Tag Archives: Superman

SBTU Presents: 5 Batmen, 1 Superman, ZERO HOUR!

Hello there, Legions of the Unspoken!  Dean Compton here, and I sure hope all of you enjoyed the Robocop vs. Terminator goodness Emily Scott brought you earlier this week as the Super Blog Team-Up is underway once more!  Our theme this time is Parallel World and Alternate Realities, and I had lots of great stuff to choose from in the 90’s.  I could have gone with numerous What If’s, several Elseworlds, Heroes Reborn, or even the Image/Valiant Deathmate crossover!

But only one event really destroyed everything in the 90’s and rebuilt it.  Only one event had the grandeur and scope that deserves to be presented alongside the luminaries of the Super-Blog Team-Up, and that’s Zero Hour.

I recall being insanely excited for this series as a teenager in the 90’s.  My older comic book pals had discussed the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the last time prior to Zero Hour that a superhero universe had been shaken up, destroyed, and rebuilt in its entirety.  To say I couldn’t wait would be tantamount to saying that the core of a nuclear reactor is sort of hot.  I bought in hook, line, and sinker to every aspect of the event, from the white-out erasure of reality to the fact that the mini-series itself counted down to #0, all the way to DC putting out all “Zero Issues” the month that Zero Hour finished, which meant, Flash #0, Superman #0, Batman:  Shadow of the Bat #0, and so on.

The plan for this month was for me to do the entirety of Zero Hour, culminating in this week’s release – and perhaps that happened in an alternate reality, but alas, in this reality, my oldest nemesis LIFE got in the way, and so this is the only article you are getting from me this month.  But hey, at least it is a Super-Blog Team-Up article, right?

Zero Hour wasn’t just a mini-series, of course.  It crossed over into nearly every single DC superhero title that exists, with varying results.  While some of them were very awesome, like Superman:  The Man Of Steel #37 (hey, that just happens to be the comic book I am covering here!  How about that?), some were awful.  For instance, Outsiders #11 might be the worst comic book I have ever read.

If you see this comic, act calm.  Back away slowly and leave.  As soon as you are in a safe location, alert the proper authorities.
If you see this comic, act calm. Back away slowly and leave. As soon as you are in a safe location, alert the proper authorities.

Unless you are into comic books to see some weird vampires in some weird bondage gear acting like Vampirella-lite, this just is not the comic book for you.  Oh, that’s why you’re here?  All right, one more look:

030 The Outsiders V2 #11 - Page 6
The lady who is shamelessly licking blood off her hands like all of a sudden this a YouPorn video is Looker. She’s one of the good guys. Really.

That comic is so awful that it is getting its own entry one day, and I say that as a guy who LOVES The Outsiders.  I will have to take a look at the entire series, with a special focus on this issue.  That day is not today, though, as today is for what i consider to be the apex of Zero Hour, Superman:  The Man of Steel #37.

As I stated earlier, Zero Hour crossed over into seemingly every DC superhero title.  Even outlying titles such as Anima got involved, since hey, if the universe is being destroyed, how could everyone not be involved, right?  And if the universe is indeed being decimated, none could be more involved than Superman.  In fact, he gets involved before he really understands what is happening, as he is busy trying to protect a benefit concert being held to help rebuild Metropolis.

That’s right, I said rebuild Metropolis.  Thanks to Lex Luthor, it lies in ruins right now, so they are having a big benefit concert.  It seems sort of crass to me to hold the concert in the area that has been decimated.  I mean, these are the folks that need the help, so I assume they do not have the cash to attend some giant outdoor festival.  We didn’t hold the big USA for Africa concerts in Ethiopia, and if we had, people would have called us insensitive jerkbitches.  And they’d be right.

Stop being so ungrateful and pay up kids; we are doing this for you.

 As it is, though, Metopolis marches to the beat of its own drummer, and Superman has to pay the drummer, even if he did not call the tune.  Also, the promoter of the concert is apparently one of Lois Lane’s exes, and he has no qualms about blatantly scamming on Clark’s squirrel right in front of him.  It makes you wonder whose comic book is this anyhow?

