I imagine several passages in this post will sound like I’m suffering some kind of head injury if you weren’t familiar with comics.

§ November 21st, 2019 § Filed under death of superman § 17 Comments

Ah, the return of the “Death of Superman” post-tag, the category that, ironically, never dies. Well, neither does Superman, usually, so I guess it’s not that ironic.

Anyway, Tales from the Dark Multiverse, which is part of DC’s Marvel-esque publishing initiative to take something of theirs that was popular, that Dark Nights: Metal series, and indefinitely extend it with spin-offs and tie-ins and whatnot, presents an installment based around that best-selling comics event from nearly 30 years ago:

…And, it’s fine. Kind of an Elseworlds/What If kind of thing, only it “counts” because it’s part of an established extended multiverse that includes the “real” DC Universe. And there’s a throughline here, too, with a “host” introducing each story, the Watcher Watchernaut…excuse me, the Tempus Fuginaut, and I imagine a lot of the characters being established here are planned to turn up in something-or-other later.

This one [SPOILER] involves Lois getting disillusioned with the superhero community and its inability to prevent Superman’s death. She eventually gets super powers from the Eradicator and, in true What If fashion, purt’near everyone dies, mostly at Lois’s hands. Again, like I said, it’s fine, exactly what it says on the tin, plenty dark for anyone who wants it. It actually is a bit of an effective horror piece, particularly in relation to Lois’s fall and the reactions of others to it. Horror is not a genre that fits easily with Superman, but when done at least reasonably well it can be very effective. (See Steve Gerber/Gene Colan’s Phantom Zone mini-series for the best example).

I will note that the first Dark Multiverse special, based around the “Knightfall” event, sold okay, but not great at my shop, but this Superman one blew off the shelves. Like I said before, I suspect one of the reasons for this Dark Multiverse series is to toss out a bunch of parallel-universe origin stories for new villains to face our main universe heroes, and hope another Batman Who Laughs emerges.

I do like that Lois’s chest emblem is the “Bloody S” logo from all that original Death of Superman marketing. That’s kinda funny.

Enough about “The Death of Superman,” here’s more about “The Death of Superman:”

The Death of Superman: The Wake trade paperback came out this week, collecting a digital-first (I think) mini-series telling stories revolving around, well, you know. Interestingly, it’s the New 52 Superman, the one with the worst costume, and I can still remember early on during that publishing initiative wondering if, in that continuity, the events of “Death of Superman” had even happened. Eventually, we learned they did, as there was some interminable “Doomsday Plague” or whatever follow-up storyline that ran through all the Super-books, mostly notable for the jumble of subtitles and chapter numbers and such slapped on the covers.

But I think this story is the first time we’re directly, more or less, seeing the events of the Death of Superman in the New 52 continuity…which is kind of a moot point now, admittedly, as Superman’s continuity has now been twisted back into some semblance of the post-Crisis/Zero Hour but pre-New 52 version. And even the Death of Superman, as originally presented, doesn’t exactly match up with the DC Universe we have now, which reminds me a bit of how I used to wonder how Crisis on Infiniite Earths played out in the New DC There’s No Stopping Us Now universe that was born from that event. Did the heroes remember it* as “Crisis on Just This One Earth,” with the Anti-Monitor threatening that single universe that existed post-Crisis? If I recall correctly, there was a brief scene in…a Secret Origins, I’m pretty sure, where the Anit-M was going to destory everything with a universe-bomb or some damned thing, the implication being that’s what the Crisis was in “new” continuity.

That’s a lot of typing about a book I haven’t even really read yet…I read the first chapter on the DC streaming app, and kinda flipped through it now to see what was going on. But I do intend to read it, despite not seeing any sign of Lex’s red-headed Australian son who’s actually Lex in a cloned younger body. I’ll just have to overcome my disappointment.

* Yes, I know at the conclusion of Crisis the point was made that all the heroes remembered pre-Crisis continuity despite existing post-Crisis. That…was kinda left aside pretty quickly.

17 Responses to “I imagine several passages in this post will sound like I’m suffering some kind of head injury if you weren’t familiar with comics.”

  • philfromgermany says:

    It’s bloggerin’ time!
    Good to have you back after your recent see-nanigans.

    Your assessment of the Dark Multiverse DoS book has made me curious: how would you compare that books grim darkness with that of DCeased?

  • James says:

    Well, to be fair…

  • Daniel T says:

    I think there were maybe a handful of vague mentions of a “Crisis on One Earth,” but the fullest depiction of it was in Flash #150 (the Wally West series, of course). And it wasn’t very clear on details, if I remember correctly.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    “…in true ‘What If’ fashion, purt’near everyone dies…”

    You explain there why I quickly tired of WHAT IF?…and, old guy that I am, I was reading it from the start from the beginning, in 1977. The answer to the question “What if?” was always “doom, death and/or destruction.” What if Iron Man had built armor for the other Avengers? He would have been killed. What if the Hulk had retained his gray color? The radiation he emitted would have given all his friends cancer. What if Daredevil had kept his yellow costume? The world would have ended.

    I realize that this was simply the creators taking the opportunity to do what they were not allowed to do in the regular series, but it had the effect of elevating the stories already told to an almost holy status. If events had not gone exactly as they had, we were repeatedly told, the result would have been catastrophic–or, to put it another and more irritating way, do not question our decisions, they were absolutely the right ones.

