Tuesday, May 08, 2007

SUPERMAN #8 DC Comics, 1987

WARNING: This post has an average of 1 terrible joke for every 75 words. I have marked the terrible jokes in red for easy identification.
There was a time during the glorious mid-Eighties when writer/artist John Byrne was both writing and artisting Superman and Action Comics (featuring Superman) every month. And brother, that is a shitload of artisting.
Byrne had help with master inkers like Karl Kesel and Dick Giordano, but it's pretty impressive. Byrne did 22 issues of Superman and 16 issues of Action Comics at the same time for like, two years, whilst living in seclusion in a vast private suite atop the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. He lived off room service and Latino hookers and would randomly fire his shotgun into the air off his balcony and scream profanity through a megaphone at pedestrians walking on The Strip far below. Byrne was muy loco, but his famous Vegas Exile period is legendary for the gonzo quality he brought to Superman comics.
What the hell am I going on about? John Byrne is going to sue my ass now.
Let's talk about the comic itself and how great it is. This is the eighth issue of Byrne's relaunched Superman book, which was made possible by Byrne's successful re-booting of the Superman universe with his Man o' Steel mini-series. Oh, sorry - Man of Steel is the correct title. Man o' Steel is that comic about the Irish steelworker. This book was written and pencilled by Byrne, with finished inks by Karl Kesel, who rules. Kesel and Terry Austin may be my favorite Byrne inkers. As I type that I realize how geeky it is to have a favorite John Byrne inker.
This comic starts right off with a beefy shirtless Clark Kent ripping a tree from the Earth in order to make a post fence for his old high school crush Lana Lang (who recently married a guy named Phil Addingdong; her married name is Lana Lang-Addingdong.) We get a full-page shot of beefcake Clark Kent. BEEFCAKE!

She is so staring at his ass.
And could Superman be more arrogant? "I know, Lana! Sometimes I trip on how awesome I am, too." Talk about a God complex.
The kick-ass thing about this panel is - and we'll zoom in here - Clark Kent's monogram belt buckle. That is fucking awesome - putting your initials on your belt buckle. Do people do that? Is that like a thing that I'm not aware of? Do people in rural Kansas rock the monogram buckles? Or maybe Clark Kent is just a big Calvin Klein fan.
You know, as I was zooming in on Superman's crotch in Photoshop I noticed what I thought was a coloring mistake at first. See that whitish piece of earth or rubble near Clark's bathing suit area? Looks like somebody spaced out and didn't color that particular spot, right? Or is it??? Look closer, doesn't that sort of look like a tiny head? A tiny Metamorpho head maybe??? Tell me I'm wrong!
The only explanation I can come up with is that Metamorpho is hiding in Clark's pants, possibly as methane gas. For what reason? Ask John Byrne. Yes, ask John Byrne why Metamorpho is floating around Superman's groinal area!
Anyway, this comic really concerns Superman's encounter with four color blind heroes from the 30th Century, members of the Legion of Super Heroes. I say color blind because holy cats, have you seen their outfits? Somebody needs to do an extreme makeover on those kids ASAP. Are they from the future or Planet Hideous?
The Legionaires mistake Superman for Superboy, who used to be a member of their group back when their comic was called Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes. You see, for some reason Superboy has gone bad and has turned against his comrades. Sure, Superboy was bad in the Inifinte Crisis mini-series, but even back in 1987 Superboy was a little bastard. At least in these comics he doesn't punch anyone's heads off. (And I say that like it's a bad thing.)

Since this is a comic book, Superman and the Legionaires (Braniac, Blokk, Sun Boy, and Skunklad) fight for a few pages before they realize it was all a big mix-up. Being generous of spirit, Superman doesn't mock the ugly ass outfits the teen heroes from the future are wearing, and they get around to telling Superman the reason why they're here: Bad Superboy. Superman is all "WTF?" because he was never called Superboy; he began his super career as an adult and what kind of drugs are you damn kids on in the 30th Century anyway?
And here's where John Byrne launches into a several issue explanation of how Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes fits into regular DC Universe continuity in light of the fact that in this re-booted Superman timeline he was never the Boy of Steel at all. He wasn't even the Tween of Steel. Byrne retells the Silver Age story where Superboy joins the Legion and almost manages to make it not seem incredibly corny, and then neatly summarizes the whole concept of Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes, including a fantastic panel of the whole goddamn team.

That is one small planet they're running on. That was my favorite era of the Legion. As much as I make fun of their outfits, I have to admit that is what the Legion should look like - a big Seventies disco future fashion show.

