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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.
To be more specific, this retro review goes into one of the chapters of the Death of Superman storyline showing more of Doomsday’s rampage but before the climax of the battle with Superman. I’m talking about the 74th issue of the Superman monthly series of the time.
With those details laid down, here is a look back at Superman #74, published in 1992 by DC Comics with a story written and illustrated by Dan Jurgens.
The story begins with Ice and Maxima in the presence of a suffering Blue Beetle who just got hurt badly by Doomsday. While Ice expresses concern for Blue Beetle, Maxima could only care less about him stating that he shall perish as a warrior fallen in battle and that there is no greater honor one can attain. After Ice pleaded her to help Blue Beetle and realize the need to help others who have fallen, Maxima then uses her power to help Blue Beetle to safety. Ice then proceeds to another direction to stop Doomsday.
Meanwhile, a young guy named Mitch arrives home feeling bad about his situation. His mother is taking care of his infant sibling. After a tense talk between them, Ice suddenly crashes into their home. Mitch and his mother look outside and see Doomsday (still covered in a space suit with only his left arm unrestrained as seen in Superman: The Man of Steel #18) carrying a damaged car with his left arm.
Suddenly Doomsday notices something – the arrival of Booster Gold and Superman…
Apart from being a build-up chapter of the Death of Superman storyline, this comic book is notable for two things: It has the first-ever encounter between Superman and Doomsday in comic book history. Second is the reveal of Doomsday’s face and other physical features as a result of his space suit and restraints getting torn.
The first-ever Superman-Doomsday encounter here is symbolic as it happened just minutes after the Justice League America (JLA) got overwhelmed by the unstoppable creature from outer space. While Superman had his TV interview, his JLA teammates failed miserably during their encounter with Doomsday (as told in Justice League America #69). By the time the Man of Steel and the creature meet, the stage was set for readers to find out once and for all who is more powerful between them.
Superman’s leadership is also emphasized in this story. The JLA in this issue does not have DC’s most famous superheroes as members but Ice, Maxima, Fire, Booster Gold, Bloodwynd and Guy Gardner functioned well and added nicely to the build-up of this storyline.
There is a lot of superhero spectacle to enjoy here but the most noticeable visual features are the scenes of destruction which strongly symbolize Doomsday’s immense strength, violent nature and complete disregard of both life and logic. The showing of an American family coming close to death in the presence of Doomsday remains disturbing to see.
Lastly, I should state the big reveal of Doomsday’s face and other physical features is excellent and even timeless. There is this undeniable combination of fright and intimidation that Dan Jurgens visualized here. In fact, the big reveal (which happened after Superman and the JLA combined their attacks on the creature) alone is a solid reason to read this comic book.
Even as a build-up issue of the Death of Superman storyline, Superman #74 (1992) is still a great read on its own. Not only did it mark the first-ever encounter between Superman and Doomsday in the history of comics, it also emphasized how vulnerable and inferior the superheroes here really are. There is also the symbolism of Doomsday as the unstoppable being that completely disregards life (and can never be reasoned with) and still Dan Jurgens managed to spare some room to symbolize how the superheroes struggled in trying to stop the creature and take care of the helpless whenever they can.
Overall, Superman #74 (1992) is highly recommended.
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