Either way, it doesn't exactly encourage me to go out and try Byrne's FF run.
What's been wrong with the covers?
Adventures of Superman #434
writer: Marv Wolfman
pencils: Jerry Ordway
inks: Joe F. Marzan
letters: Albert DeGuzman
colors: Anthony Tollins
editor: Mike Carlin
The last two issues left me truly excited to see how this story would culminate, but somewhere along the line it took a wrong turn. It remains my theory that Jose DelGado was originally supposed to die last issue. There are a number of indicators that this was supposed to happen, the most clear one being that the issue began by promising it would end in tragedy and very clearly didn't.
As a result, instead of watching a gritty, no-holds-barred depiction of a gangwar that Superman is largely powerless to stop, this becomes the first appearance of Gangbuster, Jose DelGado's new vigilante persona, and it's kind of lame. I really liked DelGado prior to this issue, but he feels a lot more silly and generic here, even while taking a very analytical approach to his decisions about when to cross the line and whether he is getting off on the power that comes from it.
The Jerry White subplot wraps up far too easily, as well. Jerry was painted as the kind of kid that you were never going to be able to save, but you just had to keep trying and hoping, yet a little intimidation from Luthor's people inside of prison, and suddenly Jerry is scared straight and ready to be an active part of his family again. Too easy, especially in a series that was beginning to feel disturbingly real in its depiction of inner city youth and the gang problem.
Oh, and Cat Grant is leaving Metropolis? I didn't think Wolfman had the power to make any significant changes to the Superman franchise, and Byrne clearly enjoyed working with the character in his previous issue of Superman.
1st appearance of Gangbuster (though not of Jose DelGado)
Some background info about DelGado's youth is offered for the first time (involvement in a small-time gang and "Father Kenny" being his guide)
- Why do both Luthor and Superman automatically suspect DelGado was involved in the ransacking of Luthor's laboratory? We hadn't seen him do anything hasty prior to this other than call Luthor out at a press conference.
- So a highly motivated inner city high school teacher can put on a costume and suddenly pull amazing feats of athleticism and take on two professional criminals at once just because he wants it bad enough?
- And I wish it were that easy to make a professional looking superhero costume with just four trips to gun and survival shops and one trip to a costume shop. It looked like he made that chest symbol on construction paper, yet it looks professional when he's done.
-Jerry White and Jimmy Olsen randomly show up at the scene of the big fight in this issue with no explanation offered, and Jerry somehow knows to call DelGado "Gangbuster." If this is his first night out in costume, and if Jerry hadn't spoken to DelGado since his incarceration, how does he know what to call him?
- And seriously, where the hell did Jimmy come from? Do minor staff members of the Daily Planet typically arrive alone with the police at the scene of a crime?
- If Luthor's company is supposed to be responsible for most of the technological leaps experienced in Metropolis over the past decade, how the heck does Jimmy Olsen hack their high security computer files so effortlessly?
Plot synopsis in one long sentence:
Superman interrupts a security guard working for Luthor being assaulted by kids, the guard refuses to press charges over fear of being fired and begs Superman to forget all about it, DelGado had some involvement in the assault and prepares to become a vigilante, Perry White and wife bail Jerry out of jail and begin reconnecting, Cat Grant explains to Clark that she is moving back to New York to gain custody of her son, Perry announces he's taking a break from the Planet for a few days to work on his family, Luthor's lab gets trashed (presumably by DelGado, and Luthor and Superman both suspect as much for no apparent reason), DelGado makes his first appearance as Gangbuster, roughing up criminals to gain evidence against whoever is behind the gang militarization, Gangbuster takes down the gang, Superman and Jerry White show up to help, the gangs are stopped, the evidence points to Jay Falk (a stooge for Luthor), we are reminded that the one successful participant from "Project Synapse" is still under Luthor's control, and Superman has Jimmy hack Luthor's system to provide a warning that Superman knows he was really behind the gang build-up.
Last edited by shaxper; 02-13-2013 at 08:21 PM.
Action Comics #594
"All That Glisters"
writer/pencils: John Byrne
inks: John Byrne & Keith Williams
colors: Tom Ziuko
letters: John Costanza
editor: Michael Carlin
In one sense, this is a return to the model in which each issue of Action is a throw-away first part to a story that really isn't about Superman and gets continued somewhere else. In this case, there are two Booster Golds, and one wants to take down Superman. This really isn't a story about Superman in any significant way, and the story is left in such a state that we can be relatively sure Supes will be weak and helpless throughout much of the second part of the story, leaving it to the real Booster Gold to determine what's happening and save the day.
In another sense, though, this issue is fascinating from a continuity perspective. There's a whole lot going on, here.
