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đź’Ż {Staff Pick} [Where I Read] The Death and Return of Superman!

Kreuzritter

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This thread is geared towards casual readers interested in Comics lore. For their sake please be mindful of spoilers that occur past the current point of coverage

Hi, I'm Kreuzritter. you may remember me from such failed WIR's as Empowered, and "Secret Wars: A Walking Tour of Battleworld". Well, today we're going for something considerably more saner and finite, inspired by semi-recent events in my Mutants & Masterminds Character conversion thread, in particular those around my writeups for Superman's 90's rogues gallery, and the Bloodlines crossover from that era

So, If i'm going to keep talking Superman in the 90's, then we have to address the Kryptonian Thought-Beast in the room



The Death And Return of Superman

the Year was 1993. Czechoslovakia was formally separated back into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Bill Clinton is sworn in as President of the United States of America. and hitting the airwaves of ABC was Lois and Clark, the New Adventures of Superman.

Which ironically, was a big problem for DC comics. See, Superman comics in the 90's were a melodramatic soap opera, with ongoing, interwoven subplots, and the biggest twist at the time, breaking with almost 50 years of comics tradition…



Clark Kent asked for Lois Lane's hand in marriage, revealing his identity as Superman to her so that there'd be no secrets between them. However, Lois & Clark was going to be built around a Moonlighting-esque dance of will-they-or-won't-they, and the edict from the executives on high was that the comics wedding would not happen until it happened on the show. Which would prove particularly exasperating as the show would continually yank the rug out on the viewers with increasingly melodramatic reasons to void or otherwise call off the in-series wedding.

But I get ahead of myself. for now, DC was scrambling for any reason at all to call off the impending nuptuals, until somebody finally blurted out as an off-hand joke, "Why don't we just kill him?"

and comics history was conceived. rather than a quick stalling tactic, this would become an event unto itself, a multipart saga whose repercussions are still somewhat felt to this very day.

But again, I'm getting ahead of myself

Now, I have some friends and readers whom by their own admission, know next to nothing about comics, so I'm going to try and make this reader friendly for them, taking time out from my summaries to address plot points and characters that readers at the time were expected to remember, though thankfully the major ones are addressed in-story

so, next post, we start things off with

Dramatis Personae & The Story Thus Far
 
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Kreuzritter

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Dramatis Personae



Superman - the Last Son of Krypton, the Man of Steel and the Man of Tomorrow, Superman is the child of two world, sent from the dying planet of Krypton via space rocket while still in the artificial womb of a 'birthing matrix' by his father, Jor-El, who knew that earth's yellow sun would one day make Kal-El a god amongst humans. upon arriving on earth, the matrix opened up to the first two humans to approach it, Jonathan and Martha Kent, who raised the literally newborn infant as their own son, Clark Kent. as a young man, Clark developed powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, and today fights a never ending battle for Truth and Justice, both as Superman and as a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, a great metropolitan newspaper.



Lex Luthor - the greatest criminal mind of our time, Luthor embodies everything horrible about humanity, a megalomanical corporate tycoon who more or less ruled the city of Metropolis as its de facto king until Superman showed up. a brilliant super-genius, Luthor has sent supervillain after killbot after deathtrap in his consuming hatred of the man of steel. For years, Luthor's favorite toy was a ring of Kryptonite, the one glowing green rock that gives off radiation which can weaken and even kill superman just by being in the same room as him, up until it gave Luthor a terminal case of cancer. To cheat death, Luthor faked a suicidal plane crash and secretly had his brain transferred into a young, fit and handsome cloned body, and has resumed control of his company, Lexcorp, under the guise of his long-lost illegitimate son from Australia (see what I mean about soap opera)

Now, pay attention, because this is where a full explanation would get too convoluted and crazy for this stage...



Supergirl - Is NOT Superman's cousin, but a telekinetic protoplasmic shapeshifter from a parallel earth, created by her world's heroic version of Luthor in a desperate yet failed attempt to save it from destruction, and would have died herself if not for Superman. Having been brought to Earth-DC and finally physically recovered, Supergirl is still somewhat naĂŻve to the ways of the world, and has thus started both a working and romantic relationship with Lex "Junior", still seeing him as the Pygmalion to her Galatea, unaware of his true nature

The Story Thus Far

Superman has recently revealed his true identity as Clark and become engaged to his girlfriend, Lois Lane, and thwarted an invasion of earth by the alien despot Brainiac, but pockets of his forces remain in the aftermath and have exerted their influence on Underworld, a subterranean community of outcasts, freaks and Metropolis' homeless. With Luthor too busy establishing his new secret identity as Lex Jr. to get up to anything, things have otherwise actually been pretty quiet, but somewhere...



Doomsday is Coming.
 
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Azimer the Mad

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Okay people, hold onto your butts. The nineties is coming.

Bloodwynd is coming.

I can think of nothing more indicative of the stereotype of 90s comics then someone naming themselves "Bloodwynd" and deciding to spell it with a "y."

