Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday Synchronicity

Because alliteration demands it, it's time for the debut of a new regular installment here at Random Longbox.

Say hello to Saturday Synchronicity!

What is it, you ask?

It's basically a cheap ploy to get you to look at my older posts, cleverly disguised as a topical post on this weeks new comics.

  • It looks like the Superman from Earth-2 is back up (or should I say black up) and running around in Blackest Night JSA #3, so check out that same beloved Superman match wits with the villainy of Professor Whiffensniff over here!

  • Amazing Spider-Man #622 brings us a touching story about one of Peter Parker's oldest supporting characters, Flash Thompson. Click over here for another touching (and by touching I mean punching) story between Flash and Peter.

  • If you enjoyed Jim Hammond's re-emergence as the Human Torch in The Marvels Project #6, then click over here to see that same Human Torch re-emerge again...this time as a member of the Avengers! Now whether this story is still canon, or what exactly happened to him after that...that I can't help you with, but I'm sure a quick trip over here will probably do it.
So that completes our first of what is hopefully to become a weekly feature here at the Random Longbox. As always, thanks for reading, and we'll see you in a day or two for more fun with comic books.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On all things heroic and bright...and The Defenders too!

Things aren't feeling as bright and shiny as they were a few weeks ago. Case in point are the following quotes from the big two's respective brain-child's about the new direction for their comic book universes.

First up is Brian Michael Bendis talking about The Heroic Age, courtesy of the fine folks over at comic book resources...

I think when people hear the words 'Heroic Age,' they're thinking it's going to be all blue skies, picnics, and snowball fights in Central Park. That isn't it.

Then we have Geoff Johns giving us a heads up about Brightest Day over at The Source...

Nor is ‘Brightest Day’ a sign that the DC Universe is going to be all about ‘light and brighty’ superheroes.

Hmmm...I think this may be another case of the marketing department getting a little ahead of themselves. Thankfully, that can be easily fixed.

That's better.

Now let's get on to the official business.

So what random book am I going to read next? Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is The New Defenders #129 from March 1984, published by Marvel Comics!

So it's another go around with The Defenders after we had such a good time with the last issue we reviewed a couple of months back.

We're jumping ahead about 7 years this time, and it looks like the only member still on the team is Valkyrie. The rest of the team is made up of ex-X-Men, ex-Avengers, and ex-statues.

Judging from the cover it would also appear that this is going to be our first encounter with The New Mutants, so we're in for a bunch of new characters here at the Random Longbox.

See you in a day or two for the review of The New Defenders vs. The New Mutants!

And here I thought that Marvel's overuse of that particular adjective was just a recent phenomenon.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spider-Man 2099 #1

TITLE: Spider-Man 2099 #1


COVER DATE: November 1992


22 pages



Somehow I don't think comics will ever be as good as they were in 1992. I'm not talking about a quality level, as the technique and craft of telling comics gets better with each passing year. No, I'm talking about comics on an emotional or gut-level.

You had the X-titles in full swing (granted this was the post-Claremont era, but it was still decent), Image was just starting, the Superman titles were building towards something huge (and ultimately something hugely destructive), new titles and new concepts were being introduced...

I truly don't think there was a time when I wasn't enjoying comics more than in the early years of the 1990's. Alas, it was soon apparent that the foundation was not as strong as we all had though it was and the bottom fell out. That however, is a topic for another day, for I don't want to rain on the parade of the book we are here to talk about today.

Spider-Man 2099 #1 is one of those books from this era that I still have some fondness for today. I haven't re-read any of these since their original release, but I still remember how much I enjoyed this title when it first came out.

2099, for those unfamiliar, was Marvel creating a new corner of the Marvel Universe set more than 100 years in the future. I guess 2099 had more of a ring to it than 2092, but whatever. The idea was to take familiar Marvel characters and re-imagine them for the not-that-far-off future. It's kind of a hokey concept, and with the initial launch of titles there was only one that really grabbed my attention...and that was Spider-Man 2099. I read them all, at least for a year or so, but Spider-Man 2099 was the only one that showed a spark of being something above and beyond a cash grab on an existing Marvel archetype.

