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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 255

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at a neat Joker/Superman moment from John Byrne’s Superman run…

To set the scene, Joker has shown up in Metropolis and caused some Joker-esque mayhem.

Then this follows…

A very fun portrayal of the Joker by Byrne, particularly the artwork.


Man, Byrne’s Joker has a face that would put Plastic Man to shame.

Jesus, Joker, have a coat why don’t you.

I love how Superman calmly explains that the Joker is an idiot, and in what way.

This is a perfect example of how BORING superman can be. Joker is one of the most interesting villains and Superman just calmly defeats him. It seems like lazy writing to me that Joker didn’t even keep him busy for more then a moment. I had heard that John Byrne’s run had made Superman really powerful (again) but this is even worse than I thought it would be!!

Reading this and other classics, I wonder this: did anyone ever actually use “laughing boy” as a serious slang term, or is it just a comic writer thing, like “blue blazes” and “great caeser’s ghost”? I know I’ve seen it used before, but only in comics, not in any regular books or any other media. I think I remember The Thing, Nova or Spider-Man use it before. Is it a Byrne-ism?

My moment is when Superman’s just sticking up through the floor. Well, I laughed..

I’m sure Supes’ friends and loved ones appreciated the rough landing.

And while we’re pointing stuff out, has anyone ever seen anyone stand the way cigarette-smoking lady in panel one is standing? Outside of perhaps a ballet instructor’s?

“I had heard that John Byrne’s run had made Superman really powerful (again) but this is even worse than I thought it would be!!”

This was part of the post-Crisis reboot when Superman was depowered. Marv Wolfman (writing at the same time as Byrne) wrote Superman as even less powerful than Byrne did but compared to the pre-Crisis Superman, this Supes was much less powerful.

Sorry Brian, the Joker looks pretty terrible to me in this.

I can’t stand the way Byrne drew the Joker. Or Lois.

Two things I do like in this sequence, though:
1. Joker’s Joker-themed furniture
2. Superman just casually popping up through the floor

But here’s a question: If a homicidal maniac like the Joker had your pals trapped in a canister like this, would you leave him alone with them for even a second while you flew the truck to prison? There was ample time for J to gas them to death before they landed. Supes is lucky Lois, Jimmy and Perry made it through okay.

That Joker face is going to haunt my dreams.

Where is Superman’s cape? He looks naked.

“I had heard that John Byrne’s run had made Superman really powerful (again) but this is even worse than I thought it would be!!”

One of Byrne’s main aims was to depower Superman. But when he mentioned in a TV interview that he was going to make Superman more vulnerable, they interpreted this as Superman being less macho and more emotionally sensitive, and suggested that the new Superman would have a taste for white wine and brie. Which, AFAIK, led to Byrne adding lines to Man of Steel #2, where Superman is offered white wine and brie by Lois and declines.

Byrne’s Superman stories were more like clever puzzles than gut-wrenching dramas. You might enjoy the intellectual trick, such as the lead-lined coffins in this story, but you wouldn’t get emotionally involved.

This was his next big project after FANTASTIC FOUR and ALPHA FLIGHT. Unfortunately, he hit his career peak sometime around 1985, toward the end of his run on these two series. His Superman run was the beginning of his downward slide.

Yeah his Joker is pretty … ugh. But I do like it when Byrne puts brains in the stories like this one, or that done-in-one issue of FF with stuff like giant people and Reed just drives holes through all the “logic” around him, like if someone were truly that big, his massive weight would crush his legs.

I love that Joker in the last panel. It’s pretty obvious that this influenced Tim Sale.

This is a fun moment, but I’m not a fan of the cliche of super heroes explaining to the public, and often to their own villains, just exactly what their powers are and how they work. Spider-man does this with his Spider-sense all the time. I understand that it’s really just exposition intended to explain to the audience how it works, but it plays really stupidly. Wouldn’t the heroes be better off (and more effective heroes) keeping their secrets?

I got confused about the powering up and powering down of superman I admit, my miskake. But this is still a perfect example of why superman is not as interesting as other heroes who have less powers, honestly when reading this I was reminded of Bananaman from the Dandy.
Superman is easy to write badly, I only say this because some writers have written him really well (mark waid, morrison etc) but this piece is just awful, with the only good points being those mentioned by Patrick Wynne above. This looks like an era from Superman’s history that needs to be ignored.
Does anybody agree?

