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Superman back for good Comics

Superman Adventures: Men of Steel

By Paul Dini, Rick Burchett and Terry Austin

By Scott McCloud, Rick Burchett and Terry Austin

Captson/Stone Arch; $15.95

In looking for DC back issues to mine for hardcover reprints, Capstone stuck a particularly rich vein in Superman Adventures, the 1996-2002 series based on the Superman: The Animated Series television series. That cartoon was from the makers of Batman: The Animated Series, and as they did with Batman, the producers and designers sampled the best bits of the title character’s long history of multi-media successes, remixing them into an ultimate, definitive version. And, naturally, when DC adapted that version back into comics, they had a stripped-down, purified-to-its-essence Superman narrative to hand to their creators and let them loose on it.

I’m not exaggerating when I say the resultant comics were among the very best Superman comics of their time, and ones that hold up remarkably well when compared to the many Superman comics published before and since.

Capstone’s repackaging of this series is just like that for DC Super Friends: One issue per book, starting at the beginning of the series, with biographies of the creators, a glossary of big words (formidable, pulverize, duplicate), a Superman glossary of franchise-specific vocabulary (The Daily Planet, Jimmy Olsen, invulnerability) and a section of questions on the preceding story.

I read two of the first four books in the series.

First up, there’s Men of Steel, written by Paul Dini (who was a producer and story editor on the TV series that this comic is based on) and drawn by artists Rick Burchett and Terry Austin, who drew all four of these comics-turned-books.

In it, secretly evil industrialist Lex Luthor watches as Superman takes apart a robot battle suit of his and the city of Metropolis starts to rally around the strange visitor from another planet as their champion. Luthor decides to retaliate by making a Superman robot duplicate with all of the original’s powers. Luthor may be a genius, but his plan doesn’t work out as he intended.

In Distant Thunder, written by Scott McCloud, the cartoonist who literally wrote the book on comics (and who wrote much of the first year’s worth of issues of this comics series), Superman’s scientist friend Professor Hamilton alerts the hero that the light from Krypton’s explosion would be visible in Earth’s night sky shortly and, not coincidentally, Kryptonian robotic villain Brainiac arrives to wreak havoc in Metropolis.


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