The Kryptonian Cybernet Issue 54 • Neperos (2024)

Copy Link

Add to Bookmark

Report

The Kryptonian Cybernet Issue 54 • Neperos (1)

eZine lover(@eZine)

Published in

Kryptonian Cybernet

·5 Jul 2024

______________________________________________________ 

T H E K R Y P T O N I A N C Y B E R N E T
_______________________________________________

http://www.ms.uky.edu/~sykes/kc

Issue #54 -- September 1998
______________________________________________________

CONTENTS
--------
Section 1: Superscripts: Notes from the Editor(s)
Final Genesis Hour One Million Unleashed
Ratings At A Glance
Titles Shipped August 1998
The KC Newsroom
Kingdom, the Multiverse, Fantastic Four, World's Finest,
Supergirl/Batgirl animation, a new Superman hardcover, and
a little doting on one of our own

Section 2: New Comic Reviews
The Triangle Titles
Superman #139, by Thomas Deja
Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #11, by Derek Jackson
Superman: Save the Planet #1, by Shane Travis

Section 3: New Comics Reviews
The Triangle Titles (cont)
Adventures of Superman #562, by Dan Radice
Super-Family Titles
Superboy #56, by Rene' Gobeyn
Supergirl #26, by Thomas Deja
Superman Adventures #24, by Cory Strode

Section 4: New Comic Reviews
Team Titles
JLA #23, by Anatole Wilson
Young Justice #2, by Rene' Gobeyn
"Ghosts" Annuals
Superman Annual #10, by Thomas Deja
JLA Annual #2, by Anatole Wilson

Section 5: New Comic Reviews
Miniseries
Superman for all Seasons #2, by Douglas Wolk
Superman: The Dark Side #1, by Rene' Gobeyn
After-Byrne
Manuscripts of Steel
Denes House turns his attention to 1994's Elseworlds
annuals, beginning with Superman Annual #6

Section 6: The Phantom Zone
Tales of Earth-One
Episode 6 - Revenge is a Dish Best Served Over and Over
Bob Hughes looks at the Superman Revenge Squad
World of Krypton
DC's first miniseries retells the story of the last days
of Krypton, by Scott Devarney

Section 7: The Phantom Zone
Giant Superman Annual #1
Rich Morrissey treats us to a review of DC's first-ever
80-Page Giant, recently reprinted for the newer legion
of Superman fans

Section 8: The Mailbag

STAFF:
------
Jeffery D. Sykes, Publisher and Co-Editor-in-Chief
Shane Travis, Co-Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor of Comic Reviews
Neil Ottenstein, Executive Editor of STAS Reviews

LEGAL DISCLAIMERS:
-----------------
Superman and all related characters, locations, and events are copyright
and trademark DC Comics. Use of the aforementioned is not intended to
challenge said ownership. We strongly suggest that each reader look to the
media sources mentioned within for further information.

All original material published in The Kryptonian Cybernet, including but
not limited to reviews, articles, and editorials, are copyright 1998 by The
Kryptonian Cybernet and the respective authors. Reprinting in any format
is expressly forbidden without the permission of The Kryptonian Cybernet
and the contributing author.

Opinions presented within this issue belong to the authors of the articles
which contain them. They should in no way be construed as those of any
other particular member of the editorial or contributing staff, unless
otherwise indicated.

This magazine can be distributed, in whole, freely via e-mail. Should you
desire to share this publication with other on-line services, please
contact me at sykes@ms.uky.edu for permission. Feel free to advertise
subscription information on other on-line services which have internet mail
availability.

THE KRYPTONIAN CYBERNET is available by e-mail -- to subscribe, send the
commands

subscribe kc
end

in the body of an e-mail message to "majordomo@novia.net" (without the
quotation marks). The program ignores the subject line of the message.

Back issues are available via ftp at oasis.novia.net. These archives can
also be reached via the Kryptonian Cybernet Homepage:

http://www.ms.uky.edu/~sykes/kc

__________________________________________

SUPERSCRIPTS: Notes from the Editor(s)
-----------------------------------------
By Jeff Sykes (sykes@ms.uky.edu)

FINAL GENESIS HOUR ONE MILLION UNLEASHED

Like clockwork, it appears every year at approximately this time -- the DC
Universe Crossover Extravaganza!

Each year, in late summer or early fall, DC decides to regale us with a
tale so large that it must consume a miniseries and all of the DC Universe
titles for an entire month.

But why?

One obvious answer is that it increases sales for a month. If my shop is
at all representative, then almost every DCU title involved in the _DC One
Million_ crossover has seen an increase in sales this month. I suspect
that even bad crossovers like _Genesis_ still realize these sales bumps.

Another answer is that the increased exposure can lead some to begin
reading books that they used to ignore. Say a Superman fan picked up
_Resurrection Man_ #1,000,000 because of the tie-in to _Adventures of
Superman_ #1,000,000. Perhaps he finds himself intrigued by Mitch Shelley
and decides to pick up the next few issues as a trial. A well-written
crossover issue certainly has that potential.

So then why do we have these things once a year, always at the same time of
year? Why not whenever a great crossover idea comes along, whether that be
more often or less often than once a year? And why *force* all of the DCU
titles to participate? If the participation is meant to increase sales and
expose new readers to the title, then why not give that editorial/creative
team the option?

With each passing year, the crossover event seems less and less special,
less and less important, regardless of the quality of the event. Perhaps
it's time for DC to put this particular form to rest for a few years and
just concentrate on making each and every ongoing title as good as it can
possibly be...

Oh, and one last thing, going out to one reader in particular. Here's
hoping that editorial one day realizes that Superman is a bit more than
just a job, that they would best serve the fans and their own bottom line
by hiring talented people who actually care about the Man of Steel...

__________________________________________

RATINGS AT A GLANCE: Titles shipped August 1998
----------------------------------------------------
Prepared by Shane Travis (travis@sedsystems.ca)

Not a good month for the Super-titles. Lots of marks way, *way* below the
cumulative averages for the titles, and even the annuals and specials
didn't seem to be up to snuff. Well... most of them didn't. There is
always the beautifully-rendered _Superman For All Seasons_ if you need a
bit of a lift, and Peter David continues to impress with _Supergirl_. (Too
bad he didn't do the same with _Young Justice_.) At least _Superboy_
managed to get back on track... let's hope that the Triangle Titles can do
the same, and pull themselves up from their sub-par showings.

Key:
----
Issue -- Issue for which 'Current' Rating and Rank are calculated. The
'Previous' columns refer to the issue immediately prior to this.
Rating -- Average Rating, in Shields (maximum rating is 5.0). The number
in () indicates how many people submitted ratings.
Rank -- The relative ranking of the book among the regularly-published
Superman titles.
Average -- Average of the ratings for this title over the indicated number
of months, based on the book's cumulative average. Each month
is weighted equally, regardless of the number of people rating
the book that month. If this book is averaged over fewer months
than the rest, the number of months is displayed in ().

Current Previous Avg (6Mth)
TitleIssueRatingRankRatingRankRatingRank
----- ----- ------------ ------------ ------------
S. For All Seasons2 4.3(7) - 4.6(7) - -- -
S: The Dark Side 1 4.0(6) - -- - -- -
Supergirl 26 3.9(5) 1 4.1(7) 1 3.65 1
Superboy 56 3.6(6) 2 2.5(7) 9 3.52 2
S: Save The Planet! 1 3.1(8) - -- - -- -
JLA Annual 2 3.0(7)- -- - -- -
JLA 23 3.0(8)3 3.7(7)3 3.473
Young Justice 2 2.8(7) 4 4.1(6)2 -- -
Action Comics ** -- 5 3.2(10)5 2.73 7
Adv. of Superman 562 2.6(7)6 2.8(11)8 2.976
Man of Steel ** -- 7 3.0(7) 7 3.20 4
Man of Tomorrow 11 2.5(8)## 2.3(11)## 2.37(3)##
Superman Annual 10 2.4(6) - -- - -- -
Superman 139 2.3(10)8 3.0(9) 6 2.68 8
Superman Adv. 24 1.9(4) 9 3.2(5) 4 3.15 5

**No issues of _Action Comics_ or _Man of Steel_ were published in August
due to the _Superman: Save the Planet_ special *and* the publication of
_Superman: Man of Tomorrow_. All four core titles will return next month
for the _DC One Million _special event.

##_Superman:Man of Tomorrow_ is published so infrequently that despite its
status as a Triangle Title, it is treated as a special for the purposes of
monthly rankings. The Overall Average is based on the average ratings for
issues 9, 10, and 11.

"I got those second-issue blues..."
YOUNG JUSTICE #2 (2.8 Shields, -1.3 Shields, 4th place)
- It would have been difficult for Peter David to top his side-splitting
debut on this comic, but it would have been nice if he had tried. Last
issue, even the horrible puns elicited mirthful groans, but this issue
things just fell flat. David is somewhat hampered in his role as writer on
this title, since he can't make the major changes to the characters that
have become his (self-lampooned) trademark, but he is known more for his
strong characterization than his humour... which is a good thing, as some
folks are already calling for a return to more serious stories after just
two issues.

"Can't we just say he's *evil* and get on with it?"
SUPERMAN ADVENTURES #24 (1.9 Shields, -1.3 Shields, last place)
- The public's response to this comic has been increasingly negative
since Scott McCloud stopped writing it, but this month's rating represents
an all-time low. Apparently, people either don't care why the Parasite
does what he does, or they don't like (or believe) Mark Millar's
explanation. Either way, this rating was enough to drag the six-month
average so low that even one of the Triangle titles (_Man of Steel_)
finished higher than it.

"If I blow up the planet, Dad, *then* will you love me?"
SUPERMAN: THE DARK SIDE #1 (4.0 Shields)
- Moore and Dwyer present an interesting Elseworlds look at the Last Son
of Krypton, also known here as the Third Son of Darkseid. This is the same
team that brought us last year's acclaimed _Elseworlds' Finest_ mini-
series, and they don't look to disappoint this time out either.

Information for 'Ratings at a Glance' and the ratings accompanying the
monthly reviews of Superman comics are obtained from KC readers. Anyone
interested in contributing may contact Shane Travis <travis@sedsystems.ca>
and will be added to the monthly mailing-list to receive a Ratings Form.

__________________________________________

THE KC NEWSROOM
-------------------

THE KINGDOM COMETH

For the past two months, fans have been flooded with information, rumor,
and speculation about December's "Kingdom Event" -- not only about what the
story will encompass, but about the reported long-lasting effects on DC
continuity. Michael Doran's Newsarama
(http://www.mania.com/newsarama/index.html) has been on top of the story
since it broke, and most of the following information comes from his
wonderful news source.

So what do we know?

The event will take place during the final three weeks of December, with
the tales spread across 7 different titles. The first week will see the
release of _The Kingdom_ #1, written by Mark Waid (_Kingdom Come_) and
illustrated by Ariel Olivetti (_JLA: Paradise Lost_). The story picks up
immediately after the events of _New Year's Evil: Gog_ #1, which closed
with Gog's murder of Superman. Gog decides that killing Superman in that
time isn't enough, and so he begins travelling backwards in time, stopping
periodically to kill Superman yet again. As the timeline begins to
destabilize, the Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman of the _Kingdom Come_
future set in motion a plan to save all of reality.

This leads into five specials the following week, all written by Waid, and
three of which focus on characters so far only seen in the pages of
_Kingdom Come_: _Kid Flash_ #1 (art by Mark Pajarillo) features the
daughter of Wally West; _Nightstar_ #1 (art by Matt Haley) features the
daughter of Nightwing and Starfire; and _Son of the Bat_ #1 (art by Brian
Apthorp) features Ibn al Xu'ffasch, the son of Bruce Wayne and grandson of
Ra's al Ghul. The fourth title, _Offspring_ #1 (art by Frank Quitely),
introduces the crime-fighting son of Plastic Man. Each of these four titles
takes place about nine months after the _Kingdom Come_ epilogue. Finally,
in the only of the five books taking place in the present day DC Universe,
_Planet Krypton_ #1 (art by Barry Kitson), Booster Gold opens his new
super-hero-themed restaurant.

In the third and final week, it all wraps up in _The Kingdom_ #2 (art by
Mike Zeck). The Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman from _Kingdom Come_
arrive in the present day DC Universe, where they team up with their
contemporary selves to stop Gog. DC is being *very* tight-lipped about the
outcome of this book, but promises that the conclusion of the final battle
will be something that nobody will expect! (More detailed information on
all seven books can be found in the next issue of Previews!)

So what's all the gossip?

Almost since the end of _Kingdom Come_, rumors have flown that the events
in that miniseries would become *the* future of the present day DCU. Ever
since _Crisis on Infinite Earths_, fans have used small details and/or
mistakes to speculate that DC plans to bring back the Multiverse. At the
San Diego convention this summer a DC panel, including Mark Waid, answered
questions about the significance of the "Kingdom Event," including
questions about the rumors mentioned above. Waid's standard responses
included, "no matter what you think the answer is, the answer will surprise
you," and "It's all true!"

As regards the concluding issue, _The Kingdom_ #2, Waid suggests that
readers look towards _DC One Million_ for an important clue (I'm guessing
he's referring to the Linear Men scene in issue #2), as well as to
*another* book that DC published earlier this year -- though he wouldn't
say which one. He adds, "...once all is revealed, the answer will be
startlingly and shockingly clear."

Some rumors have Waid and Grant Morrison (_DC One Million_, _JLA_)
collaborating to once again revamp the entire DC Universe, but Waid denies
this, stating, "The last thing either of us wants to do is to hit the
Cosmic Reset Button *once again*. Suffice it, for the moment, to say that
everything you know is still true ... *everything*."

So how *could* Gog have killed Superman in _New Year's Evil: Gog_ #1, yet
Superman still be alive in the 853rd century (even though this has yet to
be shown)?

Well, Nik Stanoshek's Superboy Website (http://fly.to/superboy) may have
*the* scoop. (Incidentally, if you want Superboy info, Nik's site is *the*
place to go!) _Superboy_ writer Karl Kesel gets in touch with Nik from time
to time, and he's spilled the beans a bit -- it seems that whatever the
long-lasting effect the "Kingdom Event" will have on DC continuity, the
rules for this re-written DC standard will be explored in the pages of
_Superboy_, beginning on the 50th anniversary of the original _Superboy_
#1. Says Kesel, "_Superboy_ #60-63 (or 64) will be a story that explores
certain things revealed during the upcoming Kingdom Week -- something so
big that the JLA should handle it, but can't. Only Superboy can. It should
thrill old and new fans alike. It is without a doubt the biggest, most
important story to ever appear in _Superboy_. And if, by some chance, our
Superboy was to meet the 'Silver Age' Superboy, they would remember meeting
in _Superboy_ #8."

While it would appear that *some* sort of Multiverse, or alternate time
lines, will be the net result, it is still unclear whether this will be
*the* Multiverse -- or even whether any of the pre-Crisis "Earths" will be
a part of this new reality.

Regardless, it sounds like Mr. Waid has quite a bit in store for us this
holiday season! And remember -- "no matter what you think the answer is,
the answer will surprise you!"

THAT MIGHT REQUIRE SOME TUMS...

For years, Dan Jurgens has dreamed of teaming Superman with the first
family of Marvel Comics, and now that dream has come true! The Man of Steel
will meet the Fantastic Four in a 64-page one-shot due to hit stores in the
spring. Jurgens will write and pencil the tale, in which Superman discovers
that Krypton didn't just blow up -- it was devoured by Galactus! (Think
Elseworlds, folks.) This will, of course, bring Superman and the Fantastic
Four together with lots of unexpected twists and turns.

KESEL... WORLD'S FINEST... NUFF SAID!

Teamings of the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel have been a natural almost
since their introductions in the 1930s. Now, Karl Kesel (_Superboy_) is
working on the next edition of these team-ups, but with a new twist. In a
new 10-issue miniseries, Kesel will let readers in on the fact that
Superman and Batman have actually been teaming up as an annual event for
each of the past ten years. Each issue will essentially highlight one year
of their relationship, with _World's Finest_ #1 being a type of "Year One"
story. In this tale, something will happen which will require them to meet
again in a year, leading to the second issue's "Year Two" type of story.
And so forth.

Along the way, Kesel will reveal previously unseen meetings between the
two, including the time when Batman checked up on the four Supermen that
took the Man of Steel's place after his death, and the time when Superman
checked up on the Azrael-Batman while Bruce recovered from his broken back.
Also expect both good times and bad, as their initially rocky relationship
develops into what it is today. Kesel told Newsarama, "In issue #3, we see
what happens when Superman assumes that Batman is much friendlier than he
actually is. It's a horrible mistake in character judgment by Superman, but
we'll see how they can put that behind them and move on. Like any
relationship, sometimes they tolerate each other and are fairly friendly,
and sometimes they can't stand each other. All in all, it should be a nice
exploration of the two characters and their distinctively different
outlooks from crime to family to women." Artist Dave Taylor will illustrate
the series, which is expected to debut early in 1999.

SUPERMAN'S SON?

Newsarama also reports that Howard Chaykin (_Superman: Distant Fires_) has
written a 96-page hardcover entitled _Son of Superman_, to be illustrated
by the art team of J.H. Williams and Mick Gray (_Chase_). No word on the
content of the project, but given the conclusion of _Distant Fires_, might
this be a sequel to that Elseworlds tale?

WORLD'S FINEST -- THE FIGURES

Coinciding with last month's video release of the "World's Finest" animated
teaming of Superman and Batman, Kenner has released a Wal-Mart exclusive
two-pack featuring action figures of the animated Batman and Superman. The
Batman figure is a slightly redecoed version of an earlier figure, while
the Superman figure is the previously-released Capture Net Superman. Both
figures now have cloth capes, however, where the original Superman figure
had a plastic cape. You can find pictures of this two-pack at the Raving
Toy Maniac (http://www.toymania.com/sdcc98/dc.shtml).

ANIMATION SHORT CUTS

The Batgirl/Supergirl team-up episode will count as one of the new Batman
episodes, and is entitled "Girls' Night Out." The episode, written by
Hilary Bader, features Livewire, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn as the
villains.

The rumored JLA series doesn't seem to have much forward momentum at the
moment. Said producer Alan Burnett, "It depends on if the rights are
available and if we can come up with it so that it's just not another team
show, that it has some personality. That's where it's at right now." But
producer Paul Dini has also been quoted as saying, "It's very, very
doubtful we'll do a Justice League series. You never know." (I'm personally
still pulling for a Legion of Super-Heroes animated series!)

LOCAL BOY MAKES GOOD

Our own Thomas Deja (monthly contributor of _Superman_ and _Supergirl_
reviews) has recently had a tale of the Hulk published! His story, "A
Quiet, Normal Life," appears in _The Ultimate Hulk_, which is edited by
Peter David and Stan Lee, and published by Byron Press Publications and
Berkley Books. Congratulations Tom!

__________________________________________

NEW COMIC REVIEWS
-----------------------------------------
Comics Arriving In Stores August 1998

Whew! Thirteen reviews this month, and we haven't even begun looking at
the big _DC One Million_ crossover yet! Nonetheless, there are still a few
things we've chosen to leave out. First, the Man of Steel's presence was
finally felt in _The Nail_ #3, but we didn't think it a good idea to review
only the final issue of the miniseries. Look for a review of the complete
series in "Manuscripts of Steel" in the coming months. Lesser appearances
include cameos by Superman and the rest of the JLA at Wally West's wedding
in _The Flash_ #142 and in _Martian Manhunter_ #0, the debut issue of that
title. Finally, look for a review of the _Giant Superman Annual_ #1
reprint in this month's Phantom Zone!

