Friday, December 31, 2010

Episode #158: Metropolis Mailbag: Superman #64!

This story is the third of our Superman Christmas stories, and my favorite of the three that have been featured on this podcast.

For a great golden age Superman Christmas story, go to Bill Jourdain's Golden Age Of Comic Books podcast, episode #48 for December 17, 2006.

Metropolis Mailbag, which was also the name of the long running letter column in Superman, appeared in Superman #64, February 1992, triangle # 1992: 6, published on December 17, 1991, the very day my daughter was born. It contained 32 pages for the cover price of $1.00. The cover was pencilled by Dan Jurgens and inked by Brett Breeding. The story was written by Dan Jurgens and drawn by Jackson (now Butch) Guice, lettered by John Costanza and colored by Glenn Whitmore. Mike Carlin was the editor, and Dan Thorsland wsa the assistant editor.

A very gloomy Superman met Lois Lane at the central Metropolis post office. She soon learned the reason for his very Scrooge like mood, when she saw the amount of mail Sueprman had to go through. This year, there were more letters than ever before. Lois realized why he dreaded it so much.

Most letters wanted help, and not just for the needy. One letter writer asked the Man of Steel to squeeze a lump of coal into a diamond, a tip of the hat to the classic silver age Superman. Another letter asked his help to find a heart transplant donor.

One letter caught his attention. It was from an elderly concentration camp survivor, now living in the USA, who discovered that one of her sisters also survived the camps, and now lived in Germany. The Man of Steel made arrangements with the American Embassy at super speed and flew the woman to Germany. He didn't have time to enjoy the happy reunion, but quickly flew back to Metropolis.

Lois had been busy, sorting letters for the appropriate relief agencies which could help them better than the Man of Steel.

Superman found a cute drawing of himself drawn by a young boy, but was caught off guard by the accompanying letter. The boy's father was dying from an inoperable brain tumor, and the son asked Superman to save his Dad. Once again Superman left Metropolis, this time to fly to Salt Lake City and tell a desparate son that there are limits to even the Man ofSteel's abilities.

Superman made it to the hospital and introduced himself to the boy's mother, ten minutes after her husband died. After comforting an angry young boy, a medical professional asked the widow if she had considered organ donation. Superman mentioned the heart patient in Kansas City, and left the widow to make a very painful decision.

In a Kansas City hospital, a woman was rushed to surgery, because a donor had been found. Against all odds, the dead husbands's heart was a perfect match, and it arrived via Superman Airways. The Man of Steel deflected the woman's thanks, and told her to thank a grieving mother and son in Salt Lake City.

Finally, in Metropolis, Superman and Lois sorted the final letters over some Bib Belly Burgers (Metropolis' equivalent of a fast food hamburger restaurant).

Back at his apartment as Clark Kent, he went through his mail and found a wedding invitation. Who was it from? You'll have to stay tuned next year for a future episode of the From Crisis To Crisis podcast. This is the era of Superman comics they are covering, and I've got to leave something in this issue for them to talk about.

This story did not have a single fault to me, and I thought the coincidence of the donor match, while long, was not contrived.and fit into the story. It also did a better job of illustrating the limits to Superman's powers that the current Grounded story did.

Next Episode: Superman In 2010: The Year In Review!

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