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The ’90s Revisited: Justice League America #69

90s_revisited

Justice_League_America_0069Down for the Count

Story and Art: Dan Jurgens
Finished Art: Rick Burchett
Letters: Willie Schubert
Colors: Gene D’Angelo
Asst. Editor: Ruben Diaz
Editor: Brian Augustyn
Cover: Dan Jurgens
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1992
Cover Price: $1.25

I may have read this issue before all of the other Doomsday! issues back in 1992…in fact, I’m almost certain that I did. I then reread it when reading the entirety of the Doomsday! arc the night Superman #75 came out.

This is another issue with a fairly iconic, if generic/plain cover, to me. The fade from the deep, almost purple red across the other shades (a gradient is the word I’m probably looking for) as the background eliminates any sort of buildings, trees, other stuff, and leaves us just to focus on the Doomsday creature punching the Blue Beetle as Bloodwynd, Fire, Booster Gold, and Guy Gardner struggle against it. (And this time around I’d swear is the first in all these 25 years that I really noticed the huge gashes in the side of Blue Beetle’s headgear from the creature’s strike!) And of the various chapters of this story, this issue is one I feel I’ve least seen in bargain bins over the years–even less than Superman #75 itself!

The first page has a call-out/blurb at the bottom directing readers to Man of Steel #18 first, though for me, it’s hard not to have started reading the page before seeing that, as it’s positioned at the bottom, and I start reading at the top, so I’m already through a page of dialogue (granted, a full-page/single image) before getting to it, and thus already slightly "hooked" into the action.

We open on the Justice League in action rescuing people–victims from Doomsday’s having torn up a freeway in Ohio (incidentally, based on details in the novelization The Death and Life of Superman–a stretch of freeway I myself used to drive to and from work!). While they’re dealing with the rescue and cleanup, a parallel thread for the issue is picked up–an episode of the Cat Grant Show being filmed at a high school and broadcast to the country, wherein Cat is interviewing Superman live, as well as questions from the students in attendance. This is interspersed with the League then tracking down the creature–following its path of destruction–and engaging it in a battle that leaves the Justice League itself far worse for wear, and Guy horribly beaten and Ted Kord–Blue Beetle–all but dead. At the end, Booster Gold barely gets his force field up in time to take a massive punch from the creature that sends him flying far away from the scene at a speed that overwhelms his flight ring. His flight is cut short by the arrival of Superman, at which point Booster exclaims that "It’s like Doomsday is here!"

The issue’s story has a lot of little moments, and some of those stick out all the more to me 25 years later, looking back. Seeing Maxima as part of the League, for one thing–I’d only really known her from an issue of Action Comics several years earlier. I believe this was my first introductions to most of the other characters–Bloodwynd, Booster Gold, Fire and Ice, and Blue Beetle. I’d already had Guy Gardner #1 a couple months earlier and knew/recognized Guy from the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annual where he’d tangled with the eclipsed Superman (any of the other Leaguers would have been inconsequential background characters to me for the most part). I remember the interview with Cat, the creature spearing Beetle’s bug with the tree, Maxima mind-probing ahead and declaring of the creature "He’s hate–death and blood lust personified! Nothing more." I also think I remember even then being amazed that Beetle and Guy could have survived the creature’s attack, given the on-panel beatings both took; though Guy at least ostensibly was protected by his ring, where Beetle had no such protection, and was in a coma from here and forward for a number of issues.

The art is quite good, and as with Man of Steel #18, part of that is nostalgia…though I think I like this a bit better. We start to see a bit more of the creature as the green, cabled suit takes some damage (on the cover, anyway!), and the art also seems both consistent with the characters and a bit definitive for me given the times I re-read this as a kid, and as a "source" issue for me in referencing some of the characters for the first time.