By this time, I was also a huge fan of Peter David from his groundbreaking run on The Incredible Hulk, which was in it's glory during this period. Rick Leonardi was an artist that I was aware of for the occasional guest stint he'd had on Marvel's mutant titles, and the two of them together on a Spider-Man title was too good to pass up.

I'm eager to see just how this book holds up, some 18 years later. I'm hoping it still reads just as good, as I don't need my memory of this time period tarnished with any further blemishes.

Spider-Man 2099
  • Writer: Peter David
  • Penciler: Rick Leonardi
  • Inker: Al Williamson
  • Letterer: Rick Parker
  • Colorist: Steve Buccellato
  • Editor: Joey Cavalieri
  • Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco
This story starts out like every story set in the near future should...with flying cars! And who should be out for a joyride in their flying car, but a group of teenagers. Even in the future they're still a menace.

While a menace they may actually be, the officers of the Public Eye are actually chasing a bigger fish this day...Spider-Man 2099!

The story begins in medias res, which is a good thing as that means that we get a nice, two-page spread of the new Spider-Man in action. It's a cool technique that still allows David and Leonardi to take their time in fleshing out an origin story over multiple issues, but at the same time letting our eyes feast on the great design and visuals from Rick Leonardi.

I've always loved this costume, as it's got the simplicity of the Venom redesign, but with the classic Spider-Man colors. The finger claws give him a realistic method for sticking to surfaces that also adds to the sleek design. Lastly, the tattered web cape is for the most part nonsensical, but it works. I love the look of it, and it allows for some visual flair on the part of the artist to add another sense of movement during the fight scenes.

This particular fight scene with the local gendarmes gives us a good look at the new Spider-Man in action, dispatching the two officers on their flying motorcycles with relative ease. This looks like the Spider-Man that we're familiar with, as he jumps around and contorts his body in gravity defying positions. We soon know, however, that this is someone different as the wisecracks are decidedly absent during this mostly silent fight.

After losing the police, Spider-Man 2099 reverts to his secret identity and returns to his high-rise apartment. Miguel O'Hara, we find out, is a man with a lot on his mind.

The first of Miguel's supporting cast we are introduced to is his maid/hologram/personal organizer/answering machine (the future is truly awesome...and quite comely) Lyla. While she replays all of his holo-messages, we start to get glimpses of some of the conflict that happened leading up to our hero's transformation.

To ease Lyla's concerns over his general well-being, Miguel begins to recap the past few days that got him to this point. In the flashback, we see that Miguel was much more the carefree, one-liner spewing, smart-ass genius that we have associated with Spider-Man. He works for a massive company called Alchemax, doing some sort of research and development in their genetics department. He has little patience for his company-hack assistant, who is the constant target of his jibes.

He soon finds himself backed into a corner by Tyler Stone, the head of Alchemax, who wants to push the research faster than Miguel had intended. A volunteer of sorts is provided, who won't necessarily be missed if things go awry.

Needless to say, things go awry.
Luckily for Miguel, things were so awry that the suspect literally burned himself out before he could do much damage.

Horrified by what he was forced to participate in, Miguel heads to Stone's office to tender his resignation. Tyler Stone is a man not used to having things dictated to him, and he makes Miguel an offer he can't refuse. An offer in the form of a highly addictive drug called Rapture that he has slipped into Miguel's drink.

This isn't your usual ruffies, however, as the drug in question is manufactured exclusively by Alchemax. With Miguel now hooked, he has no choice but to stay employed to give him enough access to the drug so that he doesn't become a mindless junkie.

Later, in the grips of Rapture, Miguel heads to his home where we meet his fiancee Dana. Without thinking, he lashes out and accidentally clocks her in the face. Seeing his girl in pain is enough to break him from his animalistic stupor, as he explains to her what has brought him to this state.