Perhaps the most significant contribution to continuity comes in Superman's acknowledgement that he last fought Booster Gold in BG #7. Problem is, that was the Pre-Crisis Superman fighting Booster back in August, 1986. Once again, we have that uncertainty as to where the Pre-Crisis Superman ends and the Post-Crisis one begins.
I'm going to go for broke, here, and argue that this ambiguity began at exactly the same time that Andrew Helfer left the series, just as the throwback to the Pre-Crisis characters, concepts, and styles began to invade the formerly relatively grounded series. When Helfer was on-board, this franchise had a clear starting point and back story, as well as a clear mission to make Superman less ridiculous. But, with the Legion crossover in Superman #8/Action #591, Helfer left the Superman office unexpectedly, and we suddenly started seeing the sillier characters return to the fold (Superboy, Krypto, Titano, Mxyzptlk), were given some confusion as to whether or not Superman could actually remember the Crisis and what came before it (Action #591), and now we have a clear acknowledgement of an event that transpired for the Pre-Crisis Superman before the Crisis. Add to this someone referring to Lois as "Superman's Girlfriend: Lois Lane," in this issue (even though I believe Superman has only publicly appeared with her/saved her three times, thus far -- MOS #1, #3, and #5), and it seems clear that there had been a conflict of vision between Helfer and Byrne, as well as which side each one fell out on.
Another important contribution to continuity in this issue is the needless cameo by Batman and Robin. I'd initially suspected that Byrne's motivation for bringing in Batman twice before (both times feeling unnecessary) was to boost sales and put his own signature on DC's hottest property at the moment. However, there's no mention of Batman on the cover to this issue, and he isn't an important nor memorable aspect of this issue, yet Byrne goes for it, just the same. I guess he he really likes writing/drawing the character, and maybe there's some unresolved feelings here about being booted off the Untold Legends of The Batman mini way back in the day.
Either way, Byrne chooses a very interesting moment in which to write the Post-Crisis Batman, as Max Allen Collins had been booted off the Batman title just one month earlier, presumably because fan reaction to his post-Crisis portrayal of Batman and Robin was enthusiastically negative. Jim Starlin would not be starting his run, which significantly alters the Post-Crisis depiction of Batman and Robin into something more closely resembling what they ultimately become, until next month, leaving Byrne with the Mike W. Barr and Alan Davis Detective Comics run as his only template. While I positively adore that depiction of the dynamic duo, it never fully jibed with what Max Allen Collins was writing and got completely thrown out once Starlin took over on Batman. So the young, eager, wide-eyed Jason Todd, beside a calmer, more content Batman, may seem out of place to readers of today, but it made sense for approximately one month back in 1987. Both visually and in terms of characterization, Byrne actually did a nice job here.
There's also the notion, first put forth in this issue, that Booster Gold is a well-known fixture in Metropolis, even though he'd never been mentioned in any Superman title since the time of the Crisis. Apparently, he's a major economic force in the city. I'd imagine that would have put him on Luthor's radar by this point.
- We all already knew it from the Pre-Crisis, but this may be the first time we're told Smallville is in Kansas.
- Confirmed that this is the same mayor from Man of Steel #3, and that his full name is Frank Berkowitz, as well as the fact that he is Jewish (therefore making the discussion about the importance of money over doing what's right in his administration all the more distasteful. This is the second Jew Byrne has depicted -- the sleezy video producer from the Big Barda/Sleeze storyline being the first -- and neither have been favorable).
- First full appearance of Julianna Berkowitz, the mayor's daughter. The mayor indicates that she was on the yacht in Man of Steel #3, and, looking back, she really did appear in several panels next to the Mayor, though she looked like she was supposed to be an older character (perhaps his wife) in that issue.
- Lois Lane began working at the Daily Planet at the age of sixteen. Assuming that she is approximately same age as Clark (28 years old), that would have her beginning at the Planet in the mid 1970s, while Lex Luthor was first coming to prominence and Clark was still in Smallville, unaware of his origin and abilities.
- Superman explains to Batman that he is not knowledgeable enough to identify finger prints, yet he did exactly that in Superman #1.
- How helpful can Batman be in investigating the Scrapbook sent to Clark Kent if Superman hasn't told him what mystery he needs him to solve? In fact, should we presume that Superman doesn't know Ma Kent was keeping this scrapbook and therefore doesn't know who made it? Isn't it likely Batman will discover Superman's identity by investigating this, and wouldn't Superman realize that since the scrapbook is following his career back from his first days of anonymously averting disasters?
- For only the second time, Byrne actually references an event from Wolfman's Adventure Comics run (from #427), actually allowing it to play a significant part in the story.
- I hate when characters misuse the word "literally," especially when they're supposed to be highly literate journalists.
