COLLECTED EDITIONS – SUPERMAN: PANIC IN THE SKY

(Collected Editions is a listing of the various trade paperbacks, hardcovers, omnibuses, etc. that are in my Superman collection.  The goal is to not only inventory my collection of trades, hardcovers, etc. but also to display said collection and produce something resembling a resource for other Superman readers, collectors and fans.)

211- Panic in the Sky A 212- Panic in Sky BNuts and Bolts

  • Released on March 30, 1993
  • Original Price $9.95
  • 192 pages
  • Cover by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding

Contents

  • Introduction by Roger Stern
  • The Past is Prologue from Action Comics #674
  • Power Breakfast from Superman: The Man of Steel #9
  • Head Man from Superman (Vol. 2) #65
  • Counter Strike! from Adventures of Superman #488
  • Divide and Conquer from Action Comics #675
  • Tidal Wave! from Superman: The Man of Steel #10
  • Our Army At War from Superman (Vol. 2) #66
  • Hail The Conquering Heroes from Adventures of Superman #489
  • The Panic Past, Afterword by Mike Carlin

Notes

  • On the personal front this is one of the first Superman trades I ever bought.  It was the fall of 1994 and some friends and I had discovered this really cool little shop in Allentown that sold comic and trades (plus cards and such) in the front of the store and CDs in the back.  CDs you wouldn’t normally be able to find, which appealed to my friend Eric in particular.  Anyway, they had an awesome selection of trade paperbacks, which at the time was something of a rarity.  Before this my only trades were Man of Steel, Death of Superman and Return of Superman.  So this one will always be special to me.
  • Looking at when this trade was released from a historical perspective it came out at a really good time.  The release date of March 30, 1993 means that this came out when the Superman titles were on a hiatus between the end of Funeral For a Friend (which came out towards the end of January) and Adventures of Superman #500 (which came out in the middle of April).  To readers looking for a “fix” this was a way to re-read a great Superman story.  For new readers that came in because of the death this was a peak into the Post Crisis world.
  • The introduction by Roger Stern starts out with a gag referencing the fact that Panic in the Sky can refer to both the name of this trade/storyline and a classic episode of the Adventures of Superman television series.
  • Stern then goes on to tell us about the Super summits and how this story was planned out.  This was huge for me when I first read it.  The thought of all of the creators getting together and planning out the next year or so of stories was mind blowing.  To some extent it still is.
  • In addition to the main introduction there were smaller intros before each issue by the writer of that particular chapter.  Each one detailed a behind the scenes fact about the issue.  The fact that these were awesome should be self-evident.
  • The story itself is something of a sequel to the Brainiac Trilogy that ran in Action Comics #s 647-649.  At the end of that story Brainiac had a brand new body and escaped into space on his new skull ship.  Panic in the Sky was the villain’s return to the books.
  • In a weird way this was also a follow up to Exile mainly because of the inclusion of Warworld but also with Draaga playing such a huge part in the story.
  • I’ve written this many times in the past but this is another example of the stories from this era building on each other without necessarily making it essential that you have read the previous sagas before getting to the latest one.  You can enjoy Panic in the Sky on its own but also as a piece in a larger tapestry.
  • One of the points of this story, at least to Dan Jurgens, was to make Superman more proactive about large scale threats.  Instead of waiting for an alien invasion to tear up large sections of real estate Superman decided to head the problem off before it got out of hand.  To be fair Metropolis was invaded but the main action took place on Warworld.
  • The cover to Superman: The Man of Steel #10 is an homage to George Perez’s classic cover to Crisis on Infinite Earth #7.

Superman TMOS #008Crisis on Infinite Earths #07

  • This story led to Superman joining a newly formed Justice League later in the year.
  • The story title for Superman #66 was Our Army at War.  This is a reference to the war title DC published from 1952 to 1976.  The lettering for the story title was made to look like the logo for that series.  Our Army At War was the primary home to Sgt. Rock and Easy Company.  In a move similar to All-Star Comics turning into All-Star Western with issue 58 Our Army At War became Sgt. Rock with issue 302.
  • Brainiac was left brain dead at the end of Panic in the Sky.  He would return nearly three years later during the Dead Again story.
  • The final issue reprinted in this trade is Adventures of Superman #489.  Only nine pages of this issue were included because after the heroes returned home another story began.
  • The final page of this trade was not in Adventures #489.  It was done exclusively for this collection.  In the original issue the scene transitioned to Earth with Supergirl’s response being…well, “Earth.”  In this trade there is a whole scene that showed Supergirl getting into a ship and heading towards her new home.  There she would be found by Lex Luthor and start a relationship with him.
  • The Afterword by Mike Carlin expanded on the creative process and even had an example of the charts that Carlin and the creative teams used to plan out their stories.
  • The date on the chart was 1-27-1991, which shows how far ahead they were planning.  It also had the original name for Agent Liberty; Liberator.
  • This story may have a lot of ’90s tropes in it but I still think it is damn fun comic reading.
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