Action Comics #593 (October, 1987)
“The Suicide Snare”
Story, Pencils & Figure Inks – John Byrne
Background Inks – Keith Williams
Lettering – John Costanza
Coloring – Tom Ziuko
Editing – Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $0.75
After getting all hot ‘n bothered last issue, we now get to bear witness to what Sleez’s designs are for the Man of Steel and Mrs. Miracle. Could his plans possibly live up to his namesake? Well, I suppose that all depends on how you view the field of erotic cinema…
Let’s all watch on in amazement as Clark and Barda Make a… you know…
As we open, Mister Miracle Scott Free is practicing his lock-picking technique. From the looks of it, he booby traps he and Barda’s front door to keep would-be interlopers from invading. He gets the door unlocked with two seconds to spare. Flinging the door open, expecting to find his beloved bride Barda… Scott is shocked to find a lounging Darkseid… who apparently raided the Free’s liquor cabinet to boot!
Darkseid assures Scott (and Oberon) that he means them no harm, and only wishes to share with them a video tape he’d recently come into possession of. Scott loads it into his VCR, and he and Oberon are shocked to find that it’s… one of those kinda movies. Like, ya know… with naked peop… okay okay, it’s porn. Not just porn, mind… Big Barda porn.
Darkseid, being quite the helpful fella, points Scott to the skin-flicks shop of origin. It’s a cruddy hole in the wall on Hob’s Lane in the Suicide Slum section of Metropolis.
Meanwhile… Sleez (who’s going by the name Smith at this juncture) is introducing adult film director, Grossman (har har) to his newest star… Superman. Grossman, who has no problem conducting business with a three-foot tall green blob of a man ain’t buying it. To that, Sleez instructs his super-puppet to make toothpicks out of Grossman’s desk.
Grossy is suitably impressed and convinced, but has a few concerns… Sleez assures him that he’s got the Man of Steel wrapped around his little finger… he also makes plain his plans for the next film to star Superman and Big Barda.
Mister Miracle is hot on the trail. As he approaches Suicide Slum he recounts his own secret origin. From his time at Granny Goodness’ orphanage, to learning his escape artistry from Himon, to meeting Barda and escaping Apokolips… all the way to meeting the doomed original Mr. Miracle Thaddeus Brown.
As he touches down, he is jumped by a gaggle of skuzzy street toughs. The load him into a sack… throw that sack into a dumpster… weld the dumpster shut… and drop him into the bay. They really must not have any idea who they’re dealing with…
Our next scene (somehow) opens with Mr. Miracle peering into a skylight while Grossman and Sleez begin shooting their Super porno. Grossman ain’t all that happy, claiming over Superman’s wooden (if you’ll pardon the tacky pun) acting. Sleez realizes that Superman is resisting his suggestive powers, and begins considering his empathic options.
He manages to convince Superman and Barda to embrace. Before things can become too steamy, Scott decides he’s seen enough… and throws himself through the skylight.
Sleez is quite surprised to see Mister Miracle, as he’d believed his hobo army took care of him with their dumpster welding prowess. Scott’s all “pshh” and reminds him who he’s dealing with. Sleez then sics the tongue tentacle (tongtacle?) critter from last issue at Scott before fleeing the scene.
Miracle identifies the beastie as an Ash-Crawler, and his struggle causes Barda to break from Sleez’s control. She makes short work of the crawler as Superman gives chase to their former captor and “talent” scout.
Sleez finds himself backed into a corner, with Superman in hot pursuit. Rather than risk capture, he instead lights a match causing the sewage gases to ignite.
Superman reports back to the Free-folk, telling them Sleez is likely no more. He shares a moment with Barda where they both admit to being unsure whether or not they’d ever… knocked boots, while under Sleez’s empathic control. They decide not to think too hard about it, and try and put it behind them. Scott looks suitably (and I suppose understandably) annoyed.
We wrap up with Clark Kent paying another visit to the old folks at the hospital. He’s surprised to see that they are still alive despite Sleez’s apparent death. He believed that Sleez’s powers were somehow providing these oldsters with extra life force… but now, he’s not so sure…
So much fun.
We’ve gone from “every issue is somebody’s first” to “every issue is an event” in the time since this issue released. I miss these kind of one (or two) off stories that are just plain fun. They do not feel like filler, yet at the same time they’re not tied into some overarching event.
This issue (and the one proceeding it) are just treat. They are not too serious, yet Byrne plays with serious themes. The image of Superman and Big Barda sitting on a bed with a camera aimed at them is so incredibly surreal. It’s silly, but I know I’ll never forget it. I really appreciate how tactful Byrne was in his handling of this subject. Like, it’s clear what’s going on… but the way in which it’s portrayed is not gratuitous and does not feel like it’s in poor taste. I would imagine it would be difficult to walk that line.
|He doesn’t always drink Scott Free’s liquor… but when he does, he’s watching his wife’s skin flick…|
Keeping on the surreal/silly trail… c’mon, Darkseid lounging in a La-Z-Boy, sipping some of Scott’s liquor is just too amazing. The idea that Darkseid’s “agents” have somehow come into possession of Big Barda’s video is wonderfully insane as well. Ya really gotta feel for poor Scott during this issue… Having your arch-enemy, and brutal dictator deliver a his wife’s porno tape… that’s gotta be a blow to the ego. What’s more, the very thought that Superman maybe shtupped his wife is one that he’ll not soon forget… Seriously, imagine having to live up to that!
Just as the previous chapter, this one comes with a big recommendation. Check ’em out if you get the opportunity… you won’t be sorry.
Interesting Ads: (slim pickins edition… I’ve done too many 1987 books!)