Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Comic A Day: Superman #160

Published by DC
Written by Jeph Loeb
Art by Ed McGuinness

Every night, Superman, the most dangerous criminal on Earth, escapes his cell at Arkham Asylum to harrass bald billionaire Lois Lane. And every night she skirts his advances and plays with his emotions until Earth's greatest champion, Bizarro #1, can drag him baack to the big house. Young James Olsen, better known as Gravedigger Lad, cheers on his hero from the sidelines, hoping to join Bizzaro on his orbiting watchtower and help make the world a better place.

This is the world you will be thrust into if you crack open Superman #160, the first part of the Emporer Joker storyline. A crossover story combining the storytelling might of the entire Superman brain trust at the time, including names like Joe Kelly, J.M. DeMatteis, and Mr. Science himself, Mark Schultz. It starts off as a light romp through a twisted version of the DC universe we all know and love, but a dark secret lies in the Joker's fortress that dramatically changes the tone of the story in the second act. And just how did the Joker become a God-like presence? I'm not telling!

Seeing Superman don his black and chrome costume from the 90's once again might give you pause or even repel you if you're in the camp that didn't care for the Death and Return of Superman arc from years past. Rest assured, this is a crossover event done right. There's a grand character arc within this series and an examination of what sets Superman apart from his contemporaries in the JLA, aside from heat vision and cold breath.

This was truly a great time to be reading the Superman titles. Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly in particular were a breath of fresh air after some stale storylines in the late 90's. Loeb always writes with a lot of heart and Kelly may be the best dialogue man in the business. I'm lukewarm on the Our Worlds At War stuff that followed, but I'll be holding on to my Emporer Joker for certain.

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