Superman #205

While I was not the man’s biggest fan I do want to express my condolences to the family, friends and fans of Michael Turner.  Sadly Turner lost his long battle with cancer and as someone who has dealt with a family member living and ultimately dying of the disease my heart breaks at the the thought of those who were close to Turner.

His connection to Superman wasn’t the strongest but I did enjoy his art of the The Supergirl from Krypton arc that ran through the pages of Superman/Batman #s 7-12 and the variant cover to Superman (vol. 2) #205, which I have posted above. 

His style may not always have been my cup of tea, but Turner was a dynamic artist.  At 37 he left way too soon and I have no doubt that he will be both missed and remembered.

Rest in peace, Michael.  May you live on forever through your art.


Superman Bear


Day Two started very much like Day One. I had breakfast with Steve, Neal and Mike K, who is a member of the Homepage and a great guy I first met at DragonCon back in 2006. Carol was there as well and Rachel even made an appearance. Steve and Neal popped out early because they had a baseball game to get to and everyone else dispersed leaving Mike and me alone to have a long and very enjoyable conversation. I can honestly say that Mike changed the way I look at Superman as a character, which is something I thought would never happen. I won’t go into it now mainly because it would take too long. Suffice to say there is a post in there somewhere which I will hopefully make sometime in the future.


Rachel and I took a quick dip in the pool before getting ready for the day. We were running a little behind, which was totally my fault, and I ended up heading into town by myself so I could make the one o’clock Superman Jeopardy. I rushed to get there, which turned out to be much ado about nothing because I didn’t get on stage as a contestant. Nine guys walked up to the stage, including Steve and I, and instead of narrowing us down based upon our knowledge of Superman lore we all chose numbers and the three slots from the Friday and Saturday Jeopardys were snapped up. I hung around waiting for Rachel as the contest went on and even managed to win a coffee mug by answering one of the audience questions. Towards the end they announced some bad weather was coming through and that we should all prepare for a coming storm.

(Admittedly it was an easy question. When is Superman’s birthday? I kind of felt bad because that’s my birthday, so it wasn’t all that hard. Then again all I won was a coffee mug that says Boxing News so I guess it all balances out.)

Afterwards a group of us went over to Hardee’s for lunch. I haven’t eaten at a Hardee’s for years, mostly because the one here in my neck of the woods was terrible and eventually closed down. Surprisingly it was good. Sure the food stuck with me all freaking day, but it was good at the time. It was another chance for some lively conversation. Soon we were heading back to the tent for the Murphy Anderson panel only to discover that the panel had been moved because of the incoming weather. So off we went for the building containing Artists’ Alley as the clouds grew dark and threatening overhead.

Artists’ Alley was a cramped space when you first walked in. They crowded a bunch of the talent together but everyone seemed to be dealing with it just fine. It was more spacious in the side room, which serves as a church when not sheltering comic fans and artists. Over in the corner was Michael Eury, former editor at DC Comics and current editor of the always entertaining Back Issue. I chatted with him for a minute and arranged for an interview after the panel.

The panel was a lot of fun. There were three other artists at the table, but most of the questions were directed right at Murphy. After a technical glitch was corrected and we could hear what Murphy had to say the questions began. It was interesting hearing about his history as a comic book artist and to find out that he briefly worked for the company that Jerry Siegel was serving as editor for after the 1948 lawsuit. Murphy also revealed that he always thought of Superman as science-fiction character, which I found fascinating for some reason. The questions continued for about an hour and finally the panel wound down.

Rachel informed me she was stepping outside to call home and make sure all was well before I headed over to Michael Eury’s table. Michael turned out to be a really nice guy and a lot of fun to talk to. We started the interview next to his table, but the next presentation began and the area we were in proved to be too loud. So we found a spot in the art gallery and continued our conversation by an air conditioner and considering the fact that not only had it had been hot for the previous two days we were in Metropolis but that we had left a heat wave here in Fayetteville, GA and our air conditioning had gone out right before we left I was happy to be near the sweet, sweet air vent.