I forget, why did Byrne leave Superman when he did?

if I remember correctly, he had years of stories to tell of Superman waaaaay back then.

I like Byrne’s Joker. He’s approprpiately cartoony and grotesque. He can’t draw an attractive woman to save his life, though. Lois looks like a man in drag.

Long way to go just for Byrne to give the audience a lecture on Superman’s powers.

Oh Lois, you’re so ’80s. I expect her to start belting out “Morning Train” any minute.

It’s interesting that the plot hinges not on Superman being especially clever, but on the Joker being kind of dumb. Not just with the lead coffin thing, but apparently he’s not even carrying a gun or some other weapon he could threaten the hostages with? Must be having an off day.

The only thing I like about any of this is Joker’s furniture. Hell, the Joker is an ineffectual idiot in these pages. The Joker who usually clashes with Batman would have murdered all his hostages as soon as he saw that Superman was flying him to prison – and he wouldn’t even mind being returned to prison, as long as the hostages became grinning corpses and he got to see Superman’s reaction. Does the Joker really need to be written as LESS dangerous than usual when he’s fighting Superman?? Apparently yes, he does.

We only got to see what would really happen if Joker went to Metropolis many years later, when Kingdom Come was released.

I forget, why did Byrne leave Superman when he did?

Like everything with Byrne, there are a few different versions.

The publicly stated reason was that Byrne was miffed at DC for continuing to use Jose Luis Garcia Lopez art for their licensed products. He felt this showed the pre-COIE Superman and undermined his take.

Byrne later said that he was burned out. He had written and/or drawn six issues of MAN OF STEEL, 24 issues of SUPERMAN, 20-odd issues of ACTION, a WORLD OF KRYPTON mini, a WORLD OF SMALLVILLE mini, a WORLD OF METROPOLIS mini and a few issues of AOS in, like, two and half years. That is a lot of comics. As much as I love ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, it took Morrison and Quitley the same length of time to deliver 12 issues. Byrne was producing comics about six times faster, while handling both the scripts and the pencils.

Finally, it is important to remember that tastes changed a lot in the mid-80s. Byrne and Walt Simonson were leading a neo-conservative movement at Marvel in the early-80s. It was all about taking superhero books back to Lee-Kirby. Then, Alan Moore kicked off the British Invasion at DC. This was coming out at the same time as Miller and Mazzucelli’s BATMAN: YEAR ONE and Moore and Gibbon’s WATCHMEN. Byrne went fro doing exciting new-style stuff to doing stuffy old-style stuff almost over-night. It happened that quickly and during the first part of the highest profile project of his career.

So, it seems likely that Byrne got insecure about what he was doing in the midst of turning out 3-4 comics per month. Anything short of absolute confidence from the DC side was more than he could handle. It is a shame, because MAN OF STEEL and the early issues of SUPERMAN were pretty cool comics.

This looks like an era from Superman’s history that needs to be ignored.
Does anybody agree?

Really? Has no one here read the Byrne-era Superman? Is it some mythical creature to everyone?

I’m really not a fan of the man’s work anymore, but his Superman stuff was pretty good, and the stretch from Byrne’s Post-Crisis reboot to Superman’s return from the dead is a pretty good run of solid comics.

I remember the hype and curiousity of seeing Byrne come to Superman, of seeing the first Man of Steel on the store display. Byrne’s stuff in FF and the Hulk had seemed weaker and less-inspired towards the end, and I thought a move to DC and Superman might re-vitalize him. Instead we got this, perhaps the highest-profile snoozefest in comics history. By this point it felt as if Byrne’s daily routine included three very large servings of cottage cheese, canned peaches and tofu, at least two hours of Donahue and Oprah, and a couple of hours of evening TV soap opera followed by a fifteen-minute bedtime reading of old comics, with lights out at eleven-twenty-five.

Rob, I’d say that Byrne had peaked a couple of years earlier than your 1985 estimate. His FF went downhill after the Galactus stories. Alpha Flight seemed like an inspired labour of love for the first twelve issues but quickly ran out of gas. The handful of Hulk issues he did… I can barely even remember them. I think I read them all once each and bagged and filed as quick as i could, and have never felt the remotest impulse to look at them since.

Honestly, I’d say that Byrne peaked in the ’70s, the very end of the 70s (and the first half of 1980) that was so dominated by his Hellfire Club/ Dark Phoenix/ Future Past stories. From that time on even his prettiest stuff seemed more like clever exercises than inspired story-telling. In the 80s I always wanted Byrne to be so good, and he started falling shorter and shorter, more and more often.