Ratings Panelists:
-----------------
AW: Anatole Wilson DWd: Darrin Wood MS: Mike Smith
CoS: Cory Strode EJ: Enola Jones RG: Rene' Gobeyn
DC: David Chappell EM: Edward Mathews ST: Shane Travis
DJ: Derek Jackson JO: Joey Ochoa SDM: Simon DelMonte
DR: Daniel Radice JSy: Jeff Sykes TD: Thomas Deja

As always, the first rating given after the average is that of the
reviewer. The average rating given for each book may correspond to a larger
sample of ratings than what is printed following the average.

===============================================

THE TRIANGLE TITLES:
-------------------
37. SUPERMAN #139 Oct 1998 $1.99 US/$2.85 CAN

"A Matter of Time"

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Jim Starlin
Inker: Joe Rubinstein
Letterer: John Costanza
Colorist: Glen Whitmore
Separator: Digital Chameleon
Assistant: Maureen McTigue
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Jim Starlin, Joe Rubinstein, and Patrick Martin

RATINGS

Average: 2.3/5.0 Shields

TD: 4.0 Shields
DC: 2.5 Shields - Mediocre ending that leaves things too ominous with
Dominus.
DJ: 2.4 Shields - A ho-hum ending to a ho-hum story. Very anti-climactic.
DWd: 2.0 Shields - Boring story, boring art, and a totally pointless
conclusion to this whole Dominus thing. The S-titles have one
month to get it right before I drop them.
EJ: 2.7 Shields - I found this one crowded and undecipherable. I've been
following the storyline since its inception and I am still in the
dark. The art has been muddled slightly as well... the characters
are barely recognizable in my opinion.
JO: 1.7 Shields - This book had it's moments but was a disappointment
overall. It was too open ended on the Kismet issue and dragged
the Daily Planet thing out for too long.

Three whole points of this issue's rating is for Jim Starlin.

Kirby may have created the concept of the 'cosmic saga,' but Jim Starlin
certainly perfected it, refining and amplifying its scope with his own
obsessions with sex, death and religion to create a series of top notch
entertainments (never mind that in the last ten years he's been doing
nothing but telling the same story with different trappings again and
again--but I digress). He's the perfect artist for this wrap up--from the
first shot of Waverider propelling himself through the timestream to a
flashback establishing Kismet's bond with Superman, the art is a treat...

Which is good, because this is a mediocre wrap-up to a mediocre storyline.
At the end of this issue, we still have no grasp of who Dominus is, his
motivations for wanting to become Big God on Campus, and no real sense of
resolution; the last panel shows Dominus kind of walking away muttering
that he'll be back. This whole storyline has read like a bunch of guys
making it up as they went along, and boy does it show.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The story begins with an absolutely
gorgeous sequence of Waverider (looking a damn sight better than Jurgens
ever made him look) locating a point in Clark Kent's life which ended in
tragedy. Clark, Pete Ross, Lana Lang and a girl named Sharon, all pre-teen,
are playing pirates on a jungle gym. Sharon loses her footing and begins
to plummet towards what we learn is a fatal impact--except Waverider stops
the fall....

Cut to: Dominus about to seal Superman's fate with some Kryptonite. The
Linear Men show up and are dismissed almost immediately, but not before
Waverider touches Supes and assures him it will all work out in time.
Dominus drags the Man of Steel into another dimension and tries to force
him to reveal the location of Kismet. What ol' No-Arms finds out is that
Kismet is hiding in a egg-shaped object held by ol' Mr. Odetts (whose
stubborn insistence in not moving from the Hypersector has been a thorn
in Luthor's side these last few issues). Dominus takes Kismet back to his
dimension, where Superman uses his heat vision to distract ol' Creepy Face
Waverider's machinations. Waverider transports Kismet back through time
and merges the being with the soon-to-die Sharon, positioning Clark so he
can catch the girl and create the bond between them. For the time being,
Kismet is safe from Dominus.

Dominus, not realizing Kismet is hiding in the 70's, comes back to his
dimension and rails at the Man of Steel, dismisses him, and promises that
the universe has not heard the last of Dominus, Master of Really Vague
Storylines.

To say that this resolution is kinda disappointing is an understatement.
It is a VASTLY disappointing resolution to an overlong storyline. Not only
that, but the major motivation for Dominus' harassment of Supes was this
bond--a bond that was supposed to be explained in this issue. Yes, a bond
is 'created' between Clark and the girl Sharon, yet Jurgens' writing seems
to imply this bond *replaces* the initial bond. You have to wonder why
Dominus, who is established as being able to warp reality all the way down
the eras, only scans the present -- especially since he knows the Linear
Men are involved. It's all confusion, and it's all unsatisfying.

There *is* some fairly decent foreshadowing of things to come; on one page,
Dirk Armstrong approaches Perry, furious that their new health care
provider no longer covers pre-existing conditions. He threatens to take his
column elsewhere, to which Perry replies that he should--the Planet is now
losing money at an alarming rate. Jurgens dialogue is as weak as ever, but
the blocking is excellent. I wanted more of this and less of Dominus
floating about claiming he was going to be God.

Thank God Starlin is doing pencils for this issue; his job here is simply
breathtaking. The opening two pages are worth the price of admission all
by themselves. They have only four panels, but show an understanding of
the way Waverider moves that the other Team Super artists *wish* they had.
Starlin makes Dominus look truly unworldly....his robes being plucked by
unseen winds, his body sometimes being part of his dimension, then part of
the galaxy itself. He is drawn visually to be an impressive figure. After
week after week of Ron Frenz' tired Kirby knock-offs and Paul Ryan's
decent but journeyman work, having a stylist like Starlin is a breath of
fresh air. I wish we could get more 'big name' artists to break up the
monotony, maybe tailoring the assignment to the artist's strength like in
this issue. Imagine a Maxima rumble penciled by Adam Hughes, a pulp-style
adventure penciled by Tim Truman or a supernatural mystery penciled by
Gene Colon or Tom Mandrake... the mind boggles.

I guess what depresses me about this story is that it signifies a return
to business as usual for Team Super; more 'event' programming that just
drags and drags, with no end in sight. Even if Mike Carlin won't allow
the end of the Triangle format, the time has come for a year-long
moratorium on big-e Events. Let our boys collaborate on smaller stories
and concentrate on the characters instead of the big temporary changes we
keep on getting put through. Maybe then we can get big talent to climb
aboard, even for an issue or two. *That* might bring more readers in than
another goofy villain with no arms advancing a vague agenda in even vaguer
stories.

Thomas Deja
<tdj723@webtv.net>

===============================================

38. SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF TOMORROW #11 Oct 1998 $1.99 US/$2.85 CAN

"Anomaly"

Writer: L Simonson
Layouts: P. Ryan
Finisher: D. Janke
Letterer: J. Costanza
Colorist: G. Whitmore
Seps: Digital Chameleon
Asst. Ed.: M. McTigue
Editor: J. Cavalieri
Cover: Paul Ryan, Brett Breeding, and Patrick Martin

RATINGS

Average: 2.5/5.0 Shields

DJ: 1.9 Shields
EM: 2.8 Shields - In haiku: Alternate future
Hints at a new Multiverse.
Is Earth-1 near by?
JO: 2.7 Shields - Some nice action in this book but no substance. Who is
this future guy and why should I care?
MS: 3.0 Shields - Nice bit of continuity with the 1996 annual, but this
story felt rushed. One issue isn't enough for a "I must kill you
to save the future" plot.
ST: 2.0 Shields - Any significance to Kaleb's appearance was lost in
the jumbled mish-mash of other elements; surely the resolution
of the time anomalies deserved better than this. The scratchy
inks and distorted faces of Ryan and Janke didn't help matters.
TD: 1.3 Shields - Reason to kill off S:MOT #34: Another in a series of
inconsequential single-shot stories that do nothing except -- in
this case -- feed Luthor's evil. As if we didn't see the 'surprise
twist' of this story coming....

It seems like yesterday when the new quarterly The Man of Tomorrow came
out, and we are already up to issue 11. Where does the time go? (Get it?
Time?)

Anyways...

Main Plot: Investigating a strange sound, Superman finds dinosaurs,
medieval knights, and spaceships all in downtown Metropolis. He does
his best to ensure that no innocent bystanders get hurt before everyone
returns to their own time. Just when Superman thinks everything is back
to normal, he hears another faint sound similar to the one proceeding
the time travelling interlopers...

A longhaired man wearing a Superman emblem materializes in an alley in the
slums of Metropolis and is attacked by gang members, but easily defeats
them with help from Bibbo. He claims to be a time-traveller, and upon
seeing Luthor's face on TV, he announces that he is going to kill Lex, and
heads off to do so. Crashing into Lex's office, the declares Luthor guilty
of 'crimes against the galaxy' and throws him out a window.

Superman catches Lex before he bounces, and draws out this strange man's
story. He introduces himself as Kaleb (whom readers will remember from
1996's _Man of Steel_ Annual) and tells of a distant future where Lex
Luthor has pretty much taken over everything. Superman tries to talk Kaleb
out of killing Lex, but Kaleb is so blinded by hatred he attacks Supes.
They fight for a while, but suddenly Kaleb disappears! Superman suspects
that he has simply snapped back to his own time like the other anomalies,
but the truth is far more sinister; Lex stunned Kaleb with an experimental
weapon and spirited him away. As the story ends, Lex toasts the fact that
he will one day rule the universe.

Subplot #1: The financial crisis continues at the Daily Planet, and rumors
abound of a takeover. Some of the staff is fired (nobody major). Dirk
brags about winning a journalism award, and Lois rips into him for his
egocentric attitude.

Subplot #2: Lucy tries to tell Ron she is pregnant, but keeps getting
interrupted. Eventually Ron discovers the truth by accident.

What? I paid $1.99 for this? It is definitely time for a rehaul or some
new writers, because this story indicated to me that DC is lacking ideas.
Hasn't the 'Daily Planet in financial trouble' plot been beaten to death
already? And why are we seeing the return of characters from what is
essentially an Elseworlds story? Didn't somebody tell Simonson that
they're called Elseworlds for a reason?

Firstly, the art. It's pretty good, for the most part. Characters are
well drawn and the coloring is well done. Ryan does an excellent job of
drawing both Superman and Kaleb. My only real complaints are the inking --
especially the shadows on people's faces -- and the awful picture of Lex
Luthor on the last panel.

Secondly, the sub-plots. The Lucy-Ron interests readers yet is small
enough that it doesn't distract us from the main plot. It is tasteful and
so far shows us a realistic side to being young, unmarried and pregnant.
(Hey! Waitaminute! People aren't supposed to be having sex in a Superman
comic book!) My hat is off to DC for addressing the issue. The second
subplot, the Daily Planet troubles, stinks. Been there, done that. Can we
please come up with something new? Of course, maybe DC has something cool
planned and I'll end up eating my words.

Now to the main event. The story itself isn't bad, I guess, but the whole
idea just seemed like someone was reading back issues and decided to throw
in a character they liked. As for characterization, though... Lex Luthor
is not arrogant enough to assume that just because somebody says he's
still alive in the future means he really will be. He's a brilliant man
and well aware of multiple futures. Superman has fought hundreds of fights
against the most feared villains of all time, is one of the most
experienced members of the JLA, and knows every trick in the book. Despite
this, he doesn't use x-ray vision to check around him to make sure an
enemy *who has just told him he can warp space and time* hasn't teleported
to a nearby location.

Kaleb's appearance, attacks, and quick disappearance made him seem like an
average Villain of the Week. They've taken someone that (theoretically)
should have powers on par with Superman and knocked him out in one quick
issue rather then having a good fight or doing some character-work and
having Superman convince Kaleb that this isn't the answer. If you're just
going to have a Villain of the Week, at least bring on the Parasite or the
Cyborg.

And hey! If Earth has been destroyed (a la 'Legends of a Dead Earth') then
how do we make it to DC One Million, with Superman alive and well in the
853rd century?

Derek Jackson
<djackson@iconstructs.com>

===============================================

39. SUPERMAN: SAVE THE PLANET! Oct 1998 $3.95 US/$5.75 CAN
$2.95 US/$4.25 CAN

"Save the Planet!"

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciller: Scot Eaton
Inkers: Denis Rodier and Jimmy Palmiotti
Letterer: Albert T. DeGuzman
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Asst. Ed.: Maureen McTigue
Mild-Mannered
Reporter: Joey Cavalieri
Direct Cover: Kevin Nowlan and Patrick Martin
Newsstand Cover: Scot Eaton, Denis Rodier, and Patrick Martin

RATINGS

Average: 3.1/5.0 Shields

ST: 3.4 Shields
DJ: 2.8 Shields - Decent story, albeit a little rushed. Haven't we seen
this plot already?
DWd: 3.0 Shields - Oh gee, Asteroids! What an original concept! The only
thing I liked was seeing the Planet staff react to their job-loss.
The after-affects will be better (I hope).
JO: 4.0 Shields - This was a book about the characters and that's always
the way to win me over. Best of the triangles this month.
MS: 2.7 Shields - Sooo... was the Superman vs. the meteors "plot" just
there to fill space, or have the writers completely forgotten
how to incorporate Supes into his own comic?
TD: 2.3 Shields - An interesting storyline stretched out to special
length. Why couldn't this have been a regular issue of the book?

Time was... when a great metropolitan newspaper meant a good deal more
to the people of this city.

Four editions a day -- with "extras" -- kept the town informed with
a constant flow of news from sources around the globe and around the
block. Kept the sports scores fresh too.

The photos seemed somehow larger than life. They could bring the terror
of a war into the living room, capture the pain of poor souls trapped
at sea, deliver the drama of daring rescues from blazing buildings in
midtown.

Gossip columnists stayed up all night to get the lowdown on your
favorite stars for you to read in the morning. Advice? It came from
those 'Miss Lonelyhearts' types who knew when to tell you to, "Wake up
and smell the coffee." A good laugh? The funny-pages were 'must-see'
situation comedies before the cathode ray was invented.

All of that is easier to get somewhere else now...

_Superman: Save the Planet_, newsstand edition

Synopsis:

After a protracted period of financial woes, cutbacks, ship-jumping,
rumors, worrying and general stress, things couldn't get any worse at the
Daily Planet. The paper has been sold -- lock, stock, and barrels of
printer's ink. By page 20, the speculations are laid to rest, and it is
revealed that the new owner of this venerable institution is none other
than the cold-hearted Lex Luthor.

This news couldn't come at a worse time for Lois, who has *finally*
managed to gather proof that Lex is behind the attempted destruction of
Jeremiah Odetts and his Hypersector-blocking property. Too bad Perry
can't print the story...

The news is no less traumatic for Ron Troupe, especially after just having
learned that he is about to become a father. While making some discreet
inquiries about his health coverage, he learns that there's a new Human
Resources team in place. Out with the old, in with the new; a new broom
sweeps clean; etc. etc. Knowing who the new boss is has not diminished the
staff's worries; if anything, the knowledge puts them in even greater fear
for their jobs.

Turns out they have every right to be. In an effort to block the
automation of the layout and pagination process, the Printer's Union has
decided to go on strike. That turns out to be just the excuse that Lex
needs to shut the whole place down. Seems that this might have been his
plan from the very beginning; a conversation with Perry White reveals that
Lex is still fuming from when the Planet ran front-page pictures of his
new-born daughter Lena. Hold a grudge much, Lex?

By the time the dust settles, the only people who haven't been fired are
Dirk Armstrong, Simone DeNiege, Lois, and Jimmy. They're left wondering
where exactly they're going to work, though, since the Planet has
apparently published its last edition. The whole staff gathers together
at Dooley's bar to raise a glass to, "The voice of Metropolis! The best
newspaper ever published! The Daily Planet!" as they watch the lights go
out on the Planet globe for the last time...

Oh yeah. Superman has to 'save the planet' from a muckling great meteor
shower. Pfaugh.

Opinions:

There were a lot of things which were done really, really well in this
issue. Unfortunately, the meteor subplot wasn't on that list.

First of all, it was trite. We've seen it all before, most recently in a
made-for-tv movie and two summer 'blockbusters'.

Secondly, it was logically inconsistent. If this was such a global threat,
where were the rest of the world's heroes? Why didn't Superman call in
the JLA, the Global Guardians, Alpha Centurion, *anyone* who had the
capability to help? Or don't they all consider 'planetary devastation'
as much of a reason to pal around as a trio of half-mile high behemoths?

Thirdly, it was scientifically insulting. If you're going to write about
something, at least take the time to learn the *rudiments* of the subject.
Meteors the size of those depicted are rare occurrences, happening once
every 80 000 years or so; an event of this magnitude is literally an
impossibility. Earth is *not* a cosmic rock-magnet. Even overlooking this
for the sake of the story, basic physics comes into play. There is a
mile-wide hole in Arizona called the Barringer Meteorite Crater that was
formed from an impact with a house-sized rock. The one that slipped by Kal
on page 24 would have done a *lot* more than just destroy a subway.

Finally, it was superfluous. Its sole purpose for existence was to turn
the title into an inane play on words. Granted, it didn't take up a lot of
space (thankfully) but the few pages it did take would have been better
spent on the *real* reason for the special; the closing of the Daily
Planet and how it affected Superman's alter-ego and supporting cast.

Despite my kvetching, I would still recommend this comic and gave it an
above-average grade. Why? Simply put, because of the people -- the very
real people to whom we were re-introduced in this issue.

Contained in this book were some of the most powerful and humanizing
snippets I've seen in recent months. Simonson painted pictures with her
words, and Eaton told stories with his images, both of them marvellously
conveying the full spectrum of human emotions felt by the Planet staff
during this incredibly stressful time.

We see Perry White's impotent frustration as he tells Lois that he cannot
print her story. We witness the anger in Ron Troupe as he tells the
glad-handers where to stuff it, and the fear that causes him to blurt his
secret to Jimmy. The co*cksure invulnerability of Carrie Axelrod is
shattered as her every ambition is crushed by an unforgiving Luthor. We
also see the crushing guilt borne by Allie, long-time staffer with a heart
of gold, inflicted bit by agonizing bit as she must call the others to be
fired. The way she herself is let go as the final layoff serves as one
more brutal reminder of how people are used and discarded. Finally, we
see the staff band together for perhaps the final time, seeking comfort,
solace, and reassurance in one another's presence as they watch the lights
go out on the Daily Planet.

That's how things stand, and *will* stand for at least two months while we
put everything on hold to run off and play with _DC One Million_ and the
Bottle City of Kandor. What will happen beyond then? Well, DC tried to
'modernize' Clark's job back in the 1970s, transforming him from a
reporter into a TV anchor man, with mixed results. The Planet was still
there, though, so there was always the possibility that he could return
to his old job. Not so this time, though; The Powers That Be have done
a pretty thorough job of burning this bridge, and barring geothermic
ley-line-induced massive power-expulsions, I don't see any way back.

Final Comments:

Can someone please explain to me why on God's Green Earth I would pay
*more* money so I could get *less* story?

For reasons of economy, I decided to buy the less-expensive version of
this special. Before doing so, however, I compared the cover-enhanced,
costlier direct-sales version with the newsstand editions to ensure I
wasn't missing out on something in the cheaper copy. Imagine my surprise
to learn it was the people who were buying the more expensive version who
were losing out!

