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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.
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."

Aug 17 '14
Adventures of Superman #471 (October 1990)
The Sinbad Contract, Part 2: Davood Nassur, the superpowered 14-year-old from Qurac, continues to shame Superman in every possible way. This time, he outsmarts and roughs up Lex Luthor, something Superman has failed to do in his entire career so far.
Back in Part 1, young Davood came across a mysterious belt owned by Luthor that amplified his latent metahuman powers: he can now fly, shoot psychic blasts and see through walls. Davood’s sister Soraya, a secretary at LexCorp, calls Luthor saying she convinced her brother to return the belt. Naturally, as soon as Soraya politely hands over the thing, Luthor turns around and orders her killed — at this point Davood crashes through the wall and gives Luthor a psychic beatdown. Turns out Soraya gave Lex a fake belt just to see if he’s really evil. (Spoilers: he is.)

Meanwhile, Superman once again runs into those armored flying dudes who are also looking for Davood’s belt. They invade a hospital just to rescue one of their members who ended up there last issue, only to try to kill him so there won’t be any loose ends. Superman isn’t fast enough to save the guy, but Davood is (Davood: 3, Supes: -5), and then reads his mind to find out who he works for: it’s some organization called “D.M.T.” Oh, right, Davood can read minds now. Also, he teleports back home, because why not.
Superman then goes to Metropolis’ Little Qurac sector to see if he can talk to Davood, but the citizens attack him with bottles and boo him off, because they’re still pissed at Superman for invading their home country a while back (apparently they don’t remember the huge killer tanks Qurac’s president sent to Metropolis before that).

Superman puts on his pants and comes back as Clark Kent, but it turns out Quraci residents just hate white people in general and Clark finds himself surrounded by a crowd of angry people.
The issue ends with Luthor joining forces with the leader of the mysterious D.M.T. guys, who offers to sell Lex a UFO. Seriously. TO BE CONCLUDED!
Plotline-Watch:
There’s a scene with Lex shooing his sexy secretary away from his bedroom because he’s getting weaker and weaker due to his terminal disease. His illness was first hinted back in Action #656 when Lex yelled at Dr. Kelley for giving him some bad news, but it still isn’t explained what exactly is wrong with him (though it’s not that hard to guess). Hint: it’s not alopecia.
Also, I wonder if Davood saying “Assuming you have a future” means he read Lex’s mind and found out about his illness there. In that case, that’s probably the only thing that saved Lex from an even more humiliating psychic wedgie.
WTF-Watch:
So how does Davood get the codename “Sinbad”? Well, Lex Luthor pulled it out of his ass. After Davood beats him, Lex retaliates by calling the cops and telling them Davood’s entire family are terrorists — they ask for Davood’s name and “Sinbad” is the first thing Lex comes up with. You know, because the kid is Middle-Eastern and stuff.

Good thing he didn’t go with “Aladdin” or “Osama” or something.

Adventures of Superman #471 (October 1990)

The Sinbad Contract, Part 2: Davood Nassur, the superpowered 14-year-old from Qurac, continues to shame Superman in every possible way. This time, he outsmarts and roughs up Lex Luthor, something Superman has failed to do in his entire career so far.

Back in Part 1, young Davood came across a mysterious belt owned by Luthor that amplified his latent metahuman powers: he can now fly, shoot psychic blasts and see through walls. Davood’s sister Soraya, a secretary at LexCorp, calls Luthor saying she convinced her brother to return the belt. Naturally, as soon as Soraya politely hands over the thing, Luthor turns around and orders her killed — at this point Davood crashes through the wall and gives Luthor a psychic beatdown. Turns out Soraya gave Lex a fake belt just to see if he’s really evil. (Spoilers: he is.)

Meanwhile, Superman once again runs into those armored flying dudes who are also looking for Davood’s belt. They invade a hospital just to rescue one of their members who ended up there last issue, only to try to kill him so there won’t be any loose ends. Superman isn’t fast enough to save the guy, but Davood is (Davood: 3, Supes: -5), and then reads his mind to find out who he works for: it’s some organization called “D.M.T.” Oh, right, Davood can read minds now. Also, he teleports back home, because why not.

Superman then goes to Metropolis’ Little Qurac sector to see if he can talk to Davood, but the citizens attack him with bottles and boo him off, because they’re still pissed at Superman for invading their home country a while back (apparently they don’t remember the huge killer tanks Qurac’s president sent to Metropolis before that).

