It’s now finally time to dive into the real meat of the ‘Post Crisis’ universe of Superman, and get started with the legendary ‘Man Of Steel’ series by John Byrne. However, there’s one little thing we have to cover before we can get to that… The Kent’s of the Old West.
In an effort to truly make this project as complete as possible, I planned to read everything there was in relation to Superman in the post crisis universe. We covered ‘World of Krypton’ in the last part, and though it released in 1999, I felt ‘The Kent’s’ would be the next logical step in the timeline. You see, it takes place in the old west and the civil war era, and gives us a history of the Kent family. Not fully Superman related but something that sounded interesting. A 12 issue series that was actually very well written and had fantastic artwork to boot! But if I am going to be fully transparent and honest with all of you, it was also something else… it was completely boring lol. I tried so hard to get through these comics, but reading about the old west, the civil war, and how the Kent characters fit in was just not my cup of tea. I made it through only the first 3 issues.
I do want to make sure everything here is covered though, so for the sake of completeness, here’s a summary of the series from Wikipedia. Sure this may seem like a cheap way out, but the series feels optional, so here’s an option to check it out if you want to.
The story begins with Clark Kent’s adoptive father Jonathan writing to his adopted son (Superman) about the memoirs he has discovered on the family farm. They reveal that the Kent family in the 19th century were noted abolitionists who assisted the personnel of the Underground Railroad, like Harriet Tubman. The family moved to Kansas Territory during its infamous violent conflict over its status concerning slavery, Bleeding Kansas, to promote the cause of creating a free state by running a newspaper for the region.
However, the family patriarch was murdered by border ruffians who wanted to silence him. Furthermore, the sons, Nathaniel and Jeb, argued and had a parting of the ways so deep about slavery that they found themselves on opposing sides of the American Civil War, with Jeb fighting with the notorious Confederate guerrilla unit led by William Quantrill and Nathaniel fighting for the North and marrying a half-Native American woman who gave him a special traditional spiritual symbol that was apparently a forerunner and inspiration for Superman’s chest symbol.
After the war, Nathaniel became a sheriff in Smallville, while Jeb became the leader of a group of bandits. Eventually, Jeb discovered he had a son out of wedlock years ago, and allowed him to join his gang. But his son turned out to be a murderous sociopath and Jeb approached his estranged brother to arrange a trap to stop his son.
In springing the trap, the son mortally wounded his father before being killed himself and Jeb has just enough time to fully reconcile with Nate before dying. Nate remained in Smallville and there the Kents have since stayed for generations, including Jonathan and Martha Kent, Superman’s adoptive parents.
Now before we move on, I do want to point out something from the first issue of The Kent’s that I found very touching. A note of sorts was printed by the author of the series on the last page of the issue. A loving tribute to his wife who passed away and who was also a very important part of the storytelling in The Kent’s.
I’m sure you did John. I’m sure you did. 🙂
Now let’s get to where it all began. 1986 saw the reboot of the DCU after the massive events of Crisis On Infinite Earths, and of course every character was rebooted at the same time. A sort of ‘clean slate’ as it were. John Byrne was tasked to retell the beginning and origins of Superman, and he did just that with the 6 part mini series Man Of Steel.
Issue #1 begins with a prologue that tells the story of how baby Kal-El was rocketed away from the planet Krypton right before the planets explosive doom. This was of course all covered in a lot more detail in the World Of Krypton series we went over in the last part of the SRP. You can find that post HERE.
We are now in ‘Chapter 1’ titled: The Secret. We see a young High School student named Clark Kent, playing football for the school team. It’s the last game of the season and yet once again Clark is a touchdown making machine! Winning the final game for his team practically all by himself, his team mates become increasingly jealous of Clark’s speed on the field. Clark’s dad, Pa Kent (Jonathan), is very disappointed in Clark and decides it’s time to show Clark something he should have shown him a long time ago.
You see, Clark knows he has super human abilities. Speed, strength, x-ray vision, flight, all of it. However he has no idea it’s because he’s an alien from another planet. Pa Kent is about to reveal the truth to his adopted son.