The very first page of the newsstand copy holds a silhouette of the Planet
building and a brief explanation of the history of the newspaper business
that explains quite well why Real World newspapers (as well as the Daily
Planet) are in financial straits -- the same text that appears at the
beginning of this review. In the direct-sales version, though, this page
is used to hold the Superman image that went under the enhanced plastic
cover. What I want to know is... why? How can DC *possibly* justify
removing this rather important set-up from the comic that costs more?
Especially when all we get in exchange is nothing more important than
a cover gimmick?

I can't answer that question, but I wish I could. All I know is that it
made *my* shopping decision a whole lot easier. Maybe if a few people
wrote to DC and asked, we might get an answer....

-- 30 --

Shane Travis
<travis@sedsystems.ca>

__________________________________________

THE TRIANGLE TITLES (cont):
--------------------------
40. THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #562 Oct 1998 $1.99 US/$2.85 CAN

"End of an Era"

Plot: Karl Kesel
Dialogue: Jerry Ordway
Pencils: Tom Grummett
Finishes: Denis Rodier
Letterer: Albert DeGuzman
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Ass't. Ed.: Maureen McTigue
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Tom Grummett, Denis Rodier, and Patrick Martin

RATINGS

Average: 2.6/5.0 Shields

DR: 1.5 Shields (Writing) - The entire tale was sub-par, and neither
Kesel nor Ordway, could salvage it.
2.0 Shields (Art) - Grummett gives us excellent layouts, wonderful
figures, great panel flow, and nice facial expressions. Rodier
ruins it all.
DJ: 2.9 Shields - Another decent story, but it seemed like filler.
Catching Donovan was too easy.
JSy: 2.5 Shields - Luthor shines (in a bad way) for a third consecutive
week, and Kesel sets up some future headaches for Superboy and
Cadmus, but Torcher and Gunn still leave me cold. I'd rather
Grummett concentrate on _Superboy_ than continue these lackluster
performances.
MS: 2.9 Shields - Gee, maybe if Superman got a chance to interact with
his supporting cast he might find out that HE DOESN'T HAVE A JOB!
Why are we doing this story if Superman can't even be in it?!
SDM: 3.2 Shields - A very strong follow-up to _Save the Planet_. Ordway
is settling in nicely as a scripter, and it's nice to have an issue
focus on characterization more than action. If only the Lexcom
story wasn't postponed; I hate a two-month pause in the plot.
TD: 2.0 Shields - Did we really need all this running around with
Intergang this issue? Another tale that seems to be treading
water until the next event kicks in.

In my many years (read: one) of reviewing Superman and related books, I've
always thought myself to be a fair and impartial judge. I have now come
to the decision that I should re-evaluate the way I critique. Why in the
world would I do that, o' faithful reader? Well, I've realized that
I am far too lenient on Superman, and if anyone can take my harshest
criticisms (though I'm not promising I'll make any) it's the Man of Steel.
What better issue to apply my new way of thinking upon but this one? Let's
see how Superman fares up against the new, improved, deadlier, Dan! (Psst.
Don't bet on the guy in blue.)

Following the blase closing of the Daily Planet in last week's _Save the
Planet_, the Last Son of Krypton isn't given a moment to rest. In his
alter ego as Clark Kent he has to face the final moments of his job when
the ultimate mantelpiece, the Daily Planet globe, is taken down from atop
the building. Then, changing from sorrow to destruction via a cry for
help, Superman is on the job trying to solve the mystery behind "The
Amazing Exploding Daily Planet Newspaper Machines!"

In the meantime, Mike "Machine" Gunn escapes from a cell within the
holding center of the Metropolis SCU with the assistance of his girlfriend
Torcher. We find that Torcher is behind the incendiary devices causing the
newspaper machines to explode, and is using them to create a distraction
whilst she and Gunn make their getaway. Like all good villains, however,
they're captured just before they make refuge within Dabney Donovan's Lab.
As an added bonus, the SCU manages to arrest Donovan, but his containment
is merely temporary.

So what's wrong with this issue? Well, for starters, I skipped over a lot
of plot synopsis because the story jumps around too much. Superman appears
on a whole 8 pages, while 14 pages are devoted to things not pertaining
to him. The closing of the Daily Planet was handled poorly; it's as if it
meant nothing to Clark Kent, when the entire concept of his character
is bonded to being 'a reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper'. The
Torcher and Gunn subplot serves only to move Dabney Donovan from the
Superman books to Superboy. Also, the ongoing subplot of Lucy Lane's
pregnancy has absolutely *nothing* to do with Superman, so I really don't
see the purpose of it's inclusion. (At least, I *hope* it has nothing to
do with Superman....)

Simply put, the book is no longer about Superman. The book is about the
people that Superman knows. Their lives have become far more important
than Kal-El's, and that's a major mistake. Whoever is responsible for this
direction should be slapped around with a dead trout. If I wanted a soap
opera I'd watch daytime television or pay more attention to my family. I
-- and I have to believe I'm not the only Superman-fan like this -- want
to see the Man of Steel.

Then there's the dialogue. "Gosh, Chief--"? Jimmy's not 5, Mr. Ordway. "I
hope you screws are listenin'..." Mike may be from another era, but even
then people then didn't speak in such cliches. The only good dialogue from
Ordway was the two-page scene where Lucy and Ron discuss the pregnancy.
Too bad I don't care about it.

Now, over to art. If you've read any of my previous columns you might have
noticed how I've been gradually warming up to this amazing Grummett/Rodier
combination. No more. Crazy glue Denis Rodier's hands to his head and
break all his ink brushes. His inks are far too heavy and scrawled to work
with Tom Grummett's tight pencils. Everything looks like it was inked with
a thickly nubbed marker. Pull Doug Hazlewood out of limbo, please, and
reteam him with Tom Grummett. I can then smile again.

What a glowing review, huh? Well, I'm sorry, but I'm sick of the current
state of the books. Even when they say they're about Superman, they're
really about someone else. Dominus' tale? About Kismet. Superman Blue/Red?
About Lois Lane coping with not having a husband. The writers are missing
the boat on many a concept, and I'm worried that they don't know how to
swim.

Dan Radice
<dradice@caninet.com>

__________________________________________

SUPER-FAMILY TITLES:
-------------------
SUPERBOY #56 Oct 1998 $1.99 US/$2.86 CAN

"Here There be Monsters"

Writer: Karl Kesel
Penciller: Tom Grummett
Inker: Karl Kesel
Colorist: Buzz Setzer
Letterer: Comicraft
Asst. Ed.: Frank Berrios
Editor: Mike McAvennie
Inspiration: Jack Kirby
Cover: Tom Grummett, Karl Kesel, and Patrick Martin

RATINGS

Average: 3.6/5.0 Shields

RG: 4.5 Shields (Story)
4.0 Shields (Art)
DC: 3.0 Shields - Fun like S-boy should be, though the changes at Cadmus
may be good or bad.
DWd: 3.5 Shields - Nice to see the art return to the correct standard.
Interesting turn having the S-Boy an agent of Cadmus.
JO: 3.7 Shields - They really must want to take this title back to it's
roots. Too bad the kid has to suffer so much for them to do it.
JSy: 3.7 Shields - *What* a busy issue! When Karl and Tom clean house,
boy do they clean house. This book has once again managed to
capture my attention; I'm more intrigued by what's developing
here than in any other title I read. Kudos all around!
SDM: 3.8 Shields - Karl does a great job in putting the final touches on
his re-invention of Superboy's world. The new characters are quite
intriguing, and I'm thrilled that Guardian is staying in the cast.
Rapidly becoming one of my favorite comics.

What do you get when you take the Kirby Cadmus, D.N.Aliens, the Newsboy
Legion, and The Guardian, mixed with the Kesel and Grummett Superboy, and
shake them up? Well you get the new direction of this title, and I think
the fun is only just beginning. If the Wild Men had made an appearance the
book would have been perfect.

The story continues from last issue as Superboy, Guardian, and Dubbilex
return to Cadmus with Grokk the Living Gargoyle. The homecoming is marred
by the fact the US Government agency that funds Cadmus has decided that
things need to change. One of the things that changes is that Mickey
'The Mechanic' Cannon (he seems familiar, I'm going to have to do some
research), has been named as the new head of Project Cadmus.

Mickey has brought with him a new Military Commander, Colonel Adam
Winterbourne, who had been one of Sacker's slaves in the Wild Lands.
(He may be trouble; while he says he requested the assignment at Cadmus,
he doesn't seem happy to be there.) Cannon also demotes all of the old
Newsboys from their directorships and takes full control of the project.
He offers the head of research to Dr. Thompkins, but isn't too surprised
when he elects to leave Cadmus with all the other Newsboys -- fully-grown
directors and young clones alike -- rather than work under the new
restrictions.

The remainder of the book revolves around the departure of the old
staff and the arrival and settling in of the new. Life is going to be
interesting. I can't wait to get to know Serling Roquette, the new head
(?) of research.

It appears my fears were groundless. DC is not turning this book into one
of the many mindless Superhero fight books. The entire book is a blend of
plot and character development. Some of the old dangling plot threads are
wrapped up, while plenty of new ones are started. It appears that Kesel is
serious about taking this book in a totally different direction. To do it,
he needed to make Cadmus more dynamic; if most of the stories are going to
revolve around there, there has to be more going on. A regular diet of
'make a new monster, monster escapes, Superboy catches monster and brings
him back' would get old in a hurry.

Furthermore, Superboy needs a solid supporting cast. Dubbilex and Guardian
are great, but we also need a cast that will generate interesting plot
lines. I think that the cast is nearly complete. While I was very sorry to
see the Newsboy Legion (both old and young) depart, they will have more
opportunities to generate stories (e.g. find trouble) in Metropolis than
they would stuck in the hidden labs.

I'm looking forward to watching Guardian play mentor to Superboy.
Dubbilex is a great character, but he doesn't have much real world
experience (although he seems to be learning fast). Guardian can give
Superboy some real values, roots, and direction to help him mature and
become the hero he wants to be.

Art-wise, what can I say? With Tom Grummett back as penciller, this book
is back to being my favorite title again. Nobody draws a better Superboy,
and his adaptation of Kirby's style is nearly perfect. It brings back many
good memories (and a few not-so-good) of reading the old Kirby _Jimmy
Olsen_, _New Gods_, _Forever People_, _Kamandi_, etc.

Overall, this is a most auspicious start. I trust the Karl and Tom have a
lot of new, and interesting stories to tell us, and personally, I can't
wait.

Rene Gobeyn
<bedlam@frontiernet.net>

===============================================

SUPERGIRL #26 Oct 1998 $1.99 US/$2.85 CAN

"The Flying Game"

Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Leonard Kirk
Inks: Robin Riggs
Letters: Pat Prentice
Colors: Gene D'Angelo
Seps: Digital Chameleon
Asst. Ed.: Frank Berrios
Editor: Mike McAvennie
Cover: Leonard Kirk, Robin Riggs, and Patrick Martin

RATINGS

Average: 3.9/5.0 Shields

TD: 3.0 Shields
EM: 4.0 Shields - Why is this consistently the best of the Superman
family titles? PAD manages to keep things serious and light at
the same time. The Kents are adorable. Every issue is someone's
first and PAD manages to give enough information for anyone to
enjoy the story.
JO: 4.5 Shields - Forget about Wally, PETER DAVID IS GOD!! I love what
he's doing to this storyline. GIVE ME MORE!
JSy: 4.0 Shields - Another great issue by PAD, while Leonard Kirk and
Robin Riggs just keep getting better and better. Not so sure
about this return of the protomatter, though; it just seems a
bit too _Hellraiser_ to me so far.
ST: 4.2 Shields - PAD's explanation of Comet's origin tied those loose
ends up nicely, and yet left tons of room for things to keep
developing. The humor was subtle and far more 'real' than usual,
which was a nice change.

It takes guts and confidence in doing two straight issues without combat,
without super-villains, and without slam-bang action, yet here it is; the
third issue with very little in the way of a fight scene for SUPERGIRL,
and it's still pretty compelling reading. Judging from this issue, though,
this stretch of bliss is about to end.

Ladies and gentlemen, the horror is slouching toward Leesburg.

In Andy Jones' motel room, Andy explains to Supergirl the origins of
Comet. She tells of a young girl named Andy Martinez who had problems
dealing with her lesbianism and behaved in a reckless fashion, ending in a
foolish attempt to climb Mount Everest by herself. The attempt was a
disaster, and the original Comet -- named Andy Jones -- sacrificed his
life to try and save her. The two souls ended up merging into a singular
being, which brings us to where she is now; she took his surname as a way
of remembrance. Thus it seems, cleverly enough, that Comet's first
origin, placed before us a while back, is probably still true.

Sound familiar? Exactly. Linda decides that Comet is one of the other two
Earth Angels -- the one representing love. She offers to help Andy figure
out what being an Earth Angel entails, but spurns the woman's advances. As
Andy agrees to be 'just friends', Linda gets a call from Sylvia, inviting
her to dinner. It seems Wally's talk with Sylvia last issue has caused her
to have a change of heart, resulting in a reconciliation with

Fred, a 
resolution to go back to AA, and a series of gray streaks in her hair.
Tearfully, Linda claims that good things are happening from now on.

Unfortunately for her, the other major plot thread depicts the creation
and growth of a new lifeform that results when a derelict accidentally
drinks a pinkish fluid. This lifeform seems to have metamorphic
capabilities, devours victims leaving only charred skeletons and smells
really, really bad. I suspect this is the 'Carnivore' to which Wally
made reference last issue, and he/it appears to be a very, very nasty
individual. There also seems to be resonances between it and the
'original' Supergirl in appearance and powers. He/She/It should end up
being a scary new addition to the rogue's gallery -- something Supergirl
really lacks.

I'm unsure how I feel about Fred and Sylvia's reconciliation. Considering
how dysfunctional the family has been portrayed, the resolution seems a bit
too pat. That might be the point, though; there are some hints (especially
in the last panel of page nine) that this is not the first time they've
broken-up and made-up. I wish that John and Martha Kent hadn't just been
dragged into the scene to serve as a punchline. David has demonstrating a
fine handling of the elder Kents up until now; having them treated as a
joke seems hollow.

As for the art, I'm afraid Kirk got a bit lazy and uses facial types that
are far too similar at times. Look at Andy Jones and the victim in the
sequence on page 15 and 16; they are almost indistinguishable from each
other. Furthermore, his layouts are sometimes confusing; a double-page
spread without borders on pages 11-12 sometimes is hard to follow. Having
said that, Kirk still has some striking images; page 16 is well blocked
and is horrifying in the extreme. I'm hoping this is just a stumble on
Kirk's part, but the intimations that things are about to get action-based
may blunt his progress.

There was very little David could have done to top off the plot twist of
last issue. "The Flying Game" keeps things on an even keel, and starts
putting into place some really frightening things to come.

Tom Deja
<tdj723@webtv.net>

===============================================

SUPERMAN ADVENTURES #24 Oct 1998 $1.99 US/$2.85 CAN

"Power Corrupts, Super Power Corrupts Absolutely"

Writer: Mark Millar
Penciller: Aluir Amancio
Inker: Terry Austin
Colorist: Marie Severin
Letterer: Lois Buhalis
Assistant: Frank Berrios
Editor: Mike McAvennie
Cover: Rick Burchett, Terry Austin, and Marie Severin

RATINGS

Average: 1.9/5.0 Shields

CoS: 2.5 Shields - An average issue with bright spots and flaws that
cancel each other out.
JSy: 1.0 Shields - What is with the need to rationalize criminal behavior
these days? Can't we accept the possibility that some people are
just evil, power-hungry villains? The *only* thing I liked about
this one was how the Parasite initially grabbed Superman's powers.
SDM: 2.0 Shields - This was the first time I tried this book, and
it failed to impress. I feel like it was being written for a
younger audience to the exclusion of older readers. None of the
_Adventures_ books ever seem as good as the animated shows on
which they're based.
ST: 2.0 Shields - Nothing about Parasite has ever indicated he needs an
'ulterior motive' for what he does, but if it had to be a crush,
wouldn't a high-school be more believable than grade-school?
There were some really good bits here (Superman's attitude, "I
stole your experience too!") but good bits aren't enough to make
a good story. Millar's take on things seems simplistic, rather
than simple.

The story starts with Superman flying to the rescue of a skydiver whose
chute has failed to open. As Superman goes about this routine (for him)
rescue, the skydiver reveals himself to be the Parasite. Draining all of
Superman's power, Parasite uses that power to humiliate Superman, drive
away the onlookers who try and protect him, and fly off.

While Parasite uses his new-found powers to amass great wealth, Clark Kent
holds up in his apartment, husbanding his strength and feigning the flu.
As he calls in sick, Lois tells him he should see her New Age Crystal
Healer, whom Perry White is seeing. In an amazing (and story crushing)
coincidence, Perry White is visiting the crystal healer at the very same
time that The Parasite shows up to take her away; it seems that the two
somehow know each other.

We learn that Parasite once had a romantic interest in the Healer --
Rainsong -- and had been amassing the wealth to impress her so that they
could live happily ever after. Before Rainsong can respond to his offer to
run away into the sunset, A partially-recovered Superman and the SCU
converge on Parasite's horribly un-secret hideout.

Maggie Sawyer agrees to have the SCU wait outside as back-up in case
Superman can't handle the Parasite in his weakened condition. Superman
bursts in but is easily defeated. As the Parasite is getting ready to
finish the fight, Rainsong intervenes. She has him absorb her emotions
to learn how she feels; he is stunned to find that she considers him a
loser. It turns out that she hasn't seen him since the Third Grade, and
didn't much like him then either.

In an effort to help, the SCU, fires a missile into the hideout, causing
massive damage, and only a super-powered Parasite prevents a wall from
crushing Superman and Rainsong. He orders Superman to save 'his girl', as
the powers are fading, and the two of them escape just as the building
comes down around them. Parasite is presumed dead, but no body is found.

Yet again, a Mark Millar story has left me with mixed feelings. I know
that all writers are given one coincidence to get a story rolling, but
there were so many in this story that it seemed like poor construction to
me. Lois *just happening* to be using a crystal-healer, who *just happens*
to be Parasite's old classmate; Perry White being there *just as* Parasite
shows up; everyone finding Parasite's HQ at *just* the right moment --
this string of happenstance caused me more than a little trouble. It's a
shame, too, since I liked the idea of Parasite being a character who
doesn't know how to interact with people, having to resort to living in
his past. It gives him a psychological effect to his power of draining
other people's energies; an emotional as well a psychological vampire, as
it were.

The Parasite design itself doesn't work well for me in this format. When
Jim Shooter created the character, it was so the Superman od that era
could have a foe with whom he could go toe-to-toe. As with most of
Shooter's villains, he was a one-note character, but that can work well in
a story-driven plot. The Parasite in the animated series doesn't resemble
an "average Joe" (which is one of the aspects of the character I like) and
his costume looks as if it was designed by someone going for the Jack
Kirby Symmetrical look and not quite understanding it.

Rick Burchett starts off the issue with a great cover that almost leaps
off the newsstand, effortlessly pulling the reader into the issue. The
problem is that it demonstrates how well he was able to use the animated
art style in the static medium of comics -- a task with which current
artist Aluir Amancio is still struggling. Maybe if Amancio was given
stronger material, I wouldn't notice his problems adapting from one medium
to another, but this issue is no help in that department.

