Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials
Superman: Day of Doom #1Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 13, 2002
Cover date: January 2003
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Dan Jurgens
Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey (GarrickMcNider@aol.com)
As Superman deals with a derailed cargo train witnesses discuss their various views of the Man of Steel. The naysayers in the group change their tune when Superman lifts one of the train cars loaded with toxic chemicals and asks the captain of the fire department what he should do with it.
One of the witnesses asks the reporter in the group where he was from. The reporter introduces himself as Ty Duffy of the Daily Planet in Metropolis. This excites the crowd leading one of them to ask how many times Superman had saved his life. Ty replies gruffly that the Man of Steel has never saved him. Two of the witnesses talk about how the rumor of how rude people from Metropolis are is true and while they may think they are better than the rest of the world because they have Superman, a small town in Ohio had Superman watching out for them today.
Ty returns to Metropolis and meets with Perry White to discuss his story. After a bit of constructive criticism Perry gives Ty his next assignment, which is the anniversary of Superman's death. Ty tries to beg off the story saying that it's a rehash. Perry explains he wants a fresh perspective on the story and that Ty is the man to give it to him. He even sweetens the deal by saying there is no word limit.
Ty continues to argue that the story is not worth doing. Perry takes Ty to the hallway where the blow-ups of the front pages of the Daily Planet are hung and shows him the ones dealing with Superman's death. He explains how much the death of Superman affected not only the people of Metropolis and the world but also how it affected him. He ends his speech by telling Ty that those days were about loss and that people lined the streets to get newspapers and magazines that dealt with the story. It was the duty of the Daily Planet to tell those people what happened next and there is still one story to be written. Perry then orders Ty to hit the streets and get that story.
As Ty thinks on how he is going to get the story he runs into Clark Kent and Lois Lane. When he hits the couple up for ideas on how to tackle the anniversary story Lois fumbles for a response, as Clark asks why Perry can't leave the story in the past. Ty asks if Lois agrees the story isn't worth doing. Lois replies that she doesn't agree but the whole thing ignites some unpleasant memories.
Ty asks if they can set him up with an interview with Superman. Clark tells him no, but suggests that he try someone else from the scene, maybe a member of the JLA. Ty wonders how he could go about doing that and who would he talk to since the JLA was a minor league outfit back then. Clark informs him that while the League had its limitation back then there was one hero who was fairly accessible. Lois changes the subject by inquiring if Ty had any news on what caused the train crash in Ohio. Ty replies that he now knows why Perry refers to Lois and Clark as reporters from dawn to dusk and that the accident was just that; an accident. Ty then asks whom Clark was thinking he should call.
As Ty waits for his interview subject in Centennial Park he muses on how despite Clark Kent being Mister Contact this interview wouldn't have been hard to find. Just as he wonders if he's wasting his time Booster Gold and Blue Beetle appear, banter not far behind them. After some good-natured, almost brotherly back and forth between the two Ty finally asks them to tell him about the day Superman died. The two normally chatty heroes are suddenly silent.
Booster finally tells him those were some dark days and that it all started in an underground vault with Doomsday pounding away, trying to break free. Beetle adds that they found out later that the punches registered on seismographs across the country. Booster and Beetle both continue filling Ty in on how the JLA responded to news reports of a monster stomping through Ohio when suddenly they found themselves under attack. Doomsday had hurled a piece of debris and it pierced the JLA's ship, causing it to crash to the ground.
Beetle tries to put the situation in perspective by explaining that super-heroes, despite all of their abilities have one drawback and that is the lack of advance planning and strategy. Booster concurs going on to say that Guy Gardner was especially bad about this. It didn't matter of it was a Khund warrior space fleet or a five-year-old girl swiping a candy bar his approach was violent and consistent, which was why he was the first to fall.
