For the past four weeks I have been really good about getting From Crisis to Crisis out on Thursdays. Technically I release the episodes to the Internet on Wednesday night but the Fortress post for the episodes (that usually has exclusive content that the Superman Homepage and Superman Podcast Network posts don’t have) hits on Thursdays. As you can probably tell this that’s not the case this Thursday. Thankfully the lack of FCTC this week has nothing to do with a family tragedy or the fact that sometimes Jeff’s and my schedule don’t synch up for long periods of time. As you are reading this I am out of town. Way out of town, in fact. For those of you who don’t follow my other podcasts or missed me talking about it on FCTC I currently live in Fayetteville, GA but I “grew up” in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. I type “grew up” because we moved around a bit when I was a little kid. The Lehigh Valley is where I spent the longest stretch and it is also where I started reading the Superman titles and where I graduated high school.
That whole graduating high school thing is the reason I am out of town. I was part of Emmaus High School’s graduating class of 1994 and this weekend (unless you are reading this after October 18, 2014) is my 20 year class reunion. I was unable to go to the five and ten year reunion due to work but this time out I was able to swing it so again, as you read this I am either driving into PA with my wife or we are already there settling into the hotel. I am beyond excited for this trip as I will be hanging out with people I haven’t seen in some time and getting to the homelands is always fun. I haven’t been back to PA since the summer of 2001 so this is a big deal on a number of fronts.
So no episode this week but I did want to have something here to kind of fill in that gap. I thought about posting a house ad or even kicking out another installment of my Collected Editions series but I decided that it might be more fun to think about and then discuss my Top 5 Favorite Superman Moments From 1994. ’94 was a big year for the Man of Steel and a lot of huge events happened, so it was hard to narrow down five so I stuck with a more general list that is, mostly, in no particular order.
And away we go.
5. The Reign of Tomorrow
In the interest of full disclosure I did not start collecting the Steel ongoing until 1996 and I wouldn’t read the Supergirl mini-series until some years later. At the beginning of 1994 my comic book buying was spotty at best. Sometimes the comic shop had to call me to say that I had books to pick up. That all changed about halfway through the year when I started going to the comic shop on a regular basis and really changed after Zero Hour. I started buying Superboy during Worlds Collide and fell in love with the title enough to snap up the back issues in short order and then stick with it until it was cancelled early in the new millennium. So I can’t sit here and type that the fact that Steel, Superboy and Supergirl all received their own ongoing or mini-series was this huge deal for all of 1994.
What I can say without feeling like a fraud is that the idea that those characters received their own ongoing and mini-series was a big deal to me. I will admit that I had something of a chip on my shoulder when it came to the Superman titles. Despite the fact that the Superman titles were enjoying a level of success thanks to the Death and Return saga I was still in the frame of mind that the Super books were the bastards at the family reunion, to quote Dolly Parton from the movie 9 to 5. Both Robin and Catwoman had already gotten their own titles so Steel, Superboy and Supergirl getting their own books felt like validation. The fact that DC rolled them out with a bit of fanfare furthered that feeling. In addition to this house ad there was a giant promotional poster sent to comic shops (which I own) as well as some fun clip and save trading cards that came in either Previews or Advance Comics.
I could write about how unfair it was that Supergirl didn’t get an ongoing but it’s not that kind of party.
As I mentioned a few paragraphs ago I was not as plugged into the world of comics at the beginning of 1994 as I would be at the end. Therefore I missed the launches of all the new comic book universes that started popping up in 1992 and would continue to do so for the next few years. One of those universes was Milestone, which featured more culturally diverse heroes and villains than the standard DC or Marvel universes. When DC and Milestone teamed up for Worlds Collide I went all in because it crossed over with several of the Superman related books.
And I loved it.
I seriously loved it. The Milestone books and their characters had a very different feel than the ones I was used to. They had more of an edge to them but not in an over the top kind of way. Things that you wouldn’t normally find in the Superman or other DC titles seemed commonplace here. I liked nearly all of the characters outside of Blood Syndicate though that has changed in recent years. More than anything it was a fun crossover where heroes from two different universes had to team up against a common, cosmic threat, which even then was well within my comic book wheel house. Part of me wishes I had stuck with some of the titles but I didn’t. I can’t tell you why because I honestly don’t remember, Maybe if it happened a few months later I would have.
No matter the case this was a great story that held up on a recent re-read, which made me happy. It can be depressing when something you liked in your youth falls apart when you re-experience it.
To say that I was looking forward to the rematch between Superman and Doomsday in 1994 is an understatement of the highest order. From the moment I heard about it this book was on my “Holy Crap Am I Excited About This It Can’t Come Out Fast Enough” list. The weird thing is I can’t remember how I heard about it. I wasn’t reading any of the fanzines at the time, so it couldn’t have been there. Maybe it was in the letters pages of the Superman titles. I kind of wish my freakish memory for such things worked a little better at age 18 but my senior year was kind of weird on a number of levels. I mean I remember where I was when I read the first issue (on a school trip to Washington DC) but how I heard about it is just gone.
The inevitable fight between the Man of Steel and the creature that killed him was only part of the draw. This story also featured the origin of Doomsday and that did not disappoint. Learning that he was created on Krypton as part of the most extreme eugenics experiment ever and that was why he was drawn to Superman made so much sense to me then and I still like it today. At the time I was also happy to see the Cyborg and Waverider again. There are things that bug me about this series today but at the time it was pure bliss with a great ending.
2. The Battle For/Fall of Metropolis
By 1994 huge, event driven stories were nothing new with the Superman books. They weren’t unwelcome but I was savy enough at the time to recognize the pattern of big story followed by a few down time issues followed by big story. It was one of the main reasons I liked reading the four titles so much. So when The Battle For/Fall of Metropolis storyline started I was…I don’t quite know how to put this…I was going with the rhythms of the Superman books and figured this would be just another big story that I was going to enjoy.
It ended up being so much more.
For one thing Action Comics #700 happened right in the middle of it. I was there for Action Comics #600 and despite not buying Action Comics Weekly until much later I still felt that it was a collecting accomplishment on my part. It may sound weird but it was a thing for me at the time. Outside of the anniversary aspect the Superman creative team upped the ante (no mean accomplishment after killing and reviving their main character) by utterly decimating Metropolis in what felt like Lex Luthor’s final story. Well, sort of final. He’d return in the middle of 1995 but at the time it felt like they were moving Lex off the table permanently. It may sound silly now but the story was that good.
More than anything it was exciting. There are some genuine fist pumping moments leading up to Action #700 and after the city was destroyed the creators actually explored what that meant. to the people of Metropolis. The Big Apricot had been the center of huge battles before but this was different. We saw the cost of Luthor’s madness for a few months after the missiles started flying. Recent villains made their return appearances and Superman was put through the emotional ringer. It was a great way to keep the books exciting after the whole death and return thing and kept things cooking until Zero Hour.
Now you might think that I would put Zero Hour on this list and while I certainly loved that event in 1994 it wasn’t strictly speaking a Superman story. Superman had some nice moments but not enough to put it in the Top Five. Zero Month, on the other hand, definitely belongs on the list and goes right to the stop for several reasons.
First, it introduced Conduit. There are people out there, some of them really good friends of mine, that hate Conduit as a character. I don’t. In fact, I really like him as a villain. He was the perfect example of the Post Crisis Clark competing in sports throughout his school years despite his advantage eventually biting him in the ass. Second, it was a new start for the titles without having to totally reboot the character. The history was the same and yet it felt like a new dawn for Superman and for the DC Universe in general. Sure we learned about a character from Clark’s youth that we had never heard of until the zero issues but I got to have my cake and eat it to when it comes to keeping the continuity I like while being as new reader friendly as possible.
More than anything Zero Month represents the moment where I went from collecting a handful of titles (mainly Superman related) and stepped into the larger comic book world, specifically the DCU. By late June of 1994 I had graduated from high school and was preparing to go off to college. My father was moving to live with his parents in Georgia while I was moving in with a friend and was I pretty much on my own. Comics went from something I was merely into to something that bordered on a lifestyle. It may sound weird but there was something about the fact that I could go to the comic shop whenever I wanted to and pick up as many or as few comics as I wanted that was awesome. It’s kind of weird to think that was twenty years ago because with the way my memory works it might as well have been yesterday.
And that’s my Top Five Superman Moments From 1994. I hope you enjoyed it and make sure you come back tomorrow for more Superman goodness and next week on this day for the latest episode of From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast.