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:
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.
Justice League America #74 (May 1993): "Destiny's Hand Part 3"
Written by Dan Jurgens, with art by Dan Jurgens and Rick Burchett.
Line-Up: Agent Liberty, the Black Condor, Bloodwynd, Guy Gardner, Maxima, the Ray, Wonder Woman.
All the Leaguers except Bloodwynd are caught by the fascist League. Bloodwynd meets up with Batman and the Wizard. Elsewhere, we see Booster and Bea trying to help the Atom. We end with Bloodwynd trying to rescue his pals. He gets into a fight with the evil Martian Manhunter, and turns into the Martian Manhunter himself!
An interesting twist to this story. I was never wild about this League line-up, but this is an entertaining story-line.
Newstime (May 1993)
This is a copy of a fictitious news magazine (a sort of amalgam of Newsweek and Time with stories on the death of Superman, editorial pieces, quotes form celebrities both fictional and real, book and movie reviews, fake ads (There's a bit of foreshadowing in an ad for Ferris Aircraft "Things are booming in Coast City"), and even a mock address label for Clark Kent.
Overall, this is a fairly amusing gimmick. One could imagine that this might be soemthing like how an actual magazine might have covered an event like this.
The Adventures of Superman #500 (Early June 1993): "Life After Death!"
Written by Jerry Ordway, with art by Tom Grummett and Doug Hazlewood.
Jeff Ofearthj, of Fort Lee, New Jersey asks:
"I’ve got a question about Adventures of Superman #500 (up next, I think…?). That comic was published with a kind of opaque plastic overlay which could be peeled off. I never peeled mine off in fear of ruining the “value” of the comic. My question is (questions are), what’s the point? Does the cover look any different without the overlay? Does it mask another image which can only be seen with the plastic removed? Is it possible to reattach the plastic after it has been removed?"
I attempted the experiment last night. The cover shows a clouded image of a receding Superman reaching out to a be-shirted arm which is out to him in turn. The arm (presumably that of Pa Kent) is attached to the upper sheet, so that if you remove it, you are left with an unclouded image of the receding Superman, but with no arm reaching out to him. I didn't remove the outer sheet completely, and was able to re-attach it, butit wasn't as smooth as it was before.
Most of the book itself is taken up with Pa having a vision of the afterlife, in which he encounters Kismet, who I never saw anywhere else outside the JLA/Avengers book, and convinces Clark to come back to the land of the living with him.
Elsewhere we see:
Lois goes back to Metropolis and she and Inspector Henderson discover that Superman's coffin is empty. We end with four brief vignettes:
Overall: Interesting. The "Pa Kent in the afterlife" stuff was actually less interesting than the subplot stuff. The Prankster bit was somewhat amusing, particularly.
So there was more to that cover overlay than I remembered.
Adventures of Superman #500 is where I thought the storyline started to pick up. I especially like the epilogue bits introducing the four pseudo-Supermen. Those pages also allowed for a side by side comparison of the art styles of the Superman artists - Tom Grummett being the best of the bunch in my opinion. Grummett evoked a modernized Curt Swan feel with his art.
Action Comics #687 (June 1993): "Born Again"
Written by Roger Stern, with art by Jackson Guice and Denis Rodier.
This is one of four comics all released in the same week, featuring the debuts of the four "substitute Supermen".
A discorporate being appears at the Antarctic fortress and make sits way to Superman's tomb, where it absorbs enough energy to assume physical form. This new "Superman" kills a mugger in Metropolis.
In Subplot Land, Bibbo determines to try to take up Superman's battle and Supergirl and Luthor determine to find out what is going on.
We end with this "Superman" saving a plane and encountering Lois. He knows her, but says that Kent is dead and there is now only Superman.
While this is a reasonably well-done comics, I have to say that this is my least favorite of the four characters introduced at this point. While I have enjoyed the occasional "grim vigilante" story, it's a bad fit for Superman. Of course, I suespect that the authors may have known full well that it was a bad fit, and that this character was meant to demonstrate why it was a bad fit. Be that as it may, I still don't like the character much.
Yeah. That is the impression I got. Each of the Supes replacement represented a different ideal, so to speak, and having a ruthless vigilante Supes was meant to show, I think, that this was not the real deal, and that making a gritty Superman comic would never work
Superman: The Man of Steel #22 (June 1993): "Steel"
Written by Louise Simonson, with art by Jon Bogdanove and Dennis Janke.