In a last ditch effort to cure himself of the effect of Rapture, which is quickly bonding itself to his genetic structure, Miguel sneaks back into his lab after hours to use his gene-bonding therapy on himself to try to revert his genes back to how they were originally.

You just know that something is going to go wrong right about now, and that something takes the form of Miguel's much abused assistant. He sees what Miguel is up to and decides to amp up the experiment with some untested spider DNA sequence.

The machine soon overloads and out of the explosion stands a transformed Miguel O'Hara. Where once there was the easy-going, wise-cracking emerges the beast-like man-spider of the year 2099!


You know what? This issue was damn good!

I'm glad to say that I think I enjoyed this book more than I originally remembered liking it. Peter David has always been a solid storyteller who knows his craft inside-out, and it shows here.

We get a quickly paced story that introduces all of the main players in an economical fashion that allows for a lot of action and back story. It's just about a perfect first issue, that not only sets the stage for the rest of the opening story arc, but also starts to build a whole new world from the ground floor.

Rick Leonardi, as his partner in crime, is equally adept at setting the mood of the book with a look that is traditional in it's execution, but very moody in it's style. Right away, we get a sense of the familiar infused with a feeling of unease as the future turns out to be a somewhat ruthless place.

It's a shame that this title was saddled with the 2099 moniker, and the sub-par titles that launched with it, as I think people who haven't read this tend to write it off as a failed imprint from the period where Marvel were handing out series left and right. David and Leonardi found an interesting way to rework the Spider-Man origin, and told it in a modern interpretation that really paid off.

I guess we'll just have to console ourselves with the two solid years of story these two did give us and enjoy them for what they and fantastic super-hero stories.

Lastly, if you find my output a little slow over the next week, blame it on Spider-Man 2099 as I know I'm going back to the longbox to read the next issue...and maybe the next one after that...

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) Marvel Comics

Related links for your surfing pleasure...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Up next...Spider-Man 2099!

So one of the benefits of writing this blog is that I've started paying more attention to other comic book related blogs out there. Back in the day, it was just CBR and Newsarama. I'm glad to say that I've expanded my horizons just a bit over the last year.

One of the sites that I've started checking on a daily basis has been It's A Dan's World.

It's a great site run by Dan Woodward, and it's filled with news, reviews, and opinions on a daily basis. To tell you the truth, I find myself checking Dan's site for news and avoiding Newsarama all together.

Yesterday, he had a post about neglected properties at DC that, in his opinion, could use a little Brightest Day-light shown upon them after Blackest Night concludes. Make sure you click on over to his site to see his picks.

What would I choose, if I was in control?

I'm glad you asked, Dan...

Aztek: The Ultimate Man

One of my favorite Grant Morrison super-hero works, and definitely my favorite Mark Millar work. I don't really know who could have the chops to give this guy a second chance again, but I'd love to see Morrison dust him off for his upcoming Multiversity series. And yeah, I know he's technically "dead", but seriously...when has that ever stopped anybody.

Challengers of the Unknown

C'mon DC! Why are these guys languishing on the back burner?

At the very least, lets see them in a story arc in Secret Six, as I could see Gail having a fun time pitting them up against the Six. Or let Darwyn Cooke have another crack at 'em.


Another series, like Aztek, that was cut short at a mere ten issues. Can you imagine a J.H. Williams III series getting cancelled after only ten issues these days? Come to think of it, can you imagine getting ten issues from J.H. Williams III these days? Chase's recent supporting role in Manhunter just made me realize how much her character is missed.

The Ray

I loved this character back in the early 90's...what the hell happened to him since then? It just seems like such a waste that they were never able to capitalize on the little bit of success they originally had with him. Now everytime he makes an appearance he just seems like a grade-a douche bag.

It's probably a good thing I'm not in charge, as I can't see any of these guys being able to carry another series (except for the Challengers...I was serious about that one). I sure would like to read 'em again, however.

But enough about what I would like to read, how about what I'm going to actually read next? Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Spider-Man 2099 #1 from November 1992, published by Marvel Comics!