Superman puts on his pants and comes back as Clark Kent, but it turns out Quraci residents just hate white people in general and Clark finds himself surrounded by a crowd of angry people.

The issue ends with Luthor joining forces with the leader of the mysterious D.M.T. guys, who offers to sell Lex a UFO. Seriously. TO BE CONCLUDED!

Plotline-Watch:

There’s a scene with Lex shooing his sexy secretary away from his bedroom because he’s getting weaker and weaker due to his terminal disease. His illness was first hinted back in Action #656 when Lex yelled at Dr. Kelley for giving him some bad news, but it still isn’t explained what exactly is wrong with him (though it’s not that hard to guess). Hint: it’s not alopecia.

Also, I wonder if Davood saying “Assuming you have a future” means he read Lex’s mind and found out about his illness there. In that case, that’s probably the only thing that saved Lex from an even more humiliating psychic wedgie.

WTF-Watch:

So how does Davood get the codename “Sinbad”? Well, Lex Luthor pulled it out of his ass. After Davood beats him, Lex retaliates by calling the cops and telling them Davood’s entire family are terrorists — they ask for Davood’s name and “Sinbad” is the first thing Lex comes up with. You know, because the kid is Middle-Eastern and stuff.

Good thing he didn’t go with “Aladdin” or “Osama” or something.

Aug 14 '14
Superman #48 (October 1990)
The Sinbad Contract, Part 1: Superman gets beaten up by a 14-year-old! Not even some tough gangbanger 14-year-old. This one:

That’s Davood Nassur, who was a regular kid living in Metropolis’ Little Qurac sector until that alien invasion last year, when the invaders dropped a “meta-bomb” that gave superpowers to random people. In Davood’s case, right now he can levitate a little and deflect 50% of baseballs thrown at his face, but he’s still young so his powers are still developing. One night, Davood is visiting his sister Soraya who works as a secretary at LexCorp (and is a big fan of Lex himself), when they’re accosted by a bleeding guy who hands them a package meant for Luthor and immediately dies. Davood and Soraya are still trying to process that when a bunch of ’50s B-movie-looking flying robot guys start shooting at them with super-weapons.

As they’re running away from the robots, Davood decides to open Luthor’s mystery package and finds a weird-looking belt inside, which of course he takes the time to try on, because it’s not like they have an army of death machines at their heels or anything. This turns out to be a good decision, though, because the belt amplifies Davood’s powers and allows him to fight off the robots (who are just guys in armors) and fly away with Soraya.
Where the hell is Superman during all this? He’s in this paragraph, duh. Superman had fought the same robot guys the previous night until they escaped in a big ball of light. When he sees the robots are at it again, Superman tries to save Soraya from them, only for Davood to do this:

He knocks Superman out without even touching him. Holy crap, why didn’t they let this kid fight Doomsday instead of Superman?
Anyway, CONTINUED!
Plotline-Watch:
This three-part story guest-written by the great William Messner-Loebs is part of the special “Curt Swan month” in the Superman titles, which also included that month’s issue of the Superboy series (but I’m not covering that here, since it’s based on the late ’80s TV show and thus not in continuity). This was also a way to give the regular Super-Teams a break before jumping into the next big storyline. In my memory this issue didn’t have many links to the regular comics, since it’s by a different creative team and all, but there’s actually a lot of relevant stuff:
This is the issue that reveals that Lex Luthor is terminally ill and has a year to live. Before he goes, however, he wants the satisfaction of killing Superman at least once, but we’ve yet to find out his plan.

Davood attacks Superman like that because he still remembers that time Supes singlehandedly destroyed his home country’s entire army (Adventures #427). Of course, said home country is Qurac, a terrorist nation, but Davood doesn’t know that.
We previously found out Metropolis has a Little Qurac sector back in the Action Comics Weekly serial, which was also drawn by Curt Swan.
Clark Kent has a nice elevator chat with another Daily Planet reporter called Keith, who also appeared recently in Action #656 (he’s the one who first found out about Jimmy and Jerry getting shot and called Perry White). Keith looked like a nice dude in that other issue — too bad he’s actually racist:

And finally, DC made a big deal out the meta-bomb that awakened superpowers in normal people back at the end of the Invasion! crossover, but unless I’m mistaken, Davood and one other dude were pretty much the only ones we ever found out about. I guess all those other metahumans just kept living normal lives and only used their powers to prank people at the office. Hey, maybe Keith is one but his power is racism.

