Last time I discussed what I would like to see in a proposed ninth volume of the Superman: The Man of Steel line of trades. Today I want to talk about what I would like to see with Volume 10 and what that means for Volume 11. Remember that all of this is pure speculation on my part. I have no inside information nor am I saying this has to be the way the trades should be laid out. It’s just one fan of this era discussing what he would do if someone asked. Or even if someone didn’t ask as no one requested these posts.
And away, way, way we go.
I’m going to be honest…it is really hard to be objective about the stories I think should go in this trade. Even though I started reading the Superman books with the Superboy/Legion story that started (for me anyway) in Superman #8 and continued in Action Comics #591 (though in all honesty those stories are sandwiched between two issues of Legion of Super-Heroes) it was the books released in late 1988 that really grabbed me as a reader and turned me into a
hopeless addict life long fan. I can vividly remember reading these comics against the backdrop of starting junior high school, getting my first pair of glasses, the death of Jason Todd, the Ruby Spears Superman animated series, the first season of Superboy and basically rushing headlong into becoming a teenager. So for me this is the Golden Age of my Superman fandom.
These stories were also a transition point for this era of Superman as John Byrne, the man that led the revamp of the Man of Steel, had left the titles for good. Luckily Jerry Ordway stayed on as both writer and artist of Adventures of Superman, Roger Stern and Kerry Gammill came on as the writer and artist respectively of Superman and Mike Carlin was still the editor. Carlin even showed that he had a great sense of humor about the situation with this awesome house ad.
Come to think of it that ad would make a great cover for this volume. It didn’t get a wide release as a house ad so if they were going with a re-purposed image then this is the perfect choice. Well, either this house ad or this cover, again courtesy of the Grand Comics Database.
Seriously. I love this cover. It is one of the few pieces of original art that I would like to own if I could ever afford such a thing. Gangbuster looks so freaking awesome.
Enough gushing. Let’s get down to brass tacks. What books go into the trade and in what order would I like to see them go?
(I really wish I was doing this as a podcast because then I could have a nice little music stinger there. Just imagine it for me, okay? Thanks.)
- Adventures of Superman #445 – 22 pages
- Superman Annual #2- Main Story, 40 pages
- Superman #23 – 22 pages
- Adventures of Superman #446 – 22 pages
- Superman #24 – 22 pages
- Adventures of Superman #447 – 22 pages
- Superman #25 – 22 pages
- Adventures of Superman #448 – 22 pages
Total page count with covers – 202 pages
The return of Brainiac story in Adventures #445 would make for a strong opening to this volume. It is the second appearance of the Post Crisis Brainiac and in many ways it was better than the first appearance. Moving right into Superman Annual #2 might seem odd considering it doesn’t address the sub-plot of Superman dealing with what he was forced to do in the Pocket Universe (because it hadn’t happened yet) but frankly Superman #23 didn’t go into all that much either so they go well together. After that the books are arranged pretty much the way they were released and the stories have a nice, even flow. The Gangbuster sub-plot begins, the Brainiac sub-plot really takes off and we see a Man of Steel start to break down. It all builds to…
Superman The Man of Steel Volume 11: Exile
Recently DC has made a push to re-release certain collected editions that were previously abridged with the “cut scenes” added back in. They did this for Batman in the form of No Man’s Land and pretty much the entire Knightfall saga. So larger sized trades have a precedent. Admittedly it would be strange to do that in the middle of an existing line like Superman: The Man of Steel but frankly I think this story deserves it. Exile was the first Superman mega-crossover and in many ways it started the journey that led to the entire Death and Return saga. Back in 1998 DC put out an Exile trade but they cut out certain chapters in the story, namely the four part back up series Hostile Takeover and the Mr. Mxyzptlk story from Superman #31. It’s a damn shame too because both of those stories focused on Lex Luthor and how he dealt with the sudden absence of his greatest adversary. I think that this story deserves another shot at collected edition glory.
I’d be good with the re-using the cover from that initial trade, which was drawn by…Jerry Ordway.
Here’s how the trade could break down.
- Superman #26 – 22 pages
- Adventures of Superman #449 – 22 pages
- Superman #27 – 22 pages
- Adventures of Superman #450 – 22 pages
- Superman #28 – 22 pages
- Adventures of Superman #451 – 22 pages
- Superman #29 – 22 pages
- Adventures of Superman #452 – 22 pages
- Superman #30 – 22 pages
- Adventures of Superman #453 – 22 pages
- Superman #31 – 22 pages
- Adventures of Superman #454 – 22 pages
- Action Comics Annual #2 – 48 pages
- Superman #32 – 22 pages
- Adventures of Superman #455 – 22 pages
- Superman #33 – 22 pages
- Adventures of Superman #456 – 22 pages
- Action Comics #643 – 22 pages
Now I know what you’re thinking. “Mike, I just did the math. That’s 17 regular sized issues and a 48 page annual which comes out to 422 pages of story. Add in the covers and you are looking at 440 pages That’s a huge trade. It’ll never work.” To that I have one thing to say…
Batman: Knightfall Volume 2: Knightquest was 656 pages.
So yeah…this could work. And it would be epic. For grins I would include all of the text pages and sketches from the back of Action Comics Annual #2. Initially I was thinking that they should put the four chapters of Hostile Takeover together in the middle of the collection but after some thought I decided that reprinting the issues as they originally appeared in the books would break up the story better. Going from Superman’s adventures in space to Lex Luthor’s misadventures of Earth and back again made for a great read when it first came out and it still makes for a good read today.
More than anything I want Exile to get the credit it deserves. I don’t like to throw the word “epic” around lightly but Exile was a truly epic story. It was the first time the Post Crisis Superman went into space for an extended period of time. It also brought back concepts like Warworld and Mongul and introduced Draaga to the Superman titles. Elements of the final chapters of this story were even adapted into the first season of the Justice League animated series. I could go on but I am gushing as it is.
So yeah…that’s how I would like to see Volumes 10 and 11 of the Superman: The Man of Steel series to go. I think it’s doable but I could be biased. In fact I know I am biased but that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong.
More than anything I just want to this this series continue. The fact that Volume 8 is coming out next year makes me very happy because it puts these stories into the hands of a new generation of readers. I’m not suggesting that DC needs to go back to this version of Superman because “going home again” rarely works out well. That doesn’t mean that these stories shouldn’t get a new life just as the Golden and Silver Age stories are getting a new lease thanks to the Chronicles and Showcase lines. These volumes I am proposing aren’t for everyone but I think they are worthy of being published.
And that’s it for this time. I hope you liked my trip down Speculation Lane. What do you think about my suggestions? Am I on the right track? Should Exile be split into two volumes? Feel free to let me know via the comment section!
More to follow…