The Never-Ending Battle: SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #19

The Never-Ending Battle: SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #19

DOOMSDAY IS HERE in Superman: The Man of Steel #19!


Superman: The Man of Steel #19

Triangle Number: 1993 – 1

Writer: Louise Simonson
Penciler: Jon Bogdanove
Inker: Dennis Janke
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: Bill Oakley

There are very few faults I find in the “Death of Superman” story. One is the aforementioned weirdness with the timeline. Another is how the blood looks in issues illustrated by Bogdanove and Janke. Something with how the blood is illustrated in this issue and on the original trade paperback cover makes it appear pure black, with no red at all. It’s unsettling and not in a good way, breaking any sense of realism that you can still maintain in a story with a god-like superhero slugging it out with an unstoppable bony monstrosity. Again, it’s a minor quibble, but it’s still something that distracts from a nearly perfect story.

Once more as the issue opens, readers can see that the stakes have been raised again. Where the last issue had been three panels, now a week before Superman #75, only two panels remain per page. This again drastically ups the sense of urgency and the frenetic pace at which the story is speeding to its conclusion. Also upping the tension in Man of Steel #19 is that, for the first time, we are shown Doomsday killing a man on panel. Clearly, people have died in his rampage, but they’ve all died off-page, whereas on the opening page of this issue Doomsday immediately snaps a construction worker’s neck in the second panel.

As the conflict escalates upon reaching Metropolis, Bogdanove is the perfect artist to take advantage of the minimalized panel structure. His figures are so large and dynamic that the action just feels more bombastic and fills the space well. As at the end of the last issue, this issue begins with narration from Lois Lane as she reports on the greatest struggle her fiancée has ever faced. Jimmy likewise laments that his luck has truly changed from the last year, because he’s on the hottest streak of his career, not knowing yet what a monkey’s paw statement that was about to become.

As the Kents watch their son battle on a live broadcast half a country away, Superman is starting to show some signs that he’s being worn down. His cape is once more in tatters, and like last seen in “The Blaze Satanus War,” Superman’s bleeding in a rare occurrence.

Crashing back to Earth, Doomsday finds himself in the tunnels of the underworlders, right where they are holding the captive Warworlders. In a sequence that truly illustrates the pure chaotic nature of his destructive impulses, he shatters the walls of their prison freeing them, before turning on them and swinging a bony fist through the air to pulp their heads like they were watermelons at a Gallagher show. Once more, in fun with sound effects, Oakley delivers three absolutely sickening “ZPLATT!” effects, each clouded with a spray of blood.

Now that Doomsday is in Metropolis, Lex presses the situation to his advantage, by subtly implying that Superman might be more of a burden to Metropolis than a gift, and claiming that this monster must have a grudge against him. But the downside to the fiend being in Metropolis is that he no longer has an excuse to keep Supergirl from joining the fight.

She arrives just as a battered and bruised Superman takes a protuberance to the gut, gashing a deep bleeding wound in his side as he falls back to the street. It’s with Supergirl’s joining the battle that Bogdanove crafts one of my favorite panels in the entire saga as Doomsday makes quicker work of Supergirl than he did Blue Beetle. A single blow to her head and the protoplasmic goo that she’s made of just splatters with a disgusting flesh-toned “BLASH.”

Even struggling with injuries and an out-of-control rampaging monster running through Metropolis, Superman takes a moment to ensure that Myra, Keith, and the other orphans are kept safe from explosions. At the same time, the SCU turns its sights on Doomsday in a hopeless endeavor to slow him down. But once again, Superman digs deep and continues the fight, knowing he’s the only one that stands between the creature and the total destruction of his city. The last page of the issue has an internal monologue of Superman swearing he’ll stop the monster even if it kills him, his own blood splattered across his face.

Miss any previous entries in The Never-Ending Battle? The early entries can be found at Comfort Food Comics, while more recent ones can be found here at The Beat.

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