What I Remember:
Issue #6 of the Man of Steel takes Clark back to Smallville, where he visits his parents, buries the hatchet with old flame, Lana Lang and his Kryptonian heritage is revealed. (To Clark, not us)
This was the final book in the series, just before the relaunch of the Superman titles after Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Man of Steel #6 "The Haunting"
Writer: John Byrne
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Dick Giordano
Colorist: Tom Ziuko
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor; Andrew Helfer
Publication Date:July 1986
Cover Price 75¢
Re-Collection Price: whole series for $20
Is It Any Good?
This book starts with Clark returning to Smallville, flying in as Superman, then mingling with other passengers at the bus station in order to keep up appearances. Over dinner, he fills his parents in on his life in the big city, including his icy relationship with Lois Lane, who’s still mad over Clark scooping her in issue 2. Martha sensing that Clark has the hots for Lois tells him that he should go for it and pursue Lois romantically. Clark decides to make a move when he gets back to Metropolis.
That night, while sneaking a piece of Martha Kent’s famous rhubarb pie, Clark is confronted by an alien in the kitchen.
Jor-El talks to Clark and he is suddenly in costume and transported to a holographic Krypton where he meets his mother, Lara.
Suddenly, he is returned to Earth finding himself in the middle of a field with Lana Lang trying to calm him down. They haven’t seen each other since Clark went off into the world and became Superman.
She tells him about how she thought that he was going to propose after graduation but instead he talked of his responsibility to the planet and mankind. He revealed his powers to her and took her around the world. Then he left Smallville for good.
Lana says she was so bitter about the breakup that she though of outing Clark but eventually she realized that his powers do belong to the world and it’s selfish to think that Superman could belong to one person. This gets Clark reconsidering a relationship with Lois.
He heads to the spot where his parents found the rocket only to discover it missing. Jor-El returns and begins sharing the full knowledge of Krypton, it's history, science, and languages.
Clark begins feeling his humanity slip away but is jolted back when Jonathan wallops the hologram with a shovel, shorting it out. Perhaps, if Jonathan hadn’t arrived when he did, Clark would have turned into a cold, unfeeling Kryptonian.
Clark flies away to process all the information he received. He attempts to reconcile his his life as a human with his Kryptonian ancestry. Ultimately, he decides that Krypton made him Superman but Earth made him human.
Continued after Ad:
Yes, this may be the most important issue in the series as far as fleshing out Byrne’s changes to the character. It establishes Superman’s humanity. Despite learning of the wonders of Krypton, he still thinks of himself as Clark, not Kal-El. He rejects their cold, super-rational culture for the more emotional culture of Earth. I think this is what makes the character interesting, "Earth’s Mightiest Hero" shouldn’t think of himself as an outsider or an alien, but as one of us.
Byrne’s Superman doesn’t sound like an episode of ancient aliens, where the benevolent extraterrestrials help us to become them or an Alien like Klaatu from the film, The Day The Earth Stood Still who attempts to save us from our destructive ways. This is his home and he’s just trying to leave it better than he found it.
Final Verdict for the Miniseries?
I don’t think I will ever not love this series. It was the first multi-part series I was ever given and it was the beginning of my love for the character of Superman. I collected the comics, had Superman toys, did my homework by the light of a Superman desk lamp and even used Superman on my wedding save-the-dates.
I don’t feel the same way about the current New 52 Superman. He seems cold and alien,not human. I don’t get a particularly heroic or altruistic vibe from the current incarnation of the character. It seems like DC doesn’t know why Superman connects with fans in the first place. I think John Byrne did back in the 1980’s and perhaps the powers-at-be should take a look at this series when planning out Superman's future.
In honor of the release of Batman v. Superman, we’re jumping ahead to 1996 and one of my favorite Batman/Superman stories from my youth, Action Comics #719. When the Joker poisons Lois, the World’s Finest team-up to save her! See you next Wednesday!