    Mind, that was arguably preferable to what the series eventually became, which was simply an issue-by-issue retelling of X-MEN (“What if this story had ended differently? Okay, now, what about the next one, what if it had ended differently?”), interspersed with an occasional Punisher story (“What if the Punisher died and came back as an angel”–alright, I am only being silly here, they never did that). I mean, the fact that there were separate issues devoted to the questions “What if Wolverine had become the Punisher?” and “What if the Punisher had become Wolverine?” attests to the creative exhaustion towards the end.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Note: Facts asserted in the previous post may not be actual facts.

  • Chris V says:

    I’m glad they didn’t do the What If? version of Avengers #200.
    “What if the Avengers decided to stop the rape of one of their friends? DOOM!”
    See? Marvel made the right decision.

  • Mikester says:

    philfromgermany – Well, unfortunately, while I do have the run of DCeased at home, I haven’t read them yet! But I can say I’m not against the idea of “grimdark” type stories, so long as they’re interesting. And, y’know, marketed as such. No one should be going into something with “DARK MULTIVERSE” in the title expecting light, humorous entertainment. (Well, aside from inadvertent humor, like Lois’s chest emblem, as I mentioned!) I think there’s room for tragic horror stuff like this (esp. towards what I think is the goal of creating new adversaries for the regular DCU) so long as it’s not the be-all/end-all of what’s available on the stands.

    Okay, that’s not exactly what you asked. :) Just had to get it off my chest. But from what little I know about the contents of DCeased, I imagine it may not be as dark in tone. if only because you have more “heroes trying to be heroes” in that story, versus the “we start off with everything going to hell, then working downwards from there” structure of the Dark Multiverse one-shots. I mean, it’s a fine line.

  • Mikester says:

    Turan – My favorite What Ifs were always “What if [X] Didn’t Happen?” with the conclusion being “[X] happens!” “What if the Punisher Didn’t Become the Punisher? …Theeeeen he’d become The Punisher!” Y’know, like that.

  • John Lancaster says:

    …And in the 20th century Conan gets a sweet, white Pimp suit and a leopard on a chain!

  • Tom Bondurant says:

    Mike, I can think of a couple of “post-Crisis Crisis” accounts in addition to the Wally West Flash #150. There was a double-page spread in the 1986 History of the DC Universe miniseries (issue #2); and the 2010 DCU Legacies miniseries spread its Crisis chapter over issues #5 and #6. Both featured George Perez artwork, and both were pretty much “Crisis On One Earth.” The Legacies account suggests that from ground level everything was kind of a blur – first there were red skies, white clouds of nothingness, and the Anti-Monitor booming doom across the sky; then the heroes rallied together and flew off into the distance, and the things disappeared. Very Marvels in approach, but that miniseries was pretty much DC’s version anyway.

  • Daniel T says:

    Ah, Legacies! I knew there was some Crisis thing I was forgetting. And I can’t believe it slipped my mind because the first page of #6 has the amazing Daily Planet headline “What The Hell Just Happened?” Also notable about #6 is it had Perez inking Jerry Ordway–and it looked exactly the same as Ordway inking Perez.

  • Dario Delfino says:

    FYI that particular Death of Superman series has its own continuity. It’s a tie-in to an animated film, which uses the New 52-style outfit.

    Oh, DC.

  • Andrew-TLA says:

    It’s been a long time since I’ve read the Legacies series (didn’t one of the early issues feature Alfred urging Batman to join the League because he needed friends?). But yeah, it was really just “big fight with the Anti-Monitor and Barry Allen dies/becomes one with the Speed Force”.

    Which, when described like that, sounds about as thrilling as the Genesis crossover.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    In case you haven’t seen the news–the new “Swamp Thing” TV series is coming out on DVD and Blu-ray in February.

    The press release for this states “The series features an all-star cast,” which seems…generous.

  • Dario Delfino says:

    Also, people seem to be conflating Legacies with JLA Incarnations. The latter needs to be reprinted. The Barry Allen/Anti-Monitor story Andrew-TLA barely remembers was a short back-up in one issue; each issue was dedicated to the League in a specific era. Highly recommended.

  • Thom H. says:

    I love a good “everyone dies” story, so What If? was my jam for a while. Not all good, of course, but some issues were a lot of fun.

    Also, “Anti-M” made me laugh out loud. We need to call him that from now on.

  • Voord 99 says:

    Part of what made What If? work is that in a pre-internet age it served as a more enjoyable Official Handbook.

    There was a very decent chance that the child reader had not read the story that was serving as the point of departure. So the Watcher’s brief recap at the beginning was often filling one in on a piece of Marvel universe history about which one didn’t know anything. (For instance, I found out about Doom’s mother being in Hell from the WI? story about Doom being a heroic good guy.) And then you got an actual story. (Child Me loved reading about good guy Doom.)

    It worked, but only in the context of a world in which you were constantly conducting a sort of archaeology of the Marvel universe from second-hand back issues, reprints, brief references in current stories, all giving you little fragments of a previous history before you started reading, a history that seemed much larger than it actually was, because all you had were fragments.

    When superhero comics came to be for dedicated longtime readers with an extensive knowledge of previous continuity (the sort of people who would buy the Official Handbook), that shot one leg out from under What If? At that point, you really are writing only for the reader who wants a story about what would have happened if a story that they already know turned out differently.