decides to send Lana to the "other" Earth... where she will lay dormant under the ice of the Antarctic for two-hundred years before approaching the target. Luthor can not only place fast and loose with dimensionality, but also time it seems.
Superman's heard enough. Five-billion humans, and uncounted billions of lifeforms have died at the hands of three Kryptonians. It's time for some retribution... but just how far is Superman willing to go to neutralize this threat?
We find ourselves getting a bit of a Pocket Universe info-dump. Done in such a way that it doesn't so much feel like a "lesson" but as an intriguing and enjoyable story.
I've said in the past that the mere mention of General Zod usually makes me glaze over a bit, however, I find myself really getting into this version of the character. He, as well as the other Phantom Zone criminals, are friggin' nuts... Makes me wonder just how Superman's gonna... ahem, neutralize the threat they pose. Poor Lex sure fumbled letting them out!
It was fun to see the civilian Bruce Wayne, Hal Jordan, and Oliver Queen getting involved in the proceedings. We can see that the Time Trapper really wanted Superboy to the be only superhero here. We even see that he/it eliminated the entire universe except Earth and Krypton. Talk about dedication...
The opening with Clark mourning his parents reminded me of the first issue of the Superboy-less Legion of Super-Heroes, wherein Superboy finds himself in front of his foster parents graves too.
All told, another great chapter in this story. Jerry Ordway's art is just different enough from Byrne's, but not so different as to be jarring. They're both wonderfully talented craftsmen, this was really a great time for the Super-books.
Saturday, July 30, 2016
Superman (vol.2) #21 (September, 1988)
"The Supergirl Saga, Part I: You Can't Go Home Again"
Story & Pencils - John Byrne
Inker - John Beatty
Colors - Petra Scotese
Letters - John Costanza
Asst. Editor - Renee Witterstaetter
Editor - Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $0.75
A few weeks ago, Reggie and I covered Action Comics #252 for our Cosmic Treadmill segment on the Weird Science DC Comics Podcast. We talked at length about the Supergirl story inside as well as other incarnations of the character over the years.
When we approached the subject of the "Matrix" version of the character, I found myself at something of a loss... much to my surprise. It had been awhile since I read the post-Crisis Supergirl Saga... figure there's never a bad time to remedy that.
We open on a nearly barren planetside. There appears to be something of a city being protected by a clear dome... which is being bombarded by... meteors? Either way, there are explosions occurring on the dome. Inside we meet a crew of folks dressed in a sort of turtle-necked armor. They are discussing their current predicament, and lamenting the loss of their "greatest hero". Not to worry, however, "she" is about to make contact.
Back on Earth, Superman is heading home after having an adventure with the Doom Patrol last issue. He notices that he's being followed... and has been for quite some time at this point. He zigs and swoops in behind his pursuer, grabbing their foot... boy is he surprised when he sees whose foot it is...
It's Supergirl... but then, it's Lana Lang... a girl with powers she claims to have been granted from... Lex Luthor?
We shift to the Daily Planet where Jimmy Olsen is petitioning Perry White to send him off to Ireland so he may do some research on the Silver Banshee. After a bit of guff, Perry gives in... Lois Lane finds herself drafted into the trip as well.
Back in the sky, Superman is trying to talk some sense into "Lana Lang". He reminds her that Luthor was... ya know, kind of a bastard to her a few months back. He offers to take her to Metropolis... but, she's troubled... for some reason she thinks that Metropolis has been destroyed. Thinking Superman a liar, she hauls off and unleashes a "psycho-kinetic blast" in Superman's general direction.
He attempts to reengage... and (after Supergirl makes herself invisible) gets another blast for his troubles... right into the ground!
Superman takes advantage of being underground, and decides to tunnel to Lana's farm to see what's up. Much to his surprise, he finds not only Lana, but his parents tied up and gagged inside! Lana tells him that there's a lookalike (lanalike? langalike?) on the loose. Superman is confused, as the impostor is an exact duplicate of Lana, even down to the molecular level. He suddenly realizes what's up, and uses one of my very favorite sayings "if it were a snake it would have bitten me!" before taking off.
