Tuesday, September 30, 2014

THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #499 - February 1993

 

Grave Obsession
Credits:  Jerry Ordway (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Doug Hazelwood (inker), Albert de Guzman (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary:  Lex Luthor’s sensors detect that Superman’s casket is missing.  Supergirl investigates underneath the tomb, arousing the suspicion of the Metropolis police officers monitoring the memorial.  Dan Turpin follows Supergirl through a subway ventilation shaft entrance and soon finds himself in Underworld.  He sees Supergirl is under attack for trespassing and tries to help.  Eventually, Supergirl carries Turpin to safety after one Underworlder drops several grenades.  Meanwhile, Gangbuster returns to action and teams up with Bibbo to stop a gang of drug dealers.

Review:  Superman is still dead, although only two pages are dedicated to Lois and the Kents mourning, re-establishing what we’ve already seen in other chapters.  This issue moves the focus to the peripheral characters surrounding Superman, such as the street-level vigilante Gangbuster.  I have only a vague knowledge of who Gangbuster is supposed to be, but there’s enough information in the reprint collections to infer that he’s a retired vigilante who admires Superman.  And now he makes clear he’s Cat Grant’s ex-boyfriend.  I’m not sure why the Superman titles felt the need to establish such a character, and I recall some readers complaining about the introduction of more heroes within Metropolis when Superman is already there, but I always have a soft spot for the street-level hero.  Gangbuster’s design isn’t exactly elegant, but the basic idea seems to be he’s taken a cop’s riot gear and repurposed it for vigilante work, which is a reasonable starting place for a costume.  There are far worse examples of ‘90s vigilante fashion, of course.  I’m assuming Gangbuster was created as some form of down-to-earth contrast to Superman, so bringing him out of retirement to deal with Metropolis’ criminal element following Superman’s death is a decent idea.  Not that the books really go anywhere with it, since the four false Supermen are soon to be introduced, quickly followed by the actual Superman’s return.

Following the lead of Action Comics, Supergirl turns out to be the star of this issue.  There isn’t a lot of depth to the story, it’s essentially killing time until the next chapter reveals Cadmus’ plan, but there are some entertaining action scenes.  Tom Grummett helps a lot, drawing a very attractive Supergirl and a host of monsters that aren’t exactly Kirby-esque but do evoke a fun Silver Age feel.  Dan Turpin is also thrown in, partially for comic relief, but also to fulfill the role he always plays, that of the tough-as-nails cop who refuses to back down to any superhuman menace.  Much of the issue is arguably filler, but it’s never dull and the action scenes look great.

1 comment:

m!ke said...

gangbuster is dropped in the main titles pretty quickly, but he is featured in the "legacy of superman" one-shot from the same period. the one shot also featured a super-powered guardian clone called auron, that only has another single appearance again a few motnsh after superman's return. a lot of ideas got thrown at the wall during this time period but a lot of subplots got swept away in the bigger events.