Monday, April 22, 2019

Matrix Monday: Superman #83

 Just last week I called for a hiatus to Matrix Monday.

Sorry, that was premature.

Even though I had gone right up against the beginning of Peter David's reimagination of the character, I was reminded of Superman #83, an epilogue to the Funeral For A Friend arc, and a sort of closure to the entire Reign of the Supermen storyline.

This issue came out 4 months before the beginning of Matrix's mini-series, Supergirl #1, to put this in the right context. (Had I thought about this in a more organized way, I would have done this purely chronological. I came pretty close.)

I have said before that I found Funeral For A Friend to be something of a turning point for the Matrix character. It was there that she seemed to become more independent, began to think more like a hero, and seemed determined to fill the shoes of the departed Superman.

Here, I think, we see more of that. I really want to hear what people think about a certain scene near the end.

I think Roger Stern had her take a little step backwards in that independence at the beginning of that mini-series. But I think he did that to make her eventual break away from Lex that much more impactful.

On to the book.

 'On the Edge' was written and penciled by Dan Jurgens with inks by Joe Rubinstein.

To put us in the right place, Superman has returned from the dead. Cyborg Superman and Mongul have been defeated. But Engine City, the literal propulsion unit built on the site of Coast City, remains. The engine is crumbling, devastated by the battle that took place there.

Superman is headed west to the site. He first stops in Gotham. He wants to know if Batman wishes to join in the ceremony.

One sure way to know when this is taking place in the DCU timeline is seeing Jean Paul Valley in the extreme Az-Bats armor. And judging by this interaction, Superman doesn't know that Bruce has been replaced.

This Batman isn't one for touchy-feely things and takes off.

 Meanwhile, Lex Luthor II has a different idea about Engine City.

Outwardly, he talks about needing to head there with LexCorp to clean up the toxic mess left over.

But inwardly, he is thinking about getting his hands on Kryptonite and the formula to synthesize it.

Supergirl is glad Lex is so concerned about the environment. But her expression is an odd one. She seems like she is almost questioning her own words. This isn't a look of the puppy-dog adoration.

Meanwhile, Superman is thrilled that he is back in the living and able to do good.

As he flies over the midwest, he is reminded of how much he loves his parents. He can't pause for a visit but he can know he is thinking of them. While Martha and Jonathan quibble about his diet, a blur flies by putting flowers in Ma's hands.

Awwww ... he is such a good son.

 Meanwhile, the LexJet arrives.

Supergirl wonders if it isn't for the best that this thing is disintegrating in front of their eyes. But Lex is insistent. Engine City must survive.

Unfortunately for his nefarious plans, he isn't alone. A ton of super-heroes are there to help Superman.

 Lex continues to voice only magnanimous thoughts. Save Engine City. Discover technology that can only help Earth.  But internally, he has one thought on his mind ... Kryptonite.

As for the heroes, they are all to eager for this place, the site of the destruction of a city, to disappear.

This is a pre-Parallax Hal still nursing the wounds of the devastation of Coast City. Maybe, just maybe, we are starting to see the cracks in Hal. That red glow on his ring is certainly ominous.

One more player in this Engine City discussion shows up.

Aquaman isn't exactly happy that a toxic structure is about the be dumped into the sea.

Things get a little heated and Guy Gardner, of course, is putting some gas on the fire.

But while this argument is happening, Lex slips away.

 The ecological answer is pretty easily solved. The ring-slingers in the group will use their powers to decontaminate the structure. And it is a good thing this all is happening now because the place is literally coming down around them.

Meanwhile, in the bowels of the city, Lex has stumbled on to the Kryptonite formula! Bathed in the light of the flame, looking like Fred C. Dobbs when he loses him mind in Treasure of the Sierra Madre, he rants ... aloud no less ... that he has found the description.

But before he can commit it to memory, someone says 'I wonder where you disappeared to' and grabs him.

I love how the coloring here denotes his madness. That red really pops. And yes it can be explained as the fire. But it also conveys the mood. Great stuff by colorist Glenn Whitmore.

Psionically, she grabs Lex and carries him away to safety.

Okay folks, here is the big question ....

Did she hear him cackling about the Kryptonite? Does she know he isn't all that nice a guy?

Or did she not hear him and therefore remains oblivious?

I want to think she heard him. He's talking out loud. She grabs him one panel later.

But the way she is still into him in the miniseries makes me also think she didn't.

Hmmm ....

With no toxins around, the heroes let the city collapse into the ocean.

Perhaps one day it will be a coral reef?

Remember this whole thing wasn't about a mission and was called a ceremony.

In the end, Superman takes some of the wreckage and forms it into a spire, a testament to the disaster that happened so people won't forget.

And there is Hal, still mourning and angry. I wonder what happens next with him???

Anyways, I am at odds with this issue internally. If Matrix heard Lex and stopped him, this is another moment of her grabbing her destiny as a hero. If she didn't hear him, she is still in his thrall ... albeit for only a few more months.

Still, this was a nice ending to this epic story.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Nice piece, I really enjoyed this period of the DCU. I say Mae didn't overhear Lex, otherwise, why not confront him, or at least have some thoughts about it? As you say, she's still in his thrall months later. I see this as just bad luck for Luthor.

Anonymous said...

I think Matrix is still fully duped by Lex, and you may be putting too much stock in the way Matrix's face was drawn in the panel where she says it's nice of Lex to be so concerned.

I think her facial expression is intended to reflect the seriousness of the first thing she says - "According to Lex, if it crumbles into the ocean, the toxic properties could poison the entire Pacific!"

My vote about whether Matrix heard Lex cackling about the Kryptonite, is in reality wouldn't Lex have been thinking these things, not talking to himself about Kryptonite? In general people don't talk aloud to themselves, especially not when other people are nearby, let alone talk about replicating Kryptonite if Superman is within 50 miles. So I don't think she heard him.

It also looks like there's a lot of noise - explosions happening all around Lex. Matrix doesn't have super hearing, so even if Lex is babbling... it would be inaudible.

In the panel where GL's ring has that red glow, Starfire's hair has not only turned brown, but moreover it's -- huge! That's 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s big hair all at once. Maybe it gets frizzy near ocean water. It's the humidity.


Anonymous said...

Oh, God... the Az-Bats armor was a monstrosity. Glad that it is gone.

I say she didn't hear him. Otherwise, her thoughts and actions during her miniseries make no sense.