Superman hits the skies and engages in a bit of "catch me if you can". This causes Supergirl to reveal herself and give chase... all the way to Metropolis. She's is shocked to find it still standing, and begins to believe what "Clark" is saying. Yup, she calls him Clark... much to his discomfort. He tells her ixnay on the entKay, and they go pay a visit to Lex Luthor.
Supergirl is a bit surprised that Lex Luthor is kind of a jerk. This isn't the man she thinks of when she hears the name "Lex Luthor". I can't remember if this is after Luthor loses his hand due to poisoning from the Kryptonite ring... either way, he appears to be hiding his right hand inside his suit jacket in something of a Napoleonic pose.
The Supers take their leave and head off to a rooftop to reconnoiter. Superman shares his story of entering the Time Trapper's pocket universe some months back, and meeting the Legion of Super-Heroes, and battling a younger version of himself.
Supergirl tells Superman that she remembers his visit! They may have not have met at the time, but she was there and knew of his presence. Superman says the Pete Ross of the pocket universe had mistakenly thought that Superman was a rapidly aged version of Superboy due to exposure to Red Kryptonite! In the current port-Crisis landscape, if I'm not mistaken... there's only one kind of Kryptonite... green.
Supergirl claims his visit occurred ten years ago... when in "real" time, it was only a few weeks. She summons a dimensional portal, and before we know it... we're in the pocket U...
... where Superman meets Lex Luthor... [to be continued...]
I'm still surprised at how much of this story I'd forgotten. That's not a criticism, mind... just a strange anecdotal observation. I found myself really enjoying this... and I'm fascinated by just how quickly after the Crisis on Infinite Earths DC/Byrne decided they needed/wanted a Supergirl in the canon. This is only a few years into the new continuity... I gotta wonder if this confused fans who were following the books at the time.
Were longtime readers given a flash of hope, kinda like people of my comics-generation were during 2015's Convergence storyline? Where "our" Superman showed up... where Hal Jordan as Parallax showed up? Gotta wonder...
I enjoyed how Superman had to resort to out-thinking his opponent here. Making her reveal herself when she chased him into Metropolis was a great move. Introducing her to Lex Luthor was smart as well.
I've never been entirely clear on the Time Trapper's pocket universe. I know it was put in place to fit into Legion of Super-Heroes origin lore... wherein they assembled due to taking inspiration from Superboy... and in the post-Crisis DCU, Clark Kent never was Superboy. It's still so weird to see them tinker with pre-Crisis continuity in issues of this vintage.
Overall, a great start to the Supergirl Saga. More Byrne-goodness, including a very interesting panel layout throughout the book. Looking forward to reintroducing myself with the remaining two-parts. If I'm remembering correctly, the next issue of Superman (vol.2) is kinduva big deal...
|Amaze your friends... break into their homes!|
Maybe Wertham was right...
|Another "How to be Cool" ad for all the whimps and chokers out there!|
Friday, July 29, 2016
Green Lantern (vol.3) #49 (February, 1994)
"Emerald Twilight, Part Two: The Present"
Writer - Ron Marz
Penciller - Fred Haynes
Inkers - Romeo Tanghal & Dennis Cramer
Colorist - Steve Mattsson
Letterer - Albert De Guzman
Assistant Editor - Eddie Berganza
Editor - Kevin Dooley
Cover Price: $1.50
Part Two of Emerald Twilight. If you need/want to get caught up, go 'head and check out yesterday's discussion of Green Lantern #48. For some coverage of Green Lantern #50, please make sure to check out this coming weekend's Weird Science DC Comics Podcast, where Reggie and I will be taking our Cosmic Treadmill back to late 1993/early 1994 to break it all down. It's always a good time, give it a listen if you're interested!
Hal Jordan's coming our way, and he's in a mood! Hot off the heels of his summoning to Oa for disciplinary action regarding his selfish and irresponsible use of his ring, a ticked-off Hal is on his way. I'm a bit confused here, as I thought his ring ran out of juice last issue... I'm not quite sure how he's powered enough to get him off the ground. Maybe I missed something...
During Hal's trek to Oa, he runs across several of his brothers and sisters-in-arms. The first among them are the tandem of Ke'Haan and Laira. It's not a pleasant visit... they aim to stop Hal, and he just isn't having it. He thrashes them both, all the while lambasting them for being loyal slaves to the Guardians. After the battle, the power hungry Hal takes both of their rings. I think this was a bone of contention among fans, not knowing whether or not Hal left them to float and die in space. I think that's been cleared up with Hal's redemption though.
