Friday, January 31, 2020

Fantastic Four (vol.2) #13 (1997)

Fantastic Four (vol.2) #13 (November, 1997)
"World War 3, Part 1: Life in Wartime"
Writer - James Robinson
Pencils - Mike Wieringo
Inks - Richard Case
Colors - WildStormFX
Letters - Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Dave Lamphear
Editor - Ruben Diaz
Editor in Chief - Bob Harras
Cover Price: $1.99

Wait, what?  Is there an issue of Fantastic Four in my DC Comics blog?!  Wassupwitdat?

Well, watch as ya boy jumps through quite a few hoops to make this work.  Ya see, today marks our FOUR YEAR ANNIVERSARY!  That's four-years of DAILY discussions and reviews at this humble and unspectacular little blog.  What betta book to cover today than an issue of Fantastic Four, right?  Right?  ... Right?  Suppose I could've done a Fourth World book, but... ehhh, I never cared much for 'em.  "Milestone" blog books need to be bigger... or at the very least, more "novel" than that.

But why this issue in particular?  Volume Two... Number Thirteen?  Might seem completely random... and you might be thinking I've completely lost my mind.  You might be right about that last part, but, I promise, there is a method to the madness.

Ya see, just in case you're unaware... the thirteenth (and final) issues of Marvel's Heroes Reborn titles (Fantastic Four, Captain America, Iron Man, and Avengers) all took place on Marvel Earth-13031... which just so happens to be (at the time of this comic) a "merged" Marvel and WildStorm Universe dealie.  Since we do cover WildStorm here (taking the imprint all the way back to Day One), I figured I could technically cover this bugger here without breaking (m)any of my self-imposed rules.

Now, it might sound like I'm trying to justify this (very un-DC) pick to y'all... but, don't get it twisted, I'm actually trying to justify it to myself!  Deep breaths... we'll get through this.

Now... let's be self-indulgent and reflect a bit.  I feel like the Fourth Year at Chris is on Infinite Earths (which, if I were a betting man a year ago, I'd swear wouldn't have even been "a thing")... was kind of "defined" by four different things.

First, and perhaps most obvious to those who've been following along... Action Comics Weekly.

From February 1 to November 30 we took a look at every single story that filled the pages of Action Comics Weekly (even the "alternate ending"!).  This might actually be the thing I'm most proud of from all my days of blogging.  It wasn't always the most interesting... or most engaging... and, I tell ya what, it cost me a whole bunch of readers... but, it was a project that, to my knowledge, just hasn't been done before.  I'm happy I saw it through, and it can now sorta stand on its own as a "resource"... because, lemme tell ya, there were definitely times where I wanted to throw in the towel!  If you want to take a look at my coverage... my Action Comics Daily "Post-Mortem" piece is probably the best place to go!

Second, Christmas Stories!  Rather than do my usual "Twelve Days of Christmas on Infinite Earths" series... I decided to go whole-hog Hallmark Channel, and make December 1st through the 25th wall-to-wall Holiday stories!

Keeping with the "Anthology Format" the blog had maintained through most of 2019, I covered all of the stories from a pair of DC Holiday Specials.  I actually almost stopped blogging completely when Action Comics Daily wrapped up... and, had it been any other time of year, I very well might have!  I just can't resist writing about Christmas/Holiday stories!  Heck, we even took a week off from ACW in July to do Christmas on Infinite Earths... in July!

Third, Bonus Books!  A topic I've wanted to discuss for quite a while, but wasn't sure quite how to go about it.  Being a "completionist", I kind of feel weird about leaving anything out... so, I always assumed if I were ever going to cover DC's Insert Prevues or Bonus Books, I'd have to do so as a "part" of covering the actual issues in which they appear.  I actually did do that once... and it made for one heckuva lot of words, and one heckuva long blogging session.

It ultimately came down to me reminding myself that... hey, the only rules to this blogging thing are the ones I impose on myself.  I can get away with whatever I want... and so, I decided to just look at the Insert Prevues and Bonus Books... and we looked at all of 'em... which, is another project that, to my knowledge, hasn't been done before!

Fourth, and... most recent... creating my first ever video for the blog.  This probably isn't a big deal to many folks, however, for me... it was a pretty big step.  I never thought I'd get the guts to actually film myself... and to do so, especially as a part of Super-Blog Team-Up, made me feel... I dunno, really good.

I was surprised to get some very kind words about my "performance".  In case you haven't clicked PLAY, it's me talking about the Super-Blog Team-Up topic "Chromium", and finally, after some near three-decades, unbagging Adventures of Superman #500.  Being someone with zero experience in video, or video-editing... it took forrrrrrever to get this right.  Had to make sure I got it all in one-take.  Ten minutes of video... in one take.  Might not sound like much, but... hoo-boy, lemme tell ya... that was a toughie!

Now, with all the misty water-colored memories (of the way we were) out of the way... whattaya say, we hop right into today's book?  It's gonna be a weird one!


We're actually going to open on the inside fold of the front cover.  This was back when Marvel had this odd, but welcome, gimmick where they'd cram some expositional "catch-up" information inside the front cover... this way it'd be easy to drop some knowledge about what's going on without eating up any'a that valuable paginal real-estate.  It also came justified the four-cent price increase ($1.95 to $1.99) across the board.  Could you even begin to imagine a four-cent price hike?!  We never knew how good we had it.  Anyhoo, it's here that we learn that Galactus was looking to eat the Heroes Reborn pocket-Earth, and that to stop this, Dr. Doom mucked about with the time stream so much that the damn thing just frayed apart.  The very fabric of reality began goes "a bit ca-ca", leaving us with a whole lot of questions... which we'll hopefully begin to make a li'l bit of sense of as we move forward.