Superman #48 (October 1990)

The Sinbad Contract, Part 1: Superman gets beaten up by a 14-year-old! Not even some tough gangbanger 14-year-old. This one:

That’s Davood Nassur, who was a regular kid living in Metropolis’ Little Qurac sector until that alien invasion last year, when the invaders dropped a “meta-bomb” that gave superpowers to random people. In Davood’s case, right now he can levitate a little and deflect 50% of baseballs thrown at his face, but he’s still young so his powers are still developing. One night, Davood is visiting his sister Soraya who works as a secretary at LexCorp (and is a big fan of Lex himself), when they’re accosted by a bleeding guy who hands them a package meant for Luthor and immediately dies. Davood and Soraya are still trying to process that when a bunch of ’50s B-movie-looking flying robot guys start shooting at them with super-weapons.

As they’re running away from the robots, Davood decides to open Luthor’s mystery package and finds a weird-looking belt inside, which of course he takes the time to try on, because it’s not like they have an army of death machines at their heels or anything. This turns out to be a good decision, though, because the belt amplifies Davood’s powers and allows him to fight off the robots (who are just guys in armors) and fly away with Soraya.

Where the hell is Superman during all this? He’s in this paragraph, duh. Superman had fought the same robot guys the previous night until they escaped in a big ball of light. When he sees the robots are at it again, Superman tries to save Soraya from them, only for Davood to do this:

He knocks Superman out without even touching him. Holy crap, why didn’t they let this kid fight Doomsday instead of Superman?

Anyway, CONTINUED!

Plotline-Watch:

This three-part story guest-written by the great William Messner-Loebs is part of the special “Curt Swan month” in the Superman titles, which also included that month’s issue of the Superboy series (but I’m not covering that here, since it’s based on the late ’80s TV show and thus not in continuity). This was also a way to give the regular Super-Teams a break before jumping into the next big storyline. In my memory this issue didn’t have many links to the regular comics, since it’s by a different creative team and all, but there’s actually a lot of relevant stuff:

  • This is the issue that reveals that Lex Luthor is terminally ill and has a year to live. Before he goes, however, he wants the satisfaction of killing Superman at least once, but we’ve yet to find out his plan.

  • Davood attacks Superman like that because he still remembers that time Supes singlehandedly destroyed his home country’s entire army (Adventures #427). Of course, said home country is Qurac, a terrorist nation, but Davood doesn’t know that.
  • We previously found out Metropolis has a Little Qurac sector back in the Action Comics Weekly serial, which was also drawn by Curt Swan.
  • Clark Kent has a nice elevator chat with another Daily Planet reporter called Keith, who also appeared recently in Action #656 (he’s the one who first found out about Jimmy and Jerry getting shot and called Perry White). Keith looked like a nice dude in that other issue — too bad he’s actually racist:

  • And finally, DC made a big deal out the meta-bomb that awakened superpowers in normal people back at the end of the Invasion! crossover, but unless I’m mistaken, Davood and one other dude were pretty much the only ones we ever found out about. I guess all those other metahumans just kept living normal lives and only used their powers to prank people at the office. Hey, maybe Keith is one but his power is racism.
Aug 10 '14

gpack3 asked:

I've been working my way through this era and right now, I'm deep in the Mullet Period with no end in sight. When does Superman lose the mullet? And when does Clark get rid of that ridiculous ponytail? I'm not sure how much more I can take.

As I recall, he loses it at the end of 1996, right in time for the wedding. I have an awful confession to make: I loved the mullet as a kid. I thought it made him look more badass, and it was also an easy way to tell the more recent comics apart from the older ones, so whenever I saw the mullet in a cover I got excited. I’m curious to see if it’ll bug me this time around.

