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.
- 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.