Normally I would jump to Clark's defense here, but to be honest, he does look like a yuppie with that hair.  Do people still say yuppie?  Is that still a thing?
Normally I would jump to Clark’s defense here, but to be honest, he does look like a yuppie with that hair. Do people still say yuppie? Is that still a thing?

I also have to admit that Clark is sort of being a buzzkill there.  In fact, he is easily the most uncool guy to ever have long hair.  His arguments are silly for two reasons, #1 is that concerts attract “an unlawful element” even in the best of circumstances, and #2, YOU’RE SUPERMAN.  Can’t you handle some pot sellers and pickpockets?  With a lack of self-belief like that, it’s no wonder Metropolis got destroyed on Superman’s watch.

However, Superman has little time to reflect on this dude trying to make him look bad in front of Lois, the evil of pickpockets, or the state of Metropolis, as he is being signaled in one of the oldest ways possible.

018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 24 really page 2
Basically, you need to learn Morse Code in case Batman attempts to signal you.

This Batman, however, isn’t the Batman that this Superman knows…

The combination of Batman's gesture there with him accusing Superman of "going hippie" is basically the reason I started reading comic books.
The combination of Batman’s gesture there with him accusing Superman of “going hippie” is basically the reason I started reading comic books.

Yep, this is just after Batman lost a “loser gets his back broken” match to every Bat-fan’s favorite masked wrestler, Bane, but this Batman does not recall such an event!  He is very concerned about Superman’s stance on free love, LBJ, and Abbie Hoffman, however.  There’s nothing wrong with that, as I am very concerned about these things as well, albeit in the opposite direction of Bat-Nixon, here.  I want Superman to be more hippie and more of a peacenik, so he doesn’t fry all of us with his heat vision.  Bat-Nixon is probably more concerned that Superman doesn’t help out Chile’s Allende.  (Look it up, folks!)

Superman could probably deal with this Batman and get to the bottom of whatever is going on.  The problem is that not only is this not the only Batman that Superman will have to deal with, but the Batman that comes next makes Bat-Nixon look like Bat-Jimmy Carter.

It's not the Batman that Superman needs; it's the Batman Superman deserves.
It’s not the Batman that Superman needs; it’s the Batman Superman deserves.
Actually, Morse Code seemed to work faster than violence.  The World's Greatest Detective has lost a step in his old age.
Actually, Morse Code seemed to work faster than violence. The World’s Greatest Detective has lost a step in his old age.

Yep, that’s The Batman from the Dark Knight Returns,  Or is that “The Goddamned Batman”?  I am unsure what is en vogue as far as making fun of Frank Miller’s Batman on the internet these days.  I mean, I know we are supposed to do it, but I am scared that mixing stuff from All-Star Batman and TDKR is not allowed.  I know that when S:TMOS #37 came out, this appearance excited me greatly.  I was a huge TDKR fan at this time.  Now, I see it as a thinly veiled argument for fascism.  It saddens me that so many folks see Batman in such a fashion, but not as much as it saddens me that I used to enjoy this take on Batman.  Oh well, youth is wasted on the young, I suppose.

The TDKR Batman is quicker on the uptake than his “violence attraction” plan earlier, as he figures out something that is sort of a nightmare to anyone.  Of course, seeing as how he considers himself a living nightmare, he shrugs off the existential nightmare of BEING OUT OF PLACE IN REALITY.  Caps for emphasis, folks.

018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 7
TDKR Batman faces the fact that he is not of the true reality with a grimace.

This comic is going well, but it could be better.  How, you ask?  MORE BATMEN.

018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 8
I enjoy how Golden Age Batman’s word balloons are all shaky, as though it was hard for people to speak in the late 1930’s. Also, did you catch where he insulted Superman there? What is the Superman of his age up to? Skulking with rats in the shadows, it would seem.

