Monday, June 17, 2013

Great Issues: Superman (Vol 2) #50 (1987)

Superman versus Mr. Mxyzptlk with an assist from Lex Luthor's fat cells!
With the past weekend's release of the Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, the Internet is abuzz with Superman related stories and reminiscences. One solid retrospective is the article The Greatest Superman Stories, According to Our Readers by Russ Burlingame on Always looking for opportunities to offer my two cents, I thought I'd troll through my own long boxes (composed primarily of 80's and 90's Superman, Action Comics, Adventures of Superman, and Superman: Man of Steel) for a favorite story (or two).

Cover by Jerry Ordway.
My first choice was an easy one as it is an anniversary issue that features pencils from some of the definitive Superman artists of the past while telling a story with significant ramifications for the future, Superman (Second Series) #50 from 1987. Issue 50 is the final installment of a four-part story arc entitled "Krisis of the Krimnson Kyrptonite," during which Superman has been rendered powerless due to Lex Luthor's use of the dreaded red kryptonite. Art is provided by a who's-who of Superman artists including the legendary Curt Swan, John Byrne, and one of my all-time favorite creators, Jerry Ordway, who also serves as the story's writer.

During his lengthy run with the character, Ordway always seemed to balance the heroics and humanity necessary to tell a compelling Super-story, and this issue, "The Human Factor" shows him firing on all cylinders. This is an historic issue in Superman-lore as it concludes with Clark Kent's proposal of marriage to Lois Lane, who (of course) accepts.

Seriously, how could she resist?
This issue provides the perfect comic book palette cleanser for a fanboy such as myself after having seen the new Superman movie, Man of Steel (2013). Superman (Vol. 2) #50 demonstrates all the great qualities of a Superman story excluded from the film: a balance of humor, heart, action, and character development. More than anything, given Superman's diminished super powers, this is a Clark Kent story, depicting how the most powerful person in the world struggles with the fear of being rejected by the woman he loves.

Don't be fooled though, this is after all a superhero comic book, and Clark Kent/Superman ultimately goes toe-to-toe with not one, but two super-villains: egomaniac Lex Luthor and interdimensional imp, Mister Mxyzptlk. Additionally, this issue all features an uncredited special cameo by Marvel's First Family who also battle Mr. Mxyzplk, who it is suggested interacts in the Marvel Universe as a Man whose identify is not Impossible to guess.

An excellent example of comic book storytelling, heroics and characterization, Superman (Vol.2 ) #50 is available as a single (back) issue online for a very small mark up from the original cover price of $1.50 or, better yet, as part of the Superman: Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite trade paperback.

No comments: