Friday, January 24, 2020

Legacy of... The Guardian...?


Legacy of Superman #1 (Guardian)
"The Guardians of Metropolis!"
Writer - Karl Kesel
Art - Walter Simonson
Letters - John Workman
Colors - Glenn Whitmore
Assistant Editor - Jennifer Frank
Editor - Mike Carlin

With our Bonus Books coverage firmly in the rear-view (at least for now... ya never know when we might find another "extra" we'll want to take a look at), and with the my chosen topic for the most recent Super-Blog Team-Up still occupying my short-term memory, I've decided to devote these next five or six days to a book that I bought when it came out... and never actually read!

I'm sure most people reading this already know, but during the time between Funeral for a Friend and Reign of the Supermen, the Super-Books went on a three-month hiatus... which is to say, there were no Superman books on the racks... except this one (and a Supergirl and Team Luthor special... but I didn't care about that one, even back then!).

I snagged it, still hungry for more of the Super-story... and upon opening it, I was faced with a whooooole bunch of characters I had no experience with nor interest in.  I quickly closed the thing, and tossed it into my modest, at the time, DC Comics stack.  I've attempted to give it a solid "go" in the years since... but, truth be told, I've just never been able to get the job done.

Well, we're going to fix that this week.  We've got five chapters... five days, with a good ol'-fashioned "compilation post" on the sixth.  That'll end us off on January 29... only two days before this place celebrates FOUR SOLID YEARS of daily discussions!

Let's start this little party with... The Guardian!

--



We open at Cadmus, where a gaggle of geeks are attempting to scrape some Super-cells off of Superman's corpse.  This is proving to be rather a daunting, if not completely impossible, task.  That fact does not please Director Paul Westfield.  He and the Guardian are checking on the progress of this project... when, suddenly... the Newsboys burst in the place to tawk ol' New Yawk and generally make nuisances of themselves.  Westfield's ticked that they're in a Classified Area (Classified... area?  Do you mean "Restricted"?).  Anyhoo, all that does is make me wonder why doors at Cadmus don't seem to have locks?



While the sassiness commences, some scientists rush in with the news that... they did it!  They've managed to, via approximations and estimations, replicated the D.N.A. code of Superman!  Westfield is overjoyed... and demands they hand the data disc over.



Well, not so fast there, kemosabe... they still need to run tests on the stuff before declaring it a complete success.  Kinda begs the question... why in all hells did they burst into the lab to share the good news, if the thing ain't done yet?  C'mon guys.  The Guardian, who hasn't said anything just yet, pipes in with the suggestion that they just clone him!  An army of Guardians should suffice in keeping Metropolis safe until such a time where they can effectively clone another Superman.  The Newsboys chime in with their ideas on how the Guardian might be diversified... and somewhere, Axel Alonso weeps.



This suggestion reminds Westfield that he's got something he wants to show off.  He takes the Science Team down to Sub-Level Four... Toppest of Top Secret.  He informs the Newsboys that they ain't welcome down there... though, we all know they'll find a way.  Now, down at Sub-Level Four, Director Westfield introduces his team to... Auron!



No, wait... that doesn't look right at all.  Let's try again.  Director Westfield introduces his team to... Auron!



That's the ticket.  This Auron is a "Super-Soldier of the Future"... which, I think accounts for about half the characters introduced into comics during this era.  He packs a bad-ass jet-pak, which is cybernetically linked with his mind... so, like, whatever he can think... he can do.  Pretty cool, right?  The Guardian notices that this Auron has a very familiar voice... and there's a good reason for that, ya see... Auron... like the Guardian himself, is a clone of Jim Harper!  Wha-a-a-a-a?



Westfield commands Auron to snag that Superman D.N.A. Data-Disc by initiating "Sanction Blue".  Auron belts The Guardian, however, before he can procure the disc... the Newsboys slide in and steal it first!



The kids rush into a nearby (and wildly convenient) subway car to make their getaway.  Auron gives chase... after punching the Guardian again one more time for good measure.  The Newsboys reach their weird sewer hideout, and attempt to lock Auron out long enough for them to load into the Whiz Wagon.  Auron is hot on their heels... however, is slowed by a Mental Jolt from Dubbilex, who just happened to be in his path.