When the dust... or whatever "the void" is made out of... finally settles, our scene is New York City.  Doesn't look entirely unfamiliar... probably not a whole lot to worry about, right?

Well... ya see, there's the thing.  Several alien hordes have decided to pull the ol' invasion angle.  This threat is so severe that the only ones who might possibly be able to stop them are the super-heroes.  And so, here's where we meet perennial Marvel mainstays... the WildC.A.T.S?!

These C.A.T.S are comprised of several familiar faces... including Grifter, Zealot, Marlowe, Void, that one dude with the claws... also, Giant Man and Karnak the Inhuman?!  They are fighting off some Daemonites and Skrulls... and look to be barely able to hold their own.

Enter: Reinforcements, in the form of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Black Knights division (led, naturally by Dane Whitman).  As the battle rages, thoughts go to the fallen.  Groups such as the Defenders, and DV8 have perished in the onslaught (not that Onslaught).

The battle continues... but our scene shifts, to outside of what looks like an Armed Forces Recruitment office.  Two young fellas greet each other... with a very odd greeting, that we'll learn a bit more about later on.  It's as though they're both aiming Smartphone screens at one another.  Again, we'll learn about that later.  In the window of the Office is a poster depicting someone who looks a heckuva lot like Captain America doing the old Uncle Sam "I Want You!" gimmick...

We shift scenes again... this time to the Baxter Building, where a certain foursome is just about to return from a trip into the Negative Zone.  Hmm...

Now, it's clear to see that two of our Fantastic Foursome aren't quite the folks we're expecting!  Rather than Johnny and Ben rounding out the team, we've got Maul from WildC.A.T.S and Burnout from Gen¹³!  They hustle over to the computer console in order to close the doorway into the Negative before they can be joined by a pair of pursuers.  They're too late!

We get a few pages of punchy-punchy before Reed goes as far as to sacrifice himself to plunge the baddies back into the Zone.  Luckily, Maul is able to nyoink Stretcho out before the deal seals.

We jump ahead to, presumably, later that day.  Reed is on the video phone with S.H.I.E.L.D., more specifically Director Lynch of S.H.I.E.L.D.  We learn that Nick Fury has fallen... and in fact, his actual head has been staked at Doctor Doom's Castle!  Also, Dum Dum Dugan is dead... but, that is evidently old news.  Lynch inquires as to whether or not Reed was able to locate Ben Grimm... and states that he misses him from their old Team 7 days.

Reed hasn't found Ben... but, he thinks he's found a way to beat back the alien invaders!  He asks that Lynch assemble all of the heroes.  This includes... the Avengers...


Wetworks and the WildC.A.T.S!  Gotta say, this is some wild stuff to be revisiting!  I mean, just check out some of those mixed-up teams!  Freefall on the Avengers?!  I mean, exactly two years back I added her to the Justice League... but, this is just crazy!  Worth noting, the Captain America above... hmm... doesn't look all that much like Steve Rogers, does he?  Looks a little bit Spartan-y... no?

Back in Lynch's office, he is joined by the woman we know as Voodoo... but here, she's Priscilla Kitaen, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.  He asks for her to contact Iron Man, Majestic, and Captain America... for the latter she's all "duh, we already got Cap when we called the Avengers!".  He informs her that he ain't talkin' bout no android... he wants Steve Rogers... who is now fighting the good fight under his old moniker of "Nomad".

From here, we get a bit of a quick and dirty on the history of this World War III addled Amalgamation.  The Daemonites invaded... the C.A.T.S and Avengers teamed up and drove them into hiding.  That is, until the Skrulls showed up, and decided that the 'mites would be great pals to have.  Oh, and also... Doctor Doom sold humanity out!  Right now, the baddies pretty much run Europe and Asia.

This has led to some dire times in America... and a whole lot of distrust.  Remember that "iPhone facial recognition" thing from before?  Well, as it turns out... that's actually pretty close to what it is!  Humans can shine those lights at one another to ensure they're neither Skrull nor Daemonite!

We wrap up with a pair of Epilogues... in the first, those two young fellas decide to enlist.  Their names: Rick Jones... and Edmund Chang aka. Grunge.

The second has a pair of figures drifting through empty space... the smaller of the two comments to the bigger of the two that their suit feels all sorts of "rocky".  Hmm...


Well, that right there was among the funner fever dreams I've ever had!

Wow... it's so easy nowadays to look back at the Heroes Reborn (that is ReBORN, not ReTURN) era and just dismiss it as more "90's garbage"... however, to do so completely ignores what a weird and exciting time this was for comic fans... especially those who had "survived" the early 90's glut.  Now, for me personally... I was not one of those survivors.  This book came out during the tail-end of my first self-imposed "I'm done with comics" temper-tantrum.  I kept up with the "news" by picking up a few issues of Wizard throughout the year... but, didn't see myself ever jumping back in, with both feet.  Boy, what a wide-eyed innocent I once was!