Pa recounts the story of how Clark was found in a rocket ship as a baby, after it crash landed in the fields of Smallville Kansas. How he developed his powers at an early age, and Clark meeting his school sweetie Lana Lang. The reveal of the rocket ship and not being from Earth becomes too much for Clark and he gets really shaky and overwhelmed. Clark and Pa head home and tell Ma (Martha) that he now knows the whole story of how the Kent’s found him. The chapter ends with Clark stating he is going to leave home and get out into the world.
As of now Clark doesn’t know anything about Krypton, his home planet.
We now start ‘Chapter 2’ titled: The Exposure. It’s been 3 years since Clark has left home and has been out in the world using his powers to help humankind anywhere he can. Martha is sitting at the kitchen table looking at her scrapbook of newspaper clippings all about mysterious close calls. Disasters that were seemingly averted by an unknown ‘flying angel’.
Wait, hold on a second…
Clark raised the damn Titanic from the bottom of the Ocean?!? Until I read this book, I had no idea that was even a thing. Neato!
Anyways, the Kent’s hear a strange noise coming from Clark’s old room upstairs. Upon investigating, they discover Clark sitting in his room in the dark. He’s very distraught.
Clark had just made his first very public save, when a small airplane crashed into a new space plane that was on it’s maiden flight. Normally he has always been able to hide his acts of heroism, but there was no way to do that this time in broad daylight with a huge crowd around him. Doing the best he could to hide (fly so fast he became a blur), he launched into the air and easily carried the plane back down to the ground for a safe landing.
He saved everyone on board including Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane. Not being one to let a story go, she yells for Clark to stop where he is. She wants answers! Clark feels a weird spark between them almost instantly, but before he can react to the situation he is immediately mobbed by a huge crowd of people who had also just witnessed what he had done.
Everyone wanted a piece of him. To do things, say thing, sell things… everyone knew about him now. How in the world can he continue using his powers to do good things, when everyone was going to be looking for him? Well, Pa has the answer it seems. 😉
By the way, Lois refers to there being ‘A Superman’ that saved the plane when she writes the story of this event, solidifying who Clark will be known as.
This brings us to the final part of this issue. It’s time for the Epilogue, titled The Super-Hero.
This is where I scratched my head a bit. Ma and Pa Kent are now creating a costume and identity for Clark to use when he’s doing his super hero stuff. Apparently in this reboot, Clark and Pa create the S Shield design, though it’s never mentioned how they came up with the idea. So it wasn’t found in the rocket ship? It doesn’t mean hope?
Pa then shows Clark how to have 2 identities by slicking his hair, and wearing glasses… as we all know being one of the dumbest disguises in comic book history lol. Finally Clark says his thanks to his parents and flies away as Superman! Ready to save the day!
This ends Man Of Steel #1 (of 6).
Issue #2 begins with Perry White (Editor and Chief of The Daily Planet) and Lois Lane in a restaurant. Out the window, Lois see’s Superman fly by. Knowing this must be the strange man who saved the plane earlier and is now suddenly wearing a costume for some reason, she bolts out of the restaurant to catch him and get the scoop for Perry.
On a side note, while trying to chase down Superman, Lois is stopped for a second by a limo driver who tells her that Lex Luthor needs to speak with her. He’s in the limo, but Lois refuses and runs off. I’m sure we will get more into this in the near future.
Next we see Superman stop a series of crimes such as a purse snatching and a bank robbery. No matter what Lois does though, she always seems to just miss him by the time she gets to the scenes of these crimes.
Back at the Daily Planet and sitting at her desk frustrated, Lois see’s that other newspapers are using the name Superman in their headlines… a name SHE created! If only she could get to a crime scene before it actually happens, then surely she’d be able to catch Superman. There’s only one way to do that, and that’s to very literally be the victim that Superman has to save. The era of Lois being a damsel in distress begins, and it starts with Lois deliberately driving her car off a pier and into the water!
Once rescued and flown home, Lois is able to stop Superman from flying away and demands an interview! He stays while she dries off and they have a small brief chat. However he isn’t able to give her any more information about himself that she and the world doesn’t already know. Hell, he still doesn’t even know where he is from himself! He politely excuses himself and leaves, flying out of her window. He has an appointment to keep at the Daily Planet… a job interview with Perry White.