I've never really considered myself to be a huge Spider-Man fan, but this is probably the Spider-Man book that I enjoyed the most in the 90's. I've never gone back and re-read any of these since I read them originally, so I'm curious to see how the book holds up. It's got a great pedigree with Peter David and Rick Leonardi, so I have some high hopes.

And it's got a foil cover, so it just has to be good...right?

See you in a day or two for the review.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Exile From Krypton!

Sit back and buckle up kids, as it's time to check in with the Fabulous World of Krypton!

That's not unnecessary hyperbole on my part concerning Kal-El's birth planet. What we have here is another eight page back up story that lets us peek behind the curtain into the society that gave birth to the world's greatest superhero.

Click here if you missed the review for the first part of issue #356, featuring everyone's favorite intergalactic Lothario, Vartox!

Click here if you want to check in with our previous look at the Fabulous World of Krypton.

Now that everyone is up to speed, let's start reading...

The Exile From Krypton!
  • Writer: Paul S. Newman
  • Penciller: Jose Delbo
  • Inker: Kim DeMulder
  • Letterer: Shelly Leferman
  • Colorist: Jerry Serpe
  • Editor: Julius Schwartz
For this story, we get to go way back in Krypton history to the ancient city of Erkol. It's main claim to fame are two naturally occurring, stone monoliths famed not only for their rugged beauty, but for the strange legend that surrounds them as well.

What's the strange legend, you ask? I'm glad you're curious, otherwise this would be a really short review.

In ancient times the city was ruled by five-man council, headed by Sen-Tel, who was the wisest among them.

Sen-Tal, obviously a devotee of Theodore Roosevelt, governs silently with a big stick.

As with any ruling body, someone always thinks that they can do it better, and that someone for this particular tale is Lok-Nor. He addresses the council and demands that he be made leader, for Sen-Tal has ruled long enough. Surprisingly enough, the others are not swayed by his cogent argument and the motion is denied.

Lok-Nor is left to tend to his wounded pride, so off he goes into the desert to collect exploding rocks for the city's arsenal. Yeah, that's not raising any red flags at all, Lok ol' buddy.

In the desert, Lok is amazed to see a flying saucer land in front of him and a group of aliens step out to talk to him.

It would appear that this is a peaceful race of aliens who just wish to use Krypton as a supply base for the their further space-explorations. They offer to put Lok-Nor in charge of the city in exchange for letting them use the planet. All they ask for in return is that on the rare occasion when they give Lok-Nor an order, he must follow it with no exception.

Seems an entirely innocent request of a peaceful, space-faring culture...don't you think? In a sign that Lok-Nor truly lacked the wisdom to rule in the first place, he agrees.

Lok-Nor and the aliens fly back to the city, whereupon Lok-Nor tricks the other council members into boarding the spacecraft so that they can be kidnapped enlightened by the aliens.

True to their word, the aliens make Lok-Nor the leader by flying away with the other members of the council still aboard. Lok-Nor now bears a forged document that spells out that he is in charge until they return. The document is not all that Lok-Nor has, as the aliens have also given him a helmet that symbolizes his new position as leader.

This is probably going to come as a big surprise, but Lok-Nor turns out to not be a very benevolent leader. With the aliens to back him up, he makes his fellow citizens slaves to the whims of the aliens demands.

It's not until Lok-Nor's young son wishes to try on his helmet that he realizes it is not coming off. With great effort he manages to break free of it's hold and comes to see that it was making him act like a dictator.

Now rallying his people to rise up against the aliens, they use all of their weapons to try to free their city from the aliens control. Under the cover of battle, Lok-Nor steals aboard their spaceship and uses their own atmospheric controls against them. He increases the cabin pressure in the ship, to the point that the aliens on board are about to explode.

Realizing that they are all but beat, the aliens agree to be escorted back to their own galaxy by Lok-Nor. He then willingly exiles himself to space for his betrayal, vowing only to return when he can atone for his earlier actions.

Hey look kids! There's Big Ben, and Parliament, and there's Erkol's Twin Peaks!

