In Meta-Messages, I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” This time around, we look at some friendly teasing of the “Electric Blue” era of Superman during a “Y2K” storyline in 2000.
Many moons ago, there was a classic early 1960s “imaginary story” in Superman #162 (imaginary stories were DC Comics stories that were set outside of the regular DC Comics continuity. So stuff could happen in them that would never actually happen in the comics) about Superman being rebuked by the people of Kandor for not doing enough for the world (by the way, that is such a Silver Age conceit – people turn on each other WAY too much in the Silver Age. Can you imagine someone saying, “You suck, Superman! If you don’t shape up in the next six months, we’re replacing you”?
Anyhow, Superman is saddened by their disappointment in him so he decides to do an experimental procedure that transforms him into two duplicate versions of himself, who are now both even smarter than before…
Superman Red and Superman Blue essentially solve all of the world’s problems and they even each settle the whole “Who will Superman choose between Lois Lane and Lana Lang?” debate by having Superman Red and Superman Blue each marry one of them.
It was a memorable story, but it was “just” an imaginary story.
That was until many years later, when Superman lost his powers during the Final Night crossover (where the Earths’ sun was extinguished). Superman got super-charged to get his powers back, but as it turns out, he got TOO much of a charge and slowly but surely, the solar energy in his body was getting out of control and his body began to change and transform into pure energy. Profesor Emil Hamilton built him a special containment suit and Superman now had a new costume and new powers that were based on energy rather than pure physical strength.
After a while, the Superman writers then took this twist a step further by having Superman’s energy split so that he formed, yep, you guessed it, two versions of himself, one dubbed Superman Red and the other Superman Blue…
The two energy beings merged back together and brought back classic Superman just in time for his 50th anniversay in 1998 (funny how that stuff works out).
In any event, by this time, the main Superman creators had been on the books for a number of years and DC decided to do a big change, replacing a number of the more veteran creators on the series for a new group of creators (while keeping a few of the newer creative teams, like Mark Schulz and Doug Mahnke and Stuart Immonen writing/drawing a book, on board).
The new teams took over in late 1999.
One of their first big crossover was as a “Y2K” event with Brainiac-13 coming to Earth from the future. Brainiac-13 was drawn with computer imagery…
Superman had to figure out a way to stop Brainiac, even if it meant revisiting his “blue period”…
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