Also, if this goes far enough, one of my favorite Jonathan Kent moments. Possibly one of the little things that added up to me naming my son after him (JJ for Jonathan Jor-El).
 
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Kreuzritter

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Superman: The Man of Steel 18


Doomsday
writer: Lousise Simonson
Artist: Jon Bogdanove


somewhere on Earth, a caption helpfully informs us, our masked cover-monster escapes from its underground prison and begins tunneling its way to the surface

But no time for that now, as its ascent through the rock is contrasted on the opposing page by superman in flight, watched from the ground by a young black kid, who wants to tell him something but can't as he buys a can of yellow glow-in the dark spray paint, admitting to himself in thought that he's sacred, because he's going after monsters

which segues to our first look at the creatures of Underworld as they infiltrate a power station with a plan to steal Metropolis' electricity in order to power their war machines.

we then cut back to the kid, who apparently lives at the local Not-An-Orpanage, his continued inner monologue revealing that he knows what the underworlders are up to, but the reason he hasn't tried to tell anyone is because they say they have his mother. So, like the plucky protagonist of some 80's "kids on bikes" movie, he's going down into the sewers to Underworld and rescue her himself, the spray paint meant to mark the way back topside

but, it seems someone else knows, as Lois receives a message for Superman via Clark warning of this threat, and making sure someone will tell him, heads off to meet him there


Meanwhile, let's check in on our masked monster, whom having climbed out into the world with one arm literally bound behind his back, takes a moment to take in the pastoral wilderness, as a soft yellow bird lands in his hand, before without hesitation he crushes it...



and Laughs

back to the a-plot, Clark has returned to the office and is just about to check the message Lois left on his computer, only for the Underworlders to cause a citywide blackout, their cries of victory suggesting that these guys, however kinda fearsome they look, aren't particularly bright, moments before Lois arrives, only to be captured by the raid's on-site muscle, a scaly oversized brute named Clawster, who mocks the suggestion of the raid's token human, Charlie, that they use her as a hostage, boasting that the "bosses" don't take prisoners

which is heartbreaking news to the kid, who from hiding hears this, and realizes they never had his mother to begin with

and now, a poetic interlude by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a...




KRAK-KRAM! goes the mighty oak as our gimp-suited brute reduces it to an unrecognizable explosion of kindling and splinters with a single punch, just like everything else unfortunate enough to be in his way

back in metropolis, our colorist having finally decided that yes, its definitely night, the Kid has made it to an empty playground, and uses his Spray paint to finally call Superman by painting his logo on the ground. it is here our writer finally gives his name, Keith, as Superman recognizes him from two previous rescues, before Keith finally tells him what he should have, and we cut back to Underworld for a panel of glorious Kirby style machinery...



Moments before Superman shows up and in the space of four pages, has utterly demolished their machines and captured their commanders, alien soldierséwould be tyrants who were brought to Earth by Brainiac

Meanwhile, the green-clad brute topples a crowded highway overpass because he can, and laughs at the crowded traffic caught in the destruction

time to wrap up the main plot, as superman confronts Charlie, who turns out to be Loisè informant and the ne who sent the warning earlier. as Underworld takes its would-be masters prisoner for their own trial and captivity, Charle agrees to keep Lois and Superman in the loop on anything else out of underworld, before confiding to a friend that there is something called Bloodthirst down there that Superman should probably be called on to deal with in the near future when it becomes a true problem (AKA sir not appearing in these trade paperbacks).

as for the brute, well, enough devastation has been left in his wake that the professionals are being called in, so join us next time for the Justice League of America!
 

Ikselam

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Oh man, good times. I still have the trade paperback collections of this story somewhere in my basement.
 

Evil Midnight Lurker

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Worth noting that by this point, the story had for some time been rotating through the three monthly comics, Action, Superman, and Adventures of Superman, to the point that the creative team stuck the "triangle numbers" on the covers to help buyers know what issue to read next. I don't recall any other multi-comic character or team having so tight-knit a continuity.
 

Kreuzritter

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Justice League of America 69


Down…

"Wait! Stop!" I hear you ask, "Who the hell are these bozos? I thought the JLA was DC's greatest heroes?"

and normally, you'd be right. Unfortunately, from the early 80's to 1997, the League was comprised of a bunch of A minus to C list heroes, in order to work more interesting character dynamics. So, before we dive into the issue proper, let's take...

Justice League Roll Call

Booster Gold - the greatest hero You've never heard of, Jon Michael Carter was a blacklisted athlete from the future who came back in time with a bunch of future gadgets to get rich by becoming a celebrity superhero. While still something of a self-absorbed meathead, by this point Booster's proven time and again that he's a true hero at heart

Blue Beetle - the yin to Booster's Yang, Ted Kord is a millionaire scientist and inventor who uses wit, guile, gadgets and acrobatics to save the day despite not having any powers

Fire - Beatriz DeCosta was a Brazilian fashion model turned intelligence operative before a freak accident gave her the power to shoot blasts of green flame. adopting the alias of Green Flame, Bea joined the b-list team of the Global Guardians. when another crossover event ramped up her powers considerably, Bea changed her handle to fire, and joined the JLA alongside her best friend and fellow teammate...

