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What If…’The Death of Superman’ Happened in 2016?

superman_075cBack in 1992, DC treated us to Doomsday!, or The Death of Superman. The event played out across six weekly issues of the Superman titles of the time, with a seventh chapter in a Justice League America tie-in issue.

While the various titles went through multiple printings, the cover images stayed the same. DC would add a Roman Numeral to the cover copy–II, III, IV, etc to denote which printing the issue was. To add further difference to the printings, the color of the title logo would be changed from the original.

This meant that the cover image of Superman: The Man of Steel #18 was distinctive and remains iconic, 24 years later. Ditto the various other issues.

Especially on the "key" issue–Superman #75.

Granted, there were actually multiple covers for Superman #75. There was the "black bag edition," also known as the "collector’s edition." This was only available through comic shops (the "direct market") and outside of a "platinum edition" I believe only had a single initial printing.

superman_075b     superman_075a

The "collector’s edition" cover itself was a grey tombstone. This edition was what would in contemporary terms be the "variant" edition.

The "regular" edition–the "newsstand edition"–fit the usual/standard trade dress of the time, and featured an image of Superman’s tattered cape caught on a pole amidst the destruction in Metropolis. Subsequent printings–as mentioned above–change the color of the Superman logo and included a Roman Numeral to denote that each printing was no longer the first printing.

I believe the issue went through four printings–I have never been made aware of a fifth or later. (Exception being years-later reprints, like the Millennium Edition or stuff included with toys, etc.)

That was all fine, I was ok with it–retailers could order however many copies of each edition (though "in the moment" few ordered enough). The later printings kept the issue around to satisfy overall demand…and the cover image became and has remained iconic. There’ve been a number of subsequent comic covers over the years doing the "homage" thing based on the Superman #75 newsstand edition.

That was 1992.


If Superman #75 was published in 2016, in the present? There’d be a zillion variants, totally diluting the cover and any singularly-iconic imagery.

deathofsuperman_03     deathofsuperman_04

A set of two covers that placed together form a single wider image. Why not get folks to buy two copies of the issue with different images just to get one image?

deathofsuperman_01

But hey, there’d also be the wraparound cover, showing the actual death of Superman as a single cover.

deathofsuperman_02

And another wraparound, showing a fallen Superman with Doomsday’s shadow…effective imagery in general, but also not in keeping with the story itself as the two fell together/simultaneously.

deathofsuperman_08     deathofsuperman_11

Regardless of the fact that there’d be the "upcoming" Funeral for a Friend story (also known as World Without a Superman), there’d be at least a couple of "funeral covers" for the actual death issue.

deathofsuperman_07     deathofsuperman_15

There’d be the generic-ish images of Doomsday’s fist with Superman symbols.

deathofsuperman_10     deathofsuperman_19

There’d be a couple that showed Superman is potentially victorious, despite the cover blurb proclaiming The Death of Superman!

deathofsuperman_05     deathofsuperman_06

deathofsuperman_09     deathofsuperman_21

There’d be the generic-ish Superman and Doomsday slug-it-out images with even a "photo cover" of a statue thrown in.

deathofsuperman_25     deathofsuperman_26

Superman and Doomsday colliding covers…

deathofsuperman_23     deathofsuperman_22

Another collision cover, and a generic (yet cool-ish) Superman with Doomsday looming behind him (or the shadow of the creature somehow).

deathofsuperman_18     deathofsuperman_28

There’d be the generic "bleeding-S" covers. Promotion for the comics, and of course there’d be a ready-made animated movie already, with toys and such to further tie-in.

deathofsuperman_12     deathofsuperman_14

There’d be a painted "moment of death" cover, and a "concept sketches" cover.

deathofsuperman_13     deathofsuperman_16

deathofsuperman_24     deathofsuperman_27

There’d, of course, be the Doomsday-centric covers, showing off different takes on the creature in various poses. Recognizable as the creature, but not necessarily anything iconic or singularly stand-out. Or to BE stand-out, make that one of Doomsday reaching toward the reader a 3-D cover!

deathofsuperman_17     deathofsuperman_20

And aside from the different takes on the creature looking somewhat like he does in the actual story, there’d the the much more exaggerated, flashy takes on the character, going a bit beyond.

And there’d be way more fun than just these! See below for even more thoughts on the matter, as I’m "breaking" the post here for length on the front/main page of the blog.

