The conclusion to the Death and Return of Superman saga looms.
Superman confronts Mongul in Superman: The Man of Steel #26.
Triangle Number 1993 – 29
Writers: Louise Simonson and Gerard Jones
Pencilers: Jon Bogdanove and M.D. Bright
Inkers: Dennis Janke and Romeo Tanghal
Colorists: Glenn Whitmore and Anthony Tollin
Letterers: Bill Oakley and Albert De Guzman
Here it is, the penultimate chapter of “Reign of the Supermen.” Since the introduction of Doomsday in Man of Steel #17, nearly a year had passed, and in that time we had seen a hero fall, mourned for a friend, and welcomed four brand new additions to the Superman mythos in one of the finest sagas in Superman’s long history. As it reaches its climax, it’s running at a fever pitch.
There’s a moment at the beginning of the issue that I really appreciate. Steel reveals himself to Superman and tells him that his words are what caused him to take up his hammer. Superman’s response shows Irons that this man is in fact, legitimate, as who else could remember the specifics of saving him?
While I’ve said in the past that Bogdanove’s Superman is sometimes a bit larger than I prefer, his Mongul is perfect. This is the massive monster of a beast that could be the tyrant of a brutal hellscape like Warworld. The fight between Mongul and the Man in Black rages throughout the whole issue, with the Man in Black struggling to gain any advantage with his powers so drastically minimized. Even the help of Supergirl is not enough to take on Mongul in his current state, and the fight ends with the Man in Black beaten and at Mongul’s mercy.
Meanwhile, we have three plots that are happening outside of Engine City. The first is the natural progression of the Jeb Friedman story with Lois. It’s been a month for the readers, but because of how comic time works, it was only last night that Lois had finally accepted that Clark was probably gone forever (whoops) and had let Jeb kiss her goodnight. Now both she and the Kents believe this newcomer is really Clark, and she’s stuck with the guilt that comes from such an impossible situation. There are also brief asides as the Eradicator arrives back at Engine City, and as Green Lantern returns to Earth to see his home destroyed.
The other conflict in Man of Steel is the Cyborg against Steel, as the former takes control of various pieces of machinery throughout the structure. Once again, Bogdanove’s monstrosities are a wonder to behold, and absolutely terrifying. Steel uses the Cyborg’s own ego against him, as he gets him monologuing and reveals the exact way to save Earth. As Mongul holds an unconscious Man in Black, the Green Lantern approaches, and the Cyborg decides to let him through to dispose of Mongul so that he can be the one to kill Superman again.
This brings us to Green Lantern #46. I wish I didn’t have to talk about this issue, but sadly, it is important to the plot. But first, it’s important to address the elephant in the room. This Green Lantern issue was written by Gerard Jones, who was arrested on charges of possessing child pornography in 2016, and sentenced to six years in prison and five years of supervised release in 2018. The collection of this issue in recent reprintings of the saga is one of the rare occurrences where you will find Jones’ work reprinted at all now.
Green Lantern #46 was released the same day as Superman #82, and the latter has an editorial box within it to read the former first. Which I get because the majority of Green Lantern does take place at the same time as the events in Superman. It’s the entirety of the fight between Green Lantern and Mongul, which would play out off-panel if you only read Superman, but also it’s not completely essential, as I never read the issue as a kid and managed just fine. However, four of the last five pages of Green Lantern would completely spoil the end of Superman. As such, in previous printings of the story, the last pages of this issue were omitted, but in the recent printings, the issue is captured in its entirety. If you’re reading this in trade or omnibus, I highly recommend you just skip from the point Mongul is defeated to the start of the Superman issue.
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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