Aalok deciphers DC – Superman: The Man of Steel Volumes 2 to 6

30 Apr

DC decided some time in the early 2000s to collect the Superman stories by John Byrne after MAN OF STEEL miniseries, which introduced Superman post Crisis on Infinite Earths. They ended up collecting all titles featuring Superman, for the span of one year (12 issues of each, with an annual) with additional issues of other titles, over 5 trade paperback collections, comprising SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL VOLS 2-6. You can find a review of SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL VOL 1 here
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The titles, with the creative teams (for most part) were:
ACTION COMICS (issues 584-595, annual 1) – John Byrne (writes, pencils), Dick Giordano (inks regular issues and annual), Art Adams (pencils annual)
SUPERMAN (issues 1-12, annual 1) – John Byrne (writes, pencils), Terry Austin (inks), Ron Frenz (pencils annual), Brett Breeding (inks annual)


ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (issues 424-435, annual 1) – Marv Wolfman (writes), Jerry Ordway (pencils), Mike Machlan (inks), Jim Starlin (writes annual), Dan Jurgens (pencils annual), Steve Montano (inks annual)


Additional issues: LEGION OF SUPER HEROES (issues 37, 38) – Paul Levitz (writes), Greg LaRocque (pencils), Mike DeCarlo (inks), BOOSTER GOLD (issue 23) – Dan Jurgens (writes, pencils), Roy Richardson (inks)
SUPERMAN was supposed to be the flagship title, ACTION COMICS would show his interactions with other characters of the DC Universe while ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN…I don’t really know what was it’s intended purpose, but it seems to be the best title amongst them. ACTION COMICS continued it’s old numbering from before the Crisis, ADVENTURES took over the old numbering of the original SUPERMAN (1939) book, while SUPERMAN [usually referred to as SUPERMAN V2 or SUPERMAN (1987)] had an all new numbering. Here, reviewing the issues title wise gives a better perspective.

SUPERMAN (V2, 1987):

Issues 1 and 2 form an interesting Metallo / Luthor story. We see the revamped origin of Metallo, wherein John Corben is saved from a near fatal accident by a scientist, Vale Emmett who believes that Superman is the first of a wave of Kryptonian invaders, after translating the message from Jor El to Superman. He replaces Corben’s heart with Kryptonite. Later, Metallo kills Vale and in the course of his robberies comes into contact with Superman. Incapacitated by Kryptonite, just when Corben is about to deliver the killing blow to Superman, he is whisked away by Lex Luthor. Lex subsequently captures Metallo, tearing out his Kryptonian heart and fashions a ring from it, captures and tortures Lana, all to find out the connection between Clark Kent & Superman. However, when his computers figure out that Clark Kent is Superman, he dismisses it as he believes that Superman could never be content to walk hidden as a man. Luthor reappears to bedevil Superman in issue 10 where he plays havoc with Superman’s senses, making him appear a veritable force of destruction.
Issue 4 – Introduces the original Bloodsport, who with the assistance of Lex Luthor starts massacring innocents and eventually is uncovered to be a guilt addled mental patient called Robert Dubois.
Issues 5 & 6 – Superman encounters a race of aliens capable of taking over human bodies housed in the body of a huge mechanized construct over the years, wrapped in bandages like a mummy.
Issue 7 – Introduces Dr Thomas Moyers and Rampage, aka Dr Kitty Faulkner who is injured in a Fusion reactor explosion and gets converted into a large woman with minimal intellect.
Issue 9 – The Joker takes on Metropolis, facing Superman for the 1st time.
Issue 11 – Features the debut of Mxyzptlk, where we see that Mxy’s fifth dimension name is something which is undecipherable to humans, so he creates his name using random letters typed on a giant typewriter.
Issue 12 – Features a eulogy to Superman’s first love, Lori Lemaris who died during the Crisis.
Annual 1 – Introduces Titano, the Super Ape as an animal who has been used for experimental purposes and testing. An interesting animal rights story, featuring Dr Thomas Moyers as the bad guy of the piece.


