Sunday, June 9, 2013

Graphic Novels - Superman: Time and Time Again

While trying to save Booster Gold from a time traveler called the Linear Man, Superman was forced into a time portal and vanished. When he reappeared, he found himself in another time without a way to get back home. His body and suit is soaked with time particles that activate whenever he is in the center of an explosion. He even gets himself involved with his surroundings in all sorts of ways. Fortunately, the Linear Man, who is in charge of keeping the timeline safe, is trying to get Superman home. Trapped in time itself, Superman must leap from time to time, save lives, and hope the next leap will lead him home. 

If you don't know what I'm trying to parody, Click here and you'll know.

And now, it's time for a Superman storyline from the 90's. I first heard about this storyline on From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast a couple of years ago. The story did sound interesting, so I decided to go out and find all seven issues of the storyline. I was even able to find the issue the came right after the storyline which served as an epilogue the event. The issues are these: Adventures of Superman #476-478, Action Comics #663-665, and Superman #54-55. I got seven-ish issues to go through, so this will be a simple synopsis, an opinion, and the highlights. With all of that said: let's see what happens when a present day Superman meets Hitler!

*Note: Superman doesn't actually meet Hitler. Gotcha!

Superman: Time and Time Again
Writers: Dan Jurgens, Roger Stern, and Jerry Ordway
Pencillers: Dan Jurgens, Bob McLeod (of the Clan McLeod), Jerry Ordway, and Tom Grummett
Inkers: Dennis Janke, Brett Breeding, Bob McLeod, and Jose Marzan Jr. 

The storyline starts out as the Linear Man (who looks like an extreme version of Cable) comes to our time to bring Booster Gold back to the 25th Century. Elsewhere, Clark and Lois have an important talk. See, they're now engaged and he has revealed his secret to her. She's not taking it too well especially since Clark is wearing one ugly sweater. Before they're able to talk more, Clark sees Booster being attacked by Linear Man, so he suits up and leaves to help. During their fight, Linear Man activates his time portal and both he and Superman get sucked in. Clark ends up getting sent to the 30th century and meets the earliest incarnation of the Legion of Superheroes. Before he's able to speak to them more about his time, an explosion sends him back to the year 1943.
 Clark, what is that thing on your body? Ugh!

 Before I get back to Superman, here is what his other supporting cast was doing while he was lost in time (which was only a few hours to them but  a few weeks to Superman). Lois is stressing and wondering what happened to Clark. Bibbo is getting drunk and paying tabs. Jimmy is at his apartment and is about to woo Lucy Lane when his mom shows up and pretty much ends the wooing.We see Perry White and his wife, Alice, talking about their marriage issues. Finally, Lexcorp is trying to keep business going now that Lex Luthor I has died... yeah, he actually died during this time. Don't worry, he got better. Now on back to the Time traveling!!

The trip to 1943 leaves Superman's vision in a blur. A man finds him and thinks he's a circus performer. Through a kind and awesome act, Clark is able to stay with the circus and perform with them for a few weeks. When they make it to Metropolis and Clark's vision has healed, he leaves the circus and heads off to try to live a life without Lois. When he saves the President (which was an awesome moment by the way), he remembers that the Justice Society of America was active at this time. He heads to their headquarters to try to talk to them, but the Spectre stops him from interfering with the space-time continuum by teleporting Clark to Germany. "Oh boy," indeed.

Hmm... seems like a wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Superman does what he can in trying to kick some Nazi butt. He even meets a present day enemy called Mister Z for the first time. When it's revealed that the Nazis have a nuclear weapon and they shoot it at the area, Superman is able to get the bomb away and takes into the atmosphere where it explodes. Superman is then teleported back to the 30th Century with the help of the Linear Man. This time, he ends up interacting with the classic 70's-80's version of the LoS. He also helps them with trying to defeat a Sun-Eater. Another explosion happens and he is then sent back all the way to the Cretaceous Period.

This is what happens when you turn your back on someone who looks like a former President.

In the Cretaceous Period, he ends up spending a few weeks trapped there and even grows his epic beard back. He then runs into a villain called Chronos, who got trapped here through circumstances and is looking a lot like Richard Nixon. He has the tech to teleport someone through time, but he needs Superman's help to do it. It all turns out to be a trap as Chronos tries to use Superman's energies to teleport themselves out of there. All this does is send Superman further forward through time the Mammoth Age (I don't know what it's called, okay). Through another convenience called aliens (which is a part I really don't get), Superman is then sent to the Dark Ages of Camelot... insert random Monty Python joke here.