I'm not going to bother explaining how Byrne untangles the Legion history and fits it into the new Superman continuity - that's what Wikipedia and the fine folks at Legion Abstract are for. There was a point where I kind of gave up trying to follow the convolutions of Legion history, with all the Time Trapper and Zero Hour craziness. The Legion is simultaneously blessed and cursed with a rich, complex mythos and a huge cast. It can be rewarding for long time fans and comic history geeks, but I think the various Legion series have been largely impenetrable and forbidding to new readers. I call this devotion to the future history of the DC Universe Legionaire's Disease*, and I think it's why so many Legion series get cancelled.

OK, let's wrap this up. Superman #8 had great art, beefcake Clark Kent and his belt buckle, a hidden Metamorpho, hideous costumes, pages of continuity wonkery, Bad Superboy, and a nice big shot of the Disco Legion. Man, John Byrne was on fire during the Vegas Exile period!

*Actually, I don't. I just needed to fit a terrible joke in there.

36 comments:

Siskoid said...

To be fair, Invisible Kid probably thought he'd be invisible much of the time.

Sometimes you just let the saleslady convince you it looks good on you...

Bill S. said...

I loved that issue. Actually, I liked seeing Byrne's Supes in various states of undress, which seemed to be fairly regularly. And the Disco Legion RULED!

To be fair, Clark probably scraped his initials into the belt buckle with his fingernail, or something.

Nik said...

I'm now going to start saying "I've got Metamorpho in my pants" in the boudoir and see what, y'know, transpires from there.

Franco said...

Dave, I'd like to know your opinion about the SHIELD Capekillers. You know, the guys in fancy grey armors who first appeared in Civil War, with the sole purpose of constantly getting their backsides kicked by Captain America.

JVC said...

Even though I read the WARNING, I still hoped that the red text were links.

Nuv said...

anybody else notice how Byrne used Legion members that would closest fit Fantastic Four analogues?

Bully said...

anybody else notice how Byrne used Legion members that would closest fit Fantastic Four analogues?

Not only that, but he self-homaged the cover of his own Fantastic Four #249 when he drew the cover of Superman #8.

(Shoot. I blew a perfectly good "Separated at Birth" in this comment.)

Sleestak said...

That isn't a tiny world the LSH is running on...it's Shaq's head and they are in a Gatorade commercial!

SW said...

Shirtless Clark was sporting some major wood in that panel.

What?!?!? C'mon, you were thinkin' it too!

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Where's Blockade Boy?

Mariana said...

This was the only time I've heard of someone complain of being bracketed in. Don't bracket me in, babe, I'm free as the wind. Cool. Thank you.

Tyson said...

Dave, we're all geeks here. Even more damningly, we're all comic book geeks. Which means that we are devotees of obscure, unnecessary detail.

There are a total of 1108 words in this post. There are 15 red-text "jokes". 1108/15 <> 75.

My explanation for this is that we're comic geeks, not math geeks, so, 73.9 is almost 75, and only an old-school Marvel fan would even look for discrepancies like this, and this is an article about a DC book, so it doesn't matter.

So, since I found this, and proposed a solution, do I win a Dave's Long Box No-Prize?

Oh, by the way, cool post, as always. The first pic, though: between the dialog, the belt buckle, and the Metamorpho head in his trousers, one is left with a fairly unfavorable impression of Supes.

But the upside is that I think that this makes it easier to identify with old Kal-El. I guess we all have those days where we're incredibly arrogant about our powers, wear monogrammed belt buckles, and have Metamorpho in our trousers.

Well, maybe not the Metamorpho thing. Or the buckle. But still.

Intruder_W said...

I've got Legionaire's Disease, and the only prescription is more Mon-El.

lamername said...

That Metamorpho head is the scariest thing i've seen since the 3 Men and a Baby ghost.

Anonymous said...

Do not be dissing the Legionnaires costumes. Dawnstar has one of the sexiest costumes ever seen in comics (and here's hoping she comes back in the current JLA/JSA storyline).

Matthew E said...

Thanks for the link; it's actually kind of unnerving just how many of my recent hits came from here...

Anonymous said...

hehe, BULLY said 'self-homaged'. When I did that it put hair on my palms....

Anonymous said...

Yes, "self-homage" is a kind way of putting it. "Running out of ideas" or "Creative laziness" might be a better way to explain the similarities between Superman 8 & FF 249.

BlackRivil said...

Dude, Please please do the same for the second part of the story, Bryne Superman versus Superboy!!

-BR

Anonymous said...

hehe. I just 'self-homaged' again. Someone get me a tissue...

Thom said...

Shut up! I almost re-bought this issue the other day after giving it away about a million years ago. I must buy it now, not only for the Legion appearance, but because Clark is one manly man. Yummy!

Blockade Boy said...

Jon asked where I was.