While this doesn’t exactly stand alone and definitely continues from the events of Man of Steel #18 and continues directly into Superman #74, as a single chapter of the Doomsday! arc, it works much better alone than the previous chapter…at least for me. Picking up with the creature already loose, and showing the League "playing catch-up" themselves allows the reader to be on the same footing, if nothing else…and the final page where Superman shows up kinda ends the threat being a League thing, as it becomes a Superman thing (and as the rest of the story plays out in the Superman titles, the League is relegated to a support status, as it should be for a story unfolding primarily in several titles technically starring only one main character).

This is hardly a complete story, but it does give us moments of Beetle discovering Bloodwynd’s secret months before it was revealed to readers and fellow characters; this is where Beetle is actually injured (a subplot that continues into the next arc), and does serve as a rather "full" participation in the story for the League, as well as (maybe in a meta sense) illustrating also just how dangerous the creature was that it did so much damage to the League itself in just one issue!

I’d say this one’s worth getting even alone, if you find it in a bargain bin, and certainly is an important chapter in the overall story (such that it really should have had an "honorary" "triangle number"…something that was bestowed on several tie-in titles years later for the Millennium Giants story). Though essentially just a "cameo," this is also where we first meet Mitch–a character that has a bit of a through line across this arc and the Funeral for a Friend/World Without a Superman stuff.

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The ’90s Revisited: Superman: The Man of Steel #18

90s_revisited

superman_the_man_of_steel_0018Doomsday! part one

Story: Louise Simonson
Penciller: Jon Bogdanove
Inker: Dennis Janke
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Assistant: Jennifer Frank
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover: Bogdanove & Janke
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 1992
Cover Price: $1.25
Triangle #: 1992/45

It’s hard to believe it’s been twenty five years since this issue was new! This cover remains one of the most iconic I can think of, certainly extremely recognizable at a glance for me. It’s the cover that started things off for The Death of Superman saga, and has remained locked in memory for me ever since.

Unfortunately, though we get some scenes of Doomsday tearing up the landscape–first as he digs/punches his way up/out of the prison he was contained in and then starting to make his way wherever it is he’s going (including squishing a random bird that landed upon his outstretched hand)–we have zero interaction between the creature and Superman himself…until the very end of the issue, no one even seems to know there’s anything important starting at all. As such, it hardly seems like this ought to be the opening chapter…this could have been a prologue issue instead of the first chapter, even part of a multi-issue prologue/prelude thing (along with the Justice League America issue), leaving Superman #74 as the actual opening chapter. But then, that’s the way I’ve been "conditioned" on modern comics to think, where "everything" is an event or an event prologue or there’s an event leading into another event that’s the prologue to the Really Big Event.

Instead, this issue is basically "just" another issue of Superman: The Man of Steel. The issue opens with Doomsday emerging from his confinement, then switches to the current moment in the ongoing continuity of the Superman titles. Interspersed with the creature’s emergence, we have an orphan boy–Keith–trying to find his mom, as Lois Lane investigates a tip about a danger threatening Metropolis. Underworlders (rogue clones/creatures/monsters) allied with Warworld refugees (from the then-recent Panic in the Sky story) are preparing to invade Metropolis and take over. First they "steal" the city’s electricity, then use a giant borer to tunnel to the surface with plans to have their war machines emerge from there. Keith sees Lois get captured and overhears her captors’ reference to holding no prisoners, and realizes he won’t find his mom this way. He manages to get Superman’s attention by spraypainting a huge "S" in a parking lot and leads Superman to the captured lady reporter. A scuffle ensues between Superman and the Underworlders with predictable results (Superman wins). Doomsday having moved from squishing birds and breaking trees moves to traffic interference, which finally gets him noticed by someone (Oberon, a Justice League ally), which leaves us to continue into Justice League America #69.

While I just lamented the lack of Superman/Doomsday interaction, part of that is that I never liked the Underworlders stuff, so that makes for a rather boring and "out there" story for me. On a technical level, though, this works quite well in that everything about Doomsday comes outta nowhere, as he should be just some other creature (perhaps akin to an Underworlder) and this is supposed to be just another day for Superman/Clark, Lois, and everyone else. Nothing as significant as Superman’s death is remotely a part of anyone’s plans.