There are several places where Amancio goes for a powerful image but fails
because he ignores the basics. The splash-page is one of these. We are
shown Superman's viewpoint as he flies to the rescue (immediately drawing
the reader into the story), but Superman's hands are splayed oddly which
dilutes the effect. It happens again on Page 13. The image is a strong one
(Superman coming in over the spotlights with flags billowing behind him)
and the basic design is strong, but Superman's arms are perpendicular to
his body and look unnatural. The way the torso is drawn is so out of
proportion, it draws attention to the distortion, rather than the story
impact the panel should have. Amancio does have the ability to use his art
in service to the story, though; the sequence of Parasite using Superman's
powers (page 7) is a great example of showing us just how dangerous the
situation is.

Lately, this book has been frustrating. There are good and worthwhile
stories inside the flaws, and the art is getting better, but I can only
recommend the title to completists. I continue in my hope that Millar
tightens his plots, and Amancio keeps improving.

Cory Strode
<Solitaire.Rose@worldnet.att.net>

__________________________________________

TEAM TITLES:
-----------
JLA #23 Oct 1998 $1.99 US/$2.85 CAN

"Conquerors"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Howard Porter
Inker: John Dell
Letterer: Kenny Lopez
Colorist: Pat Garrahy
Separations: Heroic Age
Asst. Ed.: L.A. Williams
Editor: Dan Raspler
Cover: Porter and Dell

RATINGS

Average: 3.0/5.0 Shields

AW: 2.5 Shields
DJ: 2.9 Shields - Very confusing and rushed. Morrison seems to have some
trouble ending good stories.
EM: 3.5 Shields - Daniel Hall is enough of a reason to buy this book.
Evil space starfish are enough of a reason to buy this book.
The story depends on one dreamer's belief in the Last Son of
Krypton, and this 2-parter doesn't disappoint.
MS: 2.4 Shields - Very forced, and not much teamwork at all. Everyone
cooks up their own plan to beat Starro, and lo and behold,
everyone's plan works. And where's Steel, darn it?
TD: 3.7 Shields - Arguably the most bizarre 'crossover' since the JLA
guest shot in _Swamp Thing_. A good ending, though... not too
shabby at all.

I'm torn, this issue, between congratulating Grant Morrison on writing a
story where the heroes out-think their foe instead of just out-blasting
it, or scolding him for throwing away the many promises made in the first
part of this story and giving great characters mere throwaway parts.

In the previous issue, Superman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman were
trapped in the Sandman's realm, "The Dreaming," as they sought to save
Mike Haney, a little boy whose dreams and faith in Superman are the only
obstacles to "IT's" total domination of the Earth. Powerless, they were
about to be overwhelmed by the thousands of enslaved IT-slaves. Back on
Earth, Batman, Aquaman, Zauriel, Flash, and J'onn J'onzz were facing the
physical Conqueror and IT's armies of massive starfish-like creatures.

Up to this point, I was impressed. Starro the Conqueror seemed like
a truly unstoppable menace. The Dreaming, as always, had unlimited
potential, especially since Green Lantern came armed with his "wishing
ring." Daniel, the Sandman, could also have been a character of unlimited
potential, since it has been DC's policy (up until now) to forbid use of
the character without creator Neil Gaiman's participation.

In this issue, all this potential fizzled into a combination of broken
promises and irrational characterization. It's not that Morrison didn't
do some things well and put Aquaman to good use in an almost unprecedented
fashion for the JLA, but that I always feel cheated when a story shifts
gears in the middle and becomes what seems to me to be a completely
different story.

So what happened this issue?

While the Dream Team (sorry!) battles on in the Dreaming, Aquaman
(supported physically by Zauriel and tactically by J'onn J'onzz) confronts
the immense Conqueror, who has planted itself on the floor of an Hudson
Bay. (For the first time in a long time, a League writer has remembered
that Aquaman, as well as J'onn, has telepathic powers.) Aquaman is
overwhelmed by the strength of IT's consciousness, but the confrontation
is interrupted by Orion of the Drool Gods, who irrationally attacks IT
with full Astro-force. Orion and Aquaman are rewarded by being blasted
away. Orion is rendered unconscious while Aquaman escapes unscathed.

Batman formulates a plan in which J'onn, through Aquaman, launches his own
telepathic assault that subtly plants the idea in IT's mind that the Earth
is hostile, poisonous, and therefore unconquerable. IT's resistance is
lowered when little Mike Haney sees the famous Red "S" and remembers
Superman, restoring the Man of Steel's powers just in time. Revealed and
dispirited, IT quickly shrivels and becomes one of Sandman's trophies
trapped in a goldfish bowl.

As a final, nice, last touch, "little" Mike Haney turns out not to be a
little boy; he's a vagrant and a dreamer, rewarded with many gold coins
from Daniel's coffers.

Perhaps this could be considered an enjoyable story on its own, but when I
look back on JLA #22 I ask, "what happened? Where did the imagination go?"
The Dreaming setting was, frankly, boring. I understand that in the first
half, they were going for the small-town, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"
look, but when IT reveals itself, *something* visually interesting could
have happened. Then there's the issue of Green Lantern's "wishing ring,"
which Daniel tells him is possibly the most powerful weapon in the
Dreaming. Why, then, was he unable to use anything but physical force when
battling the crowd? And when it comes time for Green Lantern to counter-
attack, he proclaims, "I figured this is just a dream... that means I can
make anything happen." Knowing this, he creates... a bunch of little
spaceships? That's it? Morrison, Porter, and Dell have been much more
imaginative with Green Lantern's powers in the past. Finally, Daniel's
role in this second part was disappointing. He could easily have been
replaced by the Phantom Stranger or any other of DC's mystery characters.
In fact, 20 years ago they *would* have used the Stranger for this.

I'd go on about how Orion's intrusion was annoying, but what's the use? I
assume Morrison is leading up to something in future issues, but I regret
that current stories are being sacrificed for it, just as "Rock of Ages"
went two issues longer than it had to so we could get an advance look at
"Justice Legion A."

I consider comics as short stories, not novels or continued soap operas.
Therefore, when I see the literary technique of foreshadowing, such as
Daniel's remarks to Green Lantern, I expect something to happen within
that storyline. Instead, Morrison aims several issues ahead, leaving
each story incomplete within itself and leaving me to hope that my poor,
withering memory will remember the little details when he finally deigns
to tell the story they hinted at.

Visually, as I have said, this issue fell flat. Porter and Dell had ample
opportunities to take off with the art and to provide stunning visual
effects in imaginative realms, but instead they concentrated on showing
how large IT was, which I must admit they did effectively.

So to the JLA team this issue I say; "Thanks for giving Aquaman a role
that makes sense, and good work on making the struggle a battle of
intelligences instead of mere strength or luck, but try to let yourself
go more, have fun, and remember to tell the present story before you tell
the stories of the future."

As a final note (and just to show I still have a lot of faith in Morrison
as a writer), I suggest you check out "DC One Million." This could be
Morrison's finest JLA writing so far; the characterizations in issue #1
were wonderful.

Anatole Wilson
<awilson@us.oracle.com>

===============================================

YOUNG JUSTICE #2 Oct 1998 $2.50 US/$3.50 CAN

"Sheik, Rattle and Roll"

Writer: Peter David
Pencils: Todd Nauck
Inks: Larry Stucker
Colors: Jason Wright
Seps: Digital Chameleon
Letters: Ken Lopez
Weeping: Eddie Berganza
Cover: Todd Nauck, Larry Stucker, and Patrick Martin

RATINGS

Average: 2.8/5.0 Shields

RG: 1.0 Shields (Story)
3.5 Shields (Art)
DC: 2.5 Shields - Fun and entertaining for now, but it'll get real old
real fast.
EM: 3.2 Shields - It's funny, but I hope that this doesn't become a
one-trick pony. Plenty of PAD in-jokes, so buy if you like them,
avoid if you don't. I happen to like them.
JO: 4.0 Shields - Nice to see a writer who knows how to have fun with his
characters. This title is silly and I love it that way!
JSy: 2.8 Shields - Not bad, but quite a let down from the first issue.
The jokes weren't all that good, especially the lame Ben Stein
references. I'm ready for the serious turn....
ST: 2.6 Shields - Not nearly as many smiles as last issue; _this_ is
the PAD humour I've grown to know and feel apathy for. Still, he
knows how to write character interaction, so I'm not bailing yet.
TD: 2.5 Shields - David is STILL sacrificing stories for gags, but
there are enough goofy gags that work (the 'calling the
Super-cycle' gag in particular) to make the book readable.

Last issue saw our heroes rocketing into space aboard a futuristic
"super-cycle". While we never really find out how, Robin somehow manages
to interface with the cycle and convince it (yes it is intelligent) not
to take them out of the atmosphere.

I can live with this, but now the cycle is taking Superboy, Impulse and
Robin on a round the world tour as it searches for something. What, you
might ask? Apparently, the story. In the middle of the desert is an oasis
of ice and snow with the castle of Sheik Ali Ben Styn. Why hasn't this been
mentioned before? According to the tribes who live there it's been there
for just short of 2000 years. In the stone above the palace is a four-
armed giant. This can't be a good thing for our heroes After a short time
of finding out more of the cycles abilities, causing problems in China,
and rescuing a passenger liner in the North Atlantic, our heroes find
themselves in the desert where the trusty Super-Cycle frees the giant from
the stone (was anyone surprised?).

It appears that 2000 years ago, the Gods of New Genesis imprisoned Rip
Roar (the giant) all because (you guessed it) he had stolen and hidden one
of their super-cycles. Rip had the pure motives of destroying all life on
Earth, and now that the cycle has freed him, he intends to continue where
he left off. There is only one small problem; the cycle wants to stay with
Robin. Oh well, he wasn't going far anyway, not after he is covered in
lava and imprisoned in stone again.

There is a first time for everything, and this is the first time Peter
David has written a story that I absolutely hate! Peter has always been
one of my top five comic writers, but this is a long way from his usual
quality. He doesn't seem to be putting any effort at all into this one at
all.

The story managed to take the three most interesting young heroes in the
DC Universe and put them together in a way as to make them all appear at
their worst.Impulse was simply annoying, Robin was distracted, Superboy
was infantile, and don't get me started on Rip Roar as a bad guy. If
Peter's name wasn't on the credits I wouldn't have believed he could write
something this lame. Though there were a few nice touches (nuns with a
car-load of high explosives in China?) there weren't enough of them to
save the story.

The only real saving point for the book was the art. While the figures
were a bit too stylistic for my taste, the perspectives and detailing were
excellent. Parts of the book almost looked like Jack Kirby had worked on
it. I'll be looking for Nauck and Stucker's work in the future.

Two issues isn't enough to make a decision on the overall quality of a
title, but unless the writing improves dramatically, I'll have to drop
this one soon. Not even my ten year-old nephew liked this one, and Impulse
and Robin are his favorite characters.

Next issue has *got* to be better.

Rene Gobeyn
<bedlam@frontiernet.net>

__________________________________________

"GHOSTS" ANNUALS:
----------------
SUPERMAN ANNUAL #10 Oct 1998 $2.95 US/$4.25 CAN

"The Death Sentence"

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Layouts: Paul Ryan
Finishes: Chris Ivy
Letters: John Costanza
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Seps: Digital Chameleon
Asst. Ed.: Maureen McTigue
Warden: Joey Cavalieri
Cover: Bernie Wrightson

RATINGS

Average: 2.4/5.0 Shields

TD: 1.5 Shields
EM: 3.0 Shields - This wasn't bad, but it could have been much better.
The lack of a reason for these guys just popping up bothered me
(even though it was explained in the JLA Annual). At least we know
where Kal-El stands on the death penalty now.
JO: 3.7 Shields - It's nice to see Superman reminded of his failures
once in a while. Despite being the last son of Krypton, he's only
human.
JSy: 3.1 Shields - A little too political for my tastes, though it's
sometimes interesting to see how close to taking a side the
creators will get. Ryan and Ivy work really well together on
the interior art, but I didn't care for the Wrightson cover.
MS: 1.6 Shields - Pretty weak storytelling and pretty stiff art. How
does lightning disperse a ghost? Just one of numerous plot-holes
in this debacle of an annual.
ST: 1.5 Shields - Too many gaping holes to count. How can he have proof
he's innocent when he's really guilty? Why do it for the cash but
then never tell his wife where it is? Why does Clark not use his
lie-detector super-hearing? Painful inconsistencies and sub-par
artwork. Ugh.

Oh, dear. You know that review just a short while back, where I claim
most of the rating was due to the art by Jim Starlin? Well, the bulk of
this story's rating (or lack thereof) is due to the absolutely horrid
art of Paul Ryan and Chris Ivy. This stiff, sketchy art job is a true
monstrosity, especially in light of the nature of the story.

That's not to say the story is any great shakes. I've let my feelings
about 'relevant stories' known, especially those written by former
artists. Relevancy stories are the last refuge of the unimaginative --
an easy way to jerk tears and fool readers into thinking this is 'great
writing.' It is possible to do relevant stories correctly, but it requires
a writer who has both a talent for dialogue and a subtle hand with
characterization so that the views expressed don't become heavy-handed.

So you can imagine that when Jurgens and relevancy comes together, trouble
happens.

But first, the story: Clark is asked by a Death Row inmate to look into
his case. The case itself looks clear-cut, with a video tape showing the
convict walking into a 24 hour convenience store, shooting a clerk and
stealing money. Clark feels that something isn't right, though, and
he starts digging into the case history despite everyone -- and I mean
*everyone* -- telling Clark this guy is guilty.

The thing is, Each JLA member has had ghosts from their respective pasts
show up in this year's annual, and wouldn't you know it, this is the
time that Clark's ghosts show up to bug him. Clark's guests are the
three Phantom Zone criminals from John Byrne's last story arc. They
harass Clark, accusing him of being a murderer, doing _Poltergeist_
impersonations and then whaling on his ass outside of the convict's
apartment. All this serves to hinder Clark until he gets rid of the three
in a real, real offhanded way, never truly confronting his feelings about
this visitation except in the most superficial manner.

Now I'm not going to tell you what the resolution of the convict
storyline is, except to say that it's not quite what you expected from
this paint-by-freaking-numbers plot. Still, it's not nearly as satisfying
as it could have been.

The biggest problem with this story is that all the 'relevant parts' fall
flat. Jurgens' flair for dialogue is impaired at best, and the characters
he trots out to help make his views are wincingly bad. Even regular
characters like Lois, whom you think Jurgens should know, gets shorn of
everything but a single dimension in an effort to get her to spout
Jurgens' rhetoric. The most embarrassing characters, however, are the
parents of the murdered boy, who spout lines like "What kind of bleeding-
heart monster are you?" in utter seriousness. These two are so absolutely
without character that their redemption in the end falls flatter than a
Clinton alibi. Jurgens' dialogue for the ghosts is even more bothersome,
as the Kryptonian criminals start flinging around modern-day slang in the
appropriate situations... only it's not really appropriate at all if these
are supposed to be aliens with no grasp of Earth culture.

And I'm sorry, but the Ghosts angle is so tacked on it isn't funny. The
three Kryptonians do all the cliched ghost things -- showing up on TV
screens, disappearing into thin air, and all the other stuff ghosts do in
bad movies -- yet, unlike the other stories in this thematic tie-in where
the heroes face their fears, Supes comes up with a goofy rationalization
for a muscle-based solution.

The true nail in the coffin is the stiff, inexpressive artwork of Ryan and
Ivy. This is extremely lifeless work, with action scenes without any
dynamism or flow. I liked some of Ryan's earlier work, so I suspect most
of this is Ivy's fault, yet I can't blame an inker for a wax-mask Clark
who looks more like one of those robots used in pre-Crisis stories than
a human being. Some of the facial expressions in crucial scenes are
particularly embarrassing; one silent panel of Clark, supposedly feeling
ashamed by the convict's rhetoric, looks more like Clark is contemplating
what he's having for dinner.

"The Death Sentence" is bad, bad stuff, ladies and gentlemen. I pray that
Jurgens stays away from relevance in the near future, because this sort of
story is just too painful for me to look at.

Tom Deja
<tdj723@webtv.net>

===============================================

JLA ANNUAL #2 Oct 1998 $2.95 US/$4.25 CAN

"Life Itself"

Story: Ty Templeton
Pencils: Mark Pajarillo
Inks: Walden Wong
Letters: Kurt Hathaway
Colors: John Kalisz
Separations: Digital Chameleon
Assoc. Ed.: Tony Bedard
Editor: Dan Raspler
Cover: Bernie Wrightson

RATINGS

Average: 3.0/5.0 Shields

AW: 1.0 Shields
DJ: 4.2 Shields - Great story; ties in all the annuals nicely.
EM: 3.5 Shields - This was a fun annual, even if there were some
research mistakes. (Despero that killed Steel, not Starro.)
Seeing Tora was worth the price of admission.
JSy: 3.5 Shields - Mark Pajarillo joins my list of artists who should
never draw Superman; the Man of Steel does *not* have a receding
hair line! Ty Templeton's story is quite engaging, and I was
thrilled to see Ice once again.
MS: 3.0 Shields - Cool story, but why is Batman in the ocean and Aquaman
in a cave? I mean, how can you mess that up? Fish/Water: Bats/Cave.
ST: 3.1 Shields - A moving and interesting story, marred by inaccuracies
and inconsistencies. Why the odd pairings and locations? It was
nice to see Felix Faust again; both main villains were used well.
TD: 2.9 Shields - An okay story, maybe a bit too full of blood and
thunder. It's surprising that Ty Templeton gives the old 'New JLA'
of the 80's more personality dead than anyone did alive...

This JLA Annual provides the main storyline that explains the "ghosts" the
DC heroes encountered in their own annuals. While I haven't read any of
the other annuals -- this attempt at mining the past to attract a few
reminiscing viewers just didn't catch my interest -- if they were as bland
as this one, I know I didn't miss anything.

Here's the story:

To escape the spectre of his own death and subsequent damnation, old-time
JLA foe Felix Faust resurrects an ancient wizard, Hermes Trismegistus, so
the wizard can reveal the location of an ancient emerald tablet that will
give Faust eternal life. Problem is, Trismegistus was tired of life and
committed suicide, so he doesn't take kindly to being brought back. To
prevent this happening ever again, he decides to destroy the universe
(he's never heard of "Do Not Disturb" signs?). A terrified Faust pleads
with the JLA to locate the three parts of the tablet before Trismegistus
can use them to bring an end to everything.

While retrieving the pieces, the JLA members encounter the ghosts of Vibe,
Ice, and Commander Steel. I suppose there are those who miss Ice (Guy
Gardner is, of course, one of them), but Vibe and Steel were killed during
low-points in the old Justice League series and are easily forgotten. In
fact, the death of Vibe was actually the high point of his career; it
signaled the end of the Justice League of Amateurs, and the end of the
series until it was revived with a completely new membership, better art,
and a sense of humor. Hank Heywood, who had his own brief comic series
_Steel the Indestructible Man_ and a spot with the All-Star Squadron
fighting Nazis in Roy Thomas' version of World War II, never made much
of a mark either. He was killed as the occasional ritual sacrifice that
happens to B-level heroes from time to time so we can know that the
villain at hand is serious. (Zauriel should take note and be very, very
careful.)

I must admit that I was sad when Ice died, because her character added a
naive sweetness to the JLA, because she was somebody who actually found
something nice in Guy Gardner's personality, and because the Global
Guardians have held a soft place in my heart since their first appearance
in _Superfriends_ ushered in Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins.

