Sunday, December 24, 2017

Adventures of Superman #520 (1995)

Adventures of Superman #520 (February, 1995)
"Christmas Thieves"
Writer - Karl Kesel
Penciller - Stuart Immonen
Inker - Jose Marzan
Colorist - Glenn Whitmore
Letterer - Albert DeGuzman
Assistant Editor - Chris Duffy
Editor - Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $1.50

Merry Christmas Eve everybody!  Today we discuss what will probably be the last book with a February cover date... for at least a little while!


We open with Superman flying right at us with incredible urgency.  Ya see, it's Christmas Eve (feel like we've been saying that an awful lot lately!) and he's trying to track down a Limited Edition "Date With Debbi" doll for Lois... which is apparently a big deal with all of the baby-boomers of the day.  As is to be expected with our main man, this won't be an easy task.  In the distance, he hears an alarm ring out... and wouldn'tcha know it, it's those geeks he took out on his first day back on the job (following the Death).

Deke Dickson, otherwise known as Loophole, is using his powers of intangibility to rob a safe... all the while very loudly discussing the Night of 100 Thieves that the underworld is engaging in this evening.  Superman, of course, hears all of this... and fries Deke's tech, causing him to become embedded in a wall.  Kinda hardcore for Superman... but we'll allow it.  It's Christmas, after all.

Superman realizes he now has quite the busy night ahead of him... 98 more thieves are all planning on robbing various Metropolis hot-spots (I should mention that Deke had his faceless lady friend with him for his caper).  Anyhoo, first stop... a jewelry store, where Superman easily takes down a trio of geeks (led by a guy calling himself Power Fork).

On the way out, we see Mountain Man and Piton... whoever they are... about to conduct some thievery.  That is, until they run afoul of... Babe?!  Ya see, Babe was a friend of Jimmy Olsen's who got turned into a vampire... or something like that.  She was very seldom used, with good reason.  Anyhoo, she scares the bejeezus out of the pair... to the point where they beg to be arrested.

The next B-Villains are a trio of intangibles calling themselves, get this, The Untouchables!  Oddly enough, they get taken down by a smoke boomerang, courtesy of Captain Boomerang!  Superman arrives moments later to (literally) toss Digger himself into a garbage can.  Not sure if Captain Boomerang truly was on the "straight and narrow" at this point, and Superman just didn't get the memo... or if he was just robbing other robbers.  Either way, it was neat to see him!  Strewth!

Next up... The Royal Flush Gang.  Wow, we really are scraping the bottom of the barrel here.  Superman does his thing and takes them out.  Maggie Sawyer and Terrible Turpin are present to help wrangle the baddies up.  Superman engages in some super-counting, and tallies the night at sixty baddies collared.  Only forty to go... and he's got a plan!

He has the Metropolis Police Department speed through the city to corral the criminals into a construction site... and then swoops in and wraps them all up in a nice little package.  Cop out?  Yeah... maybe.

By our updated count, we're sitting at 98 B-Listers caught... only two more to go... and they're a doozy of a pair.  It's our friends from Charlton, Punch and Jewelee. Superman meets up with them at a toy shoppe... and after pummeling them with... balls... Christmas (Eve) is saved!  As a "thank you", the store owner gives Superman the last Date With Debbi doll he has in stock.  Oddly enough, that's exactly what Punch and Jewelee were there to steal!

We wrap up on Christmas morning, and Lois wakes up next to her Date With Debbi doll.  Somewhat strangely, Clark's note reads "Happy Holidays".  Ya know, I'm not one of those "War on Christmas" types... I'm cool with a "Merry Christmas" or a "Happy Holidays"... whatever you're comfortable saying, I'm comfortable receiving... but, c'mon Clark... Lois is your wife.  I think you can say "Merry Christmas" to your wife without worrying about offending anybody.  Ehh, who knows... maybe it was the only card left at the store.


This was a fun one!

This story falls into one of my more pronounced Superman "blind-spots"... that whole post-Death pre-Electric Blue era is kind of jumbled together for me... so figure, if it's a story where Superman has a mullet... I probably only read it once... if at all!

I've been wracking my brain trying to recall what the Date With Debbi doll might be an analogue to.  Throughout my life there have been plenty of "rushes" on toys... Cabbage Patch Kids, Furbies, Tickle Me Elmos, Nintendo Wiis... I don't recall what might've been the hot toy back at Christmas 1994.  A scan of the internet brings back POGS and Power Rangers... but I don't recall either of those being terribly hard to come by!  Regardless, this was a neat "hook" for our holiday tale.

Speaking of neat... seeing (and introducing) a bunch of B-tier baddies, was a lot of fun.  It's not often we get a Punch and Jewelee mention, let alone an appearance!  The Captain Boomerang cameo was also really cool.  Wish I could remember if he was actually acting heroic here... or just gittin' while the gittin' was good.

Wrapping up about forty thieves at once was a bit odd, and kind of a cop out.  I mean... why not just start the issue with forty thieves?  We didn't need a hundred!  It reminded me of a "novel" a friend and I wrote back in like the fifth grade.  It was a fantasy story, taking place in medieval times... and basically ripped off every fantasy/role-playing video game we'd ever played.

Throughout the story we introduced so many silly things... like the heroes would have to locate four orbs (Final Fantasy), eight gems (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link) and a slew of stone tablets that, when put together, would form a map.  A map to what?  Who knows!  We eventually got to the point where we had more maguffin than story... and since the whole thing was hand-written in a notebook, we couldn't just edit these bits out.  So, we just had our heroes find everything at once!  Just like Superman did with the thieves at the construction site!

Overall... I really dug this.  I recall really disliking Immonen's art back in the day... the looseness was really off-putting to me.  I suppose I've softened in my old age, because this time around, I dug it!  Never a fan of a long-haired Superman... so that's still a bit cringy, but otherwise... everything looked great!  This one's a mainstay in the quarter-bins... so it shouldn't be too hard to procure.  It's also conveniently available via DC Digital.


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On the Eleventh Day of Christmas on Infinite Earths, I give to you Adventures of Superman #520, Batman: The Brave and the Bold #12JSA Classified #33The Spirit #13Justice League Unlimited #28Shade the Changing Man (vol.2) #19Action Comics #762!  Young Justice #40Superman: The Man of Steel #109Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special, and a Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #2 Review.

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