Played hell with the audio I’m sure, but hey, that’s the give and take of life.

(Shameless plug: You can hear the interview in the forty-fourth episode of my podcast, Views From The Longbox. Get to the episode by clicking HERE.)

After the interview I followed Michael back to his table, got his business card, felt like an idiot because I forgot my copy of the Krypton Companion back at the hotel room and noticed that some time during our chat the heavens opened up and a Noah worthy rain was pouring down. It was coming down in buckets, as they say, and this wouldn’t have been too much of a problem if not for the fact that Rachel had left to call her mother and when she returned I was not where I had been previously. I felt really bad because apparently she walked up and down the street looking for me and it was during that walk that she discovered there was a hole in her umbrella. She tried calling me but Artist’s Alley isn’t so much a dead zone for cell phone signal strength as a black hole where nothing can escape and eventually she found me during the interview, which made for a nice bit of audio as she was pissed.

She forgave me.


We waited a bit to see if the rain would let up and when it became apparent that it showed no signs of doing so we ventured outside eventually taking refuge at the Chamber of Commerce down the street. I made my way next store to this impromptu store that was selling action figures, comics and other collectibles. The Metropolis trip is the first time in years that I haven’t tracked down a comic shop to visit so this and the vendor selling trades and action figures outside were the closest I got to one. I didn’t buy any comics nor did I pick up any action figures for two reasons, the first being that I can pick up the comics and action figures they had for sale at the shops around where I live. If that would have been all this makeshift shop had to offer I would have purchased something as a memento of the trip, but that stems from the second reason I didn’t buy any of the dollar books and such and that is they had all this other, obscure stuff that was just freaking awesome.

Give me the choice between cheap comics that sit in every single comic shop’s fifty cent box and something you just don’t see everyday I’ll go with something you don’t see everyday all week long and twice on Sunday. There was a lot of neat stuff there and it wasn’t all Superman related either. There were Batman items as well as the odd Hulk item no doubt there to tie into the new film. It was kind of hard to choose what I wanted to buy because there was so much to choose from. There was a press packet from the first Superman film, photos, books and even a set of super hero planters just in case you enjoy both comic books and growing small plants.

I finally settled on a few items and for the thirty-bucks I spent I think I made out quite well. First up was a three pack that was put out for Christmas sometime in the eighties mostly likely by Tor, a sci-fi publisher now owned by MacMillian. If you grew up during the eighties then you probably saw Tor’s Story of Superman in the grocery store. It was a paperback sized reprinting of Action Comics #500 and I must have seen that thing a thousand times while shopping with my mother. Steve Younis kindly gave me a copy of one of the current printings of the book that popped up around 2006 but here was a three pack that included an earlier printing as well as The World’s Greatest Superheroes Presenting Superman (a collection of the World’s Greatest Superheroes comic strip) and a book that contained both The Superman Puzzle Book/The Superman Game Book. These were shrink-wrapped together on a piece of cardboard that had a stocking on the other side with the Superman logo on it. It was twenty bucks for all three, but considering I had never seen the comic strip and game book I thought it was worth it.

Besides, they look good on the shelf next to The Official Superman Quiz Book and other paperbacks from that era.

Next was a set of four postcards put out in 1972 that featured the cover to Action Comics #1, Superman being hit in the shoulder and calf by lightning, the Amazing World of Superman logo and an “old school” shot of the route the various Pre-Crisis Kryptonians took to get to the Earth. I don’t know if they are actually from 1972, but that’s what the copyright says and considering there were plans to build a Superman theme park in Metropolis and 1972 was when it became the official home of the character it is believable that they come from that time.

Finally I picked up three magazines that I was very happy to find. Two of them I had seen the previous day in the Super Museum in a display of magazines released around the time of the 1978 film and I even took out my little digital recorder to get the names and issue numbers so I could find them later. Starlog #10 and Newsweek cover date January 1, 1979 both had Christopher Reeve on the cover and both were magazines I thought would be hard to find. The Newsweek has a subscription tag on the front, which let me know that the magazine had originally belonged to Randolph Voldish of Woodbury Heights, New Jersey and while I would have preferred to not have the tag I will take what I can get. The third and finally magazine was the first issue of a fanzine published in the early eighties called Comics Collector, which was put out by Krause Publications. Krause also publishes or at least used to publish it they don’t anymore the Comics Buyers Guide.

