What I Remember:
I was heavily collecting Superman books around this time and this book kicked off Team-Up Month where each of the Superman books featured a guest star. I don’t remember who else was featured. At the time there were five Superman books published, Action Comics, Superman: The Man of Steel, Superman, The Adventures of Superman and the quarterly Superman: The Man of Tomorrow, which rounded out the months with five Wednesdays.
Subplots would often run throughout the books, so you had to collect them all and it was hard for a tween/early teen to keep up with Superman titles on a meager allowance.
This book has Superman and Batman trying to find the antidote for Lois Lane, who was poisoned by the Joker. I’m pretty sure Batman has to keep Superman from killing the Joker at some point. Let’s see how it holds up to my memory.
Action Comics #719 "Hazard's Choice"
Writer: David Michelinie
Artists: Kieron Dwyer & Denis Rodier
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Color Separations: Digital Chameleon
Letterer: Bill Oakley
Assistant Editor: Mike McAvennie
Editor: KC Carlson
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: March 1996
Cover Price: $1.95
Re-Collection Price: Lot of Action Comics purchased for $8.99 (Roughly cover price)
We open with Lois Lane passing out and for some reason her roommate is Lori Lemaris, Clark’s college ex-girlfriend,who is a mermaid. For some reason, she has legs. It’s not explained in this issue.
Lois is rushed to the hospital where Superman learns that she was poisoned by a Joker doll Lois was given in Action Comics #714. The doctors say that Lois has two hours to live.
Superman flies to Gotham and meets with Bruce and they elect to investigate separately with Batman going to Arkham to meet with the Joker and Superman taking out Joker’s henchmen, who Batman knows are planning a heist that night.
Batman distracted Superman, letting him take care of what he intended to do that night in order to keep him away from the Joker. Batman thought he was too close to the situation.
Michelinie’s Joker is great. He’s conniving, unhinged, murderous, and willing to take a beating to further his game. When we meet him, he’s playing solitaire with his toes because his hands are in a straight jacket.
Superman reconnects with Batman while he is investigating a lead that the Joker says is “Right under his nose.” This leads him to a Dr. Phillip Drumm, or philtrum the area beneath your nose. (you learn something new every day) only to find a literal dead end.
Now, the Joker gets serious and tells the hero the antidote would have to come from his blood. All they have to do is inject a serum into his blood, the only catch is it will kill him.
Superman is all for the idea, not as sure that he would unravel mentally as Joker thinks he will. But Batman talks him out of it. Superman nearly kills Batman first, but his point gets through. They decide to let Lois go rather than kill the Joker.
But there’s a twist, turns out the Joker wanted Superman to kill him and then have Lois magically wake up, the Romeo and Juliet ending. Driving Superman mad with guilt. Superman is overjoyed that his fiance has survived and tell Lois of his anguishing decision, which I don’t think she necessarily agrees with.
Continued After Ad:
I liked Michelinie’s portrayal of the Joker. There was menace and you could tell he loved messing with the heroes. However, I did have an issue with the ending. I think that it makes no sense to let the Joker live and let Lois die. The over/under on the wager is just too great.
I don’t like the idea of heroes killing their enemies, but even I have a hard time believing that even Batman would want his friend’s fiance to die so that his mortal enemy could live. It’s a bad choice.
If I were writing the story, I would have Batman theorize that he thinks that he could develop an antidote on his own or that he examines the poison to learn that he thinks it will wear off and that Clark should trust him. The moral dilemma could be that Clark wants to be sure that he could save his future wife’s life, but Batman won’t allow him to hedge his bets. This way, there’s a chance they both could live.
I was also not a huge fan of the art in the book the faces look weird, but the Joker looks perfect. I would think that in a Superman book, the Superman art would look best and the characters from the other sections of the DC Universe would be harder to draw.
All-in-all the book was more of a dud than I remember it being.
We return to the Marvel Universe and journey into Hell’s Kitchen and witness Daredevil’s “Fall From Grace” in Daredevil #324 from 1994! See you in seven!