Credits: Dan Jurgens (story and art), Brett Breeding (finishes), John Costanza (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)
Summary: Superman emerges, but with weakened powers. When no one believes he’s telling the truth, he takes Lois aside and recounts private moments only she would know. He kisses her goodbye and asks to borrow a pair of boot-jets from one of Luthor’s men. He flies off to Coast City with Superboy and a skeptical Steel. Meanwhile, Cyborg Superman punishes Mongul for a perceived slight. Two of the aliens serving Mongul discuss the cyborg’s origin. Cyborg Superman was once Hank Henshaw, an astronaut with a grudge against Superman who could project his consciousness into metallic objects. He discovered Mongul, who also hates Superman, on a distant planet and possessed his ship. After torturing Mongul, the cyborg forced Mongul over to his side.
- Hank Henshaw began life as an obvious Reed Richards parody. The details of his origin are found, according to the footnotes, in Adventures #466 and #468. It’s revealed that Cyborg Superman was able to duplicate Kryptonian DNA because he once grafted himself on to the birth matrix that Superman arrived on Earth in.
- Superman’s hair isn’t as long as it was in the previous chapter’s final splash page, although it’s still all the way down his neck. The style isn’t obviously a mullet until Jurgens draws Superman from the side, then it’s clear he’s going full Uncle Jessie.
- Lois’ ridiculous pants from the previous chapter have been toned down this issue.
Total N00B: I had no clue who Hank Henshaw was, so the extended origin recap is definitely appreciated.
Review: Superman finally makes his real return this issue, and while it would be easy to have all of the characters obey the plot faithfully and just accept it, Jurgens adds an element of realism to the plot. I like the fact that no one, not even Lois, is one hundred percent convinced this is the real Superman by the end of the issue. The return of Superman also means the debut of his new look, and while I think the black and silver color scheme is kind of cool, it’s impossible to ignore the mullet. If you want to say that Superman’s hair grew while in his rejuvenation pod, fine, but there should be some internal consistency here. If his hair has grown, that means he should also have a scruffy beard and long fingernails. (A more masculine, less groomed Superman isn’t necessarily a bad idea anyway.) More importantly, his hair wouldn’t have grown into a specific style! One that was already going out of fashion in 1993, as I recall. Why would his hair only grow on the top and back but not the sides? Was there a Billy Ray Cyrus setting in his regeneration matrix?
The attention is split this issue between Superman’s return and the origin of Cyborg Superman. I’ve complained about the casual way past continuity is introduced in many of the DC titles I’ve reviewed, but Jurgens goes out of his way to make sure that any reader, regardless of his of her familiarity with specific Superman continuity, knows who the cyborg is. Established readers might complain that the flashback drags on for too long, but actually seeing the details of previous stories, along with the new backstory, fleshed out in a deliberate, coherent way is a welcome gesture towards the casual fan. And speaking of that origin…how crazy is it that the main villain in the “Reign of the Supermen” event turns out to be a Reed Richards parody? It’s never played for a joke, but it is an utterly insane idea.