I like old fanzines in general because they serve as time capsules to the eras they were published in, but this first issue was dedicated to Superman so it was lock. I probably would have bought it anyway. I have a bunch of issues of the magazine already and this would have fit nicely into that collection.

After looking at one of the vendors that sold wooden statues and such we took a spin around the local Hallmark store, which was also the town’s drugstore, to check out the Superman display they had in their window. They had some neat things but I had already spent some money so I wasn’t in the mood to get any more. They did have a giant stuffed bear that was decked out in a Superman T-shit and sunglasses, which suggested to me that he was there for a good time and thus you have the picture on top of this post.

With that the day ended early. Rachel wasn’t feeling well and needed to get some rest so we retired to the hotel where she promptly fell asleep. I puttered around on the computer and tried to find something on television but Friday is a dead zone for TV so I ended up crashing early myself. The only big event that night was the forties style ball that we didn’t have tickets to because I just wasn’t thinking far enough ahead to get them but from what I hear it was a lot of fun. I needed the rest anyway. This was the first vacation where Rachel and I got to actually relax, so ending the day early wasn’t such a bad thing.

Comic Soon: Day Three (Saturday)

More to follow…


Superman Statue

I started the day by having breakfast at the hotel with Neal Bailey, Steve Younis and Steve’s sister Carol.  Nothing fancy, just the “continental breakfast” that the Baymont offers.  Rachel stayed in bed as she had been up late setting up the room.  During breakfast ScottyV from the Homepage came by with his wife and daughter and the conversation was all kinds of fun.  As breakfast was wrapping up Josh Boultinghouse, the town’s new official Superman came by, and holy crap on a stick did this guy look like Superman.  He wasn’t even in costume and I thought the guy looked like Superman.  His build had something to do with it but he also looks like Brandon Routh and Christopher Reeve had a kid.  He seemed like a nice guy and apparently he did audition for Superman Returns at one point.

After that I headed back to the room where Rachel was awake.  As the lengthy process of getting ready went on (my wife takes a while to get showered and dressed) I watched the Incredible Hulk marathon that Sci-Fi Channel has been running all week.  I kind of felt bad about this because I’m here for a Superman celebration and I end up watching the Hulk.  It was like I was cheating or something.

Rachel and I walked to the main strip where all the activities were and the first place we went to was the Superman Museum.  I can’t tell you how completely and utterly awesome this museum is.  I really can’t.  It’s such a hard feeling to describe.  It wasn’t a religious experience by any stretch of the imagination but it was close.  Rachel and I have been to a number of museums over the years but more often than not it was something she was interested in and I’m cool with that because I like to make her happy.  But this time it was all me and I found I had to slow down because I was going too fast.  There is just so much to take in.  All eras are covered.  All of the movies and animated series and television series and trading cards and EVERYTHING.  I have never before felt that a place was designed just for me and I know that in reality it’s not just for me but considering we were one of the few people in the joint it was easy to lie to myself about it.

I’ll have a gallery of the pictures I took set up soon.  I took seventy-five or so pictures and we are planning to go again in the next two days so there will probably being more.  I would like to post them all here, but frankly posting seventy-five pictures to this page wouldn’t be good for either of us so I will link to the gallery as soon as I get back to the Fortress proper.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t envious of the collection.  I mean there was some really neat things in there and it was one of those situations where the more recent items (say in the past twenty years) were just as fascinating as the items from the thirties, forties and fifties.  There was also a lot of, “I remember that,” and “I had/have/really freaking want that!” going on.  I really liked the section devoted to the Death of Superman, which had the Superman/Doomsday bookends that I have slobbered over kind of wanted since they came out.  They also had a nice set up of the various versions of SupermanVol. 2 #75 and even a frame devoted to the rise of Electro-Supes from 1997. 

