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Superman '86-'99

A thorough chronological examination of the best/worst period in Superman history, by Maxwell Yezpitelok. All covers stolen from comics.org.
Sep 29 '14
Superman #50 (December 1990)
KRISIS OF THE KRIMSON KRYPTONITE: KONCLUSION! The one with Superman’s engagement! And also the one with Superman vs. a massively overweight Lex Luthor clone with the head of a magical imp. I feel like that part doesn’t get mentioned often enough.
This epic, action-packed anniversary issue starts with Clark Kent getting unceremoniously kicked out of the LexCorp tower by security. Again.

Having lost his powers thanks to Lex Luthor’s mysterious red kryptonite, Clark must now suffer the indignity of taking public transportation to go home instead of simply leaping there. While doing that, Clark runs into a mugging in the street and a giant mutant rat in the subway, but they’re stopped by Gangbuster and the Guardian, respectively — the point being that maybe Superman isn’t that necessary after all. Now that he’s a normal, boring human who doesn’t have to save people all day, Clark finally gets around to unpacking his bags from his romantic trip to Smallville a few months ago, and finds out that Ma Kent slipped a little surprise into his luggage: an engagement ring. You know, just in case he ever wants to stop living in sin and make an honest woman out of Lois Lane.

Having nothing better to do right now, Clark figures “what the hell” and pops the big question to Lois. And Lois says… “I have to think about it.” To be fair, she does have a lot going on right now, what with her mom being in critical condition due to a secret, years-long plan by Lex Luthor to get laid with her (Lois, not her mom) (although, who knows). Anyway, Lois gets a phone call from Luthor related to the aforementioned drama, but Clark manages to hijack the conversation to schedule an interview with Lex. The subject of the interview? The fact that Lex took away Superman’s powers, thus robbing the world of its greatest hero. Lex says sure, why not.
Now, you may remember that Mr. Mxyzptlk’s one rule when he gave the red kryptonite to Luthor was that Superman couldn’t know where it came from… but Lex doesn’t know Clark is Superman, so he tells him anyway. Superman gets his powers back, and as a result Mxy reveals himself and sets a new rule: he’ll go away if Superman punches Luthor. Since Superman doesn’t wanna do that, for some reason, Mxy has no choice but to grow a giant, mordbidly obsese Lex-monster from a tiny fragment ot Lex’s skin and force Superman to fight him across Metropolis.

Superman eventually relents and punches the shit out of the Lex-monster, making Mxy disappear. With his powers back, Mxy gone and Luthor feeling like he failed in life, Superman’s job is done and he goes visit Lois’ mom at the hospital. It turns out the old lady is suddenly no longer dying, and Lois’ grumpy dad is so happy, he even admits that Clark doesn’t completely suck. And then, on the last page, this happens:

Superman is engaged to Lois Lane! Or Clark Kent is, anyway, since he’s still lying to her about his secret identity. Always a good way to start a (six-year-long) engagement.
Reference-Watch:
Back when this storyline started, Mxyzptlk told Lex he couldn’t personally mess with Superman because he was busy having fun in another dimension. Now we get a glimpse at that other place, and the shape Mxy uses when he’s there:

Those are clearly (the legs of) the Fantastic Four, albeit with The Thing temporarily covered in pink goop for copyright reasons. The coolest part is that those pages are even drawn by John Byrne and inked by Jerry Ordway, who were the creative team on Fantastic Four before they both moved to DC. So, the vacationing place Mxy was talking about was actually the Marvel Universe, where he’s known as classic FF villain The Impossible Man. The implications of this revelation are vast and fascinating, so I’ll ignore them and move on.
Plotline-Watch:
This is an oversized issue and an Ordway-written issue, which means plotlines galore:
When Luthor is trying to sweet-talk Lois on the phone, he tells her she should write his biography, but Lois is like “Didn’t your last biographer end up dead?” Well, yeah.
If you were wondering what the hell was up with that giant rat on the subway that the Guardian stopped: it was actually one of those Underworld mutants that escaped from Project Cadmus, as seen in Adventures Annual #2.
At one point Superman runs into Luthor’s grandmotherly personal physician, Dr. Gretchen Kelley, and he says Luthor is lucky to have her. Then Kelley looks all somber and thinks “Luck has nothing to do with it.” We’ll find out her sordid story in an upcoming issue.
So, uh, when exactly did Lois figure out Lex was behind her mom’s accident? A few issues ago she loved the guy for helping her mom, and now she suddenly hates his guts. Then again, there are many unanswered questions about this plot, starting with “What was Lois’ mom sick of?” and “How did she get cured?” I’m just gonna go ahead and assume Mxyzptlk’s magic was behind everything. Problem solved.
Speaking of Lois, apparently the “Ma Kent hates Lois" plot (which might have been just in my head) ended before it began, since Ma secretly gave Clark the engagement ring months ago.
The Misadventures of Jose Delgado: Jose/Gangbuster is in this issue, and no buildings fall on him. Not one building. In fact, things are looking pretty good for him since he’s officially dating Cat Grant, who must be loaded now that she has two jobs (Planet columnist and GBS reporter).
Things are looking good for Jimmy Olsen, too: Not only does his mom finally wake up from that bullshit coma she mysteriously fell in a while ago, but Jimmy manages to spend an entire issue without being an annoying turd. Good going, Jimbo!
On the other hand, Perry White is sort of falling apart: He has a strong argument with Lois on the Planet offices, and then we see that he still resents his wife for the whole “you never told me Lex Luthor was the real dad of our son who died" thing. Perry will take a drastic decision next issue and the DC Universe will never be the same.
And finally, the second most historic moment in this issue: For the past few years, there’s been a running joke in the Superman titles where every cab in Metropolis costs $6.50 — they even did a whole issue about that, sort of. Well, it was all building up to this punchline:

It truly is the end of an era.

Superman #50 (December 1990)

KRISIS OF THE KRIMSON KRYPTONITE: KONCLUSION! The one with Superman’s engagement! And also the one with Superman vs. a massively overweight Lex Luthor clone with the head of a magical imp. I feel like that part doesn’t get mentioned often enough.

This epic, action-packed anniversary issue starts with Clark Kent getting unceremoniously kicked out of the LexCorp tower by security. Again.

Having lost his powers thanks to Lex Luthor’s mysterious red kryptonite, Clark must now suffer the indignity of taking public transportation to go home instead of simply leaping there. While doing that, Clark runs into a mugging in the street and a giant mutant rat in the subway, but they’re stopped by Gangbuster and the Guardian, respectively — the point being that maybe Superman isn’t that necessary after all. Now that he’s a normal, boring human who doesn’t have to save people all day, Clark finally gets around to unpacking his bags from his romantic trip to Smallville a few months ago, and finds out that Ma Kent slipped a little surprise into his luggage: an engagement ring. You know, just in case he ever wants to stop living in sin and make an honest woman out of Lois Lane.

Having nothing better to do right now, Clark figures “what the hell” and pops the big question to Lois. And Lois says… “I have to think about it.” To be fair, she does have a lot going on right now, what with her mom being in critical condition due to a secret, years-long plan by Lex Luthor to get laid with her (Lois, not her mom) (although, who knows). Anyway, Lois gets a phone call from Luthor related to the aforementioned drama, but Clark manages to hijack the conversation to schedule an interview with Lex. The subject of the interview? The fact that Lex took away Superman’s powers, thus robbing the world of its greatest hero. Lex says sure, why not.

Now, you may remember that Mr. Mxyzptlk’s one rule when he gave the red kryptonite to Luthor was that Superman couldn’t know where it came from… but Lex doesn’t know Clark is Superman, so he tells him anyway. Superman gets his powers back, and as a result Mxy reveals himself and sets a new rule: he’ll go away if Superman punches Luthor. Since Superman doesn’t wanna do that, for some reason, Mxy has no choice but to grow a giant, mordbidly obsese Lex-monster from a tiny fragment ot Lex’s skin and force Superman to fight him across Metropolis.