Anyway, thanks for writing in! You have won a trading card of The Mullet:

Aug 9 '14
Action Comics #657 (September 1990)
Superman vs. Toyman vs. Intergang! And vs. John Byrne too, because this issue contains a very small inconsistency with an earlier Byrne comic that always bugged me. You see, three years ago at the end of Toyman’s first appearance in Superman #13, we saw him getting kidnapped by someone wearing what appears to be a glowing green ring on his right hand. Here are the specific panels from that issue:

(Uh, the green is clearer in my TPB copy.)
Note that this was back when Lex Luthor still had a right hand, and wore his kryptonite ring on it. Well, in this issue we find out that the guy who kidnapped Toyman was Metropolis businessman/criminal mastermind…

…freakin’ Morgan Edge! Holding a cigarette! Is that a marijuana cigarette? Marijuana has green smoke, right? I told you it was a small thing but it still bothered me irrationally as a kid.
Anyway, we learn that Edge recruited Toyman to work for Intergang since he was the only one who could make sense of the weapons they were getting from Apokolips. However, since Edge went to jail (Action #654), Intergang’s new bossman “Ugly” Mannheim has been having trouble keeping Toyman in check — lately, he’s been squandering Intergang resources by creating animatronic toys to kidnap the children of Lexcorp executives, since he still hates Luthor for firing him from his toy company.
As Luthor laments that this whole “everyone’s kids are getting kidnapped” thing could affect his employees’ productivity, he arranges for the remaining children to go on a fun camping trip with some armed guards to keep them safe. However, all the kids’ sleeping bags morph into animatronic bears at night, courtesy of Toyman’s technology, and they take the children into the forest as they sleep (I’m never getting inside one of those things again). Superman arrives right in time to watch the bears march into a Boom Tube.

Superman figures out that Toyman is keeping the kids in an Intergang hideout set in an abandoned amusement park, goes there, and starts punching stuff. Meanwhile, Intergang’s goons try to take Toyman to a safer place but he wants to stay with the children, so he actually helps Superman defeat the goons by activating the convenient “melt all weapons” feature. Toyman explains that he only took the children because he wanted them to be happy and their parents ignored them… but as soon as they see their parents with the police, all the kids instantly abandon “Uncle Toyman” and run towards them. Awww.

Character-Watch:
That last panel is kinda creepy in light of Toyman’s future transformation into a child killer. All through the story I kept thinking how out of character that thing was/will be because Toyman really seems to care about the kids in this issue, but it makes a little more sense considering he’s doing all of this because he was so lonely. Clearly, spending all those months alone working on Intergang weapons did a number on his head.
Plotline-Watch:
This, somehow, is the first time Superman notices that Intergang is using technology from Apokolips, since he recognizes the Boom Tube (up till now he just figured they must have great scientists).
Speaking of which, the abandoned amusement park, Happyland, has a history with Apokolips: Darkseid’s lackey Desaad used that place to secretly torture people in Jack Kirby’s old Fourth World comics until it exploded. Despite the fact that the hideout is exposed for the second time in this issue, Intergang will actually rebuild the Happyland franchise and use it for crime once again.
I like the understated way Roger Stern deals with the death of Luthor’s biological son, Jerry White (a week earlier in Adventures #470). The one panel below is the only way the issue acknowledges what happened — we already saw Luthor dropping a single tear for Jerry last week, so anything more than this would have been tacky.

WTF-Watch:
Hmm, why does this bear look so familiar?

Hey, wait a minute…

ARGH, IT’S SLEEZ! RUN, GIRL! RUN!

Action Comics #657 (September 1990)

Superman vs. Toyman vs. Intergang! And vs. John Byrne too, because this issue contains a very small inconsistency with an earlier Byrne comic that always bugged me. You see, three years ago at the end of Toyman’s first appearance in Superman #13, we saw him getting kidnapped by someone wearing what appears to be a glowing green ring on his right hand. Here are the specific panels from that issue:

(Uh, the green is clearer in my TPB copy.)

Note that this was back when Lex Luthor still had a right hand, and wore his kryptonite ring on it. Well, in this issue we find out that the guy who kidnapped Toyman was Metropolis businessman/criminal mastermind…

…freakin’ Morgan Edge! Holding a cigarette! Is that a marijuana cigarette? Marijuana has green smoke, right? I told you it was a small thing but it still bothered me irrationally as a kid.

Anyway, we learn that Edge recruited Toyman to work for Intergang since he was the only one who could make sense of the weapons they were getting from Apokolips. However, since Edge went to jail (Action #654), Intergang’s new bossman “Ugly” Mannheim has been having trouble keeping Toyman in check — lately, he’s been squandering Intergang resources by creating animatronic toys to kidnap the children of Lexcorp executives, since he still hates Luthor for firing him from his toy company.

As Luthor laments that this whole “everyone’s kids are getting kidnapped” thing could affect his employees’ productivity, he arranges for the remaining children to go on a fun camping trip with some armed guards to keep them safe. However, all the kids’ sleeping bags morph into animatronic bears at night, courtesy of Toyman’s technology, and they take the children into the forest as they sleep (I’m never getting inside one of those things again). Superman arrives right in time to watch the bears march into a Boom Tube.