Introducing the seocnd of the "substitute Supermen", John Henry Irons, a weapons designer turned steel worker whose life was once saved by Superman. When he discovers tha tthe gangs of Metropolis have obtained weapons of his design, he constructs a suit of armor and sets out to fight the spread of these weapons. He never really claims to be Superman, but a psychic burbles some nonsense about a "walk-in spirit". Luthor takes an interest in the weapons, and Steel is recognized by the White Rabbit, the villainess who is selling the guns. In Subplot Land, Lois is hit upon by this Jeb Firedman fellow. The issue ends with Luthor and Pa Kent watching a news story about Steel.
Well, I have to say that Steel was my favorite of the four characters introduced here, and I enjoyed his storyline. I must add, however, that I wasn't overwhlemd by the artwork on this issue. It just seemed a little off to me,
Superman #78 (June 1993):"Alive"
Written by Dan Jurgens, with art by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding.
The third of the "substitute Supermen" is the Cyborg. We start with Lois investigating various Superman sightings, Meanwhile, the the Cyborg goes to Cadmus to retrieve Doomsday's body. When the the Cyborg sees Doomsday, he thinks, "They never even bothered to wash my blood off you, butcher." Now, we know that the Cyborg will turn out to be Hank Henshaw, and not Superman at all. So, why is he thinking this? My rationale is that he knows there's at least one telepath at Cadmus, so he disciplined himself to stay "in character" even mentally, so that if Dubbilex or someone read his thoughts, they wouldn't figure out who he really is. Anyway, he hurls Doomsday off into space, and accompanies Lois to Professor Hamilton's lab. Hamilton, at least, is convinced, that the Cyborg is the real deal. We end with a chilling moments, as we see Doomsday drifting through space, laughing.
I always thought that the Cyborg was the most visually interesting of the four "substitutes". I thought it might have been interesting if he had turned out to be the real thing. you could have had some interesting storylines where Superman, once the adored "idol of millions" now has to deal with life in a wolrd where people find him disturbing to look at. Eventually, of course, he would have been "fixed" back to normal, but I think a good story arc might have been gotten out of it.
The Adventures of Superman #501 (Late June 1993): "The Adventures of Superman...When He Was a Boy!"
Written by Karl Kesel, with art by Tom Grummett and Doug Hazlewood.
The fourht of the "substitute Supermen" is a cloen of Superman, sort of. He saves a woman from some would-be rapists, then goes to the Planet to talk to Lois. There he takes an interest in a young wannbe reporter called Tana Moon. Vincent Edge sends Superboy after a crook called the Steel Hand so that he can send Tana to cover the story. Later, the Guardian tells him he did OK but not to be overconfident. Luthor quizzes his agent in Cadmus, who reveals that Superboy isn't quite a clone of Superman.
This character is OK, not one of my favorites, but OK. I like the way they build up the mystery of what he really is, with his powers not quite working the way Superman's do. It'ss funny how much this character changed over theye ars form the way he was presented here.
Justice League America #75 (June 1993): "Destiny's Hand - Finale"
Written by Dan Jurgens, with art by Dan Jurgens, Romeo Tanghal and Bob Smith.
Line-Up: Agent Liberty, the Atom, the Black Condor, the Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Fire, Guy Gardner, the Martian Manhunter, Maxima, the Ray, Wonder Woman.
Our heroes fight the fascist League in the drema world, while Ted revives from his coma so that he can beat Doctor Destiny in the waking world. Ge,, Ted sure got over his coma real fast. We end with ted wanting to know why J'Onn was Bloodwynd.
An interesting storyline - I wonde rif Wes Craven ever read any of the old Doctor Destiny stories before he cam up with Freddy Krueger?
Justice League America #76 (Early July 1993): "Blood Secrets Part One"
Written by Dan Jurgens, with art by Dan Jurgens and Rick Burchett.
Line-Up: The Atom, the Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, the Martian Manhunter, the Ray.
The explanation of the Martian Manhunter/Bloodwynd issue begins with an exploration of th jewel attached to J'Onn's chest. The Atom explores it only to be captures by the Weapons Master and an unappealing fellow called Rott. they insist on the Ray being sent in. He enters the jewel and is confronted by Rott!
An OK story. Never was too big on the Weapons Master as a heel.
Steel was also my favorite of the four. Bogdanove's art had a rough Walt Simonson look to it which fit Steel better than Superman.
I didn't much care for Superboy although I picked up several issues out of the bargain bin from later in his solo title and Karl Kessel and Tom Grummet did some good things with the character - kind of a Superman filtered through Kirby feel.