Superman eventually relents and punches the shit out of the Lex-monster, making Mxy disappear. With his powers back, Mxy gone and Luthor feeling like he failed in life, Superman’s job is done and he goes visit Lois’ mom at the hospital. It turns out the old lady is suddenly no longer dying, and Lois’ grumpy dad is so happy, he even admits that Clark doesn’t completely suck. And then, on the last page, this happens:

Superman is engaged to Lois Lane! Or Clark Kent is, anyway, since he’s still lying to her about his secret identity. Always a good way to start a (six-year-long) engagement.

Reference-Watch:

Back when this storyline started, Mxyzptlk told Lex he couldn’t personally mess with Superman because he was busy having fun in another dimension. Now we get a glimpse at that other place, and the shape Mxy uses when he’s there:

Those are clearly (the legs of) the Fantastic Four, albeit with The Thing temporarily covered in pink goop for copyright reasons. The coolest part is that those pages are even drawn by John Byrne and inked by Jerry Ordway, who were the creative team on Fantastic Four before they both moved to DC. So, the vacationing place Mxy was talking about was actually the Marvel Universe, where he’s known as classic FF villain The Impossible Man. The implications of this revelation are vast and fascinating, so I’ll ignore them and move on.

Plotline-Watch:

This is an oversized issue and an Ordway-written issue, which means plotlines galore:

  • When Luthor is trying to sweet-talk Lois on the phone, he tells her she should write his biography, but Lois is like “Didn’t your last biographer end up dead?” Well, yeah.
  • If you were wondering what the hell was up with that giant rat on the subway that the Guardian stopped: it was actually one of those Underworld mutants that escaped from Project Cadmus, as seen in Adventures Annual #2.
  • At one point Superman runs into Luthor’s grandmotherly personal physician, Dr. Gretchen Kelley, and he says Luthor is lucky to have her. Then Kelley looks all somber and thinks “Luck has nothing to do with it.” We’ll find out her sordid story in an upcoming issue.
  • So, uh, when exactly did Lois figure out Lex was behind her mom’s accident? A few issues ago she loved the guy for helping her mom, and now she suddenly hates his guts. Then again, there are many unanswered questions about this plot, starting with “What was Lois’ mom sick of?” and “How did she get cured?” I’m just gonna go ahead and assume Mxyzptlk’s magic was behind everything. Problem solved.
  • Speaking of Lois, apparently the “Ma Kent hates Lois" plot (which might have been just in my head) ended before it began, since Ma secretly gave Clark the engagement ring months ago.
  • The Misadventures of Jose Delgado: Jose/Gangbuster is in this issue, and no buildings fall on him. Not one building. In fact, things are looking pretty good for him since he’s officially dating Cat Grant, who must be loaded now that she has two jobs (Planet columnist and GBS reporter).
  • Things are looking good for Jimmy Olsen, too: Not only does his mom finally wake up from that bullshit coma she mysteriously fell in a while ago, but Jimmy manages to spend an entire issue without being an annoying turd. Good going, Jimbo!
  • On the other hand, Perry White is sort of falling apart: He has a strong argument with Lois on the Planet offices, and then we see that he still resents his wife for the whole “you never told me Lex Luthor was the real dad of our son who died" thing. Perry will take a drastic decision next issue and the DC Universe will never be the same.
  • And finally, the second most historic moment in this issue: For the past few years, there’s been a running joke in the Superman titles where every cab in Metropolis costs $6.50 — they even did a whole issue about that, sort of. Well, it was all building up to this punchline:

It truly is the end of an era.

Sep 22 '14
Action Comics #659 (November 1990)
KRISIS OF THE KRIMSON KRYPTONITE, Part 3: Superman literally becomes a Man of Steel! And by literally I mean figuratively, because he just puts on an armor. It’s not like a wizard transforms him into an actual robot or something. Also, is anyone else suddenly reminded of New 52 Superman?
As seen in Starman #28, the face-shifting superhero called Starman is going around Metropolis looking like Superman because the real Superman lost his powers, and they don’t want everyone to start panicking (even though they probably should). Starman even fooled Lex Luthor into thinking Superman recovered his powers, but then Mr. Mxyzptlk’s face appears on a whirlwind of dust and tells Lex that he’s just been punked.

(Lex has a has a brain tumor and is talking to himself, isn’t he?)
Later, Starman manages to fly right into a trap that some mutinous prisoners on Stryker’s Island (led by Professor Killgrave) had prepared for Superman. The real Superman uses this opportunity to debut the brand new robot armor Professor Hamilton built for him — Robot Superman, Gangbuster and the Guardian invade the island, save Starman and stop the mutiny, but unfortunately Superman’s armor is completely destroyed in the process (along with Starman’s shirt).

That, coupled with the fact that Superman was unable to stop Professor Killgrave from escaping in a rocket (since, you know, he can’t fly and stuff), makes him feel pretty useless. IS THIS THE END OF SUPERMAN? Probably not, but let’s pretend it might be.
Plotline-Watch:
Not much to talk about here, except that while pretending to be Superman, Starman has an awkward encounter with Lois Lane, who tells him that her mom’s condition is still bad (since Superman #49). Starman just nods and pretends to know what she’s talking about.

"Odd, usually he calls me Sweet Cheeks."
Also, for some reason I like seeing the Guardian and Gangbuster, Metropolis’ two helmet-wearing non-powered heroes whose names start with a G, team up. The only time we’d seen them together before was when they fought in Superman #27, but that was actually Mentally Unbalanced Superman pretending to be Gangbuster. Hey, if Superman never gets his powers back he could form a powerless superhero team with those two and, let’s say, Maggie Sawyer! “The Regular Four” or something.
Creator-Watch:
Bob McLeod is in top shape here. I especially like all the panels of Clark Kent feeling absolutely worthless while Starman and Professor Hamilton talk about trolling Luthor:

Poor Clark. Now he’s just an average, every day reporter built like a quarterback.

Action Comics #659 (November 1990)

KRISIS OF THE KRIMSON KRYPTONITE, Part 3: Superman literally becomes a Man of Steel! And by literally I mean figuratively, because he just puts on an armor. It’s not like a wizard transforms him into an actual robot or something. Also, is anyone else suddenly reminded of New 52 Superman?

As seen in Starman #28, the face-shifting superhero called Starman is going around Metropolis looking like Superman because the real Superman lost his powers, and they don’t want everyone to start panicking (even though they probably should). Starman even fooled Lex Luthor into thinking Superman recovered his powers, but then Mr. Mxyzptlk’s face appears on a whirlwind of dust and tells Lex that he’s just been punked.

(Lex has a has a brain tumor and is talking to himself, isn’t he?)

Later, Starman manages to fly right into a trap that some mutinous prisoners on Stryker’s Island (led by Professor Killgrave) had prepared for Superman. The real Superman uses this opportunity to debut the brand new robot armor Professor Hamilton built for him — Robot Superman, Gangbuster and the Guardian invade the island, save Starman and stop the mutiny, but unfortunately Superman’s armor is completely destroyed in the process (along with Starman’s shirt).

That, coupled with the fact that Superman was unable to stop Professor Killgrave from escaping in a rocket (since, you know, he can’t fly and stuff), makes him feel pretty useless. IS THIS THE END OF SUPERMAN? Probably not, but let’s pretend it might be.

Plotline-Watch:

Not much to talk about here, except that while pretending to be Superman, Starman has an awkward encounter with Lois Lane, who tells him that her mom’s condition is still bad (since Superman #49). Starman just nods and pretends to know what she’s talking about.

"Odd, usually he calls me Sweet Cheeks."

Also, for some reason I like seeing the Guardian and Gangbuster, Metropolis’ two helmet-wearing non-powered heroes whose names start with a G, team up. The only time we’d seen them together before was when they fought in Superman #27, but that was actually Mentally Unbalanced Superman pretending to be Gangbuster. Hey, if Superman never gets his powers back he could form a powerless superhero team with those two and, let’s say, Maggie Sawyer! “The Regular Four” or something.

Creator-Watch:

Bob McLeod is in top shape here. I especially like all the panels of Clark Kent feeling absolutely worthless while Starman and Professor Hamilton talk about trolling Luthor:

Poor Clark. Now he’s just an average, every day reporter built like a quarterback.

Sep 16 '14

A Guide to Superman ‘86-‘99 Comics Collections (Part 1)

This was gonna be a short post to gush about the fact that DC just announced the “Sinbad Contract” storyline will be collected for the first time in 24 years right after I talked about it (clearly, someone at the company reads this blog) (do “Blackout” next!), but I got a little carried away. So, here’s a guide to all the Superman tradepaperback editions from this era that have come out so far:

Superman: The Man of Steel, vol. 1

Or just Superman: The Man of Steel. This one collects the full MoS miniseries by John Byrne, chronicling Superman’s origin, his first meetings with Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and Batman, and, more importantly, the explanation of how Superman shaves.

Superman: The Man of Steel, vol. 2

Superman faces deranged villains like Metallo, Darkseid and some crazy guy called Professor Hamilton. Contains the full storyline where Superman loses his memory and thinks he’s Darkseid’s son, then murders some space hobos.

Superman: The Man of Steel, vol. 3

Superman fights giant robot mummies, gets ditched in space by Hawkman and invades the terrorist nation of Qurac. Also includes the Bloodsport issue, otherwise known as “the only time Jimmy Olsen was ever useful.”

Superman: The Man of Steel, vol. 4

More assorted stories, but the main dish here is the four-part crossover with the Legion of Super-Heroes, in which Superman visits the Pocket Universe and gets into a fight with his own alternate-reality teenage self, and said teenage self’s super-smart flying dog (Superboy and Krypto).

Superman: The Man of Steel, vol. 5

The one with the Superman/Big Barda porn tape. Also Gangbuster’s debut and the Joker and other stuff. But mainly the porn tape. May be sold out in most comic book stores.

Superman: The Man of Steel, vol. 6

All three 1987 Superman Annuals: the one with Superman and Batman versus a sexy vampire, the one with the giant ape, and the one with Hfuhruhurr the brain-stealer. Also, Superman fights Booster Gold and dates a mermaid.

Superman: The Man of Steel, vol. 7

All of the Superman tie-ins with DC’s Millennium crossover event, in which supporting cast members in every superhero’s book turned out to be alien robot sleeper agents. In Superman’s case, it was the entire town of Smallville. Also, Gangbuster gets crippled for life, irreparably, forever.

Superman: World of Krypton

The only one of the “World of…” miniseries that’s been collected, but also the only one that’s worth a damn. The tale of Superman’s ancestors, and how they ruined everything. Art by Mike Mignola!

Superman: The Man of Steel, vol. 8

The last of the Man of Steel reprint volumes so far, so there are some gaps in the issues starting from here. This one includes the super-sized Action Comics #600, in which Superman makes out with Wonder Woman and gets sick. Batman is in it for like two pages.

Superman: Exile

Superman exiles himself in outer space, becomes a gladiator and grows a sweet beard. Man, that beard was great. Featuring Mongul, Draaga and the return of Helferfer the brain stealer. Also, Superman finds a thing called the Eradicator and brings it to Earth, a decision that will surely never backfire.

Superman: Eradication!

Superman’s decision to bring a thing called Eradicator to Earth backfires epically as he is brainwashed into becoming the cold, dickish Krypton Man. This one is out of print, but you can find it used pretty easily.

Superman: Dark Knight Over Metropolis

Superman and Batman learn to get along for the first time ever, as they investigate the case of the kryptonite ring. Gangbuster is in it, no longer crippled for life forever. Also includes the sexy vampire annual again, in case you wanted two copies of that. I can see why you might.

Superman: The Power Within

The just-announced collection I mentioned up there. Besides the  “Sinbad Contract” storyline, this also contains the entire Action Comics Weekly Superman serial by Roger Stern and Curt Swan, which is pretty good news for Superman completionists because until now, the only ways to read it were 1) buying 42 non-Superman comics just for the two-page inserts, or 2) shady online means.

Superman/Batman: World’s Finest

GET THIS WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR

Superman: Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite

The thing we’re covering now! Superman loses his powers to Mr. Mxyzptlk’s red kryptonite, and then… uh, don’t look too closely at the cover because there’s a pretty big spoiler there. Also out of print but easy to find.

That’s it so far. I’ll continue when we’ve accumulated enough storylines to justify it, so in like ten years.

Sep 13 '14
Starman #28 (November 1990)
What? Why is there a Starman comic in this blog? Because this is Part 2 ½ of KRISIS OF THE KRIMSON KRYPTONITE, the storyline that will change Superman forever! (Also because I’ve been super busy this week and haven’t even had time to read any Superman, but I did read this thing.)
In this issue: Superman, having lost his powers (Superman #49) and subsequently realized he sucks without powers (Adventures #472), asks Starman to come over to Metropolis and use his solar abilities to replentish Superman’s batteries. All this plan accomplishes, however, is giving Superman a nice tan (and, apparently, the douchey attitude that comes with one).

Meanwhile, word is getting around Metropolis that Superman may be sick, which means criminals are suddenly getting ballsier. Luckily, one of Starman’s vaguely defined powers is identity theft, so he disguises himself as Superman and flies around the city for a while to prevent panic from spreading. Fake Superman even fools Lex Luthor, who angrily attacks him with the red kryptonite that took away Real Superman’s powers — Superstarman just grabs the rock and flies away with Luthor’s private property, leaving poor Lex utterly baffled.


Wait, did he… make fun of Luthor’s cancer? Is that another power Starman has? Finding out if someone is terminally ill and mocking them from it? Wikipedia doesn’t mention anything like that.
Anyway, Professor Hamilton examines the red K to see if he can revert its effects… but nope, all his intruments say it’s just a regular red rock that glows. And since Superman doesn’t want to rely on Starman forever (can you imagine a Superman with a mullet?!), it’s time for the next crazy plan: ROBOT ARMORS. Continued!
Plotline-Watch:
The robot armor is something Professor Hamilton apparently just threw together in a day, based on that other armor he and Gangbuster once stole from LexCorp (Adventures #451). We’ll see it in action in the next Action.
The reason they thought Superman could get his powers back just by standing near Starman is that that technique did work the last time they met (Starman #14 and Action #645), after Superman’s powers got briefly hijacked by the Parasite. So the plan wasn’t that stupid.
SIX-FIFTY: At one point we see a pair of tourists coming out of a cab in Metropolis and spotting Starman in the sky. The cab fare is… $10.60. Tourists always get ripped off.
This comic is a must-have for any serious Superman collector, because it contains a rare appearance of one of Superman’s most obscure villains: Professor Killgrave (the midget with the Moe haircut last seen in Superman #19), who is shown planning a breakout in his cell at Stryker’s Island. I’ve read this storyline a bunch of times and I seriously forgot that guy was in it.
WTF-Watch:
Speaking of guys called Professor who are insane, I like how Professor Hamilton immediately volunteers his whole life story, including the unsavory parts, to Starman, a guy he’s never met before.

Jesus, all he said “How do you do?” — ask Professor Hamilton for the time and he’ll tell you about his erectile dysfunction problem.

Starman #28 (November 1990)

What? Why is there a Starman comic in this blog? Because this is Part 2 ½ of KRISIS OF THE KRIMSON KRYPTONITE, the storyline that will change Superman forever! (Also because I’ve been super busy this week and haven’t even had time to read any Superman, but I did read this thing.)

In this issue: Superman, having lost his powers (Superman #49) and subsequently realized he sucks without powers (Adventures #472), asks Starman to come over to Metropolis and use his solar abilities to replentish Superman’s batteries. All this plan accomplishes, however, is giving Superman a nice tan (and, apparently, the douchey attitude that comes with one).

Meanwhile, word is getting around Metropolis that Superman may be sick, which means criminals are suddenly getting ballsier. Luckily, one of Starman’s vaguely defined powers is identity theft, so he disguises himself as Superman and flies around the city for a while to prevent panic from spreading. Fake Superman even fools Lex Luthor, who angrily attacks him with the red kryptonite that took away Real Superman’s powers — Superstarman just grabs the rock and flies away with Luthor’s private property, leaving poor Lex utterly baffled.

Wait, did he… make fun of Luthor’s cancer? Is that another power Starman has? Finding out if someone is terminally ill and mocking them from it? Wikipedia doesn’t mention anything like that.

Anyway, Professor Hamilton examines the red K to see if he can revert its effects… but nope, all his intruments say it’s just a regular red rock that glows. And since Superman doesn’t want to rely on Starman forever (can you imagine a Superman with a mullet?!), it’s time for the next crazy plan: ROBOT ARMORS. Continued!

