Superman Adventures #7
DC Comics (May, 1997)“All Creatures Great And Small” part 1 WRITER: Scott McCloud PENCILER: Rick Burchett INKER: Terry Austin COLORIST: Marie Severin LETTERER: Lois Buhalis EDITOR: Mike McAvennie
Believing the Phantom Zone to be “cruel and unusual punishment”, Superman extracts Jax-Ur and Mala, shrinks them to action figure-size, and locks them in a special prison away from sunlight. Unfortunately a few days later an escape attempt by Intergang, which is foiled by Dan Turpin, leads to the wall being damaged, allowing the Kryptonian prisoners to be exposed to sunlight and escape, but not before shrinking Superman as well. There is a machine to restore him to normal size and, trying to keep things a secret, recruits Lois to help him get to it. However, the villains get to it first, and Jax-Ur doesn’t just grow to normal size…but giant size!
What they got right: A story in which mini-Kryptonians fight around Metropolis? I like that idea. and McCloud finds a way to do it in a continuity where Kandor (the bottled Kryptonian city taken away thanks to Crisis On Infinite Earths) doesn’t exist. There are also some funny moments during the fight between the action figure-sized Kryptonians and Superman in Lois’ apartment.
What they got wrong: But how they got there is kind of dumb. First, Superman never took them out in the show this ties-in to and only let Mara out the first time because she served her time. If this is an issue for Supes, then why just these two? The Phantom Zone is a prison for all Kryptonian criminals. What makes these two so special? And then there’s the battle that just happened to get sunlight into their cell. An odd coincidence. (Speaking of which, the guard who dismisses it must have missed one of most important memos of guarding a wing with two Kryptonian prisoners. It’s not like Superman is shy about where his powers come from. He told Lois in an interview about them.) It’s a mix of dumb luck and character stupidity that comes off as blatant plot convenience to get the story going. Maybe have a weakness in the barrier between the Phantom Zone and Earth that can be passed through but with a size change as a cost. Maybe STAR Labs just happens to have a size-altering ray. Still convenient but it feels less forced.
Recommendation: A good story we’ll conclude as soon as this title comes up again in rotation. Worth taking a look at.