Continue reading

Zero Hour Revisited – Booster Gold #0

90srevisited_zerohour

booster_gold_0000Blue & Gold Chapter 1: The Secret Origin of Booster Gold

Written by: Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz
Pencil Art by: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art by: Norm Rapmund
Colors by: Hi-Fi
Letters by: Randy Gentile
Asst. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Michael Siglain
Cover by: Jurgens & Rapmund
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I probably should have actually tucked this in with the "week 3" issues, as this 1. does not end on white pages and 2. takes place prior to events seen in "week 4." C’est la vie…I put this issue almost at the end of stuff because of it being a "retroactive tie-in" published a decade and a half AFTER the actual series.

This issue sees Booster Gold and the Blue Beetles travel through time, and cross paths in the timestream with Parallax (Hal Jordan) and Extant (Hank Hall) circa Zero Hour, 1994. Parallax damages their time-bubble and they’re forced into the 25th Century (with no need to chase down the time-trouble-makers, as they’ve already been dealt with IN Zero Hour–oops, we’ll see that shortly). Turns out the exact day the group emerges in is the day that Booster "threw" a football game and was caught doing so. While striving to ensure that this timestream is not disrupted, they use resources available to continue their own mission and we learn a bit more about Booster’s background as well as the Blue Beetle (several of ’em!) before things have to be dealt with–like putting Dan and Jaime back in their own times without any memory of this issue or the previous having happened…and Ted’s poised to be another "Hero You’ve Never Heard Of" alongside Booster… it’s Blue & Gold, reunited! Though the two quickly realize there’s a bit of a Brother Eye problem that may end things before they’ve truly begun.

This issue was actually published in 2008, some 13 1/2 years after Zero Hour. We were post-Infinite Crisis, post-52, mostly through Countdown, heading toward Final Crisis. And in the early issues of the Geoff Johns run on Booster Gold, with art by Dan Jurgens–the character’s creator and Norm Rapmund‘s excellent inks. And I recall this being one of the more fun series at the time, certainly one of my favorites.

In fact, I had covered the issue at the time, for comiXtreme (and republished in this blog years later), and rated it quite highly. That particular review was based on the issue in that context rather than as a random issue added to this mix, hence any discrepancies between then and now.

Ultimately (given the 14-year-gap in publication) this issue does nothing for the understanding of Zero Hour itself, moving the 1994 series along, etc. But this makes a fun tie-in and providing a more grounded "time" to touch base with–a nod to older/longer-time readers–while serving its own story.

This issue actually kicks off the second arc in the Booster Gold title, and leaves me quite interested in re-reading it…unfortunately, I don’t believe I have any of the early collected volumes, nor ready access (consolidated) to my singles at the moment.

I don’t recommend this in context of Zero Hour itself, really, but it was a great throwback issue, touching in continuity and playing off the #0 issues concept (this was the seventh issue of the series). But as a Booster Gold story, I very definitely recommend the Blue and Gold arc that this kicks off, as well as the first one, 52 Pickup.

The Weekly Haul – Week of September 21, 2016

I continue to be thoroughly, disgustingly frustrated with variants.

See, this should have been a quick, simple week.

Just a couple issues I was looking for; grab ’em and go, right? Check out that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue below!

weeklyhaul_09212016_a

I wound up flipping through EVERY SINGLE ISSUE of Superman, just trying to ensure that what I was getting was NOT a variant.

I then did the same thing with the Aliens issue.

There was only the single copy left of the Savage Dragon, so I sincerely hope it is NOT a variant, either, or I am really gonna be mad.

Puzzling over the TMNT comic?

Yeah, there were 5-6 copies of the title on the rack…but they were VARIANTS! Several “SUB CVR” variants and at least one “RI CVR” variant!

But the regular, actual, main, REAL cover? Nope, nada.

I went to a second shop as well looking for it, but they didn’t even have the issue in ANY form, PERIOD.

So hey, saves ME money. I was gonna double-dip for immediacy…I’ll just have to wait til I get to Kenmore next week or so where the issue is pulled for me.

Shows just how intensely I dislike variants on principle that even if I am buying two copies of the issue for immediacy I still honestly do. not. want. the variants!

There’s a word for this–something like discouraging–but stronger.

If I ever flat-out just up and walk away from comics, it’s going to be on price, and variants-on-principle.

A New Adventure on Krynn

I’ve recently had my interest in Dragonlance rekindled a fair bit. And this goes beyond a couple shelves of hardcovers and games…this gets into the vast array of MMPB volumes that were pumped out over nearly a quarter century.

dragonlance_new_sept19a

As with "sub collections" of comics, the earlier stage is the cheapest–going from "just having a few" to "acquiring ‘more’ of them." It’ll be once I track down a majority of the books that the last few will be ridiculously, incredibly expensive.

But for now I’m still down at–and sticking TO–truly half price or less (with the next stage being the move to roughly cover price when factoring in discount + shipping).

