Thursday, April 23, 2009

Episode #69: Superman Goes Gangbusters!

This episode is the second and final prequel to our look at the Superman In Exile storyline from the early 1990's, which will begin in the next few episodes. To listen to the other prequel episode go to episode #66: Superman In The Pocket Universe!

Gangbuster, the super hero identity of Jose Delgado, was a supporting character in Superman stories for a while in the late 1980's to the early 1990's. He appeared in the various Superman titles beginning with Adventures of Superman #428, the May 1987 issue. Delgado/Gangbuster was involved in various plotlines until Adventures of Superman #500, the early June 1993 issue. If you are interested in learning about all of Jose Delgado's aka Gangbuster's appearances go to the web site and do a character search for Jose Delgado. That list served as a guide for me to go through my Superman comics collection to find out about Jose's career as a Metropolis crime fighter. Gangbuster's connection to the Superman In Exile story will be made apparent later.

Jose Delgado was a high school teacher and former boxer who tried to mentor Jerry White, Perry's son, during his troubled high school years. He was born and grew up in Metropolis' Suicide Slums. Jose first appeared as Gangbuster in Adventures Of Superman #434, the Nov. 1987 issue, to help stop increased gang activiity in the area. Lex Luthor was secretly arming street gangs through mobster Jay Falk. Gangbuster helped Superman foil the plot. During this issue Luthor mentioned a "Project Synapse". More about this project would be revealed in later issues.

During this time Jose began having a relationship with Lois Lane. At first she was only interested in him as a story about his efforts to help the youth in Suicide Slum. When an armored individual attacked the movie theater they were at, Jose slipped away from Lois, changed into Gangbuster and attempted to stop the attacker who would come to be known as Combattor. Jose was severely injured in the battle. Combattor was finally stopped by Superman and died at the scene, as if his body was burned out by his increased powers. It turned out that the individual known as Combattor was the end result of a secret Luthor project, Synapse, to create a superman who would do his bidding. It was a success, but at a terrible price for the test subject. After only a short time his body would burn out and he would die, as Combattor did.

Jose was taken to the hospital, where doctors told him his spinal cord was severed and he would never walk again. His relationship with Lois deepened after she helped him settle back into his apartment upon his release from the hospital. Jose would soon be contacted by a company called Advanced Resesrch Laboratories to see if he might be a good candidate as a test subject for an experimental spinal injury treatment. When he met their representatives, including Dr Happersen, who had been revealed as a scientist working for Luthor (but not to Jose), at their offices Jose learned that the treatment was a computer microchip that would connect the severed neveres of his spinal cord and allow him to walk again. Lois became concerned when she learned that A. R. L. was a wholly owned subsidiary of LexCorp. (Of course, what isn't a wholly owned subsidiary of LexCorp in Metropolis?) Jose dismissed her concerns. His whole attention was focused on walking again.

Around this time Gangbuster began appearing again, but Inspector Hendersom of the Metropolis P. D. did not believe it was Jose, in his present condition. He had figured out Gangbuster's true identity, but it was unclear if he had informed anyone else on the police force. The Inspector did question Jose for any information about this new copycat Gangbuster, but Jose had no idea who it was. The police did mount an undercover sting to net this new Gangbuster, but he proved too agile and fast for them, escaping over a dead end alley.

Jose would have the experimental surgery, and he revealed to Lois he could walk again, although very haltingly at first until the microchip could be fine tuned to his nervous system. Lois's concern about A. R. L. would be a contentious point between them.

The Guardian became involved in the search for this new Gangbuster. He found Gangbuster, but the battle knocked him into the river where Superman rescued him. Guardian would later find Gangbuster again, and this time, during the battle, Guardian slashed the front of Gangbuster's costume, revealing a shocking secret to the Guardian at the end of Superman #27, the Jan. 1989 issue. On the opening page of Adventures Of Superman #450, the Jan. 1989 issue, this new Gangbuster was revealed to be none other than Superman. The stress and guilt from his actions in the Pocket Universe, combined with the after effects of the psychic attacks during recent battles with the Milton Fine Brainiac, caused Superman to develop another personality. When he fell asleep he would don his Gangbuster outfit and battle criminals in a rougher manner than Superman would. Afraid he had become a threat to the city he had sworn to protect, Superman gathered a breathing apparatus and a teleporter from Emil Hamilton and S.T.A.R. Labs. After saying goodbye to his parents and Lana, Superman left Earth. Our look at Superman's exile will begin in the next few episodes.

