Tuesday, April 28, 2015

SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #26 - October 1993

Blast Off!
Credits:  Louise Simonson (writer), Jon Bogdanove (penciler), Dennis Janke (inker), Albert de Guzman (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary:  Superman faces Mongul while Steel attempts to stop the blast that will send Earth out of orbit.  Inside the engine room, Steel is attacked by mechanical objects that have been possessed by Cyborg Superman.  The Cyborg’s boasts enable Steel to realize that he needs to stop the transformer engine that creates the magnetic fields within the fusion reactor.  He destroys the engine, but the kryptonite power source remains.  Meanwhile, Mongul discovers Supergirl’s presence and knocks her unconscious.  He soon gains the upper hand against Superman.

Irrelevant Continuity:  
  • Green Lantern makes a one-panel cameo, as he flies towards Earth and realizes that Coast City is gone.  Eradicator also arrives in a one-panel scene.
  • The designs of Superman’s guns and his gun belt don’t match the previous chapters.
  • Mongul wants to destroy the Earth, now that Superboy’s actions have prevented Earth from properly going into orbit and becoming the new War World.
  • Steel unmasks and reveals his secret identity to Superman, who remembers rescuing him months earlier.
  • Steel’s thoughts reveal his mother named him after the folk hero John Henry.
  • Louise Simonson apparently didn’t know that “Man of Steel” has already been renamed Steel at this point, since there’s another scene that has Superman coming up with the name.

Review:  Oh, wonderful.  More fun in Engine City.  Judged on its own merits, this isn’t necessarily a bad chapter.  Jon Bogdanove’s Steel remains an imposing presence throughout the issue, and his designs for the makeshift Cyborg Superman bodies are imaginatively weird.  Steel’s lengthy fight scene with the cyborg is also livened up by Simonson’s dialogue, which emphasizes Steel’s intelligence and gives him an opportunity to think his way through a problem.  (Something we haven’t seen the heroes do in a while during this arc.)  And then there’s…not much else.  A few subplot pages of Lois and the utterly charmless Jeb Friedman, a couple of scenes to establish other characters arriving at Engine City, and a few pages of Superman and Mongul in a fistfight.  Like the previous chapters, much of the issue is dedicated to checking in on characters or getting them into place for the finale, but very few of these scenes are interesting in their own right.  If this didn’t feel like the fiftieth story I’ve read during this Engine City battle, it wouldn’t bother me so much.  Reading it within the context of the collected edition, it’s another chapter that barely accomplishes anything and just causes the story to drag.

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