This episode will feature the next three issues of the Superman In Exile storyline: Adventures Of Superman #451, Superman #29 and Adventures Of Superman #452. (Action Comics at this time, in 1989, was a weekly anthology title.) These issues and the rest of the story were collected in the trade paperback Superman: Exile, which I believe is still in print from DC Comics. Check your favorite on line vendor or local comic book store. Part III of this feature might not be posted until September. In May and June there are a lot of comic book talent associated with Superman celebrating birthdays in the next two months, and I'm planning something special for the 75th episode. Also, during July and August the featured episodes will be on Superman's "imaginary stories", and I'll title those episodes An Imaginary Summer.
On this past Saturday, May 2, 2009, for Free Comic Book Day, I went to my local comic book store, Acme Comics http://acme-superstore.com/ . I got there at 10:15 a. m., fifteen minutes after opening, and the parking lot was full. People were digging through the $1.00 comics boxes outside the front of the store. Inside, the store was even more crowded, with lots of kids, which was great to see. The FCBD titles I got were Inpact University, vol. 5, Blackest Night #0 (DC), and Love And Rockets. After doing research for episode #68 on Mr. Mxyzptlk, I also found two Mxy stories from Acme's back issue bins that day, Superman issue #'s 349 and 407. For more details on my Free Comic Book Day and reviews of these and my regular titles I picked up that day, go to Issue #52 of my blog, My Pull List http://mypulllist.blogspot.com/2009/05/issue-52-comic-books-for-week-of.html . And now back to our regulary scheduled podcast.
The first issue for this episode is Adventures Of Superman #451, the February 1989 issue, published on January 3, 1989. Mike Carlin, now DC Executive Editor, was the editor of the Superman titles back then, and Renee' Witterstatter served as the assistant editor. The almost totaly black and white cover, showing the front page of the Daily Planet sporting the banner headline Where Is Superman? was drawn by Jerry Ordway. The picture of Superman was even credited to Jerry Ordway, Daily Planet photographer. The front page also had a sidebar headline Charred remains thought to be those of missing Planet reporter, and showed a picture of Clark Kent. The story was written ad drawn by Jerry Ordway, lettered by Albert Tobias DeGuzman and colored by Glenn Whitmore.
This issue is a special one to me because it was the first Superman title I saw when I first began collecting comic books as an adult. I started collecting the Superman titles first, of course, in the middle of this very storyline. This issue had been out about a week at least, and it was my first exposure to the art of Jerry Ordway, which I liked instantly. The comic store I first went to was only a few blocks from my work in Leesburg, Florida and was run by a guy named Todd with his brother and mom. They closed a few years later. I don't clearly remember the exact reason why, but I think it might have had something to do with them no longer meeting Diamond's minimum retailer purchase minimum. My son and I still have fond memories of their store, even if it was in an old storefront.
The story Dangerous Ground opened with Superman teleporting into another part of outer space. The area he appeared in was unusual because of the amount of debris floating in the area. Superman flew by the skeleton of some alien creature, which was covered in slime. Everything seemed to float toward a distant light (sun?).
In Metropolis Inspector Henderson went to Clark's apartment at 344 Clinton to be briefed by the investigating detectives about the crime scene. Henderson interviewed the lady across the hall who assumed she saw Clark enter his apartment. The Inspector was able to determine that she did not actually see his face. She did hear a sound like a bug zapper after ?Clark? entered his apartment. Other detectives found out by other residents that the lights dimmed around the time of death, or that their alarm clock radios were blinking when they awoke the next morning. Henderson determined that hi-tech weapons were used.
Behind the media throng at the building's entrance Amanda McCoy stood, the only one who knew that the dead man was not Clark Kent, but the P. I. Matthew Stockton she had hired to keep Clark under surveillance. Morgan Edge watched the GBS coverage in his office while he lit a cigar with a burning picture of Clark Kent, because as head of Intergang he was the one who ordered the hit on Clark.
Superman used his heat vision to scare the weird space creatures off of him. The other creatures that had smothered him enveloped the one that had been slightly injured by his heat vision, devouring it. Superman did a super spin to shake the slime off of him before it ate into his breathing apparatus. He then hit some invisible barrier. When he used his x-ray vision the barrier spasmed. Superman could see stars on the other side of this barrier, and he realized he was inside some type of giant space faring creature.
In the LexCorp building Luthor was content once again as the top dog in Metropolis. He ordered an employee to bring Jose Delgado to him. As noted in episode #69, Jose had received a microchip implant to regain his ability to walk after being crippled by a super villain he fought as Gangbuster. Luthor used the microchip to control his physical movements. Delgado was dressed in a suit of LexCorp armor, and Luthor sent him on an errand. After Jose left, Luthor was informed that Clark Kent had been murdered. Shocked, Luthor ordered a search for the murderers, to repay the Late Kent for saving Luthor from an assassination attempt.
As Superman floated closer to the large light, smaller globs of light hit his arm, numbing it. He began to suspect that the light was an incinerator and not an exit out of whatever he was in.
Toby Raines of the Metropolis Star newspaper called the Kent farm near Smallville for any comments about the death of their son. Pa Kent responded that his son was in hiding, which made Raines wonder who exactly was killed in Clark's apartment.