So now that Golden Age Batman has cut down Superman and all the various Batmen are starting to figure out that they are a part of this anomaly, we have to get back to business.  Namely, protecting this concert that Superman is somehow incapable of dealing with due to the “unlawful element” that will gather at this concert.  This leads to an awesome superhero posedown, one that I cannot help but think would distract a lot of attention away from the concert.

018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 10
I feel like saying “if it’s too loud, it’s too old” is both very funny and very hurtful to Golden Age Batman. Also, what good is super-hearing if loud music blocks it out? Does that mean that Superman can’t hear during rush hour in Metropolis?

For it being Superman’s comic, they sort of make him look bad sometimes.  For instance, one of the things we always associate with Superman is being “faster than a speeding bullet”.  That seems like an unbreakable axiom, especially in The Man of Steel’s own title.  The music of the concert though, forces Superman to be so far behind a speeding bullet, the only comparison would be how far behind you I’d finish in Mario Kart.  I ain’t very good, folks.  No matter who you are, you’re better than me.  Sort of how this normal thug was for one fleeting moment, better than Superman…

018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 11
With lyrics like those, I understand why he felt the need to shoot her.

The “unlawful element” that is attacking this concert happens to be the mutants from TDKR!  If there’s any element of TDKR that stands the test of time, it has to be the mutants.  They have a cool look, they have an enormous leader, and they have an amazing super tank that even gives Batman issues when he tries to stop it.

018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 12 018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 13 018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 14

Well, I guess I owe Superman an apology, as a decidedly unlawful element showed up here for this concert, although I doubt he thought MUTANTS FROM THE FUTURE would be the cadre of the “unlawful element,” but one way or another, the concert promoters brought this on the poor unsuspecting people of Metropolis.

With the day saved, the concert can conclude, and we are told that most of the people at this concert thought that the tank and the battle between Batman, Inc. and Superman were just a part of the concert’s special effects.  I’d say that is a lame excuse, but then again, these people do not seem to realize that the singer of this concert is a vampire, so I suppose I can just chalk this one up to the people of Metropolis being sort of dense and slow to notice things.

018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 16
Despite being a vampire, this lady has the snobby and elitist Rock ‘N Roll icon thing down. It’s important to pass these sentiments down, so I am glad to see that young lady learning.

018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 15

But what to do about all these Batmen?  How will they all fit in?  This is an important question, as Batman signalling Superman is sort of the start of Zero Hour.  We can’t be having all these Batmen hanging about messing that up.

So what if they all just disappeared?

018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 17
If you don’t laugh when you see TDKR Batman changing into happy-go-lucky Batman, you are a Terminator of some sort, so please self-destruct.
018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 18
Oh, yeah, our Batman wants to play as well.

So with the extraneous Batmen are gone, the one true Superman now races to meet the one true Batman!  And…Metron?  Why not?  How could one have a cataclysmic cosmic convergence without the New Gods?  How could one have this meeting without Batman and Superman getting together after the worst year of their lives?  How could that not be mentioned?

018 Superman The Man of Steel #37 - Page 20
So the “real” Batman is the last Batman to get in on this cosmic crisis? Once again, what makes him the World’s Greatest Detective?

Just for fun, here’s the rendition of this scene from the Zero Hour mini-series…

019 Zero Hour #4 - Page 15
It’s like deja vu all over again!

I have been hard on Batman here, but to be honest, I love this issue.  This is the epitome of what you can do with an individual story within a larger event.  The creators have a lot of fun and stretch the limits of alternity, but they do a great job staying true to Superman even as his life is going topsy turvy due to dudes trying to take his lady, the “lawless element” that permeates every concert, Metropolis being devastated, and of course, Batmen.  So many Batmen.

I also find that Jon Bogdanove’s Superman is extremely underrated, and Louise Simonson does a terrific job with the different Batmen and how they act and interact with Superman and each other.  This issue shows us that that not only is there more than one take on Batman, but that they are all quite valid and entertaining.  I’d like to see more of these Batmen, even Golden Age Batman and his warbly word balloons!