Booster continues the story by telling Ty despite their best efforts Doomsday laid them out faster than the Flash could get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop. He even reveals that the Beetle still has a six-inch scar on his scalp. Doomsday did all of that with one hand tied behind his back. Booster then gleefully tells Ty that he was the one who named the creature. He explains that he went after Doomsday but was knocked back with a haymaker that sent him flying. If it hadn't been for his force shield Booster's skull would have been caved in. Booster was thrown a couple hundred yards until Superman caught him. It was then that Booster named the monster Doomsday. Booster adds that a couple of weeks later he tried to copyright the name but a comic book company beat him to it.
Beetle asks Booster if there is anything he wouldn't do for a book. After a smart aleck answer Beetle ends the story by saying that they still didn't realize how powerful Doomsday was. All they knew was that he was heading east to Metropolis.
Meanwhile in a quiet suburb outside of Metropolis explosions decimate a neighborhood. One of the homeowners yells for everyone to get out of the area because the whole neighborhood smelled like natural gas. A police cruiser pulls up and one of the patrolman says that he had never seen anything like this. His partner says that he has, a few years previous when Doomsday marched through their trashing everything in sight.
As the patrolman and residents watch the street burn they fail to notice the mysterious figure in an overcoat walking in the opposite direction, his eyes glowing red.
Story - 4: About a year or so back I had a little debate with a buddy of mine regarding "The Death of Superman" story arc. My buddy's problem with the entire death and return saga was that we didn't get to see the common man's response to the demise and resurrection of their greatest hero. To his mind there was no examination of how the citizens of Metropolis reacted beyond what he referred to as the people saying, "Ah, he's back. All is right with the world."
My argument was that he titles were about Clark Kent and his supporting cast. Month after month we come back to read about Superman, his villains and the events in his life and the lives of those closest to him, not about the average citizen who lives in Metropolis. Every once in a while there would be a story showcasing the common man and these stories were usually very powerful, but given the length of the death and return and the fact that so much happened if the creators did take the time to focus on the people of Metropolis it would ruin the pace of the story. Even afterwards the creators were, to my mind, too busy getting things rolling again and ushering in one of the better eras of the Superman titles.
Our argument ended in a stalemate, neither of us willing to concede. Well, it turns out that there was a story about how the death of Superman affected the DC Universe and the man to tell that story was the man who wrote and drew his the issue where he died, Dan Jurgens.
I have to admit that the main reason I wanted to write this review was that it was a Superman comic by Dan Jurgens. There was a time, around 1998 or so, that I had a real mad on for the man. For one reason or another I blamed everything that had happened since Zero Hour on Dan Jurgens. It was your typical irate fanboy thing, the type of thing most comic fans go through before they realize there is more to life than getting ticked off at comic creators and the things they do. Long story short a couple things changed my mind and opinion dramatically. I didn't worship the man, but I did respect him and liked what he brought to the Superman table and realized he was involved in most of my favorite Superman stories. When he was taken off the regular Superman title I think I was one of five people who lamented the loss.
So when I read he was writing and drawing a mini-series dealing with the death of Superman I was excited and really looking forward to it. I'm glad to say that I wasn't disappointed with the results.
This story worked on several levels. On one hand it kicks off a nice anniversary story looking back on a time very different than now, not just in terms of how the DCU has changed, but how the world in general and the world of comic books in specific have changed. I'm not sure how this story would have read or if it would have had the same emotional impact since the events of September 11th. Before 9-11 we really couldn't fathom what it would be like to have a major American city attacked and partially destroyed. It leads one to wonder if the death of Superman would have even been conceived and published today, but that's neither here nor there.
In any even Dan Jurgens really hits the 9-11 nerve, especially with the dialogue of Perry White. White's sermon on why Ty Duffy should accept his assignment could be read just as easily as Jurgen's views on the post 9-11 world and because of that it transcends simple dialogue. In terms of the story, however, it is also powerful and gives us an insight into how the death of Superman affected White. I always thought that the Jurgens/Stern/Ordway/Simonson era had some of the best characterization as far as the supporting cast (all apologies to Jeph Loeb, who did a bang up job in this respect as well) went and I got a little bit of that back when I read this comic.
