Down on Her Luck Metropolis
Superman: The Man of Steel #2-3, Superman #58-59, Adventures of Superman #481-482, Action Comics #668; Triangle Numbers 1991 – 23-29
Writers: Louise Simonson, Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Roger Stern; Pencilers: Jon Bogdanove, Dan Jurgens, Tom Grummett, Bob McLeod; Inkers: Dennis Janke, Brett Breeding, Doug Hazlewood, Denis Rodier; Colorists: Glenn Whitmore, Petra Scotese; Letterers: Bill Oakley, John Costanza, Albert De Guzman
After the breakneck oversized issues that made up the last arc, the books take a bit of a breather. Each series gets to explore it’s own ongoing plots, while still working in the things that were affecting the entire line. You still have the economic collapse of the city, and the woes of one Jimmy Olsen, but there’s a little more room for each issue to focus on it’s own things.
In Man of Steel #2, the threat of Cerberus rises from the ashes, with two new cyborg threats, Belcher and Rorc, who play to Bogdanove’s strengths as an artist with absurdist proportions and kinetic movements. Superman also rescues Keith’s cat Tiger again, firmly establishing himself as a savior figure for Keith, despite Myra’s protestations. This was also the issue that made it fairly clear to me that Bogdanove does not like to draw Superman’s cape, as now three times in two issues his cape has been obliterated.
Superman #58 introduces the audience to Cadmus Director Paul Westfield, along with his obsession to capture Superman, to eventually clone the Man of Steel for Cadmus’ purposes. Once again, this was a simple story laying seeds that would bear fruit years later. Westfield, the Guardian and Dubbilex all have very big roles to play in the coming years, and this single issue just begins to lay the groundwork.
Ron Troupe was introduced in Adventures of Superman #480, but in the following issue he becomes a bigger thorn in Jimmy Olsen’s side. An out of work and down on his luck Jimmy keeps having catastrophes befall him as Troupe gets hired for the job he was late to interview for. But more importantly this issue of Adventures sees Superman have his first Post-Crisis encounter with the Parasite.
And while the drama with LexCorp and the struggling city of Metropolis has been a consistent theme throughout all the books, it os of course Roger Stern in Action Comics #668 that takes the time to focus an entire issue on what the man’s sudden death in a plane crash had done to the city. Stern takes this entire issue to look at how the event had impacted the regular people of the city, and how many of them were still trying to cling to the hope that he might be out there, somewhere, having faked his death. It also gives the reader insight into how the pervasiveness of praise for the dead Luthor affected those who knew him best. Stern also provides a last page tease that soon the illusive heir would be introduced, and perhaps the woes of an ailing city may come to an end.
Meanwhile, over in Man of Steel #3, we have a weird situation. This issue is a tie-in to the Wonder Woman lead “War of the Gods” event, which could really mess with the flow of a young series if done incorrectly. However, Simonson handles it in a way that allows Superman and his supporting cast to still be the focus of the issue. The action takes place in Tattamalia, a fictional Latin America country that had not been seen before this issue and hasn’t been seen since. Tattamalia plays into two separate plots that wind up connecting: The end of the White’s and the Kent’s cruise vacation and a scheme by LexCorp to buy up massive quantities of the country. Phobos, the Greek god of Fear, summons the Aztec god of wind, air and learning, Quetzalcoatl to fight Superman, but due to Quetzalcoatl’s nature, the battle was brief as things tend to be when heroic forces fight. In the end, Phobos’s goal was to distract Superman for a time, and it worked, but as no other Superman books tie into that event, the casual reader of only Superman books is left at a little bit of a loss.
With things in Metropolis finally slowing down after “Time And Time Again” and “Return of the Krypton Man”, Clark and Lois are able to escape for a moment to have the discussion that’s been brewing since Action Comics #662. “Slowing down” might be an overstatement though, because every time they seem to find a moment together, an emergency draws Clark away. But lingering in the background is a mysterious robed individual, pondering how she can help the couple. Finally, they escape to Mt. Fuji where they can talk, and while Jurgens keeps most of their conversation private, there is one page that absolutely boils the character down to exactly the things I love about him. In the end, he does what he does because nobody else can, and somebody needs to. They talk for hours and hours, but it’s revealed that the Linear Men are an organization, and that one of their members had allowed Lois and Clark to step out of time for a bit so that they could have the conversation they so desperately needed. The final three pages of Superman #59 give the reader a glimpse into what a copy of the Daily Planet might actually look like, including Lois’s editorial thanking Superman. This issue was one of the many that I was able to find a back issue of right after I started reading comics, and is one that still sticks with me today, because it is such a heartfelt look at both sides of the Clark and Superman character.
Adventures of Superman #480 closes the door on the Parasite story that started in the previous issue, while expanding on the running Foswell and economic strife plotlines. Foswell’s management of the Daily Planet has been so disastrous that the tradesmen unions have gone on strike, and the writers and photographers refuse to cross the picket line in solidarity with their colleagues. In addition, Intergang is starting to make it’s return after dropping off during the Morgan Edge trial. A very nice continuity touch of this issue is that it opens with both an Intergang thug and Clark reading the edition of the Daily Planet that was printed in Superman #59. Just another of those little things that makes all the books feel so closely connected