I hope you enjoyed this look at Superman:  TMOS #37!  I will take a closer look at Zero Hour in March, and I am sorry I didn’t get to it this month.  We’re declaring next month here at The Unspoken Decade to be INDY FEBRUARY as we look at Indy comics and publishers!  There’ll be Ultraverse (and a special crossover between this blog and The Ultraverse Network!), Satan’s Six, Neil Gaiman’s Mr. Hero, and Alan Moore’s WildC.A.T.S. and maybe a special entry or two!

I also hope you enjoyed this entry as part of the Super-Blog Team-Up!  Now that you have read this bad boy, hop on over to the other sites participating!  They’re all great!

Amazing Spider-Talk / Chasing Amazing / Superior Spider-Talk

Spider-Man Reign

Superior Spider-Talk

Between The Pages

A Tale Of Two Cities On The Edge Of Forever

Bronze Age Babies

Things Are a Little Different Around Here…

Firestorm Fan

Firestorm on Infinite Earths — Countdown Arena

Flodo’s Page

An Earth-1 / Earth-2 Team-Up Featuring Green Lantern

In My Not So Humble Opinion

The Many Worlds of Tesla Strong

The Legion of Super-Bloggers

Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes

Longbox Graveyard

X-Men #141 & 142: Days of Future Past

The Marvel Super Heroes Podcast (i.e. part of Rolled Spine Podcast)

Epic Comics’ Doctor Zero

Mystery Vlog

Marvel & DC’s Secret Crossover: Avengers #85–86 (1st Squadron Supreme)

Superhero Satellite

Marvel Comics’ Star Comics Line

Ultraverse Network

Parallel Worlds: The Ultraverse Before and After Black September

Super-Blog Team Up Presents-GODKILLERS: Doomsday & Bane!

 OTIwToNO

 

Hey there!  Welcome to a very special installment of The Unspoken Decade, as this is our first foray into the AMAZING Super-Blog Team-Up!  After you’re done enjoying our article here, check out the other great blogs participating in this go-round of the Super-Blog Team-Up!  Aw, who the hell am I kidding?  Those blogs are so great, you’re probably going to go read them first.  Reckon I can’t blame you, so go ahead and scope them out!  I will wait.

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You’re back?  Fantastic!  Hope you had a most excellent time, and I just want to say how honored we are here at The Unspoken Decade to be a part of the Super-Blog Team-Up, even if it has meant one of the busiest weeks of my life!  Regular readers of the best 90’s comics blog in the universe know that our usual post date is Monday, and I know that all of you enjoyed that kickass X-Force article. A few of you even enjoyed the Mike Mignola X-Force surprise post yesterday, but this is now our third straight day with a post, a first here, and between this and the two LIVE radio shows I know all y’all listen to every week (Compton After Dark and Her Dork World/His Dork World), and working 6 days a week at my regular job, I have been working my fingers to the bone!

But no matter how bad I have had it this week, two of the greatest heroes of all time had it much worse in the early 90’s.  There’s no way anyone, superhero fan or not, who was alive and cognizant in the early 90’s could forget the furor and hoopla over the death of Superman and the breaking of Batman’s back.  The latter did not create the firestorm that the former did, most likely because it came after Superman’s demise and at the same time as his rebirth, but it still caused ripples in the mainstream media, a place that comics were rarely able to venture into in the early 90’s, although that notion seems silly now, as we are in an era where super hero movies routinely dominate the box office.  But as usual, I digress.

From what I understand, it was Jerry Ordway’s idea to kill Superman.  Superman had four monthly titles then, and the creative teams worked closely together so that the four titles (Superman, Action Comics, Adventures of Superman, Superman:  The Man of Steel) basically meshed together to make what was essentially a weekly series.  Not being a giant Superman fan, that seems like more than a bit much.  I’m sure the Superman fans were ecstatic, but I didn’t know either of them.  None of my pals were into Superman.  He was seen as a relic, and the four titles were ignored by us and the world; they were to be seen as a stepping stone to license underoos and usually shitty video games.

Then they decided to kill him.

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 11
Doomsday’s suit makes him look like one of the villains from the Sega CD game Night Trap, especially if one of them had been apprehended by Dr. Octopus

 

Don’t let the snark in my statement fool you; I fucking love Doomsday in this suit.  He looks creepy to me, and somehow even deadlier than when he loses the suit and has BONES THAT STICK OUT OF HIS KNEES.  I like his look and all, but I think it is hilarious that the guy who iced the Big Red S has such a feature.  It just seems silly and too “comic booky,” but then again, not only is this guy’s name Doomsday, but this also is a comic book, so I guess I can let knee-bones go.

One thing Doomsday and I have in common is an intense hatred of birds.  DC decided a great way to get me to hate Doomsday would be to have him kill a bird with his hand, and while I am not the kind of person who is cruel to animals, if Doomsday wants to kill a wild bird, power to him.  I fucking hate birds.

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 17
I guess the laughing afterwards makes it creepy, but the real question is, why the hell did that bird come to Doomsday in the first place? Did he think he was the world’s scariest and least ergonomic birdbath or something?

 

Seriously, why would that bird leave the flock just to fly over to Doomsday and meet its demise?  Perhaps it was sad and ostracized by the others.  We will never know now.  What we do know is that if we are to take Doomsday seriously as a villain, he must beat some enemy greater than a lonely bird who had no flock friends.

ENTER THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA!

I guess technically they were not the Justice League OF America, as their title was just “Justice League America,” and they also had a counterpart in Europe, cleverly titled “Justice League Europe”.   When I was in 7th grade, I “made up” a team called The Protection Agency, and then placed them all over the globe.   “Protection Agency Asia” and “Protection Agency Australia” were two of the teams, and if you don’t get the pattern from those two, I am not sure you should be allowed to read this or any blog.

I was accused, rightfully so, by my pals of just copying Justice League.  Of course, I could not admit this, so I clung as hard as I could to the fact that I put a Protection Agency on every continent and not just two, thus making my idea much different than JLA or JLE.  Yeah, they didn’t buy it either.  What we all bought, or at least tried to buy, was this:

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 32
Does Oberon just listen to every police band in the world and wait for something that sounds worth of JLA attention? That’s both the best and worst job ever.

 

The JLA had little identity in this time.  They were past the Maguire/Giffen/Dematteis humorous BWAHAHAHAHA era (which should be checked out by those who haven’t ever seen those JL comics.  They are as good as you have been told.), but they haven’t really established themselves as anything but a generic super-hero team.  They are a group of B-Listers and The Man of Tomorrow.  I’m not knocking these guys; I am a fan of all of them, and I especially love Guy Gardner and Blue Beetle.  My sister, Angel Hayes (who does work here at The Unspoken Decade too), is a giant Booster Gold fan.  But there’s something about this team that just doesn’t work for me.  Maybe it is Maxima, a former Superman villain, being on the team, or maybe it is a lack of Martian Manhunter at this time, but it just doesn’t always feel like the JLA.  I do like them, though, because as I have said in other entries, this is MY era, so this was MY JLA in a certain sense.  Even the JLA with Nuklon and Blue Devil holds a near and dear place to my heart, although Morrison’s JLA did eventually supplant this group as MY JLA later.

I wonder if that powerhouse line-up in Morrison’s JLA could have done better against Doomsday than this Justice League did.  One thing is for sure:  They could not have done much worse.

This is the only time in history someone who used a power ring as a weapon did not go into battle without encasing themselves in a force field first.
This is the only time in history someone who used a power ring as a weapon did not go into battle without encasing themselves in a force field first.

As bad as Guy Gardner got it, he didn’t lose out nearly as badly as Blue Beetle, who was literally beaten into a coma.  I’m not one of those folks who misuses literally, so you can stop cringing now.

