Thursday, September 27, 2007

Scarlet Salvation (DC comics)
Action Comics #713 When: September 1995
Why: David Michelinie How: Kieron Dwyer & Denis Rodier

The story so far...
Three years prior, the world watched in horror as the alien creature Doomsday fought Superman to a stand-still, the two dying in the street by each other's hands.

Having returned after the destruction of Coast City, Superman returns to resume his battle for truth, justice and the American way -- but not everyone is convinced!

After a sinister plot orchestrated by the Kryptonian cybernetic fiend, Braniac; a doubt is cast in the minds of all when an illusion is cast to reveal Superman still dead in his coffin. Though the truth was eventually revealed, deranged serial killer, Ramsey Murdoch, remains unconvinced.
Believing himself to be a self-proclaimed saviour, Murdoch prepares himself to destroy the one who poses as Superman.

Previous Form:
Superman (#8): Victories over Hulk, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, & Mongul.
Saviour: Making his debut in the Infinite Wars.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Draw 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Superman 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Superman 6 (Sound Speed)
Stamina: Superman 6 (Generator)
Agility: Superman 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Draw 3 (Street Wise)
Energy Powers: Saviour 6 (Mass Destruction)

- Saviour's abilities are psycho-kinetic in nature, allowing him to convert thought into physical reality. Applications of this ability commonly include an increase in size and strength, potentially to gargantuan proportions; and the creation of physical artifacts like weapons, and creatures.

- Saviour is driven by his own righteous perception of truth, making him physically susceptible to a good argument. Mentally imbalanced, this argument need not even be true, just acceptable to Murdoch's logic processes.

- Superman has endured through the decades as one of the most prominent heroes of the DC Universe. A spiritual leader, Superman has a wide array of physical capabilities to back it up, the stalwarts being; super strength, flight, heat-vision, super breath & super speed.

- Though not typically depicted as such, Superman also has a keen intellect, his Kryptonian brain enhanced in much the way his body is. A keen strategist, Superman also has a broad understanding of sciences and battle tactics, but is often hindered by his own sense of caution and responsibility.

The Math: Superman The Pick: Superman

What went down...
Having escaped prison, the ominpotently powered madman, Ramsey Murdoch, finds his way to Planet reporter Ron Troupe. Having covered Murdoch's trial for a string of murders connected to Murdoch's mission to destroy "deceivers", Troupe makes himself a dangerous enemy in Saviour, but finds himself saved by a bigger concern pertinent to his agenda.

In a public show, Murdoch takes Troupe hostage in a Metropolis street, garnering the attentions of the man calling himself Superman. Referring to the hero as the great deceiver, Murdoch waves the proof of a newspaper photograph of Superman's coffin in the air, insistant that Superman appears in the picture.

Unable to talk the killer down, Superman resorts to heat vision to melt Murdoch's knife. Ron Troupe is able to flee to the sidelines as Murdoch turns his attentions to Superman, revealing from beneath a headban the Superman shield he has carved in his own forehead -- a mark for the truth he believes he stands for.

Murdoch dedicates himself to Superman's cause, growing in proportions and using his ability to turn regular streetwear to the red and blue of Superman. The red S begins to bleed as his transformation turns the costume to black.

Recognising the undeniable escalation of the situation, Superman leaps into action, flying directly to his enlarged opponent. Unfortunately for him, Murdoch's strength is proportionately adjusted, matching that of the Hulk's!

Saviour pounds Superman into the street, repeatedly pummeling with power that baffles even the travelled Superman.

The fight, taking place in the middle of a crowded Metropolis city street, sees a child innocently playing a part in the battle. Pointing a toy gun, the small boy terrifies his mother by making an effort to save Superman.

The toy gives the otherwise uninspired Saviour a model upon which to shape his reality altering powers. Manifesting a weapon in his own hand, he demonstrates far more lethal capabilities than whirring sound makers and flashing lights.

Believing Superman's defeat, Saviour lords over the crater created by his imaginary gun's blast. Like a lazarus, Superman rises from the hole, bursting out to connect with a flying uppercut that sends Saviour flying!

Landing outside a bar, Saviour lies slumped against a wall as a baffled drunk passes. Inspired once again by the seemingly insignificant, he takes the drinker's exclamation, creating a literal stampede of giant, tusked pink elephants!

With the watching public scattered in a panic, Superman goes to work on the giant pink elephants, utilizing his impressive strength to use fist and brawn to take them out. Pink skulls collide as he hoists one elephant over his head by the trunk, colliding it with another.

Saviour takes full advantage of the distraction, wrapping his hulking arms around Superman in a sneak attack from behind. Taking the battle close quarters gives Superman a sure fire shot with his heat-vision, which connects with enhanced bicep at point blank range.

Pained but ultimately unaffected by the blast, Saviour retaliates with his own literal translation of heat-vision. The burst scatters the last son of Krypton, and engulfs the entire street in uncontrolled flames!

Though the street was cleared by the rampaging elephants, Superman still finds himself with an obligation to protect and serve the people inside the engulfed buildings. He has no choice but to ignore Saviour, turning his super powered lungs to the matter of the blaze.