The Newsboys floor it like a Lightning Racer and attempt to escape the facility and reach the remains of Habitat.  If you recall, the battle between Superman and Doomsday kinda wrecked that place.  Since the Whiz Wagon ain't all that great at turning on a dime, Auron is able to catch up pretty quick.  He grabs the rig by it's spoiler, and sends it crashing to the ground below.  It's here that the Newsboys devise a plan to appeal to Auron's inner Jim Harper by... dog-piling him?  Really?



Auron easily wipes the floor with the kids, and procures the Data Disc.  Director Westfield arrives on the scene and requests he hand over the information.  Instead, Auron crushes the disc in his hand!  Ya see, the Newsboys were, in fact, able to appeal to his inner-Harper.  He knows that, in the wrong hands, Superman's D.N.A. would be a very dangerous weapon.  He tells Guardian that the information is safe inside his computer-mind, and he will leave the planet in order to protect it.



We wrap up with a bit of a soliloquy from The Guardian, reminding us how Superman was the true Guardian of Metropolis... and it's up to them to preserve his Legacy.



--

This was alright!  Didn't bore me nearly as much as it did when I was a kid!  I'm sure having a better-rounded familiarity with the characters was a big help in that.  Not sure what I was thinking snagging this off the rack when I was a kid... I should've at least flipped through the thing before plunkin' my ten-quarters on the counter.  Maybe I was subconsciously speculating?!  I mean, this was the first (of three) appearance of... the Legendary Auron!

The story itself was... ehhh... nothin' all that special, though, it did continue the thread of Cadmus trying to clone Superman... which is important going forward into The Reign.  Auron's introduction, I dunno... he's made to look really important, right?  Like, a character who would (and should) show up from time to time going forward.  I mean, he's got Superman's D.N.A. uploaded into himself... stands to reason, he'd be something of a "player" from this point on, no?  Fact is, he doesn't wind up doing a whole heckuva lot after this.

It was neat seeing the Newsboys... it usually is.  They can be a bit "one note", so it's a good thing that it's a fun note.  They don't overstay their welcome.  The Guardian... kind of a background player here, though I suppose he was a necessary presence to play off the other Harper clone... and to make an inspiring speech at the end.

The art?  I know it's an unpopular stance, but I'm not the biggest Simonson fan.  There's plenty of Walter's work that I do like... but, I think, if I'm being honest, I run like 50/50 with him.  Here... well, this story kind of embodies my hot and cold take on his art.  There were some panels here that looked pretty great... and others that came across like a blocky, scratchy mess.  Nothing worth getting mad at, but still, worth mentioning.

Overall... this was okay.  Not likely to rock any socks... but, also, unlikely to offend.

Tomorrow: Every Rose has its... well, you know

Thursday, January 23, 2020

BONUS BOOK - Lightning Racers (1990)


BONUS BOOK - Lightning Racers (January, 1990)
"Lightning Racers"
Written, Drawn, Colored, Lettered, and Edited by... someone, I guess!  Was it youPlease, let me know!

I always say... if you're gonna do something, ya do it all the way.  Last month we started our journey, weaving through Insert Prevues and Bonus Books, taking a look at every last one.  Well, I use several sources online for my information... and, around Christmastime, when I was perusing Mike's Amazing World's "Bonus Books" list... I was reminded of this very Lightning Racers insert.  This is something I'd seen a couple of times during various read-thru's of old DC Comics... but, certainly not anything I'd ever stopped to actually read.

Well, we're going to fix that today... and, with it... officially draw a line under our Bonus Books coverage!

Though it appeared in several DC books around this time, I am reading it from Superman (vol.2) #39 (January, 1990).  Oh, by the way... if you have even the foggiest who wrote/drew/contributed to this story, please lemme know!  I have not been able to find even a single credit for this bugger!

