DC's "mistake" (I have oft heard opined) is that they rebooted some series post-Crisis but not all. I disagree with that assertion (for a couple of reasons), not the least of which is I don't believe the way they handled it was a mistake. Before I start my examination of the post-Crisis Superman in particular, I'd like to briefly touch upon how the Crisis on Infinite Earths affected certain key titles, starting with...

SUPERMAN: John Byrne's Superman reboot was certainly the highest profile one, even making the cover of TIME magazine, but I think it was a "soft reboot" at best, at least that's how it was pitched, although it did become a hard reboot eventually.

(Incidentally, the "HE'S 50!" blurb was much more impressive to me in 1986 than it is today.)

Superman was given a new origin, but the modern DC universe had been "10 years old" pre-Crisis, and it was still 10 years old post-Crisis. The Man of Steel limited series covered that gap between Superman's first appearance in issue #1 and the new Superman #1 during which all of the previously told Superman stories were supposed to have occurred. Theoretically, a reader could go from the pre-Crisis Superman #422 to the post-Crisis Superman #1 (discounting Alan Moore's out-of-continuity "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow") without missing a beat, although eventually the pre-Crisis stories were rendered "out of continuity" by newer ones.

BATMAN: "Batman: Year One" (Batman #404-407) represents what I call a "fuzzy reboot" in that he, too, was given a new origin, but this one replaced earlier continuity more quickly. Crisis really had no effect on Batman continuity... until "Batman: Year One" (which was not only post-Crisis, but post-Legends). Immediately thereafter, Batman became Batman: The New Adventures (with #408), starting with a new origin for the Jason Todd Robin.

Gone was Jason Todd's circus origin, replaced with a new "street urchin" origin. Does this mean the pre-Crisis Jason Todd stories still "happened," mentally substituting one origin for the other? Or did the "New Adventures" origin wipe the previous (blond) Jason Todd stories completely from continuity? That's why I think of "The New Adventures" (more so than "Batman: Year One") as a "fuzzy" reboot. It soon became a moot point as the character was dead by #429. 

WONDER WOMAN: Wonder Woman is the only example of a "hard reboot," wiping from continuity as it does all previous 329 issues. What makes matters slightly more problematical is that Wonder woman's origin did not take place "ten years ago," but rather she made her first appearance in "man's world" circa the post-Crisis mini-series Legends.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: You'd think removing Wonder Woman as a charter member of the JLA would be problematical, but it wasn't, really (YMMV). All that was needed was to replace Wonder Woman with Black Canary (and if you think BC couldn't possibly replace WW, it's been too long since you read those early Silver Age JLA stories). All that's required is a slight "mental rewrite" as shown in Secret Origins #32.

But again, all this has been rendered moot by subsequent revisions which have alternately restored and removed Wonder Woman's status as a founding member. (I couldn't even tell you what it is now.) If anything, in a way Crisis strengthened the JLA's place in continuity. As individual pre-Crisis Superman and Batman stories were systematically carved out of DC continuity, the JLA stories in which Supes and Bats participated still "happened." 

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES: Here too, as with Wonder Woman's removal from the JLA, you might think that the removal of Superman's career as Superboy from continuity entirely might prove problematical, but again I assert that it was not (and again, YMMV). Honestly, the "pocket universe" explanation was and remains one of my favorite stories from the immediate post-Crisis era, and even helps to cement those Silver Age Adventure Comics stories that much more firmly in DC continuity. And (also "again"), the question has since been rendered moot by so many revisions that I no longer know what's "officially" considered to be in continuity and what is not.

NEXT: John Byrne's 1986 Man of Steel limited series.

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AHH! Under that iconic Jerry Ordway cover lurk the interior guest pencils of Erik Larsen. I promise you I did not remember that. His style stands out from John Byrne's and Jerry Ordway's (and Greg LaRocque's from the LSH crossover) like a sore thumb. I though Larsen was an artist whose style has not improved in 35 years, but I see now that I was mistaken. Whatever you may think of his work today, his early stuff is worse! The one thing I can say about it is that the editor forced him to work in a coherent style, not the pin-up pages for which he would become known. OTOH, what editor would have hired Larsen to fill in for Jerry Ordway (of all people)? During this period, Andy Helfer is in the process of handing over the editorial reins to Mike Carlin, and both names are listed in the credits. I will admit I admire Larsen's work ethic; of all the Image founders, he is the only one... by a long shot...  who continues to work on the title he launched. But this thread is not a critique of Erik Larsen, so let's get back to Superman.

The story, I must admit, save the artwork. (So much much for artists not needing writers. Who here remembers "Name Withheld"?) The villain calls himself Doctor Stratos (his name may even be Constantine Stratos), and he fancies himself a "child of the Gods." He was found abandoned (presumably as a child) at the base of Mount Olympus, and has built a  satellite to control the weather, which he uses to fake weather powers and terrorize the world. As is so often the case in comic books, Doctor Stratos could have made a fortune using his weather control technology to benefit mankind, but he is obviously insane. In the end, his is struck by lightning of his own creation and falls into the Aegean Sea. He must have had [what will soon come to be known as] the "meta-gene" because, after  superman flies away, he transforms into a god-like being, vowing to return (someday) for revenge against Superman.

In the subplot, Catherine Grant is revealed to be a truly nice person. She tries to make friends with Lois, but Lois (presumably jealous of Cat's friendship with Clark), is a total bitch. Cat is even nice to "Gopher", the social misfit in charge of the Planet's microfilm library, promising to have lunch with him after he digs up some dirt on Joseph Morgan, the father of her son.

