Thursday, November 17, 2011


Several months back, DC Comics published 18 “Retroactive” issues,
These comics continued new stories of Batman, Flash, Green Lantern,
Justice League, Superman, and Wonder Woman written and drawn in the
style of their 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s adventures. Each issue also
featured a reprinted story of those eras. In previous blogs, I’ve
reviewed all but the Superman and Wonder Woman issues. Today, we
check in with the Man of Steel of olden days.

DC Retroactive: Superman - The ‘70s #1 [$4.99] has a new story by
Martin Pasko, one of Superman’s best writers of that decade, with
art by Eduardo Barreto and Christian Duce. For “Death Means Never
Having to Say You’re Sorry,” Pasko brings in a number of Superman
villains. It’s fun to see these characters as they were, back in
the days before brutality and high civilian body counts started to
take the place of actual characterization and storytelling. This
isn’t a great story, but it’s a perfectly good one. Perfectly good
is more than perfectly acceptable these days.

The classic reprint is the done-in-one “Superman Takes a Wife” by
Cary Bates with art by Curt Swan and Joe Giella. This is the tale
that told how the Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane were wed. It has
several nice little moments in it. I enjoyed rereading it.

DC Retroactive: Superman - The ‘80s #1 [$4.99] was disappointing.
Years ago, Elliot S! Maggin wrote a great story called “Must There
Be a Superman?” This 1980s special covers much the same ground as
Maggin’s classic tale with much less success. Both the new story -
“New Day, Final Destiny” - and the reprinted one - “Superman’s Day
of Destiny” - are written by Marv Wolfman. Both are readable, but,
again, did not show me anything new. The art is by Sergio Cariello
(new) and Curt Swan inked by Frank Chiaramonte (old), so I have no
problem on the visual front. But neither tale brought home the
question of Superman’s proper role in our society as well as that
Maggin story. Like I said, disappointing.

In all fairness, the surprise ending of the new story didn’t help
my opinion of the new story. It leads into a major DC event of the
1980s, an event which loses favor with me the more I consider its
aftermath. However, I was glad to see Marv and Bernie Wrightson
get creators’ credit for the character of Destiny, which, I assume
and hope, means they also get paid for use of the character when he
appears outside of the comic books.

DC Retroactive: Superman - The ‘90s #1 [$4.99] was another readable
but not spectacular issue. The new Louise Simonson story follows
from the reprinted Louise Simonson story. Both involve clones and
other creations of the Cadmus Project. The new story is drawn by
Jon Bogdanove and looks every bit as good as the reprint, which has
Bogdanove layouts finished by Hilary Barta. It’s not a bad comic
book. It’s just not an exceptional comic book. And, after half a
century plus of reading super-hero comic, it takes exceptional to
get me excited.

Tomorrow: I get retroactive with Wonder Woman. But not in a Herman
Cain kind of way.

© 2011 Tony Isabella

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