Sunday, September 7, 2014


Art by Dan Jurgens
Last month, G. Kendall over at Not Blog X, one one my favorite daily reads, began to review the "Death of Superman" storyline from the early nineties. I have to admit that I've never read "Death of Superman", as I was an avowed Marvel Zombie when it originally came out. But I like several of the creators involved in the event and I've heard that, in general, the crossover was better conceived and executed than certain other nineties events from DC -- so early last year, when DC published THE DEATH AND RETURN OF SUPERMAN OMNIBUS, I picked it up.

I still haven't read the thing, but it's been on my radar for some time. However, the new posts over at Not Blog X have inspired me to at least pull the Omnibus from my shelf and give the actual physical package a once-over for my own blog. Now remember, I don't know what issues should be in here, so I can't really speak to anything that might have been omitted, as DC is wont to do. But I can certainly talk about the reproduction and quality of the volume.

So let's start at the beginning: I love this cover. It's a brand new illustration by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway, two of the original "Death of Superman" architects. The illustration wraps around the book from front cover to back, popping with attention-grabbing color. Best of all, when you slip the dustjacket off of the volume, the complete image is presented without any text or trade dress on the book's actual cover. And the cover itself is a nice sturdy, slick stock. From the outside, this is one heck of a gorgeous book.
My only criticism of the exterior presentation is that the iconic Superman logo (not the "S" emblem, which is quite prevalent, but the actual curved word "Superman") is nowhere to be seen. That pseudo 3-D "Superman" has existed for decades now, and is indelibly linked with the character; so much so that when DC revamped everything and assigned a plethora of new and uninspired cover logos to the various titles in their "New 52" relaunch a few years ago, they kept that classic "Superman" for the Man of Steel. I have no idea why it's been excluded from this book's trade dress, but it's an unfortunate choice.

But obviously there's a lot more to THE DEATH AND RETURN OF SUPERMAN than its outside appearance. This book is thick and quite hefty, weighing in at over a thousand pages and more than six pounds of truth, justice, and the American way. The issues inside look great; colors are bright and vibrant and, as always with an Omnibus or any oversize hardcover, full bleed artwork is breathtaking at this page size. Especially impressive is SUPERMAN #75, the issue composed entirely of splash panels depicting Superman's final battle with Doomsday.

There are a handful of extras in the book, too. The introduction from a past collection by editor Mike Carlin is a welcome inclusion, and promotional material, advertisements and pin-ups are located in the back of the book. I'm sure DC hyped this event with many more ads than are presented here, but in all honesty, the inclusion of any sort of promotional extras in a DC collected edition is cause for praise. It would be nice to see DC become as anal as Marvel, gathering every single scrap of artwork and other items to use for extras, but I just don't see that happening.

Unfortunately, there is a negative to be found here. There's always one, right? But in the case of THE DEATH AND RETURN OF SUPERMAN, it's a big one: glued binding. This tome is massive, but it won't lay open flat, meaning there's a great deal of gutter loss; especially in that all-splash panel issue noted above. Try looking at a two page spread where you lose about two inches in the middle of the image unless you're willing to potentially ruin your book by prying it open. It's a frustrating experience, and a huge, high-end book like this should not suffer from such a problem.

That said, this is otherwise a great-looking, seemingly comprehensive volume which I'm happy to own. I look forward to actually reading it someday!

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  1. Does this omnibus contain all of:

    MAN OF STEEL #17
    SUPERMAN #73

    or is it just the last Doomsday is coming page with him punching to get out of his buried cell?

    Does the latest omnibus contain the Daily Planet obituary in the special edition of Superman 75?

    Where did they insert the Legacy of Superman #1 issue?



    1. Hi Michael,

      Only the "Doomsday is coming" pages from the four issues you mention are included in this volume. THE LEGACY OF SUPERMAN appears after the sixth chapter of "Funeral For A Friend", placing it between ACTION COMICS 686 and MAN OF STEEL 21.

      The obituary is at the very, very end of the Omnibus, on the final two pages.

      Hope this info is helpful to you! As I said, I don't really know what should be in here and how it should be arranged. Does this sound right to you?

  2. With the other crossover, I assume you mean Knightfall ?
    Personally I think Knightfall is quite well done, if a bit overlong. Where DC actually dropped the ball is the reprints.
    Knightfall has been reprinted in to 3 absolutely massive books of 650 pages a piece.
    But they dropped 24 issues,
    In other words a complete book
    Even worse, for some reason DC took out the storyline where Bruce's back is healed and he learns to walk again. ( Knightfall: The Search ) In other words, they took out the whole crux of the story and v2 ends with Bruce vowing to find doctor kinsolving.
    And v3 begins with him able to walk again !

    This is so unbelievably stupid words fail me.
    They have us for 3 books, surely a fourth can be included.
    And if not, up the page count and at least give us, The Search, cause with out that the story makes no damn sense.

    Here is a list of what DC actually has cut out:
    • The Sword Of Azrael #1-4
    • Batman #484-490
    • Detective Comics #654-658

    knightfall crusade

    Robin #1

    the search :

    • Justice League Task Force #6
    • Justice League Task Force #7
    • Shadow Of The Bat #21
    • Shadow Of The Bat #22
    • Shadow Of The Bat #23
    • Legends Of The Dark Knight #59
    • Legends Of The Dark Knight #60
    • Legends Of The Dark Knight #61
    • Robin #7

    • Batman #515
    • Shadow Of The Bat #35
    • Detective Comics #682
    • Robin #14

    Unless you meant Armageddon 2001, which means I typed up this essay for nothing.
    Anyway about crossovers, I read somewhere that you have the whole Clone Saga complete
    and that, like me you actually like it.
    So why not tackle that after finishing up the Fantastic Four ?
    I'd love to do it myself but I have enough on my plate already and I don't actually have the story complete.

    1. Mainly I was talking about "Knightfall" and "Emerald Twilight" (note that I said "events" rather than "crossovers"). As noted above, I haven't read them myself, but I've gathered -- mainly from G. Kendall's reviews over at NOT BLOG X -- that "Knightfall", while fairly well executed at least from the start, was somewhat disorganized. And the less said about Hal Jordan's character assassination in "Emerald Twilight", the better.

      I've heard those complaints about the "Knightfall" trades, which is my main reason for not picking them up. It's a story I wouldn't mind reading someday, but with so much missing -- especially so much material focusing on Bruce Wayne! -- I'm not forking over my cash to DC for it.

    2. Well events, crossovers, same thing these days to be honest.
      The books help streamline the storyline, because its a massive crossover with every Batman family title involved and everything is in reading order.

      I only found out AFTER I put down $90 and read the first book that DC for some reason left out 24 comics, you can imagine I was less then pleased.
      Of the comics left out, TheSsearch, is the most important ( and baffling to leave out ) but the constant references to Batman 489, where Bane broke Killer Croc's arms do get tiring.
      What's even worse is that The Search has never been collected at all.
      Good going DC.

      Emerald Twilight was thankfully mercifully short, with just 3 issues instead of a company wide crossover.

    3. It's interesting that "The Search" seems like just the right length for one more of those big paperbacks. I wonder if there were plans for it, but DC cancelled them for some reason?