Next we see an excited Lois Lane burst into Perry’s office, with the scoop of the century! Apparently she felt she had enough information to write up a full front page article. None of that matters though, as Perry informs her that she was scooped by brand new hire and Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent.
This ends Man Of Steel #2 (of 6).
Not every book in the SRP is going to be in correct release order. This project is aimed at reading everything chronologically. With that said, there are about a dozen books that actually take place chronologically within the 6 issue Man Of Steel series. We are going to wrap up this post today by talking about the first 2 of these. Let’s start with The Adventures of Superman Annual #7 from 1995. It’s a ‘Year One’ story that actually takes place literally in the middle of the previous book we covered: Man Of Steel #2.
One thing to note here are how first appearances will work in the SRP. I am covering stories chronologically, however first appearances will be treated by release dates as normal. For example in AoS Annual #7 from 1995, we see the first chronological appearance of Maggie Sawyer as it takes place during Man Of Steel #2 in 1986. Maggie’s actual release first appearance was in Superman, Vol. 2 #4 from April, 1987.
The story in AoS Annual #7 seems like a bit of a throw away to me. Nothing about this Year One story really seems to add much to the early days of Superman, aside from the fact that we hear the names Darkseid, Boom Tube, and Granny Goodness for the first time (chronologically), dropped in this story.
Basically this story takes place right after the bank robbery I mentioned that Superman had stopped in Man Of Steel #2. We see Maggie Sawyer and other cops arguing over weather or not Superman is friend or foe. Will he take over the world with his powers or is he here to actually be a force for good? We then see a bunch of newspaper articles celebrating Superman’s latest achievements, followed by Superman arriving to a murder scene in an apartment.
A mob informant was killed (along with a couple cops) presumably by the mob. They don’t like rats ya know. It’s revealed that all of the mobs and gangs of Metropolis are working together to take back their city from this new alien visitor who is out there saving the day. They call themselves Intergang!
Boss Moxie has a monster to unleash by the name of Kalibak! From a far away place called Apokolips, he’s here to be a real threat to Superman. Ironically, Kalibak doesn’t even get to fight Superman. As the gang takes over the same hotel Clark is staying in, he uses his heat vision to set off the fire alarm, giving him the chance to escape and change into Superman. Where’s a phone booth when you need one?
Superman begins to fight the gangsters in the hotel, while outside Kalibak is taking on the police in search of Superman.
Dan Turpin of the Metropolis SCU is the one who decides he’s taking on Kalibak, and a seemingly unbalanced fight ensues. Inside the hotel, Superman is blasted with the ‘Fires Of Apokolips’ and quickly flies outside so as to not burn the whole hotel down. The fireman standing outside see this and decide to help put a burning Superman out with their fire hoses. Meanwhile Turpin who is still fighting Kalibak and getting roughed up really bad, takes a final stance and shoves a grenade in the monsters mouth!
Kalibak is defeated and the gang is now surrounded by the police and a doused Superman. Before they can make the arrests however, a giant boom is heard and all the bad guys disappear in some sort of boom tube with a flash of light. Superman deduces that the bad guys are no longer on Earth. He would be correct. Superman says his goodbyes to Maggie Sawyer and the SCU. We then see Turpin loaded into an ambulance, as we cut to Lois deciding to drive her car off a pier (as seen in Man Of Steel #2)
See? A bit of a throw away story that takes place right in the middle of Man Of Steel #2. Now for just one more final story before we wrap up this post for today.
The last Year One story took place right in the middle of Man Of Steel #2. Now we are onto the second Year One story (of 4) and this one (as well as the next one) takes place between Man Of Steel #2 and #3. Discovering that he could be set ablaze and survive, how will Superman handle discovering that he indeed has a weakness… to magic? Let’s find out.
Superman, Vol. 2 Annual #7 starts off with a group known as The Seven watching as Krypton explodes and sends a baby in a rocket ship hurling into space. They see this baby as someone who will one day be able to help them with a great threat. They are also the only ones at the moment who knows of Superman’s true origin.
40 years later in Metropolis, we see Superman stopping the last few members of a drug ring in a high speed car chase. Then we see a strange man in a trench coat watching Superman, saying that he needs to get to him before it’s too late. Too late for what?
