Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ACTION COMICS #690 - August 1993

Lies & Revelations
Credits:  Roger Stern (writer), Jackson Guice & Denis Rodier (art), Bill Oakley (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary:  Cyborg Superman places Superboy in restraints so that he can be studied.  In order to get rid of the Justice League, Cyborg Superman sends them on a fraudulent mission in space.  Superboy overhears the Cyborg and Mongul’s plans to create a second “Engine City” in Metropolis and vows to escape.  Meanwhile, a weakened Eradicator reaches the Fortress of Solitude.  He discovers the regeneration matrix is empty, and the Fortress robots reveal his true identity.  The actual Superman has already been released from the matrix and is heading towards Metropolis in a Kryptonian war-suit.  In Metropolis, Lois tells the authorities that she believes Cyborg Superman is a fraud.

Irrelevant Continuity:  The origin of Eradicator is revealed.  The basic idea is that he’s a Kryptonian artificial intelligence that has gained sentience.  His consciousness lived inside the Fortress and, following the “death” of Superman, sought to steal his body.  Superman’s consciousness fought against him, however, leaving Eradicator to somehow use the mass inside the coffin to form his own faux-Superman body.

Total N00B:  The cutaways to the Justice League emphasize that Jade is Alan Scott’s daughter.  I have a vague idea of who Jade is but I’ve never heard of this before.

Review:  The mysteries surrounding “The Last Son of Krypton” (or “Visor Superman”) are resolved, in what I’m just going to assume was a satisfying payoff for regular readers of the Superman titles.  I’ve never read the original Eradicator storyline, so it’s not as if I could’ve seen this coming, but it seems as if Roger Stern has put a lot of thought into this and placed a decent number of clues in Action over the past few months.  Since Eradicator was designed as a weapons system, it seems logical that his response to crime would be lethal, and adopting the moniker “Last Son of Krypton” does make sense given his origin.  The specific details of what happened “behind the scenes” in Action #687 are revealed, showing us how what we assumed was Superman retaking his body was anything but, so Stern is playing fair with the reader.  Stern’s setting up the idea that Eradicator actually wants to follow Superman’s example now, which I guess is going to lead to a dramatic redemptive moment later on.  Some of this is fairly predictable, but the execution is compelling enough to fend off any real boredom.  And the cutaway to Superman, the real one, this issue is actually the dramatic slow-reveal that I assumed was going to happen last issue. Reading it now the sequence feels odd -- why does he get a slow reveal after already returning last month? -- but now that I understand the proper context (Stern wanted the readers to think that Superman was the Eradicator last issue), this makes sense.

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