The disagreement between Lois and Jose over ARL came to a head just before his next appointment with them. Lois was still concerned about what their price would be for their benevolence to Jose. He would find her fears well founded. At their offices Jose was met by Luthor himself, who demanded that Jose don a suit of LexCorp armor. When Jose refused Luthor signalled Happersen who activated a machine which gave Luthor control over Jose's physical movements through the implanted chip. Jose put on the armor against his will and Luthor sent him to pay a "visit" to Prof. Emil Hamilton. The suit came equipped with a holographic projector that would show Jose walking down the street wearing a simple LexCorp Security uniform.

Jose attacked Prof. Hamilton at his home lab, but Emil was more than a match for Luthor. He lured Jose into a certain area and activated a force field, which cut off the signal from Luthor and Jose's ability to walk. Prof. Hamilton was able to remove the explosive charge from Jose's suit (Luhor is nothing if not thorugh), and Jose used this armored suit as his new high tech Ganbuster costume.

Jose put his new armor to the test against Turmoil, an Intergang weapon controlled by Morgan Edge. He used Turmoil to go after the Daily Planet reproters who were writing exposes on him. Jose was seriously injured in his battle with Turmoil, and he and Lois were trapped in a collapsed building. Superman had returned from his exile at this point and destroyed Turmoil. He was able to follow some invisible trail to Morgan Edge, who had a heart attack and was later arrested after he left the hospital.

Delgado was not as seriously injured as he was in the fight against Combattor. He only needed a week in the hospital to recover, and was not handicapped in any way from his latest injuries. However, once he left the hospital he realized that Lois still had feelings for Superman and so he ended his relationship with her. His reward for his battle against Turmoil was to become unemployed and evicted from his apartment. He did find a new job as a bodyguard for Cat Grant, hired by her ex-husband to protect her and their son Adam. The reason for this was because it had been revealed that Cat was the Daily Planet's hidden informer in their stories about Morgan Edge. Edge's involvement with Intergang produced two Intergang operatives, Shockwave and Chiller, who knocked out Jose. Chiller used his chameleon powers to change into a double of Jose Delgado and then kidnap Cat Grant for Intergang.

Jose as Gangbuster joined Superman and Batman, who together found Intergang's secret base where they held Cat. The trio of heroes were able to stop Intergang from brainwashing Cat Grant and making her an unreliable witness for Morgan Edge's trial. Jose and Cat would later develop a romantic relationship for a short time. In the title The Legacy Of Superman in 1993, Inspector Henderson would issue an ultimatum to Jose. He confirmed that he knew that Jose was Gangbuster, and gave him a bus ticket out of town. The inspector warned Jose that if he didn't leave town the D. A. would file criminal charges, and Jose would be buried in multiple lawsuits.

In Adventures Of Superman #500, the early June 1993 issue, Gangbuster discovered a drug deal in progress. When he pounced on the dealers he found that the police, in hiding, had the suspects surrounded. When the police attempted to arrest Gangbuster, not for any involvement in the drug deal but for his past actions, Gangbuster was able to escape but took a bullet in his right arm. He dove into Hob's Bay and evaded capture. Jose was able to surface farther down on the docks and apparently went to the bus station to begin a new life in another city.

Jose would not appear for many years, until the pages of Trinity #1, the latest weekly title from DC Comics from 2008-2009. He apparently returned as Gangbuster after the kidnapping of Tarot, the character that Jose had been trying to protect. I didn't read Trinity so I have no information avialable other than what was listed on the web site . If you are interested in these latest Gangbuster stories, I'm sure back issues are available, and DC Comics will eventually collect Trinity into trade paperbacks. Check their web site at , as well as the blog and podcast , hosted by Chris Marshall.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at . Send e-mail to .

The theme music for this podcast is Plans In Motion composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the royalty free music library available at the web site .

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

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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