And I HATE his Joker.
Thus concludes my rant.

Oh Lois, you’re so ’80s. I expect her to start belting out “Morning Train” any minute.

Byrne was a big fan of the ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN on TV from the fifties. I believe that he stated that was his first exposure to the character and the basis of his take on the character. If you look at images of Noel Neill from that period (http://tiny.cc/ibM9D), then you can pretty clearly see the influence. People who grew with Neill as Lois can be very … ahem … attached to her ( http://tiny.cc/tNCf6 ). I think Sheena Easton was more of excuse to homage Neill than anything.

Byrne gets ripped for stuff he did with Superman somewhat unfairly in my opinion. For example, what happened to the Legion was hardly his fault. Paul Levitz was certainly in a position to prepare for Superboy being written out of continuity.

That said, Byrne made some mistakes. Easily one of the biggest was his re-design of Lois Lane. From the beginning, Lois had been long-limbed with a moderate bust-line, dark hair and light eyes. Post-Byrne, Lois Lane never looked like herself. She was squat, bigger busted with short brown hair and brown eyes. Only the face was remotely similar. Not the end of the world in movie, since an actor has a lot of other tricks to build a character. However, in a comic changing the character design changes the character in a fundamental way. Suddenly, Superman wasn’t sparring with, then dating and finally marrying Lois Lane. That whole arc played out with a significantly different person.

Two things:

1) The Joker story above is a shortened story. The backup story, which is much more interesting, is the classic “Metropolis, 900 Miles” which is one of the all-time great Lex Luthor stories.

2) Anyone interested in Byrne’s run on Superman, or the Post-Crisis Superman in general, should check out the Superman Homepage’s weekly podcast “From Crisis to Crisis”. They started with Man of Steel #1 and are covering one month of Superman comics in each week’s podcast. This past week was January 1988 (Superman #13, Adventures of Superman #436, and Action #596). Link below:


My god, the Joker’s teeth!

But…. why even bury the empty coffins? You’re just asking for Superman to discover then and realize they’re empty. Doesn’t the plan work better if there are no coffins?

John Byrne, man….

I, too, find it weird that nobody here read Byrne’s run here. I for one am sad that everything they established there is now pretty much wiped out. Oh well.

So the explanation for all of Byrne’s late 80s departures was that he was (no pun) quickly burning himself out? Looking back, I’m amazed at how many times the man departed a book when he’d clearly laid out long-term plans for it. From what I recall:

– Fantastic Four: he left with #294, in the middle of a 3-part story which Roger Stern had to finish.
– Alpha Flight: left on a cliffhanger at #28. I don’t hold this one against him, since he and Bill Mantlo swapped titles with Incredible Hulk. Alpha Flight #29 was really a continuation of Mantlo’s Hulk #313.
– Incredible Hulk: left with #319 at Bruce & Betty’s wedding. Not a bad spot to leave, but he never wrapped up the split Hulk/Banner, even though he sowed the seeds for the Grey Hulk’s return.
– Superman/Action: there were some unfinished plotlines with Silver Banshee. I can’t remember what else he’d left hanging.
– She-Hulk: left at #6. He’d sown a number of seeds for a Superman parody which had to be finished by Steve Gerber.
– West Coast Avengers: left in the mid 50s with an unfinished story about Scarlet Witch going mad and Immortus destroying other realities. Had to be finished by Roy Thomas.

From what I recall, the bulk of those titles went downhill after Byrne left them. I didn’t mind where Hulk went; we wouldn’t have gotten PAD’s 140+ Hulk run without it. The others…meh.

This reminds me that I hope we get some Cool Moments from the Gibbons-Rude World’s Finest mini– one of the highlights of the post-Crisis status quo (Year One-ish Batman, John Byrne-ish Superman, and the respective supporting casts), and with some great Superman-Joker moments.

Well, I won’t offer any arguments because there’s no point but I’d like to balance out the Byrne hatred by saying that I have enjoyed many, many John Byrne comics, including his Superman.