Though the Superman books all continued a story essentially as a single weekly comic (with four creative teams each handling a week a month), I’ve come to see a bit more distinction in stuff with the different titles…and one of those is the Underworlders being a "thing" for this title, Superman: The Man of Steel.

I don’t care nearly as much for them, as said, which makes this (offhand) my least-favorite of the issues involved in this story. That’s not to say it’s a bad issue, but it doesn’t interest me beyond the snippets of Doomsday.

The art also isn’t my favorite, but it definitely hits some positive nostalgia for me as far as the appearance of all the characters. There’s a visual style that’s quite distinct to this title and this period, making it highly recognizable to me, and I wouldn’t trade it out, given said nostalgia.

As an issue from this time and part of this story, of course the issue is a keeper…and it’s totally etched into my personal history with comics and Superman, creating a bias that keeps me from being entirely impartial in terms of any review.

That said, in looking back across 25 years…I definitely would not recommend this issue as a stand-alone read. Taken only by itself in a vacuum, this is a boring issue, with the most interesting thing being the emergence of Doomsday itself. Of course, this is well worth getting if you want the entire "branded" story/set of Doomsday/The Death of Superman, and of course ought to be read if you’re reading the story in collected edition format.

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The ’90s Revisited: Doomsday Pages

Back in 1992, shortly before the actual start of the Doomsday crossover/event/story/arc, all four of the Superman titles ended with a single page showing a fist repeatedly punching a wall, as whatever it was, tried to escape some sort of confinement.

Superman: The Man of Steel #17 saw Superman dealing with the ongoing subplot of Underworlders in Metropolis, ending here:

doomsday_mos17

Then Superman #73 saw Superman and Waverider interacting again, and dovetailing off to:

doomsday_superman73

Next, Adventures of Superman #496 gave us one last hurrah with Mr. Mxyzptlk before the monster arrived:

doomsday_adventures496

And finally, Action Comics #683 saw Superman dealing with The Jackal in a (comparably) forgettable story that left us with:

doomsday_action683

And of course, from there, the actual story kicked off in Superman: The Man of Steel #18!

Along with these pages, and all sorts of news coverage, we had this iconic (to ME, at least!) house ad:

doomsday_ad_superman73

These days, that alone would have to be its own VARIANT cover…either for Man of Steel #18, or heck, they’d do different silhouetted poses of Doomsday like this for all four covers with those single page bits the month before the actual event!

While I’ll be doing my own stuff here, several years ago, Michael Bailey and Jeffrey Taylor covered the Death and Return of Superman saga in a lotta detail in their podcast From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast, and there is a HUGE treasure trove of material related to it over at the Fortress of Baileytude!

The Weekly Haul: Week of November 8, 2017

This week was a pretty solid week for new comics, with several issues I was actively looking forward to, some just interested in, a surprise, and a couple bargain-bin issues!

weeklyhaul_11082017a

This week has the concluding chapters of The OZ Effect in Action Comics and A Lonely Place of Living in Detective Comics. There’s this week’s new issue of TMNT/Ghostbusters 2.

The latest Metal one-shot/special/tie-in, and the new issue of Fighting American. And since I’d bought the "#800" variant of Superman #34, figured this Wonder Woman one would be a nifty match (I hope whatever Batman one will be as easy to get!).

As said last week, something like this is where a variant actually IS warranted, "fun," a nice nod, etc. And it’s a hugely great thing that it’s NOT–after over a year and a half of "Rebirth numbering" now jumping the titles to the legacy numbers. (Action Comics and Detective Comics are definite exceptions, where it works, as they ONLY have ONE "gap" into which the low-numbers and style CLEARLY differentiate them from their 1930s/1940s counterparts…as opposed to cramming three, four, five-plus #1s/2s/3s/etc in to a single number string).