Showing no honor, Saviour charges the occupied Superman to pound and taunt him. "Liar, liar -- brain on fire!"

Watching from the shadows, Ron Troupe struggles with the scene he's witnessing, but as he ponders his lack of super powers he considers another way to influence the course of events: the information gained from research he conducted for the Ramsey Murdoch article he wrote!

Troupe courageously steps into the battlefield to challenge Saviour and his self-proclaimed truth. He recounts Murdoch's unimportance in the world, and tendencies to blame everyone but himself for his predicaments.
Terrified but commited, Troupe continues to psychologically attack Saviour, buying Superman time to put out the fires that threaten citizens of Metropolis.

Troupe's attack manifests itself physically as Murdoch is confronted with his shortcomings, reflected by Saviour's psycho-kinetic powers.

Reduced to a worthless whep on the ground, Saviour is quickly revived by Troupe's call to Superman. Big blue swoops in to clean the deck before Saviour can again reconceive his invulnerability, allowing the polish hammer to do the job of knocking the villainous Murdoch out.

He is taken into custody by STAR Labs, where their advanced facilities are used to keep Ramsey Murdoch in a suspended state of sleep, at least until he would next awake to terrorize Metropolis.

The hammer...
With the crucial assist of Ron Troupe, Superman prevails in the name of just truth, on this particular occasion. Although, justice and the American way may be called upon to testify, so they should be well forewarned. Hussah!

Having just filled in some of the previously featured Superman battles, it occurs to me that we really need to step it up with the villain battles. Good grief. For a site that rarely strays before the nineties, let alone the fifties, you'd think we'd have Superman painted in a better light!

Anyway, moving on... I'm going to be one hundred percent honest here: I may not be at the top of my game. No, I know, you'd never notice! Alas, there has been a pressure in my head that continues to rob me of clarity, let alone any kind of half-arsed pseudo-intellectual musings on superhero books.

We're here because damned if I'm going to let allergies stop me delivering unto you some of the least important fights in comic book history, and because I'm enjoying pouring as many stats into our sporting-styled database.

Why this less than memorable issue of Action Comics, I hear you ask?
A jaded portion of our community might say I made a very wise decision, but way back in the mid-nineties I passed up the event that was The Death of Superman.
At the time the event was somehow so very real, despite an already rich history of superhero deaths and resurrections. Maybe it was the fact that DC had effectively wiped their slate clean ten years prior, or maybe it was the mass media coverage, but for some reason, Superman's death seemed certain.

Even in the face of what was potentially one of the most historically significant events since the creation of Superman, I felt it wasn't warranting of purchase. I was still a youngster at the time, far less interested in Watchmen and the so-called comics 'mus-haves' of the time, instead seeking out things like Spider-man joining the Fantastic Four, or the Phantom taking up boxing for charity.

Some may say I dodged many a bullet (including early Image Comics), but ten-fifteen years later, I kinda wish I'd fleshed out my collection just a little more. So when Superman: Doomsday hits DVD, I can flick back over some of those stories and reminisce about different times. Heck, I'd even settle for some electric Superman issues, gar!

Anyway, things happen over the years, and next to owning an unusually large amount of Steel comics [for a middle-class white guy who listens to techno]; Action Comics #713 is about as close as I get to Superman's death.

I have not seen Superman: Doomsday, and given my current financial situation, probably will not see it for quite some time. Honestly, I don't consider that any great loss, although I would gladly see it if for no other reason than the purpose of review, which has probably been thoroughly accounted for by other websites and blogs. Maybe one of these days we'll get a sponsor, or something...

As for this issue; look, I like David Michelinie, mostly for his work on Amazing, but I couldn't in good conscience call this a great issue. Honestly, it's the kind of thing you really read in one sitting, and throw over your shoulder like a used pink elephant. Everything from the characters to the inks and colours are pretty uninspiring, to the point where I think maybe even with the blinders of zeitgeist, you would readily have identified this as insignificant at the time.

[If monsieurs Dwyer or Rodier have amounted to major things in the comics industry, and I just can't think of them, then colour me red-faced. Yessir.]

Even so, Saviour manages to be one of those interesting concept-characters who is the writer's equivalent of the DJ's Rob Dougan before the Matrix movies.
He's the kind of forgotten character you can lay down in a new way and just totally blow a crowd's mind.
Of course, Saviour did resurface some years after this issue, I'm led to believe presumably to the same ineffectual ends. So while he isn't the secret weapon of a writer in waiting, you'd still have to wonder what could be done with a nutter who can create anything from his imagination.

And wonder we shall, as I disappear into the gloom, a little less congested than when we began. Which is hopefully good news for when we come back to do it all again tomorrow at our usual Friday timeslot. (I'm looking at you, Bahlactus!)
Oohhhhhh, you see what I did there? No? I'll tell you tomorrow! Get off my back for crying out loud, I've got allergies! Geez!...

The Fight: 6 The Issue: 3
[A thoroughly mediocre issue that really does little to enhance the reputation of the much maligned mid-nineties. Saviour is definitely a character of interest for the Secret Earth, but barring an unforseen investment, don't expect to see him any time soon. Seriously, how great would a sponsor be?...]

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