After Superman #82, the Superman titles take two months to tie up loose ends and launch new beginnings, starting with The Adventures of Superman #505.
The Adventures of Superman #505-506
Action Comics #692-693
Superman: The Man of Steel #27-28
Triangle Numbers 1993 – 31-37
Writers: Karl Kesel, Roger Stern, Louis Simonson, Dan Jurgens
Pencilers: Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice, Jon Bogdanove, Dan Jurgens, Chuck Wojtkiewicz
Inkers: Doug Hazlewood, Denis Rodier, Dennis Janke, Joe Rubinstein
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore Letterers: Albert De Guzman, Bill Oakley, John Costanza
“The Death and Return of Superman” is over, now it’s just time to pick up the pieces. While the hard part is done, and Superman has literally come back from the dead, his life is in shambles. The world still thinks Clark is dead and even if he weren’t, his apartment’s been leased out so he’d be homeless. And there’s also the question of what to do with the other three Supermen, including the Kid who has the name trademarked.
But first, the reunions. Most importantly Adventures of Superman #505 opens with a callback to Man of Steel #25, with tapping on Lois’s window. The last time, she thought it was Clark, but it wound up being a bird; this time it’s the opposite. Lois and Clark do a passionate embrace in midair, and Lois’s grief just washes away. This issue is all about Superman’s public return, stopping a bank heist, fighting Savage Dragon (off-panel), and finally rescuing two children who had been caught in a cave-in during the Doomsday fight. Jimmy ponders whether the same thing might have happened to Clark, and the perfect alibi is born.
Action Comics #692 indeed opens with Superman finding “Clark Kent” buried in a civil defense shelter. Jimmy Olsen gets to snap a picture with Lois and both of her men, and all seems to be well. This issue also begins to set up the coming break-up between Supergirl and Lex Luthor; as he continues to try to exert more control, she starts to see that she needs to take some time for herself. She of course had been masquerading as Clark, and thus was out of reach of Luthor for a brief time. The issue concludes with Dr. Occult (another Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster creation) explaining to both Lois and Clark how exactly he escaped death, before depositing them in Kansas for one last long-awaited reunion.
As Superman returns, Lex Luthor opts to throw a massive party in his honor on the Lex Zeppelin. The shadowed entity of evil known only as Bloodthirst entices the Underworlders to attack the party, as it is a way to get revenge on Westfield for flooding the tunnels. The attack on the blimp is reminiscent of the first encounter between Luthor and Superman, though this time not orchestrated by Luthor himself. Despite not being behind the terrorist attack, Luthor is slipping further and further into his old ways, in a way that starts to set up the next big plot. However, the biggest thing to happen in Man of Steel #27, is that Lois Lane gets a haircut to make her comic book appearance match the appearance of Teri Hatcher in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. The pilot episode of that show would air two days before this issue saw print, which is probably some of the best multimedia synergy I’ve ever seen in comics.
Most of Superman #83 concerns the Justice League and other heroes cleaning up the remnants of Engine City. As the city falls apart though, Lex Luthor desperately searches the ruins for any remnants of its Kryptonite power source. The issue is short and sweet with Superman setting up a monument to the lives lost in his name when Coast City died. It also begins to set up the plot of the next two issues of Superman by introducing Morgan Edge’s book that claims that Cat Grant is a bad parent to her son Adam. Oh, and Clark moves in with Jimmy.
The Adventures of Superman #506 marks the end of an era, as it is Tom Grummett’s last issue on a mainline Superman book for the foreseeable future. As I’ve said, Grummett is my definitive Superman artist, and I’m remarkably sad to see him go, even if it’s not very far (he’s launching the Superboy series with Karl Kesel). Speaking of the Kid, this issue also serves as his send-off to that very same series. This issue has the Kid come to terms with that name, and Clark Kent gets his apartment back, as Superboy leaves Metropolis.
Just like the Adventures issue that came right before it, Action Comics #693 ties up the loose end of the false Superman who had starred in that title. Like Superboy, the Eradicator would spin-off to his own adventures, soon to be taking up space in a relaunched Outsiders. But first, the energy shell of the Eradicator would absorb the mind of the terminally ill Dr. Connor. Meanwhile, Superman does his best to calm the cult that has grown rabid in his name, by telling them instead to do good works in his name.
One last unresolved Superman, and one last epilogue issue with Man of Steel #28. The resolution to Steel’s time as the lead of the book is short and sweet, as he tells Superman that he’s leaving Metropolis (for the new Steel ongoing series in Washington, DC) and giving up super-heroics (he’s not). The rest of the issue is a mile a minute with Superman bouncing from disaster to disaster, while also taking time to set up a couple of future plots, namely missing children and what seems to be a very energetic and powerful Superman. With that, the last of the big loose ends of the “Reign of the Supermen” is tied off, and the books move past this year-long saga.
This also ends my ongoing coverage of the Triangle Era for the Beat. That’s not to say that there’s not more to come, it just won’t be here. Stay tuned for updates, as I hope to publish the rest of the era in book form later this year. The Never-Ending Battle: A Superman Triangle Era Retrospective coming soon to a bookstore near you!