Saturday, March 9, 2013

365 Comics...68: Action Comics #574 (1985)

Prior to the Crisis reboot of the DCU Superman was getting rather silly, or at least that's what everyone in this issue's letter column was hinting at.  It truly did seem like Supes, more than any other hero, had difficulty adjusting to the times.  I'm not certain that these mid-1980's issues of Action, 24 pages typically split between two or three stories, were all that different than the far-fetched, super-fantastical Superman stories of thirty years prior. 

This issue finds Superman being challenged to a contest of feats by the champion of Krypton's sister planet of Ostok.  It's a dozen and a half pages of super-competition like racing around the world and leaping to the moon, while Jimmy Olson digs to see if something fishy is happening.  Turns out Ostok was decimated by the radiation of from Krypton's destruction and Superman's opponent was making a last ditch attempt at restoring his planet's rep as champions before he died.  Its a sobering conclusion, ending with Superman in tears.  Strong men also cry.

The second feature begins equally sobering with a drought and a field of dead sheep, which somehow manages to segue into a Mxyzptlk story, wherein he forces Metropolis to celebrate the birth of his son forever.

The cover by Eduardo Barreto is a wonderfully sombre represenation of the lead story, but it implies a far more serious tale than what is actually underneath (and Kurt Schaffenberger's pre-silver age style doesn't even compare).  It was a similar complaint in the letter column, that the cover of issue 570 (also by Barreto) was striking but the lead story didn't live up to it.

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