I remember this as being a weird "wild west" time in comics... strange alliances were made, the big companies were "playing nice", big time risks were taken... it was, for all its warts, a very exciting time to be a fan... even on the periphery, like I was.  I recall seeing things like Amalgam, and Marvel vs. DC... and, while I was excited that these projects were happening, I couldn't help but to feel as though something was "missing".  Like, these inter-company meetings should have been more important, ya know?  Both of those projects reeked of creatively-bereft cash-ins.  In having read both in the interim... well, I don't feel I was too far off the mark.

In hearing about this, however... my ears perked up.  We were going to have actual Image Comics characters... in Marvel Comics?!  Like, as part of the Marvel Universe?!  Not some hacky and funny-ha-ha "amalgamation"... not some "punchy-punchy" deal?  Like, just actually existing alongside the (pocket universe) Marvel characters... and it'd be CANON?!  Ya ask me... that's exciting!  Not exciting enough to actually come back to the hobby... but, I was happy to hear it was happening.  You know me, I am quite a sucker for the "everything matters" school of lore.

Granted, I'm pretty sure I thought this was all going to "go" somewhere... and not just be a done-in-one (month) sort of thing... but, whattayagonnado?  Again, I was a wide-eyed innocent.

I appreciate the level of care Robinson and Company put into this... while perhaps some of the team arrangements came down to the "chuck a dart at the board" approach, the assortment has this odd feeling of curation to it.  Like, everything is purposeful... and, though it's been the better part of twenty-years since the last time I even looked at these issues, I'm pretty sure this all winds up making (reasonable) sense.  All of the "fill-in" characters fit where they're slotted... and, everything feels natural.  Well, as "natural" as something quite this jarring could be, anyway!

As far as the story itself is concerned... well, this is a Part One of Four... so, it's mostly just setting the table.  I think it does a really good job, in that the threat is established, the players are introduced... and our world has more or less been "built".  I'd say it was successful in what it set out to do.  If I were reading this for the first time, I'd totally be down to pick up Part Two and onward.

The art here is so much fun.  Mike Wieringo is definitely one of my "candy" artists... just beautiful work here.  While it was a ton of fun in and of itself to see the Marvel and WildStorm heroes standing side-by-side, having them depicted in Ringo! art makes it perhaps a hundred times better.

For reasons that ought to be obvious, this four-parter hasn't been collected... nor is it available digitally.  That's not to say they never will be... after all, stranger things have happened, right?  I often see these books in the cheap-o bins... I actually happened across all four just last weekend!  I almost snagged 'em as "convenience copies" to write today's post.  Much to the dismay of my back, I decided to save the buck-sixty and just dig through my stacks instead.  While I think the story is a lot of fun, I'd say they're worth the hunt... for the novelty alone!  It's not often we get weird little treats like this... especially nowadays!

So, with the solid recommendation out of the way, I can settle up this here anniversary outing.

All I can say is that I really hope everyone has enjoyed this odd fourth year of content.  I know, for better or worse, it's been a fair bit different than what I gave ya for the first three... I wish I had the time to keep doing what I had been doing back then... but, sometimes reality dictates just how much time one can devote to what amounts to a sorta silly little hobby for me.

For all y'all who survived our ten-month excursion into Action Comics Weekly... I humbly thank you for sticking by.  I know it wasn't always easy (it wasn't always easy for me!)... and while this unspectacular little site isn't likely "destination reading" for anyone, it means a heckuva lot to me that there might be some folks out there that dig what I do here.

Tomorrow marks the start of Year Five (though, I guess technically today starts Year Five... this is the fifth January 31st I been at this)... and, to be perfectly honest, I'm still not sure what that means!  I guess we'll all find out together, eh?

Thanks, everybody!


(Not the) Letters Page:




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Thursday, January 30, 2020

BONUS BOOK - Teen Titans (1996)

BONUS BOOK - Teen Titans (Pre-October, 1996)
"Titans Children"
Story & Pencils - Dan Jurgens
Finished Art - George Perez
Colors - Gregory Wright
Enhancement - Digital Chameleon
Letters - Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Edits - Eddie Berganza

Waitaminute, waitaminute... You might be thinking "I know the Titans Insert Prevue, (in fact we've looked at it twice)... and this, is not that book!"  Well, you'd be right... because this one, my friends, is not that book.  This is actually a Prevue that I'd forgotten all about!  It wasn't until I had my memory jogged by pal, Grant Kitchen, that this little ditty was included betwixt the pages of Superman (vol.2) #116!

This is a sneak-peek at the second volume of Teen Titans... ya know, that attempt to give the newly teen-aged Atom a place to hang out?  That Titans book where Dan Jurgens allegedly wasn't allowed to use any Titans characters?  Yeah, that one!  We've already looked at a few issues of that run here... including the first issue.

You might notice the... very odd cover date here.  Not sure what in the world "Pre-Oct, 1996" means.  Does that mean it could've been published anytime between January and September, 1996?  Does it just mean that Superman (vol.2) was twice-monthly at this point, and for whatever reason they used "Pre" instead of "Early"?  I'm sure whatever the explanation is, it's very boring.

Before we hop in, just wanna let everybody know that this is the final post of the Fourth Year of Chris is on Infinite Earths!  Tomorrow kicks off the fifth!  Tomorrow's anniversary piece is going to be a lot of fun... and maybe just a little bit weird!