--



Our story opens with a trio of lads engaged in micro-racing battle!  Who will wind up in the winner's circle?  Will it be... that one kid's Grasshopper?  Perhaps the other kid's Rising Bird?  Or, maybe... just maybe, the third kid's Avante.  I'm going with the last one, because it's got the fanciest name.  Well, as it turns out... it's a moot point.  Ya see, MRC-Tamiya Racers are so easy to assemble, customize, and optimize... that these racers were neck-and-neck for the entire duration!  There's no photo-finish in micro-race land, so I suppose we'll have to call this one a three-way tie.  Though, if I'm being impartial and honest, I'd probably give it to Grasshopper.  Just then, a fourth lad arrives on the scene to show off his latest and greatest.  Ya see, he dumped that piece'a crap micro racer he used to run... and wisely bought himself an MRC-Tamiya.  His is the Vanquish, Jr.  Junior?  Is there a Senior version?  Can micro cars reproduce?



The boys are overjoyed that their pal joined them on the darkside of Microcar racing.  When asked how he could afford such luxury, this new kid reveals that, Vanquish, Jr. didn't break his bank in the slightest!  In fact, he only had to save up less than one week's allowance.  Less than one week's allowance?  Is this little jerk paid by the day?  I don't think that's how allowance works.  He bought it from Mr. Gibbons' store... where, wouldn'tcha know it, he's got The Official MRC-Tamiya Racing Circuit set up!  What luck!  Now the kids won't have to use "lengths of hose" to keep their cars from bumping into each other!



Less than thirty-minutes later, Vanquish, Jr. has been assembled.  Ya see, check this out... with MRC-Tamiya Lightning Racers, you don't even need glue!  Bah God, they just snap together, and you're good to go!  So easy, even a dullard can do it!  Though, it's worth noting, this particular dullard looks mighty proud of his achievement... smug, even!  We follow the quartet to the mall, where they're keen to get down and dirty on the regulation racetrack.



Just then, from across the way... there's a bit of a to-do at the jewelry store!  Ya see, a costume baddie has shown up... and he's threatening to use his Shrink-Ray to, well, shrink all of the jewelry in the joint so he can steal it.  I mean, isn't jewelry already small enough?  I dunno.  The proprietor of the jewelry store doesn't take this goofball seriously, and even pulls a "Get a load'a dis guy?" to ol' Mr. Gibbons.



The baddie don't cotton to bein' mocked... and so, he unloads his Shrink Ray in Gibbons' direction.  Gibbons, who just happened to be standing on a ladder, finds himself off-balance when the very ladder itself is shrunk down to fun-size.



Our fearsome foursome are not happy to see their MRC-Tamiya Lightning Racers Pusherman knocked on his butt... and decide this is a job for, well... them.  Our villain responds by blasting them with the Shrink Ray, reducing them to just inches in size (and as luck would have it, 1/32 in scale!).  Ya see where this story might be headed?



Dr. Micro... that's the bad guy's name... then shrinks an entire counterful of jewelry and flees the scene.



As this is going down... get this, the boys spend... I'm going to assume, less than a half-hour... putting together some MRC-Tamiya Lightning Racers... which, now that they've been shrunken, are "life-size".  Thank all that you find holy that they don't even need glue!  They each soup-up their rigs in different ways in order to handle all sorts of obstacles and terrain.  I'm not sure these cars actually have, ya know, engines... accelerators... hell, even steering wheels, and all that... but, we'll allow it.  Worth noting, one has a spoiler which reads "Being Nuts is NEAT!", which... I'm not a tattoo guy, but if I were... that'd be the one I'd go with.



As luck would have it, by the time the boys are done building... Dr. Micro still hasn't left the mall yet!  He's being hassled by a Security Guard who the jewelry store guy tattled to!  Whatta revoltin' development!



Dr. Micro tires of such tomfoolery... and decides, screw it... I'ma just gonna run.  He rushes through the parking lot, with the Lightning Racers hot on his trail, and hops on his motorcycle.



On his bike, he drives right into... a parade?  Well, that's a lucky break for our Lightning Racers, who take a short-cut through a nearby construction zone in order to get a jump on the Doc.  Looks like it was wise of the boys to prepare for all sorts of obstacles... that foresight is definitely coming in handy right now!



