The Superman/Madman Hullabaloo! #1 (1997)

The Superman/Madman Hullabaloo! #1 (June, 1997)
“Man and Super-Madman!”
Story & Art – Mike Allred
Colors & Separations – Laura Allred
Lettering – Sean Konot
Editors – Bob Schreck, Mike Carlin & Jamie S. Rich
Special Thanks – Alyce Raeford & Jacqui Jones-Rozier
For – Christopher Reeve
Cover Price: $2.95

The word “Hullabaloo” doesn’t get enough play anymore… same with “Ballyhoo”.  While we’re at it… hubbub and brouhaha are good ones to.

What the hell am I talking about?  I dunno… sometimes when I have trouble writing a preamble I just vamp for a bit in hopes that something worth reading will drip from my fingers into the keyboard.

Can’t win ’em all!  On to the book…

We open in Metropolis with Superman soaring through the sky carrying a cybernetic arm.  From here we jump immediately to Snap City in an alternate reality… this is the home of Frank Einstein (say that real fast… you’ll get it) otherwise known as Madman!  We get a brief recap of Madman’s origin… which, I gotta say, is welcome.  I have a slight Madman collection in my library and always thought the character was cool, but I would never suggest that I’m anything akin to an expert.  

For those in the same boat, lemme ‘splain.  He was once a “John Doe” delivered dead-on-arrival to a scientist named Dr. Udo.  He, along with an associate Dr. Gillespie Flem were able to piece it all together and bring the corpse back to life… naming this fella after a pair of their heroes… Frank Sinatra and Albert Einstein… I’d have figured Mary Shelley’d be in there somewhere, but whattayagonnado?  We see some (I assume) members of Madman’s cast, including perhaps/likely a love interest named Joe.

One evening while watching television, Frank receives a call from Dr. Flem in Buzztown.  He’s got a job for him!  He’s been working on a rocket to bridge the gap between alternate realities and is hopeful that Madman will pilot the thing.  Ya see where this is headed, right?  Anyhoo, speaking of alternate realities, we rejoin Superman as he’s headed to check on some outer space energy pulses for Dr. Emil Hamilton.

And so, they both do as they’re asked… and bada bing bada boom, a reaction occurs which causes them to each pass through the spatial rift… resulting in two amalgamated version of the heroes, one for each reality!

The one with Superman’s brain winds up in Madman’s reality.  It’s pretty neat, he’s in Dr. Flem’s rocket… and it crashes in a field.  Deja vu all over again!  He’s shocked to see that he’s bleeding… and when he goes to fly, well… he can’t!  In Metropolis, the amalgamated hero with Einstein’s brain crashes to the ground… and is shocked to see that he’s suffered very little injury from the impact.  He is soon overcome by his own potential… unknowingly having a whole lot of Superman’s powers would probably be something you’d have to get used to!  After seeing how fast he can run… and how high he can jump, Frank decides maybe he’d be better off walking… at a brisk pace.

Over the next few pages, our Super-Madmen become a bit more acclimated to their new surroundings.  We’ll refer to them by the brain they have… for my sanity and yours.  Superman uses what remains of his telescopic vision to scan the horizon.  Madman walks to a gas station and asks to use the bathroom.  Superman is shortly joined by Dr. Flem, Joe, and Mott… and it’s deduced that, er… a creature from another dimension has possessed their man Frank!  Meanwhile, in the truck stop toilet, Madman washes up… and is pleasantly surprised to see how handsome he’s become!

We meet up with Frank a bit later as he strolls through the streets of Metropolis.  He attempts to try on a pair of sunglasses from a street vendor, and not knowing his own strength, pops the lenses right out of them… briefly giving him the ol’ Clark Kent look.  At this point, who should wander by but Lois Lane!  She immediately recognizes her, I wanna say fiance… but might be husband at this point.  Either way, he’s wearing a gaudy Superman costume, so he’s hard to miss.

Back in Buzztown, Superman is taken to Dr. Flem’s secret underground lab… or, what’s left of it.  A helpful footnote informs us that it had been destroyed in Madman Comics #9.