At one Half-Price Books I snagged the five volumes above. I would have sworn I already had the Brothers in Arms volume, but if so, it got mixed in/packed away somewhere away from my actual collection. I think a friend had the The Dragons of Krynn book back in the day; and the other three pictured above are simply new books to me.

dragonlance_new_sept19b

At the other Half-Price Books, I snagged the above two books. The Time of the Twins is an older (I think original) edition (not sure/don’t care if it’s a first print or not)…it completes my "set" of Dragonlance Legends in this trade dress.

The Love and War volume is (I believe) also an original (if not first print) edition, and I’d rather have the newer one, but this I got for the nostalgia and immediacy–I like the cover, and Raistlin is one of my favorite characters. Plus, I have Tales vol. 1 in this trade dress, so it’s another that I won’t mind multiple editions "in the end."

Sadly, several books at both stores had my interest but I decided they were beat up/damaged enough that I would end up wanting to replace them anyway so no sense buying them now.


While I do have a number of different editions of some of the books–particularly the Chronicles series–I don’t currently have any real intention of hunting down every Dragonlance book in every edition published over the years…though I think it might be a decently-achievable goal to simply seek a copy of all the books in some edition.

I do not like that a bunch of the original editions–including at least one series that I do not think was ever reprinted in a later edition–merely had the sub-series title/numbering on the spine, but not the actual title of the book itself. (Tales Volume Three on the spine, but you only see Love and War on the front cover or interior.)

dragonlance_paperbacks_before_sept19

Here’s my existing MMPB Dragonlance collection (minus the new books pictured earlier in this post).

The Weekly Haul – Week of September 14, 2016

Another manageably small week for me, and of primarily (or just) DC stuff.

weeklyhaul_09142016_a

I made three exceptions in buying stuff coming to me later this month via DCBS bundles… Three issues that I wanted immediate gratification, to read right away, no waiting.

As usual, Action Comics and Detective Comics were top-notch…”proving” to me they genuinely are back to being the “flagship titles” of their families, and the publisher.

I was rather curious about Superwoman, and while interested in the story and such, it didn’t feel quite up to the moment for me, so I’ll likely be a bit more patient next month and just wait on it.

While I’m digging Detective, I figure I might give it one more issue like this and see if the fate of Tim Drake is an ongoing subplot* or not…and if it isn’t a heavy thing, I’ll wait–THE reason I was making this book an exception was Tim Drake, and if he’s not going to be used as a prominent character in the ongoing story, then I can definitely wait a bit on reading the story.

weeklyhaul_09142016_b

On Saturday, for the (third?) annual Batman Day I swung through a shop I was passing and browsed a bit and ultimately settled on Dark Knight, Dark City–a volume I’d apparently forgotten about but presumably had known about. It’s another of these nice, thick volumes DC has been putting out that is truly a solid value at full cover price but which is even moreso at a discount.

20% off for Batman Day and a FREE (to me!) Batman (2016) #1. New/variant cover, but as a freebie and special event, in this case, a variant, the existence of the variant is honestly quite acceptable to me. The only rub is, this is a free copy of a full issue that was just released commercially for full cover price about three months ago. Of course, with the biweekly shipping, Batman already has six issues out and a new arc beginning in a couple more days, so anyone pursuing the story for immediacy is not in a position of having an issue of the “current” story handed away free after having just paid for it.


Over at the Facebook Page (you do know I have a Facebook Page, right?) I’ve also just shared a couple links that Bleeding Cool posted; pieces on Clone Conspiracy and another on what impact the Civil War II “tag” has had on crossover/tie-in books.

The Clone Conspiracy piece is basically some coverage of a statement writer Dan Slott put out there urging retailers to order more copies of the upcoming premiere issue, and urging consumers to contact their shops now to ensure they have a copy on hold.

Apparently the mini-series/”core event” will be the CORE Spidey book, so the actual ongoing (excuse me, seasons) of the “regular books” are just along for the ride, telling tie-in stories (the difference here vs. Civil War II is that Clone Conspiracy seems to be a “smaller event” contained to the Spidey family of books rather than crossing the entire universe). However, I fully expect Marvel to have “leaked” or otherwise provided the/any major spoiler information to a news source that will “go live” with it at least two days ahead of the issue’s actual release, thus negating any reason to “have to” get it or ability to enjoy being surprised by a Marvel comic.

The Civil War II piece looks at the impact or lack thereof on several titles tying into the universe-spanning event. Me? I’ve “dropped” the only two titles that I had been giving a chance, from Marvel. I didn’t even wait for the actual tie-in issues of Power Man and Iron Fist or Thunderbolts to come out to skip…once I was certain I’d seen an issue of each as having a tie-in, I dropped ’em cold turkey.

