Superman (vol.2) #141 (1999)

Superman (vol.2) #141 (January, 1999)
“Introducing Outburst!”
Writer – Dan Jurgens
Guest Penciller – Scot Eaton
Inker – Joe Rubenstein
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Glenn Whitmore
Separations – Digital Chameleon
Assistant Editor – Maureen McTigue
Editor – Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $1.99

Been doing a lot of Death of Superman reading of late to prepare for our Cosmic Treadmill series celebrating the twenty-fifth (jeez!) anniversary of the story…

Oh by the way, Part One’s right here…

One of the characters introduced way back then was a punk kid named Mitch Anderson.  Ya know… this kid:

Hardcore, bro!  Worth mentioning, this is all because she forgot to buy him soda

He was a Guy Gardner fan… and thought Superman was kind of a dork.  That is, until he saved his family from a rampaging beast.  Why do I mention Mitch?  Well… seems timely considering the issue we’re going to discuss today… but I won’t ruin it for you.  Or did I already?  Either way, I promise to act surprised if you do!

We open with a group of masked fellas descending on S.T.A.R. Labs under the cover of night.  One repels down and uses one of those cool glass-cutters to gain access.  Once inside, one of them hops over to a computer to grab some data while the others serve as cover… even frying a curious night watchman!

It looks like they’ve planned for everything… well, everything except… the wacky wall-walkin’ Outburst?!

Outburst is a brand-new hero… so, it’s not difficult to understand why these geeks might not have planned for him.  They unload their guns in his direction, however, he’s able to acrobatically evade every last shot… all the while cracking wise as though he were a certain wall-crawler (rather than a wall-walker).

Everything’s all well and good for the colorful young man… until he tries to get a bit creative with his banter (it gets pretty try-hard, but whattaya expect from a kid-hero?), and winds up getting pistol-whipped.

We shift scenes to the Lexcom Building… twenty minutes earlier.  Lois Lane is about to get off work (a 12-hour shift!), and is met by the on-hiatus Clark (he’s off to write a book, apparently… I really don’t remember the particulars of this storyline) to grab some dinner.  Unfortunately for our pals, Lois’ mean ol’ boss-lady, Simone Deigns has chosen now to hold a meeting… so, dinner’s going to have to wait.

It’s just as well… because Clark hears the intruder alarm at S.T.A.R. Labs go off anyway, and knows that’s likely something that requires his immediate attention.  He heads to the stairwell to “Supe-up” and head off…

… arriving just as our new buddy Outburst is about to have his head blown off.  He heat-visions a baddie’s gun before taking a half dozen bullets to the face and chest.  Outburst is overjoyed to see his savior, as he considers Big Blue to be his fav’rit… er, that is… his favorite.  Like, his idol.  This really isn’t Bibbo, I hope I didn’t get your hopes up.

While Superman and Outburst take on the bad guys, that one who went to the computer bank reveals that they got what they came for.  We can see Superman’s logo on the monitor.  Hmm.  He calls for a diversion so they can bug-out with the goods…

… and so, he calls for a missile-packin’ helicopter to descend.  Superman runs up to the window to take a pair of missiles to the chest!

This results in a rather sizable explosion… kinda begs the question why he took the blasts if he couldn’t somehow absorb the resulting ka-boom.  Either way, the baddies manage to break away and escape… with whatever information they came for.  Outburst uses his magnetty powers to frantically dig Superman out of the rubble… and winds up on the wrong end of a lecture for his troubles.

Superman heads skyward to see if he can’t pursue the thieves before realizing that several tanks full of toxic gas had been rigged to release to further occupy him and cover the bad guys’ tracks.  Superman and his would-be sidekick work together to contain the gunk.

Quitting while he’s ahead, Outburst decides to head home… to Suicide Slum, where he unmasks revealing himself to be… Mitch Anderson???  That kid who’s house Doomsday destroyed back in ’92?  Sur-prise!  Well, that’s a deep cut!

Elsewhere, the data is delivered to the bad-guy-benefactor… Lex Luthor.  Well, no surprise there.  The information he sought was everything S.T.A.R. Labs knows about Superman’s D.N.A. so that Lex and Co. can set about working toward development of synthesized Kryptonite.

We shift scenes to Superman returning home… where Lois is already asleep.  He comments on how frustrating a night this turned out to be… and I can’t argue that.  Of interest… before hitting the sack, Clark brushes his teeth.  I never think about him doing stuff like that… must just be to counter bad breath, right?

We wrap up this issue in… what I assume to be Russia, where a nuclear power plant is currently melting down!  We are, (duh) to be continued…

As silly a concept like giving Mitch friggin’ Anderson superpowers (much less bringing him back at all) is… I gotta say, I thought it worked.  Worked well, even!

Full disclosure, this comes from a period of time where I wasn’t following Superman books… like at all.  I’ve been known to describe pre-Crisis Superman comics as interchangeable and unimportant… but, truth be told, I kinda feel the same way about the books of the late-1990’s.  They seem to just drift from one story to the next, without much in the way of “milestones”.  I look at the era between the end of “Electric Blue” and the arrival of Jeph Loeb and couldn’t tell ya what happened when.  I’ve made a few attempts at working my way through it… but never get all that far.

That isn’t to say it’s bad… it just doesn’t hold my attention.  That might sound worse… but also consider, that I didn’t have a whole lot in the way of investment in Superman during this era.  For me, we go straight from the Death and Return… to Electric Blue… to Y2K.

With that blibbuh-blabbah out of the way… I really enjoyed this.  Far more than I thought I would!  When we first met Mitch, I thought he was a jackass… like I think we were supposed to.  Well, maybe that’s too severe.  He really came off like that cliche “broken home” kid.  Nothing wrong in using a negative archetype… especially if you work toward a redemption arc… which they sorta did during Funeral for a Friend… and continue to do here.

We’re left with a lot of questions.  How and why did Mitch wind up in Suicide Slum?  Last we saw him, the DC heroes rebuilt his family home and his folks decided to give the marriage another go.

From Superman (vol.2) #76 – Words & Art: Dan Jurgens

Also… how did he get superpowers?  Does it have something to do with his suit?  Did they somehow develop?  Was he marrow-sucked by one’a them Bloodlines aliens?  Was it a late reaction to the Gene Bomb?  Well, we could just Google it… but, where’s the fun in that?

Outburst does come across a bit Spider-Man like here… almost veering into full-blown Deadpool!  That’s not a particularly bad thing, as it’s always fun to have a bit of banter.  Just a few years earlier, Dan Jurgens had a short run with Spidey… well, a Spidey anyway (t’was the Clone Saga)… so, I wonder if Outburst might be getting some of Peter Parker/Ben Reilly’s leftover jokes.

Scot Eaton turns in some really great fill-in art here… really doesn’t feel like a “fill-in” at all!  I usually complain about how muddy books of this vintage look because of the rotten shiny paper… but the coloring and inks here don’t look half bad!

Overall… a fine issue!  Definitely inspired me to be a bit more proactive in checking out pre-Loeb and Co. turn of the century Superman.  Hell, I’ve got’em all… just gotta get around to reading them!  This issue is available digitally.

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