Wednesday, February 11, 2015

ACTION COMICS #689 - August 1993

Who is the Hero True?
Credits:  Roger Stern (writer), Jackson Guice & Denis Rodier (art), Bill Oakley (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary:  Superboy and Supergirl unite to rescue the citizens on Hobsneck Bridge, but Lex is furious to discover that Superboy has signed a deal with Rex Leech.  Meanwhile, in the Fortress of Solitude, Superman awakens from his regeneration matrix.  After the Fortress’ robots show him news reports of the four new Supermen, he declares that he’s going to Metropolis as soon as possible.  In Metropolis, Steel and Eradicator get into a brawl after Steel accuses Eradicator of manslaughter.  Eradicator flies Steel into orbit, forcing him to leap off and rely on his boot-jets to reach Earth.  Before he lands, Eradicator dive-bombs him.  In deeper space, Mongul approaches Earth.

Irrelevant Continuity:  
  • The Kents are irritated by news coverage of the new Supermen, and for Supergirl for siding with Lex Luthor.  According to the footnotes, they took in Supergirl in Superman #22, and she “ran off” in Action #644.
  • When Superman emerges from his regeneration matrix, he does not have long hair.

Review:  Wait a minute…this is how Superman returns?  In a docile subplot scene tucked into the middle of a seemingly random issue?  No giant splash page, no lengthy buildup, no breathless purple prose…he just wakes up inside his pod and decides it’s time to come back?  That’s insane.  I’m tempted to believe that there’s a chapter missing in the reprint collection, yet these Superman trades have been pretty good about reprinting almost all of the material, and it’s hard to imagine why a scene building up to this one would’ve been skipped.  It’s amazing to think that the “Reign of Supermen” era was so short (it’s painfully obvious by now that none of these “heroes” is truly Superman); my memory as a kid was that the four Supermen gimmick lasted for several months.  It’s a shock to realize that it barely lasted for two full months, and that the mystery was dismissed so casually.

Ignoring Superman’s totally blas√© resurrection, what else is going on this issue?  The cliffhanger from Adventures is resolved, a few subplots are touched upon, Eradicator and Steel get into a pointless fight, and there’s a cliffhanger set up for the next chapter in Man of Steel.  In a way, it feels like a busy issue, even though most of these threads aren't particularly exciting.  There’s a cute bit that has Eradicator and Steel getting served by a process server because Rex Leech has already copyrighted the Superman emblem, but the rest of the issue is fairly dull.  The Return of Superman should’ve livened things up, but the bizarre execution of that scene is shocking in how utterly non-dramatic it is.  It’s truly a strange issue; I wonder what was going on behind the scenes at this point.


m!ke said...

nope, that's exactly how he came back. the big splash page "return" your looking for doesn't happen until the follow mont's "superman: the man of steel" #25.

wwk5d said...

"It’s amazing to think that the “Reign of Supermen” era was so short; my memory as a kid was that the four Supermen gimmick lasted for several months. It’s a shock to realize that it barely lasted for two full months, and that the mystery was dismissed so casually."

Yeah, reading your blog, I had the exact same reaction. As a kid, it certainly felt like ROTS was a good 4 or 5 months before Superman returned. Reading you blog does produce a "He's back already??? reaction.

As, nostalgia for our youth goggles...

Steven said...

I think the point of the 'return' scene is that you're not supposed to know it's Superman at this point. Yes, in hindsight, it's incredibly obvious, but at the time, you were supposed to assume it was the Eradicator in those scenes. Specifically when the computer is about to speak about the Eradicator, and Kal El cuts it off. The image on the screen and the image of Kal El looking at it are incredibly similar. I think Kal El even mentions that the monitors are too bright, just as the Eradicator would say without his visor. (We also don't know he is the Eradicator at this point either.)

A few issues later, when the Eradicator is defeated by the Cyborg, and retreats to the Fortress, he starts to use his power to burn through the ice, and then a few pages (panels?) later, a thought balloon from a Kryptonian battle suit says something like "This will sustain me on my journey back to Metropolis." Again, you are to assume that the person inside the battle suit is the visored Superman. Then, a few issues after that, when the Eradicator finally burns through into the Fortress, it slowly starts to dawn on you that the person in the battle suit that we've assumed is Eradicator (still not identified as such) just may actually be Superman. Who then gets his big return/reveal splash page not long after.

DC said...

I agree with Steven. When I read this issue for the first time at age 9, I thought it was the Eradicator that emerged from the pod in the Fortress. It never occurred to me to think it was a revived Superman, and I didn't realize that until later. I'm sure that's what the creative team was going for.

G. Kendall said...

I don't have the book in front of me, does this match up with the subplot scenes that feature the Eradicator in the same issues?

Steven said...

I don't have it in front of me, but I think particularly this issue (#689) has Kal El emerge from the chamber, and then watches news footage of the new Supermen and says something to the effect of "I'll deal with them" and the next scene we see of the Eradicator is him confronting Steel.

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