The Adventures Of Superman #516
DC Comics (September, 1994)
“The Hero Of Metropolis”
WRITER: Karl Kesle
PENCILER: Peter Krause
INKER: Jackson Guise
COLORIST: Glenn Whitmore
LETTERER: Albert De Guzman
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Chris Duffy
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Frank Pittarese
EDITOR: Mike Carlin
Another time storm creates an alternate Metropolis. Here there is no Superman, but Alpha-Centurion, a Roman named Marcus Aellius who was trained by aliens and then sent him home a few centuries too late. Superman helps Alpha-Centurion stop his nemesis, the sky pirate Bloody Mary (who has a weird fixation on our hero), and learns that the new hero is also Lois’s current love interest. Superman decides to return to the Zero Hour conflict and Alpha-Centurion, even if it means his reality is lost, decides to join him.
What they got right: I do like Alpha-Centurion’s backstory. It’s like a nicer version of Aric from the original X-O Manowar (fitting since we’ll be meeting his Acclaim era replacement at the end of the week). The costume, filtered through 90s art stylings, isn’t too bad. It’s simple, yet evokes power, like a good costume design. I think the basic rule is “if a kid can get close to it, it works”.
What they got wrong: Lois really gets the short end on this one. In this new reality she’s Marcus’ girlfriend, which means this story is saying she just falls for Metropolis’s champion who happened to save her plane from crashing (how Lois met Superman in the post-Crisis DCU). Nothing special about Clark except that he’s Superman. And when Alpha-Centurion is told right in front of Lois that this reality may be undone he doesn’t even say goodbye to her, like she’s just there at the beginning to surprise us that nobody knows Clark and the twist that she’s with Alpha-Centurion. Also, the people see Superman fly past and immediately call the 100, Centurion’s replacement for the police apparently, which comes with its own concerns, that won’t be explored once Zero Hour gets done with things.
Recommendation: I get the feeling that Kesel was trying to test out a new superhero because that’s how it comes off. A new version of Alpha-Centurion (as Marcus) would be introduced into the DCU proper after this, so I guess it worked. The character first popped up in the main Zero Hour books and he’s better off there. Unless you want a complete series there’s nothing worth it about this story since it won’t matter and we’ll get a proper introduction later on.