Tag Archives: Lana Lang

Today’s Super Comics — Superman #423 & Action Comics #583 (1986)

There’s no such thing as a final Superman story.

But Superman #423 and Action Comics #584 pretended there was, and it’s a fitting conclusion to the never-ending battle.

DC Comics was saying good-bye to its Silver Age continuity and rebooting Superman for the modern era, but they gave the old-school Man of Steel one last hurrah in a two-parter called “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” The story featured top talent that bridged the gap between eras: writer Alan Moore, who had been bringing a new maturity to the medium, and classic Superman artist Curt Swan.

A sense of foreboding permeates these issues. Old foes are returning more dangerous than ever, with former pests turning into killers while the worst of the worst are waiting in the wings. An unknown menace is striking at Superman through his friends, so he gathers them in the Fortress of Solitude—Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, and Perry White and wife Alice…the whole classic gang. Even Krypto the Super-Dog returns after a long absence.

In the story’s most touching scene, Superman unexpectedly comes face-to-face with his dead cousin. The Legion of Superheroes visits from the 30th century (which Superman and Supergirl were frequent visitors to), and they bring along a very young, very optimistic Supergirl who has no idea how short her life is going to be. It’s both sad and ominous in just a few pages.

But where the book achieves perfection is in the climax. At what point does Superman stop being Superman?

The answer presented here is exactly right.

Writer: Alan Moore

Penciler: Curt Swan

Inkers: George Perez and Kurt Schaffenberger

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Superman #76 (1993)

superman_v-2_76The Death of Superman storyline was a missed opportunity. Ample media coverage got tons of people interested, people who didn’t normally read comics. The whole world was watching. This was DC Comics’ chance to prove that comics could be more than musclebound men punching each other to death.

And how did they choose to kill of Superman? By having him and a monster punch each other until they both fell. Ugh.

But when it came to the events after the death, the Superman creative teams knew exactly what they were doing. They understood the real meat of the story wasn’t the death itself, but other characters’ reactions to a world that no longer had Superman in it. The Funeral for a Friend arc, followed by Reign of the Supermen, defined Superman through his absence, demonstrating just how irreplaceable and inspirational the character can be. And this was during a time when characters like the Punisher and Spawn were gaining in popularity, so taking time to reflect on what makes the original superhero super was indeed warranted. (It still is.)

Superman #76 occurs in the middle of the funeral storyline, shortly after the funeral itself. The Justice League honors Superman’s memory by carrying on one of his Christmas traditions—reading letters written to Superman seeking his aid, and helping as many of these people as they can, even though not a single plea involves pounding a super-villain into submission.

Meanwhile, the only civilians who know Superman’s identity—the Kents, Lois Lane, and Lana Lang—share their grief and discuss whether to reveal Clark’s secret. Jimmy Olsen bonds with a teenager who was saved by Superman during that final battle and is experiencing survivor’s guilt. Attention-seekers try to capitalize on the national mourning. And nefarious scoundrels steal Superman’s body (had to be something comic booky in there).

It’s a shame most people stopped reading after Superman and Doomsday punched each other out.

Writer/Penciler: Dan Jurgens

Inker: Brett Breeding

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in World Without a Superman (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Superman #2 (1987)

superman_v-2_2Superman #2 sums up Lex Luthor perfectly. This was early in Superman’s late ‘80s reboot, so taking the time to clearly define the hero’s arch-nemesis was a wise move on writer/artist John Byrne’s part.

Luthor is the true protagonist of this particular issue, as he’s determined to learn the connection between Clark Kent and Superman. Along the way, we see him abuse and manipulate his employees, rip out Metallo’s kryptonite heart and not give a damn about any consequences, order the ransacking of the Kent farmhouse, torture Lana Lang (well, that’s off-panel, but we see the wounds), and enjoy a moment of triumph over the Man of Steel.

But then his fatal flaw slithers out on a brilliant last page, and his own arrogance robs him of what should have been a sweet victory. It’s a punchline that shows us the sharp contrast between Superman’s and Luthor’s respective worldviews.

With this issue, Byrne successfully modernized a classic villain.

Writer/Artist: John Byrne

Inker: Terry Austin

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Superman: The Man of Steel vol. 2 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Action Comics #26-29 (2014)

Action Comics_Cv26I confess, I haven’t been a fan of DC’s New 52 reboot. But for all its disappointments, I’ve found some gems along the way. And one of my favorites is Greg Pak’s excellent run on Action Comics, and its MVP isn’t Superman…it’s Lana Lang.

Recent depictions of Superman (the Zack Snyder movies in particular) have portrayed him as far too god-like and terrifying, which really misses the point. But Pak found the perfect way to humanize the New 52 Superman—have him reconnect with a childhood friend.

This storyline shows the correct way to reboot a character. By making her an electrical engineer, Pak gives Lana a professional life and useful skills she had always lacked. But he retains the essence that made the character work previously—Lana is one of very few people who sees right through the big red S because she knew him when. If he’s in costume but no one else is around, she’ll call him “Clark,” because why wouldn’t she? And on top of all that, she’s downright likeable.

Pak also succeeds with Superman’s characterization, presenting him as a guy who befriends monsters because he takes the time to figure out which ones aren’t actually monsters. That’s a very Superman thing to do.

All in all, this is an enjoyable tale of two old friends reconnecting…in an exotic subterranean landscape filled with dangerous creatures.

Definitely a standout among recent Superman stories.

Writer: Greg Pak

Penciler: Aaron Kuder

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Action Comics vol. 5: What Lies Beneath (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up