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  1. #166
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Lois Lane (1986) #2

    "Quicksand"
    writer: Mindy Newell
    art: Gray Morrow
    Letters: Agustin Mas
    colors: Joe Orlando
    editor: Robert Greenberger

    grade: n/a

    This just isn't my kind of comic, so it isn't fair for me to grade it. It's not the genre (though I'll admit it's not a genre I generally read -- or can even label appropriately), but more that this Lois just isn't my kind of character. I seriously flipped to the end to see if this independent yet overly sensitive/vulnerable Lois ever attains any kind of new-found sense of strength/purpose, and she really doesn't. This isn't that kind of story, and Newell isn't that kind of writer. So I won't grade this badly; I'll just say it isn't for me.

    So...does Byrne really owe his characterization of Lois to Mindy Newell? As much as Helfer claims they planned and discussed together, these feel like two entirely different Lois' to me, and I like Byrne's better.

    Continuity wise, it becomes more obvious than ever that this is set in the pre-Crisis continuity. There's a long history of conflict revealed between Lois and Lana (apparently, the problem with the Middle East interview was that Lana scooped her, and this is again referred to as if it was actually portrayed in some pre-Crisis Superman story), and we see in this issue that Jimmy Olsen and Lucy Lane have been dating for years now. Clearly, this is not intended to be part of Byrne's rebooted continuity.

    To be honest, I didn't bother to read most of this issue. Once it became clear that this was a pre-Crisis story and that Lois wasn't going to undergo any major evolution in characterization that might serve as some inspiration or template for Byrne, I decided not to waste more of my time. Perhaps, one day I'll pull this one out to read if I'm in the right mindset and more receptive to the kind of character and story Newell was trying to write. Again, I'm not sure she did it poorly. I think it's just so far out in left field from the kind of story I'm looking for when I delve into my Superman short boxes.
    Last edited by shaxper; 01-05-2013 at 08:31 PM.

  2. #167
    Senior Member JKCarrier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    This just isn't my kind of comic, so it isn't fair for me to grade it. It's not the genre (though I'll admit it's not a genre I generally read -- or can even label appropriately), but more that this Lois just isn't my kind of character. I seriously flipped to the end to see if this independent yet overly sensitive/vulnerable Lois ever attains any kind of new-found sense of strength/purpose, and she really doesn't. This isn't that kind of story, and Newell isn't that kind of writer. So I won't grade this badly; I'll just say it isn't for me.
    I think the point here is that this particular crime is so horrific that it causes Lois to lose her objectivity, and she becomes obsessed with running down the story, to the detriment of her other work and her relationships. It takes the support of her friends to pull her back in from the ledge. By the end, she's not necessarily "stronger", but she does have her equilibrium back.

    There's a long history of conflict revealed between Lois and Lana (apparently, the problem with the Middle East interview was that Lana scooped her, and this is again referred to as if it was actually portrayed in some pre-Crisis Superman story)
    That was a plotline from the Wolfman/Kane Action Comics run, IIRC. This is absolutely pre-Crisis.
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  3. #168
    Senior Member foxley's Avatar
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    1. How did the firepit of Apokolips cause Superman to lose his memory? It's not like he hit his head and got a concussion. He fell through flames and came out relatively unscathed (minus one lightly burnt hand). It just doesn't make sense.
    In so far as I ever thought about it, I'd always assumed there was a mystical component to the firepit and that caused his amnesia.

  4. #169
    Senior Member MDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKCarrier View Post
    That was a plotline from the Wolfman/Kane Action Comics run, IIRC. This is absolutely pre-Crisis.
    i remember when I read this, it felt like it'd been sitting in inventory for a while.
    "It's just lines on paper, folks!"

  5. #170
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKCarrier View Post
    I think the point here is that this particular crime is so horrific that it causes Lois to lose her objectivity, and she becomes obsessed with running down the story, to the detriment of her other work and her relationships. It takes the support of her friends to pull her back in from the ledge. By the end, she's not necessarily "stronger", but she does have her equilibrium back.
    The characterization is in place before she even sees that first body and knows what the crime is. Even still, that's why I stuck around to see if some kind of stronger, more put together character is in place by the end of the story, but it's not.

    Several times in the story, it almost feels like Newell is consciously backing away from feminism. Lois jokes about whether or not she should check her liberated women's handbook before allowing a man to hold a door open for her, she goes out of way to correct another woman who tries to address her as Ms. Lane, and as stated earlier, she's positively dependent upon the kindness of men to get around, even expecting favors from Bill Henderson to get her into the crime scene that a man could never pull off, and she essentially does this by whining.

    I don't know. Maybe it's because I grew up in the post-Crisis, but my Lois Lane doesn't pull crap like that. She's tougher than any man and doesn't need to depend upon a man's sympathy or mercy to get what she needs.
    Last edited by shaxper; 01-06-2013 at 06:20 AM.

  6. #171
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDG View Post
    i remember when I read this, it felt like it'd been sitting in inventory for a while.

    I assume they finally decided to get this out RIGHT before the reboot as it was sort of the last chance.

