By various (DC Comics)
I thought I’d give this compilation series a belated and much-deserved recommendation when the latest volume thumped onto my desk. If I have such a thing as a regular reader out there, he/she/it probably knows I’ve been a fan of the character since 1962 or thereabouts. All of which meant that when DC announced a fundamental reworking of the Man of Tomorrow in the wake of their 1986 Crisis on Infinite Earths project, I was more than a little alarmed.
Sure the big guy was in a bit of a slump, but he’d weathered those before. How could a root and branch retooling be anything but a pathetic marketing ploy that would alienate the real fans for a few fly-by-night Johnny-come-latelys who would jump ship as soon as the next fad surfaced? That new Superman was going to suck.
He didn’t. After the six part miniseries by John Byrne and Dick Giordano, the saga returned to monthly titles Superman, Adventures of Superman and Action Comics – which latter acted as a fan-pleasing team-up book guest-starring other stars of the DC Universe. Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway joined Byrne to create thrilling and visually exciting, contemporary and even socially aware slices of sheer exuberant, four-colour fantasy that were impossible to hate. Superman had always been great, but he was once again exciting. Rivetingly so.
This volume features not only the usual quota of Superman tales (Superman 7-8, Action 590-591 and Adventures of Superman 430-431) but also includes two issues of the Legion of Super-Heroes (#37-38) to reprint a classic back-writing exercise that solved an impossible post–Crisis paradox whilst giving us old geeks a chance to see a favourite character die in a way all heroes should. Paul Levitz, Greg LaRoque and Erik Larsen augment the regular creative teams in a classy, unrepentant super-feast.
As I’ve previously mentioned, a major problem that most non-fans have with super-hero comics (apart from them actually having super-heroes in them) is the insane convolutions of in-house continuity. This all-readers-start-here opportunity to show doubters how good this genre can be is one all comics missionaries should exploit to the fullest. So that’s your wife/girl-friend/mother’s next present sorted then, no?
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