So I was envious because most of these items would be freaking awesome to have albeit somewhat impractical to store.  The only area that I looked at and thought, “Wow, I actually have 98% of these,” was the glass case containing the various trading cards put out based on or featuring Superman.  They had the sealed boxes, which was neat to see because I long ago opened the boxes I purchased off of eBay and from comic stores and conventions and just kept the set.    The ones I didn’t have included the hologram trading card set from the mid-nineties (which I should have purchased when they were cheap at Wal-Mart back in the mid-’90s), the Famous Comic Book Creators set, this set called DC Stars that was, I believe, put out exclusively through Wal-Marts back in 1994 or 1995 and I think there were a few sets from the forties and sixties which are a little beyond my price range. 

After the museum we hit the main street where we enjoyed some of the fine food that the street vendors had to offer.  It was the usual mix of pizza, funnel cake, snow cones and such along with the screened T-shirt stands, arts and crafts booths and other fair and festival vendors.  The difference, and this is where you know you’re at a celebration dedicated to a comic book character, was that there were stand selling trades, action figures and other such items.

The official ribbon cutting took place at five.  A whole bunch of us gathered around The Statue and they did this little skit to introduce the new Superman.  A guy calling himself the Red Mullet tried to assume the role as Metropolis’ premiere defender but failed to even open a pickle jar given to him by Lois Lane.  Then Bizarro showed up (the guy playing him did an excellent job with the Bizarro speak) and threw his hat into the ring but then the new Superman showed up, talked Bizarro into going home and even opened the jar of pickles.  It was a bit corny but fun nonetheless and Josh nailed his role as Superman.

He cut the ribbon with a giant pair of scissors.  I would have preferred heat vision, but that would have been hard to pull off.

A little while later we all went to this place called Willy Jack’s, which is a burger and wings place (along with peel and eat shrimp) that had some excellent food.   I had this mushroom Swiss burger with grilled onions that was freaking amazing.  Even the fries were good.

After that the group from the Homepage and a group of people from the Celebration message boards went bowling.  Now here’s the thing; I haven’t bowled in about nine years and I was awful then, so my game was about like Dresden a few days after the bombing.  I had fun though, which was the important thing.

And that pretty much ended the day.  Rachel and I drove ScottyV and family to the bowling alley and on the way back to the hotel I found out that Scotty lives not to far from where I grew up in Pennsylvania, which seemed to surprise both of us for some reason.  Soon it was back to the room where Rachel and I collapsed in short order.

Coming soon: DAY TWO (FRIDAY)

More to follow…


Metropolis Celebration

Well, the Celebration proper officially starts today, but some fun things happened last night and this morning that I thought were worth mentioning.

After a seven hour car ride (which was very relaxing, surprisingly) we got to the hotel.  Driving into Metropolis was kind of neat.  It is very much a small town, which I like because I dig on that look.  The first thing Superman themed was the giant sign that welcomes you to Metropolis.  I would have gotten a picture but something happened and the camera was left on and the batteries were dead, which was disappointing, but hey you roll with the punches and move on.  Almost immediately after entering town I saw one of the city’s police cars and it is extremely trippy to see a real life police car that has METROPOLIS plastered on the side.

Trippy and awesome at the same time.

After getting unpacked and somewhat settled I finally got to meet Steve Younis, Neal Bailey and Steve’s sister Carol.  Nice people all.  We walked around town, talking about this and that, and Steve led us to The Statue.

It’s fifteen feet tall and extremely impressive.  It’s a bit awe inspiring actually because of the size of the thing.  We came from behind and Steve pointed out that it had the yellow S on the cape, which old school as I am with the costume (old school as in the past thirty or so years version) I appreciated.  Steve offered to take a picture with me since our camera was without life and Carol ended up taking a picture of Neal, Steve and I, which I will post at some point.  The neat thing about the stature is that when you walk up the steps around back you see that Superman is standing on the symbol and it is surrounded by bricks with the names of the people who donated money.  The creepy thing about the statue is that since it is fifteen feet tall you are pretty much face to face with Superman’s crotch, which may be funny but is still unnerving.

