Thursday, June 26, 2014

Superman: The Doomsday Wars (1998)

The Manhunter from Mars confirmed, "The distress call from the Georgia authorities was certainly warranted. Whatever tore through this area would present a formidable obstacle for any ordinary police force." Quite an understatement, as Wonder Woman, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Plastic Man, Huntress, Flash and Orion surveyed considerable damage to the landscape. A large object flew through the air at the team, with Diana moving to intercept. "A tanker truck? Who could be powerful enough to hurl such an object this far?" The Flash attempted to scout ahead, but unstable ground took him off his feet. The Scarlet Speedster observed that Doomsday was back, and the beast soon overwhelmed the Justice League.

Princess Diana lay on the ground near Flash and Green Lantern. Martian Manhunter dangled limply from his cape like it was a noose. Plastic Man was stretched out all over. Only an injured Huntress and a floating Orion were still on their feet to survey the damage. The son of Darkseid engaged Doomsday with the Astro Force, but was swiftly knocked out of the sky by debris and crushed under a tank. However, Orion had bought time for the other heroes to recover. J'Onn J'Onzz flew into combat while the League regrouped, Orion confessing, "Legs... too weak to stand..." Wonder Woman complained, "Bad enough Superman doesn't respond when I call him! But J'Onn shouldn't have charged off alone! The League should function better than this. Must be because we're not used to being beaten so badly!" The Manhunter cried in pain, and was next seen dangling from one of Doomsday's spikes. Diana braced for combat.

Wonder Woman launched into an ill-fated attack. "I never, ever thought I'd see anyone do that to J'Onn. You must have found some way around his phase powers! I know you nearly destroyed Superman-- and did the same to a weaker version of the JLA! But, except for our brief tussle earlier, you and I haven't ever fought it out!" Doomsday grabbed her left arm and landed a spike-fisted left hook to her chin. Plastic Man tried to come to the rescue of the "fairer sex," but Doomsday cast Diana aside and ripped the Pliable Paladin to rent pieces. The Amazing Amazon lassoed and attempted to command the beast, but he was shockingly immune to its magic. Doomsday used the lasso to pull Diana toward a knee spike.

"Enough! During my time on this world, I must have grown soft from holding back my strength, lest I gravely injure someone. But a monster such as you-- deserves no quarter-- no easy handling-- and not one degree of sympathy! Drop, you foul creature of death!" Doomsday stood firm against Diana's fiercest blow, then tied her ankles together with the Lasso of Truth and spun her like a bullroarer. "Impossible ...Strategic fighting such as this is far beyond your capac--UHN! How--? J'Onn himself tried to contact you telepathically but found nothing there! There should be no sense of reason... no... mind!" Doomsday replied, quite eloquently, "My own mental defenses barred your overconfident friend from the truth. To partially quote one of your human authors, the reports of my stupidity were greatly exaggerated!"

Earlier in the narrative, Brainiac had appeared to have been killed in a final battle with Superman, but he had instead been gravely injured, requiring a new body. Coluan time-travel technology had allowed Brainiac to save Doomsday from destruction at the entropy point after the events in Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey, and the villainous mastermind's intellect now resided in the behemoth's form. Trapped in customized restraints, the League were mostly unable to come to Superman's aid upon his arrival on the scene. He had been occupied with transporting his childhood friends Lana Lang and Pete Ross' injured premature baby to a top NICU in a last ditch effort for survival. The baby was in a containment cylinder that was bounced around like a fumbled football.

Brainiac had planned to introduce Doomsday DNA into Lana & Pete's baby, creating a new host body, since Doomsday would eventually reject the Coluan as a host. Meanwhile, with some help from Aquaman, the Man of Steel foiled Brainiac's plan to turn Earth into a new Colu, using Psi-Blockers from a previous encounter to drive the telepath from Doomsday's mind. Superman then lured Doomsday into a JLA transporter tube, which teleported the monster to the moon. The mucking about seemed to save the baby's life.

Wonder Woman had to be rescued from an energy sphere by Superman, but unlike the male Justice Leaguers, she was presented as some sort of damsel in distress rather than a teammate. The JLA went off to fight Doomsday on the moon, but Princess Diana was offered no real face saving there, either. The Martian Manhunter faired better, forcing Doomsday onto his back with a suffocating fist to the throat at one point. It was he and Orion that did most of the lunar fisticuffs. "Easy, Orion, Superman has a plan in mind-- and we would do well to follow his lead." Superman thought to himself, "One minute. That's about all I need. Harder than it sounds. Even for Orion and J'Onn, lasting a minute against Doomsday-- is practically impossible." In that time, the two Leaguers held their own, until Superman managed to divide Doomsday's form between four active transporter booths. "Never more than 25% integrated, unable to think or free himself." Manhunter immediately saw a flaw. "And if someone should try to take Doomsday?" Superman promised he would automatically be teleported, "to a location only I know of."

Dan Jurgens provided story and art, with a nice Image veneer by inker Norm Rapmund. I wonder if Jurgens' constant trampling of all DC super-heroes to show how much better Superman was than all of them combined played into his inability to maintain his profile at DC after the entire Superman line had a forced creator turnover? It's worth noting that Wonder Woman and Champion had fought a Doomsday simulation in the past, and that Diana shouldn't be written as Thor with bewbs by the future writer of Thor and creator of (ugh) Thor Girl.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014