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World Without A Superman collects the eight-part comic series, Funeral For A Friend, which follows on from eventsv in The Death Of Supermanm which saw The Man Of Steel finally fall at the hands of a creature known only as Doomsday. Doomsday was stopped but not without Superman paying the ultimate price; his life!
This trade paperback deals with the funeral for America's biggest ever Superhero and sees a gathering of all Superman's greatest allies as friends and heroes from all over gather to pay their respects. Supergirl reflects upon the fact that if it hadn't been for Lex, she might have flown to the big guy's aid sooner whilst reporter Lois Lane fends off questions about what has happened to Clark Kent whilst secretly mourning the man she knew as her lover!
But events begin to take a sinister turn when disturbances are reported at Superman's Memorial. Meanwhile crime threatens to spiral out of control as new heroes try, and mostly fail, to fill the void left by the late Kryptonian. World Without A Superman continues a story-arc that would have far-reaching consequences for the Superman/ D.C universe and would be revisited for many years to come!
This is an okay tale that builds on the hype created by Death Of Superman but which, to the more cynical comic fans among us, could well be construed as a bit of a marketing gimmick! It is good to see so many familar D.C faces under one umbrella and the way they interact especially as so many of them do not always get a chance to cross paths but this story only really works as a novelty item without giving away much of any real substance!
For a big, big Superman fan, this book is essential reading. For everyone else, it is a conversation piece (as in remember when Superman died and all the D.C heroes etc etc) and not much else. I quite like it but cannot help feeling a little cheated in light of events that would go on to follow. But let's face it.....Superman was never REALLY going to stay dead was he?
World Without a Superman is a 1993 graphic novel by Dan Jurgens. This is the middle part of three graphic novels that collect together the famous story arc that DC Comics ran through the various Superman (and Justice League) issues in the early nineties where they killed the character off before eventually (and unsurprisingly) bringing him back to life. It created a great deal of publicity at the time and if you pick up the three graphic novels (The Death of Superman, World Without a Superman, The Return of Superman) and read them in order you can wallow in the whole epic arc. The story in World Without a Superman begins right after the events of The Death of Superman where a mysterious and apparently indestructible monster known as Doomsday layed waste to The Justice League and large parts of the United States.
Superman was left alone to battle this obstreperous creature and finally brought Doomsday to a halt in Metropolis - but only at the cost of his life. Superman and Doomsday lay dead on the ground surrounded by rubble after their destructive battle as a distraught Lois Lane and various superheroes arrive at the scene. Attempts to revive Superman are unsuccessful and the world must face the future without him. While Lois Lane, Clark Kent's parents and most other people grieve, Lex Luthor and a dodgy secret government organisation called Cadmus start thinking about who will be allowed to hold the bodies of Superman and Doomsday and what may be discovered from them...
Out of the three graphic novels that make up this famous Superman arc, World Without a Superman (which was also known as 'Funeral For a Friend' in the comics) is certainly the least incident packed and dramatic although it would a trifle unfair to call this this a mere filler between two more exciting sections of the overall story. The Death of Superman is one gigantic battle/fight between Superman and Doomsday that rages across the United States and The Return of Superman is a memorably over the top and fun climax to the arc that throws Green Lantern, a new Superboy and a robot Superman into the mix amongst many other things. While World Without a Superman is not the most exciting part of the story it is the most subtle and quite interesting as it takes a look at what would happen to all these characters if Superman was no longer around, how they would react to this shock and missing presence in Metropolis and the world.
The Justice League (which in this era is made up of Bloodwynd, Ice, Blue Beetle, Guy Gardner & Maxima) are plagued with guilt after they failed to stop Doomsday and left Superman to face him alone while Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman's parents turn to each other as only they knew who Superman really was. Lois has to bite her lip and stay silent as women come out of the woodwork pretending they were 'Mrs Superman' to make money and sell a (fake) story. There are a lot of guest stars from the DC universe in the story which is good fun, everyone from Aquaman to Wonder Woman to Batman to The Flash. The superheroes all gather together to pay their respects to Superman. They even visit the Metropolis postal service to collect all the letters people wrote to Superman from around the world asking for a favour, like finding a lost relative or something, and try and accomplish these tasks. It's a bit corny but some of the flashbacks Jonathan Kent has about the young Clark growing up in Smallville are quite pleasant. This is the least crash bang wallop graphic novel in the trilogy and it perhaps has a little more depth because of this.
The story takes a strange but interesting turn when Jonathan Kent is in hospital and starts hallucinating that he's on a Korean battlefield again and attempting to extricate Superman from the afterlife. 'From here on, the journey must be travelled by Ka-El, last son of krypton. Go back, rejoin the living, Jonathan Kent. The voices whisper that your time has not yet come.' The art is quite striking and inventive in this part of World Without a Superman. I should point out that as this graphic novel is a collection of Superman and Justice League comics there are different artists involved and consequently the style of the drawings changes more than once as you read through. All of it is pretty good though. I quite like some of the subplots in World Without a Superman although this is the most episodic of the three graphic novels/sections in the whole Death of Superman project.
Lex Luthor is furious that Superman died at someone's else's hand and smashes a chair over Doomsday's dead body in frustration that his greatest nemesis was not brought down by his own brilliance but an unthinking brute. Another thread has a vigilante crime fighter called Gangbuster going back into action in Metropolis (now that Superman is dead) and mistaking undercover police for drug dealers, this leading to quite a gritty chase over the rooftops of Metropolis. The obsession by Westfield - the head of Cadmus - to get his hands on Superman's body to try and create a clone is also an interesting plot that runs through the graphic novel. Cadmus is a government genetic engineering project with a nutty leader and it's quite interesting when they cross swords with Lex Luthor - who has a private army and Supergirl working for him. This is ginger bearded Lex Luthor 'Junior' and 'Matrix' Supergirl. I would elaborate but this review would last forever if I did!
World Without a Superman is a decent graphic novel and best read in the correct order after The Death of Superman and before The Return of Superman. It isn't Alan Moore but anyone who finds their curiosity piqued by this storyline arc or loves comics will certainly rattle through this with no small degree of enjoyment.