The kids manage to follow Dr. Micro all the way back to his hideout... which, is really just a garage.  I wonder what his neighbors must think?  Anyhoo, only three of our racers are able to get inside before the door slams shut... leaving one straggler (the new kid) stuck outside.



Our Junior Vanquisher, however, spies among the refuse, a piece of lumber tilted diagonally pointed right toward an... open window, and gets an idea.  Waitasecond, this supervillain leaves his windows open?  C'mon.  I can believe kids can be shrunk down... and operate cars that don't have gas pedals or steering wheels, but this is a step too far.



Inside, Doc Micro plops his mini-jewels down (minds out of the gutter, gang) and uses his enlarging ray to restore them to actual size!  Waitasecond again... this clown has an enlarging ray... and rather than causing the jewels to grow to gigantic size... he just brings them back to their actual size?  Would stand to reason that ten-pounds of gold would be of more value than ten-ounces, right?  C'mon, Dr. Micro... think man!



While Micro twirls around cackling like an idiot, our original trio bails from their Lightning Racers to... I dunno... do, something I guess.  When it doesn't involve MRC-Tamiya Racers, these kids don't seem to be the best of planners.  Micro notices them... and plops a very convenient glass dome over them.  Ya see, he plans to zap them with the Shrink Ray again... to make 'em even smaller!  I mean, why not just have different settings on the gun itself?



Just then... the Junior Vanquisher flies in through the window, konks Doc Micro on the head... causing him to bonk into the enlarger ray button... which just so happens to be hanging from the ceiling?  Fair enough.



This causes our tiny trio to grow back to full-size.  They manage to tackle the goofball baddie... proving that three dumb kids can overpower a supervillain... so long as they're the right dumb kids.



With Micro bound and gagged, the boys return Junior Vanquisher back to normal... and, just then... a gaggle of Police burst in the garage!  So... was this whole thing pointless?  Like, were the Cops going to catch Dr. Micro anyway?  Did the kids risk their lives for no reason at all?!



The Police Lieutenant (took me four tries to spell that right) and the Media arrive.  The boys try and tell their shrunken story... which the Lt. doesn't buy for a minute.  I mean, there were witnesses to that, right?  Like a mall-full of 'em?  What's this guy's problem?  Anyhoo, he takes all the adulation and praise... and makes it sound like he was the hero of the story.



Back at Gibbons' Place, the boys are congratulated for being in the wrong place at the wrong time... and are even allowed to keep the cars they'd built during their adventure!  Heck, Gibbons is so overjoyed he's going to give them the next round of MRC-Tamiya Lightning Racers that come in the shop as well!  That Mr. Gibbons... one shrewd businessman.



We wrap up with our boys racing on the regulation track... Ready!  Set!  Go!



--

Okay, this might be the goofiest thing I've covered here in quite some time... but, I can't lie and say I didn't enjoy the heck out of it!  Sure, it's just a commercial for some toy cars... but, ya know... I've definitely read worse comic book stories.  Hell, I've read worse comic book stories this week!

It's difficult for me to actually, ya know, analyze this one... because, it is what it is.  It's not high-art, it's not trying to be anything other than what it is... an enticement to rush down to your local Hobby Shop and procure mass quantities of MRC-Tamiya Lightning Racers and MRC-Tamiya Lightning Racers accessories.

Now, growing up, I was never a "car guy".  Sure, I had my fair share of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars... I think all little boys do/did!  But, I'd rather have been playing with action figures.  I feel like I lack the imagination to make a "play session" involving little cars be fun.  I didn't even think Transformers were fun!  So, with that having been said... this little excursion into Ad-tertainment would not have worked on me.  If you are/were into toy cars and racing, however, your (no pun intended) mileage may vary.

These sort of cars were apparently quite a big deal in the world of boy's toys back in the late-80's.  Being a fella who was a boy back in the late-80's, I gotta say... that's news to me!  You can check out this piece from New York Magazine:



Even Boys Life Magazine... which, as a Cub Scout at the time, I'm sure I was subscribed to, listed Lightning Racers as one of their top Christmas gifts of 1989!  Then again, they list WrestleMania for the NES too... so, maybe we don't put too much stock into what they say.




