Wednesday, August 6, 2014

ACTION COMICS #684 - December 1992

…Doomsday is Near!
Credits:  Roger Stern (writer), Jackson Guice (penciler), Denis Rodier (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary:  While Guardian takes Maxima to the hospital, Superman pursues Doomsday.  Eventually, Doomsday terrorizes a Lex-Mart department store.  A television advertisement inspires him to head towards Metropolis.  Superman throws Doomsday into the air, inadvertently sending him to the Habitat, near the headquarters of Project Cadmus.  Guardian arrives to help, but is soon buried under the debris of Habitat, along with Superman.  Doomsday leaps closer to Metropolis.

Irrelevant Continuity:  
  • Habitat is the wooden structure Jack Kirby introduced in his early Jimmy Olsen issues.  It’s been abandoned at this point, with a footnote pointing towards Superman’s last adventure there in Action Comics #655.
  • Lex-Mart is a play on Walmart and K-Mart; Lex Luthor at this point in continuity is a businessman with varied interests.
  • News reports place Doomsday’s casualties at over a hundred.

Approved By The Comics Code Authority:  Roger Stern has Superman throw “hell” and “damn” around pretty casually. 

Total N00B:  This issue makes clear that Guardian is an employee of Cadmus, which performs scientific research in the outskirts of Metropolis.  The redheaded Lex Luthor is also identified as the son of the original, although I believe it’s a lie he uses to cover that he’s Lex in a cloned body.

Review:  We’re retreading material we’ve already seen before, right down to Lex Luthor (Jr.) and Supergirl having the same conversation they had in the previous chapter. To Stern’s credit, he’s better than some of his contemporaries at actually introducing the various cast members and giving new readers some information about them, but it’s hard not to notice how repetitive this story’s getting.  In terms of the action, the only variation from the issues-long slugfest comes when Superman finally decides to just pick Doomsday up and throw him away.  People have often cited this as a major failing of their extended fight scene, arguing that Superman should’ve just been able to throw Doomsday into orbit.  I’m not sure if post-Crisis Superman is that powerful at this point, however, and Stern does do a decent job of showing how problematic this approach can be.  (What exactly is he going to be throwing Doomsday into?)  Superman should, however, be able to use his heat vision and freeze vision in some creative ways in the fight.  I’m assuming he still had those powers post-Crisis, right?  Instead, it’s punch punch punch punch, toss you away, and punch punch punch punch you again.  The Justice League animated series had the best take on this fight when an alternate-reality Superman ends the conflict by giving Doomsday a lobotomy, courtesy of his heat vision.  I would love to see something that imaginative in this story, but instead it’s page after page of punches. 

Even though the fight is getting tired, this issue does have one of my favorite moments of the storyline.  Why does Doomsday choose Metropolis as his ultimate destination?  Because a wrestler he saw on television, directly speaking into the camera, boasts that he’s “takin’ on” everybody at the Metropolis Arena this weekend.  Doomsday grunts out “Mhh-trr-plss?” as his response and promptly begins bouncing his way to Metropolis.  Now, this is either a subtle hint that Doomsday is smart enough to read road signs or a flagrant disregard for common sense, but it’s actually funny and a welcome break from the monotony. 


wwk5d said...

Actually, my main problem with this fight (and most of Superman's fights) is that he has super-speed but never uses it. He should be able to land a hundred punches on Doomsday before Doomsday should be able to respond.

Of course, that's just a problem Superman has. With his powers, all of his fights should end rather quickly, but that would make for boring comics, so he never really uses his super-speed unless the story needs him to get from point A to point B really quickly.

m!ke said...

wwk5d, interestingly enough that's something jeph loeb would tackle early in his run on superman in 2000. unfortunately, he's the only one who actually mentioned it, but didn't have the opportunity to really explore.

yrzhe said...

I remember it being mentioned more than a few times in these issues that Doomsday's supposed to be incredibly fast, to the extent that Superman's taken off guard by it.

Except that it's easy to forget, because in spite of the dialogue bringing it up, the art throughout the story completely fails to give the impression that Doomsday's anything but a lumbering beast.

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