Sunday, August 1, 2010

Episode #137: An Imaginary Summer 2010, Part II: Waverider & The Adventures Of Superman Annual #3, 1991!

This episode continues the summer feature of imaginary stories, a favorite of mine. The featured story was the last Superman Annual for 1991, all of which tied into the DC Comics event mini-series for that year, Armageddon 2001. Also, the rest of Waverider's history is summarized.

As mentioned in episode #135, Waverider first appeared in the two issue mini-series Armageddon 2001. He traveled back in time to stop a mysterious superhero who killed all of the other heroes and then ruled the world as the dictator Monarch. After Monarch was revealed as Hawk of Hawk and Dove, and defeated, Waverider became a member of the Linear Men since his future would now never happen. That was a group that guarded the timestream. Among the other members was a Matthew Ryder who came from a future where Monarch never ruled.

Monarch would become the villain Extant. During the Zero Hour mini-series Extant killed Waverider and absorbed his energy. The other Matthew Ryder of the Linear Men would later be transformed into a new Waverider. During the weekly series 52, Booster Gold's sidekick Skeets, under the control of Master Mind, tortured Waverider for information about the time traveler Rip Hunter. It was hinted that Skeets' outer shell came from Waverider's corpse, 500 years in the future. I'm not aware of any new appearances of Waverider.

The Adventures Of Superman Annual  #3, 1991, was published on April 9, 1991. It contained 64 pages and sold for $2.00. The editor was Mike Carlin. The creepy cover which showed Superman and Maxima kissing on top of Lois Lane's tomb was drawn by Brian Hitch. The story, Beyond The Reach Of Time, was written by Louise Simonson, pencilled by Brian Hitch, inked by Jim Sanders III, Josef Rubinstein, Ray A. McCarthy, Nick J. Napolitano, Jerry Acemo and Dick Giordano, lettered by John Costanza and colored by Glenn Whitmore.

The story began with Superman rescuing a bank robber and his car after he drove into the harbor during his getaway attempt. He was met by police who took the thief into custody and reporters covering the story.Behind Superman, Waverider followed him, invisible to everyone, using one of his abilities.

Back at the Daily Planet offices, Clark and Lois engaged in small talk. Clark wondered to himself if Lois really understood what marriage to a superhero would really be like. Waverider had followed clark there and decided to link with him a third time to see if superman might become Monarch.

Sometime in the future Waverider saw Superman take Lois to his Fortress of Solitude. They discussed the ups and downs of marrying a superhero who was also an alien from another world, including the problem of conceiving children. Lois, being her usual determined self, was unmoved in her desire to marry Clark Kent. And so they were married sometime later. They settled into life as a married couple, and one of their struggles was in conceiving children. but Lois finally had success after trying an experimental fertility drug.

Several months into her pregnancy Superman stopped a group of terrorists who attacked Metropolis. Lois felt the baby kick, but then she began to experience great pain. Superman heard her whisper for help and rushed her to the hospital. Unfortunately doctors could not save Lois. After her funeral a grief stricken Clark Kent told his parents that he would leave Earth, because there was not a place on the planet that did not remind him of her.

Superman left Earth, this time permanently. In deep space he was attacked by an alien spaceship, and severly injured. Another spaceship appeared, which destroyed the first spaceship. It was piloted by Maxima, who brought Superman on board and treated his severe injuries. As they journeyed to Maxima's home planet of Almerac Superman learned about her violent society.

Unknown to Superman, Maxima steered her ship toward where she knew enemy spacehips would detect her and attack. This was to secretly test Superman, since she knew that their weapons could not seriously threaten her. Maxima's plan backfired when they used deadly weapons, but Superman was able to defeat the enemy ship. The crew was taken prisoner and taken to Almerac. Maxima surprised her servant Sazu when she thanked Superman for saving her.

When they arrived on Almerac, Maxima was greeted by her betrothed, De'cine. He was from a race of cyborg, half spider beings. The marriage was arranged as part of a peace treaty between the two planets. Maxima spurned him, and Superman forced him to back off. The prisoners were brought before Maxima for judgement. But as soon as they saw Superman they begged him for mercy. This only infuriated Maxima, who began to beat them with an energy whip. Superman made her stop, which made Maxima take out her wrath on the Man of Steel. During their fight, part of the palace collapsed on top of her. superman quickly dug her out. Maxima was unhurt, and went to her private quarters, knowing that she did not compare favorably with Superman's late wife.

De'cine plotted to get rid of Superman, and Sazu later schemed with De'cine for her own reasons.

Superman's heart began to open toward Maxima, and he began to wonder about the possiblility of a life with her. To help with his decision he decided to return to Earth and discuss things with his parents.

Sazu was shocked when Maxima informed her that superman had returned to his home planet. Sazu's reaction tipped Maxima off that something was not right and forced the truth from her servant.

When Superman returned to Earth he was shocked to see De'cine's ship in Earth orbit. De'cine wasted no time in attacking Superman's ship, but the Man of Steel crashed into De'cine's ship to press the attack. De'cine captured Superman and was going to make him watch the destruction of his home planet. Another Almerac ship appeared, carrying Maxima. She attacked De'cine and freed Superman. De'cine's ship was damaged in the fight, and was falling into the atmosphere. It was going to explode, destroying life on the planet, but Superman and Maxima used their super strength to safely push the damaged ship into space.

Because of Maxima's rejection of De'cine, the two planets were now at war with each other. In order to keep Earth from becoming entangled in an interstellar war, Superman decided to leave Earth and assist Almerac in their war effort. A romantic relationship with Maxima was a distinct possibility.

Waverider broke his link with Clark Kent, finally convinced that Superman would never become Monarch. Lois commented that, for a moment, clark looked a million miles away.

Other bits of comic book news:

For a different comic book reader's perspective on the J. Michael Straczynski Superman:Grounded storyline:

IDW will begin publishing new issues of John Byrne's creator owned series, Next Men, in December 2010.

Dwayne McDuffie will adapt the Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely mini-series All-Star Superman for a DC Comics DVD animated movie, scheduled for a Spring 2011 release date.

Next Episode: The Origin Of Superboy Prime: DC Comics Presents #87!

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