The guest appearances are generally by other co-stars creating an atmosphere similar to DC COMICS PRESENTS. Most are one shots.
Issue 584 – An unknown adversary takes over Superman’s body & the TEEN TITANS try to stop him.
Issue 585 – THE PHANTOM STRANGER & Superman try to stop an animated prison graveyard risen due to some mystical power.
Issue 587 – Superman travels back in time with THE DEMON to face Morgaine Le Fey and disrupt a spell which would transform modern day Metropolis inhabitants into part of the city spires.
Issue 588 – HAWKMAN & HAWKGIRL are helped by Superman while fighting their Shadow War.
Issue 589 – Superman & the GREEN LANTERN CORPS stop an outer space menace, created by Superman himself during his previous adventure with THE PHANTOM STRANGER, and in the process create a home planet for an intelligent race.
Issue 590 – Superman & the Metal Men take on Chemo, who now has the powers of Superman by cming into contact with his body cells.
Issue 592 & 593 – Superman, with MR MIRACLE & BIG BARDA face the menace of Sleeze, originally a native of Apokolips till ousted by Darkseid, who takes control of Barda & Superman, and of all things uses them to make a video.
Issue 594, Booster Gold issue 23 – Superman & BOOSTER GOLD fight a duplicate Booster, courtesy Lex Luthor.
Issue 595 – Superman faces the Silver Banshee for the 1st time, with an assist by MARTIAN MANHUNTER
Annual 1 – Superman & Batman versus a Vampire plague in a small town.

This title was the best of them, with solid plots, classic characterisation, and introduction of new charcters like CATHERINE GRANT, EMIL HAMILTON, BIBBO BIBBOWSKI and JOSE DELGADO / GANGBUSTER. Also, the world view portrayed is excellent. In contrast to the clean Byrne style romps thru the DCU, this title presents a darker, edgier look.
Issue 424 & 425 – Introduces DR EMIL HAMILTON. This is a guy who’s been cheated by Luthor not once, twice in the span of these issues. He appears using his weapons against Superman, proving they work. He also tries to save the public using his inventions but somehow Luthor happens to walk away with the cake.
Issue 427 – Superman attacks Qurac & comes in contact with the Circle, a union of aliens who believe Superman is their long lost member.
Issue 428 – Jerry White is kidnapped & Perry is asked to kill a story. The moral compunctions he faces are tremendous, and by the time he decides, Superman actually saves Jerry, but this ruins their father son dynamic forever. Probably one of the best stories I have ever read.
Issue 429 – Clark discovers Cat Grant has a son, who his father doesn’t allow to see his mother. Superman walks the thin line muddling the Clark Kent / Superman dynamic, when he is attacked by another member of The Circle.
Issue 430 – Personal issues and defeats at the hands of The Fearsome Five force Superman to take a breather and head to Smallville.
Issue 431- Introducing Doctor Stratos, who can control the weather, and may or may not be a God. Nice issue, a villain with potential, wonder why he was hardly heard of again. Of note, this issue was pencilled by Erik Larsen.
Issue 432, 433, 434 – Luthor starts a gang war in the streets and Jerry White, Jimmy Olsen & Gangbuster are right in the middle of it. Introducing Jose Delgado as Gangbuster.
Issue 435 – The end of the Circle storyline.
Annual 1 – Hfuhhrr the word bringer fuses all the bodies of the population of a small town village and harnesses their minds and the knowledge therein for personal gain.
LEGENDS CROSSOVER – SUPERMAN issue 3, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN issue 426 and ACTION COMICS issue 586 – DARKSEID plans to destroy Earth’s legends, explained in detail in the previous review of the trade paperback LEGENDS, fall on Superman when he transports him to Apokolips and uses him against the Dregs to control them, ending in a climactic fight with ORION, son of Darkseid. You can see our take on LEGENDS here
SUPERBOY CROSSOVER – SUPERMAN issue 8, LEGION OF SUPER HEROES issues 37, 38 and ACTION COMICS issue 591 – In the new continuity, Clark Kent was never Superboy. The Time Trapper notes that the Legion is still inspired by a Superboy, so he creates a pocket dimension where the Legion goes, unbeknownst to them; when they think they are travelling to the past to visit Superboy. The Time Trapper recruits the Superboy of that dimension, in a plot against Superman & the Legion, holding Superboy’s universe at ransom.
There. That’s it. 42 issues in a single bound. The issues are divided more or less evenly amongst the collections:
My Rating: 9 on 10
My Rating: 10 on 10

My Rating: 9 on 10
My Rating: 8.5 on 10
Vol 6: SUPERMAN 12, ACTION COMICS 594,595, BOOSTER GOLD 23, all annuals
My rating: 8 on 10
All trades are priced at 20 US$. Worth it any day.
We’ve followed Superman through 1987. The next collection to come is SUPERMAN: EXILE covering the 1989-1990 period. But before that, we’ll be going through JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL & SUICIDE SQUAD, the teams arising from LEGENDS, followed by some other goodies.
Next Week: May 1st to 7th is Batman week. What defines a man, more often than his friends, are his foes. Where does Ra;s fall, really? We take a look at Ra’s Al Ghul through the ages. Stay connected.

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