We all hung out for a bit and then headed back to the hotel and parted for the evening.  I sat around for a bit watching The Negotiator on HBO and after a few attempts to get the WiFi to work (it’s a poor connection but appears to be working just fine now) I finally just passed out from exhaustion.

This morning I woke up to an alarm that Rachel set for me and had breakfast with Neal, Steve, Carol and another Homepage staffer Scotty V (who had his wife and daughter with him).  A good time was had by all.  At one point Neil Cole, who runs the Superman Super Site, popped by and it was probably one of the best times I have had with a bunch of people I just met in quite some time.

Currently we are getting ready to head out and bum around town until the ribbon cutting ceremony.  I wanted to hit the museum before the crowds come in and we need to run an errand as well.

So far I’m having a blast. 

More to follow…


So the question becomes how does a person who runs a Superman blog express his over-the-top anticipation for the upcoming Incredible Hulk film?

Simple, you post an old review of one of the comics where the two characters meet.

Incredible Hulk vs. Superman

In 1995 the two heroes clashed in the High School Class Election of a comic event called DC vs. Marvel, but as my assessment of that book might suggest (I did enjoy it, but it was a popularity contest plain and simple though a fun popularity contest) it wasn’t the most dignified of meetings.

Four years later the two companies came together again to give us this very classy team-up.  These kinds of meetings are always dodgy propositions.  Sure the second Marvel and DC meeting, Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man (the first one in case you were interested was The Wizard of Oz) was great and some equally great stories followed, but for every Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man there are a couple of DC/Marvel: All Access type stories to muddy the waters.  Thankfully this story was one of the better crossovers the two publishers came together to produce.

The writing had a lot to do with that.  Roger Stern had strong ties to Marvel in the earlier part of his career before crossing over himself to DC and spending the better part of a decade charting the course for Superman along with Jerry Ordway, Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson and Karl Kesel.  Stern knows both universes and both characters having written a good two year stretch on the Hulk’s book as well.  Actually it is hard to find a Marvel hero from the late seventies and early to mid-eighties that Roger Stern didn’t write.  He knows his history and it shows in his writing.  This story takes place sometimes after issue six of the original Incredible Hulk series and sometime during John Byrne’s Man of Steel mini-series.  It’s an odd mix of histories but Stern makes it works. 

There’s a lot of action and the fight between Superman and the Hulk played out nicely.  This is a meeting of a Post Crisis on Infinite Earths Superman and a Pre-the Madder Hulk Gets the Stronger Hulk Gets Hulk, so it wasn’t an insane clash of outrageously strong powerhouses.    The earth shook and mountains crumbled, but on a smaller scale.  This allowed more time for Stern to focus on the cast.  Bruce Banner, Clark Kent, the Hulk, Superman, Lois Lane, Betty Ross and Lex Luthor all “sound” like themselves and Stern really focuses on the tragedy of Bruce Banner’s plight and Superman’s humanity to it.  The two fight.  That had to happen, but only through a very Marvel style misunderstanding, the Hulk defending himself and Superman finally having enough.  In fact the only person that is even slightly out of character for the time period is General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, who didn’t seem as prone to ranting as he was in those early days of the Hulk’s life.

Steve Rude handled the art work on the story and he was a wise choice for the job.  Rude’s art may not reflect the Superman that Roger Stern wrote but that Hulk was all Jack Kirby.  The power the two characters possess is evident on the page and while I didn’t think that every character looked as good as he could have, particularly Lex Luthor, Rude still did a lot to infuse the story with action, character and a good dash of nostalgia as well. 

This book is well worth your time, attention and money.  I do not know if it is still in print but you should be able to find it at your local comic shop, any of the many online vendors or on eBay.  I find the claims that this book is rare rather dubious but at the same time I bought the thing new so I actually have never had to seek it out.  If you do manage to secure a copy read it, then click on the comment button for this post and tell the group what you thought.  There won’t be a test but extra credit is awarded for doing so.


