Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"2006 Vacation: Day 4"

Sitting around relaxing last night I decided to finally read a couple of one-shots and lmt. series of Superman that were published back in the 1990's.

First one I read was the one-shot Elseworlds Superman: Kal, which involves "the man of steel"'s being raised during mid-evil times rather than the 20th. Century.

The story begins with an old man relating a tale to his young apprentist that had since beome legend. The tale of a hero from another world.

It's a time, of course, of superstition and ignorance of the sciences, and when his space craft lands in a farmer's field, the husband tells his wife it smelled of witchcraft and they should have othing to do with it. But he eventually gives in to his wife's pleading for a child since they had no children of their own and they keep baby Kal. The farmer quickly buries the rocket so no one could find it, fearing his head be on the block.

They raise baby Kal into manhood, discovering his amazing strength along the way, and that he never got ill from the myriad diseases of that time. So they told him to keep his mouth shut and stay away from town and others that may suspect he was different.

Then one day a blacksmith comes to reshoe thweir horses, bringing along his son. His son and Kal go out to play boyhood games and a bull gets loose. Kal saves the blacksmith's son by tossing the bull into a tree! Well, naturally, this upsets Kal's stepdad pretty much, but the blacksmith can only see this as a sign of some new, strong help around his business and asks to take Kal to the town and us him as an apprentise. The old farmer's agree, and Kal becomes a "smithy".

While there, he discovers that the most powerful man in the area which rules over the land is Baron Luthor, who holds captive a beautiful Lady that was the daughter of a man he murdered in his climb to power. Of course, Kal falls for the Lady, and enters a local tournament to win her favor. The Lady also falls for Kal, which begins the problems.

One day while Baron Luthor's out hunting, his hounds sniff out the remains of Kal's rocket ship. The old farmer claims he knows nothing of it, so Luthor takes the rocket for himself, and commands the local Smithy to make him a suit of armor from it. Kal, being the smithy's helper, finally using his heat vision to help mold the metal and the result being an indestructible suit for Luthor. Oh? Did I neglect to mention that Lex wears a green Kryptonite pennant around his neck? A little souvenier from a meteorite which fell many years back, and Lex considered it a stone of power. Indeed it was as anytime Kal got near it, he passed out from the Green K exposure!

And...back to the story...Kal and the Lady fall in love, and when Lex asks what price he must pay for his new armor, kal asks for the lady's hand in marriage. Reluctantly, Lex grants it, but at the wedding celebration he demands the right that feudal lords had during that time in history, which was to sleep with the new bride of anyone on the honeymon night!

Naturally, this pi$$es Kal off pretty bad and refuses, but the Green K makes him pass out and Lex takes Kal's wife by force to his castle, where he tries, in effect, to rape her.

When she won't give into his demands, he beats her to death and has his servants toss her body into the castle's molt.

Kal finally gets his senses back and goes looking for Luthor, grabbing a weapon: a large silverish sword. The sword was made from the left over metal from the suit, therefore, an indestructible blade!

He raises towards the caste followed by a rebellion of local townsfolk tired of Luthor's cruelness, storm the place and Kal dispells all of the guards, and finally faces Luthor head on, who is wearing his indestructible armor.

They battle, and Luthor manages to jump on top of Kal from a heigth, using the sharp, pointed end of the Green K crystal as a dagger. It mortally wounds Kal, but...at the same time Kal had his sword raised and the honed and sharpened blade pierces the otherwise indestructible armor, and kills Luthor as well.

The Lady's body was recovered from the molt, and Kal asked with his dying breath to be lain with her. He takes the sword and puts in in a safe place until, once again, needed to end evil in the land.

As the story closes, we see the sword stuck deep into an anvil. Later this indestructible blade will be called Excalibur.

But...that's not where the story ends...the young lad to whom the old man had related the tale??? Why...Merlin...of course.

Really well written by Dave Gibbons and some fantastic artwork by Jose' Luis Garcia-Lopez.

Another limited series (from 1995) I just read was the Superman/Doomsday: Hunter Prey 1-3. I have to admit, that when the whole hoopla of "The Death of Superman" was around, I read them all, including the "Funeral for a Friend" and "Return of Superman" issues. It wasn't that I was really what you would call impressed about the whole thing. It was obvious front the start that DC wasn't about the kill off their Golden Goose who started it all and to top it destroy 60 years of merchandising of the character. It's like when they turned the Hulk grey or gave Spider-man a black costume over at Marvel, or even gave Supes long hair, you knew it couldn't last due to protection of trademark images. But the whole thing was sorta fun reading them all, and it did indeed do a couple good things for comics. For one it brought a LOT of new collectors into the game. True, many did NOT remain, but hey! That's good for me cause I've been able to buy large lots of various comics I wouldn't have spent big bucks on anyway, cheaply these days from them giving up collecting. During that time, several new characters were created at DC as well, plus it gave the market a little extra boost for comic book companies.

Unfortunately, there seemed to be a side effect as that's about when all of the newstand spin-racks started disapearing, but it did also weed out the lesser books (maybe killed a "few" good ones). Overall, it was probably a good move by DC.

Anyway, this limited series explained a couple of things for me regarding "Doomsday", such as his origin, which turns out to be Kryptonian, and "why" he originally wore that green suit and googles.

And, finally, I didn't get to paint the metal roof today because rain was predicted. It held off so late in the day, tho', that I could have already had it done (*sigh*)! Guess I'll have to wait to do that now Thursday as rain's predicted here again tomorrow and for all day.


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