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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.

superman_the_man_of_steel_0018_blogtrailer

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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!

Joining the Fidgety Fad: Superman Spinner

I’ve avoided these "fidget spinners" since they came out. In fact, I totally missed their debut. (I even missed/ignored/whatever a Bleeding Cool article about them).

superman_fidget_spinner_package

But this weekend, while heading into a Target for groceries, I saw something that I could tell was Superman-related, so as I approached, my curiosity was on high, and I looked to see what it was.

Superman fidget spinners. Well, FOCO something. "Diztracto Spinnerz."

Me being me…being the Superman fan that I am, the sucker that I am…

I bought one.

superman_fidget_spinner_out_of_package

And I can definitely see the "distraction" and "attention-holder" aspect of the thing…certainly the "fidget" side.

But I’m also pretty certain that now that whatever curiosity I actually had of the things has been sated…this should be my one-and-only that I buy. After all…once you have one of these…how many do you REALLY need, to keep occupied?

July 4th, 2017

A quick, simple post…showing off the colorful, patriotic cover art of Superman with the U.S. flag, in celebration of the United States’ Independence Day.

superman_20170704a

Iconic, generic poses…but these two immediately came to mind when I was thinking of such images to share for the day. Loads of others, too…but as two of my most recent acquisitions, these were forefront for me.

superman_20170704b

Then there’s the classic cover from Adventures of Superman #505, celebrating the character’s return after Doomsday, Funeral for a Friend, and Reign of the Supermen:

adventuresofsuperman505

And with that…I’ll call it a day. Hope everyone (whether celebrating the day or not) has a great day!

The ’90s Revisited: Superman the Man of Steel #44

superman_the_man_of_steel_0044To Know… Know… Know Him!

Story: Louise Simonson
Layout Art: Jon Bogdanove
Ink Art: Dennis Janke
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Asst. Editor: Chris Duffy
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover: Jon Bogdanove, Dennis Janke
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: May 1995
Cover Price: $1.50

This is one of the more "iconic" Superman covers for me from the ’90s: it was the issue immediately preceding the 100th issue of Superman and the start of the whole Death of Clark Kent storyline. I distinctly remember this cover from first getting it–we were visiting my grandparents, and my aunt took me to a comic shop in the area, where I got this. It also helps the cover to be memorable given that it’s essentially (but not quite! It’s still its own thing!) a reproduction of a panel within the issue.

Clark’s on the phone with his book editor when he hears a ticking in the background from the other end; so he rushes in as Superman, managing to save the man from being blown to bits. Meanwhile, Keith (a young boy being adopted by Perry White and his wife) is hanging out with some older kids after school. When the store manager accuses them of shoplifting, the other boys race off, leaving Keith to take the fall. After being extricated from the situation by Perry (who assures Keith that he and his wife are still adopting him), Clark once again learns of a bomb by hearing it over a phone, and saves Perry and Keith (and everyone on the bridge they’re stuck on) but Perry’s car is destroyed. Later, Keith takes courage from the incident and stands up to his so-called friends, and winds up making some new ones…while Jimmy decides to stick with Clark like glue until they figure out who’s been threatening him and trying to bomb his editors. Clark distracts him briefly as they get off an elevator, only to find a Superman dummy pinned to his apartment door by a giant knife…and he realizes then who’s behind stuff.

This is an issue from back in the heart of the "Triangle Numbering" era of the Superman titles…though each creative team had their own through-threads they focused on, their own stories to tell, ultimately the titles were one ongoing weekly series, with each week’s issue moving the overall Superman story forward. As such, with weekly doses of THE Superman story, there was plenty of room for the cultivation and development of a large supporting cast and plenty of "subplots" to be dug into and unfold over the course of things, such that a single issue could often seem all over the place, when taken out of context. This one manages to avoid the worst of that, though a single paragraph summary doesn’t do the thing justice. There’s the overall story, but the details of the various characters’ interactions makes it more complex…much like an episode of a large ensemble cast tv show where certain characters really get around, while others are checked in on but don’t necessarily have much screen time.

This issue ought to–by 2017 standards–be billed as a "prologue" to the upcoming major story; or heck, in contemporary terms there’d be a whole pre-Event event (particularly if this was Marvel). Here, it’s just the next chapter of the continuing saga, that just happens to be right before the larger titled story kicks off.

I definitely dig the story, though I find reading this over 20 years after the fact, I’m less enamored with Keith’s story, being so much further away in age now than I was then (as well as feeling like there’s a bit of "preachiness" going on here that would have much different connotation were it published in 2017).

Visually, it’s not hard to follow what’s going on, to recognize Superman or Clark, Lois, Keith, Perry, or others. However, it’s hardly my favorite art, ESPECIALLY stacked up against the likes of Dan Jurgens, who IS one of my absolute favorite artists (particularly when it comes to Superman!). Bogdanove‘s style grew on me, and holds a definite place in my memory and liking of the Superman books…but might not be the most appealing to someone unfamiliar with it or this era of Superman.

As a whole, though–story and art–this is certainly a strong issue, giving the reader action, plot development, and moving everyone around the final bit to head into The Death of Clark Kent. I appreciated it as an isolated one-off that I picked up specifically for remembering the cover so clearly.

That said…you’d likely be better served tracking down the collected edition of The Death of Clark Kent if possible, or picking this up as part of a larger group of the issues than to get this one issue by itself.

superman_the_man_of_steel_0044_slice

Zero Hour Revisited – Superman: The Man of Steel #37

90srevisited_zerohour

superman_the_man_of_steel_0037Countdown to Zero

Story: Louise Simonson
Penciller: Jon Bogdanove
Inker: Dennis Janke
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Asst. Editor: Chris Duffy
Assoc. Editor: Frank Pittarese
Editor: Mike Carlin
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

This is probably one of THE most iconic Superman covers to me, definitely one of my favorites, period. I even pointed that out some 3 years ago!