Superman figures out that Toyman is keeping the kids in an Intergang hideout set in an abandoned amusement park, goes there, and starts punching stuff. Meanwhile, Intergang’s goons try to take Toyman to a safer place but he wants to stay with the children, so he actually helps Superman defeat the goons by activating the convenient “melt all weapons” feature. Toyman explains that he only took the children because he wanted them to be happy and their parents ignored them… but as soon as they see their parents with the police, all the kids instantly abandon “Uncle Toyman” and run towards them. Awww.

Character-Watch:

That last panel is kinda creepy in light of Toyman’s future transformation into a child killer. All through the story I kept thinking how out of character that thing was/will be because Toyman really seems to care about the kids in this issue, but it makes a little more sense considering he’s doing all of this because he was so lonely. Clearly, spending all those months alone working on Intergang weapons did a number on his head.

Plotline-Watch:

  • This, somehow, is the first time Superman notices that Intergang is using technology from Apokolips, since he recognizes the Boom Tube (up till now he just figured they must have great scientists).
  • Speaking of which, the abandoned amusement park, Happyland, has a history with Apokolips: Darkseid’s lackey Desaad used that place to secretly torture people in Jack Kirby’s old Fourth World comics until it exploded. Despite the fact that the hideout is exposed for the second time in this issue, Intergang will actually rebuild the Happyland franchise and use it for crime once again.
  • I like the understated way Roger Stern deals with the death of Luthor’s biological son, Jerry White (a week earlier in Adventures #470). The one panel below is the only way the issue acknowledges what happened — we already saw Luthor dropping a single tear for Jerry last week, so anything more than this would have been tacky.

WTF-Watch:

Hmm, why does this bear look so familiar?

Hey, wait a minute…

ARGH, IT’S SLEEZ! RUN, GIRL! RUN!

Aug 4 '14
Adventures of Superman #470 (September 1990)
Soul Search (or “Superman in Hell”), Conclusion: Someone lives! Someone dies! Everyone else continues the way they were! And nothing will ever be the same again.
In Part 2 of this saga, Superman managed to rescue Jimmy Olsen’s soul from the sexy demonic entity known as Blaze, but there are just two problems: 1) they’re still in Hell, or something like it, and 2) Blaze still has Perry White’s troubled son, Jerry. Another thing Blaze has is this giant rock monster trying to punch Superman:

Unfortunately, since Blaze’s powers are magical and Kryptonians don’t get along too well with magic, the more time Superman spends in her domain the weaker he gets. To make matters even worse, Blaze has the hots for Supes and tries to kiss him — he pulls away, but her lips graze his cheek and some sort of satanic herpes starts covering Superman’s face, then his entire body. Literally, all of his body.

Very observant, Jimbo. While Superman is busy dealing with that nasty infection and the giant rock monster, Blaze starts getting romantic with Jimmy. It’s implied that if she kisses you on the lips, your soul is hers forever, and Blaze “feeds” on souls, but still… Jimmy Olsen, Blaze? How starved for affection are you?

(Can you tell I’m loving the art in this issue?)
Anyway, with all the distractions going on, Jerry manages to break himself free from Blaze’s control for a moment and thinks about ditching this place… but then reconsiders because he feels bad about leaving Jimmy. Since Jimmy took a bullet for Jerry recently (in Adventures #469, which started this whole mess), Jerry decides to take a kiss for him and volunteers to make out with Blaze. As a result, she literally sucks the life out of him. Back in the real world, Perry and Alice White are notified that their son has been pronounced dead.

Lois Lane, Jose Delgado and, for some reason, Professor Hamilton are there too and there’s a sad time all around.
Meanwhile, since Superman’s current strategy (punching everything) isn’t working very well, he decides to fight fire with fire: he shoots his heat vision at Blaze’s personal lava pool, and soon her entire domain starts overheating and crumbling down. Yes, Superman burns Hell to Hell. Blaze is squashed by her own giant rock monster (Wizard of Oz style) and Jimmy’s soul self fades away, as he returns to life in the real world. Then we see Superman flying out of a volcano, so I guess Blaze lived there all along, like a Bond villain.
So, yep, Jerry is dead… but then on the last page we see the Black Racer gathering Jerry’s soul from the morgue and escorting him to Heaven, since he’s been “deemed worthy”. (Or at least I think he’s going to Heaven. Maybe he means Apokolips, where Jerry will become one of Darkseid’s generals.) THE END.