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 48

Why in the hell would Maxima wear gloves but nothing over her navel.
Why in the hell would Maxima wear gloves but nothing over her navel.

As Blue Beetle lay dying, his best friend was hurtling through the sky, having been punched by Doomsday.  REALLY HARD.  Thankfully, Booster Gold literally has friends in high places.  Now you can cringe.

Booster Gold looks more like a C.H.P.S. officer from the future than a football player from the future.
Booster Gold looks more like a C.H.P.S. officer from the future than a football player from the future.

The books do a fantastic job of very quickly getting Doomsday over as a force to be reckoned with.  What made him even more palatable to readers, especially readers my age when this came out, is the fact that Doomsday was shrouded in mystery.  I don’t mean that he was wearing that awesome Night Trap villain suit; I mean that no one knew who he was.  I think nearly every character that got hot in the early 90’s had a past that was at least cloudy, if not as outright murky as The Everglades at midnight on an overcast night.  Ghost Rider, Cable, and Wolverine all immediately spring to mind as examples of this phenomenon.

Sacrificing the JLA, even if it wasn’t your Daddy’s JLA or even Grant Morrison’s JLA, made Doomsday seem formidable, but the next question had to be how they’d make Superman seem just as formidable.  The answer is an old-school wrestling tactic:  THE NO-SELL!

Oh teenagers, you and your backwards baseball caps and your surly comments.
Oh teenagers, you and your backwards baseball caps and your surly comments.

Then they beat on each other.  A LOT!  This had to be one of the most savage fights in the history of Superman, and it had to happen against the most savage opponent he ever faced.  You would think that whoever killed Superman should have been well-known, but I think having the character that killed Superman (and the character that broke the Batman) comes out of nowhere really showed the inherent danger of being a superhero.  Since we know that these stories are fictional, we can forget how serious these adventures can be.  Having a new guy come out of the woodwork and destroy an established character reminds the audience of that danger, thus inspiring new interest.

Doomsday is also one of those characters, much like Punisher and Hulk, who is more of a force of nature than they are people or people-like entities.  Doomsday seems to exist just to destroy whatever gets in his path, and he had no direction.  That is, until he found pro wrestling.

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 109
(I think that Doomsday destroyed this Lex-Mart because he hates the encroachment of Corporate America against small business.)

Once again, wrestling is to blame for destroying everything.  Of course, being the huge wrestling fan that I am, I would actually be interested in WarBash.  This card spelled doom for the citizens of Metropolis, though, as this is the moment that Doomsday became aware that he no longer had to use the Disney secret of calling birds to himself so he could subsequently kill them.  No longer would he have to wait for a cadre of costumed heroes to attack him.  He knew there was a battle waiting for him in Metropolis in the form of Major Mayhem!

Despite looking more like the lead singer of The Village People than a legitimate World Heavyweight Champion, Major Mayhem was able to teach the DC Universe’s most formidable force of nature the geography lesson that led to the death of Earth’s Greatest Hero.  He now knew of Metropolis.  One smashed road sign later, and somewhere in the distance Death of The Endless put on her blackest makeup and coolest ankh and headed for Metropolis as well.  (Spoiler Alert:  She isn’t in any of these comics.)

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 123
He smashed The Cadmus Project and Guardian too, but I can’t show you everything here.  This article is too long as it is!

Superman, the world’s mightiest hero, seems to be very out of his league here.  In a single swoop, Doomsday would eviscerate Superman, and punch the 90’s Supergirl (who will one day get a write-up here!)into goop.

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 138
Supergirl appears to be made out of Nickelodeon Gak.

 

Fearsome.  I think this was the first time I ever saw Superman bleed.  This was also from the first issue of the storyline I was able to pick up.  Every time I hit the LCS then, the Doomsday stuff was sold out.  My mom managed to snag this one for me.  I remember trying to keep it in near-mint condition as I watched the Wizard articles tell me that its price was climbing higher and higher, but I also was completely overwhelmed by the comic and just had to read it over and over.  This meant an early demise for what I thought was going to be worth a fortune forever, but in hindsight, there were very few comics I loved more than the one where Supergirl fell to Doomsday.