As the issue opens, Clark and Lois are talking to Jeb Friedman–who is coordinating a concert to be held as a benefit to the citizens of Metropolis (which just recently was destroyed). When reflected light grabs their attention, Superman investigates…finding Batman trying to contact him. This Batman is not the one just recovered from a broken back, and references Time anomalies. Another Batman soon arrives…as does a third. Meanwhile, the heroes learn of plans to ruin the concert, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the city at the moment, and it’s up to them to once more save the day. Superman enlists the scientific aid of Emil Hamilton as they confirm the Time anomalies…even as the Batmen shift, split, and disappear. Finally, Superman prepares to seek out "his" Batman, showing the way "great minds think alike"–Batman had just arrived to contact HIM! While the two begin to "catch up," Metron arrives, warning of a Crisis.

This is another issue that nicely (and actually!) clearly ties into the events of Zero Hour…it’s also another issue that I read that summer when it was released. Though I feel like some of the "music" stuff is a bit dated and cliché, on the whole, the issue holds up. Having read all the Superman books solidly for so many years, it doesn’t take long to shift my mind back to what was going on in the books at the time–such as Alice and Perry White taking care of Keith, and Keith constantly getting into trouble "seeing" his mom everywhere and running after her.

I’ve had mixed feelings over the years on Bogdanove‘s art–there’s something to it that’s a bit off-putting to me, especially when held up against Jurgens‘ work. Absolutely, completely isolated, it’s not a style I’d necessarily choose high on a priority list…but the art more than gets across what it needs to, and beyond that usual feeling, REALLY shines here, conveying numerous visual styles of Batman that clearly evoke prior incarnations in a way that shows me the general look of Superman is a choice in style and not a reflection of ability! It’s also a visual style firmly entrenched in my memory OF the various Super-titles from the ’90s, and is not something I’d wish to lose…too much nostalgia for this title!

I really like the story itself in this issue…we move elements of the core Superman story forward–touching on subplots like Jeb Friedman, the Whites and Keith, Jimmy & Ron, as well as getting Clark and Lois along with getting Superman in action…we even have Emil Hamilton accounted for. That we also have Batman, and as a Time anomaly at that makes this both a great singular issue that can be read AS a single one-shot issue, but also plays well within the ongoing Superman titles while being a very clear and useful participant in the larger Zero Hour story. We also get setup for the next of the four Superman books…all within just this one issue, at standard size and price.

While I’ve got to admit to a bit of bias, both on this being a Superman title at all, and having read it originally such that this is more nostalgia than reading something new from the time, this is a great issue that I’d recommend as plain, simple FUN even if you’ve never immersed yourself in the ’90s Super-books…you don’t even truly need Zero Hour to enjoy it…the Event is just a convenient "excuse" to allow for–without lengthy explanation/setup–the presence of multiple iterations of Batman. So far, I’d put this at the top of the list with Batman #511 as the best of the initial wave of Zero Hour Tie-ins, with Superboy #8 as a runner-up.

Wooden Comic Covers…for Decoration

giant_comic_cover_signs_01bSome time back, at a Meijer, I happened across a display of large wooden wall decorations–comic covers. One of them was the “newsstand edition” Superman #75, and being such an iconic piece, I bought it on the spot.

There were other covers, but none of them particularly appealed to me…while others just baffled me as they did not seem all that “iconic” to me. Giant-Sized X-Men #1, a number of the early Marvel #1s, a good number of DC #1s, sure.

I put the thing on a shelf as a quasi-background piece behind some of my old Marvel Legends build-a-figures and oversized Heroclix figures and all but “forgot” about the things.

And then not far apart, I came across one of these for Adventures of Superman #423, and Man of Steel #1. Being two of the first four premieres of the “post-Crisis” Superman stuff, I bought the Adventures of Superman one…but could not find the Man of Steel one again for awhile. I finally located it again at Hobby Lobby, but a sale that had been going on was over, and I had no interest whatsoever in paying full “regular” price for the thing, so I decided to just wait, and try to notice when there was a sale again and hope it was still available.

giant_comic_cover_signs_01

Tonight I found myself near a different Hobby Lobby, and decided to pop in, figuring if nothing else, maybe I’d find a magnet for my overhead bin at work, and confirm that the section of the store with the comic stuff was indeed not on sale.

Turned out…it is. “Mens’ metal and wood wall hangings” 50% off. Including the various wooden comic covers as well as the various smaller metal versions, and enough stuff that I easily could have blown $500 given the spare finances and available wall space to justify ’em.

50% off put the Man of Steel piece exactly in what I’ve come to see as reasonable pricing, and I decided to flip through the other ones to see if there were any appealing Marvel ones. The last piece behind everything, though, was the original Superman #233…itself a highly-iconic image, so I figured why not? Two for the price of one.

Now, I’m very interested in these for Superman #1 (1986) and Superman: The Man of Steel #1 (1991) if they even exist. Despite being iconic, I’m not all that interested in the Golden Age #1s–Action Comics, Superman, Batman, Detective Comics #27, anything Wonder Woman.

Marvel-wise, I’d be most interested in 1990s stuff–X-Men Alpha or Omega, 1991’s X-Men #1 or #30, Captain America #1 or Thor #1 from the Heroes Return period…maybe a handful of others.

Though these are smaller than posters, they’re far more durable and sturdy, and I just really like them. I look forward to getting them hung, and perhaps in a later period of life, making use of them in a “man cave” or a Single Guy’s living room as actual “art pieces.”

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