For me though, this was just a silly story... and one with, almost shockingly good art!  I couldn't even hazard a guess as to who might've drawn this... I see flashes of different artists in some of the panels.  Dr. Micro gives me very strong Carmine Infantino vibes in some of the panels, but I couldn't make a definitive statement either way.  The rest of the story looks nothing like latter-day Infantino... at least not to me!

Now, if you were concerned about the reality of this story... first, c'mon... second, c'mahhhhhhhn... third, here's a disclaimer/warning that was included at the end:



So, after telling (and showing) us how these li'l buggers can handle all sorts of terrain and obstacles, we're told explicitly not to run our Lightning Racers on the streets.  What's more, if it happens to find its way into the street... just abandon the damn thing, it ain't worth risking yer neck to retrieve it!  Oh well.

In our latest Bonus Books features, we've spent a little time getting to know our creative teams.  Since this story doesn't credit one, we'll have to get a little bit creative.  Let's meet Tamiya!

Tamiya Incorporated was founded (as Tamiya Shoji & Co.) in 1946... and is still in operation today.  While they began as a lumber company (hey, maybe they were responsible for that piece of wood Vanquisher, Jr. used to bust in on Doc Micro!) in more recent years they manufacture models of all sorts... plastic, radio-control, sailboats, even solar-powered models!

This here comic book wasn't just an "Insert Prevue" or "Bonus Book", or whatever we're calling it... this one was actually both a standalone giveaway and a pack-in with the Rising Bird model set.  The box advertises an "18 Page" booklet... and since this story is only 14 (counting the cover and text pages), I gotta wonder what "challenges" appeared on the other four!  Man, don't tell me I actually gotta track one'a these buggers down...



If we flip the box over... well, it looks like all of the Lightning Racers were "Juniors"!  Whodathunkit?



Overall... had wayyy more fun with this one than should've been possible... and I recommend giving this one a full read, should you come across it during a (re)read of a circa-1990 DC Comic.  I'd still love to know who was involved in the creation of it... if anyone happens to know, please pass that information my way!

--

(Not the) Letters Page/Interesting Ads (???):



Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Adventures of Superman #500 (1993)


Adventures of Superman #500 (Early June, 1993)
"Life After Death!"
Writer - Jerry Ordway
Pencils - Tom Grummett
Inks & Tones - Doug Hazlewood
Letters - Albert DeGuzman
Colors - Glenn Whitmore
Assistant Editor - Jennifer Frank
Editor - Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $2.95 (Deluxe) / $2.50 (Newsstand)

Welcome, friends to Super-Blog Team-Up: Chromium... where the gang has all come together in order to celebrate... and maybe, just maybe, denigrate the various "eras of excess" within in the industry we all love so much.

This time out, I've made a multi-media mess out of myself.  We've got this post you're currently reading... for which, I made a video to introduce the whole thing:



I've also released, for those interested, an episode of the Chris is on Infinite Earths Podcast (Episode 33), wherein I spend the better part of an hour discussing... my first choice for this Chromium outing, if I hadn't already discussed it here: the five-variant covers/stories that appeared in Team Titans #1 (1992)!



And, if that ain't enough... the end of this very blog post contains a list of links to other great bloggers and content creators that I highly recommend checking out!  Heck, I can take credit for nominating a few of 'em into the SBTU fold!  What I can't take credit for, is their work, which is great!  So, check 'em out!

But first... here at these Infinite Earths... we've got us quite the issue of Superman to discuss.  So, pour yourself a second (or third) cup... and let's do this.

--


Picking up right where the story left off… ya know, three months ago, Jonathan Kent has just flatlined… however, in the “afterlife” he has just clasped hands with his son Clark.  He’s not there to join his Super son, however… he’s there to stop him from going toward the light.  The Superman ghost compels Jonathan to return to the land of the living


Superman turns his back to Jonathan… and joins a pair of cloaked individuals… Though, it’s worth noting, that it would appear that Jonathan sees them as Byrne-Man of Steel-style Kryptonians.  Clark walks into the light… but that’s not going to stop Pa!  He too flies toward the light!


