Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Superman (v2) #8

Superman (v2) #8 (August, 1987)
title: "Future Shock"
writer: John Byrne
penciller: John Byrne
inker: Karl Kesel
lettering: John Costanza
colorist: Tom Ziuko
editor: Michael Carlin & Andrew Helfer 
cover: John Byrne
reviewer: Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage

Mission Monitor Board:  
Superman, Brainiac 5, Sun Boy, Blok, Invisible Kid, Superboy; cameos by Mon-El, Ultra Boy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and the rest of the Legion

Ma & Pa Kent, Lana Lang, Pete Ross

The Time Trapper, misunderstandings, muddled editorial decisions

On present-day Earth, Clark Kent is taking it easy in Smallville, helping his old confidante Lana Lang on her farm. This is post-Crisis Superman, who revealed his identity to Lana and whose parents are still alive.

They show up with a basket of food and the four of them have a picnic. Suddenly, Clark senses the appearance of a space-ship, so he flies off to investigate.
At the old Simonson Quarry where Superman used to practice with his budding super-powers, he sees four Legionnaires and their time bubble. Superman does not recognize them.
As he approaches them, his heat-vision inexplicably goes off, blasting the spot where the Legionnaires are conferring. They believe that Superboy has followed them from the earlier era (in Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #37) and is trying to capture them, so they attack.

Superman fights off Sun Boy, Blok, Invisible Kid, and Brainiac 5 until Brainy realizes that they are not fighting SuperBOY but SuperMAN. Brainiac 5 then tells Post-Crisis Superman all about the Legion of Super-Heroes and how they went back in time to recruit Superboy as a member.
Just as Brainiac 5 is getting to the point of explaining that for some reason Superboy seems to have turned on them, the Teen of Steel himself shows up and uses his time-stasis ray to capture all of them.
The splash page and introductory scene tells us all we need to know about this Superman. It establishes that Lana Lang knows Clark's identity, that his adopted parents are still alive, and that this is NOT the Legion's Supeboy all grown up. While it's heart-warming to see "this" Superman surrounded by love and affection, it is also somewhat heart-wrenching to know that he no longer has any history with the Legion of Super-Heroes.

When I first read this story I was not terribly impressed. I questioned again why Invisible Kid, Blok, and Sun Boy had been chosen for this mission: first to fight the Time Trapper, and now to actually fight Superman!? At the time I was not a huge John Byrne fan, and I was also not a huge Marvel fan. So I had never seen of or read Fantastic Four # 249. Later I did come across a copy of it. Take a look at its cover:
So John Byrne conspired to have Superman fight the Fantastic Four of the Legion.

This is clever, I give you that. Still, it would have been better if the story was actually more entertaining. Although Sun Boy is portrayed as a hot-head here, Blok is no Ben Grimm and the Invisible Kid is absolutely no Invisible Woman. It was a cute touch to have Brainiac 5 use his force-field during the fighting, though.
The biggest problem here is that there is no real point to this story. There is no reason ever given for why the Legion stops in this era at all. There is likewise no reason given for why Superman's heat-vision mis-fires....can you say "plot device", anyone? Superman versus the Legion is not worth the price of admittance, and if you're a Legion fan you probably already know the story of how Superboy met the Legion. It is nice to see John Byrne draw the Legion of Super-Villains, though.

Also, several panels are direct swipes from Legion #37, so if you already have that issue you probably had a sense of deja vu all over again when you read this one. So this weekend we'll run a "Who Wore It Better?" comparison between these two issues, with different artists depicting the same scenes!

Science Police Notes:  
  • This story continues from Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #37
  • This story continues in Action Comics #591
  • This story is dedicated to Edward Hamilton, the initial creator of the Legion of Super-Heroes. 
This story has been reprinted in Superman: The Man of Steel vol 4 TPB  


  1. "There is likewise no reason given for why Superman's heat-vision mis-fires...." This was a subplot in the Superman's book where his powers were malfunctioning. For example in Superman #10, Clark has his X-Ray Vision malfunctioning.

  2. Yes, I love Byrne's Marvel early stuff, but for the middle 80's he was definitely past his prime, and getting steadily and increasingly worse.

    His arrogance (Superboy was gone because _he_ think a young Superman was innecessary) and hypocrisy (he claims to respect the characters and bring them back to their essence, but he changes them completely. And he respects the creator's original intent... except when he did something Byrne didn't approve of) damaged the Legion for decades. And Byrne's stories were't so good anyway.