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The ’90s Revisited: Superman/Doomsday Hunter/Prey


supermandoomsdayhunterpreytpbStory & Layouts: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art: Brett Breeding
Lettering: Bill Oakley
Color Guides: Greg Wright
Color Separations by: Android Images
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $14.95

It’s been a bit over 20 years since this story first debuted, back in the spring of 1994. I remember the excitement I had for its premiere, and the orangey front cover of the first issue is rather “iconic” to me–extremely distinctive and always grabs my attention.

While this took Superman–and Doomsday–from actual continuity at the time, it’s a primarily stand-alone series that gave fans a rematch between Superman and Doomsday, as well as an origin to the monster. Its events drew directly from continuity and impacted ongoing continuity in such a way that it could just as easily have been part of the ongoing “regular” comics story-wise, though its epic nature was well-suited to a separate series.

While I read an old collected edition this time through, the series was originally published as three prestige-format volumes priced at $4.95 apiece (and this was in 1994!). The format, of course, put each at the size of a small graphic novel, and the collected work is as thick as any contemporary 6-issue volume.

While the rest of the Superman creative teams were also involved in the whole Death/Return of Superman saga, this volume being a Jurgens/Breeding work and feeling so very familiar in this read-through suggests to me that this is where I primarily came to associate Jurgens with Doomsday, and this has pretty much the best-looking renditions of the character (in my mind) to this day. (I certainly prefer this version by far to anything in the contemporary New 52 with the character).

Though the story works as a whole–Superman hunts Doomsday and the two fight once more–the story is fairly nuanced, and nicely balanced across the three parts. 

The first volume is a hunt–as Superman recognizes the impact of lingering fear from having died at the beast’s previous attack and the need to face his fear. While he seeks a way to find Doomsday, we see the creature’s arrival and impact on Apokalips…taking down Darkseid, the Cyborg’s return, and Superman catching up. As a first chapter it’d be rather short to have the two actually meet, and we see Doomsday sent off before Superman can confront him.

The second volume sees Superman (and Waverider) dealing with things on Apocalypse–taking down the Cyborg, as well as Superman learning the origin of the creature. The origin takes up a goodly part of the chapter, and provides a (fictionally) plausible background for the creature from inception to its emergence in the Death of Superman story.

The third and final volume sees Superman actually face the creature in battle, with an entire planet at stake, with a new costume for the occasion. (Said costume is rather cool in itself to me for the nostalgia factor, but reeks of ’90s belts and pouches. I look at it as a chance for the costume to be done but not have to be kept in-continuity.) The creature is defeated, and status quo restored, making this not exactly timeless, but free of absolutely fitting between specific issues of the ongoing Superman titles of the time.

Another nostalgic factor to me for this volume is the fact that it contains an “introduction” (something long lost in the contemporary age of collected volumes) by Jurgens, discussing the story’s genesis and including some early design sketches of Doomsday.

I believe this series was reprinted in the Superman/Doomsday Omnibus that came out awhile back (and which is presently out of print last I’d checked) but have seen the singles for this in bargain bins. I would certainly enjoy a nice “deluxe hardcover” treatment for this, or even combine it with the later The Doomsday Wars which was done in the same length and format detailing a later confrontation with Doomsday, Superman, and (I believe) the Morrison-era JLA.

All in all, definitely one of the “greats” from my childhood, a favorite volume, and it certainly holds up to this day. Re-reading this was far more enjoyable than any of the Superman: Doomed chapters the last several months, and felt like a far better spending of time.

Though best read in context/knowledge of the general Death/Return of Superman stuff, this can be read by itself pretty well. In and of itself it’s a complete story, that does not REQUIRE previous reading, nor does it drive one into future reading.

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