Thursday, August 7, 2014

SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #19 - January 1993


Doomsday is Here!
Credits:  Louise Simonson (writer), Jon Bogdanove (penciler), Dennis Janke (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)


Summary:  Superman follows Doomsday to Metropolis. His next attack is to fly Doomsday into the Earth’s atmosphere.  Doomsday kicks himself free, and their fight continues into the Underworld.  After Doomsday triggers an explosion that destroys much of the community, Professor Hamilton attempts to stop Doomsday with a gigantic laser cannon.  Doomsday recovers quickly.  After Supergirl and the Metropolis PD also fail to stop Doomsday, Superman continues his fight against the creature.


Mom, Apple Pie, etc…:  Superman uses his body as a shield to protect Keith and the other orphans after Doomsday destroys their orphanage (which just so happens to be in the path of destruction).


Total N00B:  Dubbilex appears as a psychic manifestation to Guardian, with no explanation of who or what he is.  The three characters manning the giant laser cannon are only identified as Mildred, Professor “Ham,” and Bibbo.  The Underworlders are apparently keeping some representatives from Warworld captive; the story does very little to explain anything about these concepts.  Finally, Supergirl’s face turns into a pile of mush after she’s punched by Doomsday.  Her body then collapses and morphs into a purple Play-Doh person.  I’m vaguely aware that the Supergirl of this era is supposed to be a shapeshifting blob of protoplasm (or something), but I can’t imagine how this scene read to the average person brought in by the intense media hype.


Review:  We’re down to only two panels per page, and while Jon Bogdanove does an admirable job of not making the layout scheme obvious, the storyline’s padding is becoming more noticeable by the issue.  Superman is still resorting to punch punch punching Doomsday repeatedly, and only given one tiny sliver of imagination during the story, as he tries to fly Doomsday into space.  Unfortunately, this happens as the issue opens, and he’s thwarted by the fourth page.  So, instead of trying to develop another creative way to stop Doomsday, Superman just goes back to futilely punching the monster again and again until the issue is over.  There is some effort to show Superman protecting the citizens from the destruction, and to give the supporting cast something to do, but none of the scenes are engaging enough to stand on their own.  And, as mentioned above, they’re virtually incomprehensible to someone not versed in the specific continuity of this era of Superman.  


It’s hard to understand why DC was so committed to making this crossover a relentless slugfest, to the point that every chapter essentially has the same plot.  Couldn’t one chapter at least be dedicated to some other character doing anything else?  A scientist working to find Doomsday’s weak spot, an average citizen discovering his own heroism while helping others survive the disaster, Superman's friends and family watching the TV footage and reflecting on what Superman means to them…wouldn’t any diversion be a welcome relief at this point?

2 comments:

Jeff said...

Is this the issue where Doomsday splatters an Underworlder's head and there's a ZPLATCH sound effect? That always stuck in my mind as being really unpleasant.

It's amazing how much better Knightfall did the "take the main character out of commission" story line. I remember people complaining about Bane, but he blows Doomsday out of the water as a character. Knightfall also gave Batman a lot of time to interact with his supporting cast and villains, which 8 issues of just punching doesn't let Superman do at all.

m!ke said...

this issue is the perfect example of the pitfalls to interconnected books; writers had characters they preferred to use, their own subplots and it was assumed the reader would just know. reading the books at that time, luthor and supergirl were stern's favorites, weezie had the underworlders, keith etc, and so on...

i loved the recap, fold out covers that marvel used in the mid 90s to catch people up; this sort of thing should've become industry standard.