    But then why did Byrne and Helfer decide to give the story any consideration at all? I mean, even if Byrne didn't truly pull his characterization from Newell, the bringing back of Bill Henderson into continuity and the depiction of a more confident and muscular Clark Kent both seemed to come from this series.
    Last edited by shaxper; 01-06-2013 at 06:21 AM.

  7. #172

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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    I assume they finally decided to get this out RIGHT before the reboot as it was sort of the last chance.

    But then why did Byrne and Helfer decide to give the story any consideration at all? I mean, even if Byrne didn't truly pull his characterization from Newell, the bringing back of Bill Henderson into continuity and the depiction of a more confident and muscular Clark Kent both seemed to come from this series.
    Nothing better than a well-planned reboot to make things less confusing, I guess

  8. #173
    Senior Member JKCarrier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    But then why did Byrne and Helfer decide to give the story any consideration at all? I mean, even if Byrne didn't truly pull his characterization from Newell, the bringing back of Bill Henderson into continuity and the depiction of a more confident and muscular Clark Kent both seemed to come from this series.
    Helfer's claim notwithstanding, I would be stunned if Byrne had even glanced at Newell's story, let alone taken any cues from it. Inspector Henderson and a less wimpy Clark were both elements of the 1950s Superman tv show, so Byrne may have gotten them from there.
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  9. #174
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKCarrier View Post
    Helfer's claim notwithstanding, I would be stunned if Byrne had even glanced at Newell's story, let alone taken any cues from it. Inspector Henderson and a less wimpy Clark were both elements of the 1950s Superman tv show, so Byrne may have gotten them from there.
    That would make sense, and we do know that the '50s TV show and '40s Fleischer cartoons were major influences on the reboot.

    Still, that one assistant editor named "Byrne." Coincidence?

  10. #175
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    Superman #4

    "Bloodsport!"
    writer/pencils: John Byrne
    inks: Karl Kesel
    colors: Anthony Tollin
    letters: John Costanza
    editors: Andy Helfer and Mike Carlin

    grade: B+

    Fair warning, folks. I'm actually going to praise Byrne on this one.

    I'm truly impressed by all that Byrne pulled off in one 22 page story.

    For one, he's updated the "Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen" concept (even bringing back the old logo), giving Jimmy the signal watch again and still having him pursue Lucy Lane (they've been dating for two years in new continuity) but also making Jimmy less goofy and decidedly more capable/heroic. In fact, it's Jimmy who stops Bloodsport in the end with his reporter instincts, succeeding where Superman's powers could not. Best yet, Byrne underplays this fact -- a choice that is unusual and impressive for Byrne considering the other stories he's written for this franchise thus far.

    For another, I'm truly impressed by the no-holds-barred depiction of mass killing that Byrne lends to this story. Maybe this resonated more strongly for me in a post-Newtown shootings world, but Byrne's means for making this villain compelling depended less on making him the most dangerous villain Superman has faced yet (though he certainly adds some twists to make him a serious antagonist) and more upon portraying the grim reality of such antics. What begins as a run-of-the-mill opening with Lucy and Jimmy being present when a villain shows up and starts shooting truly caught me by surprise when, a moment later, we survey the aftermath, see dead hands extended from barricaded furniture, and learn that 25 innocents died. We usually don't see this when comic book villains show up to deliver a warning. I was moved.

    Finally, there's the message at the end. Whereas all of Byrne's soap box rants up to this point have been so forced and simplistic as to be totally offensive, this one, about dealing with the psychological damage of the Vietnam War (especially for veterans and their loved ones) was damn powerful. Granted, Byrne could have used a little more tact when Superman refers to it as "that useless war," especially while there were many in America in 1987 still unwilling to accept that the war was over, nor that we'd lost. Still, those final panels were powerful, as raging, adrenalized (alleged) veteran is reduced to a crying, quivering mass upon coming face to face with the aspects of the war that are truly possessing him -- the guilt and the loss. For once, I think Byrne managed to be relatively sensitive and non-condescending in speaking out on an issue that didn't directly pertain to him.

    Of course, Luthor had to be behind this one, as well. He really didn't belong in this story, but I suppose that, in order to present any kind of physical struggle for Superman in this issue, Bloodsport had to have Kryptonite and a high tech arsenol and, in order to make that believable, it had to come from Luthor.

    Important details:

    - Jimmy has the signal watch

    - Jimmy Olsen and Lucy Lane have been dating for two years

    - This is the first significant change up in creative teams since the reboot, with Karl Kessel replacing Terry Austin on inks (which had been planned from the start, as Helfer mentioned repeatedly in the letter columns), Anthony Tollin taking over on colors, and Mike Carlin stepping in to assist Helfer with editorial duties. I can't say I really notice any difference in this issue, though Byrne is drawing Superman's jaw a little too wide again.

    - 1st appearance of Police Captain Maggie Sawyer

    - Superman has infrared vision

    - Whereas Andy Helfer had previously stated that Superman's physiology is identical to our own, a doctor operating on him in this issue refers to his physiology as alien and indicates that Superman cannot accept donor blood from a human. I did find it clever that the doctor used a small amount of the Kryptonite shot into Superman in order to operate on him.

