Superman History 101The Man Of Steel
by Benjamin Grose
Before I get started, I thought I'd tell you a little about myself so you can see where I'll be coming from. I started collecting Superman in 1992 when I was 13. (And I'm proud of the fact that I started before Doomsday caused everyone to jump on the Superman bandwagon! :) ) I wasn't like a lot of the Superman fans I've talked to, in that Superman The Movie started them. I saw it when I was around 7, and it was cool, but I didn't put on a cape and pretend I was flying. Nope, it was several years later, when, for some reason I can't remember, I wanted to go to a comic book store. The first comics I personally bought were Man of Steel #1 (which I'll get to in a minute), and Superman #2 and 21 (which I plan to get to eventually).
So my first real introduction to Superman comics was the post-Crisis version, and that's the one I tend to favor. I like Clark being more confident, but still mild-mannered, and more of a real person (although Superman is most important, his name is on the covers). I also think that keeping the Kents alive was a great idea. But if you're a pre-Crisis Superman fan, that's okay with me. I want to hear your comments on these issues also. Here's the first half of Man of Steel.
As I said, this was one of the first Superman stories I read, so
it probably wasn't as different to me as to some of the older Superman
readers. But compared to the pre-Crisis version, this had many differences.
The nearly desolate Krypton was a vast change from previous incarnations.
Lara's shock at the news that their planet will soon be destroyed shows
the arrogance of the post-Crisis Kryptonians. The Kents being young
when they found Clark is a little more realistic. I mean, why would
an apparently 60+ year old couple take in an infant? I also think getting
rid of Kal-El's super-memory/intelligence was one of the best things
about the revamp. Not remembering Krypton or being able to talk when
he arrived (well, he wasn't really even born yet
) made Clark more
human. I'm glad Byrne addressed the "Why does everyone know that
Superman has a secret identity?" question, by rendering it non-existent.
And lastly, the widening of the "S" shield, and of Superman
himself, was a subtle, yet recognizable difference from the pre-Crisis
In this issue we get to see the "new" Superman use his various abilities. He is slightly more aggressive, which we can see when he gently knocks out the armed robbers. But he is also having fun with his powers, and we rarely see him not smiling. Lois is also more aggressive, in her pursuit of a story, that is. We see that she will do almost anything for a story as evidenced by her driving the car into the harbor. We also see the start of her feud with Clark. While pre-Crisis she would hardly acknowledge him, at least romantically, because he was sort of a nerd, now it will mostly be because he's her rival. This story is a simple and straightforward reintroduction of Lois Lane.
Superman goes to Gotham City to apprehend the mysterious vigilante Batman, and finds him in pursuit of a criminal. Before Superman can touch him, he warns that a force field around his body will detonate a bomb, killing someone in the city, if it detects "super-dense biological material." Batman then tells Superman of a series of crimes causing deaths and injuries in the city. In every instance, gems and antiques were replaced by deadly devices. He believes they were the work of a woman known as Magpie. Superman reluctantly agrees to help, and they soon find her hideout. She escapes after releasing a deadly gas that Superman must dispose of in space. He soon relocates the Batman, who has deduced that she has fled to a museum of history. When they capture her, she breaks down, muttering that they can't have her "pretty things." She became the curator of this museum to be around the things she enjoyed and began stealing other "pretty things" she believed belonged to her. While still disagreeing with his methods, Superman agrees that Gotham is different from Metropolis and may need someone like Batman. Batman reveals that the person his bomb would have killed was himself! Superman leaves, saying he'll be keeping an eye on him. Batman thinks that in another reality, he might have called him friend.
This was a nice story that showed the differences between the new Superman and Batman. They did not start out as friends as they did in their first pre-Crisis meeting in Superman #76. Their post-Crisis relationship has slowly developed over the years so that, while not quite as "chummy" as before, it is on much better terms than shown here. Batman's bomb and Superman's reaction to it were very in-character. Alot different in tone than the last two issues. Not much else to say about it, just a good story.
Man of Steel #4-6