Eh... it's only a fabrication of some sort.

In the Dark Ages, Superman ends up getting brainwashed by Morgaine le Fay into fighting Merlin, Etrigan the Demon (before he was bonded with Jason Blood) and the Knights of Camelot. Fortunately, Merlin is able to get Superman back to normal and even shave his awesome beard (though to be fair, the beard kept disappearing during this issue). Superman helps the knights fend off Morgan's demon forces. By the power of "Magic!!!!", Superman is then teleported back into the time-stream. The Linear Man finds him and makes sure he is telelported back to the 30th century.

Merlin: I also notice a "Beard-be-Gone" spell  on him as well!

In the 30th century, Superman ends up interacting with the Legion of Superheroes again. This time, it's been a few more years and the Legion is somewhat disbanded. Superman is able to help the Legion with a renegade Daxamite called Dev-Em. He almost ends up destroying Earth's moon (...long story), but they're able to stop Dev-Em. The Legion leave the moon as Superman stays back to clean up. Suddenly, the Linear Man teleports to Superman's location. Since the moon was actually supposed to blow up, Linear Man shocks us all by blowing up the moon. This sends Superman back to his own timeline.

He flies from the present day moon back to Lois's apartment where he kisses her passionately. He tells her about all that happened during his travels in time. The storyline unofficially ends as Clark finally gets to relax. The rest of the issue has to do with Clark getting his job back at the Daily Planet and stopping a villain named Baron Sunday.
Lois and Clark together... What's not to like about this pairing?

This is a fun storyline. Is it perfect? No, but it is still good overall. First, the artwork for all eight issues is all around good. While it's not seamless from issue to issue at times, it's still looks good. The layouts are good and the inking's good. I like that we get to see Superman's suit in a different way throughout the whole storyline. Usually, he's always wearing the cape.

The overall story is another thing I like about it. We get to see Superman use his wits as well as his might to get out of some sticky situations when he's lost in time. I also like how we basically get to see three versions of the Legion of Superheroes here. While I'm not a big LoS fan, I think the team and concept are okay. I also love the interactions between Lois and Clark in the storyline. It's really the first time we get to see her deal with knowing his secret and knowing he's off somewhere fighting evil.

I do have a couple of small issues with the storyline though. I thought  the "Camelot" scenes really went nowhere. We actually really don't see what's insides Clark's head during this trip in the Dark Ages. It's really the only weak spot in the trip through time. Also, the artwork is a little inconsistent in that part with Superman's suit not being darkened and with his beard constantly disappearing. The dialogue also seems a little off at times throughout the storyline though that could be the fact that this is an older comic book. Other than those small gripes, this was a cool, fun storyline.

Finally, here are my highlights for the storyline in no particular order:

1. Joining the circus, saving The President, and kicking some Nazi booty!!! - The second and third issues were my favorite part of the storyline. Since Superman was created in this era, it was just awesome seeing him interact in it. All of the stuff he did from being in the circus to kicking Nazi butt was just so awesome.

2. Superman and the Legion of Superheroes - It was cool to see this Superman interact with the Legion since he was never Superboy. We also get to find out what happened to the Pocket Universe's Superboy from when John Bryne was on the book and I thought that was interesting.

3. Superman at Camelot - While this part of the trip leaves little to be desired, it was cool to see Superman as a knight fighting Etrigan, the original MC.

4. Superman in the Age of the Dinosaurs - This part wasn't really awesome, but it was cool to see Clark interact with dinosaurs. We also find out that Clark has questionable tastes in music.

5. The supporting character interludes - During each issue, we would see what Superman's supporting cast was up to during his trip in time. I thought Jimmy's scenes were hilarious. Lois's scenes provides some good insight on how she feels about being engaged to one of the most powerful men on the planet.

Well, that's all I got to say about that. I definitely recommend this storyline if you are trying to find some good stories from the 90's that involve Superman. Next time, I don't know if I'll be so lucky as I go back to the 70's and look at another issue of Action Comics.


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