Superman Retrospective ’86 – ’99 pt. 8
You can check out the previous installments of this rather lengthy series here.
Action Comics #591
If the cover isn’t clear enough for you, this issue has Superman fighting Superboy while the Legion of Superheroes watch from a safe distance and bet on which one’s going to come out on top. The issue also has Krypto the super dog, and some semblance of comic book continuity. In the interest of saving you a lot of time, don’t bother wondering who won. I read the issue five times, used an excel spreadsheet to score each combatant, and I’m still not entirely sure who won.
As for why they are fighting, Superman #8 had Superman learning of a parallel reality where Clark Kent already had fully developed powers as a kid, became Superboy, and traveled to the future and joined the Legion of Super-Heroes. It turns out this was all part of an extremely roundabout ruse by a villain named The Time Trapper. He’s a guy who lives at the end of time and spends all day watching costumed teenagers through his time portals, apparently. TTT is so obsessed with those crazy kids at the Legion of Super-Heroes that he created an entire universe where Superboy exists and then had the Boy of Steel infiltrate the team. There was probably a less complicated way to get a spy in there, but you have to admire the guy’s insanity/dedication.
Anyway, Superman ends up in Superboy’s universe and meets alternate versions of his friends and family in Smallville, then gets into a fight with Superboy (who is under the control of The Time Trapper) and his intelligent flying dog Krypto. However, Superman then realizes Superboy is intentionally throwing the fight because he doesn’t want to obey the Traper’s orders anymore. So, Superboy turns good again and he and the Legion of Super-Heroes go off to fight The Time Trapper at the end of time, but they don’t let Superman come with them because he’s old and lame. (And to protect the sanctity of the timestream I guess.)
Superman Annual #1
This issue starts by focusing on Lois Lane as she visits a scientific installation. Anybody who knows the character will recognize that sentence as an indication that something is about to blow up soon. In this case, a certain Dr. Thomas Moyers is in the middle of a very scientific experiment in which he pumps some kind of energy or radiation into a chimp.
I’m going to give Dr. Moyers the benefit of the doubt and assume that the experiment is meant to harness ape tears in order to develop something important like cancer cure or free renewable energy, even though he’s probably just doing it because he’s completely insane.
As expected, something goes awry and they ended up pumping the ape with too much energy, resulting in the ape turning into a giant. At this point, some lab assistant who probably expected this to happen (but didn’t complain because he needed the money) proposed the name that he had in mind all along: Glorioso il Darkie!
Unfortunately, Dr. Moyers thought the name sounded stupid and kind of racist, so they went with “Titano.”. Enter Superman, who fights the increasingly gigantic and upset Titano in the middle of Metropolis until he manages to knock him out by throwing him in the river and handing him a giant electricity cable, which somehow doesn’t kill everyone else in the river at the time (or at least we don’t see their corpses). Lois then manages to calm Titano down because she was nice to him back at the lab, so obviously he loves her. Then Dr. Moyers, that jerk, shoots the incapacitated ape anyway and he shrivels down and dies in Lois’ arms. THE END.
It’s the Joker. The Joker is in Metropolis, Mr. Words on The Cover. He’s right behind you. This issue starts with the Joker stealing a diamond with a Superman robot that launches poisonous laugh gas and has a nuclear bomb inside. That thing must have cost a fortune, which confirms my theory that the Joker is actually billionaire socialite Bruce Wayne in disguise.
Superman takes the nuclear super-laughbot to space before it blows up, then lands in the Mojave desert. By the time he gets back to Metropolis, the Joker has kidnapped Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane and Perry White and is making his getaway. However, Superman quickly catches him due to the Joker’s poor understanding of how his X-Ray vision works. As the Joker is being handed to the authorities, Superman asks him why he came to Metropolis and did all this, and the Joker replies: “Ooh, Superman… Why not?”
There’s a second short story in this issue starring Lex Luthor, who offers a random waitress a million dollars in exchange for spending a month with him. Luthor gives the conflicted waitress ten minutes to decide, but then leaves before the ten minutes are up, messing with her head (which was the idea of his little game all along). I tried it on Starbucks once, by asking the barista if she wants to be my girlfriend for a month in exchange for a million dollars. I gave her ten minutes to decide but it only took her 5 seconds before declining the offer and calling for security. I never saw her again after that.
Adventures of Superman #432
After gang members burn down a building in Metropolis’ poor side, a concerned Lex Luthor, pillar of the community that he is, starts a rehabilitation program to save these young vandals from themselves. Of course, what Lex is really doing is handing them machine guns and training them to be more evil. Superman knows Luthor is doing this, but can’t prove it. You know, all of this could be solved if Superman just carried a recorder in his pocket and taped Luthor confessing his crimes. Unfortunately, underpants don’t have pockets.
Meanwhile, Lois Lane has an interview/date with Jose Delgado, an honest teacher who cares too damn much and just wants to get his students out of the gangs. Naturally, they both end up getting trapped inside a burning carpet factory by the same gang members Jose wanted to help, which happens in equal parts because Luthor wants Jose dead and because Lois can’t stay out of trouble for fifteen minutes. Superman swoops in and saves Lois, Jose, and also the gang members who accidentally locked themselves in their own death trap. He still can’t prove Luthor did shit, though, because the kids ain’t talking.
That would be it for now. Stay tuned for the 9th part next week. I literally have a truckload of these comics so we can keep this going for a LONG time. In the meantime, you can add me on Twitter: @mrmxy or read the stuff I wrote for Cracked at http://www.cracked.com/members/Mxy