"Oh, my cousin Tammy says hi.”
Beard-Watch:
As you can see above, it’s… it’s back! THE BEARD IS BACK! You know shit’s getting real in Superman comics when Superman suddenly sprouts a beard. How long was he fighting Blaze in that volcano, anyway?
Plotline-Watch:
Speaking of The Beard, the following panels officially end the “Jimmy Olsen, Professional Turd” storyline that began over a year ago when Superman accidentally infected Jimmy with an alien virus and they became ex-pals. To recap, Jimmy turned into an elastic freak, lost his hair, got sent to another dimension, had his mom kidnapped by an ape person and literally went to Hell… but the ordeals are over now. For a while.

When Superman blows up Hell, there’s a sequence with various mystical character in the DC Universe (Dr. Fate, Raven from the New Teen Titans, the Black Racer again) feeling a disturbance on the Force. Always loved those scenes.
Completely unrelated to the main story: in Smallville, Lana Lang finally sells her family farm to symbolize that she’s moving on with her life after recently accepting she’ll never marry Clark Kent (Superman #45). That gives Pete Ross the opening he’s been waiting for since they were school and he asks her out on a pizza date.
We finally learn Lex Luthor’s only soft spot: children. Or, his children, at least. Specifically Jerry, the illegitimate son he never bothered to recognize and let his second biggest enemy raise. This is actually consistent with Lex’s character, though, since he’ll go completely gaga over his daughter Lena when she’s born some years from now. And more importantly, Jerry’s death will put Lex in kind of a dark place…

Creator-Watch:
So, yeah, I did go a little overboard with the art in this entry, but there are so many cool sequences. Not coincidentally, this is the first major storyline where the climactic chapter was entrusted to Dan Jurgens: before now, most of them happened in Roger Stern-written titles(“Dark Knight Over Metropolis”, “Day of the Krypton Man”, the Exile in Space… hell, all of “The Brainiac Trilogy” was written by Stern). I get the feeling they were just trying to shake things up for once, since the next big storyline is capped by Jerry Ordway, but leaving the climaxes to Jurgens will become kind of a tradition from now on as he gets more popular. This may seem unfair to the others, but I think it’s fair: big dramatic moments are Jurgens’ strength.

Adventures of Superman #470 (September 1990)

Soul Search (or “Superman in Hell”), Conclusion: Someone lives! Someone dies! Everyone else continues the way they were! And nothing will ever be the same again.

In Part 2 of this saga, Superman managed to rescue Jimmy Olsen’s soul from the sexy demonic entity known as Blaze, but there are just two problems: 1) they’re still in Hell, or something like it, and 2) Blaze still has Perry White’s troubled son, Jerry. Another thing Blaze has is this giant rock monster trying to punch Superman:

Unfortunately, since Blaze’s powers are magical and Kryptonians don’t get along too well with magic, the more time Superman spends in her domain the weaker he gets. To make matters even worse, Blaze has the hots for Supes and tries to kiss him — he pulls away, but her lips graze his cheek and some sort of satanic herpes starts covering Superman’s face, then his entire body. Literally, all of his body.

Very observant, Jimbo. While Superman is busy dealing with that nasty infection and the giant rock monster, Blaze starts getting romantic with Jimmy. It’s implied that if she kisses you on the lips, your soul is hers forever, and Blaze “feeds” on souls, but still… Jimmy Olsen, Blaze? How starved for affection are you?

(Can you tell I’m loving the art in this issue?)

Anyway, with all the distractions going on, Jerry manages to break himself free from Blaze’s control for a moment and thinks about ditching this place… but then reconsiders because he feels bad about leaving Jimmy. Since Jimmy took a bullet for Jerry recently (in Adventures #469, which started this whole mess), Jerry decides to take a kiss for him and volunteers to make out with Blaze. As a result, she literally sucks the life out of him. Back in the real world, Perry and Alice White are notified that their son has been pronounced dead.

Lois Lane, Jose Delgado and, for some reason, Professor Hamilton are there too and there’s a sad time all around.