Ice (not pictured) - The princess of an isolated tribe of magic-wielding Norsemen, Tora Olafsdotter has the natural ability to create and manipulate ice. a wholesome, girl-next-door-type, Tora's friends were left scratching their heads when she became romantically involved with...

Guy Gardner - one of, if not THE iconic 80's DC heroes, Guy is a loud, arrogant, macho jerk with an attitude and a drive towards confrontation, but at the same time, one of the bravest and selfless men on the planet, the latter qualities getting him inducted into the Green Lantern Corps, space cops whose riungs allow them to conjure any object they can will into existence. for reasons both too long to get into and which I'm honestly unaware of, Guy has recently left the Corps, and is currently using the very power ring of Sinestro, GL's greatest enemy

Maxima (not pictured) - warrior queen of the planet Almerac, Maxima has not only strength comparable to Superman's, but a plethora of psychic powers. I'll go into better detail later

Bloodwynd - the newest member at the time, Bloodwynd is Terribly Mysterious, in both powers and origins, presented as an ongoing mystery for readers at the time. the truth to Bloodwynd is outside the purpose of this thread, but for brevity's sake, my understanding is that it gets a little convuluted, and a LOT crazy

No, seriously, where's the JLA?

Don't quote me on this, But I'm like 90% sure that the rest of DC's big name heroes are currently in Russia taking part in a culmination storyline for Justice League Europe/International where they're trying to stop Sonar from starting World War 3

Even batman?

Batman has his own problems right now, as he's entering the early stages of the Knightfall storyline.

not that that's out of the way...

Down For The Count
Writer & Artist: Dan Jurgens
Finishes: Rick Burchett


We join the league somewhere in Ohio, dealing with the aftermath of the monster's rampage before going after him. Now, making things interesting is that we have a split narrative, as while we follow the League's hunt, at the top of each page we have a television interview at a school with Superman to both serve as a chorus, and emphasising how rapidly this issue's events unfold.

case in point, Superman's barely sat down and explained his reasoning for this interview is to maintain trust between the people and superheroes, contrasting as Beetle asks Bloodwynd to use his psychic abilities in order to find the monster, quietly cursing when Maxima does likewise as he'd meant to get some sort of answers on Bloodwynd, whos been hiding more than beetle's comfortable. then, in the time it takes Superman to be asked and answer a softball question, the Monster's found the league and knocked their ship out of the sky with a thrown log., but our heroes are able to get to the ground both safely and without the ship's wreck causing more damage

A student asks "so, what do you guys do when you're not fighting? do you party?", and the monster destroys a semi truck laden with beer

the conversation turns to Guy, as he engages the monster outside an oil refinery, and sooner than guy can react, the monster's not only slammed him into the ground, but had additional time to stomp and punch him before Fire gets the monster's attention as he leaves guy lying on the ground, at least one eye blinded from the massive bruise on his face

Bloodwynd steps up to the plate, striking the monster with the full force of his strongest punch, only for it to knock him through a fuel tank, causing a terrible explosion and setting bloodwynd ablaze

"Superman? does anything frighten you?"

and as he answrs that question, Beetle races into the inferno to check on his fallen comrade, finding not only him, but discovering exactly what bloodwynd's secret is

"Don't you get tired of the violence? isn't there a better way to things than caving in someone's head?"

as the monster grabs beetle by the neck and does exactly that, smashing his head into every surface in reach like a ragdoll

"Believe me when I say I wish violence wasn't necessary. but violence is the price we pay to accomplish a greater good. as heroes, we choose to protect that good with our lives."

Beetle's body hurtles through the air, Bloodwynd's attempt to catch him foiled by the monster using Bloodwynd as a weapon to knock Maxima aside. his body hits the ground, and does not move, even as superman finally gets the news of trouble.

in his rage over beetle's very possible death, Booster attack's the monster, and barely has th time to raise his forcefield before the no-selling monster wades through his blasts, strikes booster, and sends him hurtling across the sky, but Booster's thankfully saved by Superman.

"I hear you people are having some trouble."

"'Trouble' isn't the word, Superman. I'm telling you right now -- It's like Doomsday is here!"
 
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Jhiday

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Worth noting that by this point, the story had for some time been rotating through the three monthly comics, Action, Superman, and Adventures of Superman
Four, actually ; they had just launched Superman : the Man of Steel a year and a half before to fill the fourth monthly slot. Later in 1995, they would launch a quarterly Superman: the Man of Tomorrow to fill the remaining 4 weeks of the year.


[edit] The Justice League was also in the middle of a similar expansion, with at the time Justice League of America (see above), Justice League International (formerly Europe, with characters such as Flash and Aquaman on the roster), and, er, Justice League Task Force (led by the Martian Manhunter and a rotating cast depending on the missions). Later on JLI would be replaced by Extreme Justice, of which the less said the better.
 
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acksed

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You always make these entertaining, and I'm down for reading about this. Subscribed!
 
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