Friday, September 26, 2014

SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #20 - February 1993

Funeral Day
Credits:  Louise Simonson (writer), Jon Bogdanove (penciler), Dennis Janke (inker), Bill Oakley (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary:  Superman’s body is taken to Centennial Park.  A large crowd gathers to watch the funeral procession.  A member of the Kanad Liberation Force attempts to kill the president of Kanad, who is walking in the funeral procession, but he’s stopped by Batman.  Nearby, Robin protects Jimmy Olsen from the armed guards of an agent who’s trying to buy Superman’s death photo.  The crowd grows unruly, but eventually settles down.  In space, Lobo hears a rumor of Superman’s death but refuses to believe it.  In Smallville, the Kents have their own funeral for Superman.  After receiving a call from a distraught Lois, the Kents promise to visit her.

Irrelevant Continuity:  The agent attempting to buy the licensing rights to Jimmy’s photo appears to be Rex Leech, who will later appear in this storyline as Superboy’s manager.

Mom, Apple Pie, etc…:  The mourners watching the funeral procession are inspired by Superman’s example to stand up to bullies and to reach out to those who are hurting.

I Love the ‘90s:  One of the mourners has a high-top fade and the Superman logo shaved into his hair.  Also, Bill and Hillary Clinton speak at the funeral.

Review:  The most emotional issue yet, the story is granted almost an entire issue of mourning, although a few action sequences still have to be shoehorned in.  Simonson is well chosen as the person to handle the funeral issue, since she seems the most at ease with writing human emotions and the least interested in fight scenes.  Jon Bogdanove uses the issue as an opportunity to play with different caricatures, which is something I doubt we would’ve seen from any of the other artists.  He doesn’t go so cartoony it hurts the sentiment, but if you’ve watched the documentary on the Superman: Doomsday DVD, you can easily spot which random citizens are creators he’s snuck in.  My favorite scene is the one that has Roger Stern (or is that Jackson Guice?) cast as the street vendor selling t-shirts and “bagged” newspapers with memorial armbands.  Bibbo initially wants to kill the guy, but when he realizes that the vendor’s trying to provide for his family, Bibbo buys his entire stock and offers him a job at his bar.  

The issue is great at scenes like this, which manage to be touching without crossing the line over into cheese.  The Kents have a genuinely poignant moment when they bury some of Clark’s belongings in the crater they found him in as an infant.  They’re not invited to the attend the funeral because they’re not “big shots,” and they’re sickened by the media coverage of the event, so they have their own ceremony in honor of him.  Lois, who refuses Perry White’s offer to represent the Daily Planet at the funeral, has her own drama.  Calling the Kents and confirming Clark’s death will make it real, which she’s trying to avoid at all costs.  She knows it’s the right thing to do, but she can’t bring herself to do it.  When she finally summons the courage, she breaks down, and for the first time in the storyline so far, Lois’ pain actually feels authentic.  This is the kind of issue you need in order to properly execute a high-profile death.  Ideally, the flagrant attempt to pull at heart strings should be reserved for characters intended to be dead, but if you’re willing to buy into the storyline’s premise, this is a solid funeral story for Superman.

1 comment:

Cerebro said...

One other notable easter egg in this issue...

If memory serves, I believe all of the, then, current creators working on the Superman books were drawn in amongst the crowd observing the funeral procession on the opening 2-page splash.

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