Why waste $4 an issue for additional issues when I already know I’m not going to be going beyond the first handful of issues anyway, thanks to the tie-in?

Of course, I personally do not matter, not really: factor in variants and my purchase is absolutely not required…there’s someone else who’s glad to buy an extra copy or few that more than makes up for me.

Zero Hour Revisited – Showcase ’94 #10

90srevisited_zerohour

showcase_94_0010Aftermath

Script: Alan Grant
Penciller: Mike Vosburg
Inker: Ron McCain
Colorist: Dave Hornung
Letterer: Ken Bruzenak
Consulting Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Editor: Neal Pozner
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

This particular story basically sees a despondent, defeated Jean-Paul Valley momentarily existing as a homeless man on the streets. He’s been stripped of his role as Batman, having abdicated his role as Azrael for that, and now hasn’t a clue what to do with himself. He contemplates himself, his life, where he is, what he’s been through, how his life has changed in a year (basically saying that from Sword of Azrael to Zero Hour has been about a year in the Bat-side of things–further backed by the Superman: The Man of Steel issue where Batman mentions to Superman both having quite a year). Valley intrudes on a group of homeless, "hogging the fire," and eventually one is brave enough to approach him and engage him (albeit one-sidedly…or so it seems). When he up and leaves, the remaining homeless crowd around the fire and then are threatened by another group. Valley returns and drives them off, and continues to mope about, though now accepting that he IS a person, like any of these others.

Story-wise, this seems both a sort of quasi-epilogue to KnightsEnd, partly following up on that and bridging that story and the start of the ongoing Azrael series that started sometime later in 1994, I believe. This is definitely where a title like this–Showcase ‘__–excels. You don’t have to have an entire issue of some other title dedicated to a story, but you can have a standard-issue-length story presented once without having to be entirely its own one-shot or Special Issue or whatever. There’s room for this Azrael (Jean-Paul Valley) story, prior to/without an Azrael title (yet), but without hijacking another issue of Batman or Detective or Robin or Catwoman or whatever.

Given that, I like this story, and somehow was kinda surprised that it DID run the "full length" of a standard-sized issue. Then, for only 45 cents more (1994 pricing) we get another issue-or-so’s worth of content spotlighting other stuff.

And the cover–featuring Azrael–is a nice Quesada/Kesel piece with the destroyed Az-Bats helmet on the Az-Bats-period Bat-symbol. Iconic, simple, and applicable to the story.

The Tempting part 1: The Beating of Wings

Writer/Creator: Brian Augustyn
Penciller: Anthony Chun
Inker: Matt Banning
Letterer: Steve Haynie
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Editor: Neal Pozner

I’d swear I’ve read stuff with Black Condor before–specifically in Justice League America–but this did not feel like that at all. I think it’s safe to say this is the first "solo outing" I’ve read of the character, and it felt like a bit of a first-issue thing, introducing the main character, a supporting character, and a conflict. Of course, the hero starts to seem victorious, before being presented with a greater challenge, and we’re left with a cliffhanger (I ought to see if I have the next issue of this, but honestly I doubt I’ll get to it anytime soon…I’m interested, but not necessarily enough to hunt it down for an immediate read. Chances are if I ever get around to assembling the several years of these Showcase Years I’ll read it someday).

The story and art are both good, and as mentioned above for the Azrael story, this is a solid outing that seems like it could lead into an ongoing series; but barring that/prior to that, serves in that stead, being allowed to be put out there as part of an anthology ongoing even where any singular character/story would not support its own thing.

No real complaints, and I do feel I’ve a bit more insight into the character, or at least the context, than I would have had without having read this.

Deja Views

Story: Mike McAvennie
Pencils: Jason Armstrong
Inks: Stan Woch
Colors: Stuart Chaifetz
Letters: Willie Schubert
Consulting Editor: KC Carlson
Editor: Neal Pozner

This story was all over the place, but essentially focuses on a group of Time-themed villains including Clock-King (I believe) and Calendar Man (I think–and not at all like the revamped Rebirth version!). The group is trying to steal some helmet or armor, and stuck in a time-loop, and they got confused in-story right after I got confused reading and jumping to the conclusion that there was some significant editorial error before realizing that was part of the story. And before things are completely sorted out, the story fades to white, signifying the "join" to Zero Hour.

