Wherein unreasonably free time is dedicated to proving Jonah Hill is funnier than you.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Death of Superman

Why I Wanted to Read It: After feeling disrespected by last year's Braniac Attacks, Superman: Doomsday--an animated take on the "Death of Superman" comics from 1993 -- was refreshing. I started to believe the '93 story could also be similarly thrilling.

Why I'm Glad I Did: Having Infinite Crisis and World War III [1] less than a year apart soured me on the whole One-Threat-vs-the-world comic. The fights you want to see get restricted to only a couple panels, and often The Threat is made so powerful that you're just hoping whatever ploy the writers devise to wrap things isn't too cheap.[2]

"Death of Superman" has none of this, because it isn't a vs The World deal. The Threat (aka Doomsday) only fights the Justice League, an at the time inconsequential collection of superheroes and since J.M. DeMatteis wasn't writing this, we shouldn't care.

The rest of the story occurs over maybe a half-an-hour period. We can assume any other superhero who heard there was some monster tearing through the Justice League decided everything was okay once Superman was on the case. Except it wasn't, mostly because Superman is an unimaginative boor.

Why I Wish I Hadn't: Guess how many times Superman used his freezing breath against Doomsday in the comics. ZERO. It was the first thing cartoon-Superman tried in the DVD. Sure it failed, but it provided variety. All comic-Superman did was try heat vision and punching. The point was made that Doomsday was too "agile" to be flown away, but how is failing to do that a couple times a worse idea than hitting Doomsday with trees? Do you have any idea how boring that is to read?[3]

Finally, why-oh-why did Bloodwynd/Martian Manhunter "teleport" away? If I know my friend is just as good a fighter as I[4] and when we team up against a bully that bully dusts us, how is retreat a good strategy?[5]

Why I'm Ambivalent: Killing Superman was a risky move, even considering that superhero comics had been killing and resurrecting characters for some time now ::cough::Jean Grey::cough::. At the same time, its success inspired a host of other "risky moves," like turning Green Lantern into a homicidal maniac, breaking Batman's back, and having Spider-Man turn out to be a clone. Some of those were great reads -- I actually enjoyed the Clone Saga -- but most were inconsequential. Does it matter for current continuity that any of them happened? Not really. You can't say that about 80s-era gimmicks like the death of Jason Todd, Barry Allen's sacrifice in Crisis, or Spider-Man gaining cosmic powers.


Okay, maybe you can about that last one.

[1]& Zero Hour & Amazons Attack & Day of Vengance & Our Worlds at War & Graduation Day &...
[2]Justice League's 4th Season Finale is one of the best examples of a cheap but thrilling trick. World War Hulk may just redeem itself yet, but I doubt it.
[3][Joke about how boring this entry is to read]
[4]I can go on and on about this, but it's done much better here, there, and in this.
[5]Phil Morris-Manhunter better make up for this in the 'Smallville' premiere...