Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Two more chapters until this first section of the book is done. Two more chapters we’ll see Superman alive. He isn’t in most of this book, at least physically. The full storyline was less about Superman than the influence Superman had on Metropolis and the world, and how people reacted to a world without him. That’s what made the initial concept, “let’s kill Superman” work. It’s not just some shock death like so many nowadays. There’s meaning and impact. Even though we all knew he’d be back (he was DC’s flagship hero at the time; now it seems to be Batman) seeing what he meant to the DC Universe made us see how important he was. It’s really a story about the people Superman helped and defended more than Superman itself. And that’s okay.
Last time Superman and the Justice League went up against Doomsday…and got a beating. I wonder what would have happened had the Justice League been the big group it was before and after this period? The closest thing they have to a heavy hitter is Maxima and possibly Bloodwynd (a 90s name to be certain). What if Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, or the Marvel family had been there to help? We might not have had the story they wanted, so it might have been just the right time to tell this story.
Chapter 9: Doomsday part 9
Well, there goes Maxima. She tried fighting Doomsday as well but Superman and her combined couldn’t stop it. She ends up hurt and the arriving Guardian gets her to a hospital. Meanwhile the fight continues into a shopping mall Lex owns, where Doomsday sees an ad for a wrestling event in Metropolis. Or rather an exaggerated parody of an ad. I know it was intended to be an actual wrestling ad in-universe but I’ve seen a lot of commercials for professional wrestling events over the decades and they’re not this over-the-top except in other media. It shows the disdain these writers or directors have for pro wrestling.
Superman tries to push Doomsday away from Metropolis and instead sends it crashing into Project Cadimus’ “Habitat”, that city made of trees the Newsclones were going to hide in earlier. So I see why that was mentioned. It was easier to go into it during the set-up section than the actual fight. It also sets up Superman’s thought that Cadmus was behind Doomsday. We know now that it wasn’t, that it was a scumbag group of Kryptonian scientists but I don’t believe they figured out, or cared, about Doomsday’s origins when they came up with this story. There’s some serious retconning involved. Part of that is something mentioned in Hunter/Prey, that Doomsday was specifically targeting Superman due to a latent tie to his heritage. However there’s no sign of that here. Doomsday turned his attention away from Superman to go to Mhh-trr-plss” and earlier did go after a jet thinking it might be the “flying man” (and just as willing to kill the pilot because she was alive) but he doesn’t seem to have any specific hatred for Superman.
Two other moments attached to this is with Lois and Jimmy and Lex “Jr” and Supergirl. Lex keeps talking Supergirl out of going to help Superman with Doomsday, convincing her that she and Team Luthor (if you’re a Power Rangers fan, think of the Silver Guardians from Time Force, a private defense force) should remain in case the thing enters Metropolis. The only thought we get from Lex is that he doesn’t think Superman needs her help since he’s defeated Lex so many times in the past. Remember, Lex is using a cloned body to pretend to be his own Australian-raised son at this point in continuity so his ego is still intact, even when one of his Lex-Marts are being destroyed. We get no indication whether or not he’s hoping Doomsday crushes Superman, although given history he just might be keeping Supergirl away from him for that purpose.
As for Lois and Jimmy, the whole scene where he’s pulled away from doing the Turtle Boy TV show to follow the Doomsday story is a bit useless. There are a couple other moments that seem to be catching readers of the comic up on what happened the previous issue, which Stern is trying to translate into the novel and it’s just repeating what the reader already knows. In the comics it’s fine because every issue is potentially someone’s first, and maybe they’re not following all the Superman comics (there were four different titles at least at the time for Superman alone) and thus missed part of the Doomsday storyline. In novel form however we’ve been following right along. Unless you only read a chapter at a time like I’m doing no breaks are taken and even then I’m reading one a week and didn’t need a refresher that a huge monster is running around. Are that many people not watching the news right now? Or remembering they’re in the DC Universe?
Beyond that it’s still an action-packed chapter. So far the story is rather good. But next chapter has to be THE moment, the final days of Superman. Join me next week as we see how well Stern adapts the part where Superman dies!
Next Time: Doomsday finale