- 1st appearance of "Gus," a photographer from the Planet that Lois uses when Jimmy is not around.
Overall, though not a great issue, it did a lot to build Superman's supporting cast and universe, the art and writing were passable, and the action was constant and engaging while intermixed well with plot advancement.
plot synopsis in one long sentence:
Superman calls in Batman in order to learn more about the scrapbook that was anonymously sent to him in Superman #9 (presumably the scrapbook Ma Kent was making in MoS #1), Booster Gold leads an attempt to discredit Superman on Mayor Birkowitz's "Superday" event, Booster attempts to draw Superman out by kidnapping and torturing Julianna Birkowitz, he proves unexpectedly strong against Superman and defeats him soundly, and the "real" Booster Gold shows up to stop what appears to be an imposter.
Last edited by shaxper; 02-18-2013 at 09:37 AM.
writer/pencils: John Byrne
inks: Karl Kesel
colors: Tom Ziuko
letters: John Costanza
editor: Michael Carlin
"Dedicated to the memory of Wayne Boring, the first Lori artist"
Funny how Byrne still holds the reputation, a quarter of a century later, of having been responsible for taking Superman in a more grounded post-Crisis direction when issues like this one all but prove he wanted the exact opposite and that Andy Helfer had been all that stood in his way. In this issue, Byrne introduced Lori Lemaris and Ronal into the Post-Crisis continuity only to kill Lori off-camera and in the past so that her being introduced served no real purpose other than to allow Byrne to have made her Clark's first love.
Truly, considering all the effort made to create a more grounded, realistic Superman series, the revelation of Lori being a mermaid two thirds through this issue comes off as utterly ridiculous, even if you were familiar with the pre-Crisis character and therefore knew what was coming from the first page. Telepathic mermaid love interests just don't work well post-Silver Age. It's an absurd concept that doesn't belong in a genre that has spent the past ten years trying to legitimize itself with deeper characterization and a greater attention to real world believability.
So Ronal is around, Lori Lemaris was Clark's first love and, in Post-Crisis continuity, still died during the Crisis, and that's pretty much it. While I feel like Byrne is polluting Superman's continuity by adding this pivotal romance that clearly hadn't originally been intended to be there, he does dot his Is and cross his Ts. Everything fits, right down to Lois's hair style in flashback which perfectly matches how it looked circa MoS #2.
- 1st post-Crisis appearance of Lori Lemaris in flashback (though she is remembered as having died during the Crisis. Brain hurts)
- 1st post-Crisis appearance of Ronal
- Clark was a senior at the University of Metropolis, majoring in journalism, and carrying multiple minors one year prior to becoming Superman. He wanted to become a journalist in order to "keep tabs on world events -- to have immediate knowledge of trouble that might need my special help." Interesting that the social justice aspect of journalism doesn't seem like a priority to him.
- Lori Lemaris was Clark's first love, and he proposed to her.
- Superman first met Aquaman around the time of MoS #2
- Lori helps Clark to realize that his love for Lois Lane is more true around the time of MoS #2.
- Lori died defending Atlantis sometime after.
- I assume Hans Schmidt stabbing Lori is taken directly from Pre-Crisis continuity as its addition feels otherwise arbitrary here.
- Ma and Pa Kent are abducted as a tie-in to the coming Millennium series.
- Only 3 days have passed since Lana was abducted in Superman #9, but seven Superman stories occurred during that time, including the multi-day "Gang War" storyline and the stretch in which Superman was hypnotized by Sleeze. I could spend more time checking the fine details, but I'm pretty sure this timeline is impossible. At the very least, it's hard to accept that Superman was dealing with several major adventures each day and not referring to the others as he was dealing with one ("Gee, first I have to watch over Jerry White in lock-up, deal with my feelings after being hypnotized and video taped by Sleeze, make an appearance at Superday, fight and get my butt beaten by Booster Gold, and now Ronal is summoning me like I don't have anything better to do?")
plot synopsis in one long sentence:
Superman is summoned by Ronal to commemorate the now deceased Lori Lemaris, Clark remembers how they first met at Metropolis University and how he proposed to her but was rebuffed because they were from different worlds, as well as how she met Ronal, fell in love with Ronal, and helped Clark to see that his true feelings were for Lois Lane, and Ma and Pa Kent go to check on Lana Lang, only to succumb to the same fate she did in anticipation of Millennium.
Last edited by shaxper; 02-20-2013 at 11:11 AM.
Probably. And, just as with the Incredible Hulk reference, it doesn't feel like Wolfman's humor, so I'm guessing this was all Ordway.I'm guessing that this was just meant as an inside joke for long time readers rather than anything serious though.