I just finished reviewing another trade collection on my other site but only the individual issues. Here I’ll be looking at the final collection, so we’ll take a week off from Transformers. I’ll resume the Alternators reviews next week with Side Swipe.

 

The Death and Return of Superman

The Death and Return of Superman video game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Doomsday is name that…well, should be familiar to everyone who speaks English because “doomsday” is a rather well-known word. But for Superman fans Doomsday also refers to the giant monster that killed him in one of the most famous story arc in comics. “The Death And Return Of Superman” is a multi-arc storyline dealing with Superman sacrificing himself to stop the only threat besides Darkseid who is Superman’s physical equal. All of his other enemies have to outwit Superman only to learn he’s more cunning than they thought. The storyline deals with his death, how the world is changed by his disappearance, and his ultimate return because no way is DC giving up what was their flagship character at the time, although it seems Batman has recently usurped that role. Which as much as I like Batman says more about the world at large than Superman himself. He’s still my favorite superhero.

The original storyline was huge, but it lacked any kind of actual origin for Doomsday. He just shows up one day and kills Superman. 1994’s Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey is a three-issue miniseries that brings us that origin. Where did Doomsday come from? Why did he want to kill Superman? Those answers were finally revealed, and then collected in a trade collection the next year. I’ve already reviewed the three issues, and will link to those reviews if you want a deeper analysis, as well as the actual issue where Superman and Doomsday fought to the death, which isn’t in this collection but I thought you might be curious. While I will go over my thoughts on the miniseries this is The Clutter Reports, so my focus will be on the collection more than the story itself.

You might want to look behind you, Doomy!

Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey

collecting issues one-three of the 1994 miniseries

DC Comics (1995)

WRITER/LAYOUTS: Dan Jurgens

FINISHED ART: Brett Breeding

COLOR GUIDES: Greg Wright

COLOR SEPARATIONS: Android Images

LETTERER: Bill Oakley

“SUPERMAN” CREATORS: Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster

During the period Superman was dead (being comics he got better) a few others took up his mantle. One was a former astronaut named Hank Henshaw who had a gripe with Superman and was now a cyborg. (That’s a long story and not necessary to this one.) He tossed the body of Doomsday into space and hitched a ride on it by transferring his consciousness to a device attached to the monster. As the story opens the body is found by a passing cargo ship and when exposed to a breathable atmosphere Doomsday awakens. Hensaw brings them to Apokolips, home of the aforementioned Darkseid in hopes of taking over the planet of “new gods”. Meanwhile Superman has been having nightmares about Doomsday and decides to hunt down his body, which takes him to Apokolips and involves Waverider, an even longer story and member of the self-charged guardians of time known as the Linear Men, which is a long story on it’s own. Together Superman and Waverider must save the citizens of Apokolips, stop the Cyborg, and learn the shocking origins of Doomsday and his ties to Krypton.

As you can see, there are elements that require knowledge of the DC Universe in the 1990s. The whole death & return of Superman, Armageddon 2001, and a trade I thought I had reviewed here, Time & Time Again. But considering this is Doomsday’s origin story I don’t think this was intended to be a jumping on point unless they hoped it would make people curious to check out earlier comics. While some elements may not be easy to follow there are enough explanations that you can at least follow the story you’re reading and know who the bad guys are and why they are a threat. There’s also a comparison to when Clark Kent was a boy and afraid of the basement (in this continuity his powers didn’t develop until his teens–DC continuity is a web of confusion at times) that works well as Superman is confronting the monster that killed him, but must overcome his fear to benefit others, like he did with the basement.

Then there’s the origin of Doomsday. I go into it in the individual reviews but no spoilers here. Suffice it to say I think the origin works well enough. It explains Doomsday’s obsession with Superman and while I had issue with portions of the presentation the origin itself is just fine.

As for the trade, you get an introduction of how the original Death Of Superman storyline came to be as well as what led to this miniseries. There’s also early production sketches of Doomsday before he evolved into what they finally went with, and given the origin presented that’s rather fitting. That’s all you get for extras. The covers are put into a gallery at the end of the book, with edited versions of the cover art used to divide the chapters in the trade. I like the divisions but I like when the covers themselves are used to divide chapters in a trade collection of a storyline or miniseries as it feels more like reading the comics themselves. Of course nowadays writers write for the trades more than the individual issues so who cares? The writers and editors don’t seem to care about the individual issues but that’s a rant better suited for my other site.

Decision: stays

Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey is a rather enjoyable Superman story on it’s own, but coupled with the original origin for one of the most infamous characters in DC and Superman lore it becomes a must-own for fans of Superman and Doomsday. Had Doomsday’s story ended here like it should have it would have been perfect, but DC continues to drop the character back into being every now and then, weakening and/or altering what made the character good. This would have been a great final Doomsday story but what we get is still a good one.

 

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