In Metropolis, Lois tries to get to the bottom of why “Superman” is referring to himself as “Frank”.  She asks him to take her in his arms and fly them somewhere private to talk.  Frank ain’t so sure… he’s not really good at this flying thing.  He gives it the ol’ college try, and manages to pull them both to a high landing.  Crass though it may be, I think I’d be remiss not to mention that we see a, *ahem* bit more of Lois here than I was expecting.

Back in Buzztown, Superman and Dr. Flem crunch some data.  They figure out pretty much exactly what happened.  The way Superman sees it, he’s currently at 1/8 his power level, so he assumes Frank’s got the other 7/8.

Just then back in Metropolis, a robbery takes place!  A suited man runs down the street, pursued by yet another.  The first one is struck by a car… but shakes it off.  He aims his gun at the second, however, before he can fire Super-Madman slides into panel to take the barrage to the belly.

The bad guy is annoyed by the sight of “Superman”… and Frank plucks the bullets from his torso (they didn’t quite “bounce” off).  The thief gets a better look at our (mad)man and is all “nah, this ain’t Superman” and so, he presses his pistol into the base of his neck.  The issue closes out with Lois running in to plead with him not to shoot.

I really had no idea what to expect here.  I thought teaming Madman and Superman up would be a strange event… and hard to really conceptualize.  What we get here, while perhaps not as novel as a “true” team-up was certainly a lot of fun… and, comic-bookily speaking, makes sense.

Like I said during the synopsis… I have very little “working knowledge” of Madman.  I’ve grabbed the odd issue every now and again… I may even have a trade or two that I haven’t gotten around to yet… but I’ve always thought he was one of the cooler looking characters to come out.  His costume is minimalist and iconic all at once, and his colorful world and cast just begs to be enjoyed.  Unfortunately, time is a premium and we don’t always get to read everything we want.  I’ll refrain from referring to that tired old Burgess Meredith Twilight Zone meme… whoops, too late.

I think the backstory we get for Frank works fine for what the story is going for.  This isn’t meant to be Madman 101… but the bits and pieces do help familiarize us with one of our leading men.  I’m just glad we didn’t get the old “rocketed from the doomed planet Krypton” spiel again.  I guess Allred figured folks might just know who Superman is at this point… and I’m thankful for that!

As for the story itself.  An interesting premise with Superman and Madman kinda sklorping into one another… and popping out amalgamated versions.  Show of hands, how many folks added the word “amalgam” to their vocabulary after the DC/Marvel event?  I know I did!  It was perhaps a bit convenient that both heroes almost immediately ran into the supporting cast of the other, but this is a three-issue series, we gotta get where we’re going.

I thought it was pretty interesting that Lois was so chill with this odd version of her beau popping up.  She took it all in stride.  Not even having her panties flashed to the bustling Metropolis streets could slow her down.  Also, the Allred’s depiction of Lois was really very nice.  I like this look for her a lot… and instantly identifiable.  If this character had shown up in any comic, I gotta say, one of the first thoughts to pop into my head would be “that’s Lois Lane”.

While discussing art… hey, this issue’s got a bunch of that… and damn is it nice!  This is such a pretty book to behold, so bright and colorful… and the character designs look amazing.  It’s so vibrant… but at the same time, subtle.  It took me until my second read-through to even realize that they amalgamated the Superman and Madman logos!  If you look at Frank, he’s got the classic “S”… but the shield is shaped like the Madman “lightning bolt exclamation point”.  Superman has the classic “shield”, however, inside is the Madman “lightning bolt”.  So subtle… and so awesome!  A detail that could have been left out, and not effected the story one bit… but it being there somehow adds a great deal to my enjoyment.

Overall, I had a blast with this.  Wasn’t sure what to expect, but was damn happy with what we got.  The only negative I can raise is that… I’ve looked for the second and third issues of this for years… without any luck!  So, in order to finish this… I gotta launch a hunt.  For those who’d rather read this all in one go… DC/Dark Horse released a trade paperback wayyy back in 1998, which is available at a low price on Amazon.  For this story, plus a few more Dark Horse/DC Comics crossovers, be sure to check out Dark Horse/DC Comics Crossovers: Superman (also available digitally) Definitely give this one a look if you come across it.

Back Cover (because it’s awesome):

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