Friday, February 13, 2015

SUPERMAN #80 - August 1993


Deadly Alliance
Credits:  Dan Jurgens (story and art), Brett Breeding (finishes), John Costanza (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary:  Lex Luthor’s satellites detect the approach of Mongul’s ship.  He sends word to the authorities, and soon Cyborg Superman is contacted by the White House.  Cyborg Superman travels to where the ship has landed, Coast City, and immediately accuses Eradicator of being in league with the aliens.  As the two Supermen fight, Mongul drops “Carnage Globes” throughout the city.  They detonate, killing the seven million citizens of Coast City, and reverting Eradicator to his energy form.  Eradicator travels back to the Fortress of Solitude, while Mongul’s ship releases cybernetic seeds that create a new city.  Cyborg Superman enters Mongul’s ship and is greeted as Mongul’s master.

Irrelevant Continuity:  
  • Carol Farris (who isn’t in Coast City during the bombing, but talking to someone on the phone as it happens) went through an unnamed “weird experience” in Green Lantern Annual #3.
  • Lex Luthor’s leg is in a cast once again, although it was gone in the previous chapter.

Review:  It’s the destruction of Coast City, an event that will have ramifications on DC continuity into the next decade, although I’m not sure if the creators at the time knew it.  Destroying Green Lantern’s hometown in a Superman issue might initially seem like a strange decision, but I’m under the impression that Green Lantern was not much of a priority for DC at this time.  (If you're interested in this odd era of Green Lantern history, check out this CSBG article.) DC was looking for a way to reignite interest in the Green Lantern series, the Superman books were in the middle of a high-profile event, and something big needed to be blown up.  So, Coast City is destroyed as a part of the villain’s scheme during the Superman crossover, which sets the stage for Green Lantern to soon receive its own speculator-friendly event.  And, boy, did DC get that one wrong.  Turning Hal Jordan into a villain and then abruptly introducing a new Green Lantern was an utterly insane idea, one that anyone who’s read comics for more than a year could see wouldn’t last.  To be fair, DC showed a lot of commitment to Kyle Rayner (he even replaced Hal Jordan in Hal Jordan’s origin story on the Superman cartoon) and he did develop a fanbase, but there’s no way DC’s deconstruction of Hal Jordan’s character would stand.  DC eventually had to backtrack, and once the tide of nostalgia had firmly turned in Hal Jordan’s favor, he was reinstated as the Green Lantern.

None of this is relevant to the “Reign of Supermen” event, of course.  This specific issue is more entertaining than most of the recent chapters; the big action scenes suit Jurgens’ art, and the misdirection of which Superman is behind the attack is well played.  Destroying Coast City is almost certainly not a good idea (not only due to its damage to the Green Lantern mythos but also because the creators can’t possibly communicate the impact of losing seven million people), but that’s a problem for future chapters of the event.  As the story opens, we discover that Eradicator has taken Steel’s words to heart and is trying to be a true hero in Coast City, but it isn’t long before Cyborg Superman arrives and accuses him of being in league with the mystery spaceship.  Cyborg Superman has essentially acted like Superman, only with memory gaps, up until this point, so there’s no obvious reason to think that he’s lying.  The revelation that he’s the one behind Mongul’s arrival is perhaps a bit of cheat, since Cyborg Superman hasn’t exhibited any villainous behavior yet, but it makes for a great cliffhanger.  I’m not sure how Jurgens plans to reconcile this with Cyborg Superman’s narration during his debut in issue #78, since it contains a few first-person narrative captions that would pretty much have to be Superman’s.  Hopefully, there’s a clever solution behind this and not a total copout.

3 comments:

wwk5d said...

"Turning Hal Jordan into a villain and then abruptly introducing a new Green Lantern was an utterly insane idea"

I don't think it was that bad of an idea. If anything, it was probably one of the more interesting things that happened to Hal in years. I do get why people were upset. It might have been better to have him die a heroic death saving the universe, but whatever. Or at the very least, had there been a longer build and execution of the story, instead of just issues, it might have been better received. But, I guess DC needed to hit that magic issue # 50...

"DC eventually had to backtrack, and once the tide of nostalgia had firmly turned in Hal Jordan’s favor, he was reinstated as the Green Lantern."

Between fans not being able to let go and Geoff Johns' masturbatory fantasies of Hal, I guess he had to come back eventually. Of course, the way he came back and all the retcons he brought back with him (yellow bugs of fear! the Rainbow Brite Coprs! His temples were not supposed to be white!) was just as shitty as the story that got rid of him in the first place.

"The revelation that he’s the one behind Mongul’s arrival is perhaps a bit of cheat, since Cyborg Superman hasn’t exhibited any villainous behavior yet, but it makes for a great cliffhanger."

But that's why it worked as a plot twist. The Eradicator Superman came across as the most shady, which was a nice feint/red herring at the time.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I love Kyle Rayner, and I couldn't care less about Hal Jordan. To this day I still don't get why he even had fans to cry foul when Emerald Twilight happened, since before that event he was bland as cardboard. And guess what he was after DC let Geoff Johns revert him back to his "classic" status quo? Why that's right, he's once again bland as cardboard. There's a reason his series got cancelled like 3 times before he got revamped.

Seriously, Hal becoming Parallax was the best thing to ever happen to the character.

Daniel AH said...

Kyle Rayner forever!

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