After this, Superman heads back to the Daily Planet. Lois is already still upset that Clark had broke the very first story on Superman for the Daily Planet months ago, and is even more upset that Clark has the exclusive on this drug ring bust from mere minutes ago. How does he do it? Maybe one day Clark will tell her… when they are married. Lois says that will never happen and seems disgusted. Ain’t love grand? Suddenly Clark hears a cry for help.
As Clark rushes out of the building, the man in the trench coat tries to get his attention but just misses him. Superman flies into the sky and sees a penthouse in the distance engulfed in flames. He’s quick to action and finds a woman trapped crying for help. As he rescues her, she leans in to kiss Superman, before being stopped by the mystery trench coat man!
The mystery trench coat man then takes a disc of some sort out of his pocket and blasts the woman with it, revealing that she is in fact a monster powered by magic! The monster grabs Superman and damn near destroys him, before he releases a heat vision blast at the last second and defeats the mighty beast! Completely exhausted, Superman collapses only to awaken later in a strange office.
Superman is introduced to the mystery man, known as Doctor Occult. The good Doctor needs Superman’s help and tells him the story behind the monster he had just fought.
Decades ago, Occult and a woman named Rose were trying to stop a creature known as Thahn who was taking random people of the streets for a cult sacrifice. Rose decided to use herself as bait to track the cult down, and it works. She is taken by the cult and prepped for a sacrifice. What the cult doesn’t know though is that her mind is linked with Occults and his is easily able to track her location down. He arrives and with the help of Rose, they are able to get the mind controlled cult members out to safety. They then go after Thahn who at the last second stabs Rose with one of his tentacles and kills her.
Back to the present, Occult tells Superman that The Seven feel Superman is the key to defeating Thahn. Oh and I forgot to mention… Occult knows that Superman is Clark Kent. Something that does not settle well with Superman at all. As they get themselves ready to go find Thahn, Thahn finds them instead!
Superman begins to fight Thahn and knocks him clean across the jaw. This shatters Thahn into smaller tinier Thanh’s. Occult then opens a door and tells Superman to jump through it and to trust him. Once through the door, Superman lands in a dumpster in an alley way somewhere in a city. A woman walks up to him and says her name is Rose. Wait, isn’t Rose supposed to be dead?
She asks Superman to fly her to New York City, to the warehouse where her and Occult had fought the monsters decades ago. It’s also where she had died.
They however get ambushed by more of Thahn’s monsters, and Superman is knocked out cold. Boy magic really does a number on ol’ boy blue eh?
Thahn has his goons prepare Superman to be a sacrifice. Looks can be deceiving though… Rose turns into Doctor Occult!
Occult gets ahold of his old gun, and using the power of his disk, fills it with magic bullets that easily kills Thanh’s goons. He then yells out to Superman to fight harder than he has ever fought to break hold of the grasp that Thahn has on the Man Of Steel! And fight he does. Until…
Superman finally breaks free! Now up and doing battle with Thahn, Superman grabs two of Thahn’s tentacles and forces Thahn to fire on himself, killing him in the process. Does this mean Superman just killed, albeit indirectly?
Now that Thahn is dead, Superman demands that Occult answers his questions here and now! But alas that will not happen, as Occult fades away telling Superman that his secrets are all safe with him and they will probably meet again one day. Superman stays on the scene to assist the paramedics and help the injured and the homeless who had been living in the warehouse under Thahn’s control.
We then finish the book with Occult talking to a member of The Seven about weather they should tell Superman the truth about his real origin. It is decided it’s best to not toy with anymore events and allow Superman to find out on his own one day. And of course he will.
This wraps up Superman, Vol. 2 Annual #7, and brings Part 2 of The SRP to a close. Whew! This is definitely the longest post I think I have ever written, and believe me we are just getting started.
Be here next time for Part 3 of The SRP, where we will tackle the other 2 Year One stories and dive into Man Of Steel #3… when Superman meets Batman for the very first time!
Till next time, be good to each other and stay nerdy!
Each Blog Post Will End With A Random Music Video, Because TMG ❤’s MvM