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The Never-Ending Battle: SUPERMAN #78

Man meets machine in Superman #78 as we meet the third Superman.

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It’s man meets machine as a new Superman shows up in Superman #78.


Superman #78

Triangle Number 1993 – 14

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciler: Dan Jurgens
Inker: Brett Breeding
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: John Costanza

One interesting thing about these four introductory issues for the four new Supermen is that the events in each happen on consecutive days in Metropolis. Action Comics took place on Tuesday. The debut of the Man of Steel came on Wednesday. As Superman #78 opens, it’s Thursday. Lois has now encountered two of the mystery men and is still left with doubts. But still, she finds herself at a nuclear plant where another sighting has occurred.

One thing this issue does that’s weird to me is hiding the twist about what this Superman looks like for a good portion of the issue, considering that both of the covers of this issue and the brief appearance in Adventures of Superman #500 (and the back cover of all the other direct market editions of the other three launch books) already revealed the cyborg parts. This seems like an incredibly odd choice to make when it’s already been revealed. Doing it this way doesn’t really add to the drama at all, it just pads the issue out.

All roads lead to Cadmus, as this Superman hunts down Doomsday’s body, while Lois intends on finding Superman’s body in the same location. It is as this Superman storms Cadmus that the reveal of his full cyborg form is revealed in a full page splash. As Superman removes Doomsday from Cadmus grounds, he passes right by Lois Lane, and for the first time, we get an event that triggers her sense of loss, as she hears him flying. As he soars past carrying the monster out to space, she falls to her knees and sobs.

As Superman returns to Earth, he also returns to Lois. Jurgens and Breeding did a fantastic job of both setting the tone for this issue with atmosphere and with superb facial acting throughout. That’s especially true in the moment that Lois first sees the full extent of the damage done to this Superman. She presses him for proof of his claims, despite how hazy he claims his memory is from battle. His mentions of a farm and the name Kent ease her doubts enough for her to decide to take him to Professor Hamilton.

Hamilton is able to confirm that the man appears to be the real deal. All of the robotic parts are Kryptonian alloys that match the metals Hamilton found in the Eradicator when he examined that device. He’s also able to confirm that this man’s DNA matches the DNA that he has on file for Superman (does Cadmus know he has DNA on file, seems like they might want to know). He also assures Lois that the memory loss could be a result of the massive trauma the man underwent. Hamilton seems convinced that this man is the real Superman returned to life.

Meanwhile, Superman disposed of Doomsday’s body in space. He chained the beast to an asteroid and placed a tracker on it to know its location at all times. And then he hammer tossed the asteroid away from Earth. But even as Hamilton confirms that this Superman is likely to be the real one, Jurgens closes with a chilling sequence.
“It has been said that in space no one can hear you scream. True. But if we could bend the laws of science and assume we could hear for just a few seconds — we would hear — LAUGHTER.
And true enough, hurtling through space, Doomsday laughs.

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.

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