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Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we go back to the early 1990s and explore a key chapter in the post-Crisis era of DC Comics through a Superman comic book – the first full appearance of Doomsday!
To those of you who read my retro review of Adventures of Superman #498 (1993) – which was the opening chapter of the Funeral for a Friend storyline – you might be wondering why I decided to revisit the Death of Superman storyline so suddenly. It all comes down to context related to Superman’s eventual death and what killed him. Not only did Doomsday become a very important part of DC Comics’ gallery of super villains having achieved the killing of the Man of Steel, the oversized monster became part of DC’s further comic book universe reboots as well as part of multimedia adaptations of DC Comics stories specifically in the Smallville TV series as well as in 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Indeed, Doomsday’s place in American pop culture is sealed and that shows how much of an impact was made by the unstoppable super villain co-created by Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson and Roger Stern. Doomsday was conceived way back in 1991 during the brainstorming session of the Superman comics writers and editors of the time.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Superman: The Man of Steel #18, published in 1992 by DC Comics with a story written by Louise Simonson and drawn by Jon Bogdanove. This comic book marked the beginning of the Death of Superman saga.
The story begins deep underground as the left fist of a covered, large being keeps punching the metallic wall to get out of containment. As the punches keep on pounding the wall, the glove gets torn revealing a fist with gray skin and sharp bones protruding through the knuckles. After making its way out of containment, the earth shakes and the animals got disturbed as the creature – mostly covered with an alien body suit with only the left arm freed – makes its way from deep underground.
Miles away within the city of Metropolis, a young black boy buys a spray paint container (which has a fluorescent yellow paint that glows in the dark) inside a hardware store. In response to the curiosity of the store owner, the boy denies that he would use the glow-in-the-dark pain on a subway wall. The boy has a very tough task ahead of him as he will be going after monsters.
At a power station, a group of intelligent creatures make their way to steal electricity for their war machines…
To make things clear, this comic book tells two stories that moved in parallel together. The first story involving Superman, Lois Lane and the affairs that involved the mentioned young black boy is the typical good-versus-evil superhero tale. What made that story standout was Lois Lane’s involvement as she got into trouble facing the opposition before Superman came in to save the day. As before, seeing Lois Lane talk to Superman in the presence of others while keeping his identity secret remains engaging to read. This tale was good enough to read.
The other story that follows the sudden appearance and the early rampage of Doomsday is the more engaging one to read. This was clearly a build-up for the Death of Superman concept but it was highly effective, well-paced and clearly defined by the creative team. Not only will you see Doomsday’s unstoppable power of destruction, you will witness his complete disregard of life – animals and humans – which strongly hints the an immense danger that Superman, the Justice League America (JLA) and the people of Metropolis are not prepared for. Like the Terminator, Doomsday cannot be reasoned with as massive destruction and death are his core elements. Within the pages of this comic book, it can be viewed that Doomsday was designed for endless waves of destroying life and anything that gets in the way.
Lastly, I should state that Simonson and Bogdanove presented Doomsday not only to be destructive but also as a frightening force that people in real life would not want to see realized.
Superman: The Man of Steel #18 (1992) remains a very powerful read. Yes, it is a build-up of Doomsday and the Death of Superman saga but it remains highly significant as it kicked-off the creative change of direction of DC’s Superman creative teams going towards tragedies that Superman and his allies cannot easily stop. This one marked start of Doomsday’s eventual high rise not only in comics but also in pop culture in general. That being said, this comic book is a must-have in your collection.
Overall, Superman: The Man of Steel #18 (1992) is highly recommended.
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