Be that as it may, the JLA retrieves the pieces and assembles the tablet,
but it turns out that Trismegistus is hiding inside Faust's body, and now
that the tablet is together, blasts the JLA and is ready to destroy
everything. Ice, the spokesperson for the ghosts (presumably because she
died most recently and is most likely to be remembered by the readers),
interferes, as does Vibe. For some bizarre reason, Trismegistus calls back
all the heroic spirits who had been released, and they promptly turn on
him. Ice enters the tablet, destroying it, and Trismegistus is trapped
forever in Faust's mind. The spirits are all returned to the land of the
dead (or wherever), and Faust, poetically, is now as afraid of living as
he is of dying.

I might have enjoyed this story more if more time had been spent with the
ghosts and less time on fetching the tablets and the mundane storyline. I
can only hope that more was done in the other annuals than was done here,
or a lot of money was wasted this summer.

Visually, this issue was also disappointing, from the dull Wrightson cover
(who I know can do much better) to the stilted inside art. Pajarillo has
some nice individual panels, but apparently the amount of dialogue
prevented him from taking advantage of the graphic opportunities offered
by the revivification of some readers' favorite heroes of the past.
Particularly frustrating was the few, small panels devoted to other ghosts
when a couple of full-page spreads would have been very exciting. I did,
however, enjoy Pajarillo's rendition of Superman; it had a sort of crude
yet strong, Golden Age feel to it.

The "Ghosts" series, I think, was meant to allow readers to reminisce
about long-gone and much-missed heroes of the past, and perhaps to give
the assorted writers a chance to explore their characters' pasts.
Unfortunately, neither goal was fulfilled here. No ghost was allowed
enough room to engage in a full conversation with the living, avoiding the
creative possibilities, and I can't imagine that many readers would have
bought this issue to see the ghosts of heroes killed in the various JLA
series. Let's face it: a hero is usually marked for death when the writers
and editors judge that the hero has enough support that some people will
be saddened when the character is gone, but overall the hero won't be
missed. At that point, he or she is killed by a villain who needs a career
boost. It was nice to see that Blue Devil, Amazing Man, and Crimson Fox
have not been completely forgotten after they were offered up as fodder to
boost the Mist's career.

I rarely buy Annuals anymore. They used to be special events, stories that
needed the extra pages, or collections of shorter stories that allowed new
writers and artists a chance to tell a special story. Now they tend to be
centered around a single concept, and rise or fall on the strength of that
concept. Most often they fall, and this annual is no exception.

Anatole Wilson
<awilson@us.oracle.com>

__________________________________________

MINISERIES:
----------
SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS #2 Oct 1998 $4.95 US/$6.95 CAN

"Book Two: Summer"

Words: Jeph Loeb
Pictures: Tim Sale
Color: Bjarne Hansen
Letters: Richard Starkings
Cover: Tim Sale and Bjarne Hansen

RATINGS

Average: 4.3/5.0 Shields

DWk: 4.6 Shields
EJ: 3.5 Shields - Weak art, but a good story. I loved the woman at the
end who turned him into her god, complete with shrine.
JO: 4.5 Shields - This is an excellent series on all fronts. If you
aren't reading this one, you're missing out on a lot.
JSy: 4.8 Shields - Wow. I just can't express how good this book is.
Anyone who loves Superman should absolutely adore this series.
I really, really, *really* want this collected in hardcover!
SDM: 4.2 Shields - Brilliant art and an excellent script with excellent
character play make this a must-buy, again. Only the rather
simple plot keeps this from being a perfect comic book. If only
every Superman book were as full of color, life, and soul.
ST: 4.5 Shields - Sale uses more one- and two-page panels in this issue
than last, and to poorer effect, but the overall effect is still
beautiful. A comic worthy of the bookshelf format; I do not mind
paying $7 for this.
TD: 4.0 Shields - Absolutely brilliant continuation, with a Clark who
*feels* inexperienced and co*cky and capable of making mistakes.
Sale has created a look and a feel that is distinct and wondrous.

The second installment of the best Superman story in ages traces, as its
title suggests, the first summer Superman was active in Metropolis. It is
narrated by Lois Lane, fascinated by this caped marvel, questioning her
reportorial instincts, and ultimately affirming them. It starts with
Superman zooming out into the summer air to stop a missile with his bare
hands (in a classic Joe Shuster pose) and retrieving the submarine that
fired it, then returning the sub to the man who manufactured the missile:
a young, redheaded and very irritable Lex Luthor. There's a terrorist on
board the ship, who threatens Lois Lane; Superman dispatches the threat,
and Lois takes care of the threatener.

Afterwards, Lois wonders about Superman's secret life -- where he goes
when he's not saving the world. These musings take place over a scene
showing his alter doing nothing more spectacular than going back to his
bachelor apartment with his groceries. Clark returns to Smallville to
visit his parents, and confides to his mother that the little town he grew
up in doesn't quite feel like home any more.

On the last day of summer, a fire breaks out at a chemical lab in
Metropolis. LexCorp's battle-suited "Guardians of the City" attempt to
fight it, but Superman finds and rescues a woman they'd missed,
extinguishing the fire as Lois looks on, reporting. The woman Superman
saved calls him 'her angel'. Luthor pays her a visit to enlist her help
with something and discovers that she has set up her apartment as a shrine
to Superman.

Loeb and Sale are at the top of their game here, telling the story less
through the conventional action sequences than through little details. In
the opening scene, every pose is foreshortened for maximum mightiness, and
everything Superman does is big; his fingers making dents in the front of
the missile is a powerful image, and holding the sub one-handed even more
so. Even in the scene with the Guardians of the City, Loeb and Sale do
their work through body language. On page 41, we see a Guardian giving
Superman the back-off-we're-working sign, and then Superman going about
his business having flicked the Guardian away. Neither is quite a
confrontational action pose, but you can just tell that neither of them
have any time for each other.

Likewise, Luthor comes off as a creep here in subtle ways, muttering "A
walk-up, in this day and age," interrupting his doe-eyed secretary with a
curt "Yes, yes, give it to me." This is not the dialogue of a super-
villain; it's the dialogue of a person who's decided that if you have
enough money there's no need to be nice, or pleasant, or 'good'. His cry
of "I am talking to you!" as Superman brushes him off and flies away is
perfectly in character and very, very funny. The suggestion that he makes
$150 a second (and therefore shouldn't waste his time picking up a $100
bill off the ground) is very similar to something that appeared in the
Usenet newsgroup rec.humor.funny a while ago about Bill Gates, but the
point is a good one.

Even the terrorist who holds a gun on Lois is sharply written: he's
not just a random bad guy, he's convinced that Superman is tipping the
balance of power too far in the "imperialist" direction -- which may be a
legitimate argument if you're not on the side of The American Way. The
only problem I have with the writing this issue is that the Guardians
don't add much to the plot besides an excuse to show more people in
costumes. This series is about people's perceptions of Superman early on,
so it doesn't actually need very many action sequences.

This issue is really Sale's show, and it's full of visual delights. His
Metropolis is beautifully futuristic-looking (dig those midair
pedestrian-walks, which look like something out of _Judge Dredd_ or
_Legion of Super-Heroes_ yet don't seem excessively out of place) and he's
got everyone's body language down. Contrast the midair co*ckiness of
Superman as he flies Lois back to the Planet to Clark, just a few pages
later, juggling his grocery bag and looking like a total nebbish. And
it's a beautiful detail that Clark, at dinner with his parents, is bending
his legs to fit them under the table and to give his dog a place to rest
her head.

Sale has gotten some flack on the Cybernet for how "stylized" and "out of
proportion" his characters are, but for me, that's a lot of the charm of
_Superman For All Seasons_. The point of this issue is that for Lois --
whose job is being the eyes of the public, and turning what the city sees
into words -- Superman is so much bigger than life that he has changed
everything. He is an icon in the minds of the people of Metropolis (in
Miss Vaughn's case, even literally an icon), so he looks like an icon
on-panel compared to everyone else. When he's Clark, he's an icon trying
to look like a normal person; compare his very simply-rendered features to
the wrinkled, detailed faces of his parents.

Once again, Bjarne Hansen gets in some marvelous coloring effects,
capturing the full sweep of the summer throughout the book, working toward
autumnal colors near the end. He's probably also responsible for the
execution of a brilliant device on page 22 as Superman, getting the gun
away from the terrorist in a fraction of a second, turns into a rough
red-blue-yellow blur of paint, zooming forward and back at a sharp
angle (though Sale gets credit for having it blow Luthor's hat off his
head).

One other note: The scene in the Smallville general store -- which is now
ridiculously small-town, low-scale, and a little embarrassing to the more
citified Clark -- seems to be a tribute to Lester Girls' home town
Dullsville in Will Jacobs and Gerard Jones' brilliant, almost-forgotten
series _The Trouble With Girls_; Pete's line "Welcome back to Dullsville,
Clark" underscores that. Sale's big, bespectacled Clark even looks a
little like Tim Hamilton's eternal innocent Girls. If you want a laugh,
search this series out in your comic store's quarter bins.

Douglas Wolk
<dbcloud@panix.com>

===============================================

SUPERMAN: THE DARK SIDE #1 Oct 1998 $4.95 US/$6.95 CAN

Words & Story: John Francis Moore
Pictures: Kieron Dwyer
Inks: Hilary Barta
Letters: Steve Dutro
Colors: Trish Mulvihill
Separator: Jamison
Cover: Kieron Dwyer, Hilary Barta, and Trish Mulvihill
Logo: Todd Klein

RATINGS

Average: 4.0/5.0 Shields

RG: 4.0 Shields (Story) - A different view of Superman, nicely done.
5.0 Shields (Art) - Nicely detailed, excellent perspectives. You
could buy this book just for the art and not be disappointed.
DJ: 4.7 Shields - While much of the art is muddled, the design of Kal's
armor is worth the price of the book alone. The story is very
well done and I look forward to the next book.
JO: 4.5 Shields - A scary concept that was well-written and well-drawn.
Can't wait for the next one.
JSy: 4.3 Shields - Another excellent Elseworlds tale from the creators
of _Elseworlds' Finest_. Seems awfully unbelievable that Kal-El
could turn against Darkseid's programming as quickly as he seemed
to in this issue, though.
ST: 3.2 Shields - Why does Kal lose his powers when arriving on earth?
If this Kal becomes a hero without *good* reason, I'll be quite
disappointed; Nurture is working against him, and unlike Scott
Free, he doesn't have Nature to explain any inherent goodness.
TD: 3.0 Shields - It has its promising moments, although I wonder if it
could be condensed a bit; it seems sprawling.

I've been getting tired of what I call Elseworld Plot Device #2 -- have
Superman found by someone else. (#1 involves Batman.) I thought that the
plot had been milked for all it was worth already. I'm happy to see that
I was wrong.

Yes, the basic plot is there -- Superman lands on Apokolips instead of
Earth and is raised by Darkseid -- but like most stories, it is the
details that make things interesting. To be honest, I had expected Kal-el
to be thrown to Granny Goodness, raised with Scott Free, and... well, it
doesn't make any difference what I expected, that isn't the way things
are. Kal is raised in secret by Darkseid himself. Instead of becoming
Scott's friend, he makes his debut into Apokolips society by killing
Kalibak. In fact, Kal is responsible for causing Scott to flee Apokolips.
This gives Darkseid an excuse to destroy New Genesis, which he does by
having Kal deliver an Omega Force weapon to the heart of that planet,
opening the way for Darkseid to conquer the universe. In doing so,
however, Kal is sent to Earth by Highfather. This is about all the story
we get in this book. Not a bad start, but there is so much more here.

The story opens with the destruction of Krypton, not very original. What
set this retelling apart from the others that I have seen was the art.
Wonderful detailed art that for the first time made me think of Krypton as
an alien world. Jor-el and Lara looked like something out of _Tron_. I
can't remember seeing Dwyer's work before, but I'll defiantly be watching
for it in the future.

As the ship nears Earth, it is pulled through a boom tube to Apokolips.
Again this wouldn't have done much for me except for the breathtaking art.
Armagetto looks alien, mean and hopeless, and Darkseid and Metron don't
look like dressed up humans. Humanoid, yes; human, no. What a wonderful
difference art makes. I've been re-reading some of Kirby's original Fourth
World work in "Jimmy Olsen" and "The New People". It's hard to put the
differences into words, but Kirby's Darkseid didn't look menacing. Dwyer's
does.

The story spends most of it's time on Apokolips, mostly following
Scott Free, until Kal comes back into the picture as a grown man. It's
interesting to note that Scott has a real personality; Kal doesn't at this
time. He truly seems to be an extension of Darkseid's will. When he meets
Highfather and is taken to the Source Wall for a prophecy then sent to
Earth to find his destiny he is more lost and confused than anything. This
is not a side of Superman we often get to see; I'm looking forward to it.

One minor complaint about the way the Elseworld Plot Device #2 always
works; why is Lois always the first girl Kal meets? There *have* been
other women in his life. Just once I'd like to see the potential love
interest be Lana or even Lori. <sigh>

Not much more I can say at this time, but I'm looking forward to the next
book to see how Kal does now that he's on Earth. If it's as well done as
this book is we're in for a treat. I hope that this wonderful start isn't
destroyed by a cliche' book two.

Rene Gobeyn
<bedlam@frontiernet.net>

__________________________________________

AFTER-BYRNE: Reviews of the post-Crisis Man of Steel
------------------------------------------------------------

MANUSCRIPTS OF STEEL
------------------------------

Reviews of After-Byrne Superman Special Stories

by Denes House (househld@borg.com)

--------------------------------------------------------------------

SUPERMAN ANNUAL #6
"The Feral Man of Steel"

Written by Darren Vincenzo
Art by Frank Fosco and Stan Woch
Colored by Darren Vincenzo
Cover by Mike Mignola
1994
Squarebound Format, $2.95 US/$4.00 CAN

Rating:
3.7/5.0 Shields

--------------------------------------------------------

"In Elseworlds, heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into
strange times and places - some that have existed, or might have existed,
and others that can't, couldn't or shouldn't exist..."

Elseworlds is all about shedding new light on a familiar character by
telling stories set in an unfamiliar world. It is a way of asking "what
if..." outside the bounds of a character's regular continuity. Before the
watershed _Crisis on Infinite Earths_, these types of tales were ironically
called "imaginary stories." For those who love creative storytelling as
much as I, the Elseworlds concept has been a rich source of entertainment
and fascination. There have been Elseworlds duds, but they have been far
fewer and less concentrated than in other formats.

Annuals are all about telling larger stories than could be told in a
character's regular title, stories of greater import, stories of deeper
significance. At least, that's how the theory goes. In practice, DC's
Annuals have often been segments of larger, overarching stories - "events"
- that have seriously lacked in depth and artistic merit.

What happens when these two concepts collide? "Elseworlds Annuals." A
concept to put chills of both horror and delight down the spines of
comics-loving people everywhere.

Would the Elseworlds overwhelm the Annual, or would the Annual drag down
the Elseworlds? In the case of the book in our sights this month - a little
of both.

"The Feral Man of Steel" transplants the orphan of Krypton into the middle
of a "Jungle Book"-like scenario: What if Superman were raised by wolves in
India, rather than by Jonathan and Martha Kent? The idea is indeed a
strange one, and simply typing that out brought a chuckle to my lips, but
the execution is far stronger than the concept may suggest.

The story opens with the titanic struggle between K'l'l of the wolves and
Khan the tiger, as told by "Sir Richard" to a breathless interviewer.
Amazingly, K'l'l is able not only to hold his own against the mammoth
tiger, but even to prevail in the struggle! The story flashes back to the
birth of this fabulous person, as a "shining egg," an "air boat" falls to
earth in the midst of the jungle. Found by M'r'r the she-wolf, the egg
contained a "man-cub," whom she adopted, over the protests of the hungry
and angry Khan. The wolves name the child K'l'l, or "white skin" in their
language. With the guidance of his wolf parents and Jahd Bahlja, the
panther, K'l'l grew and learned the ways of the jungle. But Khan always
watched, angry at having been thwarted, and attacked the young boy,
scarring him for life. Saved by the intervention of Jahd Bahlja, K'l'l grew
in strength and invulnerability to injury. He also grew intellectually,
introducing the concept of narrative into the wolf language. As he grew to
manhood, K'l'l learned an important lesson -- "beware...of the jungle's
deadliest hunter...MAN."

Concealed by the foliage, K'l'l and Bahlja observed the camp of "Sir
Richard" and Sir John Ellis' jungle expedition. Some of their hunting party
practiced their aim by shooting at nearby animals, including a wolf cub.
Suddenly, the cub's mother, M'r'r, attacked the man who killed her cub,
killing him. In retaliation, one of Sir Richard's men shot the she-wolf.
Her death-howls reached the distant ears of her mightiest cub, K'l'l
himself! The now-grown man of the Jungle tore into the party, stopped not
by the bullets that bounced off his skin but by the plea of Sir Richard
himself. Collecting the dead bodies of the slain wolves, K'l'l flew into
the jungle...and into the realm of public fascination.

While K'l'l mourned the death of his mother, Jahd Bahlja brought him news
-- Kahn was challenging for leadership of the wolf-pack! Angered, K'l'l
confronted the massive tiger for the last time -- which is where this tale
began. After a titanic battle, K'l'l emerged victorious. He decided to wear
Kahn's skin as a token of his victory, and to set off on a quest to avenge
his mother's death. At that time, Jahd chose to tell K'l'l of his origins
-- and showed him the "egg" from which he was born. Within, K'l'l finds a
pentagonal "hieroglyph" that he adds to his garb as "a symbol of the
man-pack that bore me and sent me here."

Meanwhile, in Bombay, Sir Richard and Sir John go about mounting a return
expedition to find the "Jungle Man." But theirs is only one of many, and
they eventually meet up with one led by adventurer Lois Lane, and another
led by the wealthy Lex Luthor. The three expeditions join forces -- Lois
searching for the adventure of it, Sir Richard for the knowledge, and
Luthor for sinister purposes known only to himself! Their search is very
shortly successful, as they encounter an attack led by the Wolf King!

Romance with Lois, a plot to take over the world's largest empire, and a
dramatic fight to the finish make up the second half of the book -- and I'm
sure that you can guess the participants in each of those plotlines.

Again in this column I express my ignorance as to the prior work these
artists have done. Darren Vincenzo turns in a solid tale, with some
well-imagined answers to the "what if..." question he poses. His characters
are consistent, his pacing strong, and his conclusion suitably intriguing.
Where he lacks somewhat is in the originality of some of his details.
Reading the story, my reaction was often not, "this is an interesting new
take on this element of the Superman mythos," but rather "I think I saw
this take used in _Superman: Kal_."

Probably the strongest example of this lack of originality is in Vincenzo's
use of Kryptonite. I suppose it's inevitable that Elseworlds tales make use
of Kryptonite -- it is a significant component of the Superman mythos, and
it is Superman's greatest weakness. Each Elseworlds tale creates its own
universe of possibilities, and thus many writers use Kryptonite as a
significant plot point. But a little Kryptonite goes a long way, and
constantly seeing it trotted out as a threat in Superman Elseworlds tales
is somewhat tiring.

But perhaps that's just a nit I'm picking, because for the most part this
is an interesting story, and an enjoyable read. I struggled a bit in
accepting that while bullets could not pierce his skin and he was strong
enough to wrestle elephants, K'l'l was scratched badly in his final battle
with Khan and actually had any sort of challenge in the fight at all.
Still, I tend to suspend disbelief fairly willingly when it comes to
entertainment.