For generations Lok-Nor remained in space, in orbit around Krypton, unable to return until he atoned for his sins. It wasn't until years later that a massive cloud threated to smother Krypton from space. Using the advanced weaponry on the alien ship, Lok-Nor flies into the heart of the cloud and manages to neutralize it just in time.

Hey look kids! There's Big Ben, and Parliament, and there's Erkol's Twin Peaks!

Having saved Krypton a second time, Lok-Nor allows himself to return home, flying through the same massive stone peaks that he flew through when he started his exile. Krypton's greatest betrayer was able to now return as one of it's greatest heroes!


Not even the highly advanced world of Krypton was immune to crazy politicians. It makes me feel better about our dysfunctional system.

Then again, reading about all of the crazy Tea Party nonsense going on with Captain America, maybe not. It's good to know that with socialism threatening our very democracy, they are focusing on the important things like background images on comic book panels.

Please, nobody show them where we keep the exploding rocks.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Superman #356

TITLE: Superman #356


COVER DATE: February 1981


25 pages


So I'm on a plane back from Chicago after attending Wizard World there some twelve or thirteen years ago, and I'm looking through a stack of Superman back issues that I brought with me on the plane, when one particular cover caught my eye. could you not see that cover and wonder just what the hell is up with this guy?

It was a fun enough story, and the fascination with Vartox continued apace once I discovered that he actually had other appearances after this one. There's only about a dozen or so, which in all honesty is about 10 more than is probably needed. I kept waiting for someone to realize just how ridiculous that costume was and give him some new duds, but it never happened. The thigh-high boots, yellow striped briefs, and bare-chested vest were here to stay.

Vartox is one of those characters that you like despite themselves. I'm thrilled that Palmiotti, Gray, and Conner where able to find the perfect way to bring this character into the post-crisis world. And before you tell me, I know that he has made an appearance or two since COIE, but he lost a little in translation in trying to make him a serious character. They updated his costume and motivation, but once you take the bare-chested, obnoxiuos blowhard attitude away, he's just another generic alien.

At this point, I've probably shared too much about my fascination with this character, so let's just read the story and move on...

Battle of the Super-Hyper Powers!
  • Writer: Cary Bates
  • Penciller: Curt Swan
  • Inker: Frank Chiaramonte
  • Letterer: Ben Oda
  • Colorist: Adrienne Roy
  • Editor: Julius Schwartz
The story opens up on idyllic Mammoth Mountain, a ski resort popular with the residents of Metropolis. Three such Metropolitans are Clark, Lana, and Steve Lombard as they are spending a relaxing weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Well, two people are relaxing. Clark is playing the bumbling introvert that was required to protect his identity back in the day.

It doesn't take long, however, for the Steve to be obnoxious and inadvertently send Clark careening down the mountainside. Still acting the bumbling oaf, Clark feigns helplessness as he continues to ski down the slope.

Naturally, of course, since this is a pre-crisis Superman book there are a couple of things that happen just in the time to save Superman's secret identity. Not only is there an air force jet careening out of control over the mountain, but also a mysterious figure that flies past in super-speed.

The pilot manages to regain control of his jet, but not before he creates a sonic boom that starts an avalanche on the very mountain that Clark is skiing down! He uses his super-breath to blow Steve out of harm's way before being enveloped by the snow. All is not lost, however, as he just used that opportunity to change into Superman without being seen.

Although if protecting your identity was a big concern you'd probably not want to come bursting through the snow wearing Clark's skis, right?

One dose of heat vision later, and Superman has turned the onslaught of snow into a cloud of steam. The day is saved, but not everything is okay, for in all of the commotion Lana has disappeared!

It doesn't take long for Lana to return however, as she was whisked away by our mysterious flying figure from earlier who just happens to be Vartox! The last time he had visited our planet, they had started a brief relationship only to have Vartox leave for space to find his destiny among the stars in search of a planet to protect as honorably as Superman defends Earth.

He has returned on this day to say a final, tearful goodbye to Lana as he has found an adoptive planet to protect and call his own, but as they need his talents full time, he won't be able to come back again.

