Superman (vol.2) #123 (1997)

Superman (vol.2) #123 (May, 1997)
“Superman… Reborn!”
Story – Dan Jurgens
Penciller – Ron Frenz
Inker – Joe Rubenstein
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Glenn Whitmore
Separations – Digital Chameleon
Associate Editor – Mike McAvennie
Editor – Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $1.95

Still feeling in a glow-in-the-dark kinda mood after discussing the conclusion of Emerald Twilight… and this was the first book that came to mind (not that there are all that many with a beautiful radioactive paint-job).  I’m actually quite excited to talk about this one, as it comes from a Superman (DC altogether, really) blind-spot for me.

Looking back, I wish I had been a Superman reader during this time, as it just seems like a damn interesting time.  Alas, instead of discussing when Superman would be ditchin’ his electric blues… I was across the way wondering when Wolverine would get his adamantium back!

We open with Lois Lane fighting traffic on her way to meet with Emil Hamilton and Kitty Faulkner at S.T.A.R. Labs.  Her new husband, Superman’s powers have gone all outta whack.  He’s becoming incorporeal, fading in and out of physical form.  Making matters worse, he’s in the middle of a fight with a blue brute called Scorn.

Superman is struggling big time with this battle… his power is surging and his vision is a psychedelic mess.  Jimmy Olsen and Bibbo are among the spectators, and Superman is doing what he can to keep them safe.  He finally manages to bring things into focus just in time for Scorn to sock him into next week… or an electrified Soder Cola billboard…

… which he appears to absorb the electricity from… 

With Superman outta the picture, Scorn turns his attention toward young Olsen and begins his approach.  Luckily (your mileage may vary) Superman is able to pull himself together long enough to fly headlong into Scorn, and sends him into the bay.

We shift scenes to Lex Luthor’s bad-ass multimedia room.  He’s watching dozens of Jimmy Olsens reporting on the latest Superman-flavored proceedings.  Lex’s new wife, the Contessa enters and the two discuss whether or not LexCorp should step in to help the alien.  Lex rattles off an awesome line here, where he asks if he gains more from Superman’s suffering… or his salvation.

Rush hour must be over, because Lois has finally arrived at S.T.A.R.  It doesn’t take long for a power surge to hit… Superman is in the building!  Hamilton guides him to a containment chamber to try and keep him in one piece… time is most definitely of the essence.

The Docs and Lois try to figure out the best way to approach this.  Hamilton insists they require some Kryptonian technology, to which the handy li’l robot Kelex offers himself as sacrifice.  Moments later, the Contessa enters holding a roll of blue “advanced polymer fabric” courtesy of LexCorp.  They have been monitoring the Super-sitch, and advise the crew that they may just be their only hope.  She places the fabric on the table and leaves.

We briefly shift to Scorn climbing outta the drink onto a small fishing boat.  His very appearance causes the fisherman on board to suffer a heart attack.  Here we get a bit of an internal monologue from Scorn… he may not be as bad a fella as we thought.

Back at S.T.A.R., it is decided that they will use the LexCorp fabric to create a containment suit for Superman.  They finish up the project, and not a moment too soon… at this point there’s very little left of the Man of Steel.

Superman is summoned to try on his new duds, and wouldn’tcha know it, they’re a perfect fit!  The suit allows him to keep his new powers when he’s “in phase”, however, he becomes completely human when he’s not.  That’s an interesting wrinkle that was lost on me during my first read.

Superman zips through Metropolis, and we see Lex and Bride of Lex watching… they’re both quite pleased.

Finally, Superman flies home to Smallville to check in on Ma and Pa… and to show off his new clothes.  They take this drastic change in appearance… perhaps a bit too well.  However, after all they’d been through raising the boy who would become Superman, I’d have to assume it’s a bit difficult to really shake them.

The issue wraps up with Scorn carrying the fallen fisherman into the Emergency Room.  As he leaves, he finds a scrap of newspaper with a photo of Clark Kent on it… he rubs his chin, Zack Morris style, indicating he just might be making some connections.

I’d only read this one once before, and purely for the novelty of the thing… not in any way with an analytic eye.  I remember finding the entire thing kind of “out there”, and pretty much wrote the whole thing off.  I’m really glad I gave it the “second chance”.

This era seems to get a great deal of flack, and while I’m ultimately ignorant to much of it… if this issue is anything to go by, I’d disagree.  This wasn’t a bad issue at all… quite fun, in fact.  Though, I guess I should say I can see why people may not like it.  It is a pretty big departure… and let’s face it, the 90’s were a very tumultuous time for the Man of Steel.  This may feel like the cherry on a stunt-sundae that was started in 1992.

I’m not really sure of the behind-the-scenes story (if there was one, anyway) for the new-look Supes… but, as a temporary (we had to know it was temporary… right?) thing, I don’t have any problem with it.  We just went through a year of the New-52 Superman fighting crime in jeans and a t-shirt, with his secret identity known to the world… this electric blue dealie is hardly that big a deal in retrospect.

I notice that the Scorn character gets a lot of face-time during this era (including a cover featuring only his face, if I’m not mistaken).  I have absolutely no knowledge of the fella, but I’m looking forward to doing some “homework” to fill in my blanks.

I enjoyed how Lois had to actually work at keeping herself in check.  It would only be too easy for her to show her hand… divulge that she’s Mrs. Superman, and Superman is Mr. Kent.  I really like that Jurgens had her actually think about how she was conducting herself around the Docs.  It’s a little thing, but means so much.

I’ve got no complaints about the writing or the art… which shouldn’t really come as any surprise.  I’m a big fan of Dan Jurgens, and Ron Frenz always delivers.  I do, however, have a problem with the coloring… but I suspect that’s more an indictment on the technology of the era.  So many late-90’s books had that odd “muddy” look when it came to the colors (though I did appreciate the psychedelic effects early on).  This issue isn’t nearly as bad in that respect as other books I’ve seen, however, still not all that pretty.

Much to my surprise, this has been collected!  As of this writing, I cannot speak to the quality of the overall package.  I can say, however, that I enjoyed this opening chapter.

I mentioned the glow in the dark cover above… well, hold on to your hats:

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