Friday, October 3, 2014

SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #21 - March 1993

 

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

Summary:  Lois dreams of Superman’s death, while in real life, the flooding in Underworld reaches the streets of Metropolis.  Lois investigates and soon discovers Superman’s tomb is empty.  With the help of the Underworlders, she infiltrates Cadmus.  The Newsboy Legion helps her take photos of Superman’s corpse, but she’s forced to flee when Dubbilex sounds an alarm.  When the story of Superman’s stolen body goes public, Jonathan Kent is overcome with grief and collapses in Smallville.  

Irrelevant Continuity:  Dubbilex acts as if he doesn’t know how Superman’s personality is going to be recreated in the clone, even though he’s already come up with a solution in Action Comics #686.

Total N00B:  Batman has a subplot scene, flashing back to the day Superman gave him a piece of Kryptonite, to be used if Superman were ever mind-controlled.  Given how acrimonious their relationship has been portrayed in recent years, I was surprised to see that Batman’s Kryptonite stash was Superman’s idea in the first place.

Review:  Simonson continues to be the writer most willing to pull at your heart strings, even though the forward momentum of the titles is forcing her to also participate in this month’s Cadmus and Underworld storylines.  I don’t think I like the Underworld characters as much as the creators do, and I still can’t quite grasp the appeal of using the Newsboy Legion in a modern day setting, so much of the issue leaves me cold.  I also question why anyone thought it was a good idea for Lois to don a wetsuit and actually play superhero this issue while in the middle of her mourning process.  (Jon Bogdanove’s Lois in a wetsuit looks like ‘80s Bridgette Nielson!)  The human element is communicated well, however, with numerous pages dedicated to how various characters are dealing with Superman’s death.  Jonathan Kent flashing back to the special moments of his son’s life, and eventually blaming himself for suggesting the Superman identity to Clark, provides some genuinely touching moments.  The final page of Martha discovering Jonathan’s body in the field is easily one of the most memorable scenes from this storyline.  I’m not in favor of killing off one of the Kents, but I could see the justification if the creators decided to make Superman’s death an actual tragedy that carries on after his resurrection.  This entire event is one long exercise in “illusion of change,” but the creators could’ve instituted real upheavals in the supporting cast as a result of Superman’s fake death.  At the very least, the books wouldn’t be returning to the exact status quo seen pre-Doomsday.

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