Ty Duffy was a great story device if not a little flat at times. He is the perfect person to follow in terms of the story, however because he provides the fresh perspective Perry was talking about. In a way Ty represents the new comic reader who has come in years after the death of Superman. He doesn't seem to understand why it was so important. You get a sense from his dialogue and his dress that Ty likes the idea of being a reporter rather than actually being a reporter. He has the general look of a writer, but he seems to not want to dig in deep and be as dedicated as he could be.
This is evident from his encounter with Clark and Lois. He wants them to be as disinterested in the story as he is and mistakes their initial reaction to Perry giving him the story as vindication for his not wanting to take it. Ty also seems genuinely surprised when they ask about the train wreck. It appeared that thinking of a story beyond writing it was foreign to him and showed the difference in the rookie and veteran reporters.
This scene also gives you a brief glimpse into how the anniversary affects Lois and Clark. Clark's reaction to the story was brief but effective. Lois' reaction revealed that while she dislikes the story she is also the consummate reporter in not admitting that story didn't have legs. It was a nice touch.
At first I was put off by Booster and Beetle's appearance in the issue. They appeared to fall back into their old characterizations of the bumblers of the old Justice League. It bothered me because so much had been done with the Blue Beetle in the pages of BIRDS OF PREY to take him away from that. The characterization fit with how Jurgens dealt with the characters when he was writing JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA and I always got the sense that he disliked how Giffen and crew handled the characters. This makes sense considering Jurgens created Booster Gold, so I can see where he would take exception to what happened to the character.
However when I gave the matter some further consideration I realized that the way Jurgens handled the two was perfect. For a lot of us there was always that one person who brought out the worst in us and even if we haven't seen that person for years when you are reunited the old patterns come back. You could be a CPA in a huge accounting firm with three kids and a Volvo but when that old college buddy comes back its Coors Light and loud rock music all night long. Booster and Beetle are old friends and even though the two have grown since their League days when they get back together it's bad puns and ripping on each other all night long.
After their initial banter, though, a lot of depth came from the two characters. Their reactions to the day Doomsday ripped into the League were almost poignant. Their take on super-hero battle strategies was nice as well and gave them an insight that not a lot of writers would have given the two. They were the perfect starting point considering they were the first to face Doomsday and Booster was the one to name him. Oddly enough I liked the fact that he tried to copyright the name. Booster, for all his heroism and sense of duty, does like money. I mean the main reason he's even in this century is because he got caught betting on his own 25th Century football games and was disgraced. Sure he did it to take care of his family, but still the man likes money and after losing his fortune there is very little he wouldn't do to get it back.
The mystery begun in this issue has a lot of potential. The train wreck and the destruction of the Metropolis suburb combined with the stranger with the glowing eyes all can add up to a very satisfying story. I liked it and look forward to seeing how it plays out.
Overall I enjoyed DAY OF DOOM #1. For a long time Superman reader like myself it was a nice look back at a really great era for the titles and a fresh perspective on a story now a decade old. I can also see where a new reader would enjoy it as a solid story written by one of the few men who can claim to have worked on Superman for over ten years. Dan Jurgens return to Superman has kicked off to a very satisfying start and I am looking forward to seeing how the story plays out.
Art - 4: I have always enjoyed Dan Jurgens' artwork. Even stretching back to his Booster Gold days I have always thought that his layouts were very dynamic. His approach has always had a Jim Starlin/Mike Grell feel to it and while I thought his Superman to be on the thin side his lithe figure work resonated and worked well. The art in issue one lived up to the standards previously set, especially on page three and eighteen. The expressions on the characters faces helped the mood of the story and added to the dialogue.
The character of Ty Duffy was especially well done. As I mentioned in the Story Review Jurgens seems to have designed the character to be your typical mid-20's writer with his unkempt hair, goatee and turtleneck suit. You almost get the sense that Ty puts more thought into his wardrobe than into his writing. He wants to look the part of the writer before actually being one. This could just be my perception of the character, but I don't think I am too far off on this.
