Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Post-Crisis Superman Comics

Superman #4

Superman #4

Cover date: April 1987


Writer: John Byrne
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: Karl Kessel

Reviewed by: Kevin Hollander

Jimmy Olsen and Lucy Lane are having lunch at Hembeck's. Jimmy is begging Lucy to acquire some inside information on her employer Intercontinental Airlines. There are rumors of corruption and Jimmy wants her to help him break the story. She refuses to help him out based on the difficulty she had acquiring the job. She accuses him of using their relationship as leverage for the story.

An African-America wearing a red head and pseudo-fatigues and carrying two high-caliber weapons enters and opens fire on the customers. Jimmy and Lucy manage to avoid injury. He begins a diatribe about the manner in which they are wasting the freedoms he and "Mickey" fought for during the Vietnam war. He identifies himself as "Bloodsport" and advises them and all of Metropolis to clean up their act or he'll do it for them. Once Bloodsport leaves on his advanced motorcycle, Jimmy activates his signal watch.

Once Superman arrives, he is met by Maggie Sawyer who shows him the bodies of the 25 victims of the attack; Superman is stunned at the carnage. Maggie then gives him all the information they have from eye witnesses. Knowing that Bloodsport will continue his attacks, Superman uses his infrared vision to follow the heat image left by Bloodsport to his next target.

Jimmy listens to his police scanner for leads on Bloodsport. He soon learns that Bloodsport has been found at the Kenmoore Lanes bowling alley in Queensview. Unable to start his car, he hails a taxi.

At Kenmoore, Bloodsport has taken a hostage and is firing randomly inside the bowling alley. When Superman arrives Bloodsport informs him that he was the target all along. After saving the hostage, Superman disarms Bloodsport and knocks him to the ground. A weapon suddenly appears in Bloodsport's hand. When he fires, Superman discovers that the weapon contains kryptonite ammunition. As Bloodsport moves in for the killshot, Jimmy appears and grabs the discarded weapon and successfully forces him to leave. He then takes Superman to the hospital where the surgeon is able to remove the kryptonite slivers. While Superman recuperates, he informs Jimmy that he knows Luthor is responsible for Bloodsport.

Inside LexCorp, the man in question is berating Dr. Kimberly, the scientist responsible for creating his latest assassin. Kimberly explains to Luthor that Robert (Bloodsport) DuBois' psychological profile and obsession with the Vietnam war made him an ideal candidate, there was the possibility that this would happen. Desperate to cover up his mistake, Luthor orders that Bloodsport be terminated.

Superman finds Bloodsport and once again confronts him. In Superman's weakened state, Bloodsport has a distinct advantage. He presses this advantage by using more advanced weapons that materialize on demand. At this point Luthor's squad appears and requests that Bloodsport cease and desist under orders of Lex Luthor. Unaware that Luthor recruited him and unable to stop, Bloodsport attacks the squad.

Superman is unable to stop Bloodsport from killing the squad, but makes an important discovery. He realizes that Bloodsport has some type of teleportation device. It is responsible for the unlimited arsenal that he has been using. He uses his heat vision to ionize the air around him which shorts out the device. Not to be outdone, Bloodsport tells Superman that the power pack for the teleporter has been primed and will detonate if he releases the dead man's switch on his bandolier. He claims it will destroy 10 square miles.

At this point Jimmy arrives with the one person that can stop Bloodsport: his brother Mickey. As Mickey rolls toward his crazed brother in his customized wheelchair, Bloodsport breaks down but does not release the trigger.

Jimmy explains to Superman that he took Bloodsport's weapon from the bowling alley and had the local FBI run a fingerprint check on it. They were able to find Mickey DuBois and brought him into the picture.

Jimmy then provides some backstory for the brothers. When Bobby's draft notice came in, he left for Canada out of fear. Mickey assumed the identity of his older brother and went to Vietnam. For his noble sacrifice, Mickey lost both arms and legs. Bloodsport went crazy when he learned of his brother's condition and has been in psychiatric hospitals until six weeks ago.

3Story - 3: The story is not overly complicated but enjoyable. Bloodsport's ability to conjure whatever high-tech weapon he needs and the indiscriminate killing makes him an interesting character. However in the final analysis he is a normal human with a weapons teleportation device. No teleporter, no threat. This prevents him from being a serious (i.e. recurring) threat.

The link to the Vietnam war dates the story a bit, but readers can substitute a more recent conflict if it is a major issue.

5Art - 5: John Byrne's work in this issue is what we expect from him: clean, detailed, and well-composed panels.

2Cover Art - 2: I question why Bloodsport is depicted firing through the title as the other elements on the page make this unnecessary. Holding Superman's cape in one hand and a large weapon in the other would have sufficed. Byrne could have given him a more menacing look instead of closing his eyes and firing blind. Even though one can argue the flash would blind him, it still doesn't come across as "cool". Also notice that the weapon ejects the casings for the used ammunition while firing an energy beam. What kind of weapon is this exactly?

Classic Post-Crisis Superman Comic Book Reviews

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