I’m torn on Byrne’s Superman. It’s not the Superman I know and love, but I admire the ballsiness of some of the major changes he made to the character, and I think he made the book and character more accessible to a wider comics audience. Most of the stories don’t hold up so well these days, though – a result, I think, of trying to “bring the character into the 80s”, which worked in the short term, but hasn’t aged well. The best of Byrne’s run on Superman was Action Comics reimagined as “Superman Team-up”. He was clearly having a blast drawing all his favorite DC characters after being at Marvel for so long. Aside from that creapy business with Big Barda, the whole run is a lot of fun.

loved how even superman manages to be able to figure out the joker had something else in mind and the look on the jokers face is priceless shows John actully understood superman and it does not have to be batman to give the joker someone to play mind games with.

I liked the Byrne version of Superman. To be honest, one of the more accessible versions, and those were some good years.

As for this story, I think a lot of it hinges on the fact that the Joker just underestimates Superman completely.

I really did like Byrne’s use of the New Gods, especially the Mister Miracle/ Big Barda two-parter with Skeez or whatever his name was.

Byrne’s Superman was my gateway to DC. I enjoyed collecting this run, and was really looking forward to his Superman/Joker face-off.

That being said, I was a bit disappointed with Superman surviving a nuclear blast in this issue, as it seemed to contradict the promise of a fallible, less powerful hero. And while I loved the cover of this comic, with a more conventional Joker face, I didn’t like the look he gave him for the interiors.

Still, it was a pretty fun story, and certainly worth a mention. Thanks!

I started reading comics in the 70’s and while Superman was my favorite, I did not start collecting every issue faithfully until the Byrne run began. I liked almost everything about it. The only real dissappointment was the introduction of Brainiac, which was Marv Wolfman’s doing anyway.

I take that back, I was also dissappointed that Supergirl was so thoroughly written out. I didn’t want her back from the dead, I just wanted her death remembered.

And for those asking: The “smoking lady” was no lady it was Captain Maggie Sawyer of the Special Crimes Unit…these days she heads up the MCU in Gotham. Superman’s cape was missing because during the Byrne run his costume was made out of ordinary Earth fabrics. His tights were protected by the “hokey double-talk aura” that provided most of his invulerability but his cape was constantly getting ripped if not completely trashed during the Byrne years.

I remember being real disappointed by this story–the Joker has so much more potential (That said not all the Joker appearances in Batman stories were winners either.

But I was expecting there to be no coffins.
It was just an excuse fro Byrne to explain something about Superman’s powers that I never erred in, and I figured if I was wrong that there were no coffins (In other words–that there were coffins) What would happen was what did happen.

Would have been better with no coffins.

The Joker has been known to lie.

I remember being real disappointed by this story–the Joker has so much more potential (That said not all the Joker appearances in Batman stories were winners either.

I see what people are saying but let’s be real…the Joker should not in any way be a credible threat to Superman. I know in modern DC comics it is the cool thing to exaggerate how significant a threat the unpowered can be to the powered (which is why it’s now believable Batman can seriously take Superman) but it shouldn’t be that way. I like that Superman takes care of him handily and in no time flat. Anything else just makes Superman look weak.

the hate on this issue is sad.

Re “It was just an excuse for Byrne to explain something about Superman’s powers that I never erred in”: More precisely, it was Byrne’s excuse to deal with a minor discrepancy in the Superman mythos. Namely, that criminals can thwart his x-ray vision by shielding things with lead. If you think about it a second, this obviously won’t work. A big lead shield is as conspicuous to Superman as the thing it’s hiding.

That was the whole purpose of this story: to address this minor point. That makes for a fun little story. I probably deemed it a mid-range comic in 1987 and I’d still deem it a mid-range comic (since comics haven’t gotten better since then).

Note also that Byrne’s decline is accompanied by his use of a more “decompressed” style: only 4-5 panels per page. Coincidence? I think not. Perhaps he wasn’t making an artistic statement so much as saving himself from burnout, but it was still a troubling sign.

for the record I loved MAN OF STEEL reboot back in those days.SUPERMAN was an idiot hero to me before this relaunch & I really hate BIRTHRIGHT & i’m really gonna hate SECRET ORIGINS for single reason.I heart MAN OF STEEL SUPs :)

I like Byrne’s Superman probably more than I should, but that was a weak ending. Superman’s lecture about how his powers work sounds like one side of a message board debate.

But…. why even bury the empty coffins? You’re just asking for Superman to discover then and realize they’re empty. Doesn’t the plan work better if there are no coffins?

That was my immediate thought when I read it as a kid.

It’s still a good run though, but this was one of the weaker issues. It had a great cover though.

I *liked* the little lesson on Superman’s x-ray vision versus lead. When I read that story as a child in the 1980s, I hadn’t thought about it that way before.