Metropolis Celebration

Barring acts of God and family emergencies in three days the wife and I are going to pack up the car and drive six and a half to seven hours from here at the Fortress to a lovely (hopefully) hotel in Metropolis, Illinois.  After years of talking about it we are finally going to attend the Superman Celebration that the city of Metropolis throws every June.

I am so excited about this.  Not only will it be my first trip to Metropolis but I’ll also be meeting Steve Younis and Neal Bailey face-to-face for the first time as well.  It should be fun.  Murphy Anderson is on the guest list, so that means I’ll be packing my copy of Superman: From the ’30s to the ’70s.  Michael Eury, current editor of Back Issue magazine and former associate editor on the Superman titles in the late ’80s, so my copy of The Krypton Chronicles will be packed as well.  Allison Mack, Ned Beatty and Noel Neil will be there too, so there will be all kinds of neat people to meet.

The plan is that I will be posting updates and pictures here every night once we get settled.  Of course if I am socializing or just plain tired this might not happen, but check back every day just the same because I want to chronicle this particular trip. 

Again, I am so looking forward to this.

More to follow…


Action Comics #865

Back in late 1993 I remember being somewhat shocked at what Dan Jurgens did with the Toyman in Superman (Vol. 2) #84.  It was a complete departure from what had come before.  Sure the Toyman had been a killer.  John Byrne set that up in the character’s first Post-Crisis appearance in Superman (Vol. 2) #13.  To Byrne’s mind  Winslow Schott was a brilliant toy maker from England but whose ideas on what children want were declared outmoded and after getting fired from the John Bull Toy Company he went a little crazy and went on a killing spree that started with Walter Dunhill (the man that had fired him) and continued on with other stockholders in the company.  The British super-hero Godiva got involved but proved to be no match for Schott’s deadly toys. 

Superman became involved when British Intelligence warned the Man of Steel that Schott might be in Metropolis to kill Lex Luthor because LexCorp owned John Bull Toys and Luthor had initiated the changes that resulted in him getting the boot.  Toyman and Superman never actually met in this story.  After dealing with an army of deadly action figures Superman tracked down Schott’s hideout and found that the Toyman was gone and signs of a struggle.  On the last page of that issue Schott wakes up and in confronted by a man in shadows who declares that Schott now works for him.  There was something glowing on the man’s hand, which made the audience think that it might be Lex Luthor in the shadows and that the Kryptonite ring he wore at the time was the glowing thing, but it turned out to be Morgan Edge and Schott went to work for Intergang.

Superman and Toyman faced off a few more times after that.  Schott hatched a plot to kidnap the children of LexCorp executives but ultimately let them go.  He also had a hand in building the Happyland Amusement Park but after discovering that the creature from Apokolips called Sleez had intended to harm the children from the park he teamed up with Superman to put an end to the monster’s plan.  Toyman even tried to blow Sleez up real good.

So the Toyman was a killer and he was a bit off when it came to kids but wasn’t bat @#$% crazy.

Until Superman (Vol. 2) #84, when he went completely insane, started hearing voices and killed Adam Grant, son of Cat Grant.

It was a real turning point.  Some have suggested that it was just a reflection of the dark times comics were going through at the time and there might be some truth to that, but Dan Jurgens was pretty upfront about the fact that he just wanted to give Superman something else to deal with besides bruisers and men in suits.  I didn’t have a huge problem with the transition.  It was very dramatic and put something into the Superman books that hadn’t been there before and in the overall soap opera it provided some solid character moments for Cat Grant. 

The character popped up a few times after that and at one point in 1999 Jurgens even tried to redeem that character in Superman (Vol. 2) #164 but mostly Toyman was relegated to the background.  He was brought back during the Up, Up and Awayarc that kicked off One Year Later for Superman and at first I was under the impression that Johns and/or Busiek had just revamped the character in the wake up Infinite Crisis. He looked a bit like the Toyman from Superman: The Animated Series, which was fine.  I wasn’t too put off by it because I liked that version of the character but the full story behind the Post-Infinite Crisis Toyman had not been told.