If only this was real life, that would be the end of the story and Lana would be left to nurse an intergalactic broken heart. Thankfully for us, as I mentioned earlier, this is a pre-crisis Superman story so you know the story doesn't end there.

For while Vartox was saying his goodbyes to Lana, his eyes were secretly sending out Hyper-Beams to Clark in a pulsing, mathematical code that explained the true nature of his visit to Earth.

Lana must really be distraught to not notice that while Vartox is saying his final goodbyes to her, he can't keep his eyes off of Clark. That seems like a red flag raiser to me.

So what's the real story? It turns out that the planet that Vartox has adopted and sworn to protect, Tynola, has been using him as a pawn by manufacturing all of the disasters that Vartox has been so busy protecting them from. He created this ruse of saying goodbye to Earth one last time so that he will be able to secretly transmit a message of help to Superman without raising any undo suspicion in the Tynolians.

So off to Tynola Superman goes to play the part of a marauding super-powered being that Vartox will be able to subdue. That way, Superman will be able to help Vartox find out what's going on with the Tynolians from inside their own society.

As the cover promised, it's a battle of Super-Powers vs. Hyper-Powers. So what exactly are Hyper-Powers? Who knows, but they are vague enough to let the writers do whatever they feel like doing. In fact, it's this very situation that occurs that allows Vartox to take down Superman once and for all.

Using a never revealed aspect of his Hyper-Powers, Vartox is able to convert his body into pure Hyper-Energy to produce a power charge potent enough to take down Superman. Now unconscious, Superman is carried off to a prison cell and everything is working according to Vartox's plan. Just how overly-convoluted that plan actually was, you'll just have to wait until the next issue pops up to find out.

Before this issue ends, however, we get a glimpse as to what the Tynolians are up to in luring Vartox to their planet.

Hey look, kids! It's Galactus from the Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer movie!

It turns out that he was indeed a pawn, one that is going to be sacrificed to the magnificent and wondrous Moxumbra!


What we have here is a pretty typical and textbook Superman story. They have a little fun with his secret identity, explore an overly dramatic love triangle, alien planets, misunderstandings, etc...

You know the drill by now, you either love this stuff or you just don't get it.

Me? I love this stuff and could read 'em all day long.

For those of you similarly afflicted like me, there's more good news. We're not quite done yet. There's a Fabulous World of Krypton back-up co-feature in this issue, so check back tomorrow for a tale of betrayal in ancient Krypton.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Real villain or decide!

Here's one of those classic Hostess Fruit Pie ads that I stumbled across while reading Superman #356 for our next review.

Now, I'm in no way a Flash historian or devotee, so I have no idea if the following villain is actually one of Flash's rogues or not.

I'm woefully behind in my listening of Tom vs. The Flash, which has been my only experience with old Flash stories to date. So far he hasn't made an appearance, but his crimes of bureaucracy could very well be waiting to be discovered on my iPod at any moment.

But what does that tell you about the wonderfully kooky state of his Rogues Gallery that this guy seems like a plausible addition to the roster?

A bureaucrat so evil that he covers the city with actual red tape!

I know these Hostess ads are supposed to be wacky, but tell me you can't see this happening in the pages of Flash proper.

The Bureauc-Rat!

Actual Flash Rogue or real fruit filling, pastry-fueled impostor?

You decide...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Odds and sods, with Superman on a roll

  • Every one else is having their fun, so why not me?

    You can't begin to guess how excited I am in the prospect of reading The Avengers again.

  • Something else I'm looking forward to reading? Take a gander at the just released cover for Brightest Day #2...

    Am I actually equally excited about reading an Aquaman book as I am about the return of one of my beloved characters?

    By that standard, Blackest Night has been a runaway success.

    I was also underwhelmed initially with the David Finch exclusive, but I gotta say, if this is the quality of work he's going to be churning out I'm pleasantly surprised.
So enough about what I'm looking forward to reading, how about what I'm due to read immediately? It's time to pick the next completely random book to review, so take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is Superman #356 from February 1981, published by DC Comics!