I will admit that I do dislike the way the Joker is drawn here.

It’s easy enough to find things to nitpick at in Byrne’s Superman, but I suspect a lot of the nitpickers (myself included) might never have picked up a Superman Comic had it not been for Byrne coming on board. His name drew a lot of people to the character (and DC comics) who might not otherwise have been enticed. Personally, I think his biggest accomplishment was laying the foundation that was so beautifully built upon by the work of Roger Stern, Kerry Gammill (whatever happened to him), and Jerry Ordway after he left. I think their work was the real highpoint of the post-MOS Superman.

kalorama – It’s certainly true that Byrne brought a new audience with him. I always said that his version was “Superman for people who hate Superman”. Me, I liked Superman just fine already, and the changes Byrne made (dystopian Krypton, non-wimpy Clark, etc.) made the character less unique, and less interesting, in my eyes.

@ J. Kevin Carrier:

Your characterization of Byrne’s SUPERMAN as being a version of the character that appeals to people who do not otherwise like the character does not apply to me.

I have always been a huge Superman fan. The archive edition of Siegel-Shuster is in my nightstand. I always enjoyed the Wesinger stuff and the old school LOSH stories. I’ve probably seen every episode of “Adventures of Superman” and “Smallville”. I adored the animated series and the Fleisher cartoons. I’ve seen all the movies multiple times. I’ll buy the Absolute Edition of ALL-STAR SUPERMAN the day it is released.

I love, love, love the Superman mythos.

However, I tend to think the modern in-continuity Superman comics are terrible. I pick them up from time to time, but they barely capture the character that I enjoy. Either you get Superman as the mopey Space Jesus, the stick-up-his-butt foil for Batman in the TRINITY, or a Superman story that is really about some other pet character of the writer. None of which interests me.

Byrne is pretty much the exception to that rule. His stuff is not perfect, but it was inventive. A good percentage of his changes were for the better. Clark the uber-geek never did anything for me. The utopian Krypton was pretty darn boring. The post-COIE Lex Luthor has evolved in some really interesting ways.

His mistakes were mostly either fixable, or not entirely his fault. I was shocked how much I missed Kara Zor-El, the Phantom Zone and Krypto. It seems, in retrospect, that the Fortress of Solitude is essential. However, all those elements were easily introduced later.

The LOSH problem was mostly Paul Levitz. He certainly could have and should have re-written the early LOSH stories to fit them into post-COIE continuity. Instead, he and Byrne unleashed the absurd pocket universe that spawned infinite re-boots. The Brainiac re-launch was handled by Marv Wolfman, since Byrne didn’t find the character interesting.

Honestly, the one unfixable error that you can lay solely on Byrne is the Sheena Easton/Noel Neill re-design of Lois.

The one thing that stood out for me, too, was that inexcusable ’80s hair style from Lois, along with that outfit. She looks like she should be teaching elementary school. Yes, I know this observation makes me sound a tad gay, but I stand by it…

Torn capes and Don Johnson-style facial hair were Byrne’s main hallmarks of his Superman redesign. As explained above, Supes clothes were made of ordinary Earth cloth, but his cape wasn’t pretected by his “frictionless aura.” Byrne had Superman’s hair growing at a normal rate, so he had a shard of mirror from the rocketship that brought him to Earth in his medicine chest. every couple of days he had to use it to reflect his heat vision onto his face and burn of his facial hair. That kind of set up the same situation as the pre-Crisis story in which a kid visiting Clark kent’s apartment figured out he was Superman because Clark didn’t take the precaution of stiocking his medicine cabinet with a razor and some Barbisol.

I like the art though Joker’s body reminds me of one of those blow up punching dolls that bounces back whenever you hit it. But I agree with Paddy -this is why I stay away from most Superman comics. -yawn-

I can’t believe that no one has nominated the “Blast it all, Dooley! How many times do I have to tell you not to interrupt me when I’m gloating?” panel as the moment? :) Count me in as a John Byrne Superman fan. It just felt exciting to see someone trying something new with the character…as if each of the issues of the MOS miniseries and the first few of Byrne’s tenure on the Superman book were part of history.

As to why the Joker buried the coffins… so he could imagine the look on Superman’s face when he found them. He’s not an idiot, but, at the same time, he was really just testing Superman at this time to see what he’d do and how quickly he’d figure it out. He NEVER intended to get away with anything… this time.