Meanwhile, since Superman’s current strategy (punching everything) isn’t working very well, he decides to fight fire with fire: he shoots his heat vision at Blaze’s personal lava pool, and soon her entire domain starts overheating and crumbling down. Yes, Superman burns Hell to Hell. Blaze is squashed by her own giant rock monster (Wizard of Oz style) and Jimmy’s soul self fades away, as he returns to life in the real world. Then we see Superman flying out of a volcano, so I guess Blaze lived there all along, like a Bond villain.

So, yep, Jerry is dead… but then on the last page we see the Black Racer gathering Jerry’s soul from the morgue and escorting him to Heaven, since he’s been “deemed worthy”. (Or at least I think he’s going to Heaven. Maybe he means Apokolips, where Jerry will become one of Darkseid’s generals.) THE END.

"Oh, my cousin Tammy says hi.”

Beard-Watch:

As you can see above, it’s… it’s back! THE BEARD IS BACK! You know shit’s getting real in Superman comics when Superman suddenly sprouts a beard. How long was he fighting Blaze in that volcano, anyway?

Plotline-Watch:

  • Speaking of The Beard, the following panels officially end the “Jimmy Olsen, Professional Turd” storyline that began over a year ago when Superman accidentally infected Jimmy with an alien virus and they became ex-pals. To recap, Jimmy turned into an elastic freak, lost his hair, got sent to another dimension, had his mom kidnapped by an ape person and literally went to Hell… but the ordeals are over now. For a while.

  • When Superman blows up Hell, there’s a sequence with various mystical character in the DC Universe (Dr. Fate, Raven from the New Teen Titans, the Black Racer again) feeling a disturbance on the Force. Always loved those scenes.
  • Completely unrelated to the main story: in Smallville, Lana Lang finally sells her family farm to symbolize that she’s moving on with her life after recently accepting she’ll never marry Clark Kent (Superman #45). That gives Pete Ross the opening he’s been waiting for since they were school and he asks her out on a pizza date.
  • We finally learn Lex Luthor’s only soft spot: children. Or, his children, at least. Specifically Jerry, the illegitimate son he never bothered to recognize and let his second biggest enemy raise. This is actually consistent with Lex’s character, though, since he’ll go completely gaga over his daughter Lena when she’s born some years from now. And more importantly, Jerry’s death will put Lex in kind of a dark place…

Creator-Watch:

So, yeah, I did go a little overboard with the art in this entry, but there are so many cool sequences. Not coincidentally, this is the first major storyline where the climactic chapter was entrusted to Dan Jurgens: before now, most of them happened in Roger Stern-written titles(“Dark Knight Over Metropolis”, “Day of the Krypton Man”, the Exile in Space… hell, all of “The Brainiac Trilogy” was written by Stern). I get the feeling they were just trying to shake things up for once, since the next big storyline is capped by Jerry Ordway, but leaving the climaxes to Jurgens will become kind of a tradition from now on as he gets more popular. This may seem unfair to the others, but I think it’s fair: big dramatic moments are Jurgens’ strength.

Jul 31 '14
Superman #47 (September 1990)
Soul Search, Part 2! Superman is still in Hell, and he runs into a guy he sent there a while ago: Skyhook, the hideous flying child abductor. By the way, there was some confusion about my phrasing the last time Skyhook showed up: Is he a child abductor who is hideous and can fly, or an abductor of hideous flying children? Both, actually, since his power is giving gross-looking wings to the kids he steals away. Hope that clears things up.
Anyway, Superman is trying to save the souls of Jimmy Olsen and Jerry White from Blaze, a demonic entity/Metropolis nightclub owner. Blaze throws a bunch of demons at him, including our deceased pal Skyhook.


"I thought that was another satanic lady called Blaze.”
Skyhook turns Superman into a winged demon by re-opening a wound he’d made the last time they fought. Superman, however, de-demonizes himself through sheer force of will and rescues Jimmy (who takes this opportunity to admit he’s “been a butthead” towards Supes lately). However, Jerry is already too far gone and Blaze completely takes over his body for a last fight with Superman…
Character-Watch:
The last time we saw Skyhook was in Superman #34, when we found out that he was originally a doctor who accidentally made a deal with a satanic entity and turned into a monster. That entity was Blaze… which explains why she chose the desecrated church Hooky has been using since his first appearance (Superman #15) to open her club. It all comes together!
Plotline-Watch:
While Superman fights Blaze in “Hell,” Gangbuster does the same thing in the mortal plane. He finds the drug dealers who shot Jerry and Jimmy, who turn out to be working for Intergang (of course). The dealers try to set fire to Blaze’s as revenge for getting scammed, only to find themselves mystically trapped inside the club too. Gangbuster shows up and saves the clubgoers from the fire… but not before dealing Jerry’s shooters some Gangbuster-style justice (they both die).