Except for that one scene, this issue may be worse than the Metal Men issue of Action Comics. The next time I read through the post-Crisis Superman, I plan to skip Action Comics #590 and Adventures of Superman #431, and to slot Superman #8 and Action Comics #591 (the "Pocket Universe" stories) between Superman #7 and Adventures of Superman #430 (where they occur), and humbly suggest that anyone else reading these comics in the future do the same. 


Main Story: For reasons of his own, the Joker makes the trek from Gotham City to Metropolis to bedevil Superman rather than Batman for a change. The point of this story seems to be to dispel a popular misconception about Superman's powers which, until the publication of this story, I would not have guessed even existed. Apparently, some people have confused Superman's inability to see through lead with an inability to see lead. It wasn't until after the publication of Superman #9 that a good number of people in fan circles argued that that is how Superman's x-ray vision works (or how they thought it did). 

Clark Kent finally opens the mystery package he received in issue #5 (and has been sitting on his back in the background of the Byrne-books ever since). Inside is Ma Kent's scrapbook. Clark doesn't recognize it for what it is because he did know she was keeping one in the first place, but readers recognize it as the same one stolen by Luthor's goons back in issue #2. Also, Lana gets zapped by some little flying gizmo while papering her walls. One last this: I think the splash page is an homage to Gene Colan's cover of Marvel Super-Heroes #12.

Back-Up Story: "Metropolis 900 Mi." takes place in a diner and deals with the mind games Lex Luthor plays on a young waitress. I liked this story more than the main one.

ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #432: There is a tenement fire in Suicide Slum. Lois Lane and Jose Delgado are on hand and rush in to save those still trapped inside. Jimmy Olsen uses his signal watch to summon superman (he used it in Superman #9, too). Marv Wolfman maneuvers Jose Delgado and Jerry White into position as central characters. Superman meets Jose for the first time. The Eagles and the Dukes are two rival gangs. Jerry used to be an Eagle. The fire was in Duke territory, but Jose alibis Jerry. Lex Luthor has set up a charitable outreach program to help at risk youth, but actually it's a cover to recruit and train gang members as soldiers. Later, the gang attacks a subway train. Jerry was on the train as well, but he insists he was just a passenger.


I remember "Metropolis 900 Mi." with great enthusiasm. It was then, and may still be, the greatest villain story I've ever read. Note I didn't say "greatest Lex Luthor story." The villain of this piece was named Luthor, but it was still a new Luthor to me, so it was basically a new character. But he was shown to be casually cruel, a megalomaniac, a narcissist, a vile and vicious man. He was smart enough to reach for the clouds, but petty enough to bully the weak and evil enough to enjoy it. He was thoroughly insulated from the consequences of his actions, and very aware that this was the case.That story knocked the wind out of me, and I remember it fondly (?) to this day.

And after that height, we get the low: the "porn movie" story. Aye-yi-yi. Maybe Byrne understood Luthor a little too well!


Regardless of what you think you remember...

  • Rick Blaine did NOT say, "Play it again, Sam."
  • Captain Kirk did NOT say, "Beam me up, Scotty."
  • Mae West did NOT say. "Wh don't you come up and see me sometime?"
  • James Cagney did NOT say, "Top of the world, Ma!"
  • Jack Swigert did NOT say, "Houston, we have a problem."
  • Dirty Harry did NOT say, "Are you feeling lucky, punk?"
  • Darth Vader sis NOT say, "I am your father, Luke."

...and Superman and Big Barda did NOT make a porno movie together.

This is a topic that comes up every once in a while, most recently last year, here. I have spent so much effort over the years refuting this factoid that I missed the bigger point, which Dave Elyea pointed out, is not that Superman and Barda had sex (which they categorically did not), but rather what Sleez did to Barda is the true misjustice of the story. It's like, years ago, when my roommate and I were discussing Peter David's "Crazy Eight" story in the latest issue of The Incredible Hulk (#380). We got so hung up trying to decide whether or not one of the characters was a lesbian or not (not Crazy Eight; she definitely was), that we completely missed the point of the story was ostensibly about capital punishment.

But you know what? Whatever happened to Big Barda is in the mind of the reader. We see only Mister Miracle and Oberon's looks of shock and revulsion as they watch the video tape (which Superman was not in, I remind you), but how much would it take to provoke that reaction from you if it were your wife. Whatever happened to Barda on that tape is not on Byrne, it's on you. Feel free to hate this story, but make sure you're hating it for the right reason.

I'm hating it because of what happened to Barda, as demonstrated by the reactions of Oberon and Scott, that John Byrne wanted me to react to. And it's disgusting. That's not on me, that's on Byrne, for degrading a woman in a Superman story. I didn't expect it, I didn't want it, and I don't like it.

To be clear, I posted that before I saw your previous post. When I said "That's on you" I meant "That's on you, reader," not "That's on you, Cap." I meant that to be completely generic, but it just happened to follow your post. I didn't mean it as a personal attack. Sorry if you took it that way.

Captain Comics said:

I'm hating it because of what happened to Barda, as demonstrated by the reactions of Oberon and Scott, that John Byrne wanted me to react to. And it's disgusting. That's not on me, that's on Byrne, for degrading a woman in a Superman story. I didn't expect it, I didn't want it, and I don't like it.

Exactly. Barda was kidnapped and made into a sex slave against her will. It doesn't make it all better that Superman wasn't also made into a sex slave against his will. 

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