The Baron Re-Reads the Whole Death and Re-Birth of Superman Storyline

Yeah, I know, another thing that isn't a "timeline" as such, although it will involve time travel of sorts, back to the wild and woolly days of 1992, when dinosaurs walked the Earth.  I hadn't read the Superman comics much for years when this story was announced, but I decided to follow it for fun.  I knew they weren't going to really kill him off, but I was interested to see what they would do.  I started offf with....

 

Superman: The Man of Steel #18 (December 1992): "Doomsday! Part One"

Written by Louise Simonson, with art by Jon Bogdnaove and Dennis Janke.

 

This story has two threads interspersed with one another:

  1. Lois and Superman get caught up fighting a race of sewer people who want to take over Metropolis. Supes handles them fairly easily - this is just another day at the office for him.
  2. Doomsday punches his way out of a box, them establishes his bad-arsehood by crushing a birdie, then disrupting traffic and smashing a truck. The story ends with Oberon overhearing a police report about it, and deciding that this is a job for the Justice League! I'm sur ethey'll be able to handle it no problem!

 

An interesting slow build. If I hadn't of known that this was going to be the critter that was going to "kill" Superman, I wouldn't of suspected it from this. I sometimes think that they do themselves a disservice by hyping these stories the way they do. Think of how much more of a mind-blower it would of been if the "death of Superman" had been a surprise.

 

I wasn't overwhelmed by the art on this - it's not bad, just not very good, either.  I tell you, I liked liked Doomsday's initial "containment suit" look better than his later Cranky Grandpa Zombie on Terrigen-Enhanced Steroids look.

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Bogdanove never seemed like a terribly good fit for Superman. His art style takes some getting used to, but it does give the Man of Steel book a unique flavor compared to the other titles that ran concurrently.

I read this storyline via the TPB's issued the year after the original run. Reading it in that form, it seemed to me they brought Superman back too soon.

I have them as individual issues. Looking at them that way, the pile seems relatively small.

Although Steel and Superboy would receive their own titles, I would have liked to have seen all four of the pseudo-Supermen continue a bit longer before bringing back the original. I felt the same way a few years later when the four monthly Super titles featured versions of the character from four different time periods i.e. Man of Steel featured a "Golden Age" Superman, Adventures had a "Silver Age" version etc. Seems to me they missed an opportunity by returning to the status quo too quickly.

It might have been interesitng if they had picked one of the four and set him up as Superman's "successor" for awhile, at least making a pretense of it, before inevitably bringing back Kal-El.

Did you ever read the “Death of Superman” prose novel by Roger Stern? I chose it as a free selection back then when I was a member of the SFBC. It’s still sitting on a shelf but I’ve never read it. I skimmed it enough to see it followed the comic book plotline fairly closely, though. I always wondered what the “casual fan” (who picked up just Superman #75) thought of it, with superheroes such as Booster Gold and Bloodwynde and all that other comic book baggage.

Regarding Bogdanove, I really liked his style when he first started (like when he was on Power Pack), but the longer he stayed the looser his style became. It finally reached the point I had a hard time even looking at it.

I do have a copy of that book. I read it when I bought, and I don't know that I've looked at it since. I should dig it out and look at it.  From what I recall of it, I can't imagine a non-fanboy getting much out of it.

Since I was not buying comics when the Death of Superman arc was published, my first exposure (not counting fan discussions) was the prose novel (I later bought the trade collection). I remember it being well written. Not sure if it would have been easy going for a non-comics reader.


The Baron said:

I do have a copy of that book. I read it when I bought, and I don't know that I've looked at it since. I should dig it out and look at it.  From what I recall of it, I can't imagine a non-fanboy getting much out of it.

I found it interesting that all the heroes showed up for Superman's funeral yet not for the actual battle! I mean where were Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal), the Flash, Captain Marvel, Doctor Fate and anyone else who could have helped?



Philip Portelli said:

I found it interesting that all the heroes showed up for Superman's funeral yet not for the actual battle! I mean where were Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal), the Flash, Captain Marvel, Doctor Fate and anyone else who could have helped?

 

They were all off on a mission in space.

I have the Death of Superman prose novel too, although I also haven't looked at it since I read it. I thought it worked, streamlining all those comics into a single narrative. (Likewise Greg Rucka's prose version of the Batman story "No Man's Land".)

Justice League America #69 (December 1992): "Down for the Count"

Written by Dan Jurgens, with art by Dan Jurgens and Rick Burchett.

 

Line-Up: Bloodwynd, the Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Booster Gold, Fire, Guy Gardner, Ice, Maxima, Superman.

 

The League cleans up the mess on the highway, then find and take on Doomsday. They get their arses handed to them, particularly Ted. Seriously, Ted should be dead from the abuse he takes here.  Meanwhile, Superman is being interviewed on The Cat Grant Show, when he hears a special report and charges to the scene, just in time to catch Bosster when he is sent flying through the air.

 

In Subplot Land, Ted discovers who Bloodwynd really is, but we are not told. As I recalll, it was J'Onn in disguise for some reason, although I also seem to recal a "real" Bloodwynd turning up eventually, whatever that was all about.

 

Fun dialogue: "My ice will melt some of the blaze!"  What?

 

I think I like Jurgens' art a little better than Bogdanove's. Overall, this was OK, continuing the slow build-up of establishing Doomsday as a major threat.

 

 

 

[Booster Gold's in it twice?]

Before DC established an origin for Doomsday, I used to like to think he was a hideously mutated grey Hulk from an alternate reality (i.e., the Marvel Universe), making "The Death of Superman" the ultimate Superman vs. Hulk crossover slugfest.

I still like to think that, to be perfectly honest with you.

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