§ April 9th, 2004 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

In the early 80s, DC Comics released one of my all time favorite Superman stories: The Phantom Zone. Writer Steve Gerber and artists Gene Colan and Tony DeZuniga brought us what may very well be the only effective Superman horror story ever published. You finally get the feeling that the Phantom Zone villains are evil, frightening monsters who deserve to be trapped in this disembodied state, instead of just no-goodniks who would occasionally give Supes a little bit of grief. You get a history of the Zone in the first issue, along with a look at the stories behind the criminals imprisoned there…and over the course of the series you get an exploration of what exactly comprises the Zone itself. I don’t want to go into too much detail, as I would prefer that you read the story yourself…I will say that it follows up on a former Phantom Zone prisoner that first appeared in a story from Superman #157 (pictured above, on the left). You also get, in this mini, a Superman pushed over the edge by anger and frustration…which was quite a shock to this 13-year-old reader at the time, accustomed as I was to the more staid Silver/Bronze Age Superman.

A sequel to the The Phantom Zone mini-series, written by Gerber and illustrated by Rick Veitch, appeared in the last issue of DC Comics Presents…the last of the “original” Superman stories (along with Alan Moore’s two-part “Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow” story) prior to John Byrne’s revamping of the character. It’s on par with the horrific level of the mini-series…you’ll not soon forget the rain of Argo City‘s ruins (along with dead Kryptonian bodies) crashing down upon Metropolis.

Anyway, what with Gerber currently producing the new Hard Time series for the DC Focus line, I thought this particular mini-series and issue of DCCP (along with the 10-page story from the 60s) would make a nice little trade paperback collection for DC to release. Not likely, I know…we’re probably more likely to see a more general-purpose Phantom Zone collection focusing on Silver Age stories, but it would be nice. This really was one of the best Superman stories, and I hate to see it languish forgotten in the back-issue bins.

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