Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Superman: Post-Crisis Punch-up #6

Welcome back for another round of Post-Crisis Punch-up, it's week 6 and this time around we're going to be talking about the big blue boy-scouting that went on back in April 1987. I should say up front that all three issues in this installment of PCPU were top notch - any one could've been top of the heap. So my reasons for ranking them as I have may seem even more arbitrary then usual! Anyway let's get to it:

Adventures Of Superman #429:
As the cover suggests Adventures of Superman this month is all about Superman fighting a big monkey dude in questionable armor. That monkey-dude, Concussion by name, is the only reason this issue finds itself languishing in the bottom spot. Dude was lame. Everything that isn't that monkey-dude in this issue...is awesome. It's a veritable smorgasbord of sweet character moments. We get Cat Grant insulting Clark's taste in sweaters and emotionally confiding him about the painful custody situation with her son. We get Superman feeling powerless and awkward as he pays a visit to Cat's ex, movie-mogul Joseph Martin. Poor Supes realizes too late that to Martin and his son he comes across as Cat's hired goon strong-arming them for custody. Then it all goes to hell when the big purple monkey comes crashing in whooping and wailing about 'I'm gonna avenge the death of my telepathic cat pal* this' and 'you must die that'. Of course Superman makes with the fisticuffs and dispatches monkey-boy in a few panels but it's the aftermath and Superman's reaction to it, beautifully rendered under Jerry Ordway's masterful pencil, that's worth the price of admission. Martin has been seriously injured in the melee and his son doesn't want the cape wearing wack-job responsible for bringing all this random destruction down on them anywhere near him or his dad. Superman's dejected expression as he's reduced to calling 911 for help is a masterpiece. In the end Cat gets to be reunited with her son, but not under circumstances anyone would've wanted and Supes is left pondering whether he can afford to ever blur the line between Clark and Superman again. Excellent stuff - kudos Mr Wolfman.
* NOTE: In case my 'telepathic cat' reference slips by you, Concussion is a member of the Circle who Supes has clashed indirectly with already in this Adventures Of Superman run. You can bet this isn't the last we'll see of them.

Superman v2 #6:
This issue opens with a jaw-dropping splash page - Safari Lois finds the Superman costume among Clark's things!! You'll remember that stubbly Clark was seemingly whacked by a large robot mummy last issue. It seems he was retrieved and brought back to base camp by Lois and her archaeologist pals - he recovers just in time to see himself outed. Luckily everyone, except for Supes, has been possessed by the minds of an ancient alien race courtesy of the giant robot mummy - Phew! Incidentally all of this batshit information is communicated to us by way of flashbacks framed by a sequence of Superman and the giant mummy robot having an awesome, destructive battle of Godzilla proportions in the middle of a large South American city! That boys and girls - is comics! The resolution is an equally delicious slice of comic-book insanity as the blabbermouth aliens and their equally chatty robo-mummy pal sow the seeds of their own destruction. From their yakking Supes learns not only that the alien's can't decide which of them should get to wear his super-powered body but also the robo-mummy when under threat is capable of sucking all of the alien minds out of their host bodies and back into itself. So Supes pounds the mummy until it gets upset enough to suck it's alien pals back out of Lois and co. Then using his super-noggin, he plays possum, pretending his chiseled pecs and rakish spit-curl are up for grabs, knowing that the alien minds controlling the robot won't be able to form an orderly queue in their rush to possess his body. The resulting contention between the arguing alien back seat drivers overloads the robot and makes him fall down, go boom. Lois remembers nothing, Superman makes flimsy excuses about where Clark went and we're done! A joy to read - so much fun!

Action Comics #589:
Okay so nothing about this comic makes it better than either of the preceding two, other than my completely subjective love for this era of the Green Lantern Corps - so deal with it ya poozers! That's not to say that this comic is not a shit-ton of fun -because it is. It also gets extra points by dredging up and re-using a plot point from a previous batshit crazy Byrne issue of Action.
So we open with resident GL totty Arisa discovering Superman floating unconscious in space where those jerk Hawks left him last issue. Once she and her fellow GLs get him aboard their temporary space citadel (an awesome sentence that I just don't get to say enough) and reassure him that Earth isn't under attack from an imaginary Thangarian invasion fleet, they notice a massive cloud of biological gunk winging it's way ominously toward Earth.
Sounds simple right? Big Blue and the GLs will just fly out there and whup some evil living space cloud ass! Uh Uh - this cloud of biological stink knows how to defend itself (with spiky balls and slimy tentacles apparently)! So what? That still shouldn't be problem for this lot! Wrong - all of the cloud defenses are...yellow! Goddamn that shitty Green Latern luck - every goddamned threat they face turns out to be goddamned yellow - where are all the purple and blue alien menaces huh? That's what I want to know!
Anyway,  things go from bad to bonkers as Hal discovers among all of the mustard tentacles and other assorted alien guck...a grave marker:

That's when Supes figures it out. Remember that sentient graveyard he and the Phantom Stranger tossed into orbit a few issues back? This is it and it's pissed! Clearly just tossing every single threat into space is not as solid a plan as Post-Crisis Superman originally thought - damn, that was his go-to play too! Then an ingenious plan comes to him, adding his own willpower to the formidable mental might of the gathered GLs they form a massive planet-stopping claw and.....push the thing a wee bit further out into space. Hmmm, while on paper it sound like the same bad plan over again - the giant cloud of alien puke freezes solid - so clearly the Earth is now completely safe from it now and forever. Huzzah! Good job guys!
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