Plotline-Watch:

  • The robot armor is something Professor Hamilton apparently just threw together in a day, based on that other armor he and Gangbuster once stole from LexCorp (Adventures #451). We’ll see it in action in the next Action.
  • The reason they thought Superman could get his powers back just by standing near Starman is that that technique did work the last time they met (Starman #14 and Action #645), after Superman’s powers got briefly hijacked by the Parasite. So the plan wasn’t that stupid.
  • SIX-FIFTY: At one point we see a pair of tourists coming out of a cab in Metropolis and spotting Starman in the sky. The cab fare is… $10.60. Tourists always get ripped off.
  • This comic is a must-have for any serious Superman collector, because it contains a rare appearance of one of Superman’s most obscure villains: Professor Killgrave (the midget with the Moe haircut last seen in Superman #19), who is shown planning a breakout in his cell at Stryker’s Island. I’ve read this storyline a bunch of times and I seriously forgot that guy was in it.

WTF-Watch:

Speaking of guys called Professor who are insane, I like how Professor Hamilton immediately volunteers his whole life story, including the unsavory parts, to Starman, a guy he’s never met before.

Jesus, all he said “How do you do?” — ask Professor Hamilton for the time and he’ll tell you about his erectile dysfunction problem.

Sep 7 '14
Adventures of Superman #472 (November 1990)
More like Adventures of MAN #472 (November 1990), because Superman just lost all of his super back in part one of KRISIS OF THE KRIMSON KRYPTONITE. Undeterred, The Man of Regular-Human-Flesh tries to continue his superheroing career by replacing his powers with a rope, some gloves, a bulletproof vest and a faulty force field belt (all borrowed from Professor Hamilton). Considering that the issue starts with not-Superman hanging upside down and about to get a tractor thrown at his face, that plan isn’t going too well.

The big guy (in case he didn’t mention his name enough times) is Mammoth of the Fearsome Five — who, by the way, already defeated Superman once when he had his powers (Adventures #430), so this situation isn’t looking good. Before Mammoth can kill Superman, though, Maggie Sawyer and the Special Crimes Unit almost do that themselves by unloading their full arsenal on his general direction, thinking he can take it. Superman manages to hide from the explosions by crawling into a sewer, and then convinces Mammoth to turn himself in using the real power that was inside him all along: the power of smack talk.


Unfortunately, not all villains are as dumb as Mammoth, so going around talking criminals into submission probably isn’t gonna be a sustainable crimefighting technique (it works for Batman, but that dude is crazy). So, Superman comes up with an idea to get his powers back: getting a bath of solar radiation. Luckily, he knows a guy who practically poops solar radiation and happens to owe him a favor, so Superman calls him on the phone and…
TO BE CONTINUED! IN STARMAN #28!
Plotline-Watch:
Clark Kent visits Lois Lane’s mom at the hospital as she continues getting worse, because he’s a supportive boyfriend and all. Then he flips out on Lois when she casually mentions that Lex Luthor has been paying for her mom’s meds for years — meds that don’t work anymore, but Lois says she’ll do anything to keep her mom alive. Anything. Including bald people, presumably.
Because I know you were wondering: Clark’s cab ride to the hospital is $6.50.
The force field belt Professor Hamilton lends Superman is, of course, the same one the good professor used in Adventures #425 to try to kill Superman and also a random hooker, as I’ll never, ever get tired of reminding people. On a related note, Hamilton mentions that he heard about Mammoth’s legendary stupidity while he was in prison. You know, I’d read a miniseries about Hamilton’s time in jail and how he managed to keep himself alive/unmolested through wacky improvised inventions.
The sister that Mammoth wanted to get a birthday present for (by robbing a jewelry store) is Shimmer, also of the Fearsome Five. I think at one point DC killed her off, and then for some reason Mammoth turned super-smart.
WTF-Watch:
I think pretty much everyone is bizarrely out of character during that aforementioned hospital scene:
Let’s start with Clark. Is it me or does he come off as an insensitive jackass towards Lois, considering the whole “her mom is dying” thing? It doesn’t help that the art kinda makes it look like he’s shaking her by the shoulders.

Then there’s Lois herself, though this is more of continuity nitpick: she says she’s been “getting closer” with Luthor since he saved her mom’s life (after secretly making her sick himself), but that was three years ago, and she seemed repulsed by Lex as recently as the “Dark Knight Over Metropolis” storyline. She even says she’ll “never forget what he did to her mom” when they run into him at the Baldy Awards gala. So, when exactly did she get “close” with Lex? I would not read a miniseries about that.
Lois’ dad, who has historically been a macho asshole, notices Clark’s face is bruised and rather than commending him for getting into a fight, he calls him irresponsible. But, his wife is dying so I guess he gets a pass.
And finally, Lucy Lane’s personality isn’t really off, but she barely has a personality to start with so it doesn’t count.

Adventures of Superman #472 (November 1990)

More like Adventures of MAN #472 (November 1990), because Superman just lost all of his super back in part one of KRISIS OF THE KRIMSON KRYPTONITE. Undeterred, The Man of Regular-Human-Flesh tries to continue his superheroing career by replacing his powers with a rope, some gloves, a bulletproof vest and a faulty force field belt (all borrowed from Professor Hamilton). Considering that the issue starts with not-Superman hanging upside down and about to get a tractor thrown at his face, that plan isn’t going too well.

The big guy (in case he didn’t mention his name enough times) is Mammoth of the Fearsome Five — who, by the way, already defeated Superman once when he had his powers (Adventures #430), so this situation isn’t looking good. Before Mammoth can kill Superman, though, Maggie Sawyer and the Special Crimes Unit almost do that themselves by unloading their full arsenal on his general direction, thinking he can take it. Superman manages to hide from the explosions by crawling into a sewer, and then convinces Mammoth to turn himself in using the real power that was inside him all along: the power of smack talk.

Unfortunately, not all villains are as dumb as Mammoth, so going around talking criminals into submission probably isn’t gonna be a sustainable crimefighting technique (it works for Batman, but that dude is crazy). So, Superman comes up with an idea to get his powers back: getting a bath of solar radiation. Luckily, he knows a guy who practically poops solar radiation and happens to owe him a favor, so Superman calls him on the phone and…

TO BE CONTINUED! IN STARMAN #28!

Plotline-Watch:

  • Clark Kent visits Lois Lane’s mom at the hospital as she continues getting worse, because he’s a supportive boyfriend and all. Then he flips out on Lois when she casually mentions that Lex Luthor has been paying for her mom’s meds for years — meds that don’t work anymore, but Lois says she’ll do anything to keep her mom alive. Anything. Including bald people, presumably.
  • Because I know you were wondering: Clark’s cab ride to the hospital is $6.50.
  • The force field belt Professor Hamilton lends Superman is, of course, the same one the good professor used in Adventures #425 to try to kill Superman and also a random hooker, as I’ll never, ever get tired of reminding people. On a related note, Hamilton mentions that he heard about Mammoth’s legendary stupidity while he was in prison. You know, I’d read a miniseries about Hamilton’s time in jail and how he managed to keep himself alive/unmolested through wacky improvised inventions.
  • The sister that Mammoth wanted to get a birthday present for (by robbing a jewelry store) is Shimmer, also of the Fearsome Five. I think at one point DC killed her off, and then for some reason Mammoth turned super-smart.

WTF-Watch:

I think pretty much everyone is bizarrely out of character during that aforementioned hospital scene:

  • Let’s start with Clark. Is it me or does he come off as an insensitive jackass towards Lois, considering the whole “her mom is dying” thing? It doesn’t help that the art kinda makes it look like he’s shaking her by the shoulders.