The art is a mixed bag, as well. Fosco and Woch's simple, linear style is
at the same time refreshing and tiring. When compared to the frenetic
scrabblings of most of today's hottest artists, it is refreshingly simple
and straightforward. When endured for 54 pages, however, it gets a bit
dull. I was ecstatic to see that Darren Vincenzo actually colored this
story in addition to writing it. It makes the package a bit more complete,
and shows how important this book was to Vincenzo. His coloring is about
average, however, and neither helps nor hinders the book.

One treat about these Elseworlds Annuals are the stunning covers by Mike
Mignola. I shudder to think of how outstanding this book could have been if
Mike had handled the interior artwork as well, for he captures perfectly
the "feel" and appeal of the story within with just one image on the
outside. Mignola is one of the finest artists working today, and it is a
delight to see the bold, striking covers he crafted for this series.

Capsule review:

A decent outing, with some interesting story bits and simplistic artwork.
Intriguing premise that would have enjoyed better ratings if the art had
been stronger and the story details a bit tighter.

Story: An odd premise worked out with intelligence and care. Some more
juice in the creativity department and this would have had top marks. 3.8
Shields out of 5.

Art: Simple and often effective, but the dull linework and blocky
characters get repetitive and dull after a while. A full point extra for
the Mignola cover pulls this rating way up. 3.5 Shields out of 5.

Overall: Worth a read, and if you like Mignola's covers, worth picking up.
Doesn't quite reach the potential Elseworlds stories can hit, but doesn't
seriously disappoint, either. 3.7 Shields out of 5.

Next Month: Invaders from Krypton?

__________________________________________

THE PHANTOM ZONE: Reviews of the pre-Crisis Man of Steel
------------------------------------------------------------------

TALES OF EARTH-ONE
--------------------------------------
by Bob Hughes (rhughes3@ix.netcom.com)
(or see my web page, "Who's Whose in The DC Universe" at
pw2.netcom.com/~rhughes3/whoswho.htm)

Episode #6
Revenge is a Dish Best Served Over and Over

As the Sixties rolled on and Mort Weisinger's "Superman Legend" began
rolling into high gear, he honed a story-telling technique that depended on
accumulating as much moss as possible. Each new character or concept that
was added to the Superman had to be at least mentioned somehow, somewhere
in each new adventure. Perhaps the easiest way to do this and still have
room for a plot was to make the actual villains as faceless as possible.
And there was hardly any group as faceless as the Superman Revenge Squad.

Born in January 1962's _Superboy_ #94, "The Superboy Revenge Squad" had
apparently already run afoul of the Boy of Steel in some untold tale. They
inhabit the planet Wexr II, a world composed entirely of space pirates
whose ambitions for conquest were previously frustrated by the Smallville
Marvel. As depicted by Al Plastino, the Wexrites are fat, bald and
blue-skinned with pointy ears. Their shirts have triangular symbols with
two parallel lines super-imposed. None of their names are mentioned, which
is probably okay since they never leave their space ship during the entire
story.

This is because the Squad are not the main characters in this tale. That
role belongs to Superboy's Pal, Pete Ross, an earlier Robert Bernstein
creation who was sort of a "reverse Jimmy Olsen". Where Olsen's antics
almost always got Superman into trouble, Pete's prime function was to get
Superboy out of it. As is recounted in a flashback that would be repeated
endlessly throughout the era, Pete had accidentally discovered Clark's
secret identity while on a camping trip and vowed never to tell Clark that
he knew, but instead use that secret knowledge in any way possible to help
his friend.

Thus when their camaraderie is interrupted by a flashing light in Clark's
living room, Pete knows it's time to make an excuse to leave, so that
Superboy can receive an urgent message from the war department. Somehow in
this pre-radar era, the war department's scientists have detected an alien
space ship approaching Earth and wisely turned the matter over to Superboy
to handle alone. After all, what are they going to do about it? They
haven't even got jet planes yet!

Superboy investigates the ship with his x-ray vision, telescopic vision and
super-hearing (either that or he's lip reading, since even super-hearing
shouldn't work in outer space) and discovers the invaders from Wexr II. He
recognizes them and recalls the past battle in which he destroyed all their
ammunition dumps and arsenals with his x-ray vision, which was 1000 times
as strong on Wexr as it is on Earth.

He discovers that the Wexrites have been searching for him ever since to
claim revenge but they don't know from which world he comes. They are using
a machine that detects super brainwaves so that they can find him wherever
he's hiding. After they find his home world they plan to destroy it in
revenge.

What a dilemma! Superboy can't leave Earth and distract them because, by
sheer coincidence, a deadly band of Kryptonite is currently encircling the
planet. Yet if he stays, the Revenge Squad will surely detect his super
thoughts. So Superboy turns off all his robots and super-hypnotizes himself
into forgetting for 24 hours that he has super-powers! Ergo, no super
thoughts for the Wexrites to detect!

The plan works perfectly -- except for one thing. Clark doesn't know that
Pete knows he's Superboy, and Pete doesn't know why Clark can't seem to
remember. Luckily, Pete is prepared. He has a Superboy costume and mask
stashed in his school bag in case he ever needs to use them to help Clark
protect his duel identity from that nosy Lana Lang. So when he and Clark
witness frogmen (frogmen!?!) breaking out of the local prison, Pete ducks
down an alley and switches to Superboy. Unknown to Pete, Clark catches him
at it! Now Clark thinks he knows Superboy's secret identity, but won't tell
Pete. And Pete has a Superboy costume but no powers. The only way he can
catch the criminals is by tricking Clark into using powers he doesn't
remember he has and without telling Clark he knows he's Superboy. The
things one has to do for one's friends!

Pete skillfully tricks Clark into protecting him from the hail of the jail
breakers' bullets by having Clark walk in front of him, telling Clark that
he's melting the bullets with his heat vision so that Clark isn't in any
danger. Later, he has Clark squeeze coal into diamonds by hiding it inside
snowballs. When the 24 hours are up,

Clark's memory comes back, and Pete, 
relieved, can go back to being a normal high school student, albeit one
with a big secret to carry.

The Revenge Squad failed on that mission. However, they returned 2 months
(and 20 years) later to confront Superman in _Action_ #286's "Jury of
Super-Enemies". Robert Bernstein and Curt Swan threw in Luthor, Brainiac,
the Legion of Super-Villains and somebody named Electro for good measure.
At least those are the people who sit on Superman's jury on Swan's
spectacular cover. Manacled with Kryptonite, Superman stands in a glass
booth thinking, "My X-ray vision reveals they've found me guilty and
they're about to sentence me to the most horrible doom in the universe!"

The story opens on Wexr II where we meet the leader of the Revenge Squad,
Rava. At a meeting of the high council, three new Red Kryptonite meteors
are delivered and tested on a captured Krypto. Two of the three meteors
prove to be useless, but the third induces titanic nightmares in the poor
dog. Cleverly waiting for a time when Supergirl has decided to take the
bottle city of Kandor on a tour of the universe(?!), Rava and his henchmen
unleash their dastardly plan by sneaking red K powder into Clark Kent's
ketchup. (In 20 years they've gone from not knowing what planet Superboy
lives on, to knowing Superman's secret identity, so they've made *some*
progress.)

Soon, while Superman and Jimmy sleep at the Fortress of Solitude, the
dreams begin. Superman finds himself five generations in the future, where
descendants of Pete Ross and Lana Lang attack him with an atomic ray that
can turn rubber into Green Kryptonite as revenge for the way he mistreated
their ancestors. Superman's twisting and turning wakens Jimmy, who is able
to rouse Superman with some Super sound equipment they had previously been
tinkering with.

Next Superman falls asleep during a meeting of the Jimmy Olsen Fan Club (no
argument there) and dreams he's in the far future where Luthor, Brainiac
and the Legion of Super-Villains capture him and put him on trial for
foiling all their schemes. The most horrible doom in the universe mentioned
on the cover? The dastardly villains sentence Superman to battle Supergirl
to the death. But Superman wakes up again, just in time for the "continued
next issue" box.

(A great back-up story in this issue has Supergirl meet Lex Luthor for the
very first time!)

Part 2 is entitled "Perry White's Manhunt for Superman". The cover features
Perry, cigar clamped firmly in his mouth, sporting a sheriff's badge and
being led by Krypto as part of a posse hunting down a powerless Superman.
This time Superman falls asleep while flying over Metropolis! He dreams he
is captured by the Super-Hypnotist who hypnotizes him into breaking down
the State Pen and letting all the prisoners go. Then he robs Fort Knox.
Lastly, the Super-Hypnotist takes away all of Superman's powers and
abandons him to take the consequences of his misdeeds, being hunted down by
his former friends from the Daily Planet.

Having driven Superman to distraction with nightmare after nightmare, the
Revenge Squad finally launches their real attack, secure in the knowledge
that Superman will be convinced it's just another dream. As alien robots
land on Earth and begin blasting the ground with deadly acid, Superman
stands placidly by, determined not to be panicked by yet another nightmare
-- only this time it's real. Fortunately, at the last minute Superman
realizes that this dream is not following the pattern of the previous ones,
and he leaps into action. Foiled, Rava and the Revenge Squad fly back into
space, and Superman never finds out who his attackers were.

Somehow, eight months later, Bernstein and Swan seemed to forget what the
Revenge Squaders were supposed to look like, because in _Action_ #295 the
blue Wexrites are nowhere to be seen. All of the new Revenge Squaders are
Caucasian, wearing orange Curt Swan-style futuristic suits with yellow
skull caps and wide belts. Their emblems vaguely resemble tuning forks. The
leaders get to wear blue capes with varying insignia.

Vagu and Dixo, two members of the Squad, have come up with a telepathic
signal gun which, because it is attuned to Superman's brain waves, can take
over his mind, and when they turn it on "Superman Goes Wild!" Once they
turn it off, he forgets what happened. Superman trashes the UN and then
escalates by destroying Perry White's office and even Atlantis (Lori's, not
Aquaman's -- at least we don't see Aquaman). Each bout of destruction is
followed by a period of contrition in which Superman tries to explain his
behavior to his increasingly skeptical friends. This time the Revenge Squad
members can't help but gloat and let Superman in on what they're doing to
him, just before they force him to smash his robots, the Eiffel Tower, the
Sphinx and other major landmarks. Then they turn the machine off and
Superman surrenders to Earth authorities and Perry White carts him away in
chains. Only the strong friendships and trust that Superman has built up
over the years save him this time.

In August 1963, Ed Hamilton took over the Revenge Squad story line and
introduced two more personality-less plot movers in _Superman_ #163's
"Wonder Man, The New Hero of Metropolis". Curt Swan once again handles the
art. Attal of Vrunn reveals that he, not Rava, was the originator of the
Superboy Revenge Squad. This guy didn't wear any of the previous Revenge
Squad uniforms, but then again, he was in disguise. The latest plan is to
transplant a Superman robot brain into an android body. He tells the
resulting Wonder Man that he is now a human and has no need to obey any
master. Attal gives the former robot a Green Kryptonite meteor to use
against Superman should he try to interfere in his new life.

That new life turns out to be Superman's old one, as Wonder Man moves to
Metropolis, eclipses Superman's feats, declares his love for Lois and then
tries to take over the Fortress of Solitude! But in the end the former
robot and his master band together to stop the Revengers once and for all.
Together, Superman and Wonder Man hurl the Revenge Squad's ship deep into
space, where it spirals out of control.

The Superboy Revenge Squad returned in _Superboy_ #118 (Jan 1965) in "The
War Between Krypto and Superboy" by Otto Binder and George Papp. These
Revengers have different uniforms yet again, with the yellow skull caps
replaced by yellow crested helmets (a la Adam Strange) and big oval chest
symbols showing two small "S's" with a large "R" in the center. Rava is
seen in this story to be a blond-headed Caucasian! Perhaps the original
blue-skinned Wexrites were wearing disguises(?). Rava is again falling back
on his standard plan, a Red Kryptonite attack. This specimen will cause
hatred between Superboy and Krypto. Their battle ends with Superboy
imprisoning Krypto in a cage made of pure Green Kryptonite!

Of course the squad was back again a couple of months later, and continued
to lay into Superman and Superboy with one hare-brained scheme after
another throughout the Sixties. Once Julius Schwartz took over the Superman
titles, they seemed to disappear, but eventually Cary Bates brought them
back for one last knock-down as Superman invaded their home planet. This
adventure took place in _Superman_ #365-68 in 1981 and so is well outside
of my Silver Age territory.

The Revenge Squad, I don't think, ever made anybody's list of top ten
Superman villains, precisely because of their lack of any real identity.
They wore different outfits almost every time they appeared. They had
different leaders. Or, more accurately, the same leader-types showed up
with different names. There never seemed to be anything personal in their
battles with Superman. Their creator, Robert Bernstein, used them solely as
a method of launching new Red Kryptonite meteors at Superman or Superboy.
His successors continued to focus on the gimmick rather than giving the
Squad any form of memorable characterization. Yet, given their limitations,
the Revenge Squad often featured in interesting and memorable stories. They
gave Superman something to do without shifting the focus away from the hero
and his friends. And since friendship was what the Sixties Superman was all
about, they worked out quite well.

__________________________________________

WORLD OF KRYPTON
------------------------------------------------
July, August, September 1979
Reviewed by Scott Devarney (devarney@ll.mit.edu)

Credits:

Issue #1: "The Jor-El Story"
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artists: Howard Chaykin & Murphy Anderson
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: Ben Oda
Editor: E. Nelson Bridwell

Issue #2: "This Planet Is Doomed"
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artists: Howard Chaykin & Murphy Anderson
Colorist: Jerry Serpe
Letterer: Shelley Leferman
Editor: E. Nelson Bridwell

Issue #3: "The Last Days of Krypton"
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artists: Howard Chaykin & Frank Chiaramonte
Colorist: Jerry Serpe
Letterer: Ben Oda
Editor: E. Nelson Bridwell

Overall Rating: 4.5 Shields

When Jenette Kahn became publisher of DC in the mid-to-late 70's, she
introduced a number of different formats: the short-lived "DC Explosion"
which increased the page count of the regular books and used those extra
pages for a variety of features; "Dollar Comics", double-sized books which
cost $1, as opposed to the 40 cents for regular books; and the mini-series,
a title which would tell a specific story within a set number of issues.
The very first mini-series that DC published was _World of Krypton_, which
told the history of Superman's father, Jor-El, from his childhood to
Krypton's last day.

Each issue begins with Superman, in his Fortress of Solitude, viewing his
father's diary; the rest of each issue is told as a series of diary entries
narrated by Jor-El. Superman informs the readers that he found the diary on
the moon and speculates that it was pulled into the space warp formed by
the experimental rocket which brought him to Earth.

The first issue describes Jor-El's school years, his first job at the
Kryptonopolis space center, his first encounter with and instant
infatuation of cadet Lara Lor-Van, his discovery of anti-gravity, the
disastrous first test of his anti-gravity rocket drive and subsequent
rescue of Lara. It also tells of Jor-El's and Lara's attempt to get
permission to wed from Matricomp, a computer which makes pronouncements on
who may or may not marry, and the discovery of flaws in Matricomp's
programming which nearly destroyed their union. The issue ends with the
wedding of Jor-El and Lara.

The second issue covers the time that Superman was trapped in Krypton's
past and posed as Jor-El's assistant. It focuses on Jor-El's discovery of
Krypton's doom, his initial efforts to organize a rescue of the planet, and
Brainiac's abduction of Kandor which ruined that early rescue work. It also
describes Jor-El's discovery of the Phantom Zone which enabled him to win
election to the Science Council, Kal-El's birth, and Jax-Ur's destruction
of Krypton's inhabited moon, Wegthor.

The final issue deals with the fallout of Wegthor's destruction, namely a
Science Council ban on rocketry and further space experimentation; Jor-El's
continued attempts to perfect a rocket capable of saving Krypton's
populace; the Phantom Zone villains' attempt to have Jor-El free them,
which led to Jor-El launching the Phantom Zone projector into space; Lar
Gand's (who in the future would become Mon-El of the LSH) arrival on
Krypton and encounter with Jor-El; and, finally, Krypton's last day and
Kal-El's escape to Earth.

Writer Paul Kupperberg packs a lot of story into these three issues yet,
for the most part, tells a smooth, involving tale. This is all the more
remarkable when one considers that he is weaving together many previously
told tales into a single narrative. He paces the story well. The first
issue feels light-hearted as it describes a series of Jor-El's early
adventures; the second issue feels foreboding as Krypton's doom is
discovered and the story swings between hope and despair as Jor-El's early
efforts are catastrophically dashed; and the third issue rushes along,
echoing Jor-El's frustration with time running out, his rocket experiments
going poorly, and the Science Council ignorantly and stubbornly hampering
his efforts.

Jor-El comes across as very likeable. He is dedicated and earnest, yet he
can also be impulsive, such as in his rescue of the stranded Lara and in
his insulting the Science Council when they initially disparage his
findings of the problems with Krypton's core. He can also be unsure of
himself, especially around Lara. He echoes qualities that his son
possesses, the will to do the right thing for others and incredible
determination against seemingly impossible odds. Although the Kents'
upbringing was the major factor in forging Superman's character, it can be
argued that some of it may be genetic, inherited in part from his father.

This series also examines some practices of Kryptonian culture and some of
those practices are disturbing. Computers select a person's occupation;
another computer approves or denies petitions for marriage. These are two
of the most important aspects of an adult's life, yet it seems as if the
people have little to say regarding these decisions. Besides the computer
control of society, the Kryptonian government is ruled by a council of a
few scientists; this council apparently performs all of the legislative,
judicial, and executive functions. Rather than utopian, this society seems
to be rather Communistic.

The art for this series has a very Silver Age feel to it, especially in the
first two issues. Those who are familiar with Howard Chaykin primarily from
his work on such 80's series as _American Flagg_ and the _Blackhawk_
mini-series may be surprised to see how clean his work is here. Murphy
Anderson's inks in the first two issues help the artwork evoke comparisons
with Curt Swan's early work or Wayne Boring's stories. Frank Chiaramonte
isn't as strong an inker in the third issue, giving the story more of a
typical 70's look which makes the story suffer somewhat.

Finally, one of the really fun things about this series is the neat trivia
sprinkled throughout. For instance, it was Jor-El's *father* who first
discovered the unstable elements within Krypton's core; Jor-El confirmed
their existence and postulated their disastrous effects on the planet.
Jor-El's first job was working under General Zod, before the general went
rogue. Finally, the day that Krypton exploded, according to the Kryptonian
calendar, was 39 Ogtal 10,000.

Overall, this was a great package which put the mini-series on the comic
book industry's map. It told a powerful story and provided a lot of
information on the life of an important figure in the Superman mythos. Its
success helped lead the way to such stories as _Kingdom Come_ and _Superman
For All Seasons_.

__________________________________________

GIANT SUPERMAN ANNUAL #1
------------------------------------------------
Reviewed by Rich Morrissey (RMorris306@aol.com)

In 1960, Superman editor Mort Weisinger had the brainstorm of putting
together an 80-page collection of reprinted Superman stories, and selling
copies for 25c. Such "Annuals" had already been published by Dell and
Archie, but this was the first time it had been tried for a super-hero. The
idea was phenomenally successful, and over the course of the next few years
DC added Annuals that featured Batman, Lois Lane, Flash, Superboy, Jimmy
Olsen, the Justice League and many others. (Superman's and Batman's Annuals
soon defied their name by appearing twice a year!) The reprint collections
continued into the mid-'70s, briefly dropping to 64 pages but then
expanding to 100 before being pulled from the schedule around 1976. Now, DC
has reissued two of them from the early 1960's, the _Secret Origins_ annual
and _Superman Annual_ #1. This reissue of the latter includes information
the original didn't, such as the writers, artists, and original appearances
of the stories included.

