Directly after end of Superman New Krypton, which you will see an indepth posting about on Thursday, the Superman family of books disentangled from each other and followed their own very individual paths. All this may have been because, with the DC Comics The New 52 relaunch a year away, the powers at be considered this time frame as very much of lame duck period.
If that was the assumption, they were only partly right.
The Super books from this time are varied, with the emphasis I found placed upon the wrong titles for the wrong reasons. Lets start with the main book, so off we go to…
Superman barely mentioned New Krypton and jumped right into superstar writer J. Michael Straczynski’s run with Grounded. The Man of Steel is not depressed over New Krypton, they stress massively, but wants to walk the United States in order to reconnect to the common man. While I loved and adored his Superman Earth One and Spiderman runs, I grew weary of the wandering Superman very very quickly. The social issues JMS wanted to platform felt very wedged into the stories, and the only one that truly worked at any level was issue 705, the child abuse tale. When he departs as writer and Chris Roberson takes over, things get marginally better, as he valiantly tries to bring some sense to what is happening. And it turns out Superman was wandering about because he was depressed over New Krypton. Fourteen issues to get to that revelation.
One series that instead played right into continuity was Action Comics, written by Dr Who scribe Paul Cornell and with most of the art by Pete Woods. Starring Lex Luther, this tightly plotted run has Superman’s arch nemesis back in charge of his company, but now he has a new fascination. During the Blackest Night crossover, Lex got his greedy little paws on an Orange Lantern ring and received a taste of ultimate power. But now he wants that back. Now. If not sooner. So plans are put in motion to attain this power, or some semblance of it, and any villains who get in his way are simply cannon fodder to the cause. Besides great characterizations and numerous guest stars and an epic finale beyond belief, Cornell provides fans with one of the best crossovers ever. Action Comics 894 has Lex meeting and debating and arguing with Death from the Sandman series, much to her amusement. Amazing stuff.
Supergirl was a comic that was doing excellent at this time, with writer Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle leading the way. They wisely pick up so many of the threads from New Krypton and gave them proper due, along with directly dealing with Supergirl’s PTSD. Another highlight of this run is the Annual, where her connection to the real Legion of Super Heroes is solidified and made permanent. Other creators finished off the run, just before The New 52 abomination they now call Supergirl came about.
A latecomer to these modern mythos of the time is the Superboy comic, written by Canada’s own Jeff Lemire with art by Pier Gallo. Channeling Norman Rockwell, Smallville and Edgar Allan Poe, we get a series about finding you place and avoiding the latest weirdness magnet attack. One of the absolute highlights of this series is the supporting cast, and the best of the best here is Krypto the Superdog. Always loved Krypto.
Back to the bad with the last mini crossover of this era, the dreadful beyond belief Reign Of Doomsday, which morphed into the even worse Reign Of The Doomsdays. Had to fight sooo hard to finish this non-sensical claptrap, featuring not one but multiple Doomsdays. Cue snoring and waste of paper.
Right in the middle of that muck, they give us the historic Action Comics 900. Except for the end chapter of Paul Cornell’s Luther story, the rest is a complete whatever. Really, what was the point to all those backups? So celebrity writers can provide boring fodder? The least famous writer here is Cornell and he gives us the best work. Think about that.
The endnote to this year for me was the Jimmy Olsen backups in Action Comics, which reached their conclusion in a special. Created by writer Nick Spencer and artist RB Silva, it starts off somewhat promising with Jimmy and Chloe breaking up, then segue ways into typical sixties highjinks for the character. After all the work James Robinson did in New Krypton making Jimmy viable and current, and now they give us this. And what starts as an interesting relationship quickly becomes a lame Scott Pilgrim rip-off. Great way to sabotage your characters DC.
Looking back it is obvious the plug was pulled from this version of the Superman mythos way before The New 52. Superstar writers were given complete freedom and when that failed DC took their ball, went home and pouted. Paul Cornell did amazing work, along with Sterling Gates and Jeff Lemire, and they should feel proud of what they have accomplished. Their tales added textures and greatness to the mythos.
And this was also the last year with Lois and Clark as a married couple. Which means it is also the last year of my TRUE Superman. Lois And Clark Forever!!
…is currently reading Gladiator by Philip Wylie.
P.S. This post is one of several I hope to do this year to celebrate the 75th Birthday of Superman. Happy Birthday Kal-El! Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.