  • Then there’s Lois herself, though this is more of continuity nitpick: she says she’s been “getting closer” with Luthor since he saved her mom’s life (after secretly making her sick himself), but that was three years ago, and she seemed repulsed by Lex as recently as the “Dark Knight Over Metropolis” storyline. She even says she’ll “never forget what he did to her mom” when they run into him at the Baldy Awards gala. So, when exactly did she get “close” with Lex? I would not read a miniseries about that.
  • Lois’ dad, who has historically been a macho asshole, notices Clark’s face is bruised and rather than commending him for getting into a fight, he calls him irresponsible. But, his wife is dying so I guess he gets a pass.
  • And finally, Lucy Lane’s personality isn’t really off, but she barely has a personality to start with so it doesn’t count.
Sep 4 '14
Superman #49 (November 1990)
It’s here: KRISIS OF THE KRIMSON KRYPTONITE! Despite the silly name, which sounds kinda offensive when you strip it down to just the initials (KOKK), this is one of the most important Superman storylines ever. For starters, the scene on the cover actually appears in the comic: Lex Luthor really does beat the crap out of Superman in a fist fight. Or, uh, a fist/lump fight.

This historic moment is possible thanks to a chunk of red kryptonite that Lex gets as a gift from Mr. Mxyzptlk, who is busy in another dimension at the moment but still doesn’t want to miss his quarterly appointment to bust Superman’s balls. According to Myxzptlk, the red K will magically turn Lex into Superman’s physical equal — the only rule (because there’s always a rule) is that Superman can never know that Mxy is involved. After Lex has analyzedthe rock to make sure that this type of kryptonite won’t make another part of his body fall off, he follows Mxyzptlk’s instructions and activates it… only to find out the kryptonite won’t give him Superman-like powers, it just gives Superman the powers of an overweight, balding businessman. So, no powers, and possibly asthma.
A fight ensues at Lex’s office and the now powerless Superman loses, partly because he doesn’t know what the hell is going on, and partly because he probably isn’t accostumed to feeling pain in his knuckles when he punches someone. Rather than killing Superman, though, Lex just has him kicked out of his office to make him suffer the indignity of being escorted out of a building by security, which is worse than death.

A crowd surrounds Superman and overwhelms him, but this time he can’t just fly away from their filthy hands. Luckily, a cabbie that Superman once saved (as told in Action $6.50) rescues him from the crowd and gives him a free ride to Clark Kent’s apartment. Does that mean the cabbie now knows that Kent is Superman? Nope, because there is no Superman anymore. THE END.
I mean, TO BE CONTINUED.
Plotline-Watch:
This whole storyline is about Superman suddenly becoming mortal, so appropriately, mortality is a big theme in this issue:
It opens with Lex Luthor stalking Perry White as he visits the grave of his (Lex’s) recently deceased son Jerry. Perry and Alice White’s marriage is going through a rocky moment right now, on account of everything I just said.
Luthor himself, of course, also learned recently that he only has months to live thanks to green kryptonite poisoning, so this is like his last big chance to defeat Superman forever.
Lois Lane tells Clark that she just found out her mom is dying. Remember Luthor secretly made Lois’ mom sick way back in Adventures #424 only to give her the cure, all part of a plan to score with Lois. I guess that now that she’s officially dating Clark, Lex finally gave up on that prospect and stopped giving her free meds.
Non-death related plots:
Lex isn’t the only amputee Superman fights in this issue: there’s also Barrage, the stock villain with an arm cannon who put “Terrible” Turpin in the hospital a while ago. Superman happens to be flying Barrage to Stryker’s Island when he loses his powers and they both end up underwater… at which point Barrage is fished out by Turpin himself. Theirs is truly a rivalry for the ages.
Lotto fever hits Metropolis! The store Barrage hits up is selling tickets for a $20 million jackpot. One of our supporting characters will win that money, and the DC Universe will never be the same again.

Pete Ross apparently traveled all the way from Smallville to Metropolis just to ask Clark if he could start courting Lana Lang… even though Pete already started doing that. Pretty dishonest, Pete. No wonder he becomes a successful politician, folks!
And finally, Mxyzptlk first offered Lex the red kryptonite back during the Superman/Flash race (as thanks for teaching him how to lie), but Luthor thought it was a joke and ignored him. To be fair, red kryptonite was a joke in the old continuity, where it turned Superman into wacky things.
BJ-Watch:
Moving on to more important matters, donsparrow got back to me about the BJ panel in the World’s Finest miniseries: turns out it’s on issue #1, page 35. I see the amorous couple now, Don! I just figured they were innocently making out in the park with their shirts off, since the guy’s pants appear to be fully up (at least in my copy).
Incidentally, this issue also has a BJ panel — as in, a “Byrne, John” one (which is almost as perverted).

Superman #49 (November 1990)

It’s here: KRISIS OF THE KRIMSON KRYPTONITE! Despite the silly name, which sounds kinda offensive when you strip it down to just the initials (KOKK), this is one of the most important Superman storylines ever. For starters, the scene on the cover actually appears in the comic: Lex Luthor really does beat the crap out of Superman in a fist fight. Or, uh, a fist/lump fight.

This historic moment is possible thanks to a chunk of red kryptonite that Lex gets as a gift from Mr. Mxyzptlk, who is busy in another dimension at the moment but still doesn’t want to miss his quarterly appointment to bust Superman’s balls. According to Myxzptlk, the red K will magically turn Lex into Superman’s physical equal — the only rule (because there’s always a rule) is that Superman can never know that Mxy is involved. After Lex has analyzedthe rock to make sure that this type of kryptonite won’t make another part of his body fall off, he follows Mxyzptlk’s instructions and activates it… only to find out the kryptonite won’t give him Superman-like powers, it just gives Superman the powers of an overweight, balding businessman. So, no powers, and possibly asthma.

A fight ensues at Lex’s office and the now powerless Superman loses, partly because he doesn’t know what the hell is going on, and partly because he probably isn’t accostumed to feeling pain in his knuckles when he punches someone. Rather than killing Superman, though, Lex just has him kicked out of his office to make him suffer the indignity of being escorted out of a building by security, which is worse than death.

A crowd surrounds Superman and overwhelms him, but this time he can’t just fly away from their filthy hands. Luckily, a cabbie that Superman once saved (as told in Action $6.50) rescues him from the crowd and gives him a free ride to Clark Kent’s apartment. Does that mean the cabbie now knows that Kent is Superman? Nope, because there is no Superman anymore. THE END.

I mean, TO BE CONTINUED.

Plotline-Watch:

This whole storyline is about Superman suddenly becoming mortal, so appropriately, mortality is a big theme in this issue:

  • It opens with Lex Luthor stalking Perry White as he visits the grave of his (Lex’s) recently deceased son Jerry. Perry and Alice White’s marriage is going through a rocky moment right now, on account of everything I just said.
  • Luthor himself, of course, also learned recently that he only has months to live thanks to green kryptonite poisoning, so this is like his last big chance to defeat Superman forever.
  • Lois Lane tells Clark that she just found out her mom is dying. Remember Luthor secretly made Lois’ mom sick way back in Adventures #424 only to give her the cure, all part of a plan to score with Lois. I guess that now that she’s officially dating Clark, Lex finally gave up on that prospect and stopped giving her free meds.

Non-death related plots:

  • Lex isn’t the only amputee Superman fights in this issue: there’s also Barrage, the stock villain with an arm cannon who put “Terrible” Turpin in the hospital a while ago. Superman happens to be flying Barrage to Stryker’s Island when he loses his powers and they both end up underwater… at which point Barrage is fished out by Turpin himself. Theirs is truly a rivalry for the ages.
  • Lotto fever hits Metropolis! The store Barrage hits up is selling tickets for a $20 million jackpot. One of our supporting characters will win that money, and the DC Universe will never be the same again.

  • Pete Ross apparently traveled all the way from Smallville to Metropolis just to ask Clark if he could start courting Lana Lang… even though Pete already started doing that. Pretty dishonest, Pete. No wonder he becomes a successful politician, folks!
  • And finally, Mxyzptlk first offered Lex the red kryptonite back during the Superman/Flash race (as thanks for teaching him how to lie), but Luthor thought it was a joke and ignored him. To be fair, red kryptonite was a joke in the old continuity, where it turned Superman into wacky things.

BJ-Watch:

Moving on to more important matters, donsparrow got back to me about the BJ panel in the World’s Finest miniseries: turns out it’s on issue #1, page 35. I see the amorous couple now, Don! I just figured they were innocently making out in the park with their shirts off, since the guy’s pants appear to be fully up (at least in my copy).