Back in Smallville, Jonathan has been injected with Lydocaine... which breaks the flatline into intermittent blip-blips.  A nurse is able to pull Martha away for a cup of coffee so the doctors can work their magic.  Outside the examination room, she is surprised to see that Lois has arrived to check in.


In Metropolis, Gangbuster breaks up a drug deal… or does he?  Well, actually he breaks up an undercover cop attempting to bust a big-time dealer.  Such is life for Jose Delgado.  Never one to quit while he’s behind, Gangbuster then starts… Copbusting.


He judo throws an officer to the ground… and hops onto a fire escape to, well… escape firing guns!  Being as though this is still Jose Delgado, he takes a bullet to the bicep during the escape.  An officer gives chase… which forces Jose to leap off the building, and into the conveniently-located Metropolis Harbor.  Eesh, just think of all the bacteria getting into that bullet wound!


Back in… Heaven?  Pa is dressed like Sgt. Rock’s grandfather… stomping through a war zone, bayonet in hand.  He stumbles onto a battlefield where his entire unit lay dead.  Jonathan makes his way through the battlefield… and into some brush.  Passing into the clearing, he spots a burning hut.  He rushes inside to find a young man… who looks like his brother Harry.  Probably because… it is!  Well, a near-death manifestation of him anyway…


As, Jonathan lifts his brother up… a wild Commie approaches!  The ol’ man punches the Red’s head clean off!


In Metropolis, Cat Grant gets her butt pinched by Vincent Edge.  Vincent Edge is the father of Morgan Edge… he’s also tied up with Darkseid and Apokolips, so… he’s a pretty bad dude.  We learn he’s sweet-talking Ms. Grant because he needs a favor.  Ya see, Jimmy Olsen hasn’t shown up for the last two-weeks worth of Turtle Boy tapings!


He also asks about her love life.  Who does this guy think he is, Tommy Wiseau?


Anyhoo, she reveals that she and Jose are on the outs… and starts sobbing.  Smelling blood… well, I hope that’s blood… Vinnie decides to ask Cat out on a date.  Annnnd, she accepts?!  The lesson here, I guess is… pinching butts is a way to get dates?  Nah, nevermind… I didn’t say that.


Speaking of Turtle Boy… over at the prison, the Trickster’s cellmate is watching a rerun on his teeny tiny television.  And laughing like an “addled-brained, methane gas-producing jackass”.  That Trickster, he sure paints with words!  The Jackass is enjoying his program… and refers to it as being “very nineties”.  Okey dokey, then.  The Trickster pours water into the teeny tiny television to put an end to the Turtling (don't Google that).


Speaking of Turtle Boy… again!  We next join Jimmy Olsen at the Daily Planet Building where he is given an assignment.  While there, he’s approached by Ron Troupe, who has some Turtle-Boy related phone messages for Jim… who makes it pretty clear that his days on the half-shell are behind him.


Back in Smallville, Lois comforts Ma… by telling her that she doesn’t believe in the afterlife.  That… hmm, that might be a little tone-deaf there, Ms. Lane.  There’s a time and place for that kinda debate, Lois… and I don’t think this is it.


Though, while speaking of the afterlife… Jonathan Kent is still trudging through Korea.  He steps on a rotten plank and falls into a pit.  A man approaches the hole and tosses him a rope.  A man Jon believes to be his own Pa!  Well… that’s not Pa’s Pa at all… instead it’s a demonic monster!  In the background, we see Blaze sitting on a throne made of skulls.


She offers him… a deal.  Devil’s always do that kinda thing.  If you’re wondering if she’s going to offer him a return to the living in exchange for his and Martha’s marriage… you’ve probably been reading other comics in the interim.  This is a much more “boilerplate” arrangement being presented, she just wants his soul.  Sorry, Aunt May!


