Monday, September 22, 2014


Death of a Legend
Credits:  Jerry Ordway (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Doug Hazelwood (inker), Albert de Guzman (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary:  Paramedics attempt to revive Superman, but receive no response.  Westfield arrives with Cadmus employees to take away the bodies of Superman and Doomsday, but he faces resistance from Dan Turpin, who knocks him out.  Guardian watches as Dr. Hamilton and Bibbo use a high-power energy device to resuscitate Superman, but Dubbilex declares that he senses no brain activity.  Meanwhile, Lex Luthor recovers Supergirl’s body.  Eventually, she morphs back into her human form.  Later, Cat Grant broadcasts the news of Superman’s death.  Jimmy Olsen and Perry White realize that Clark Kent is among the missing and attempt to comfort Lois.

Irrelevant Continuity:  A character named Kitty Faulkner at S.T.A.R. Labs has examined Superman in the past, according to Lois and Jimmy.  A footnote points to Superman #4 and #40.  Gangbuster mentions a previous encounter with Metallo in Adventures #491 that lead to him retiring.  

I Love the ‘90s:  Cat Grant’s son is watching a Ren & Stimpy parody called “Rat-tat-Tooey”

Total N00B:  Cat Grant has a son?  And she’s apparently dating a retired vigilante named Gangbuster.

Miscellaneous Note:  This storyline was originally billed as "Funeral for a Friend," but was later reprinted in trade form as World without a Superman.

Review:  I’m continually amazed at how non-pretentious these ‘90s DC event comics can be.  What do you do in the issue after you kill Superman?  You follow up on the very next second and just present a straightforward story about people trying to resuscitate the guy.  There’s no pretense of art or of a meaningful statement being made here, it’s simply the next chapter of continuity in the story.  In a way, this is admirable (and evidence that the creators didn’t know that the mainstream media would turn the stunt into a national news story).  There’s no illusion that this is anything other than a superhero comic, which means there are a few emotional beats, but it’s certainly not an examination of the grieving process or a deep reflection on the death of American innocence.  Much more thought is put into the practical applications of how Superman could receive CPR.  The only commentary in the issue is another scene of a ‘90s kid rejecting the “big weenie” Superman, which is more of a parody of comic fans of the time than any grand statement about society.  I consider this a legitimate way to continue the storyline, although a bit more reflection would’ve been nice.  The tone of the story is oddly unsentimental, and doesn’t seem to be putting a lot of effort into selling the idea that Superman is Dead.  The Kents and Lois Lane have some nicely executed mourning scenes, but overall, the issue feels like it could’ve been the middle chapter in any number of big superhero comic events.


m!ke said...

as stunt worthy as dc was back in the early 90s, i feel like there was an attempt to be made to have it still flow like a story. the four core superman titles were tightly connected at the time (as opposed to the bat-titles which were a little more loose with their continuity), and it was just an ongoing story. sometimes it affected other titles, other times it was just superman's adventures, and we knew that other stuff was going on.

could you imagine the death of superman being done in 2014 instead of 1992? media reporting would've killed the impact of the story entirely...

Matt said...

Also in 2014, we would've had a 12-issue limited series called RISE OF DOOMSDAY, followed by maybe a 6-issue mini titled THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN, then a series of WORLD WITHOUT A SUPERMAN one-shots showing all the various DC characters mourning the Man of Steel, which would lead into the "Funeral For A Friend" crossover through the core Superman titles, followed by individual one-shots titled REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN: STEEL, REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN: SUPERBOY, REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN: ERADICATOR, and REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN: CYBORG SUPERMAN. These would lead into the year-long arc where each of those characters would take over for Superman in one of his core titles. Someplace around month seven of that year, a 6-part mini-series titled THE RETURN OF SUPERMAN would begin, which, in its final month, would cross over with the four Superman books to bring Superman back. And we'd probably get some sort of one-shot commemorating his return before all four titles rebooted with new numbering.

wwk5d said...

Don't forget another series of THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN one-shots as well, showing what other characters in Metropolis were doing while the fight with Doomsday was going on.

Also, "followed by individual one-shots titled REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN: STEEL, REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN: SUPERBOY, REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN: ERADICATOR, and REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN: CYBORG SUPERMAN"...these would actually all be 4 issue limited series, not one-shots. The cores titles would reboot after these minis, and then reboot again once he returns.

m!ke said...

@matt.... as distressing as that sounds, they would....