Hey everyone, look! It's Vartox!

Those of you saying "Vartox who?" need to go back to your local comic book store and pick up Power Girl #7 and 8. Any comic book store worth their salt will still have a couple of issues available because this series is fantastic and deserves to be well stocked and well read.

So this is a pre-crisis appearance of Vartox, where...and I know this is going to sound silly...but that costume was meant to be taken seriously!

Hats off to Rich Buckler, who actually makes it look a little less "jazz hands-tastic" and more "don't even think about questioning my choice of hot pants, fool!"

See you in a day or two for the review.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Superman: The Man of Steel #96

TITLE: Superman: The Man of Steel #96


COVER DATE: January 2000


22 pages


Sometimes it really sucks being a Superman fan. When you look back on definitive runs through the ages, there hasn't been that many. There have been creators that have left their mark, that's for sure. But when you look at the total time that the character has been published and how many different titles he's had, I'd just expect a little bit more.

One of my personal favorite eras, and definitely one of the high points in the post-death of Superman time, was the Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly era. They had some great storylines such as Our Worlds At War, Emperor Joker, Return to Krypton, President Lex, Ending Battle and Y2K. They also reintroduced some classic characters like Krypto and Bizarro #1.

All in all, it was an action packed five years plus worth of stories. Loeb and Kelly get most of the credit, as they were the driving forces behind the two major titles Superman and Action Comics. One of the unsung heroes of that era, however was Mark Schultz and Doug Mahnke's run on Superman: The Man of Steel.

Their run had a serious sci-fi bent to it, and focused more on the fantastic, science-based aspect of Superman's life. It's filled with beasts, robots, and mad scientists of all stripes, and there's no one better to draw them than Doug Mahnke. His style is bold, expressive, and larger than life without turning into a caricature of itself. He's a great storyteller, who's got a real clear sense of pacing and plot. It's no wonder that he ended up as one of the key talents in the Green Lantern universe these days, as that book is tailor-made to his strengths.

As good as he is now, he was just as good then. Let's sit back, read a good comic, and enjoy the show...

  • Writer: Mark Schultz
  • Penciller: Doug Mahnke
  • Inker: Tom Nguyen
  • Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
  • Separations: Wildstorm FX
  • Letterer: Ken Lopez
  • Associate Editor: Maureen McTigue
  • Editor: Eddie Berganza
It's an average day for Clark Kent, as he goes about his average domestic duties before returning home after work.

It's encouraging to know that even Superman, with all of the powers at his disposal, can't pick out a perfect cantaloupe either

It's only after he gets to his home, that we realize how decidedly non-average Clark Kent truly is.

I love that the lamp has the same headress as Byrne's Lara-El

So if this is a decidedly non-average turn of events for Clark Kent, Superman's day actually started out quite normal by his standards...punching out gigantic robots!

This is the issue that brings John Henry Irons back into the fold of the Superman titles on a regular basis as an inventor and weapons engineer for the S.C.U., and later for himself with Ironworks. The robots were his creation, and Superman was helping him test the operation limits of their effectiveness in fighting superpowered beings.

Back to the present, and we catch up with Clark in his Kryptonized apartment. The image of the ancient Kryptonian scientist Kem-L appears before him, and it doesn't take Clark long to figure out that all of this is the Eradicator's doing. The Eradicator program is getting all Darth Vader on Clark, demanding that he join them as they rebuild the world in the image of Krypton.

We all know how this is going down, as Superman may be Kryptonian by birth but Earth is his home now and he's having no part in the subjugation of it's people.

Since the Eradicator is all about the preservation of Kryptonian technology, it chooses the ancient warrior art of Torquasm-Vo to settle their differences. I mentioned earlier how there were so many great ideas born from this era of Superman titles...this one? Eh, not so much.