Jonathan decides he’ll try his luck in the pit… and lets go of the line.  He continues to fall… until everything goes white.  He suddenly finds himself floating before Kismet.  Kismet is like Marvel’s Eternity… only, with boobs.  She sets him on the right path… to perhaps save “the airman”… which is to say, she send him to… The World of Krypton!


When Pa gets his bearings, he sees his boy being carried by a gaggle of Kryptonians in a sedan.  He rushes over in attempt to “wake” Superman… but he is cut off by the Krypton Clerics.


Back in Metropolis, Gangbuster pulls himself out of the drink… well, a fella named Highpockets pulls him out.  He suggests they head over to Bibbo’s, but Jose’s gotta stop by the bus station first.


Back in the afterlife, Pa continues to shout at Superman… and it finally seems to get through.  Superman looks at his Kryptonian compatriots… and sees them for what they truly are… monsters!  Demons, even!  Superman pummels the baddies pretty quickly.  Pa suggests that maybe Superman can’t really die… and the only reason he’s “going through the motions” is due to his being raised by mortals… with the concept of mortality.  Wow, there’s some food for thought!  Anyhoo, the pair approach a black hole amid the light… and go to fly into it.


But first… Jor-El!  Kal’s bio-Pop shows up to stop the pair from skidooin’.  And so, Pa manifests a shovel… and smashes Jor-El in the face with it!  I always say, let the punishment fit the crime!  Anyhoo, Clark and Jonathan head into the black hole.


At which time, back in Smallville… Pa sits up!


We join Lois on her return flight to Metropolis… when suddenly, a blue and red blur buzzes the plane!  When the plane touches down… it seems everywhere Lois goes, all anyone can talk about is… Superman.  As in, he’s back!


On the news, various eyewitnesses are interviewed.  A young girl named Cindy has drawn a picture of the “Sooperman” who rescued her kitty from a tree.


But, there’s more… In Centennial Park, a jogger describes Superman saving her from being hit by a stolen cab.  A family in Suicide Slum claims that Superman rescued their baby from their burning tenement.  The foreman at the Northpoint Nuclear Power Plant has a similar tale to tell.  And finally, a woman states that Superman not only saved her from an attacker… but actually killed her attacker!


We wrap up with Lois at the Centennial Park Memorial with Inspector Henderson.  With all the sightings… she’s got to know.  They enter, and… the casket… she be empty!


That might be the end of the story… but not the end of the issue!  Our first “sighting” vignette opens with a pair of gangs fighting over some over-sized guns called “Toastmasters”.  The woman known as the White Rabbit looks on, pleased that with Superman out of the way… Metropolis is hers for the taking.


The police drive up, and the gangs disperse.  From the rubble of one of the buildings destroyed during the Doomsday massacre, a man rises…


This is a very large bald, black man… but I'm not telling you anything that you don’t already know.  He doesn’t look like him, but he sure sounds a lot like… Superman?!


Our second “sighting” opens with a would-be carjacker being stopped… by a man in a cape, and visor.  The dude opens fire into the caped-man’s chest… illuminating it just enough to make out a familiar logo.


The bum attempts to flee, but our mystery man gives chase… finally descending on him, looking very much like… Superman?!


Sighting, the Third takes place at Cadmus Labs, as the Guardian rushes toward Lab 13 where an explosion just jammed the doors shut.  A soldier named Silvestri arrives to “gently” nudge the door… with a bazooka.  Like I always say, the right tool for the right job!  Once inside, they find… an empty pod, with what looks like Superman’s torn cape caught in the broken glass.


Guardian notices a Dr. Packard hanging from the ceiling wrapped in piping.  He reveals that the Newsboys and this… Number 13 escaped through the air ducts.  At that moment, the five Newsboys… and a guest, pop out of the other end of the air ducts… and hey look, it’s (don’t ever call him) Superboy!


Sighting, the Final.  It’s morning in Metropolis… and the Sun rises over the shimmery skyline.  A family of tourists is walking down Broadway… or whatever block the Daily Planet Building is on, when their son notices the Superman memorial plaque, commemorating the spot he died on while saving the city.  This mustn’t be the original plaque, because that one read: “In Memoriam - Superman - Killed on this spot while defending the city”, while this one reads: “In Memory of Superman - Killed on this spot while defending Metropolis”.