Visually, no great issue on this story for me…it’s not bad, not wonderful. I’m not overly familiar with the characters, don’t really care about them, and this story doesn’t seem to directly come out of anything…it’s just "a story set during _______" (here, Zero Hour). This tie is enough to "justify" including this in reading Zero Hour stuff, but the issue does not sport the official Zero Hour banner or trade dress. Of course, that’s in keeping to the title‘s trade dress of generic fonts for "logos" rather than some bold solo-title logo.

At least it’s more tie-in than a number of tie-ins had, so it’s worth reading for the sake of completeness, though does not ultimately "matter."

OVERALL THOUGHTS

While this title itself–Showcase ’94–may not in and of itself matter all that much, I’m more convinced than ever at its greatness for its time. That’s not to say I could see following such a book long-term in the present, in 2016…but going back 22 years and the three issues I’ve now read for their having a segment each tied to Zero Hour, I recognize what the book’s existence allowed to be published without hijacking other books’ pages or the stories just not getting told. Add to that my not recognizing many of the creators and a slight memory suggesting this: the book was the sort for giving "new talent" a chance without being otherwise committed to a book. Try a writer out, give an artist a story to do, without compromising a "regular" or "ongoing" title, but still get their work out there, see how they do with various characters and creative team lineups.

This issue as a whole is not worth it in terms of Zero Hour, really…but it’s a strong issue, with a distinctive cover, and for the quasi-self-contained Azrael story, it’s well worth a bargain-bin buy (just not worth some collector’s premium or markup despite the issue’s age or cover).

Zero Hour Revisited – Anima #7

90srevisited_zerohour

anima_0007Suddenly, Johnny Gets a Feeling

Writers: Elizabeth Hand & Paul Witcover
Guest Penciller: Brent Anderson
Inker: Will Blyberg
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Colorist: Patricia Mulvihill
Assistant Editor: Chris Eades
Editor: Rob Simpson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

I recall Anima being one of the characters introduced during the Bloodlines Annuals event in 1993, and of course remember the character more than others as she (obviously) had her own series or a short time. That said, this is the first I can consciously remember actually reading of the character.

Reading this issue, though “only” 7 into its run, was not a fun thing out-of-context. I could recognize the main character and associates by context-clues and figure stuff out, but the story seemed (in part for my lack of familiarity with any of the characters or the full context of the continuity/situation at this point) to jump all over the place enough that I’m not even gonna try to summarize it. Suffice it to say that this felt like diving into a mid-season episode of some tv show and maybe not being disgusted or put off enough by it to turn it off, but it definitely was not the most engaging nor (detail-wise) memorable.

Essentially, there’s this girl, known as Anima, with a bond to some sort of demon named Animus. Animus is imprisoned by siblings/colleagues, as others conspire to do something nasty to the realm of Man, and Anima/Animus are key to stopping that, hence an adversarial situation.

Outside of Eliopoulos on lettering, I really don’t recognize the creative team. Then, the fact that outside of probably this issue (seeing it in the Zero Hour stack and as an issue coming up in the queue) I haven’t really even considered the series for years adds to this series’ isolation in history and continuity. This character came out of the DC Universe Bloodlines stuff; carries the standard DC logo, carries in this case the Zero Hour and DC Universe banner, so it was (at the time at least) certainly in-continuity and such (mid-1990s!). But you would hardly know it to look at any contemporary DC lineup, probably not SINCE the actual 1990s (1999/2000 or so).

That lack of recognition, memory, impact, lends to the weirdness of reading this…certainly refreshing in its way as one of those titles that I seriously doubt would even get a publishing chance nowadays, let alone an audience to go seven issues (let alone any further). The parts with Animus and siblings struck me as rather Hellblazer-esque (ok, perhaps this’d fit in with the new Hellblazer title in Rebirth?) and thus in continuity but tucked off into their own little separated section of continuity.

There’s an offhanded reference indicating Anima had gotten Superman’s message (from waaaaaayyyyy back at the start of Zero Hour!) but outside of that and the fade-to-white abruptness ending this issue, you wouldn’t know it had anything to do with a bigger crossover. This certainly fits the “red skies” designation of sorts…that is, there’s a passing shoe-horned-in reference for a panel or two, but otherwise the issue’s actual story is not impacted nor does it in turn impact, the main event story it supposedly ties in with.

I think this issue would probably fit pretty solidly in with its own series as a run–reading Anima from first issue to however long the series ran–but it’s not even really “fun” as an isolated, standalone issue; it does not advance Zero Hour itself, nor does it shed any real light on something that the main Zero Hour just didn’t have space to do. I would not recommend this outside of an Anima read-through; and given (if only) my own conscious lack of memory of anything impactful even from this series long-term, I certainly would not recommend paying more than 25-50 cents for this in a bargain-bin purchase.

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