How an ancient Kryptonian warrior art that uses a theta state mind control needs to be personified by giant robots is beyond me

So while Superman fights that particular battle, the Justice League is busy fighting another battle on his behalf. A picture had surfaced of Superman wearing a wedding ring, so the JLA holds a press conference where they all show off gold bands and declare that they are all the Justice League! It's a little cheesy, but it's fun comic book dramatics.

Hey, look kids! It's the first appearance of the JLA here at the Random Longbox, and it only took 54 reviews!

The battle between the Eradicator and Superman rages on, with Superman barely holding his own when Lois returns home. While battling with a new found strength, now that he has to protect Lois from the Eradicator as well, they piece together that one of the Kryptonian artifacts they recently brought back from the Fortress of Solitude must be the cause of the Eradicator's return.

When Lois eventually finds the small statue, she tosses it to Superman who disintegrates it with his heat vision. With the idol destroyed, the illusion of Krypton that the Eradicator had created disperses with him.


With all of the focus on New Krypton in the Superman titles these days, this version of Krypton seems downright alien. I started reading and collecting Superman in the post Byrne era, so this will always be the version of Krypton that comes to mind first, and it was cool seeing it in it's glory once again. The Eradicator just happens to be a perfect villain for this incarnation of Krypton, taking on a Venom-type role as antagonist.

This is a nifty little done-in-one tale that sets up a couple of future sub-plots, and ties up a couple of old ones. Mark Schultz had a great knack for serving the larger storyline that was ever-present in the days of the shield numbering, but he always managed to tell a complete story in it's own right. This issue is no exception, and just serves to remind me that it's been a while since I've reread any of his run.

At this point, I've already heaped enough praise on Doug Mahnke, so I'm just going to let the pictures speak for themselves. But seriously, if you're enjoying what he's doing on Green Lantern these days, you owe it to yourself to go longbox hunting and pick up his Man of Steel and JLA run. It's some really dynamic stuff, and you won't be disappointed.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Terror through the ages...and yet more Superman!

It's late, but it's still Wednesday, so that means we still have time for another episode of Comic Book Days of Wednesdays Past before we make the next review pick.

The Randomizer has picked the first year for us to look at, and it's 1951!

So what were the kids reading 59 years ago? The 50's was such a wholesome decade that I'm sure it was something innocent and pure, something you could pick up at the five and dime back when you could actually pick something up for a nickel or a dime.

Well it only cost a dime, so I got that much right. Innocent and pure? When you're dealing with Adventures In Terror #3, maybe not so much.

Although, take a look at the lead story. Ghostly gloves?! No! Not the gloves! Anything but the gloves!

Don't worry about the full bodied apparition right in front of you, it's the gloves that are the real threat. I shouldn't joke however, as they beat out graveyards, haunted houses, and zombies to be the lead story. I better stop now before the inevitable Spinal Tap joke pops up.

The next stop in our trip through time is 1961! Will things be more or less terrifying at the dawn of the 60's than they were ten years prior?

At first glance, the cover to My Greatest Adventure #54 doesn't look all that scary.

Yeah, it's got crazy beasts and giant insects...but that's old hat by this time.

No, the really scary thing is that they actually had the cojones to acknowledge that evolution existed!! It's terrifying that kids from five decades ago were more scientifically literate than today's generation.

Oh well, now that I've thoroughly depressed myself let's get the Randomizer to give us a new completely random book to review from the old longboxes. Take it away, Randomizer...

...and that book is Superman: The Man Of Steel #96 from January 2000, published by DC Comics!

True to form, the Randomizer can't let a month go by without at least one Superman pick. This issue is actually from one of my favorite runs from the post death of Superman era. What was it about these particular issues that makes them stand out? Two words...

Doug. Mahnke.

It's funny, as no sooner had I published my previous review of the Hitman/Lobo issue drawn by Mahnke that I realized that I forgot to mention this Superman run. I was just going to give these issues a quick shout-out while talking about the awesome artwork of Doug Mahnke, but it had slipped my mind.

The Randomizer went and did me a solid, as it's giving me a whole review to devote to the pencils of Doug Mahnke on the title where I first noticed his work. See you in a day or two for the review.