Thursday, April 30, 2015

SUPERMAN #82 - October 1993

Back for Good
Credits:  Dan Jurgens (story and art), Brett Breeding (finishes), John Costanza (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary:  Superboy meets Eradicator outside of Engine City.  Inside, the heroes regroup and face another attack from Cyborg Superman.  Eradicator locates Superman and convinces him that he also wants to defeat the cyborg.  Cyborg Superman tricks Superman and Eradicator inside the chamber that houses Engine City’s kryptonite power source.  Eradicator sacrifices his life, transferring the radiation into a form that won’t harm Superman.  The cyborg is weakened by the kryptonite, which enables Superman to smash him into pieces.  After he’s reunited with the other heroes, Supergirl uses her telekinetic powers to recreate Superman’s original costume.  Revitalized, he flies to Metropolis.

Irrelevant Continuity:  
  • The design of Green Lantern’s emerald armor doesn’t match the previous chapter.
  • Eradicator reveals that he saved Superman’s life following his battle with Doomsday:  “The death of the last Kryptonian awakened me…your termination actually compelled me to visit your body.  My powers and the technology at your fortress were able to do the impossible.”

I Love the ‘90s:  Green Lantern’s battered appearance makes Superboy want to "hurl."

Gimmicks:  Apparently there are foil variants and chromium variants for this issue.

Production Note:  The title and credits for this issue are missing in the Return of Superman trade.  Also, two pages clearly by Tom Grummett (featuring Superman's reunion with Lois) are added at the end of this issue.  I’m assuming they’re from Adventures #505, which the inside front cover claims to reprint but is otherwise missing.

Review:  And we’re still in Engine City.  As is the case for most chapters in this arc, as an individual issue it’s decent, but when read in succession with the rest of the storyline, you’re left with the sense that you’re trapped in the third act of a movie that will not end.  What Superman has going for it, as usual, is lovely art from Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding, who go the extra mile and truly sell the scope of Engine City.  Since Jurgens seems to enjoy Cyborg Superman more than the other creators, he comes across as a more tolerable villain this chapter.  Jurgens throws in a few clever bits during the excessive fight scenes, such as the cyborg possessing Steel’s armor, but there’s only so much that can be done to maintain the reader’s interest in a fight that’s dragged on for several issues.  The non-fighting pages seem to be going down a checklist of things that need to be addressed before the story finally ends.  Everyone’s brought together, the Eradicator’s heroic arc is completed, and there’s finally some explanation for how exactly Superman’s alive.  It’s not a great one, however.  The resurrection boils down to Eradicator using Kryptonian technology to make Superman better, then warning him that it was a unique circumstance that could never be repeated.  That’s a pretty feeble way of getting around a clear problem with this storyline -- once Superman is killed and resurrected, you’re confirming to the audience that he is immortal.  While DC gained all the publicity it could’ve ever wanted out of killing Superman, the resurrection is never going to match the drama that surrounds the death.  And once the readers know that DC has no real commitment to killing the character (something any fan older than ten should’ve known anyway), it’s even more difficult to sell the concept of Superman ever being in a life or death situation again.  Throwing in a line or two about these circumstances being unique isn’t really going to address these problems.  


m!ke said...

the grummett pages are is in fact the opening scene from adventures of superman #505. interestingly enough, there's more to the return story from action comics #692 featuring dr. occult that's also not included. mostly how superman's rebirth was a unique set of circumstances that could never be replicated, and that he is essentially just as mortal as any other being.

Anonymous said...

You don't really mention it so I apologize for the comment-hijack but was anyone else freaked out by Green Lantern's behavior in this issue?

Even as a kid I thought it was really weird. The whole "you deserve a rest Superman, we'll mop up here" when pretty much everyone he knows in his personal life just died. I mean..."mop up"...seriously?!? That's what you call going through the charred remnants of your home town?

I mean, he'd go coo coo a little latter in his own book but his reactions here just seemed weird to me.

j said...

Green Lanterns actions as a whole during this story are pretty contrary to how he acts later on when he goes insane. Seems like proof to me that making him go nuts was a last second decision.

Matt said...

There have been several Comic Book Resources columns about "Emerald Twilight" over the years, confirming that Hal's madness was a very last minute change. Gerard Jones intended to go a completely different direction, having Hal grieve for Coast City but move on with his life. But he was fired from the series when editorial decided they wanted their own GL event along the lines of "Knightfall" and "Death of Superman". Enter Ron Marz.

As for Hal's callous attitude here -- isn't it possible he's just in shock and his brain can't deal with what happened so he's shut it down? Seems reasonable to me.

Anonymous said...

Shock is definitely a No-Prize worthy explanation for Hal's behavior. Though I think you might have thought it through more than the writers did.

Even in the Green Lantern title they gloss over it and go right into "Green Arrow's been kidnapped!" Then by the next issue Hal has decided to move past it entirely.

(Of course that's when a new writer came in and they needed a reason to shuffle Hal off the stage)

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