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The new Mister Miracle and Ragman issues; cases where mini/maxi-series are interesting enough to get as singles…especially when NOT all are "default-priced" at $3.99. These may not be Rebirth-branded titles, but that does not disqualify them (as default) from $2.99 pricing. Same goes for Gotham City Garage (which is–I believe–essentially a "reprint collection" of digital-first chapters).

Then from some Vertigo bargain bins, I snagged the two Swamp Thing annuals; only added $1 to my total, so definitely well worthwhile.

All in all, not a bad week’s worth of issues…though I have GOT to get everything from the last few months rounded back up and properly sorted, and dive in to actually READ, after leaving everything aside to charge through 60+ Savage Dragon and related issues!

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The Weekly Haul: Week of November 1, 2017

This week was a rather large week for new comics! Lotta interesting and interesting-ish stuff out…

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I need to catch up on my actual READING of them, but I’m really digging these one-shots focusing on the various Bat-men. For what I feel compelled to get new in the week, it’s great that there’s a new chapter each week, and does not feel like an overwhelming amount with say, five or six (or seemingly so) or more chapters out in a week. PLUS, the shiny foil covers are fun as they’ve not (yet) been used to fatigue, and for something called Metal, they’re truly appropriate!

Then there’s TMNT/Ghostbusters 2…a fun crossover conceptually, and I enjoyed the first series, so why not a second? And getting at least a weekly dose of TMNT through this, plus the "regular" stuff? Makes for a good month!

As anyone reading this knows, I’m sick and tired of variants, in general. An honest exception is where it’s warranted…such as with this week’s Superman #34! Shows that the 800th issue can be celebrated without having to DERAIL an entire numbered series! It’s observing the anniversary without having to BE a #800!

After the Jetsons backup in one of the specials back in the spring, I certainly wasn’t going to not check out an actual series that looks like it follows up on that! And I’m amused at the "return" of some more obscure characters lately, what with Deadman here, Ragman recently, and Mister Miracle. Then Usagi Yojimbo, which has been trucking along over the years; even with some hiatuses apparently, but it’s back, and I’m enjoying it thus far.

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Now, here’s where location and promotion can pay off: Black Lightning takes place locally, apparently–Cleveland, Ohio–and I don’t think I’d realized, but apparently the creator is local, too! So of course I’ll check this series out! I’m giving Harley and Ivy/Betty and Veronica a chance for the heckuvit…it’s a novelty thing. DuckTales ought to be a given, but I’m still not ready to commit month in/month out…especially as I’m behind on watching the new cartoon.

I need to catch up on actually reading Bane and Astonishing X-Men; already having several issues defeats the point of a collected volume, so "cheaper" to finish out the stories (plus the convenience of having all the issues in-house when I do finally binge-read).

I was not going to bother with Captain America, but some strong positive words on it from a shop owner went a long way with me. It gets this one issue, and I probably won’t come back til the novelty of whatever #700 is…but then again, maybe I’ll end up sticking around until #700. Time shall tell!

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The Lion King is one of my all-time favorite films (period, no sub-categorizing or such for "animated feature" or stuff like that). So for the price of two DC issues (or 1 1/2 Marvel issues), got this mini-graphic novel sized book. I think it might just be a print edition of a digital comic I’d bought years ago, but especially if so, cool to have this in print.

And somehow, I’d missed the DC Essential Graphic Novels edition for 2017, so definitely glad to have it for 2018…my OCD demands I still seek out a 2017 edition to go on the shelf with previous years!

deadman_glow_in_the_dark

The Deadman issue is another with an "enhanced cover," which–again–I’m enjoying from DC for the nostalgia and such, and rather judicious use. It certainly fits for something like this title, and as long as it’s only for the first issue, I’m cool with it. (If every issue was this way, no-go!). Even if the $4.99 cover price was because of this, I’m ok with that as well, from DC, in this case: no real hubbub over the cover, so it was just there, and so I was willing to pay the extra. And if the issue would have been $4.99 anyway, then heck yeah, give me something extra! (Like the foil on the Dark Nights/Metal issues!)

