Reviewer: Jesse Baker
Story Title: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Part One (Superman #423) and Part Two (Action Comics #583)
Written by: Alan Moore
Penciled by: Curt Swan
Inked by: George Perez and Kurt Schaffenberger
Publisher: DC Comics
By the middle of the 1980s, the Superman franchise had become a sad and pathetic joke. The childish stories, one-dimensional villains, the reduction of Lois Lane to the status of being an insane stalker of Superman who’s entire life revolved around becoming Superman’s wife, the constant influx of Krypton survivors which gave the impression that only Superman’s Kryptonian parents and their neighbors died when the planet exploded, and Superman/Clark Kent becoming a totally unrelatable character which made him the hero everyone avoided reading. DC Comics, desperately wanted to revamp the franchise, hired disgruntled ex-Marvel Comics writer/artist John Byrne and announced that they were going to reboot the Superman franchise from the ground up and disregard the franchise’s storied history in favor of a more streamline and realistic portrayal that people could relate to.
To bring an end to the â€œSilver Ageâ€ Superman era, a two-part story would be written that would bring the tale of Superman to an end told in the grand tradition of the various â€œImaginary Superman Storiesâ€ of the 1950s and 1960s. After Superman co-creator Jerry Seigel turned down an offer to write this controversial and epic story, DC Comics turned to their star writer Alan Moore. Moore, who rose to fame with his work on Swamp Thing, had penned the critically acclaimed â€œFor the Man Who Has Everythingâ€ Superman story from Superman Annual #11. Longtime Superman artist Curt Swan was tapped to draw the issue while Superman Family and New Teen Titans artists Kurt Schaffenberger and George Perez signed on to ink the two issue finale.
â€œâ€¦.In the Big City, people still sometimes glances up from the sidewalks, glimpsing a distant speck in the sky. But no, it’s only a bird, only a plane — Superman died ten years ago.â€
â€œWhatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrowâ€ begins in the year 1997, as a reporter for the Daily Planet arrives at the home of Lois Lane, who has retired and now is living at home with her husband and newborn child. Ten years have past since the death of Superman, an event that has been shrouded in controversy as a result of the blood and carnage that led up to it. Lois recounts the tale: of how Superman’s rouge gallery of villains one day went from being annoying and lame joke villains to cold blooded killers. As Superman deals with this sudden change in his rouge gallery, the villainous Toyman and Prankster murder longtime Superman groupie Pete Ross and torture him to death as part of a plot to expose Clark Kent as Superman. With his identity revealed and the Daily Planet nearly burnt to the ground by Metallo, Superman gathers his friends together and takes them to the Fortress of Solitude. As Superman and his friends wait for the inevitable attack from Brainiac and Lex Luther, the Legion of Super-Heroes show up to give Superman a statue to honor him and to pay â€œTheir Last Saluteâ€ to him and confirms his fears that he won’t survive the upcoming battle with his two archenemies.
Alan Moore’s sends the â€œSilver Ageâ€ Superman off with a bang in this story that delivers a high body-count. By the end of the story, Superman’s entire supporting cast has been wiped out and Superman is forced into a situation of murder-suicide when the final battle begins against the evil mastermind behind the murderous rampage. Curt Swan’s artwork is top notch and gives the story the silver-age touch that makes this finale special.