Monday, April 30, 2018


Words & Pictures: John Byrne | Inking: Karl Kesel
Coloring: Tom Ziuko | Lettering: John Costanza
Co-Editors: Michael Carlin & Andrew Helfer

The Plot: Lois Lane is touring a new experimental energy facility when an explosion occurs. Superman responds to the crisis and is attacked by a large, gold-skinned woman. Their battle takes them around Metropolis until Superman realizes that the woman’s cells are irradiated with solar energy trying to escape.

Superman allows his own body to absorb the solar leakage, then soars into the sky toward a thunderstorm over Kansas, intentionally getting himself struck by a bolt of lightning to dissipate the energy.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: The energy facility, run by a Professor Kitty Faulkner, is the product of a contest to find a clean energy source sponsored by the Daily Planet (though I have a hard time imagining any newspaper having the resources for such a vast project, even a massive one like the Planet and even in a pre-internet world).

It has no ultimate bearing on the story’s conclusion, but there’s a sub-plot where Superman briefly believes the woman he’s fighting is Lois, transformed by the explosion. It’s revealed within the span of a few pages, however, that she’s actually Professor Faulkner.

Still mooning over Wonder Woman, Clark calls up Carole Bennett of the Boston Globe-Leader to try to set up an interview with the Amazon Princess, but is informed that the paper has no way to contact her.

Superman compares the rampaging giantess's strength with that of the "imperfect duplicate" (a.k.a. Byrne's Bizarro) that he fought during MAN OF STEEL.

Inspector Dan “Terrible” Turpin, created in the seventies by Jack Kirby, makes his post-CRISIS debut here as a member of Maggie Sawyer’s Special Crimes Unit. Byrne has him putting certain slang words in quotation marks, which nobody else in any of these stories does, so it’s clearly a tribute to one of Kirby’s writing tics — and one I find pretty funny.

There’s a final page epilogue in which Lois states that both Superman and Clark Kent have been missing for three days. Clark shows up, telling Lois he’s been with Superman during that time, but that there will be no story for the Planet about it. The “next issue” blurb tells us that the three days will be filled in via a story arc starting next issue — so our timeline with regards to ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN is about to get a little confused, which I’ll try to note as we move along.

My Thoughts: A few commenters on past posts here have noted that they read John Byrne’s SUPERMAN as it was coming out, but ignored ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN. It’s interesting that such an approach would have been very easy to pull off, at least at this point. We’ve already noted, as recently as last week, that Byrne wrote ACTION COMICS in total isolation from both SUPERMAN and ADVENTURES with the exception of its participation in the Darkseid/LEGENDS crossover storyline. The same can really be said for SUPERMAN and ADVENTURES, as well. Byrne is writing SUPERMAN as a single monthly title with its own sub-plots and, really, its own supporting cast. ACTION is usually all Superman, cover-to-cover, with nary an appearance from the Daily Planet gang. It’s not at all necessary to read one in order to follow the other, which is an unexpected way to go on two titles written by the same guy.

Then there’s ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, which Marv Wolfman also writes in sort of a vacuum. SUPERMAN has never once made reference to any of the storylines in ADVENTURES or ACTION, and the same is true of both other books. Wolfman hasn’t had his Superman, for example, mention Bloodsport, while Byrne’s Superman hasn’t had anything to say about his issues with Qurac—and neither Superman has bothered with so much as a single thought over his frequent team-ups with the other denizens of the DC Universe in ACTION.

On one hand, if you’re a reader who only wants to read a single Superman title every month, this has to be great. The three books are all totally isolated from each other (again, aside from the Darkseid story), so you’re not missing anything by following just one series. But on the other hand, as completist reader, I could imagine it being a little frustrating. It used to bother me to no end when I’d read a Spider-Man comic where something major happened, and the other books wouldn’t acknowledge it. However, even at their worst in terms of editorial oversight, the Spider-Man comics tended to, at the very least, pay a little lip service to the goings-on in the other titles. The thing that strikes me as especially odd about this is that you’d think DC would want the books to touch on each other’s events, even if very slightly, to try to get those readers of one single series to check out the other two!

Oh, I guess Superman fought some chick or whatever in this issue, by the way.

Next Week: Superman battles Teen Titans enemies the Fearsome Five in ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN 430.


  1. Clearly DC rethought the approach of writing these books in a vacuum, given that by the early 90s the line changed to basically a single story being written by four people, or, failing that, all four Superman books were conscious of what was going on in the other books. didn't really work that well, honestly. When the entire line is beholden to a single story line, generated by committee, you lose the chance for wild inspiration, for a writer to go "hey what if I tried this?" or for the work of an artist to give ideas to the writer. Plus, let's face it-when a line is interconnected to the point the Superman books were in the early 90s, you were only as strong as your weakest link, which meant one bad creative team and you were done. Not mentioning any names (okay, fine, Louise Simonson.)

    A middle ground, where the books do their own thing but at least acknowledge each other, is far better, but let's face it, Byrne was going to do whatever the hell he wanted to anyway, so Wolfman was already behind the eight ball. Then he didn't help himself by doing some exceedingly mediocre work on Superman.

    1. I've never read those Superbooks from the nineties, though I always liked the little triangle shields on the covers telling you the reading order for the year. I used to wish the Spider- and X-books would've done that, though they weren't written in the same committee method.

      Ever since Spider-Man did the "Brand New Day" era, I've thought a good approach to a franchise like that, X-Men, Batman, or Spider-Man would be to have writers do their story arcs by taking turns. i.e., this month's issue of BATMAN and DETECTIVE are parts one and two of Writer A's story, then next month's issues are Part 3 of Writer A's story followed by Part 1 of Writer B's story, and so on.

      It seemed to work well enough on Spider-Man. I read most of that period and while I didn't love the stories, I thought the trading of arcs was pretty well done, up until the point where the writing staff ballooned from three or four guys to something like seven. At that point it just got unwieldy and sub-plots and tone started to suffer.

      Though I'm also fine with your final paragraph, which I think is where I landed in my post, too -- as long as the series make small nods to each other's existence, that will keep me happy.

  2. I was introduced to Rampage through the recent "Adventures of Supergirl" paperback I got for Christmas, so reading this issue of John Byrne's "Superman" makes me really happy that Rampage was made by him in the '80s.