Incidentally, this issue also has a BJ panel — as in, a “Byrne, John” one (which is almost as perverted).

Aug 29 '14
Adventures of Superman Annual #2 (1990)
SUPERMAN VS. BRAINIAC… Junior. Brainiac’s son. Or Vril Dox II, as he calls himself. Vril inherited his father’s charming personality (he’s an asshole), but he’s actually a good guy, more or less: he’s the leader of L.E.G.I.O.N., an inter-planetary police force tasked with keeping the peace in the universe. And now he’s come to Earth to murder his dad.
Vril and another L.E.G.I.O.N. member, Lar Gand (from planet Daxam, kind of like distant cousins of the Kryptonians), crash into Earth in their spaceship and conveniently end up going through the ocean floor, thus coming across the secret subterranean base of Project Cadmus — a place Brainiac Sr. visited telepathically a while back. As a result, Cadmus’ resident telepath, Dubbilex, recognizes Vril’s thought patterns and thinks Brainiac is invading Cadmus again. Meanwhile, Superman comes across other L.E.G.I.O.N. members coming to Earth… including his old pal Lobo, who was so shitfaced the last time he fought Superman that he doesn’t even remember meeting him. After a fierce battle on Cadmus, Superman takes out L.E.G.I.O.N.’s two most powerful members (Lobo and Lar) by borrowing a move from Moe of the Three Stooges.


Now that the battle’s gone on for enough pages, the heroes clear up the confusion and Superman realizes Vril isn’t Brainiac. Just then, the real Brainiac (who was escaping Earth in his giant skull ship the last time we saw him) remotely takes over Dubbilex’s mind from space and makes him try to kill everyone on Cadmus, first by nearly causing a nuclear explosion and then by releasing the deformed Underworld mutants who live in the sewers around the Project. Once Superman and the L.E.G.I.O.N. have taken care of both threats, Brainiac taunts them (through Dubbilex) into coming to fight him in person at his and Vril’s home planet, Colu.
The story continues in L.E.G.I.O.N. ‘90 Annual #1, where Superman follows Vril and his pals to Colu just to make sure he doesn’t kill Brainiac, because of the sanctity of life and all that. Turns out Brainy had conquered the whole planet, but L.E.G.I.O.N. manages to overthrow him. Vril is about to publicly execute his dad when his own teammates stop him — as everyone argues, Brainiac once again sneaks away in his skull ship, and Superman doesn’t have time to stop him because Lobo decides this would be a great time for a rematch. So, a clusterfuck all around, then.
Character-Watch:
Vril is sort of like a middle point between his supervillain dad and his heroic 30th century descendant, Brainiac 5, whom Superman met a while ago. Vril first appeared during the Invasion! crossover: it’s explained that when Brainiac lived in Colu and worked for the machine overlords who ruled the planet, he cloned an adult son for himself but only so he could force him to work as his lab assistant. Then the machine overlords got bored of Brainiac and disintegrated his body (but not his mind, which traveled to Earth and took over a circus magician), and sent his “son” away to an alien prison. That’s where Vril hooked up with other prisoners from various space races and organized a break out, then stayed together as a team of unlikely space heroes who will guard the gala… hey, wait a fraggin’ minute.

Huh.
Plotline-Watch:
First appearence of the Underworlders! They are the result of Dabney Donovan’s deranged genetic experiments before he resigned from Cadmus (via faking his death). They barely spoke in this issue, but they’ll become more important later: you might even remember those ugly freaks from the first level of the Death and Return of Superman SNES game (which is the only level I saw, because I sucked at that game).
It’s mentioned in this issue that Superman had previously fought other people from planet Daxam, including Lar Gand’s dad, during the Invasion! series — the Daxamites later realized they were being jerks by helping invade the Earth, and Lar’s dad sacrificed himself to save the planet. Also, in the old continuity Lar was called Mon-El because Superboy once mistook him for his older brother. Then Lar/Mon got lead poisoning and Superboy trapped him in the Phantom Zone for a thousand years to cure him. The old continuity was silly.
There’s a short scene with Lois Lane at the Planet which seems specifically designed to let us know that this story is chronologically set before the “Dark Knight Over Metropolis” storyline: she has her old hairdo, the relationship with Clark appears less advanced, and she even mentions she’s covering Morgan Edge’s trial. The only problem is that Jimmy Olsen also shows up and seems friendly with Clark: weren’t they on non-speaking terms at that point? Dammit, Jimmy. You always have to ruin everything.
Creator-Watch:
This issue is a historical rarity, since it includes the only collaboration between the best known Superman artists of three eras: it’s written by Dan Jurgens (’90s) and one of the three chapters is drawn by Curt Swan (’50s-’60s) and inked by John Byrne (’80s). The result isn’t all that impressive to my taste, but still, historic!
WTF-Watch:
Here’s Lobo drinking alone in his room and reciting a poem he wrote for his dolphins.

You’re welcome.

Adventures of Superman Annual #2 (1990)

SUPERMAN VS. BRAINIAC… Junior. Brainiac’s son. Or Vril Dox II, as he calls himself. Vril inherited his father’s charming personality (he’s an asshole), but he’s actually a good guy, more or less: he’s the leader of L.E.G.I.O.N., an inter-planetary police force tasked with keeping the peace in the universe. And now he’s come to Earth to murder his dad.

Vril and another L.E.G.I.O.N. member, Lar Gand (from planet Daxam, kind of like distant cousins of the Kryptonians), crash into Earth in their spaceship and conveniently end up going through the ocean floor, thus coming across the secret subterranean base of Project Cadmus — a place Brainiac Sr. visited telepathically a while back. As a result, Cadmus’ resident telepath, Dubbilex, recognizes Vril’s thought patterns and thinks Brainiac is invading Cadmus again. Meanwhile, Superman comes across other L.E.G.I.O.N. members coming to Earth… including his old pal Lobo, who was so shitfaced the last time he fought Superman that he doesn’t even remember meeting him. After a fierce battle on Cadmus, Superman takes out L.E.G.I.O.N.’s two most powerful members (Lobo and Lar) by borrowing a move from Moe of the Three Stooges.

Now that the battle’s gone on for enough pages, the heroes clear up the confusion and Superman realizes Vril isn’t Brainiac. Just then, the real Brainiac (who was escaping Earth in his giant skull ship the last time we saw him) remotely takes over Dubbilex’s mind from space and makes him try to kill everyone on Cadmus, first by nearly causing a nuclear explosion and then by releasing the deformed Underworld mutants who live in the sewers around the Project. Once Superman and the L.E.G.I.O.N. have taken care of both threats, Brainiac taunts them (through Dubbilex) into coming to fight him in person at his and Vril’s home planet, Colu.

The story continues in L.E.G.I.O.N. ‘90 Annual #1, where Superman follows Vril and his pals to Colu just to make sure he doesn’t kill Brainiac, because of the sanctity of life and all that. Turns out Brainy had conquered the whole planet, but L.E.G.I.O.N. manages to overthrow him. Vril is about to publicly execute his dad when his own teammates stop him — as everyone argues, Brainiac once again sneaks away in his skull ship, and Superman doesn’t have time to stop him because Lobo decides this would be a great time for a rematch. So, a clusterfuck all around, then.

Character-Watch:

Vril is sort of like a middle point between his supervillain dad and his heroic 30th century descendant, Brainiac 5, whom Superman met a while ago. Vril first appeared during the Invasion! crossover: it’s explained that when Brainiac lived in Colu and worked for the machine overlords who ruled the planet, he cloned an adult son for himself but only so he could force him to work as his lab assistant. Then the machine overlords got bored of Brainiac and disintegrated his body (but not his mind, which traveled to Earth and took over a circus magician), and sent his “son” away to an alien prison. That’s where Vril hooked up with other prisoners from various space races and organized a break out, then stayed together as a team of unlikely space heroes who will guard the gala… hey, wait a fraggin’ minute.

Huh.

