Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Superman: Post Crisis Punch-Up #1

I'm a big fan of Superman, but for some reason throughout my comic-book reading career my reading of the Man of Steel's various series has been spotty at best. To redress this terrible wrong I've decided to go all the way back to the first appearances of Post Crisis Superman after he was re-introduced in John Byrne's awesome Man of Steel mini-series - then start reading in sequence.

Then just so that my loyal YouAreComic readers can join the fun I'm going to talk about them month by month and decide when each title was at it's...um...super-est?

So set your WABAC machine for Jan 1987 as we get rolling with:

Adventures Of Superman #424:
 So coming in third in this our inaugural post-crisis punch-up is Adventures of Superman. I actually enjoyed this issue quite a lot, just not as much as I enjoyed the other two. Giant Mecha-Caterpillar wrecking up Metropolis? As storylines go that's pretty good fun. Especially when said robot caterpillar has guns for eyes and connects to a bunch his bug-themed robot pals to form Mecha-Pillar Voltron! Besides the hijinks with the mecha-sects, this issue also has some sweet character moments for our supporting cast. There's Lex scheming to help Lois Lane's terminally ill mother to get her under his thumb, and of course Clark accidentally falling onto the ample and welcoming rack, oops I meant into the arms of new Daily Planet gossip reporter and resident sex kitten Cat Grant while freeing his leg from an elevator (freeing his leg from an elevator - WTF?!?). Then there's the art. I'm normally a big fan or Jerry Ordway's work but I have to say this isn't my favourite outing of his (although there is a full page splash of Superman flying that is fantastic). All in all, while this was a solid issue it just didn't pop and fizz quite as much as the competition this month.

Superman v2 #1
That is an awesome cover, That alone bumped this one up the ranking before I even cracked it open. Byrne and Austin do a great looking Superman. As for the inside? This is a classic Superman issue. We open with Supes getting his Batman on investigating a lead lined lab that's packed wall to wall with equipment and data about him. Of course the Dark Knight's detective work rarely includes digging the entire lab complex out of the ground with heat vision and flying it and the chunk of ground it was sitting on into orbit for further study at a later date. He's got no time for mysterious dead scientists or their dastardly plans to utterly destroy him - dude's got a jogging date with Lois! We get some standard Clark/Lois back and forth (he's aiming for charming but comes off needy and desperate, she's derisive and mean) then they happen across a bank robbery in progress. We instantly forgive this most Silver Agey of co-inky-dinks when the bank robber is revealed to be Metallo (sleazy, white-haired and wearing a questionable, chest baring, purple waistcoat - but Metallo none the less)! The rest of the issue consists of Metallo jovially beating the tar out of a thoroughly confused Superman (this is his first Post Crisis encounter with Kryptonite). The longer the fight goes on the more messed up Metallo gets, but nothing that happens stops him from pounding on poor befuddled Supes. They even drop a building on him, ruining his snazzy waistcoat and stripping him down to his metal skeleton, but the beating continues until Metallo is mysteriously whisked away by an envious Lex. This story is as simple and straight forward as super-hero stories come, but at the same time it is a total blast. The big bombastic action (complete with the 'punches through buildings' that made a Superman fan of me as a tyke) is pure joy and the art is second to none. Wolfman's story in Adventure may have had more meat to it, but he's pipped out of second place by the Post-Crisis re-introduction of a classic villain.

Action Comics 584
Damn! What a cover!  What is it about smug, jerk Superman that just makes you love him and want to see more of him? Add to that the Titans (including Byrne's rendition of Donna Troy in what is undoubtedly her best costume), and a big arrow shaped blurb that basically tells the whole story right there on the cover! What can I say this issue had me at hello! The story inside is every bit as bonkers the cover promises. It opens with smug jerk Superman tearing up Metropolis for kicks. In another of those Silver Age co-inky-dinks Teen Titan Victor 'Cyborg' Stone happens to be on the scene wearing one of those fetching trench-coat and fedora ensembles favoured by the disfigured superhuman community. He swoops in to save the day with some cool cybernetic trapeze artistry that would make the Boy Wonder jealous. Sadly this just ticks the Man Of Steel off, prompting him to tear the unfortunate Titan literally limb from limb. This in turn prompts Cyborg to contact his fellow Titans for help. Help comes in the form of Beast Boy (who figures a big green elephant might succeed where a state of the art, fully armed cybernetic super-hero failed), master of the psychic perm Jericho (who manages to finally stop Smugerman's rampage by possessing him) and Wonder Girl (who wins this issue the top spot in one panel with her inventive weaponzing of a nearby Buick):

To Donna 'The Hammer' Troy Everything Looks Like A Nail

This issue wraps up rather abruptly when crutch-bound bystander David Gunderson reveals, to the shock of everyone in attendance, that he is Superman! Turns out 'amateur' scientist David Gunderson invented a machine that can switch human minds from one body into another. In flashback we learn how he placed a quick call to Clark 'Sure, I'd Love To Invest In Your Pyramid Scheme' Kent and lured Superman to his house where he switched their bodies. Sadly he didn't bother to purchase a halfway decent door-lock, y'know one that couldn't be easily picked by a disabled scientist with a confused Kyptonian in his brain. So Supes escaped and explains to the Titans how to put all the toys back in the box. All that leaves us just enough time for a patented Big Blue Boy Scout 'after-school-special' lecture and a moment with Lex kicking himself that he never thought of the 'just call him up and invite him over to your house' plan.

And boom that's your lot of Post Crisis Superman's first showings and how I ranked 'em.

Wow, Superman sure spent a lot of time confused back in Jan 87. Hopefully he'll manage to get his shit together in time for our next exciting instalment of Superman: Post Crisis Punch Up!

See you then
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