Anyway… as this family stops to admire the plaque… Superman arrives?!  He picks up the plaque… and incinerates it.  In fairness… if he ain’t dead, I guess they don’t need it!  Worth noting, these early panels are kinda “Austin Powering” the left side of Superman’s face… and when we get a good look at him… well, sonuvagun… he’s a cyborg!



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The Extra Pages:

The "Deluxe"/White-Bagged Edition came packed with an additional eight pages of story.  They're all splash pages, and don't really add all that much... but, here they are, in all their glory!




Man... two whole "exclusive" pages wasted on Jose frickin' Delgado?  Yeesh!  Anyhoo, in case you were interested/unaware (I know I was)... these extra pages were just slotted in instead of Ads:



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Got a lot of irons in the fire of late... and one of them has me revisiting the post-Claremont X-Men books.  In re-reading X-Men (vol.2) #1, I mentioned just how iconic nearly every single panel in that thing has become... at least to me.  These images have been burned... heck, imprinted into my memory... and will always be definitive "comics" to me.  I didn't think there were any other comics, barring maybe Superman (vol.2) #75, that evoked that same reaction in me.  Then... I opened this one.

While it certainly wasn't every image that "got" me... there were definitely a fair-share that will always remain with me.  I'm talking specifically about the early panel in the afterlife where Pa is grabbing Clark by the shirt... and the four Reign of the Supermen reveals.  Perhaps it was the fact that I read this during my formative years... or, heck, maybe I'm actually right... and these are iconic to everybody!

Anyhoo, whatta we got here, anyway?  This is the beginning of the return of Superman.  On that, we can all agree.  I remember being very excited for this back in the long ago... but, after the initial shock to my system, I kinda fell off the Super-books.  Even this issue, in and of itself, is... I dunno, a bit uneven?  Don't get me wrong, there are some great bits here... but, there are also sections where it kind of drags.  I can't really get mad at it... it's almost like a "necessary evil" situation.

I'll admit, back when I was a wee lad of thirteen, I couldn't care less about Jimmy Olsen's Turtle Boy career, Cat Grant being sexually harassed by the elder Edge, and Jose frickin' Delgado bumbling his way through his vigilante life.  I wanted Superman... and not much else.  As an adult, I can't help but to appreciate the, for lack of a better term, "world building" employed here.  We get to catch up with the wider cast... which helps to reinforce the fact to the reader that, even though Superman's story ended... life went on for the citizens of Metropolis, and beyond.  There's something, I dunno, kind of sobering about that.  A real feeling of mortality starts to creep into the corner of my mind when I allow myself to think about it.

We get a sorta-kinda reunion with the Man of Steel... but, that's almost secondary here.  When we look at the afterlife scenes, really and truly, they belong to Pa.  Superman gets a few punches in (a few more in the Deluxe Version than the Newsstand), but this is Pa Kent's journey... and I think that was a wise decision on the part of the creative team!

The issue wraps up by sweeping us right into the new "status quo"... leading to a quartet of comics with die-cut covers!  Gimmicks galore, y'all!  We meet our new stand-in Supermen... and, I still remember being kind of blown away by this when I first read it.  I was almost positive that the Eradicator would be eventually revealed as being the Real Steel Deal... though, I gotta admit, I was holding out hope for the Cyborg!  What a dumb kid I was...

Overall... I almost feel silly reviewing (if that's in fact what I'm doing) this issue, with the assumption that most everybody checking out this site has very likely already read this story.  Though, perhaps I'm just projecting.  Wouldn't be the first time!  If you've made it this far, feel free to lemme know in the comments who you thought the "Real Steel Deal" was going to wind up being?

I wanna thank everyone, old and (potentially) new, for stopping by the humble blog today... perhaps during your trip through the Super-Blog Team-Up chain.  I hope you enjoyed what you saw... and hope to see you back again real soon!

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Letters Page:


 

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Otha Covuhs:







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The Card (worth the price of admission on it's own)!



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Interesting Ads:




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