The Black Racer, the ski-riding incarnation of death who is also the cousin of Jerry White’s ex girlfriend Tammy, appears again, and this time the Jerry connection is acknowledged: it’s while Gangbuster is visiting Tammy that the Black Racer shows up and helps him find the drug dealers. Family is more important than the cosmic balance, apparently.
Meanwhile, the always opportune Lex Luthor picks this sensitive time to let Perry White know that he’s Jerry’s father — Luthor even did a DNA test back when he was financing/running experiments on Jerry’s street gang and confirmed that he’s the real daddy. Perry always suspected that but didn’t know for sure until now. However, Perry says he still considers Jerry his son and deals Luthor a punch in the gut (one in the nuts would have been more appropriate).

Excuse-Watch:
At this point, I was supposed to cover the World’s Finest Superman/Batman miniseries by Dave Gibbons and Steve Rude but, uh, the copy I ordered online hasn’t arrived yet. Hopefully it gets here by the time we reach the end of the miniseries so I can cover all of it at once. Otherwise, in order to preserve the sanctity of the strictly chronological order of this blog, we’ll have to wait until we reach 1992 (the point when the tradepaperback collection was published).

Superman #47 (September 1990)

Soul Search, Part 2! Superman is still in Hell, and he runs into a guy he sent there a while ago: Skyhook, the hideous flying child abductor. By the way, there was some confusion about my phrasing the last time Skyhook showed up: Is he a child abductor who is hideous and can fly, or an abductor of hideous flying children? Both, actually, since his power is giving gross-looking wings to the kids he steals away. Hope that clears things up.

Anyway, Superman is trying to save the souls of Jimmy Olsen and Jerry White from Blaze, a demonic entity/Metropolis nightclub owner. Blaze throws a bunch of demons at him, including our deceased pal Skyhook.

"I thought that was another satanic lady called Blaze.”

Skyhook turns Superman into a winged demon by re-opening a wound he’d made the last time they fought. Superman, however, de-demonizes himself through sheer force of will and rescues Jimmy (who takes this opportunity to admit he’s “been a butthead” towards Supes lately). However, Jerry is already too far gone and Blaze completely takes over his body for a last fight with Superman…

Character-Watch:

The last time we saw Skyhook was in Superman #34, when we found out that he was originally a doctor who accidentally made a deal with a satanic entity and turned into a monster. That entity was Blaze… which explains why she chose the desecrated church Hooky has been using since his first appearance (Superman #15) to open her club. It all comes together!

Plotline-Watch:

  • While Superman fights Blaze in “Hell,” Gangbuster does the same thing in the mortal plane. He finds the drug dealers who shot Jerry and Jimmy, who turn out to be working for Intergang (of course). The dealers try to set fire to Blaze’s as revenge for getting scammed, only to find themselves mystically trapped inside the club too. Gangbuster shows up and saves the clubgoers from the fire… but not before dealing Jerry’s shooters some Gangbuster-style justice (they both die).

  • The Black Racer, the ski-riding incarnation of death who is also the cousin of Jerry White’s ex girlfriend Tammy, appears again, and this time the Jerry connection is acknowledged: it’s while Gangbuster is visiting Tammy that the Black Racer shows up and helps him find the drug dealers. Family is more important than the cosmic balance, apparently.
  • Meanwhile, the always opportune Lex Luthor picks this sensitive time to let Perry White know that he’s Jerry’s father — Luthor even did a DNA test back when he was financing/running experiments on Jerry’s street gang and confirmed that he’s the real daddy. Perry always suspected that but didn’t know for sure until now. However, Perry says he still considers Jerry his son and deals Luthor a punch in the gut (one in the nuts would have been more appropriate).

Excuse-Watch:

At this point, I was supposed to cover the World’s Finest Superman/Batman miniseries by Dave Gibbons and Steve Rude but, uh, the copy I ordered online hasn’t arrived yet. Hopefully it gets here by the time we reach the end of the miniseries so I can cover all of it at once. Otherwise, in order to preserve the sanctity of the strictly chronological order of this blog, we’ll have to wait until we reach 1992 (the point when the tradepaperback collection was published).