We open, two days ago, on Titan... the largest of Saturn's 22 known Moons.  Nowadays, Saturn's known to have at least 62... though, Titan is still regarded as the biggest.  Heck, it's larger than Mercury.  Anyhoo, these Titans of the Teen variety, who we have yet to be introduced to, are... maybe being abducted and held hostage there?  A hooded figure (that is, Omen) laments their failure in stopping this from occurring.

We join them in space, where the fellas have all become just a bit more buff.  They fight a pair of Psion aliens, the blonde kid refers to as "Pinky and the Brain", just in case we'd forgotten when this book came out.  In the skirmish, they discover the bagged body of... oh my, is that Doomsday?!  That sure looks like Doomsday's Goggle-Sack outfit!

Well, no... for better or worse, it's not Doomsday.  It's actually Prism, who will be another member of our team.  She blames the Psions for taking her world... and postures threateningly.

We jump ahead, and the day is saved... apparently.  I gotta say, this is a really strange way to give an "Insert Prevue".  This is really just bits and pieces from issues of the series that are yet to come out... so, we're bouncing around a good bit.  So yeah, everything's cool... and the kids have even convinced the Psion, Dorek to give them a ride home.

We wrap up back on Earth... and the Titans try on their new "Calvin Klein" duds, and pick their code names.  The recently teen-aged Atom, who was a part of this whole mess decides to stick around and help out.  It's not like he has an ongoing series or anything... so, what the heck, right?


So... heckuva way to introduce a new team, huh?

I am, of course, being facetious... this wasn't really all that great.  An assortment of scenes from the first few issues of the soon-to-release ongoing series... with much/all of the context removed... just doesn't seem like anything to get all "rah-rah" about.  I know, had I been reading DC Comics back in 1996... I most certainly would not have been enticed to pick up the first issue of Teen Titans (vol.2) based solely off of this Prevue.

It just doesn't do anything to introduce the characters... which, ya gotta figure, is sort of the selling point to a team book... no?  You want to follow a team book because you care about the characters... you have some sort of interest or investment in them.  This fails to provide any of that.  Even the "mysteries" here feel half-baked.  Who's the hooded figure?  Who cares?  What's the deal with the girl in the Doomsday gimp-suit?  Again, who cares?  Now that I think of it, if anything... this Prevue might've actually hindered me from picking up that first issue!  Couldn't imagine how actual Titans fans felt seeing this back in the day!

Worth noting (maybe just to ninnies like myself), if you scan any of the DC Wikis and whatnot looking for first appearances, these new Teen Titans we're introduced to are listed as first appearing in Teen Titans (vol.2) #1... and not here.  According to Mike's Amazing World, this issue of Superman (vol.2) hit shelves on July 31, 1996... whereas, Teen Titans (vol.2) #1 came out almost a full-month later on August 28.  So, these Titans don't quite get the New Teen Titans treatment of having their first appearance listed as the "Insert Prevue".  Probably a weird sticking point for me... but, these are the sort of things that keep me up at night!

Overall... nah, didn't dig this.  Felt too disjointed, and didn't build much of a defined mystery to derive curiosity from someone who was just reading Superman... but, that's just one dude's opinion.  Maybe you feel differently... and this Prevue got you hyped to jump into TTv2 with both feet?

Anyhoo, that'll do it for today... please come back tomorrow for my FOUR-YEAR ANNIVERSARY of putting out DAILY Discussions and Reviews of DC-and-DC-Adjacent-Comics!  It'll be a good time... I promise!


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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Legacy of Superman #1 (1993)

Legacy of Superman #1 (1993)
Guardian: "The Guardians of Metropolis!"
Rose & Thorn: "Sister Act"
Gangbuster: "Gangbuster of Suicide Slum"
Sinbad: "Funeral Pyres!"
The Linear Men
Writers - Karl Kesel, Roger Stern, Jerry Ordway, William Messner-Loebs, & Dan Jurgens 
Pencils - Walter Simonson, Denis Rodier, Dennis Janke, Curt Swan, & Dan Jurgens
Inks - Ande Parks, Mike Machlan, Josef Rubenstein, & Trevor Scott
Letters - John Workman, Albert DeGuzman, John Costanza, & Bill Oakley
Colors - Glenn Whitmore
Assistant Editor - Jennifer Frank
Editor - Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $2.50

Wow, it's been a minute since our last Compilation Post, hasn't it?  Hopefully I can still remember how to do one of these.

This week I've righted a quarter-century's old wrong in that I finally read this Legacy of Superman Special... cover-to-cover.  I mentioned the other day when we started this issue, that I did buy this when it came out... but just couldn't get myself to invest in any of these unfamiliar (to me) characters.  I've given it the "old college try" a time or two in the interim... but, have never been able to go the distance.  Welp, here's to getting one off the "bucket list", right?

Let's take a page out of our Action Comics Weekly approach and talk a bit about the cover... because, it might be the most memorable part of the issue!  It's from Art Adams, and should go without saying that it's... ya know, quite good!  I swear, up until this actual read-through, I had no idea who that kid in the top right corner was supposed to be!  If I had a dozen guesses, I don't think the word Sinbad would've ever come out my mouth.  I'm pretty sure I hadn't the foggiest idea that the redhead was actually Thorn.  Back in the day, I'm pretty sure I thought she was Maxima.

Oh well... should we do a Poll to see what everyone's favorite story was?  Hahaha, nah... not gonna put y'all through that bit of nonsense again!  Though, if you do wanna share your thoughts on any of these stories or let me know which one you liked best, please feel free to leave a comment!  It's taken some doing, but I've gotten a lot better about responding!