My only problem with the art was the inking. I am not trying to insult Bill Sienkiewicz (pronounced, "sin-kav-itch" if I am not mistaken) in any way, but his rather blotchy and sketchy style detracted from Jurgens clean style. While it certainly helped with the mood of the piece it took something away from the art, especially in Jurgens' expressions. You really had to look in certain places to get the feeling of the character, which while not a bad thing was kind of annoying. I always preferred Brett Breeding inking Jurgens art or even Jurgens himself.
Cover Art - 5: This issue had a really nice cover. This is where Sienkiewicz's inking helped. It had that "pick me up" feeling that a good cover should. I especially like the shadow of Doomsday with the glowing eyes (matching the mystery figure on the last page) and the battered Superman. This was a real solid cover.
Mild Mannered Reviews
2003Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.
- Superman #188
- Adventures of Superman #610
- Superman: The Man of Steel #132
- Action Comics #797
- JLA #75
- Justice League Adventures #13
- Superman: Day of Doom #1
- Superman: Day of Doom #2
- Superman: Day of Doom #3
- JLA/JSA: Secret Files & Origins #1
- Superman #189
- Adventures of Superman #611
- Superman: The Man of Steel #133
- Action Comics #798
- JLA #76
- JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice
- Justice League Adventures #14
- Superman: Day of Doom #4
- Superman/Aliens II: GodWar #4
- Superman: The Man of Steel #134
- Superman: The 10 Cent Adventure
- Action Comics #799
- Adventures of Superman #612
- Superman vs. Darkseid: Apokolips Now
- JLA #77
- Justice League Adventures #15
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #1
- JLA/Spectre: Soul War #1
- Action Comics #800
- Adventures of Superman #613
- Superman #190
- JLA #78
- Justice League Adventures #16
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #2
- Superman: Metropolis #1
- JLA/Spectre: Soul War #2
- Action Comics #801
- Adventures of Superman #614
- Superman #191
- JLA #79
- Justice League Adventures #17
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #3
- JLA: Scary Monsters #1
- Superman: Last Stand on Krypton
- Smallville #1
- Superman: Metropolis #2
- Action Comics #802
- Adventures of Superman #615
- Superman #192
- JLA #80
- Justice League Adventures #18
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #4
- Superman: Metropolis #3
- Superman: Red Son #1
- JLA: Age of Wonder #1
- JLA: Scary Monsters #2
- Action Comics #803
- Adventures of Superman #616
- Superman #193
- JLA #81
- Justice League Adventures #19
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #5
- Superman: Metropolis #4
- Smallville #2
- JLA: Age of Wonder #2
- JLA: Scary Monsters #3
- Action Comics #804
- Adventures of Superman #617
- Superman #194
- JLA #82
- Justice League Adventures #20
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #6
- Superman: Red Son #2
- Superman: Metropolis #5
- JLA: Scary Monsters #4
- JLA: Welcome to the Working Week
- Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity #1
- Action Comics #805
- Adventures of Superman #618
- Superman #195
- Superman: Birthright #1
- JLA #83
- Justice League Adventures #21
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #7
- Superman: Metropolis #6
- JLA: Scary Monsters #5
- Smallville #3
- Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity #2
- Action Comics #806
- Adventures of Superman #619
- Superman #196
- Superman/Batman #1
- Superman: Birthright #2
- JLA #84
- JLA #85
- Justice League Adventures #22
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #8
- Superman: Metropolis #7
- JLA: Scary Monsters #6
- Superman: Red Son #3
- Action Comics #807
- Adventures of Superman #620
- Superman #197
- Superman/Batman #2
- Superman: Birthright #3
- JLA #86
- JLA #87
- JLA/Avengers #1
- JLA-Z #1
- Superman: Blood of My Ancestors
- Justice League Adventures #23
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #9
- Superman: Metropolis #8
- Smallville #4
- Action Comics #808
- Adventures of Superman #621
- Superman #198
- Superman/Batman: Secret Files and Origins 2003
- Superman/Batman #3
- Superman: Birthright #4
- JLA #88
- JLA #89
- Avengers/JLA #2
- JLA-Z #2
- Justice League Adventures #24
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #10
- Superman: Metropolis #9
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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2003.