We shift scenes to the Guardianzzzz... *snort*, sorry... the Guardians of the Universe. They are putting their misshapen blue heads together to figure out how to halt Hal.
Speaking of Hal, he's now tangled up in a strange octopussish alien parasite, courtesy of Tomar Tu (son of Hal's longtime Lantern buddy Tomar Re). Tu tries to talk Hal down, to no avail... Hal is able to finagle his way out of tentacles and blasts his buddy.
Hal's suddenly jumped by one of the wackier GLs (and that's saying something) Jack T. Chance! Jack is... well, truly a creation of his time... stubble, trench coat, chains, BFG... we know the type. Hal easily outclasses him. He snags both rings and flies off.
The more Lanterns get in Hal's way, and fall pretty quickly. All the while, Hal is thinking about how his power levels will be augmented to off-the-charts levels thanks to the additions to his jewelry collection. Those Lanterns are Kreon, Hannu, and Graf Toren... you know, those Lanterns...
The final Lantern to get in Hal's way before he lands on Oa is a woman called Boodikka. Hal apparently brought her into the Corps, and she will not relinquish her ring to him... claiming it is as much a part of her as her hand. Hal sees his best solution as taking her hand along with the ring. Easy peasy.
Back with the Guardians... they are considering the unthinkable to stop Hal in his tracks...
Hal finally lands on Oa, and runs in to his toughest fight yet... his old buddy (and drill sergeant) Kilowog! Got a bit of a good-news, bad-news situation for Kilowog... good news, he's one hell of a trainer... bad news, so good a trainer, his student is able to wipe the floor with him!
Hal triumphantly saunters over to the Power Battery... he doesn't just want more power... he wants all the power. The Guardians appear before him in a projected form, and try to reason with him one last time. Hal... again, ain't having it.
He leaves the Guardians with absolutely no choice... they must turn to the one man they feel can take Hal down... they turn, to Sinestro!
Okay, we're two-thirds of the way through... and, to be honest I don't think Hal has necessarily crossed the line into irredeemable just yet. Sure, he's beaten down many of his brothers and sisters-in-arms, stole their rings, and chopped off a Lantern's hand... but, nothing he couldn't charm himself out of, right? Eh, maybe not. All's I'm saying is though he may be mad with power, I don't feel that he's irreversibly evil just yet.
This entire issue was Hal's trip to Oa, and at no point did it feel dull or padded. This was wonderfully paced, and really gave us insight on the thoughts bubbling to the surface of Hal's noggin. We get the impression that Hal sees all the Lantern's in his way as being just as traitorous (to his ends) as the Guardians of the Universe. It would be difficult, in Hal's state, to separate the Lanterns "just following orders" and the Lanterns engaging in a sorta personal attack on his needs and desires.
Tomar Tu and Kilowog's confrontations with Hal were very powerful scenes. Hal doesn't see either of them as friends... just disloyal roadblocks who would rather blindly follow the Guardians than allow him to go about his business.
If I were to pick any nits... I gotta comment on the art. This is definitely a step down from Bill Willingham's work in issue #48. As much as I loath to "adjectivize" a time period, this issue feels very 90's. Still serviceable, but not up to the Willingham (and later, Banks) standard.
This is another issue that was never gonna be, if the initial solicits were to be believed. The original (Gerard Jones) Green Lantern #49 was supposed to be:
“Green Lantern is caught up in a battle raging between two equally powerful groups of Guardians of the Universe. Hal’s side loses, and the winners’ first act is to take away the power rings’ 24-hour time limit, and their yellow impurity. Their second act is to appoint a new leader of the Green Lantern Corps--Sinestro! This issue leads directly into the landmark Green Lantern #50, a major turning point for the series.”
Well, we do get us some Sinestro! Other than that... something competely different. Something with one of my favorite covers ever, to boot!
Definitely still one you should check out... I consider this entire era of Green Lantern as "must reading". This, like the issue prior is available digitally. As I mentioned about, in this weekend's Weird Science DC Comics Podcast, Reggie and I will be discussing Green Lantern #50, so if you're interested in our thoughts be sure to give it a listen!