Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday Comics Featuring Superman

My very first comic book purchase wasn't even my purchase. My mom had picked me up from school and said that she got me a book. I tried to guess what it was but I suck at guessing so I asked what it started with. She said "T" but I still couldn't guess. When I got home, I learned that it was "The Death of Superman" trade paperback. I told her that you don't include the "T" when the title starts with "The" and then backhanded her and demanded that she make me a sandwich. I loved it. I read it all that afternoon and then I read it again and it began my love for Superman.

I had missed the first few issues of 1993 and my first issue was Superman: The Man of Steel #20 which was Funeral for a Friend part 3 and featured the funeral for Superman. I collected Superman comics until 2000 when I just kind of lost interest. Missing the first few issues of 1993 meant that 1994 was my first full year of Superman comics and now 20 years later, I'm going to talk about them. First up, January cover dates.

Superman: The Man of Steel #29
"Blood Thirst"
Written by Louise Simonson
Penciled by Jon Bogdanove
Inked by Dennis Janke

Sorry to start this on the last part of a storyline but you don't really miss anything. Part one introduced a racist Bloodsport, a character that was originally introduced in Superman #4 in 1987. Part two saw the return of Hi-Tech, a female robot introduced in Action Comics #682 in 1992. Both are being ordered around by someone named Bloodthirst who, after months of vague references, finally appears.

Bloodthirst claims to be responsible for everything bad that happens on Earth from the Crusades to Hitler to JFK and MLK assassinations and even Superman's death. Bloodthirst shows off his powers of slowing down time, morphing into other people and even hitting Superman a couple times and then vanishes. He gives a cryptic message about Lex Luthor and Metropolis but Bloodthirst is never seen again. Seriously.

Bloodthirst was hyped as kind of big deal in the issues before this one and I don't know why he ended up being such a worthless character. I blame the outfit.

Superman #85
"Dark Retribution"
Written and penciled by Dan Jurgens
Inked by Josef Rubinstein

Last issue in Superman #84, Cat Grant's son, Adam, was kidnapped and murdered by the...Toyman? That's right. In an effort to give Superman a better rogues gallery, Toyman was given a gritty reboot despite having already been reintroduced in the post-Crisis Superman stories.

Anyway, this issue deals with Superman trying to find Toyman after Adam's murder and Cat dealing with her son's death. Cat decides to do exactly what Toyman did to her son and goes to the police station to confront him, bringing a gun along. Cat is able to get by the metal detector and threatens Toyman who thinks she won't do anything. When Toyman figures out she's serious he begins begging for his life and Cat pulls the trigger to reveal it was a toy gun.

To be honest, I liked this version of Toyman. I think it would've been better if Toyman had become a serial killer and we had several issues lead up to this instead of two issues focusing it and then nothing else from Toyman until Superman #99 in 1995.

The Adventures of Superman #508
"The Future Is Now"
Written by Karl Kesel
Penciled by Barry Kitson
Inked by Ray McCarthy

According to a narration box, this issue takes place between panels 1 and 2 on the last page of Challengers of the Unknown #4 from 1958. I don't have that issue but in this issue, the Challengers of the Unknown arrive in 1994 Metropolis chasing after Darius Tiko but immediately lose him. They decide to enlist the aid of Superman to help them track Tiko down. Meanwhile, Tiko pauses to look at the bounty he swiped (rings that give you elemental powers) and is promptly knocked unconscious and the rings stolen. The now-elemental thugs rampage through Metropolis and Superman and the Challengers spend a few pages battling them until Tiko shows back up. Tiko uses the last ring to create a massive void, sucking everything into it. The Challengers are able to stop Tiko by using an unloaded gun and bring him back to 1958.

The villain of the piece is taken out by Ray of the StreetSerpents.
This was my first introduction to the Challengers of the Unknown and I really liked them at the time but otherwise thought this issue was pretty forgetful. It wasn't until I read it later in life that I decided that it was a really good story and utilized the Challengers very well.

Action Comics #695
Written by Karl Kesel
Penciled by Jackson Guice
Inked by Denis Rodier

A giant robot shoots his way through a bunch of crates at Metropolis Harbor and stop some people from importing or exporting something. It's revealed that the robot is a creation from Project Cadmus, the local government research facility specializing in mutants and clones. Cauldron is then taken control of by Dabney Donovan, a crazy person who is trying to bring about the downfall of Cadmus, and uses Cauldron to rampage around Metropolis. Cadmus finally regains control of Cauldron and uses Cauldron to prop up a building so Superman can save some people, sacrificing himself. Superman then shows more compassion for this robot dying than he did when Adam Grant was murdered. Also, Lobo is headed to Earth.

Jackson Guice draws a damn sexy Lois.
No one seems to know why this issue has an enhanced cover. The only thing I can think of is that it introduces a new character (who won't be seen again until 1997) and/or the issue number ends in 5.