With Unshelved, I pull comics from my collection and give them another read, sometimes for the first time in 30 years! These days I’m going through all of the Superman and Superman-related books from the end of Return of Superman through 1999!
When I first thought about doing this read-through of post-Return Superman comics, I figured I’d pull the issues I had off my shelves and maybe fill in a few other holes here and there. Then I decided to add spinoff ongoings like Steel, Superboy, Supergirl and Outsiders into the mix. Luckily all of those are on the DC Universe Infinite app, so I don’t have to buy an extra few hundred comics I don’t really have space for. While perusing the excellent Superman ’86-’99, I realized there’s a whole world of guest appearances some of which I never knew about. So, I went through each of the main characters’ appearance pages on DC Database and added them to the spreadsheet. With all the added information, I even went through and color-coded the whole thing. When I get it a little more cleaned up, I’ll share it because otherwise it has the vibe of scrawling messages on the walls in a room.
In the meantime, before moving on to 1994, we have a few more appearances to talk about, some of which are not on DCUI so I had to grab them myself, but I’ll note those when they come around. First up, let’s talk about the grossly titled Bloodbath, which is not on DCUI. This two-issue mini from writer Dan Raspler and artists Chuck Wojtkiewicz, Bill Willingham, Sal Velluto and Val Semeiks closes the book on the Bloodlines annuals that came out all through ’93. Clearly an attempt to bring in some of that edgy Image energy, the event revolved around a group of alien Parasites who land on Earth and start feeding on human spinal fluid. Most of the victims die, but a few dozen survive and get crazy super powers.
Superman was still getting over being dead when the annuals came out, but his replacements encountered the likes of Edge, Myriad, Loose Cannon and Sparx in the main title annuals. While most of the Bloodlines characters failed to take off, Sasha “Myriad” Green would go on to play a major part in the Superman titles moving forward as Lois Lane looks into her attempted murder at the hands of Lex Luthor. For our purposes, Spawxf will go on to co-star in Superboy And The Ravers and the Super crew will appear in some of their spinoff books like Anima and Loose Cannon. Fun fact: the most prominent Bloodlines debut was Hitman, who bowed in Demon Annual #2 and starred in a 60-issues series thanks to the brilliant, twisted mind of Garth Ennis. That’s another series, I’ve got to read!
Anyway, with Bloodbath, Superman flew in on the action along with a bunch of other heroes including Eradicator and Superboy (though curiously not Supergirl and Steel). We quickly learn that the Parasites had been collecting the spinal fluid to bring forth a new creature called The Taker, even feeding themselves to their giant creepy monster baby. This big beastie displayed an ability to knock out and capture the most established heroes, many of whom sacrificed themselves so Superman could escape. He teamed up with the New Blood heroes — who were not effected by Taker — and they all saved the day. These two extra-sized issues may have felt a little overstuffed at times because Raspler had the unenviable task of fitting in every single one of the new characters, but I had fun with it and am glad I picked these issues up somewhere along the way, especially because Superman does play such a prominent role in the story. Plus, as I’ve mentioned, I love a big groupshot that encapsulates an era and Bloodbath #2 has a heckuva one! Note that Hal’s still dealing with his broken arm from fighting Mongul!
From there, I moved on to Superman’s appearance in Valor #14 by Mark Waid and Colleen Doran. I’ll be honest, I knew nothing about this book going in aside from the fact that the lead character is tied to the Legion Of Super-Heroes somehow. As it happens, this issue –and the story it’s a part of — revolve around how complicated the young hero’s history is. Is he a valiant hero from the past who inspired the Legion or a blip-on-the-radar costumed character of the 20th century who made very little impact? While this issue doesn’t answer that question (though I believe Zero Hour will in a few months), it does feature the title character visiting Earth in search of a cure for the lead poisoning he’s been dealing with as a Daxamite. He met up with the oh-so-90s Justice League America line-up, who said they could not help him. From there, he chatted with Superman who may not have had a solution, but did encourage the young hero to keep at it.
Moving right along, I added a little more Eradicator action to my life by checking out his appearance in Outsiders #2 by Mike W. Barr and Paul Pelletier. This was one of those books that I was always curious about as a kid, but didn’t have the extra scratch to buy. When I realized a few years back that all 24 issues are on DC Universe Infinite, I started reading the series, but fell off before long. This turned out to be a good time to get back into it. For a quick bit of background, this new team came together with old schoolers Geo-Force, Katana, Halo and Looker along with newcomers Faust, Technocrat and Wylde (who I keep forgetting isn’t Tasmanian Devil). Early on, they’re framed for an attempted coup of Markovia, which drew the attention of Eradicator…who only shows up on the very last page, so we’ll get back to him more next time!
Speaking of next time, the following post will get back to the mainline Superman books where I will finish up the “Spilled Blood” three-parter, reveal what happens when Cat Grant catches up to the Toyman, bring the Challengers of the Unknown in from the past and introduce a new armored character. Oh and, yes, I know there was a six-part Superman spinoff that launched in November or 1993 that I will get to when I cover January 1994 Superman Related titles because that was a surprisingly light month.