It would have been easy for DC to have told a story set around the “Death of Superman” storyline for their “DC Retroactive: Superman – The ’90s” one-shot. After all, when it comes to the ’90s there wasn’t a bigger deal for a Superman story than it.
Instead, though, Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove are on board for a story post-return for Superman, and reading their flashback story has made me appreciate now what they were doing then on “Superman: Man of Steel.” The pair worked together on the title for seven years (the book was originally created for them), and at the time I remember finding the title entertaining, if a bit hokey at times. But now, almost two full decades later? I find myself much more entertained than I was then by their take on the title.
Simonson’s ideas are a mixture of goofy and sentimental, but more than ever I’m seeing how well that works for Superman. So having a menagerie of cloned monsters living under Metropolis? It may help that I’ve since read a lot of Jack Kirby’s “Fourth World” comics, but it feels like a stronger fit than I’d initially given credit. And while I might have groaned a bit when reading the original stories with her, when Myra (the head of the Children’s Aid Society) showed up, I actually cheered. Characters like Myra, Professor Hamilton, and yes, even Bibbo are memorable and an integral part of the era, and it was a lot of fun to see them show up.
Even the bits that still made me roll my eyes weren’t bad, just merely a little silly. So we’ve got the cloned Lex Luthor angry about his hair loss, or a massive flying tunnel monster that looks like the thing from “Tremors” on steroids, but it’s still all good. It’s not a story meant to be taken super-seriously, and Simonson and Bogdanove bring the right amount of levity to the title. And while Bogdanove’s art still has that cartoony quality that I remember from his work on “Superman: Man of Steel” and “Power Pack,” his art here is much more crisp and controlled than I remember. It’s probably some of his best comics work of his career, and it makes me wish that this will be the start of a second visit to the industry from Bogdanove. When Superman zooms through the snow in the title splash? That’s classic Superman art, through and through.