The Never-Ending Battle: SUPERMAN #82

At long last, the Death and Return of Superman comes to an end.
Superman confronts the Cyborg in Superman #82.
Superman #82
Triangle Number 1993 – 30
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciler: Dan Jurgens
Inker: Brett Breeding
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: John Costanza
This is it, the end of the most important story-arc in 80+ years of Superman history. In the end, “The Death and Return of Superman” wasn’t just a story, it was something much more. It brought people into comics as a medium, it made people fans of a character that many thought to be boring and overpowered, and for better or worse it kicked off a series of similar events. Batman had “Knightfall.” Green Lantern had “Emerald Twilight.” Wolverine had “Fatal Attractions.” The traumatic event and status quo change for heroes became the norm for a while, leading to stories both good and bad, and also fueling a speculator boom that was almost destructive to the whole industry. “The Death and Return of Superman” was absolutely monumental.
Like Superman #75 and Adventures of Superman #500 before it, Superman #82 would come with both a newsstand cover and a direct market cover. The newsstand edition showcases the Man in Black, Steel, the Kid, the Eradicator, Green Lantern, and Supergirl flying through a green haze in front of a larger-than-life long-haired Superman in his traditional costume. The direct market edition, on the other hand, was foil embossed with Superman flying out of the Cyborg Superman’s mouth. The issue was also oversized, with an additional ten story-pages, and no letters column to take up precious pages either. Interestingly, the print issue also does not contain a credits page, though the collected editions list the credits with the covers.
Another interesting thing as you read these last few issues of “Reign of the Supermen,” is that some of the ad space inside would go to other upcoming comics and mostly other upcoming comics in the same line. Each issue would have ads for upcoming installments of “Reign of the Supermen,” but also the last handful also had ads for the upcoming Adventures of Superman #505. This was odd because while fans certainly had an idea of how the story was going to play out, the cover to that issue is just a full-on spoiler for the end of the arc, with a long-haired Superman flying over Metropolis.

The meat of the issue is the Man in Black, Steel, and Supergirl just continuing further and further into the depths of Engine City in pursuit of the Cyborg, while Green Lantern battles Mongul over in Green Lantern #46. The Cyborg toys with them, while leading them on their chase, blasting the Man in Black’s shield off his chest (and leaving a silly “S” shield burn in its place). He also takes over Steel’s armor before he’s rescued by the Kid. In doing so, however, Supergirl, Steel, and the Kid are separated from the Eradicator and the Man in Black as they go deeper still.

In a final confrontation with the Cyborg at the Kryptonite heart of Engine City, Henshaw unleashes the Kryptonite radiation on both of his foes. The Eradicator dives in front of the Man in Black, taking the full brunt of the radiation, and as it passes through him it changes somehow. After the Kryptonite is spent, Superman steps out of the green haze, his black costume in tatters, but his strength is restored. In this state, and himself weakened by the radiation he’d unleashed, Henshaw is no match for the real Superman. Finally, Supergirl uses her telekinetic powers to restore Superman’s original costume and the Man of Steel flies away to whatever is to come next.

Miss any previous entries in The Never-Ending Battle? The early entries can be found at Comfort Food Comics, while more recent ones can be found here at The Beat.
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