Who is the violent new Last Son of Krypton in Action Comics #687?

Action Comics: #687

Triangle Number 1993 – 12

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

The Last Son of Krypton Is Back! the direct market edition of Action Comics #687 proclaims, featuring a die-cut cover that opens to reveal a large portrait of the visored Superman. As Adventures of Superman #500 ended, readers were left with four Supermen to choose from, one or none of them may in fact be the real deal, but it’s clear that Superman is on his way back.

In Antarctica, a being of pure energy manifests in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. The energy being has vague memories of a life, of a battle, but none of death; until he sees the news reports showing Superman’s final battle with Doomsday. The energy being merges with Superman’s inert body, while at the same time frying Lex Luthor’s surveillance devices in the tomb.

Meanwhile, Bibbo Bibbowski decides to start living up to the legend of his fav’rit. He puts on a Superman tee-shirt, red gym shorts over blue jogging pants, and red running shoes, to be the hero the city needs him to be. Sure he can’t do all the things that Superman could, but he can do small things to change the city, and that’s what Superman would have wanted from anybody.

Back at the Fortress, the new Superman draws power from a Kryptonian Regeneration Matrix, similar to the Birthing Matrix that had brought him to Earth in the first place. This new Superman has energy blasts that emanate from his hands, but at the cost of his vision powers; his eyes too sensitive to not be protected by a golden visor. This Superman looks to the cultists bearing his symbol as people who cry out for his assistance.

It is here where we get the scene that was alluded to on the TVs that Lois watched in Adventures of Superman #500: A woman is being assaulted by a masked man with a gun, and in the process of saving her life, he throws the criminal through a wall, killing him. This is a more violent and deadly Superman, one that hearkens to other popular comics heroes of the time like Punisher, Wolverine, or Spawn.

As Lex learns of Superman’s body disappearing again, he throws a fit about the security tapes that were wiped clean by the energy being. Supergirl once more is overcome with hope, however, and leaves to start searching out the four reported Supermen.

Finally, we get a callback to Superman’s first public appearance, all those years ago, when he saved an experimental spaceplane from crashing in Metropolis, thus saving the life of, among others, one, Lois Lane. The visored Superman saves a plane from crashing, but he does so without emotion, without compassion. As history repeats and a mob closes around him, he takes Lois into his arms to remove her to a more discrete location. The visored Superman leaves Lois with the knowledge that while he has returned, the Clark Kent she knew is gone, perhaps forever, leaving Lois as heartbroken as she has been since Clark’s death.

One last thing that all these introductory issues to “Reign of the Supermen” had was a two-page, pull-out poster at the center of the comic where the staples were. Each of them as the main art team for the book drawing a poster of their book’s Superman. Amazingly, even when you find the issues in dollar bins at comic cons across the country, most will still have that poster. All four are also included as back-matter in the recent reprintings of the saga; though not in the original trade paperback or that ill-fated 2007 omnibus.

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.