The Annual leads off with "Superman's First Feat" (story by Edmond
Hamilton, art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye, from _Superman_ #106). Reese
Kearns, a scientist with a rather shady background, approaches the Daily
Planet with the suggestion that it sponsor a contest to uncover Superman's
first feat. Despite Superman's own suspicions of an ulterior motive on
Kearns' part, the contest proceeds, and in the process new readers learn of
Superman's origin and Kryptonian background. Fortunately nobody is able to
uncover Superman's identity, as he had feared would happen when the entries
from Smallville came in. (Which would, incidentally, seem to support the
general Silver Age implication that Smallville is close enough to
Metropolis to be considered a suburb; I very much doubt that an East Coast
paper would have much circulation in Kansas.) After a winner is chosen who
saw an unidentified tot uproot a Smallville street lamp, Kearns challenges
Superman to recall his own first super-feat... which occurred while he was
still en route from Krypton, and briefly left the rocket to kick away an
approaching meteor. It turns out all Kearns ...who'd predicted that
meteor's approach but had been discredited when it didn't appear... had
wanted was vindication, which he got. (The scientific community seemed
rather unforgiving; recently an actual prediction of a meteor strike, which
proved to be miscalculated, was treated much more sympathetically...)

"The Witch of Metropolis" (story by Otto Binder, art by Kurt
Schaffenberger) is next. Taken from the (then) very recent _Lois Lane_ #1,
the first DC work by Schaffenberger (Lois's _Showcase_ tryouts had been
drawn by Superman regulars like Al Plastino and Wayne Boring, but for the
regular title Binder had suggested his one-time collaborator on _The Marvel
Family_ at Fawcett) is very nicely done. It supports a rather contrived
plot -- Lois thinks a spell has turned her into a witch, but she's only
been temporarily aged by an experimental formula, and psychological trauma
and a little help from Superman explain the rest. Most surprising is
Superman's opening line, "Great Caesar's Ghost! Is that Lois Lane, working
at night?" It was a popular expression of the time, but was already in the
process of becoming such a characteristic line for Perry White that it
seems odd coming from any other character. (Well, at least Superman wasn't
about to say, "Great Shades of Elvis!" given that Elvis was alive and well
and in the Army at the time...)

"The Supergirl from Krypton" is probably the most-reprinted story in this
collection; it had first appeared a year before in _Action Comics_ #252,
was reprinted here for the first time, and would be reprinted again at
least four more times. But it *was* a story of historical importance. (So,
too, was Superman's first story, but Weisinger felt Joe Shuster's art was
way too crude and that the story probably wouldn't have been accepted by
the Comics Code. Indeed, all the stories in this Annual were relatively
recent.) As originally told by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino,
Supergirl had been born on "a street of homes" that had survived the
destruction of Krypton, only to fall victim years later when a meteor
shower destroyed the lead sheeting that had been their only protection from
the radiation of the kryptonite their planetary chunk had turned into.
Weisinger spent almost the next decade explaining the details in the
origin. The Kryptonians didn't have super-powers (which, under the original
ground rules, they should have once the chunk no longer had Krypton's
immense gravity), because they were still inhibited by the red sun of
Krypton's system. They were able to breathe because their home (later
revealed as being the entire community of Argo City) had been covered by a
plastic dome constructed to hold in a germ-free atmosphere. They were
affected by the Kryptonite (which in most stories, including Binder's, did
*not* affect Kryptonians without their powers) because it was "a freak type
of Anti-Kryptonite." And the meteors didn't smash the dome because it was
self- sealing. But, as originally published, the origin had more holes than
that lead sheeting ended up with...

It did, however, cover one important loose end. Supergirl was said from the
start to be the daughter of Zor-El, the younger brother of Superman's
brother Jor-El. Hence she was Superman's cousin ... Mort Weisinger was
*not* about to leave open the possibility of a marriage or romance between
her and Superman, so as to leave the field clear for Lois Lane (not to
mention Lana Lang and a few others, one of whom would appear later in the
Annual). The story ends with Supergirl being left at the Midvale Orphanage
under orders to keep her very existence a secret. Some readers thought this
was rather sexist, but, after all, Superboy had kept his own existence a
secret for a number of years before his parents had thought *he'd* be ready
to start his career...

Binder is back (indeed, he wrote six of the nine stories in this Annual)
for "A Visit from Superman's Pal," with art by Curt Swan and Ray Burnley
(brother of Starman's co-creator, Jack Burnley). It was originally
published in _Superboy_ #55, but may have originally been prepared for
Jimmy Olsen's book ... judging from the inks by Burnley rather than John
Fischetti, Swan's usual inker when he drew a Superboy story. Due to a
mishap while Superman was spinning at super-speed to disperse some chemical
fumes, Jimmy was thrown into the past ... and conveniently landed not in
the ocean, not in some distant historical period, but in Smallville in
Superboy's time. Jimmy (still young enough then to accompany young Clark
Kent to high school without causing comment) gets to observe his friend's
younger self try to imitate his own feats, and even is let in on Clark's
secret identity so he can impersonate him and make a joint appearance with
Superboy. Then he's sent home by a similar spin, but with a special
souvenir ... a jar of amnesium (an element that had appeared in a number of
other Superboy stories) that took all his memories of the visit ...and, of
course, of Clark's other identity... away. Clark sneaks the amnesium away;
*he* remembers his boyhood ... indeed, Superboy didn't seem much concerned
with his own advance knowledge of his future. Come to think of it, why
didn't Superman just *inhale* the gas? Maybe he knew he had to send Jimmy
back, because he remembered it from being Superboy? Time-travel stories
always make my brain hurt...

Fortunately, one of the best Superman stories of all is next. "The Girl in
Superman's Past," again featuring the art of Boring and Kaye on a script by
the very talented Bill Finger, is a flashback tale of Clark Kent's college
years, originally from _Superman_ #129. In his senior year at college,
Clark meets the beautiful but wheelchair-bound Lori Lemaris, an exotic
exchange student with strange experiences and an unusual background of her
own ... a captivating combination for many college boys, myself included.
Clark begins dating Lori and finds himself falling hopelessly in love, in
spite of hints that she has secrets of her own ... after all, so does he.
But so entranced is he that he decides to marry her even if it means giving
up his Superman career ... until he discovers Lori was passing on reports
to mysterious superiors back home. Was she a spy?

The truth proved to be a lot stranger ... she wasn't a spy but a mermaid.
(I'd have included a Spoiler Alert, but the Annual didn't seem concerned
with that ... Lori was on the cover in all her fishtailed glory, complete
with a caption, "Lori the Mermaid.") She came from the sunken continent of
Atlantis, from a colony that had managed to survive its sinking by turning
themselves into mermaids and mermen. Explaining that her duty to her people
prevented her marrying a man, even a Superman, from the surface, Lori
returned home leaving Clark with memories and regrets.

This story was so well done because Finger took advantage of the odder
aspects of Superman's world, even tying it in with the legendary continent
spoken of by Plato. Boring sustained his end magnificently, creating an
etherically beautiful Lori that could very easily have led Superman to fall
in love with her. Occasionally Finger made an error with a somewhat
unfamiliar background (never having been to college himself, he didn't
realize the unlikelihood of Clark Kent being initiated by a fraternity
during his senior year ... or even, with his need for secrecy, joining a
fraternity at all), but I found it genuinely charming that Clark was such a
gentleman that he could date a girl for six months and still never feel
(nor, even with X-ray vision, see) what she was like below the waist.

Ironically enough, the very same month this story was published, another
Superman-related title presented a very different version of Atlantis.
Robert Bernstein chronicled Aquaman's origin in _Adventure Comics_ #260 and
revealed that he had his powers because his mother had come from Atlantis
... an Atlantis whose people had, again, scientifically altered themselves
in antiquity so they could breathe and live underwater, but who hadn't
altered their human form. It wasn't very consistent with Aquaman's Golden
Age origin, but editor Mort Weisinger didn't particularly care (despite
having written the earlier origin himself), and, when asked about the
apparent inconsistency, Weisinger argued that there was no reason the
stories *should* be consistent as long as each worked as a story. And he
was absolutely right at the time ... he was responding as the
science-fiction editor he'd been, much as John W. Campbell might have if a
teenager had wondered why the details of Robert A. Heinlein's future Earth
didn't match those of Isaac Asimov. The concept of a shared universe that's
now so central to mainstream comics publishing wasn't yet established ...
though, within the year, it *would* be established when Superman and
Aquaman were both shown to be members of the Justice League of America. It
was soon explained that, since Atlantis had been a whole continent,
different cities had adapted differently to underwater conditions, and that
Lori Lemaris and Aquaman's mother had come from two different cities
(eventually named Tritonis and Poseidonis respectively) on the sunken
continent.

Interspersed between the pages of "The Girl in Superman's Past" is the one
new piece of art in the Annual; a "Map of Krypton" drawn by Al Plastino
from a design by Jerry Siegel. Ironically the only contribution of
Superman's creator to this collection, it was less detailed than the
expanded, geographic map Nelson Bridwell would one day produce for a 1971
Giant, but it includes most of the places Siegel's successors had
introduced in the last few years, including the now-named Argo City and the
original site of the later-shrunken city of Kandor. It also includes a
"Lake Trom," which was probably an inside joke. Not only would the name
later be reused for the home planet of Element Lad of the Legion of
Super-Heroes, but it's also "Mort" spelled backwards.

Filling out the last, partial page of the Lori Lemaris story is Mort
Weisinger's announcement that a second Annual is already in the works: "An
All-Menace issue featuring monsters and villains from past stories!"
Readers are invited to vote for their favorites, and most of those listed
were either recurring characters familiar to any Superman fan (Bizarro,
Titano, Luthor, Metallo, Brainiac) or one-shot characters from specific
stories (Lorac, Monster "X," the Futuremen). But it also includes two
rather confusing characters called Solar Boy and Super-Outlaw, who may be
attributable to Weisinger's sometimes shaky memory for names. They could,
perhaps, be Super-Menace (a one-shot character) and Sun Boy (of the Legion
of Super-Heroes, who certainly wasn't a villain but, in one early
appearance, was impersonated by one).

Otto Binder returns with "The Execution of Krypto," a Superboy story (from
_Superboy_ #67) drawn by George Papp, and is probably the weakest of the
lot. When Superboy asks Krypto to bury a Clark Kent dummy he says is
defective, the action is spotted by his neighbor Professor Lang, who thinks
Krypto had actually killed the real Clark. Even granting that it was
unintentional, the Smallville law requires that a dog responsible for the
death of a human being, even by accident, must himself be put to death ...
and Superboy, citing only concern for his identity and seemingly aware of
his loving (and sentient!) pet's feelings, railroads the "execution"
through as he prepares to use Kryptonite on the dog! Even Binder himself
can't keep quiet in the captions at this apparent betrayal, which seems
unusually callous on Superboy's part even if there *is* an explanation.
And, of course, there is (cleverly sneaked into an early panel of the
story) -- a mind-reading machine that works only on "elementary animal
thoughts" (how Krypto's would even qualify is questionable, given the way
he was always shown to think and reason as well as a human being), in the
legal hands of a criminal who was waiting to read Krypto's mind and
discover Superboy's identity. But he junks it after Krypto is apparently
dead ... allowing Superboy, who'd literally kept Krypto in mental agony
until the last minute when he performed the "execution" with fake
kryptonite, to let Clark Kent turn up alive and exonerate his pet (whom
he'd set up in the first place). Superboy still comes off as uncomfortably
callous, even though it could have been explained (if the crook was lurking
nearby, Krypto *had* to be kept unaware of the whole thing ...and too
agitated to think of Superboy's identity... until the danger of having his
mind read at any time was gone), which is probably why this was the only
story in the Annual that was never re-reprinted. (Well, until now.)

Binder and Kurt Schaffenberger again team up in another _Lois Lane_ story
(from #5), "The Fattest Girl in Metropolis," termed by Weisinger "the
funniest Lois Lane story we have ever published!" Could be, but it starts
out pretty seriously (Lois witnesses a gangland murder), and it certainly
doesn't seem very funny to Lois when yet another scientific experiment, a
"Growth Ray," gone awry causes her to wake up the next morning as a fat
woman. Her bathrobe has split up the back (why a wraparound robe would do
such a thing is hard to explain, except perhaps that the Comics Code
wouldn't have allowed the more likely prospect of Lois's pajamas splitting
in the same place), and she tips the scales at a whopping 200 pounds.
(*Just* the thing to cheer up a reviewer who weighs more than that
*without* being hit by a growth ray, though by all accounts Mort Weisinger
weighed a lot more than even I do...) Lois's neighbor suggests she get some
new clothes from the undiplomatically-named "Fat Girl's Shoppe," and Lois
spends most of the rest of the story trying to keep out of Superman's sight
(needlessly, as we know, since she admitted her excess weight to her Planet
colleagues, Clark Kent included). "Nobody loves a fat girl..." she sighs
wistfully as she ironically catches the bouquet at a wedding, knowing she's
not apt to be married right away (well, not for 37 more years...). (Some
men *are* attracted to fat women, as it happens, but Lois knows Superman
isn't one of them...)

Her attempts to reduce prove fruitless, especially when the half-starved
Lois gets sent a box of candy from Superman on her birthday (and the artist
sneaks his signature onto the box of "Schaff's Candy"). Only a fun-house
mirror shows Lois the way she used to look ... and also, unexpectedly, tips
off a gangland hit-man out to eliminate the only witness to his killing.
Superman shows up in time to capture the crook ... and to reveal that he'd
deliberately set up Lois's weight gain so as to render her unrecognizable
to the hit-man. Lois is rightly furious (though, this time, Superman was at
least protecting a friend's life), but gets her revenge of sorts when she
talks Superman into taking her out to dinner ... assured by him that the
excess poundage will evaporate by morning, she takes the opportunity to pig
out. ("There goes Clark Kent's paycheck!" ruefully observes Superman. "Me
and my 'big' ideas!!!")

Next comes a story from Jimmy Olsen's own book (#22), once again by the
team of Binder, Swan, and Burnley. "The Super-Brain of Jimmy Olsen"
introduces another recurring character to the Superman cast...the eccentric
Prof. Phineas Potter, who will constantly be coming up with wacky
inventions that cause no end of trouble. Probably inspired by two similar
characters on the then-contemporary Superman TV series, "Uncle Oscar"
Twiddle and Prof. Pepperwinkle (portrayed respectively by Sterling Holloway
and Phil Tead), Potter turned out to be an uncle of Lana Lang, and would
become a good friend of most of the cast, especially Jimmy.

This time, his invention is an "evolution accelerator," which he tests on
(who else?) Jimmy Olsen. It gives him the immense brain and bald head that
men of the future were customarily shown with, and also a commanding
attitude that has even Superman at his beck and call (having no choice
since Jimmy has telepathically learned his identity). Jimmy apparently
keeps Superman busy with meaningless tasks, and only at the end does
Superman learn they had a purpose. With his immense brain, Jimmy calculated
"that the planet Earth is out of balance! One half is heavier than the
other!" So Superman was sent to carry millions of tons to a hand-made
crater in Antarctica, thus preventing Earth from blowing apart in another
1000 years or so ... but nobody, not even Jimmy, whose memories of his
super-brained existence (and Superman's identity) had faded, would ever
know the truth.

Needless to say, this story clearly would never have taken place in the
post-Crisis Superman's world. Even Potter's post-Crisis analogue, Prof.
Emil Hamilton (probably named for Silver Age writer Edmond Hamilton) would
never have come up with a gadget quite *that* wacky. Which could mean,
ironically enough, that, without that fix, Earth was indeed doomed to come
apart within a millennium ... which, as those who read the post-Crisis,
pre-Zero Hour _Legion of Super-Heroes_ will recall, it actually did!

Last but not least, we come to "The Super-Key to Fort Superman," again
drawn by Boring and Kaye from a script by Jerry Coleman. Originally
published in _Action Comics_ #241, this was the first story to provide a
detailed look at Superman's Arctic "Fortress of Solitude." The name had
been taken from a retreat of the pulp hero Doc Savage, who possibly
inspired Superman in other ways as well. (Pulp historian Will Murray has
pointed out that, while Doc's Fortress was simply an isolated fort, the
series' creator Lester Dent -- a friend of Mort Weisinger -- had at one
point considered another Fortress that was, like Superman's, inside a
hollowed-out mountain. Post-Crisis writers would shift the Fortress to the
Antarctic, on the understandable grounds that near the North Pole the only
mountains are made of ice ... but then again, why not? Superman wouldn't
need heat most of the time, and on the few occasions non-powered friends
visited them he could heat the inside ...like that of an igloo... without
melting the outside.)

But Jerry Coleman clearly had another inspiration in mind than a
long-defunct pulp hero when he helped design, for all time, this
previously-little-seen refuge (though inspired by an earlier, unnamed, and
eventually compromised mountain retreat near Metropolis that dated back to
the days of Siegel and Shuster). The hidden headquarters inside the Earth
known only to the hero (and, later, a few trusted associates), the living
quarters, and especially the trophies of past cases ... these all recalled
the most famous heroic headquarters in all of comics, Batman's Batcave.
Coleman, a regular writer on the Superman-Batman team-ups in _World's
Finest Comics_ who'd occasionally written some solo Batman adventures,
carried his inspiration even to the point of having a giant penny in the
Fortress ... though this one was made of lead, and, to make the Batman
connection even stronger, had The Joker's face on it and was said to be a
souvenir of one of the heroes' joint adventures. (One weak point: unlike
the trophies with which the Batman writers filled the Batcave -- the
original giant penny, for instance, came from a story in _World's Finest_
#30 -- those in the Fortress were hard to identify with any specific,
previously published story. (At least they were at this point; many
trophies of future cases ... especially the bottled city of Kandor that
would be introduced only an issue later in _Action Comics_ #242...would
become icons of the Fortress for years to come.)

Coleman's actual story involves a mysterious intruder in the Fortress who
can apparently come and go at will and has, either previously or as a
result of probing the Fortress's secrets, learned that Clark Kent is
Superman. Lex Luthor? Some other powerful and resourceful villain? Superman
ponders this for days, but eventually deduces the intruder's actual
identity ... none other than Batman, in a successful attempt to give
Superman a puzzle to solve for his birthday. (Boring's depiction of Batman
searching the stores for a gift for his super-colleague needs to be seen to
be believed ... no urban legend this!) The story concludes with Batman
inviting Superman back to the Batcave for a surprise party complete with a
giant cake. Batman worries about his skill as a chef, but Superman assures
him, "Don't worry. I can eat solid steel!" A bit silly when you think of
it, but I miss the easy camaraderie that existed between DC's two greatest
heroes in those days...