Anyhoo... before we hop into the stories, just want to drop a reminder here that we are TWO DAYS away from this humble blog's FOUR YEAR ANNIVERSARY.  That's FOUR-YEARS of DAILY Discussions... which is about forty-seven months longer than I thought any of this was going to go!


Our first story opens 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.


Story the Second opens with a woman out jogging.  We will soon learn that this woman is Rose Forrest, so I won't pretend not to know that.  She's listening to her little AM/FM receiver... and the news is full'a some pretty bad stories.  Ya see, ever since Superman died, it's been sort of an "open season" on Metropolis... there've been robberies, assaults... you name it!  Our lady returns to her home, only to find that it's currently being robbed!  A Scuzz is in there ransacking the place... and winds up stealing her VCR!  Wow, our man's aimin' high, there!  I think even back in ye old 1993, a VCR might run a hundred bucks.  Well, I guess any ol' port in a storm, right?

We jump ahead... probably an hour or two, and Ms. Forrest is having her locks fixed... and is having security bars placed on her windows.  This is sure a grim new look for Metropolis, innit?  If I'm being honest, it looks kinda like... a lot of parts of South Phoenix!

That night, Rose is in bed watching the news.  She just can't help herself, it seems.  The news is... still, all bad.  Suddenly, there's a voice in her head... begging to let it "take over".  In a trance-like state, Rose gets out of bed, and wanders down to her basement...

... where she changes into the "working clothes" of... The Thorn!

We shift scenes into a dark and seedy alley, where a pair of nogoodniks are bragging about their latest hauls.  One happens to mention that he knows where allllllll the best Fences are, which prompts Thorn to emerge from a storm drain, and pounce!  She demands to know about this great Fence... and the fella has no choice but to comply.

Turns out this Fence is run by a big fella called The Cherokee... who the Thorn is, evidently, familiar with.  The clash outside some building... with the Cherokee looking, I dunno... I don't think "sense of urgency" quite fits it.  More like, just resigned and annoyed to see Thorn.  It's as though he's sighing when he draws his gun.  Thorn beats him up pretty good.

Moments later, the VCR thief just happens to arrive.  He's overjoyed that he'll probably be handed a crisp five-dollar bill for his troubles.  Daaaaaaaang, fool... this VCR's got onscreen programming an erryt'ing!  Ya know, if a VCR was the most valuable thing Rose Forrest had in her house... why did she bother with the fancy new locks and bars?  I mean, right now, those locks and bars are the most valuable things she owns!

Anyhoo, the T'eef is led into the Cherokee's office... only to find... Thorn!  And hoo-boy, is she ticked!

She proceeds to beat the everlovin' dog out of the kid... and, pretty much everybody there.  The Police arrive on the scene, in response to an "anonymous tip", and make all of the necessary arrests.

The following morning, Rose Forrest is awakened by a phone call.  It's the Police, and they're happy to report that the thief was caught... and her cherished VCR has been retrieved.  She's ever-so thankful, but the Police tell her to save her thanks for... the Thorn!  Rose remembers that the mysterious Thorn was responsible for capturing her father's killer back in the long ago... but, doesn't know much more about her.  Hmm...

We wrap up with Rose discovering a note on her bedside lampshade.  It's from, duh, Thorn... and it informs her that the strong will always protect the meek.  The story closes with the 1st Issue Special special... asking fans to write in if they want to see more from the "Woman Who is Really Two"!  I don't think they received any sort of overwhelming response.


While this wasn't necessarily my "cup of tea", I feel like it was an important story to be told here, as it depicts just what an impact the loss of Superman has had on the City of Metropolis as a whole.  Part of the "Legacy" piece is having an understanding of just how much was lost with his passing.  Safety and security in the law-abiding citizens... and fear in those who would love nothing more than to do them harm.  It's pretty powerful in that regard.

Having Ms. Rose Forrest get robbed... and have to decide what kind of security she's going to require going forward was especially powerful.  I mean, even when Superman was around... he couldn't stop every burglary from occurring, but the overall feeling in Metropolis (well, much of Metropolis) was that its people were protected.  Without that protection, Rose had to resort to putting bars on her own windows... the symbolism there is pretty striking.  It's as though she's become a literal prisoner of her circumstance.

I know I joked about the VCR being taken... but, that's just me making light of the situation.  At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how valuable or un-valuable something might be... if it's taken from you... stolen from you... there's a feeling of violation there, that you really can't put a price-tag on!  What price do you put on getting a good night's sleep, ya know?  What price do you put on being unafraid in your own home?  It's more than a lousy VCR that's been "taken" here... it's Rose's piece of mind.

Sure, the "action" bits here were what they were... but, really, they were (to me) just "scenery".  This isn't really a story about beating up bad guys... it's about the tremendous hole left in Metropolis due to Superman's passing... and in that regard, I'd call it a success!

Rose & Thorn... ehhh, I could take 'em or leave 'em, to be honest... but, she/they were as good a fit here as anyone!  I appreciate the whole gimmick of her not knowing she's really both characters... though, I don't feel like that has all that long a "shelf life" in an ongoing series, ya know what I mean?  Eventually, she's going to have to find out... there's only so many ways you can creatively sidestep the obvious.

I definitely recommend checking this story out... if only to get a new perspective on Metropolis.