And then as a bonus for the week, there were left over comics from Halloween ComicsFest, so I was able to get some of the non-kids-oriented comics (Sabrina, for one) and several other issues I’d missed out on with only choosing the ones I did last weekend. I was satisfied with what I’d gotten over the weekend…so these are definite bonus on top of that, making an expensive week feel that much more substantial!

Halloween ComicFest 2017

Over the weekend, we had Halloween ComicFest. Basically like a Halloween-themed Free Comic Book Day with participating retailers. Same sorta thing–publishers put out specific comics that retailers can order, that are intended to be given away. Retailers, of course, can opt to do other stuff as well.

halloween_comicfest_2017a

Since I was not in costume, I was part of the crowd that qualified for picking 5 of the "free" issues. I’m definitely in a Thor mood lately, and Ghostbusters and The Tick caught my eye. I rounded it out with Darth Maul and Hellboy and the BPRD. I also snagged three "back issues" of Action Comics from the New 52-era (#s 37-39), which MIGHT leave me "only" missing #s 36 and 40 or so from that run, and thus effectively means I’m a mere 2 or so issues shy of having every issue of Action  Comics from #583 to #990!

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Along with the Halloween issues, Carol & John’s also had several bonus things to choose from with a purchase. I opted for the Thor by Walter Simonson vol. 1.

Later in the day after some non-comics personal stuff, I was able to stop by Comic Heaven, where I picked up Atomahawk #0 to try, and the fourth volume of Criminal (I think there are 7 volumes). I was also able to get the Walking Dead reprint of #1, Wizard World edition from 2013. Pretty nifty.


Thanks to a couple friends, I learned that Dollar General had some sort of pack of skeleton miniatures. Took some hunting (and finding multiple DG locations) but combined with figures I already had, I was able to take the following photo (done up meme-style at another friend’s suggestion).

tmnt_vs_skeletons

After all…this week (I believe) we get the first issue of a new (and this time weekly) TMNT/Ghostbusters comic series. And this would be a scenario (sorta) the Ghostbusters might just be able to help with, no?

The Weekly Haul: Week of October 25, 2017

Another simple but expensive sorta week for me! A couple of big issues, a couple of "enhanced covers" a la ’90s goodness, but at today’s prices!

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THE big issue for me this week was TMNT #75. 75th issue, final chapter of the Trial of Krang, squarebound/prestige format, and with this current story, every successive issue is the highest-numbered issue a TMNT comic has ever reached. Here’s hoping we see a #100 and beyond! Due to pull list and geography, I’ll be getting the issue twice…so as the turtles are and always have been a firm exception to my other personal "rules" of comics, I picked up the B cover for now, as the A cover’s on hold for me to pick up probably next week, due to some personal hassles to deal with this weekend.

Then there’s the new Detective Comics, the penultimate chapter of A Lonely Place of Living; ditto (penultimate, I believe) in the Action Comics chapter of The Oz Effect.

Next is the shiny cover that’s become signature for this Metal event. Being in a nostalgic mood and seeing "my" Thor logo and "my" Thor on the cover, I decided I oughtta support the thing.

I’m not much for all anthologies, but decided to throw in with getting the DC House of Horror squarebound special. I believe it’s essentially this year’s New Talent Showcase or such.

Wednesday was dubbed "TMNT Day" for hitting #75, and there was this sampler issue given out that recaps the IDW run so far. Basically a "primer" to allow someone to (I suppose) jump right in with #75.

I’ve been getting Kamandi Challenge all year, but can’t remember where I left off. I’m kicking myself a bit, as at this point I pretty much could wait for the collected edition. I keep getting each new issue in case "this" is the month I binge-read/catch up…but at #10, we’re nearly to the end and to a collected volume!

Finally, I snagged Royal City vol. 1, as it’s a $9.99 vol 1, and a friend had highly recommended the series, even giving me a copy of #1; now I’ll get to read the entire first arc and go from there.

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