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Superman: The Man of Steel #18 [Back-Issue Review]

Doomsday! part one

Story: Louise Simonson
Penciller: Jon Bogdanove
Inker: Dennis Janke
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Assistant: Jennifer Frank
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover: Bogdanove & Janke
Triangle #: 1992/45

After the previous month’s worth of issues having a single page at their end showing a gloved fist beating on a metal wall (and eventually poking THROUGH the wall), This issue opens with the bearer of that fist fully breaking free from what imprisoned it, and clawing into new life on the surface of the Earth. While the creature gets loose, we see a young boy buying glow-in-the-dark paint for purposes of his own. Meanwhile, Lois finds a message for Clark requesting Superman’s presence–she rushes off to check the likely story, but leaving a message for Clark to meet her there. The creature admires the world it’s about to destroy, beginning with a curious bird that lands on its outstretched hand. When the city’s power fails, Superman sets out to see what can be done, while Lois finds herself captured by “underworlders” and the young boy realizes that these monsters don’t have his mom, and races back to the surface to try to contact Superman. Superman attends to the underworlders’ attempted invasion of Metropolis, while somewhere in Ohio the creature causes enough destruction to gain the attention of the Justice League.

It’s been roughly sixteen years since I first read this–and I haven’t a clue how many times I’ve re-read it since that first read. The comic shop my dad preordered this story for me at allowed us to wait until the final chapter was out before picking it up–so wait we did. The first time I read this issue was with a stack of the next six chapters in a pile underneath–so this has rarely (if ever) stood entirely alone.

That said, this issue’s story is probably my least favorite of the Death of Superman / Doomsday story. I never liked the underworlders subplots. Upon this latest re-read of the issue, I still don’t. I found them to be rather boring and uninteresting, if not outright generic. The story here, though, seems to serve more to transition into the over-arching story than to really start the main event, and seems to tie up some threads from earlier plot points (specifically regarding the underworlders).

There’s not much to say about the art, except that is certainly fits the story–this was the first in-story appearance of Doomsday as more than a fist, so gets the distinction of visually defining it in this initial stage. Details seem consistent panel to panel of the various characters–I’m never left wondering what’s going on by any confusing images. Perhaps for being the point at which I more or less entered the world of Superman all those years ago for the long haul, this art is simply classic, and tends to be the standard by which I’ve judged other artists who’ve dealt with Superman–and supporting cast–on a regular basis.

On the whole, this was a good example of what a Superman book was, in 1992. The books were essentially a weekly series with rotating creative teams (one per core title), and this issue reflects that–dealing with ongoing subplots, focusing on a more specific plot-point, and keeping a number of characters in the appearance-rotation. Good in that sense; but as said, not all that wonderful as far as the first chapter of such a huge story.

Story: 6/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 7/10

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