I'm still staring at Shirtless Clark Kent! (You know what that belt buckle monogram could use? Some rhinestones.)

Anonymous said...

Isn't it obvious that Superman possesses high fashion sense? That's a Calvin Klein belt buckle.

String Quintet in C major said...

Dave's Long Box = Thor's crooning + Batman's motorized ersatz penis + Metamorpho hovering around Clark Kent's groin and belt buckle = INDISPENSABLE

BTW, since this post is in part about counting things, I see two instances of the cutesy "Supes" in the comments. Are you members of the JLA, hmmm?

YOU ARE MAKING BYRNE CRY !!!

YOU ARE MAKING BYRNE CRY !!!

Charlotte said...

As the token Texas resident in any given situation, I am able to proudly verify that, yes, it probably is a belt buckle with his initials on it, not merely a proof of his fashion-savvity. (That's a word now, by the way.)

Because people do that down here. More often, honestly, they get their whole names not only engraved but carved bas-relief style into the buckle, usually surrounded by little silver pistols or mostly the shape of the state of Texas, or sometimes words like "These colors don't run" and "I swear to God I'm not inbred, really."

Gosh, sometimes I really love my home state.

Matt T. said...

To echo charlotte above, folks in certain parts of the United States don't fool around when it comes to belt buckles. In my homestate of Mississippi, among belt-buckle afficianados - of which there are quite a few, believe you me - mere initials on a belt claspe would be considered extremely dowdy. I knew several folk who made a good living selling frighteningly large buckles to rednecks and wanna-bes. Hell, I've had a couple stunners myself, including one with a picture of Hank Williams on it. It's cool as hell.

I used to work in newspapers, and more times than I should think would be usual outside charlotte's home state, I found myself interviewing high school rodeo cowboys/girls. For whatever reason, being a kick-ass rodeo guy will net you some truly jaw-dropping belt buckles. I interviewed one 14-year-old girl, cute as a button, who sported a belt buckle you could serve a dinner salad off of. She got it for picking up cows and throwing 'em around, or something.

Finally, a word of advice. If a high school rodeo coach offers you your first ever chance to ride a real rodeo horse and give that a shot, don't do it. These people are evil and live to see your pain. Believe you me, there's a lot of pain involved.

Matt T. said...

Oh, yeah... See, I think y'all got it all wrong. Metamorpho is inside Clark's pants, he actually is Clark's pants. Yep, that's the kinds shit the so-called "Big Guns" pull on bench-warmers like Metamorpho to string 'em along. Wonder Woman makes newbies polish her invisible plane, stuff like that.

Steve Flanagan said...

...he self-homaged the cover of his own Fantastic Four #249 when he drew the cover of Superman #8.

Thing is, that FF cover shows the villain of the piece gloatingly holding aloft the badly beaten FF as trophies. Message: the FF are in trouble! Ooooh, dramatic! Read to find out what happens!

The Superman cover shows Superman gloatingly holding aloft the badly beaten LSH as trophies. Message: Superman is a dick. And I think we all knew that already.

Yankee Jones said...

My belt buckle has a skull and crossbone on it because I dress like a twelve year old.

I would totally wear a belt buckle with my initials or my name on it but I have no idea where I could get such a thing.

Hegs said...

When I saw that tiny horizon on the Legion, I immediately thought of a crossover between the Legion and the Little Prince.

You know you want it.

Todd C. Murry said...

The Mirage opened in November 1989 months after Byrne left DC to go work on Starbrand of the New Universe. It was Ceaser's where most of this took place (I've heard that the hunting Latino hookers in the desert on his three wheeler story is apocryphal). Get your facts straight or I'll go tell on you in the Byrne boards, dude. (I'd put one of those winking emoticons here to let you know I'm joking if I didn't hate emoticons... did you guys know the 25th anniversary of the emoticon was like a month ago?)

Anonymous said...

Heck! All that super chesthair too! Guess that's why he's called Superman! He'd never have been shown shirtless like THAT in Silver Age days!

Reminds me of a story where Luthor had Superman strapped to his lab table while exposing him to powerful rays of green kryptonite - "gasp! - the one s-substance that can d-destroy me!"

Surely, in "real life" the scene would have been more realistic and the kryptonite more effective if Luthor had gotten Supes barechested (apart from that Kryptonian forest on his pecs!)as the Man of Steel squirmed and writhe in a futile attempt to escape? Luthor's humiliation of his arch foe would have been truly complete!

Anonymous said...

also did you notice that Superman was the analogue for Gladiator over at Marvel in the FF cover. Also the team LSH was analogues by the Gladiators own Imperial Guard-cool

Anonymous said...

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Tony Santiago said...

The belt buckle could be CALVIN KLEIN