Friday, December 26, 2014

ACTION COMICS #687 - June 1993

Born Again
Credits:  Roger Stern (writer), Jackson Guice & Denis Rodier (artists), Bill Oakley (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary:  A being made of energy emerges inside the Fortress of Solitude.  After learning of Superman’s death, he travels to Superman’s memorial in Metropolis.  The being possesses the body, although his eyes are now sensitive to the sun.  Donning a pair of sunglasses and a new costume made by the robots inside the Fortress of Solitude, he returns to Metropolis to fight crime as the new Superman.  Lois Lane confronts him, and is shocked by his cold demeanor.  The new Superman remembers Clark’s dual identity, but tells Lois that only Superman remains.  Meanwhile, Bibbo decides to continue Superman’s legacy, while Supergirl questions why Lex hasn’t informed her of the new Superman.

Irrelevant Continuity:  
  • This new Superman, a.k.a. the "Last Son of Krypton," is later identified as the Eradicator.  Aside from a lethal attitude, he possesses the ability to shoot energy beams from his hands.
  • Lex mentions that four people dubbed “Superman” by the media have debuted in recent days.  The continuity of where these stories are taking place in relation to one another becomes less clear in future chapters.

Gimmicks:   Every Superman title this month has a newsstand and a direct-only cover.  The direct-only editions have die-cut, cardstock covers and it seems both versions have fold-out posters inside.

Review:  Well, I guess the mystery of which Superman is the real one is already resolved, right?  This is clearly Superman -- he remembers the dual identity, his spirit has reemerged after “a battle” right inside the Fortress of Solitude, and he’s able to float right into Superman’s casket and take possession of the body.  Yeah, he’s killing people left and right, but it’s the ‘90s and that’s what a hero has to do these days.  His brain’s a little frazzled after the near-death experience, so he’s still figuring some things out; maybe he’ll stop frying people after he gets a better sense of his self, but it’s cool to see Superman act like the Punisher now, right?  And thank God those awful undies on the outside are gone now!  This is the Superman of the ‘90s, folks!

Now, obviously, Roger Stern is doing all of this to make a point.  Not every new Superman turns into a lecture on what Superman isn’t supposed to be, but using one of the titles to explore a fake Superman as the stereotypical Chromium Age vigilante is a legitimate choice in my eyes.  One of the reasons why this storyline was approved in the first place was to make the audience of the time more appreciative of what makes Superman unique, so it’s easy to see what they’re going for.  This is all rendered irrelevant in the days of the New 52 and Man of Steel, of course, but it’s a nice flashback to a time when DC was honestly protective of what Superman is supposed to represent.  I do question giving Superman Cyclops glasses, though.  If the goal is to make this Superman more stylized and (I’m assuming) Image-esque, I don’t see how those big dorky glasses are supposed to work.  He should’ve had a cowl with Wolverine ears, of course.


m!ke said...

the vignettes shown in adventures of superman #500 aren't meant to be literally chronological, so it's possible for all four to appear within say 48 hours of each other, with lex's comments in action comics #687 still holding weight if that's considered day 1 of all the heroes on the scene.

side bar: chronologically speaking, i always assumed that the streak we saw flying in adventures of superman #500 was cyborg, as he would have been the only one who could've been active at that point in the story.

Scott Church said...

I remember not like Eradicator immediately and basically stopped reading his story after this issue. I don't really remember what was so off putting though at the time.

wwk5d said...

I have to admit, glasses aside, I did like the Eradicator's Superman costume.

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