Plotline-Watch:

  • First appearence of the Underworlders! They are the result of Dabney Donovan’s deranged genetic experiments before he resigned from Cadmus (via faking his death). They barely spoke in this issue, but they’ll become more important later: you might even remember those ugly freaks from the first level of the Death and Return of Superman SNES game (which is the only level I saw, because I sucked at that game).
  • It’s mentioned in this issue that Superman had previously fought other people from planet Daxam, including Lar Gand’s dad, during the Invasion! series — the Daxamites later realized they were being jerks by helping invade the Earth, and Lar’s dad sacrificed himself to save the planet. Also, in the old continuity Lar was called Mon-El because Superboy once mistook him for his older brother. Then Lar/Mon got lead poisoning and Superboy trapped him in the Phantom Zone for a thousand years to cure him. The old continuity was silly.
  • There’s a short scene with Lois Lane at the Planet which seems specifically designed to let us know that this story is chronologically set before the “Dark Knight Over Metropolis” storyline: she has her old hairdo, the relationship with Clark appears less advanced, and she even mentions she’s covering Morgan Edge’s trial. The only problem is that Jimmy Olsen also shows up and seems friendly with Clark: weren’t they on non-speaking terms at that point? Dammit, Jimmy. You always have to ruin everything.

Creator-Watch:

This issue is a historical rarity, since it includes the only collaboration between the best known Superman artists of three eras: it’s written by Dan Jurgens (’90s) and one of the three chapters is drawn by Curt Swan (’50s-’60s) and inked by John Byrne (’80s). The result isn’t all that impressive to my taste, but still, historic!

WTF-Watch:

Here’s Lobo drinking alone in his room and reciting a poem he wrote for his dolphins.

You’re welcome.

Aug 29 '14

Metropolis Mailbag

donsparrow said, regarding the World’s Finest miniseries:

"Did you catch that dude getting a BJ in the panel with the New Years Eve explosion? Wonder how that made it past the editors!"

Ha! I did not! I just checked that page again and I still don’t see it. Are you sure they didn’t censor it for the collection? (I have the big hardcover edition.)

Please update us on this, Don.

Aug 23 '14
World’s Finest #1-3 (August-October 1990)
Or Lex Luthor v. the Joker: Dawn of JERKstice. Superman and Batman teaming up is old hat by now, but this is the first time Luthor and the Joker join forces, although they spend most of the story at each other’s throats. By the way, this is also the first time I read this story, since I just never bothered to get it before. Here’s what I’ve been missing:


I’m struggling to think of a better looking Superman story — artist Steve “The Dude” Rude even scored some character models from the Fleischer animated shorts of the ’40s to give Superman that authentic classic look. And since the comic’s writer is an artist too (it’s Dave “The Dude Who Drew Watchmen" Gibbons), the whole thing is full of amazing visual sequences, like this one comparing/contrasting Superman and Batman’s origins.
The fact that they’re both orphans is actually a big part of the story: it’s about two orphanages in Metropolis and Gotham City that are closing down because an old guy died and left them a big mansion at the halfway point between both cities. Luthor wants to buy the abandoned Gotham orphanage so he can expand his business to the city, but it turns out it was recently acquired by the Joker. So, the two make a deal: the Joker will sell Luthor the orphanage at a discount if Luthor lets him crash in on his home turf for a while.
As a result, Luthor sets up shop on Gotham and the Joker goes on vacation in Metropolis, causing each city’s biggest heroes (Ragman and Booster Gold) (kidding, it’s Supes and Bats) to follow them. And what do you know, Clark Kent also gets a long assignment in Gotham while Bruce Wayne goes on an extended business trip to Metropolis, but no one thinks that’s too weird. However, relations between Luthor and the Joker deteriorate as they try to destroy each other’s criminal empires (there’s explosions and stuff). Superman and Batman mostly get along fine now, but there’s still a little tension, which leads to what has to be one of the greatest moments in comics:

"I’ve got a Betamax."
There’s also a plot about some shady dealings going on in the combined orphanages (hence the fact that they sold one of the buildings to the freaking Joker), but that’s all wrapped up by the end of the second issue and the rest is about the villains escalating their war until the heroes finally do a proper team up to stop them. In the end, Luthor charges the Joker for all the damages he caused and tells him he never wants to see his face again (until he invites him to join his Injustice Gang in a few years, that is).
Plotline-Watch:
This is a fancy prestige-format miniseries and these things usually think they’re too good to acknowledge the continuity of the regular comics. However, while there are a few weird parts (like Perry White being Superman’s most trusted confidant, when I think they’ve talked like twice), there are also some noteworthy things:
Lex Luthor is spot on. I thought we’d be lucky if he had his robot hand, but the story actually references the fact that he was Perry’s friend while growing up in Suicide Slum (World of Metropolis #1) and that he had his parents killed for the insurance money when he was a teen (Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography). In fact, one of the orphanage owners is another former Suicide Slum kid who knew Perry and Lex. Also, I could be wrong, but I think the (cool as hell) sequence below is the first time Luthor utters what will become his catchphrase: “Bah.”


The Lois Lane/Clark Kent romance isn’t acknowledged in any way, and Bruce Wayne even flirts with Lois… but he also did that the last time he saw her, when she’d already started getting serious with Clark, so that’s completely in character. The Kryptonite ring Superman recently gave Batman isn’t mentioned either, but their relationship in general is pretty consistent when what we’ve seen.
Jimmy Olsen’s piece of shit car makes a stellar appearance: Jimmy actually drives Batman around in the third issue since he left his Batmobile home. Also, Bats gets angry at Jimbo for stupidly warning a criminal of their presence with his camera’s flash — I’d love to show you those delicious panels of Jimmy getting manhandled by Batman, but I’ve probably filled this entry with enough images aleady.
And finally, there’s a Superman-loving black orphan kid from Suicide Slum named Zack who reminds me of Keith, the other Superman-loving black orphan kid from Suicide Slum that will be introduced next year or so, but maybe that’s just me being racist.

World’s Finest #1-3 (August-October 1990)

Or Lex Luthor v. the Joker: Dawn of JERKstice. Superman and Batman teaming up is old hat by now, but this is the first time Luthor and the Joker join forces, although they spend most of the story at each other’s throats. By the way, this is also the first time I read this story, since I just never bothered to get it before. Here’s what I’ve been missing:

I’m struggling to think of a better looking Superman story — artist Steve “The Dude” Rude even scored some character models from the Fleischer animated shorts of the ’40s to give Superman that authentic classic look. And since the comic’s writer is an artist too (it’s Dave “The Dude Who Drew Watchmen" Gibbons), the whole thing is full of amazing visual sequences, like this one comparing/contrasting Superman and Batman’s origins.

The fact that they’re both orphans is actually a big part of the story: it’s about two orphanages in Metropolis and Gotham City that are closing down because an old guy died and left them a big mansion at the halfway point between both cities. Luthor wants to buy the abandoned Gotham orphanage so he can expand his business to the city, but it turns out it was recently acquired by the Joker. So, the two make a deal: the Joker will sell Luthor the orphanage at a discount if Luthor lets him crash in on his home turf for a while.

As a result, Luthor sets up shop on Gotham and the Joker goes on vacation in Metropolis, causing each city’s biggest heroes (Ragman and Booster Gold) (kidding, it’s Supes and Bats) to follow them. And what do you know, Clark Kent also gets a long assignment in Gotham while Bruce Wayne goes on an extended business trip to Metropolis, but no one thinks that’s too weird. However, relations between Luthor and the Joker deteriorate as they try to destroy each other’s criminal empires (there’s explosions and stuff). Superman and Batman mostly get along fine now, but there’s still a little tension, which leads to what has to be one of the greatest moments in comics:

"I’ve got a Betamax."

There’s also a plot about some shady dealings going on in the combined orphanages (hence the fact that they sold one of the buildings to the freaking Joker), but that’s all wrapped up by the end of the second issue and the rest is about the villains escalating their war until the heroes finally do a proper team up to stop them. In the end, Luthor charges the Joker for all the damages he caused and tells him he never wants to see his face again (until he invites him to join his Injustice Gang in a few years, that is).

