Superman Retrospective ’86 – ’99 pt. 3
You can check out the previous installments of this rather lengthy series here.
Action Comics #584
This happened around the time when there were three ongoing Superman titles at the same time. The main series was Superman, Adventures of Superman was the one where they try to make Superman more like Batman, and Action Comics is the one where Superman is constantly running into other superheroes. In Action Comics #584, it’s the New Teen Titans sharing panel space with big blue.
This issue stays true to the age-old tradition of making Superman look like a jerk on the cover, only to reveal inside the pages that it was just a dream or something even more silly, like they were just rehearsing for a play. In this case, it’s a guy who looks like Stephen Hawking tricking Superman into switching bodies with him. So this Hawking look-alike now has the powers of a god. What does he do with it? If you said anything other than punch buildings, you’d be wrong.
Luckily for Superman, the New Teen Titans are around to help him regain his body. Unfortunately for the New Teen Titans, they have to spend a few pages being mowed down by Super Stephen Hawking.
This issue is notable because it has a scene where Luthor notices that most Superman articles are written by Clark Kent, thereby proving that he’s the most intelligent man on the planet, and is a better investigative journalist than the entire staff of the Daily Planet combined.
You can get the entire plot of the issue just by looking at the cover, but in case you didn’t: Luthor noticed that majority of articles about Superman are written by Clark Kent, so he launches an investigation in order to find out the connection between these two tall, muscular, black-haired men with similar facial features.
Along the way, Luthor ransacks Pa and Ma Kent’s farm, collects info on Clark’s entire life, and kidnaps and tortures Lana Lang for two days, the last one being unrelated to the investigation and was just done because why the hell not? He also has a super computer that’s literally the size of a house being operated by a genius informatics engineer in order to process all the information he gathered, and the conclusion was: CLARK KENT IS SUPERMAN.
Luthor’s reaction? He says “Nope, I refuse to accept that” and fires the engineer. The end. It’s… it’s kind of awesome.
Adventures of Superman #425
This picks up where Adventures #424 left off, with Superman still fighting the terrorist robots from Qurac, who have combined to form a larger robot, like Voltron. Superman is about to win when Professor Emil Hamilton butts in and traps Superman and the terrorist Megazord in a force field, desperate to prove that his force field-making machine works. Superman beats the robot anyway and everyone cheers him, but no one cares about Hamilton.
Dejected, Hamilton goes nuts: he kidnaps a woman at gunpoint, lays traps for Superman in the street and tells him he’ll let the woman live if his inventions kill Superman. You know, to prove his genius. That’s a great plan, man. Naturally, Superman ends up saving both Hamilton and his chesty friend from being exploded to death, at which point Hamilton just gives up and goes to jail.
Action Comics #585
In this issue, Superman fights a graveyard. That’s not a clever turn of phrase about Superman fighting zombies and ghosts, he’s fighting the actual physical land in the graveyard, which somehow managed to transform into a giant tornado and threatens Metropolis. The guest star for this issue is The Phantom Stranger, whose super power is a nice hat. He’s also a Phantom.
It was the Stranger who alerted Superman to the graveyard situation, and he was also the one who did most of the work to defeat it, because it turns out Superman isn’t that useful against problems that cannot be solved through punching.
This issue is one of the earliest mentions of the fact that Superman’s other weakness is magic, though Superman is already aware of it in the story, presumably because there were earlier adventures where he was defeated by a gang of little fairies, a couple of forest dwarves, and David Copperfield.
That would be it for now. Stay tuned for the 4th 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