His next appearance here was a LOT more malevolent, when he poisons Lois with a toxin that’s only cure would be the Joker’s own blood in such amounts that it’d kill him… with the intent of driving Superman to commit a selfish murder for no real reason. (The toxin sickened Lois, but she came out of it just fine.) That’s probably my favorite Joker vs. Superman story other than their mutual team-up with the Phantom Stranger in DCP.

That Lois poisoning story was horrible and a perfect example of the insanity of modern DC in their constant attempts to make their heroes look ineffectual and helpless and try to pass it off as moral superiority. Come on, Superman would rather let Lois die than kill the Joker? And we find out that Superman only “won” because the Joker chose to let him by making the dose nonlethal? What a ridiculous story, like most David Michilinie stories. David Michilinie is a writer who gets so involved in what he believes to a clever twist, usually not as clever as he thinks it is, and proceeds to write a really weak nonsensical story all around the twist. Kind of like the M Night Shamylan of superhero books.

<blockquoteDavid Michilinie is a writer who gets so involved in what he believes to a clever twist, usually not as clever as he thinks it is, and proceeds to write a really weak nonsensical story all around the twist. Kind of like the M Night Shamylan of superhero books.

I’m sorry T., but Geoff Johns is pretty clearly the M. Night Shamylan of superhero books. He has converted his one big hit into a formula that has gotten progressively more dreadful.

Michline is more like Brian DePalma.

De Palma, although admittedly having many faults, isn’t Michilnie bad, is he?

That’s a serious question by the way. I’m seriously pondering it. I’ve seen flashes of brilliance from De Palma, can’t recall any from Michilinie (and yes, I know he’s responsible for Tony Stark’s alcoholism, I just don’t think the actual technical execution of the story is that good, it’s the novelty of the real world problem affecting a main character that is notable. All the good writing surround his alcoholism was accomplished by later writers.)

De Palma, although admittedly having many faults, isn’t Michilnie bad, is he?

You are right. It probably is an unfair comparison to DePalma. I was trying to think of someone flawed in his prime who is now past it. Michline never hit anything out of the park. His best work was solid.

Maybe Martin Brest is a better comparison.

Let Lois die so the Joker can live, or kill the Joker so Lois can live? The moral choice is obvious. Lois is innocent; the Joker is responsible for thousands of horrific deaths. It’s not a clever challenge; it’s a no-brainer! Only if the hero has a very thoughtless, unpractical interpretation of a “no killing” code would the villain get away with that. And is a thoughtless, unpractical Superman the Superman we want?

I like Byrne’s Superman. He was more human, tougher (not in power but in personality), funnier, and easier to relate to. Byrne’s Lois even looked pretty hot much of the time. However, this story is a bad example of all of the above. It’s a bad example of the Joker, too, although his ever-morphing psychosis has been used as an effective excuse for his widely varying personality and lethality. That doesn’t excuse his face, though. Also, American Hawkman’s explanation for Joker’s behavior seems quite plausible.

Byrne had an occasional tendency to leave huge plot holes in otherwise intelligent comics. I think it may be the result of churning them out as rapidly as he did, but he’s always had a fine line between boredom and burnout.

I agree with kalorama most of all; there’s no better Supes run than the one by Stern, Gammill, and Ordway. They could tell a compelling story about the smallest situations — with no difficulty challenging him whatsoever — or they could have Superman lead all DC’s heroes into battle against a massive alien invasion.

In the post-resurrection nineties, Supes and other heroes faced a constant turnover of huge cosmic threats that some comics still haven’t gotten away from. Thankfully, Supes finally has in the last couple years — at least in his own books. Not only do the constant use of these threats devalue the gimmick, but it precludes any of the characters from having to deal with an aftermath, they way Stern and Ordway made them do. Post-resurrection, Lois could be brainwashed and drafted into a conquering alien’s army, slaughtering who knows how many sentient squigglies, and Supes could spend a thousand years fighting a war alongside Wonder Woman. The effect would be nil or nearly nil by the next issue. Jack Kirby correctly said that you can get away with anything happening in a comic as long as people react believably. Supes, his supporting cast, and even his settings violated that almost every issue. The disconnect was even more apparent after 9-11, when we saw how hard real tragedy hits.

Man, I saw a few people complaining about the Byrne Joker, but nobody screaming about how Byrne’s Lois looks like an East German female basketball player — and a dowdy retired one, at that?

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