Until now.

Action Comics #865 was an incredibly well-written issue.  Geoff Johns has been knocking this title out of the park recently and the only stories he has written for the title that I have had issues with were the Bizarro story (just didn’t care for it) and the ending to Last Son, which was very dramatic but brought up too many questions regarding continuity, which is a minor quibble but one that is important to me.  Still, Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes was great and the previous issue was very enjoyable.  I have written and said this before, but it is nice to be in a position where I’m looking forward to the next issue of Action Comics.

One of the more enjoyable aspects of Johns’ run on the Flash was his ability to take the Flash’s rogues gallery and really get into their heads.  Geoff would have these spotlight issues where he would re-tell the character’s origin from a new perspective.  When I read the Previews Solicit that he was going to be writing this Toyman themed issue of Action I was hoping that this was a sign that he would be doing the same for Superman’s villains and, hope against hope, that he would amp up Superman’s rogues to the level he did the Flash’s.

Well, all signs point to the fact that Superman’s enemies are going to receive some long overdue attention and as for living up to my expectations (shouldn’t everyone, he joked) Geoff gave me one of the most enjoyable single issue Superman stories in years.

Yes, years. 

I haven’t been this happy with a writer and Superman since Greg Rucka was on Adventures of Superman.

From cover to cover this was a joy to read.  It had a good amount of characterization and managed to use the supporting cast to good effect.  The opening scene between Toyman and Jimmy was handled well and the exact opposite of the recent Toyman story in the now-defunct Superman Confidential.  Geoff is good at sneaking in the fan’s perspective into his writing, such as having Superboy Superman Prime act like a petulant fanboy.  In this issue he brought up the whole, “What are you; a Superman fan or a Batman fan?” debate.  This brought up an interesting quirk to Toyman’s personality and something that could be carried over to other Superman villains.  As evil as most of these guys are there are probably some of them that like Superman on one level or another because that’s the feeling the character inspires.  Lex Luthor aside there are people who just plain like the Man of Steel and I can see some of his bad guys being in that camp.

The fact that Batman took him into custody at the end was a nice wrap-up to that theme.

Toyman’s origin was also handled well.  Given the state of Superman continuity, which is nebulous at best, it was amazing to see the John Byrne origin for Toyman get referenced, but there it was with the Geoff Johns tweak of bringing the wife into it.  The fact that John Bull Toys was a front for a weapons manufacturer plays into Byrne’s origin even more considering that LexCorp owned the company, so I can see Lex Luthor being behind getting Schott to come on board.  I also dug the hints that it was Walter Dunhill that was repsonsible for the death of Schott’s “wife”.  It made the man more evil in my opinion.

All of that aside the major revelation towards the end had me all kinds of happy.  Not only did it redeem the character by having the Psycho Toyman turn out to be a sophisticated robot but the fact Johns threw in every interpretation was awesome.  Sure there’s questions of how sophisticated were the robots and could they have fooled Superman but sometimes, just sometimes, you can overlook that if the story is good enough.  I didn’t even mind that the Hiro version of Toyman was a robot considering that not much was ever really done with him. 

Now normally I am not big on retcons of this nature, but Geoff Johns has continually gotten a pass from me on this because he does such a good job of handling them.  If a writer can come along and present a good enough case for the change and not completely undo the past I will buy into the new status-quo.  There was never a feeling here that it was changed because Johns didn’t like what Dan Jurgens did with the Toyman.  It is entirely possible he hated it, but I never saw that in the work and believe me there are times that writers can make their feelings known in their stories.  This story doesn’t negate the power that the death of Adam Grant had.  It also says that while there were some changes and the Byrne origin is no longer the “official” one there are bits and pieces that are still there and I like that.

So yeah.  This was a great issue.  The future is looking pretty good too with the Brainiac story coming up, James Robinson on Superman and the fact that the books are going to be linked soon for the big, huge, Sinestro Corps War type story that’s coming up.

All in all things are definitely turning around for the Superman books.

I hope.