So with Superman dead, who stars in Action Comics? Action Comics #685 gives us the answer.

Action Comics #685

Triangle Number: 1993 – 4

Writer: Roger Stern
Penciler: Jackson Guice
Inker: Denis Rodier
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: Bill Oakley

Metropolis needs a new protector, and Action Comics needs a new lead. Jackson Guice uses the cover of this issue to homage the cover of Action Comics #1 that had come out 55 years prior. The title of the book has also changed, from Superman in Action Comics to Supergirl in Action Comics. It’s clear by this cover that the status quo change for this book, at least in the near future, is that Matrix will be the lead.

Immediately as this issue opens we are struck with another sequence of missing pages for the 2007 omnibus. And here is the omission that is even more baffling than the scene of Supergirl regaining her form: the entire plot of Cadmus trying to get Superman’s body is just gone. It’s extremely bizarre for such an important plot to be cut out of a collection, especially a collection advertised as an all-encompassing omnibus. The first page is a recap page that is also cut from the omnibus, which is sad because it includes a replica of the “SUPERMAN — DEAD” edition of the Daily Planet, with the Jimmy Olsen photo from the cover of Adventures of Superman #498 as the lead picture. The rest of the omitted pages are a standoff between Westfield and the Cadmus troops and Maggie Sawyer, Dan Turpin, and the SCU over the control of Superman’s remains. Supergirl interferes to stop them from taking the body, delaying them just long enough for the President himself to rescind permission.

The other absolutely bizarre thing about cutting specifically that amount of pages from the beginning of this issue is that it has the effect of opening this issue with basically the exact same scene that Adventures had ended on, and as the omnibus had the covers collected at the end rather than separating the issues, it just reads really awkwardly, as on one page Jimmy offers to walk Lois home and she accepts, and on the next, he offers to give her a ride (in what car, which blew up just a couple months ago) and she declines. This is just extremely sloppy editing and kills the beats of both scenes in what was supposed to be a good collected edition.

Following that is a phone call from Lana to the Kents, followed by a sequence of different locations across the world seeing the news reports of Superman’s death, with the book specifically checking in on people he had saved in some long-ago issues of the various Superman books. This was a great way to showcase that, while Metropolis would feel the loss the worst, the whole world was in mourning for their greatest hero.

Beyond that sequence, the only other page that makes it into the omnibus from this issue is a page of Lois in Clark’s apartment. While it’s an emotional scene, it’s hard for that one page to resonate without the surrounding pages, which are all cut.

Among the pages cut from the end of the issue: Lex Luthor angrily smashing a chair over the dead Doomsday, with an inner monologue about how he wasn’t angry at the beast for killing Superman, but that he was angry that the monster beat him to it. It astonishes me that this scene would ever be cut since it establishes the visceral rage boiling beneath the surface of Luthor’s psyche, and also establishes just how angry he was that he couldn’t be the one to kill Superman.

Beyond that, it’s probably for the best that the covers in the omnibus were collected at the end rather than between the issues themselves, because I can only imagine the rage a reader would feel seeing a cover proudly introducing Supergirl as the new star of the series and then finding only five pages collected from that issue, only one of which even had her on them for a single panel. Gone is the entire sequence that establishes her as the hero of the title, with an incredible scene where she stops a robbery by completely wrecking their getaway car.

But the omission that angers me the most from this issue is the final three pages, which is one of the most emotional sequences in the entire “Funeral For A Friend” story arc. Bibbo Bibbowski closes his bar early, and in the dark, he gets on his knees to say a prayer. This is one of my absolute favorite scenes in this era, and the idea that you would think that it’s a scene appropriate to be cut infuriates me.

Miss any previous entries in The Never-Ending Battle? The early entries can be found at Comfort Food Comics, while more recent ones can be found here at The Beat.