Plotline-Watch:

This is a fancy prestige-format miniseries and these things usually think they’re too good to acknowledge the continuity of the regular comics. However, while there are a few weird parts (like Perry White being Superman’s most trusted confidant, when I think they’ve talked like twice), there are also some noteworthy things:

  • Lex Luthor is spot on. I thought we’d be lucky if he had his robot hand, but the story actually references the fact that he was Perry’s friend while growing up in Suicide Slum (World of Metropolis #1) and that he had his parents killed for the insurance money when he was a teen (Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography). In fact, one of the orphanage owners is another former Suicide Slum kid who knew Perry and Lex. Also, I could be wrong, but I think the (cool as hell) sequence below is the first time Luthor utters what will become his catchphrase: “Bah.”

  • The Lois Lane/Clark Kent romance isn’t acknowledged in any way, and Bruce Wayne even flirts with Lois… but he also did that the last time he saw her, when she’d already started getting serious with Clark, so that’s completely in character. The Kryptonite ring Superman recently gave Batman isn’t mentioned either, but their relationship in general is pretty consistent when what we’ve seen.
  • Jimmy Olsen’s piece of shit car makes a stellar appearance: Jimmy actually drives Batman around in the third issue since he left his Batmobile home. Also, Bats gets angry at Jimbo for stupidly warning a criminal of their presence with his camera’s flash — I’d love to show you those delicious panels of Jimmy getting manhandled by Batman, but I’ve probably filled this entry with enough images aleady.
  • And finally, there’s a Superman-loving black orphan kid from Suicide Slum named Zack who reminds me of Keith, the other Superman-loving black orphan kid from Suicide Slum that will be introduced next year or so, but maybe that’s just me being racist.
Aug 22 '14
Action Comics #658 (October 1990)
The Sinbad Contract, Conclusion: Sinbad saves Metropolis! And Superman helps a little, too.
Sinbad, as seen in Part 1 and Part 2 of this story, is a Muslim teenager named Davood Nassur who finds a metahuman-enhancing belt that makes him so powerful, he makes Superman look like a chump. A group of mysterious flying robot guys are after the belt, and in this issue we finally find out what’s up with them: they are an arms-dealing group called D.M.T. who stumbled upon some alien technology after last year’s alien invasion and used it to create crazy weapons, like the robots and the belt. Lex Luthor tried to steal the belt so he could use it against Superman, and that’s how it accidentally ended up on Davood’s hands. Waist. Whatever.
Now Lex and the D.M.T. guys have made a deal: he’ll help them recover the belt if they kill Superman with their giant UFO. It looks like that won’t be necessary, though, because (per last issue’s cliffhanger) Clark/Supes is about to be murdered by some pissed off Quraci immigrants, for no reason.

However, not all Quracis hate white people and Clark is “saved” by a random guy, who happens to be Davood’s uncle. In return, Clark later helps Davood’s family fight off some fake cops hired by Luthor to arrest them for terrorism, the evidence being that they’re brown. Luthor also paid some dudes in turbans to blow stuff up all over Metropolis so everyone will think Davood is evil — Davood actually stops the terror attacks, but he still gets shot at and tear gassed by cops (it’s unclear if these are fake cops too, or just assholes). Once again, Superman saves Davood’s sister from a certain death, and once again, Davood repays him like this:

Now that Superman is on the scene, though, Luthor forgets about Davood and brings out the UFO, which is rigged to explode over Metropolis. Superman takes it as far as he can, but ultimately it’s Davood who contains the blast of the explosion by pushing his powers to the limit… thus frying the belt and losing all his abilities.
The story ends with Luthor pinning all his crimes on his secretary, and commending Davood’s courage on TV. Meanwhile, we see that Davood is back to being a regular teen, albeit one who can levitate stuff with the power of his mind — the implication being that one day he’ll grow up to be a proper superhero!
Character-Watch:
Or not, because sadly, we only saw Davood/Sinbad one more time, in 1993. In 2011, Superman writer Chris Roberson actually planned to bring him back as an adult, but DC pulled the completed issue at the last moment and replaced it with Krypto story, presumably because flying dogs are less controversial than Muslim people.
That’s too bad: I thought the kid had a lot of potential, particularly because he came with a built-in supporting cast. It’s kind of refreshing that he told his whole family (and there’s like 20 of them) about his powers right away instead of doing the secret identity thing. Another missed opportunity: at the end of the issue Clark mentions that Davood’s sister Soraya is interviewing to become a secretary at the Daily Planet (she quit her LexCorp job after the CEO tried to murder her), which would have added some diversity to the Planet staff. She either didn’t get the job, or she met Keith the Office Racist and quit right away.
Plotline-Watch:
One of the TV reporters covering the standoff because Sinbad and the cops is Cat Grant, working for WGBS, even though she quit months ago after the CEO tried to murder her (a disturbingly common problem in Metropolis). I think this was probably a continuity screw-up, but the other writers will actually run with it.
And speaking of Keith the Office Racist, he appears again but Clark finally gets him to shut his fat mouth with this zinger, which is actually a testament to how much Superman’s relationship with Batman has improved recently:

"The message is from the Wayne Foundation. It just says OH SNAP."

Action Comics #658 (October 1990)

The Sinbad Contract, Conclusion: Sinbad saves Metropolis! And Superman helps a little, too.

Sinbad, as seen in Part 1 and Part 2 of this story, is a Muslim teenager named Davood Nassur who finds a metahuman-enhancing belt that makes him so powerful, he makes Superman look like a chump. A group of mysterious flying robot guys are after the belt, and in this issue we finally find out what’s up with them: they are an arms-dealing group called D.M.T. who stumbled upon some alien technology after last year’s alien invasion and used it to create crazy weapons, like the robots and the belt. Lex Luthor tried to steal the belt so he could use it against Superman, and that’s how it accidentally ended up on Davood’s hands. Waist. Whatever.

Now Lex and the D.M.T. guys have made a deal: he’ll help them recover the belt if they kill Superman with their giant UFO. It looks like that won’t be necessary, though, because (per last issue’s cliffhanger) Clark/Supes is about to be murdered by some pissed off Quraci immigrants, for no reason.

However, not all Quracis hate white people and Clark is “saved” by a random guy, who happens to be Davood’s uncle. In return, Clark later helps Davood’s family fight off some fake cops hired by Luthor to arrest them for terrorism, the evidence being that they’re brown. Luthor also paid some dudes in turbans to blow stuff up all over Metropolis so everyone will think Davood is evil — Davood actually stops the terror attacks, but he still gets shot at and tear gassed by cops (it’s unclear if these are fake cops too, or just assholes). Once again, Superman saves Davood’s sister from a certain death, and once again, Davood repays him like this:

Now that Superman is on the scene, though, Luthor forgets about Davood and brings out the UFO, which is rigged to explode over Metropolis. Superman takes it as far as he can, but ultimately it’s Davood who contains the blast of the explosion by pushing his powers to the limit… thus frying the belt and losing all his abilities.

The story ends with Luthor pinning all his crimes on his secretary, and commending Davood’s courage on TV. Meanwhile, we see that Davood is back to being a regular teen, albeit one who can levitate stuff with the power of his mind — the implication being that one day he’ll grow up to be a proper superhero!

Character-Watch:

Or not, because sadly, we only saw Davood/Sinbad one more time, in 1993. In 2011, Superman writer Chris Roberson actually planned to bring him back as an adult, but DC pulled the completed issue at the last moment and replaced it with Krypto story, presumably because flying dogs are less controversial than Muslim people.

That’s too bad: I thought the kid had a lot of potential, particularly because he came with a built-in supporting cast. It’s kind of refreshing that he told his whole family (and there’s like 20 of them) about his powers right away instead of doing the secret identity thing. Another missed opportunity: at the end of the issue Clark mentions that Davood’s sister Soraya is interviewing to become a secretary at the Daily Planet (she quit her LexCorp job after the CEO tried to murder her), which would have added some diversity to the Planet staff. She either didn’t get the job, or she met Keith the Office Racist and quit right away.

Plotline-Watch:

  • One of the TV reporters covering the standoff because Sinbad and the cops is Cat Grant, working for WGBS, even though she quit months ago after the CEO tried to murder her (a disturbingly common problem in Metropolis). I think this was probably a continuity screw-up, but the other writers will actually run with it.
  • And speaking of Keith the Office Racist, he appears again but Clark finally gets him to shut his fat mouth with this zinger, which is actually a testament to how much Superman’s relationship with Batman has improved recently:

"The message is from the Wayne Foundation. It just says OH SNAP."