Despite the setbacks and despite Doomsday’s rampant brutality, Superman remains valiant and steadfast in his belief that he will stop this creature, no matter what takes.  The determination shines through, and you believe that a Superman will die.

I had a poster of that tombstone for quite some time; I still have comic shop posters of the event.  I hope I never have to get rid of them.
I had a poster of that tombstone for quite some time; I still have comic shop posters of the event.  I hope I never have to get rid of them.

 

Dan Jurgens does an amazing job with Superman #75.  Every page is a single panel; every panel is a story, culminating in an epic showdown where Superman’s Double-Axehandle is pitted against a big haymaker from Doomsday. Jurgens shows us not just how Superman appeared to the world, but also to those closest to him.  This makes his imminent death personal, and not just the death of an icon that we have all been familiar with since before we could read.  Before we see The Man of Tomorrow die, we must see him live.

 

The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 154 The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 158 The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 166 The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 168 The Death and Return of Superman #1992 (1993) - Page 172

 

The entire saga is amazing, as we see a World Without a Superman, and the Return of Superman was really clever, with four men claiming to be Superman.  Doomsday was the perfect entity to destroy Superman.  He’s a monster from his opening panel until his demise alongside The Man of Steel.  His relentless onslaught was more than even Superman can handle, and even though it cost Doomsday his life, he can say what few villains can; he not only defeated, but he killed Superman.  Such a feat alone makes him worthy of inclusion in the villains entry for this go-round of Super-Blog Team Up.

However, Superman was not the only iconic superhero to fall prey to a villain.  He wasn’t even the only iconic hero to fall to a brand new villain.  In the case of the Caped Crusader,  Bane was able to do something adversaries like The Joker, The Riddler, or even KGBeast had been unable to do, and that is break Batman.

Bane first appeared in the Chuck Dixon/Graham Bolan special, Batman:  Vengeance of Bane.  I actually bought this off the shelf when it first came out.  I loved the cover, and I loved one-shots.  Due to my status as poor white trash, I was sometimes unable to get all the parts of a multi-part story, and so one-shots appealed to me, and how could a cover like this not appeal to anyone?

With the Venom tubes sticking out behind his head, Bane looks like a cross between a Luchadore and a Ghostbuster, two of the coolest things ever.
With the Venom tubes sticking out behind his head, Bane looks like a cross between a Luchadore and a Ghostbuster, two of the coolest things ever.

I said on my entry here on Punisher:  War Zone #1 that Chuck Dixon probably only wrote one masterpiece, but after reading VoB, I have to reconsider my stance.  This is amazing.  By the time you are finished with it, you both feel sorry for and repulsed by Bane.  He got a rather raw deal in life, but he somehow turns it all to his advantage.

Batman - Vengeance Of Bane #227 - Page 4 Batman - Vengeance Of Bane #227 - Page 6

I am sure some politician here will suggest this as a “tough on crime” initiative any moment.
I am sure some politician here will suggest this as a “tough on crime” initiative any moment.

 

You start out feeling badly for Bane, as he has been “trapped in a world he never made!” in a much more harsh way than we ever saw happen to Howard the Duck.  Many folks, myself included, sometimes complain about the cards life handed us, but this story reminds us that there are many, especially in the third world, that have it so much worse than us.    Bane was screwed before he ever tasted oxygen.

Bane could have allowed that to damn him, but he instead rises to the challenge and makes himself king of the prison.   First, though, he has an accident that bashes his head and renders him comatose.  He has a vision of his future self while unconscious that inspires him to rise to the occasion by becoming stronger than all those around him.  Bane starts quickly after emerging from the coma, as the inmate who offered Bane what seemed to be unsavory employment gets his quickly…

It seems like if you want to avoid having your nostril ripped out in prison, you have to drop the nose ring chain look.
It seems like if you want to avoid having your nostril ripped out in prison, you have to drop the nose ring chain look.