An all-too-brief excerpt from the _Superman_ daily comic strip (still
running at the time, but this sequence dating back to 1953 was by the
now-departed-from-DC team of artist Win Mortimer and (probable) writer
Alvin Schwartz) filled the inside back cover. No doubt this was chosen
because the inside covers at the time had to be printed in black-and-white,
but it leaves one hungry for more. Ironically, though many Batman reprint
collections of the '60's and early '70's would feature reprints from the
three-year run of that hero's newspaper strip ...almost invariably, since
they were to be reprinted in color comics, from Sunday sequences... the
Superman collections would never reprint complete stories from that hero's
much more enduring (1939-1966) newspaper strip. Barring a few isolated
strips like these and some little- circulated reprints in fan publications
like _The Menomonee Falls Gazette_ and _The Comic Reader_, this year's
announced DC/Kitchen Sink collection will be the first widely-circulated
reprint of the _Superman_ comic strip. Well, at least the first since the
original _Superman_ #3...

Looking on the collection as a whole, the most remarkable aspect is the
wide variety of different tones, styles and plots. Indeed, only two of the
nine stories ("The Execution of Krypto" and "The Fattest Girl in
Metropolis,") contained any real villain! Then again, this collection was
meant mostly as a showcase for Superman and his supporting cast (three of
whom, as noted, had their first appearances reprinted her) ... and in that
it succeeded immensely. The fact that all these characters have been
reintroduced into the mythos (albeit sometimes, like Superboy, Krypto, and
Supergirl, in a very different form) speaks, even now, for the endurance of
this collection.

__________________________________________

THE MAILBAG
-------------------------------------
(sykes@ms.uky.edu, KryptonCN@aol.com)

KC Responses are indented and begun with ****

=========================================

From: Simon DelMonte (SDelMonte@aol.com)

I have to take exception to JD Rummel's assessment of Superman being a
lonely outsider. Everything he says about Superman's background and
responsibilities is true, but he chooses to look at Supes through very
pessimistic eyes. If his view of Supes is accurate, why do we idolize him,
do we want to be him? After all, who would want to be or look up to a
robot. That's how JD sees him.

But it's not how I see him. He is the ultimate crime-fighter, which makes
him only slightly different than a dedicated cop or soldier. Last time I
checked, cops and soldiers have wives or husbands and families. Last time I
checked, they had lives away from their jobs. And as far as I'm concerned,
being Superman is a job. Not a life every second but a job. A very
demanding one, and one that should put some strain on Clark Kent's life,
but not a replacement for a life.

Now perhaps it was true during the Silver Age that Superman was the reality
and Clark was a costume. Perhaps that Superman was what JD is talking
about. He was a bit wooden, after all, and maybe not all that real. But the
Superman I've known since my youth has always seemed quite human and quite
well-adjusted to his responsibilities. Superman might belong to the world,
but Clark doesn't. And while Clark might be a bit preoccupied with the
world, I've never seen him as being the almost obsessed watchman.

What really bothers me, though, about this essay is that JD inadvertently
dehumanizes Superman. His description is of a demigod, not a man. And I've
always seen as much "man" as "super" in my hero. That's why I've always
dreamed of donning a cape and a big red S. JD's picture is not the hero of
my youth or life. And while he may raise some valid points, I think he's
missing the essence of why many of us like Supes.

And that's my two cents. Great job on this latest issue.

=========================================

From: Joshua Elder (j-elder@nwu.edu)

I count myself among the legions of Superman fans around the globe. I think
it all began when I first saw the Superman movie. The heroic images within
that film stirred something powerful in me; I immediately petitioned my
mother to sew me a Superman cape. Once it was crafted, I took to wearing it
all the time. I would jump off furniture pretending I could fly, I would
fight invisible villains, and of course I would save invisible damsels in
distress. I soon outgrew that, but I grew into reading comic books. I
collected all sorts of titles, but Superman never seemed to be one of them.
He just didn't have that spark for me anymore. It wasn't until the Death of
Superman that I rediscovered the Man of Steel. I was blown away by what I
saw in each issue. The pure emotion that every issue conveyed simply
floored me. I had been a serious comic collector for almost six years by
that point, and I had never known that they could have such profundity. I
immediately went back and bought every issue of every Superman comic since
1983. As I did so, I began to discover the specifics for my infatuation
with the Last Son of Krypton. He was everything I always wanted myself to
be. I had always wanted to be a hero. It had always been my dream for the
world to be a better place because of my presence in it. I had come to
think of that dream as impossible, but Superman showed me otherwise. He
showed me that one man can make a difference. Maybe I can't stop planes
from crashing or bring down crime lords, but I can do something. I can make
people's days a little brighter, I can volunteer in homeless shelters, I
can tutor needy children, or just brighten someone's day with a smile. I'm
a Superman fan because he makes me a better person, and for that I will be
eternally grateful.

=========================================

From: Federico Kereki (f_kereki@cs.com.uy)

I have just read _Superman For All Seasons_, and I was astounded. The
pacing, the colors, the drawing style, and the storytelling are way above
the usual "triangle" issues! And it is not a mere 22 pages long, and thus
has enough space to tell the story without undue haste.

The pacing -- including the double page spreads and the whole pages -- goes
quite nicely with the storytelling, which also has an unusual point of
view. The pictures -- which *are* more iconic than usual -- and the
coloring also go together quite well; I was reminded of European comics,
and particularly a Danish Superman book called "The Peace Bomb" which
appeared some years ago.

If the usual weekly comics were done like this, I bet there would be no
more protests against prices and Superman would be at the top of the sales
list -- Spawn and the X-Men notwithstanding!

=========================================

From: Elliott Reinheimer (Sduck003@aol.com)

The Superboy live action series was on TV for 4 years. John Haymes Newton
and Christopher Gerard played the character Superboy/Clark Kent. Towards
the end of the first season, Superboy (played by Mr. Newton) started to
show a one day growth of beard, and you could see the buttons on the
tights. The next season he was replaced by Mr. Gerard.

Christopher Gerard played an excellent Clark Kent/Superboy. The show was
done very well, especially, when they only had 20 minutes per episode. The
Super Stunts, flying, etc, made the four Superman movies, _Supergirl_, and
_Lois and Clark_ look like beginners in learning how to fly and perform.

Some of the Superboy shows dealt with alternate worlds, a bad Superboy, a
Superbaby, a world where Superman was retired, alternate good and bad
Luthors, and Superboy's Parents from Krypton.

Why the Superboy series was cancelled was never made public. It just went
off the air. I believe 88 episodes were made. Can't find them on video tape
either. The last episode revealed that in order for Superboy to continue
being Superboy and later to become a Superman, he had to pass a test. I
believe it was called "Rites of Passage" and was a two part episode.

I was at a party one Saturday, and the living room was empty, as most of
the guests were in other parts of the home, so I turned on the TV set, and
watched the current showing of Superboy (my VCR at home was taping the
program). As the company started to trickle back into the living room, they
saw the program. Nobody that came in left until the program was over. There
were nothing but good reviews, and these were adults.

While trading tapes for missing episodes of _Lois and Clark_, I would ask
if the individual ever saw the live action Superboy series. To my surprise,
they didn't even know about it. It seems a couple of generations of people
never knew about the series.

**** Syndication of original programming was still somewhat in its infancy
in those days. In fact, _Star Trek: The Next Generation_ was probably
one of the few successful syndicated programs that wasn't a talk show,
game show, or sitcom rerun. I'm sure that had something to do with its
relative obscurity. David Haglund (jd@haglund.com) adds that the
series has been shown on Swedish TV, so it at least managed to get
exported to other countries.

Wasn't it an hour program, though, and not a half-hour? Or am I
remembering that incorrectly?

Anyway, we have another response about the Superboy series which
sheds a little light on the cancellation:

=========================================

From: Chris Gallagher (cgallag520@aol.com)

In response to Doug Randolph's question about the Superboy television
series, I may be able to offer some insight. During the July 4th weekend at
the HeroesCon comic book convention in Charlotte, NC, Gerard Christopher
was one of the guests who had a question & answer session for fans.
According to Mr. Christopher, who was also a producer of the series,
_Superboy_ was generating high ratings and was not cancelled. He explained
that the fourth season had ended with the logical conclusion of Superboy
becoming Superman and plans were being made to take the show to the next
level and explore the adventures of the Man of Steel. However, the idea of
a syndicated Superman series was dropped because Warner Bros. was preparing
for a prime time show that eventually became _Lois & Clark_. Mr.
Christopher said he auditioned for _Lois & Clark_ and received an
enthusiastic response, but was immediately turned down when the casting
director found out he had played Superboy. As for the syndicated future of
the Superboy series, Mr. Christopher said he is trying to generate interest
for the show's return to television and suggested fans write their favorite
networks if they want to see the reruns. Personally, I think the Superboy
television show was a diamond in the rough and it would have been
interesting to see how the series could have turned out.

**** I think it would make a fine addition to the Sci-Fi channel's line-up
(even though I don't currently have that channel available). It could
be shown in a block with other super-hero television, such as the
excellent but short-lived Flash series.

=========================================

From: Scott Fulkerson (Scott_Fulkerson@capgroup.com)

I too have to voice my opinion about the recent (and ongoing) changes in
the Superman titles and my decision to drop them. After reading the couple
of letters in KC #53 where two long-time readers have decided to drop all
Superman titles, I examined my own decision (that I had made some weeks
ago) to drop them myself.

The primary reason is the dollar amount vs. the amount of enjoyment I
receive from the books. Although I have not had a comic that I didn't
receive *any* enjoyment out of reading it (well... for the most part at
least), I can't say that I feel that paying almost $2 a book is worth it at
this point. And with the looming thought that another price increase is
always hanging around the nearest corner, I just don't feel it is worth
waiting around for the books to rise completely out of my price range.

The storylines have been acceptable, but dull -- especially lately. I am a
long-time reader as well, and although I have never picked up Superman
titles religiously, I still grabbed them up when I noted a good storyline
emerging. I read off and on pre-Crisis Superman, but subscribed altogether
to all the titles during the post-Crisis reboot by Byrne. That lasted about
a year before I gave up on it altogether. I didn't pay much attention again
until Doomsday arrived. I missed the first few issues of Doomsday (I got
them through back-order later -- with a price increase, of course), but I
followed the death and resurrection of Superman with great interest. I
stopped again around the Conduit stories and it was quite awhile before my
interest was piqued again. I hated the Blueperman storylines, and only
started to pick it up near the end, when it was promised that he would be
returning to 'normal'. Now that Dominus has come and gone, I would rather
read through my stock of back issues than buy another mediocre book again.

Now we are back, full circle, but I feel that this will be the last round.
Between the specials, the regular books, the 'family' titles, the
crossovers... the cost of keeping tabs on what is happening in Superman
continuity is just too much. If there was any way to get a Superman 'fix'
without paying $2 a book and still receive a quality product, I'd do it,
but as it is now I can only see it getting worse before it gets better.

Note that this cyclical love-hate relationship with Superman comics has
been going on for years, but lately it has been worse than usual. I suppose
I blame this more on the fact that the titles seem to have less
'jumping-on' (and off) points than they used to. At least in the pre-Crisis
world, if you missed a title, you didn't do a 'huh' every few pages, trying
to figure out how Superman could be 'lost in space' or 'attacked by group
A' or whatever. Nowadays, if you miss a title, and the storyline crosses
several titles a month, you have to first figure out what has happened
already (either by writer's explanation, overly melodramatic dialogue, or
guesswork) and then you get to enjoy the snippet of a story you just
bought. This is a big problem with the entire industry as far as I'm
concerned, since they write the books to span several issues or titles and
expect the continuing plotline(s) to compel the reader to buy the next
story. Reminds me too much of a soap opera gimmick.

Enough on this. So I too will haunt the racks and flip through a book now
and then. Or save my money for back issues that I may have missed from days
gone by. But the regular titles will still be there when I leave. An
unfortunate casualty of the war of economics.

=========================================

From: David Young (young_d1@popmail.firn.edu)

[Jeff Sykes] wrote: "I firmly believe that the problem with _Adventures in
the DC Universe_ was that it was simply tangential to the standard DCU --
the Batman and Superman characters were true to their animated designs, but
this was clearly the actual DCU underneath the stories...Furthermore, the
Aquaman and Green Lantern which have been seen in _Adventures in the DC
Universe_ are obviously different characters than their counterparts which
will be showing up on _Superman_ this year."

I don't buy this. I followed the _Adventures in the DC Universe_ series
from #1 to the final issue. I think it's primary problem was that the
quality of the art and stories were not up to those of _Superman
Adventures_ and _Batman: The Gotham Adventures_. On those titles, DC
secured proven talent with experience drawing in the "animated style".
While I can't slight the artist of _Adventures in the DC Universe_ for his
dedication, it was not up to that of Templeton, Burchett, or the late
Parobeck (to be fair, no one really is that good -- Parobeck was the best).
The art on the title was only a step better than Marvel's attempts at an
"animated" title. As for ideas in the cartoons not adhering to those in the
comics, this is something fans of "Star Trek" have had to deal with for
years. A tie-in comics series can set up its own storylines, but the show
has absolutely no incentive to honor them and can contradict them at any
time. This will inevitably happen. I expect it will happen again this year,
when the "Batman" cartoon covers Nightwing's origin (which the comic has
already done its own way). DC was merely imagining that its current day
continuity was the blueprint for this "animated" universe. (I also believe
that for these series to succeed they need to be more accessible to a
"general audience" than DC's mainstream stuff, meaning they need a lower
cover price. Now that all of the animated books have jumped from $1.75 to
$1.99, I kind of doubt even the best ones will be around much longer.)

**** Well, you won't find me disagreeing about them needing a price drop,
and I will agree that the art wasn't quite as good as the other two
books, but I think you may have missed my point. The _Adventures in
the DC Universe_ series was never meant to be anything other than a
series about the standard comics-based DCU drawn in the animated
style. It was not in any way meant to be a tie-in to the animated
series. Fact is, I just don't understand the point of doing that,
and I don't think many others did either.

I also disagree with Doug Randolph's slamming of _Lois & Clark_. I feel
that every version of Superman on the TV and movie screens has had its own
merits. The Fleischer cartoons were the absolute tops. The serials pushed
the envelope in what could be done in transferring comics to "real life"
(although the "Adventures of Captain Marvel" serial did it better). The
George Reeves Superman and the radio show before that made Superman a
household name. The Christopher Reeve Superman showed that a comic book
could be made into a major motion picture and made well. (The later two of
the series marred the overall series' reputation.) _Lois & Clark_ showed
that you could focus on the human elements of the Superman mythos and not
lose anything. After all, once you strip all of the extraneous elements off
a good story you have the same thing every time: interesting characters.
And _Lois & Clark_ did not shirk 60 years of continuity, it simply chose to
focus on the Post-Crisis John Byrne years as a template. It gave us the
best Lois Lane I've ever seen on the screen, and Dean Cain's Clark was the
John Byrne one -- a straight-forward rendition as opposed to the
mild-mannered one of years before. (While I have to admit that Cain's
Superman was not as good as his Clark, I also have to point out that Clark
was supposed to be his focus all along.) Complaining about the costume (in
my opinion) is nitpicking. It's close enough. I didn't even notice the
differences until it started being brought up here.

In the case of _Man of Tomorrow_, I prefer another option (besides the one
DC has chosen, cancelling the book, or releasing the book along with one of
the regular titles ala _Batman Chronicles_). Make it quarterly. Whenever
the time came for _MOT_, it could push the schedule back a week. In other
words, if _Action_ normally ships the 4th week of the month, ship _MOT_
that week and ship _Action_ the 1st week of the following month. You're
still "bumping" a title each time _MOT_ ships, but not as obviously as with
DC's plan, where a title will have an entire month's gap between issues.

**** That *is* what they're doing now -- nothing is pre-empted or skipped,
just moved back. There are 52 weeks in a year, four of which would be
given to _Man of Tomorrow_ in this "bump" fashion, and then you have
additional weeks of bumping due to specials like _Save the Planet_ and
fifth week events such as Tangent. That leaves fewer than 48 weeks in
which to fit twelve issues each of the four "monthly" titles. The
problem *isn't* really with _MOT_, but with the use of specials and
fifth-week events as *replacements*

Finally, I feel I have to respond to the messages from departing fans.
While I'm sorry to see them go, and I certainly don't begrudge them how
they spend their money, I want to use my voice to reaffirm the Superman
titles and their creative teams. I'll be among the first to admit that the
books are not as good as they used to be. There are all kinds of issues to
debate right now (the interlocking titles, the overuse of "event"
storylines, the overuse of expensive prestige books, etc). However, I still
feel that Superman is the greatest comic book character of all time
(followed by Batman and Spider-Man in my book). I have been collecting
comics since 1982 and the Superman titles have always been among them. When
I started, there were three titles (_Superman_, _Action_, and _DC Comics
Presents_; four if you include _World's Finest_), and I remember reading
Superman before Byrne remade him. I have _Action_ from #389 up (except for
2 issues) and all of the other current titles from #1 up (_Adventures_ #424
up). I don't say this to brag, just to state my credentials like the other
writers did.

After all of this, I'd like to say that when I get a new batch of comics,
the first things I read every time are the JLA/Avengers books (and Avengers
will probably drop after Perez stops drawing it) and then the Superman
books. Everything else after that depends on what's going on in the titles
and what I'm feeling like reading. While I haven't been as thrilled with
the Superman books as I have in the past, I still get a thrill out of
reading them. I liked Dominus as a villain although the story was too
convoluted. I have liked the "fall of the Daily Planet" story

so far, which 
brings the focus back on supporting characters. I've liked most of the
special books (with _Superman For All Seasons_ being the best).

I have been through highs and lows in my years collecting Superman (and
comics in general). I've always found that quality goes up and down in
comics over time. If the book is so-so now, soon it will either get better
or get worse before getting better again. Superman's character itself has
been so strong to me that I've been able to enjoy even the lows. That's a
love for the character I suppose. Please don't think that I'm accusing
those who quit that they don't love Superman. Some people react in
different ways. Some fans are more critical than non-fans and are incensed
by any perceived slight or lull in quality. I've seen this in Star Trek
too, and the boycotting of newer Trek shows since they weren't as "good" as
the original. I'm among the fans on the opposite spectrum who will enjoy a
Superman story simply because it is a Superman story. I feel I can
recognize a good one from a bad one, but somehow I still can enjoy even the
"bad" ones if it's about Superman. (Don't get me wrong -- The creators
should always be striving to tell the best stories possible and the fans
have a responsibility to let them know how they are doing.)

I determined a long time ago that the Superman titles would be the very
last comics I dropped. It would signify that I either could not afford
comics anymore or had lost all interest entirely (which is hard to see
since I've been at it 16 years now).

Well, I've said way too much. I just wanted to balance the scales some
after the August mailbag.

**** I had to clip David's other message to the Mailbag this month, one
that I had suggested he send since I'm still quite a bit behind in
updating our links page on the KC web site. There was just too much
mail this month to include it all. David has created a "Golden Age
Superman Index" (http://members.aol.com/YoungTrek/supermanindex.html)
based primarily on DC's hardcover Archives series. If you're looking
for information on the earliest of Superman's comic appearances, give
David's Index a try.

-- Jeff Sykes

__________________________________________
*************************************************************
End of Section 8/Issue #54

The Kryptonian Cybernet Issue 54 • Neperos (2024)

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Ms. Lucile Johns

Last Updated:

Views: 5962

Rating: 4 / 5 (61 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Ms. Lucile Johns

Birthday: 1999-11-16

Address: Suite 237 56046 Walsh Coves, West Enid, VT 46557

Phone: +59115435987187

Job: Education Supervisor

Hobby: Genealogy, Stone skipping, Skydiving, Nordic skating, Couponing, Coloring, Gardening

Introduction: My name is Ms. Lucile Johns, I am a successful, friendly, friendly, homely, adventurous, handsome, delightful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.