One step closer to the end as Doomsday makes his way to Metropolis in Action Comics #684!
Action Comics #684
Triangle Number: 1992 – 48
Writer: Roger Stern
Penciler: Jackson Guice
Inker: Denis Rodier
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Action Comics #684 opens with another set of exposition to catch a new reader up with what has been going on in the previous four issues, this time delivered by a news anchor on broadcast, and as we look at the first page, the panel count is down from last issue’s four to three. Superman leaves Maxima in the care of The Guardian, saying ominously that he will stop Doomsday if it’s the last thing he does.
Lucky for Superman, despite Doomsday’s head start, it’s impossible not to be able to track him, as the path of destruction he leaves is likely visible from space. As Doomsday completely destroys an overpass, Guice makes an homage to the iconic semi chase from the at-the-time recently released Terminator 2: Judgement Day. This driver is not as lucky as the Robert Patrick T-1000 though, from the looks of his rig as it crashes into the road below.
As Superman observes, it seems that Doomsday just lashes out on whatever structure, being or foliage he sees, with no reason for his violence. And indeed that is the case as he yeets a car into the sky as it’s driver slams on the brakes to avoid hitting the monster. After Superman catches the flying car, Guice does an absolutely stunning rendition of Superman’s telescopic vision, where the exteriors of the panel are zoomed out, with a circle inset within the panel zoomed in closer on the collapsed overpass. This is a great way to represent a power that can be easy to ignore specific visualizations of.
Meanwhile, Doomsday’s trail of terror has led him straight to a crowded Lex Mart. It’s here that Doomsday’s mindless destruction gains an actual direction. In a clever story-telling trick, Doomsday hears a promo for a wrestling event to be held at the Metropolis Arena, and the words of violence capture his interest long enough for Bill Oakley’s brilliantly lettered “MHH-TRR-PLSS?” to come out of the monster’s mouth. Oakley’s letter just feels absolutely guttural and rough.
It is at this point that Lois and Jimmy’s news chopper catches up to Superman and Doomsday, giving the big man another thing to worry about as the fight continues to escalate. It also brings in that connection that’s been built so carefully over the last two years of comics, as Lois starts to worry about Clark as she views this battle.
Lex Luthor, however, is only worried about the control he can exert over Supergirl. He’s still angry that she took off to assist during “The Blaze/Satanus War” without asking his permission, and he’s bound to not let that happen again. Despite his own properties taking a beating, his pride will not allow him to believe that Doomsday may be able to do what he hasn’t been able to.
With Lois and Jimmy on the scene, narration switches to Lois’s dictation of events, which is a fantastic narrative choice by Roger Stern. It adds an air of believability to the situation as she loses her own sense of belief in watching the sheer brutality of the monster. It’s only when Doomsday sees a sign for Metropolis that Superman realizes that the commercial has made a connection with the creature. Protecting his home and loved ones instantly puts a spring in Superman’s step, as he moves to drive Doomsday as far away from population centers as he can. This is probably my favorite sequence of the crossover to this point, as Superman’s focus on keeping the fight away from people is an incredibly important point of focus for how I view the character.
As Superman fights the beast in Cadmus’s abandoned tree village Habitat, he starts speculating on the origins of the character, much as fans at the time were speculating. Clearly the monster had to be the result of one of Superman’s rogues, right? It couldn’t be completely unrelated to villains we’d seen thus far, could it? It had to be Luthor’s doing! No wait, maybe it was a Cadmus project gone wrong! But as fans would find much later, Doomsday is truly just a plot device, a means to an end, a way to get this story to the place it needed to be before the meat of the story could begin. And that’s something later writers and editors don’t understand. Doomsday isn’t a villain, he’s not supposed to be a recurring threat, he was meant to serve a singular purpose, and once that was done, subsequent uses just make him less and less impressive.
Once more an issue ends with Superman down amongst rubble, and Doomsday leaping away. This time crushing a “Distance to Metropolis” sign as he leaps towards the big city. For as Metropolis is about to find out… Doomsday is here.