Our middle story opens in Suicide Slum, where Gangbuster is... well, busting a gang.  This is a pretty disorganized group of geeks, who have just imported... or at least somehow procured... mass quantities of guns.  Jose spends, what feels like a half-dozen pages (though, it's really only two or three), beating the hell out of them.  Their supplier is a mobster in a pinstriped suit... this gang is a pretty sorry sight and, worth noting, includes a very skinny, weaselly sort of dude.

While the brouhaha brouha's, one of the baddies grabs a shotgun... and shoots Gangbuster right in the chest!  Poor Jose can just never catch a break, can he?  Well, lucky for him his armored logo managed to save his life today.

Delgado then kips-up and resumes his baddie-beat-down.  After kayoing the underlings, he sets his sights on ol' pinstripe.  The bad-guy-boss immediately surrenders... and begs Gangbuster to call the police.  Jose knows that this is a no-go, as ol' pinstripe is "connected" enough to be back on the streets within minutes.

After pummeling the Pinstripe, Jose grabs the leader of the gang.  A rather low-rent looking goofball with slicked-back hair.  He ties him up with a rope, and after securing the other end to the leg of an easy-chair... deposits him out a window!

The easy chair skids toward the window, threatening to drop the leader all the way to the ground below.  In order to counter-balance the weight, Gangbuster tosses that skinny, weaselly dude into the chair.  The boss cries out for the geek to stay put in the chair.

After Jose leaves (with the supplier slung over his shoulder), the Boss begs Skinny Pete to pull him back in the window.  Unfortunately, the "Dim-Bulb" just isn't strong enough to accomplish the task.  At that very moment, down at the station, Inspector Henderson gets a call from Gangbuster.

Henderson resigns to the fact that he's going to have to deal with Gangbuster... he knows Delgado means well... and he also understands how the rules might seem a bit different in Suicide Slum.  But, he also knows that, ever since Superman died, Gangbuster has been ruthless as all get out... just beating the ever-lovin' dog out of criminals left and right!

He is able to track Jose down to the Superman Memorial in Centennial Park.  He's tying the kayoed gun-running mobster down, with a sign that reads "I sell guns to children" around his neck.  Gangbuster assumes Henderson is there to bust him, and warns him to stay back.  Henderson assures him this is a "friendly visit".

In fact, he comes bearing gifts... well, a gift, in the form of a one-way bus ticket outta town.  Ya see, Gangbuster has broken a lot of rules of late... and he isn't exactly "winning over" those in law-enforcement.  Henderson suggests Jose get as far away from Metropolis as possible... and warns that, if he doesn't, so help him... Henderson himself will lead the charge against him.


Another solid look at the World Without Superman... this time, focusing on that part of Metropolis many would like to forget exists at all... Suicide Slum!  Many of the normal "rules" don't apply here... which, is where Gangbuster comes in.

I appreciate how brutal he has become since Superman's passing... as, without that fear of a caped-god flying overhead in the minds of criminals... they're more inspired than ever to get a foothold.  If the name isn't a dead giveaway, "Suicide Slum" was never the best place in the city... but, it was still a place under Superman's watchful eye.

Without him, Suicide Slum is more vulnerable than it's been in a long while... which ups the ante (and brutality) in Gangbuster's purpose and methodology.  He needs to be rougher... he needs to be scarier... he needs to make an impact wherein his reputation as a force of justice proceeds him.

Unfortunately, that doesn't exactly jive with the law-enforcement establishment.  Enter: Inspector Henderson.  Now, this little scene at the end is probably my main takeaway from this piece.  Henderson attempts to reason with Jose... and even shares stories of his working in Suicide Slum as a rookie.  He, Henderson that is, assures Delgado that the rules aren't any different there.

Clearly (to me), Henderson might be a little too far removed from his time as a Suicide Slum flat-foot.  It's plainly obvious (again, to me) that "penthouse" Metropolis and Suicide Slum operate under different "rules".  Sure, the laws are the same... laws are the same everywhere... but the way in which enforcement is performed is where everything differs.

I can think back to a time where I worked overnights, managing a call-center... and if you pardon the very weak analogy... the policies between the three-shifts were identical... and the "establishment" (ie. daytime management) would swear up and down that there were no differences between the shifts.  However, things are in-fact, very different in the middle of the night.  Approaches are different, availability is different, priorities are different.  Things are just... different.

I remember requesting help in certain areas and situations, that... the powers-that-be... assured me were unnecessary... even going as far as claiming that I was imagining were needed.  No such situation existed... because, in their eyes... everything was identical across the board.  That's what Henderson reminded me of here... and perhaps why, I leave this story pulling for Gangbuster to prove him wrong.

Very solid story... and, another where the "action" serves as more of a back-drop to establishing the tone and tenor of this new-look Metropolis.


Our fourth story opens at LexCorp, where Lex, Jr. is arriving for the day.  He's greeted by his bank of receptionists, secretaries, employees, and assistants... which includes a certain sister-of-Sinbad.  She thinks to herself how lucky she is to be working for the "nice" younger Luthor.  We follow Lex-da-Second into his office, where he dictates some notation into a very of-its-time tape recorder.  Ya see, he knows that this certain secretary is, in fact, Soraya Nassur... the sister of Davood Nassur, who is... ya know, Sinbad.  He laments the fact that, without Superman, there's been something of a "power vacuum" in Metropolis... and there are a group of bad guys calling themselves the "TerrorMasters" trying to establish themselves as that power.