    - Superman can use his heat vision to ionize air enough as to disrupt electronic transmissions.


    Minor details:

    - Lucy works at Intercontinental Airlines, and it's strongly suggested that illegal activity goes on there

    - Lucy's hair is now blonde. It was brown in Man of Steel #2 and dark brown/black in pre-Crisis continuity. Was dying/bleaching one's hair another color common in 1987? I'm guessing Tollin just wasn't paying attention.

    - Byrne has fun with Superman's aura of invulnerability in this issue. Since Superman has become weakened, his suit can become tattered. You can tell he enjoyed penciling that first panel on page 16, with Supes barely pulling himself up amidst the wreckage, costume tattered, the shadowy figure of Bloodsport looming menacingly in the distance.

    - So what was Luthor's plan here? We learned in Superman #1 that he doesn't want anyone but him killing Superman, and we learned in Adventure #426 that he doesn't want to kill Superman just yet anyway. What is Luthor's motivations towards Superman at this point, and what made him recruit an unstable man with a history of mental conditions to do it for him? Just like in the previous storyline (the Legends tie in) it feels as though Byrne uses motivation-less villains simply to create conflicts and stories for Superman.


    plot synopsis in one ridiculously long sentence:

    A mad masked Vietnam vet calling himself Bloodsport starts shooting up public establishments, threatening that people need to start living up to their potential and recreating the America he "and Mickey" fought for, Jimmy and Lucy are present at the first of these, Superman tracks down Bloodsport but discovers he can make weapons materialize at his command (including a Kryptonite dart gun), Superman is seriously wounded and taken to a hospital only to leave before having fully recovered, we learn (well, we really already knew) that Luthor was behind this but that Bloodsport has become unpredictable, Luthor sends his own soldiers to take Bloodsport down, Superman takes on Bloodsport again, and Jimmy is ultimately able to stop Bloodsport by bringing his wounded brother to see him, we learn that Bloodsport dodged the draft, his brother "Mickey" went in his place, and Mickey lost his arms and legs, driving Bloodsport into guilt-induced mental illness
    Last edited by shaxper; 01-06-2013 at 09:21 AM.

  11. #176
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Wow. Praise Byrne, and suddenly the comments stop...

  12. #177

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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Wow. Praise Byrne, and suddenly the comments stop...

    We come here, not to praise Byrne, but to bury him.
    At last, Boy Comics finally gets its own website!

  13. #178
    Elder Member dupersuper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    1. How did the firepit of Apokolips cause Superman to lose his memory? It's not like he hit his head and got a concussion. He fell through flames and came out relatively unscathed (minus one lightly burnt hand). It just doesn't make sense.
    I always assumed it was because of that psi sucker thing he had with him going in.

    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    2. What in the world was Darkseid's reason for bringing Supes to Apokolips and setting this whole story arc in motion in the first place? The only explanation we're given is:

    "When I brought Superman to Apokolips, it was to test his vaunted mettle. But he arrived in human guise -- and so, because I was then observed by the gadfly Phantom Stranger..." he changed his plans.

    So wait...why? Why bring Superman there just to test his fortitude, especially when he already had a plan in place to take down all the heroes of Earth? And, when Superman sucker punches him in the end, and Darkseid automatically decides this means he was defeated and therefore must let Superman go out of honor, I'm extra lost. What the heck was the point of any of this? Did Darkseid have any true goal other than providing us with a three part story arc? Surely, with a plan to conquer all of Earth's heroes in motion, this was not a great time to randomly experiment with Superman, especially without any true plan in place to conquer or kill him.

    I can connect the dots myself -- that Superman might have been too formidable an opponent on Earth, but if Darkseid could crush his morale, Supes could offer only token resistance as Darkseid's plans come to fruition. It's the most logical explanation, but Byrne does nothing to hint at this at all.
    In the Legends issue just before these issue we see Darkseid boasting how his plan is undermining the heroes, and Phantom Stranger responding that he'll never turn them against Superman, to which Darkseid basically responds "Oh yeah? We'll see how tough he is on my planet!" and fires off his Omega Beams through a boom tube.
    Pull List; seems to be too long to fit in my sig...

  14. #179
    Senior Member Bad Wolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Action Comics #586

    "The Champion" (Legends chapter 19)

    - Orion's true face on page 13 didn't look all that abnormal to me -- just a little grody.
    I remember thinking the same thing. I think the point is that Orion's face resembles Darkseid's, a visual cue I didn't pick up on when I read it the first time.

  15. #180
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dupersuper View Post
    In the Legends issue just before these issue we see Darkseid boasting how his plan is undermining the heroes, and Phantom Stranger responding that he'll never turn them against Superman, to which Darkseid basically responds "Oh yeah? We'll see how tough he is on my planet!" and fires off his Omega Beams through a boom tube.
    Ah, that makes more sense. Thanks.

    Now, were Shooter editing DC instead of Marvel at the time, he would have insisted that panel be included at the beginning of this issue in order to avoid such confusion.

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