Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Classics - Superman #75

Let's wrap up our series of Superman "Classic" reviews (in honor of his 75th Anniversary) with the biggest event in the history of the character - his death.

The issue was published in 1993 and it may have changed the face of comics more than any other event. That's because it made the evening news.

In fact, the Death of Superman was covered by every major news outlet - newspapers, TV networks, you name it - it was a huge story (though most stories admitted that the death wasn't likely to last for long).

Ever since, every comics company has dreamed of attaining the same national coverage - and a few have come close, though none has been as successful.

The story hit its climax with this issue, after several issues leading up to it. The story introduced the mysterious behemoth known as Doomsday - a strange creature with enough physical strength and virtual invulnerability to be able to go toe-to-toe with Superman and get the better of him.

The creature had marched across the country and made its way to - of all places - the Daily Planet, where the lives of thousands were at stake - including Clark Kent's wife, Lois Lane.

It's rather sad to note that this groundbreaking issue really isn't much more than an average effort. To emphasize the groundbreaking nature of the issue, each page is a splash page.

Written and drawn by Dan Jurgens with inks by Brett Breeding, the comic just breezes past, with nice art but no real substance to the story.

There's an emotional impact, of course, in the death of an icon - but the fight sequences are so abbreviated that they lack the proper impact (so to speak) - and the end rushes up all too quickly.

I admit, I'm not a big fan of "event" comics - they're just trying so hard to shock us - and this may well be the event that started the trend.

It's great that it drew so much attention to comic books and sold so many comics - if only it had managed to be a great comic, instead of just a good one.

Grade: B-



Anonymous said...

Somewhere during all those big events; Death Of... Return Of...DC jacked the cover price up by a quarter and I cried foul. I had been buying all the Super-titles for years through Byrne and post Byrne and faithfully followed the never ending storylines and an army of artists...and that stealth price hike just made me stop and realize that comics are just another business and DC would jerk the fans well as any new readers that came on board with all the death hype. Superman was and is my favorite character...and I haven't bought a Superman comic in 20 years.

Sam Kujava

Chuck said...

Sam, I suspect that every time the comics companies hiked prices, they lost a percentage of readers. I know there was a time when I bought almost everything being published - and now I can only manage a tiny percentage of the weekly output. I often wonder how companies are managing to print so many titles with sales continuing to shrink. Is there a breaking point? We may find out someday.

El Vox said...

Re: Price hikes & granted I don't know diddly about the comic biz: I have wondered as an experiment if a new comic upstart company could go back to a cheap pulp, newsprint type comic, lower the price, still keep good stories, and if that would fly. Perhaps that cheap newsprint paper cost as much as the slick stuff I don't know...

Len LaCara said...

I agree that the issue was only so-so, thanks in part to the splash panels. But if you look at the preceding issues, you will notice something interesting: The issue before this one had two panels per page. The one before that, three, and so on, back to the beginning of the storyline. I don't know if a countdown like that had ever been done before this series.

Chuck said...

El Vox, I've wondered the same thing. I think there have been attempts along that line that didn't work - but it sounds like a great idea!

Len, I had forgotten about the panel counts in the previous issue. It was an interesting experiment, and I admire the effort - but I still think the final issue didn't really work. But you're right, I don't think that sort of thing had been tried before.