Soraya leaves for lunch, where she is literally "picked up" by her brother.  Here's the thing... the people of Metropolis have been led to believe that Davood has been depowered, and has retired the Sinbad alter-ego.  We see here that, that's not entirely the case.

Davood and Soraya have themselves a picnic in the sky... which, I dunno, is that a little "on the nose"?  Ehh, nevermind.  The Nassurs chat about Davood's Sinbad powers... and it would appear that they're back, and better than ever.  While they dine, Davood offers Soraya some Tahini... like, an entire bowl of it.  Hmm.  Okay then.  Anyhoo, they talk about how nobody should know that the Sinbad powers are back.  Davood is confident that the secret is safe, however, since Luthor is involved... it should come as no surprise that that's not the way this story is going to go.

Soraya returns to the office, just as a bunch of packages have been delivered.  Her friend, Clarice is attending to the boxes, and is preparing to open 'em up.  Just then, a group of old dorks burst in... and hold the office up!  These must be... those dang TerrorMasters!  These goofballs are wearing these tiny domino-masks... I mean, that's their entire disguise.  What's more, one of them, the guy with the Cincinnati Reds cap, loses his mask during the robbery!  Anyhoo, they shoot Clarice thrice, and steal the packages.

Soraya wonders what was so important about these packages... and we learn that this Lex was continuing his father's weapons research... and those boxes contained what he refers to as "the most terrible weapon ever developed".  Welp... you'd almost assume someone would have to sign to have such a thing delivered, no?  Oh well, Lex laments the fact that this research has cost a human life... but, it's worth noting that he's smiling broadly when he says this.  Weird.  As this is going on, our man Davood is being fitted for an all-new super-hero costume, complete with a domino mask and cape!

That night, we join Sinbad and Soraya to a rather dumpy area of Metropolis where those "TerrorMasters" usually meet up.  I mean, TerrorMasters?  For real?  Okay.  Anyhoo, as they look on, that one dude whose mask fell off during the robbery saunters in... and they realize they're in the right place.  Inside, the baddies are assembling "the most terrible weapon ever developed" on a pool table.  Cincinnati Cap takes a look through the scope, and reveals (via thought balloon) that he's actually working for Lex Luthor.  Hmm...

Reds-Cap fires the blaster... resulting in blowing holes in several walls... kind of like you might see in a cartoon.  Then, just as they bad guys are celebrating the fact that nobody can stop them... Sinbad shows up!  And boy, does he look like a nerd or what?

Sinbad informs the bad guys that they're "all under arrest", which is just adorable.  He nails one of the baddies with an energy blast, however, forgets to protect-his-neck... and suffers a shot from "the most terrible weapon ever developed", which sends him flying out of the building!

Just then, like a Genie (Shazaam!), Lex Luthor's visage emerges from the barrel of "the most terrible weapon ever developed".  He informs the goofballs that they've now fired off two shots... which is all he accounted for them needing to take care of "whoever he gulled into attacking them"... and so, they've now outlived their usefulness.  Three-seconds later, dey go boom.

We wrap up with Sinbad, all safe and sound... having been knocked clear of the explosion.  He and Soraya leave the scene... however, Davood isn't entirely pleased with how everything went down.  While he doesn't seem especially bothered by the result, he's certain that Superman would have handled it far differently... and without casualty.  Fair enough!


Not bad!

I certainly wasn't expecting much from this one... but, found myself quite enjoying it!  Ya know, I think I gave this entire Legacy of Superman Special a pretty bad rap in dismissing it all these years.  So far, it's been really very good!  Really digging this new perspective on Metropolis as a city without Superman.

Let's look at Lex.  Dude seems... kinda bored without Superman around.  He still has to be the sort of puppet-master of the city, but since he's the "good" Luthor, can't be quite as overt about it.  I appreciate the lengths he goes to here in order to "wield power from the shadows".  While, it requires quite a few "happy accidents" to go as planned, it was still pretty satisfying that it did.

He had to "take care of" the, ahem, TerrorMasters... and spun a pretty good web to trap 'em in.  He knows their game... and their designs, and used them to his advantage.  Lex also doesn't mind young Davood winding up in the crossfire... the kid don't mean anything to him.  Just another casualty... in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

The "TerrorMasters".  Yeesh.  These old goofs look like they'd be more likely to be regaling people about that one time, back in high school, that they scored four touchdowns in a single game!  They don't exactly look up to the task of taking over the Metropolis underworld, do they?  I mean, they probably need to stop for multiple TUMS breaks during a given firefight.

Sinbad... not exactly the most stylish superhero, right?  Very dorky "costume"... if we can even call it that.  This would actually wind up being his fourth... and final appearance, ever!  That wasn't supposed to be the case, however... he was originally slated to make an appearance during the dirt-worst Superman story of all-time... Superman: Grounded!

Davood was supposed to make an appearance in Superman #712 (2011), during Chris Roberson's attempt at salvaging the Straczynski garbage-fire.  Davood was going to be all grown up and take the name "Sharif", which is a name with many meanings... I'm no expert, but from my research, those meanings include "honorable" and "noble", so a pretty great name for a superhero!

