Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Episode #46: A Superman Halloween: "Red Glass"

When I began preparing to post episodes for this podcast, there were a few Superman stories that I immediately had in mind for specific times of the year. For instance, the story The Night of March 31st was a natural for the week of April Fool's Day. Another was the three issue story I will be sharing for this episode, Red Glass. It appeared in the Superman issues cover dated June 1991, and were published during the month of April, 1991. After you read the conclusion you may think that this story was also appropriate for April Fool's Day, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I could not find any reprint information about this story, so if you would like to read this story before listening to this episode, you will have to search for the individual issues in back issue bins or on ebay.

A note of caution: While the events of this story are not explicit, it might be too scary for small children who may be easily frightened. Use your discretion if you have preschoolers or young elementary age children, when you listen to this episode.

The specific issues were: Superman #56 (published on April 16, 1991, triangle #16 for 1991) cover titled Red Glass: First Symptoms, story titled Red Glass Part One: Breaking Up. The Adventures of Superman #479 (published on April 23, 1991, triangle #17) was cover titled Red Glass:Full Fever, story titled Red Glass Part Two: Falling Apart. Action Comics #666 (an appropriate number for halloween, published on April 30, 1991, triangle #18) was cover titled Red Glass: Crystalline Cure, story titled Red Glass Part Three: Picking Up The Pieces. The story was written by James D. Hundall, pencilled by Ed Hannigan, inked by Willie Blyberg, colored by Glenn Whitmore and covers by Andy Kubert. Dan Thorsland was the assistant editor and Mike Carlin was the editor of the Superman titles at this time, and is now an Executive Editor at DC Comics.

As noted above, these issues were published during the triangle era of Superman comics, when the various titles advanced a larger story in tight continuity. the triangle numbers were an aid to readers to guide them to the correct order each issue needed to be read in.

The story begins in Superman #56 with Superman stopping an attempted mugging. He is surprised to find that the intended victim is more afraid of Superman than she is of her would be muggers. She runs away from all of them, and the muggers beg Superman to spare their lives. Superman informs them that he doesn't kill. But the word kill comes out of Superman's mouth so loud that the sound waves vaporize the muggers and damages surrounding buildings. While citizens cower at Superman as he walks by, he is using his x-ray vision to follow the woman to a large building. When he arrives there Superman sees that it is a museum called the Museum of Dead Villains. Above the entrance is a huge piece of artwork of Superman standing over the bodies of his villains, with the title Superman's Day of Wrath.

Inside is the wreckage of Brainiac's robot skull ship, along with other relics. There are displays of Superman's villains with information how Superman killed them. One display holds Metallo's robot body, except for his cranium, which was vaporized by Superman's heat vision. Brainiac's display informs the viewer that he died by a blow to the head by Superman. The Prankster was dropped from space and vaporized in the atmosphere. Joker was placed in a cell on the moon, without food or water, and died after three days. Darkseid took the longest to kill, but not before the battle destroyed half of Apokolips. Superman finds a museum employee, who asks, "Why couldn't you have stayed away?" Apparently, Superman left the earth after killing all of his enemies. Nearby is a shelf of the skulls of many other Superman enemies, including Otis from the Superman movies of the 1970's.

Superman leaves the museum and meets Lois Lane on the sidewalk. She is a paraplegic because of the damage done to Joker's lair when he had kidnapped her. During Superman's battle with him Lois was left trapped in the rubble with her spinal cord crushed. And Lois is not at all happy with Superman for leaving her there. Superman has no recollection of these events, but this person does appear to be the real Lois. To be sure Superman uses his x-ray vision. But instead of x-ray vision, heat vision comes out of Superman's eyes, cremating Lois in her wheelchair. The citizens gather around Superman and almost riot against him. Thinking this is a plot against him created by Luthor, Superman flies to the LexCorp building. He finds Luthor in his penthouse office, now empty. Luthor is still alive, but Superman has bankrupted his corporation. Superman hears the ultrasonic signal from Jimmy's signal watch. Luthor tears the mask from his face to reveal a disguised Jimmy Olsen, who then opens his briefcase containing kryptonite. That ends the story in Superman #56.

The Adventures of Superman #479 picked up the story from there, with Jimmy exposing his pal to kryptonite. He explains that when Superman killed Lois he killed Jimmy's wife. They fell in love when Lois turned to Jimmy for comfort after her paralysis. Luthor and a group of people (former LexCorp employees?) gather around the slowly dying Superman. Superman fades to black. He wakes up to a Metropolis that is nothing but rubble. A full page panel shows the city looking like a bombed out city (ala Hiroshima or Nagasaki). The Daily Planet building has toppled in one piece almost. Supoerman finds Booster Gold, barely alive under the Daily Planet globe. Booster points to Superman and whispers "Murderer" with his dying breath. Superman flies away in despair, and in the background we see the bridges connecting Metropolis also destroyed. He sees a lone staanding figure, but when he land next to it, Superman only finds a standing skeleton. Next to the skeleton is a boom box, with weird dialogue coming from its speakers, ", come in please. This is Houston. Do you copy?" Superman does not understand, he doesn't know anyone named Houston.Superman is then attacked by Guy Gardner Green Lantern, and the skeleton turns into the Martian Manhunter, who joins the fight. Superman kills both heroes in the battle. Manhunter's last words are, "...trapped - moon red glass." The issue ends with the army approaching Superman, ready to attack.

Action Comics #666 begins with the army opening fire on Superman. He flies away, but multiple fighter jets target Superman with missles which knock Superman out of the sky. then what seems the entire arsenal of the army targets Superman, turning the ruins of Metropolis into a gigantic crater, with Superman at its center. He is still alive, and is attacked by Firestorm and Captain Atom, whom Superman kills, along with the new Doom Patrol, who follow them. The army is also killed in the battle's shockwaves. Superman is finally alone, and is horrified by his actions.

Wonder Woman approaches, holding a large piece of green kryptonite, and tells Superman that he must pay for his actions. Superman, in his guilt and grief, agrees and takes the kryptonite. As this scene progresses, the background changes from the ruin of Metropolis to a cratered area resembling the moon. Superman is now wearing an oxygen mask and the kryptonite changes to a NASA device. In a flashback, a NASA scientist briefs Superman about a radioactive anomaly on the moon and asks him to investigate. He approaches a new crater and finds a glowing red crystal spire rising from the crater's center. Superman touches the crystal, creating a telepathic link. The crystal is a sentient being. It was traveling through the solar systems eons in the past, looking for a suitable planet for its children. It found Earth too violent and unsuitable. It was affected by increased solar activity and hit by a meteor. It crashed on the moon and had been trapped there ever since. Its first attempt to telepathically contact Superman caused the horrific delusions he experienced, when he was actually tearing up the lunar landscape. Superman digs out the crystaline being at super speed, which thanks him. Superman is also thankful that the being helped him face his darkest fears, and show him how to survive the bad as well as the good.

The last panel hints at the next storyline. The next issue that will be published is Man of Steel #1, the monthly title, picking up the title of John Byrne's original mini-series. It would be written by Louise Simonson and drawn by Jon Bogdanove, the July 1991 issue, published on May 14, 1991.

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My Pull List is my spoiler free review blog of the comic books I read each week. It can be found at Send e-mail about this blog to

Thanks for listening to Superman Fan Podcast, and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Superman and all related characters are copyright by DC Comics.

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