Thursday, July 22, 2010

Episode #135: An Imaginary Summer, 2010: Waverider & SUPERMAN ANNUAL #2, 1991!

This summer will continue a tradition begun last year and feature some of the imaginary stories in Superman comics. For the first few episodes the featured stories will be the Superman Annuals from 1991. They were tie-ins, along with all of the other Annuals for the rest of DC's titles, with the two issue event mini-series Armageddon 2001. The first issue, cover dated May 1991, was published on March 12, 1991. It contained 64 pages sold for $2.00. It was written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by Dan Jurgens. They created the character that tied into all of the Annuals, Waverider.

He was originally Matthew Ryder. As a young boy he was saved from a collapsing building by a superhero that he does not remember the identity of. Sometime during his childhood one of the DC superheroes decided to establish order in society, killed all of the other heroes, and ruled the world as the dictator Monarch. As an adult Ryder volunteered for a project to enable someone to travel through time. In spite of the deaths of previous volunteers during the experiment, Ryder volunteered for the project. He survived and was transformed into the time traveling entity known as Waverider. His purpose was to travel back in time to discover the identity of the hero who betrayed his, or her, fellow heroes and became Monarch. Waverider would then kill Monarch and prevent his future from occurring.

He searched for the future dictator by touching each hero while invisible and in a moment seeing their future unfold. These future lives formed the stories that were told in the DC Annuals for 1991. The first of these Annuals to be featured on this podcast was Action Comics Annual #3 in episode #47, Superman For President, published on November 5, 2008.

The featured story for this episode is Superman Annual #3, 1991, published on April 19, 1991, containing 64 pages for the cover price of $2.00. Mike Carlin was the editor. The cover was pencilled by Dusty Abel and inked by Terry Austin. The story, Execution 2001, was written by Dan Jurgens, pencilled by Dusty Abel, inked by Terry Austin, John Beatty, Dick Giordano and Dennis Janke, colored by Glenn Whitmore and lettered by John Costanza. Dan Thorsland was the assistant editor.

The story began with Superman foiling an escape attempt out of the Stryker Island prison by a group of Intergang thugs, who used floating discs that had been smuggled into the prison to effect their escape. The Man of Steel then captured the crew of an Intergang support plane and added them to the prison population.

Waverider then followed Superman to the roof of the Daily Planet building, where Lois Lane waited for the Man of Steel. As they began a conversation, Waverider, who was able to keep himslef invisible to Superman's senses, touches him and in an instant watches Superman's future unfold.

He watched Clark and Lois marry. Sometime later, Mannheim blackmailed Metropolis with the threat of detonating a nuclear device. it was never meant to explode, but some malfunction caused the weapon to explode. The city of Metropolis is wiped away, including the entire staff of the Daily Planet, and Lois Lane.

After an undisclosed amount of time where Clark grieves for his late wife and friends, he married Lana Lang. He vowed that the destruction of Metropolis would never be repeated.

Superman modified his uniform. His cape had a high collar, and was attached to his uniform with some yellow discs, and he wore red gloves. He confronted a submarine, forcing it to surface. Superman then ordered the U. S. Naval crew to abandon ship, and then sunk the submarine using his x-ray vision.

At the White House President Forrest and his aides discussed how to stop Superman. He had increasingly begun to interfere with international relations, taking oil tankers and grain silos to impoverished nations. It was revealed that not all of the sailors had left the submarine before Superman sunk it. One aide suggested that there was one person who might be uniquely equipped to deal with the Man of Steel.

In Gotham City, the Batsignal shined against Gotham Tower. Mayor James Gordon met Batman and gave him an address that was written on a piece of paper. On one of Gotham's docks at the waterfront, Batman met President Forrest, who offered the Dark Knight the job of killing Superman. At first Batman refused, but the President challenged him to at least investigate the claim. Batman agreed to do that much.

At a Kansas farm Superman appeared in the basement after flying through a tunnel to avoid anyone discovering his secret identity. He briefly talked with Lana about his day, and then spent some time with Ma Kent. She was limited to a wheelchair, suffering from Alzheimer's. She thought Clark was still in high school. Bruce Wayne paid the Kents a visit. He pressed Clark to retire, and told him about the claims about the dead sailors. Clark informed Bruce that he used his x-ray vision to check the submarine for any stranded sailors before he sunk the sub. Bruce was releived. Clark changed into Superman and flew out through the basement tunnel, and referred to Lana as "Mrs. Kent". Bruce was shocked, and expressed his concern about the mental strain Clark was under. Lana told Bruce that Clark was haunted by the fact that he had not yet been able to dismantle Intergang.

In Washington, D. C. someone broke into a room that contained military records. He found the file on the sunk submarine and was able to confirm that a number of sailors were indeed left aboard the sub when it sank.

Sueprman was confronted by the Justice League, led by the Martian Manhunter. They fought, and Superman used Fire's powers against the League. John J'onzz became surrounded by flames and panicked. He had a heart attack and died in Fire's arms.

The Man of Steel knew that the authorities would be gunning for him now. He took Lana and Ma Kent to the Fortress of Solitude for their safety.

In the Batcave we discover that Tim Drake, now dressed as Robin, was the person who broke into the records room in the nation's capitol and discovered the truth about the dead sailors. Batman reminded him about what Superman told him, as originally presented in Action Comics #654, that he trusted Bruce to kill him if it ever became necessary. Batman contacted Clark at the Fortress, and convinced him to meet at Crime Alley in Gotham City.

In a scene reminiscent to The Dark Knight Returns, Superman met an armored Batman. They battled on the Gotham streets until Batman used the kryptonite ring to kill Superman. Batman wondered who would be sent to finish him off when his time came. Robin assurred Batman that he did the right thing. Batman disagreed, saying that it could never be called right.

Waverider confirmed that Superman would not become Monarch and left. Superman's only sensation about the contact was to mention to Lois that he had a brief feeling that someone had walked acroos his grave.

Next Episode: Happy Birthday, Lucy Lane!

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