Jose Delgado went to Professor Hamilton's lab to attack him, while under Luthor's control. The Professor is not unable to defend himself. He activated a force field around Jose, cutting off the signal that controlled his body and enabled him to walk. Hamilton pirated a TV signal through WLEX's antenna to thank Luthor for his benevolence in restoring Jose's ability to walk, as part of a stalling tactic while he removed an explosive from Jose's armored suit.
At the end of the issue Superman teleported out of whatever space creature he was in, to another part of space.
Superman #29, the March 1989 issue, was published on January 24, 1989. The cover was pencilled by Kerry Gammil and inked by Dennis Janke. The story, If This Be My Destiny was written and pencilled by Dan Jurgens, inked by Brett Breeding, lettered by John Costanza and colored by Glenn Whitmore.
The story opened with an alien spacecraft, with severa hull breaches, crash landed on an asteroid. Superman sealed the hull breaches, helped with basic repairs and used his heat vision to restart its power core. He lifted the ship off the asteroid and threw it toward its homeworld.
In Metropolis Lois convinced Inspector Henderson to allow her to walk through Clark's apartment. After looking at the scattered mementos in the wrecked apartment she shed tears for Clark, in the first genuine signs of affection for him. Back at the Daily Planet offices she asked Perry to send her on an out of town assignment. She didn't care where. Perry sent her to Trudeau, South Dakota.
Superman found another alien planet. It had many citites, but seemed to be abandoned. He thought that perhaps this might be the perfect world for him to live without fear of endangering anyone.
In Trudeau, Lois interviewed Gen. Ripley. He informed Lois that the city was evacuated because a train wreck released a deadly toxin. Lois snuck away from the press truck to walk around the abandoned town. She saw the words Are You Ready For Union? painted on a window. Lois climbed down a hole in a street into the sewer system to find piles of a gravel like substance that she discovered to be finely ground human remains.
On his planet Superman found similar piles of remains and knew why the planet was now uninhabited. He recognized it as the work of the "Word Bringer", who had taken every life in Trudeau, South Dakota. Superman used his microscopic vision to find the energy trail of a spaceship and followed it.
Lois was discovered by Gen. Ripley, who she eventually got the true story about Trudeau out of him. The General informed Lois that the alien called the Word Bringer had removed the brains of every citizen of Trudeau and linked them together into some form of living union. He then combined their flesh into some type of monster that attacked Superman. He knocked out the alien, but the combined minds of Trudeau knocked out Superman and used his body to drain the fluid that kept them alive, so that they could rest in peace. Superman was unable to catch the Word Bringer and the government had created the fiction of the chemical leak in order to not panic the general public about alien body snatching.
Superman caught up to the Word Bringer's miles long ship and entered it, discovering a huge chamber filled with all shapes and sizes of brains floating in fluid filled chambers.
Adventures Of Superman #452, the March 1989 issue, was published on January 31, 1989. The cover, titled Brain Dead, was drawn by Jerry Ordway. The story, Hell Bound, was written and pencilled by Dan Jurgens, inked by Dennis Janke, lettered by John Costanza and colored by Glenn Whitmore.
The story picked up from the conclusion of Superman #29, with Superman standing inside the huge chamber filled with all shapes and sizes of alien brains. Superman confronted the Word Bringer but was knocked out by a psychic blast from the Union.
Lois called Perry from outside Trudeau, but Perry killed her story idea about the true story of the fate of Trudeau's citizens. He did not consider Gen. Ripley (aptly named after the bizarre incident in Trudeau) a reliable source, especially the part about Superman pulling the plug on the people of Trudeau. Perry ordered Lois to return to Metropolis.
Back in Metropolis Luthor discovered the bad part of no more Superman in Metropolis: no more challenges. He began thinking about creating new challenges for himself as the panel showed the Star Labs building in front of the LexCorp building. This plot will begin in Superman #30. Cat Grant and her son Adam spend time at Morgan Edge's mansion.
Superman awoke from the attack to again search the immense ship for the Word Bringer. He finds him in a lab, and the alien releases Eon, who was a conduit for the Union's power. Eon knocked Superman through the ship into space. Superman battled Eon unitl he was knocked back into the ship. Superman burst through one of the containers of a giant alien brain. Forgetting his battle with Eon for the moment, Superman fashioned a crude chamber for the brain and refilled it with as much brain fluid as he could, to no avail. After giving Superman a mental picture of its original appearance on its homeworld, the brain died. Superman confronted the Union over Trudeau. The Union asked Superman why he would help one of them if he was against the Union as a whole. Superman, of course, responded that life was valid no matter what it took. He was not against the Union, just its methods. The Union revealed to Superman that the Trudeau Union did not use his unconscious body to kill them, only to subdue him, They used their own mental powers to commit suicide and die peacefully rather than live as disembodied brains. A little bit of guilt was lifted off of Superman's shoulders.
He was stilled faced with the difficult decision on how to serve justice on the Word Bringer. Would he be forced to make the same decision as he did in the Pocket Universe? Sensing his burden the Union propose a solution. Instead of serving the Word Bringer, the Union would use Eon to monitor the Word Bringer. They would no longer forcefully add to their Union, but only ask beings close to death, and add only those willing to join to their Union. Superman agreed with the warning: Mess up, and he would be back. Superman then flew into space, alone once again.
Next episode: Marv Wolfman!
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