Bane gets sent back to solitary for this, and when he emerges this time, he is a man on a mission.  He picks up a few henchmen in the prison, and begins his takeover.  He also learns to read, which I like to think was inspired by pirated broadcasts of Reading Rainbow starring LeVar Burton, but that probably isn’t true.

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The henchman dumping the books out of the bag, Trogg, is holding that bag of books like it is a trick or treat bag full of candy.

Soon, ruling the prison just isn’t enough for Bane, who has become the pinnacle of prowess via sheer will, concentration, and determination.  His thirst for knowledge in these books means he soon learns of a great world outside of these walls, and he finds himself wanting to know all about it.  He is intrigued when his henchman Bird (who can seemingly talk to Birds, so it isn’t just a clever name) tells him of Gotham City and Batman.  Bane decides he is to rule Gotham.

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That vision Bane has of Batman would be a sweet Elseworlds Batman.
That vision Bane has of Batman would be a sweet Elseworlds Batman.

Bane is then placed into an experiment in the prison using the drug Venom, which had been featured in the Batman comics prior to this.  Bruce Wayne even got addicted to it.  Bane survives experiment after experiment in the prison, and eventually, engineers a way off the island.

Batman - Vengeance Of Bane #227 - Page 28 Batman - Vengeance Of Bane #227 - Page 32

That teddy bear will need a bigger band-aid now that it has fallen so far.
That teddy bear will need a bigger band-aid now that it has fallen so far.

 

Now that he has escaped the prison, Bane is in Gotham City, learning the ropes, and discovering television, in the early 90’s, I would have had to recommend USA Up All Night to him.  Being the savvy guy that he is, I am sure that he found Rhonda Sheer and Gilbert Gottfried all on his own.

He was also able to start carving a piece of the Gotham City underworld out for himself with the help of his henchmen.  That was just the start of what would eventually culminate in this…

Batman_497BBatman - Knightfall #232 - Page 42 Batman - Knightfall #232 - Page 44 Batman - Knightfall #232 - Page 46

Batman was broken.  Superman was dead.  The 90’s brought you the villains who fulfilled the promises of all the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age villains that preceded them.  They destroyed the icons of good, maybe not forever, but more thoroughly than any who came before them.  These two characters also became firmly entrenched in the lore of Batman and Superman, showing up in cartoons, movies, and one of the most underrated beat ‘em up games of all time.

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(I played this for hours and never beat it, no matter how many late fees I racked up at the video store by keeping it too long. Thanks to emulators and GameFAQ, I will soon though.)

 

These villains had to be larger than life, bigger than Gods and a 90’s kind of extreme in order to triumph over the greatest superheroes of all time, but they did so with aplomb, and remember, it all happened in The Unspoken  Decade…

Now head on over to the articles listed below and enjoy Super –Blog Team-Up!!!  Thanks for stopping in with The Unspoken Decade!  Special post tomorrow, and then next Monday, take a look at Starman!!!!  Also, check me out LIVE on internet radio Thursday nights at midnight for Her Dork World, His Dork World, and on Sunday nights at 11:30 Eastern for Compton After Dark!!!

Bronze Age Babies show us The Frightful Four!

Fantastiverse brings you The Green Goblin!

Check out an edible Boba Fett and Darth Vader at Between the Pages!

Longbox Graveyard brings us the best cosmic villain ever, Thanos!

SuperHero Satellite shows us The Legion in The Great Darkness Saga!

Chasing Amazing gets 90’s like we do here as the monster called Carnage arrives!

Superior Spider-Talk goes old school with The Chameleon!

Silver Age Sensations is bringing us the best Armored Soviet not named Rocket Red!

The Daily Rios brings you JLA vs. Beasts!

Flodo’s Page features Green Lantern villain The Lamplighter!

The Retroist gives you the one villain who rises above all others…DOOM!