According to Roberson, this story had been turned in and approved by DC Comics.  The story, would have to do with Superman (still on his ridiculous walk across America) in Los Angeles, meeting with Sharif, who finds himself with quite the quandary.  He's a hero, who the public aren't completely keen to accept due to the fact that he is a Muslim.  Yeah, it's kind of "torn from the headlines", which I'm not always a fan of... but, this could make for an interesting chapter.  Certainly would have been more interesting than the Krypto story DC jammed into the schedule in its place!

DC got themselves some cold feet, and decided to pull the story... even though they'd already approved it!  What's more, according to the creative team, DC Editorial kind of dragged their feet about informing them all of the change!  Who'dathunkit?  DC Editorial not being forthcoming with information?  Perish the thought!  Though, in fairness... they (Editorial) probably didn't even have the foggiest idea that the Grounded storyline was still going on.  Clearly, they hadn't actually read an issue of Superman since JMS took over.  If they had, and still allowed Superman #701 to happen... they all deserve to be fired and black-balled from the industry.

Wait, where were we?  Oh yeah, Sinbad!  Even after DC decided to pull the story... they didn't even bother to change the solicit (barring the new Krypto cover).  Even more evidence of the right hand not knowing what the left hand's doing?  Here, take a look:

And, the letters page from Superman #711... the issue right before Sharif was set to show up!

Oh well, what could'a been.  Figure, for completion's sake, we'll wrap this up with Davood's Who's Who entry... 

Overall, a good story... and a real shame that Davood/Sinbad/Sharif never showed up again.


Our fifth and final story opens at... Vanishing Point.  Hey, hey... c'mon, wake up!  Where the Linear Men... aw c'mon, quit snoring... this is going to be okay, I promise!  Let's try that again.  We open at Vanishing Point, where the Linear Men are taking Waverider to the Library of Time.  They're here to show the golden fella one of the most significant moments of the late-twentieth century... that moment being, the Death of Superman!

Waverider is positively beside himself at the sight... especially with the realization that the death occurred like two days after the last time he'd chummed up with the Man of Steel.  Waverider, with his time-traveling hoo-doo, sees no other option than to go back in time, and stop this event from happening!  One of the boring Linear Men (the one that kinda looks like Cable) tell him that's a "no-go"... but, ain't nothin' gonna stop Goldie from doin' what he feels he needs to do!

And so, before we know it, Waverider is in Metropolis... on that day.  He watches as Doomsday and Superman exchange blows, realizing the futility of the fight... and then, he pauses time so he can plan his next move.

Just as he does so, however, he finds himself joined by Linear Man, Matthew Ryder... who is, pretty much Waverider, just an "alternate" version.  Matt tries to interject some critical thinking into the endeavor.  Sure, they save Superman... this time.  So, what happens... next time?  And the time after that?  Are they literally just granting Superman immortality?  I gotta say, I know what they're going for here... but, ya know what?  That doesn't sound like a half-bad idea, does it?

Matthew then plays the "where does it end?" card... ya know, asking why they don't just save everybody... superheroes, historical figures, just ordinary folks... everybody.  A resigned Waverider quickly comes around to Matthew's way of thinking.

And so, Waverider unfreezes time... and decides to just sit back and watch the inevitable.  And by "watch", I mean exactly that... he doesn't turn away from the brutality or "killing blow", he just watches it happen.

The story... and this special, ends the same way Superman #75 did... the way it was always supposed to.


Heyyy, how about that, I really liked this one!  Well, mostly, anyway.

I still couldn't give a rip about the Linear Men... however, as a "device" for this outing, I think Waverider served his role well.  He's depicted as naive, brash, and well-intentioned... but, sometimes there's more to making a decision than who it might benefit in the immediate.  He learns a pretty valuable lesson here... with more than a dash of "with great power..."

I wanna take everything we know about how this arc played out out of the equation for a minute.  I really wonder if any of the folks who bought this off the racks... actually thought, for even a half-second, that this story would result in the death being "un-done".  I mean, it's almost ludicrous to consider... but, I mean... even for a fraction of a second, did Jurgens and Company actually get a "gotcha"?  Were there readers who thought this was DC's "Get Out of Jail Free" card?  A way to walk back the Death?  I'd certainly be interested in finding out!

As for the story itself... I liked seeing all of the familiar "trappings" of Superman #75.  The bits and pieces of art shown at the Library of Time was a hoot... and also, seeing Waverider and Matthew Ryder sorta-kinda "Forrest Gumped" into the familiar and iconic panels of the "death issue" was really cool!

The "message" here... I mean, the point of it is well-taken.  If you use your great power to save Superman, each and every time he's in danger... well, then... where does it end?  Right?  Some of the examples Ryder gives here are Albert Einstein, Dr. Martin Luthor King Jr., and Beethoven.  If you could save them/keep them alive... would you?  Perhaps more importantly, should you?

It's a pretty "heavy" topic... and one that I have a hard time making "jive" in the fantastical world of superhero comics, where the "rules" of the world are vastly (and often incomparably) different... but, again... the point is well-taken.

We've looked at a story that had similar themes way back in the long ago here at the blog... and it also included Dan Jurgens' name in the credits!  Booster Gold (vol.2) #5 (2008) featured the titular character attempting to un-do The Killing Joke... and failing time and again, until he finally learned his lesson about the amount of power a time-traveler potentially wields.

All told, this was a very strong way to close out the Special... with both a glimmer of hope that the whole magilla will be un-done, and the ultimate realization that nothing was actually going to change.  Worth noting, the art here was prrrrrrrrretty phenomenal.


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