Cyborg’s betrayal continues Superman’s adventure # 503.
Superman’s adventure #503
Triangle number 1993 – 23
Author: Karl Kesel
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inker: Doug Hazlewood
Colors: Glenn Whitmore
Letters: Albert de Guzman
With the revelation of the cyborg as a villain and the return of the Kryptonian to the fortress of loneliness, we move into the back half of this part of the “Death and Return of Superman” saga. With the devastation of Coast City, the books begin the whole climactic act of the story, and with Superman’s adventure # 503, Superman’s return starts in earnest.
The question opens up that the Cyborg patrols the wilderness and provides misinformation to the White House. His deception is fully illustrated here, using tactics he will use through the rest of the arc. He has successfully blamed the destruction on the Kryptonian, and even though he thinks the rival is dead, he knows there are two others he must eliminate. As such, he specifically asks that Kid be sent to help him.
One thing that all writers do in this part of the story is to demonstrate exactly how cowardly the cyborg really is. He routinely waits until his back is turned, or blindsides his enemies. He tricks a family into looking away before mercilessly slaughtering them. In the previous issue of Superman, he first attacked Kryptonian when the latter had his back turned. This is an extremely effective way of showing that he has no real sense of morality.
One of the harder things to reconcile looking at stories with the child with the benefit of an adult lens and hindsight is how inappropriate sexual the older women surrounding him are. Supergirl has flirted with him repeatedly as a means of courting him for Team Luthor. There are romantic tensions with Tana Moon, who would eventually turn into an actual relationship when he would get his own book. And of course there’s Roxie Leech, daughter of the professional swineherd Rex Leech. Her age is never determined, but since she is often depicted smoking cigarettes, one can safely assume she is at least eighteen. The Kid is apparently about sixteen years old physically, so absolutely none of these are age-appropriate conditions for him. It’s a gross and sexist double standard, where if the Kid were a female character, each and every one of these relationships would be immediately labeled for what they are: at best eerie and at worst oppressed. But because the child is a man, it is to show that he is a stud playing outside his age group. There are not many flaws in this Superman era, but this is something that stands out as a glare.
Aside from the destruction of Coast City, the second plot that establishes this as a fixed part of history’s climactic action is the introduction of the kryptonite battle armor that leaves Antarctica and is on its way to Metropolis. Mimicking both Doomsday and Mongul’s arrivals, this is established with short sequences showing its progress.
When the Cyborg meets the child, Lois begins to make the connections that he is not what he claimed to be when he mentions that he wished he had had the same confidence in his powers at the child’s age. While the rest of the Planet editorial staff does not have the same knowledge as Lois, she knows that Clark did not really begin to develop his powers until he was older than Kid is now.
The edition ends with another Superman versus Superman slug party, as the Cyborg attacks both the GBS news team and Kid. The fight is mostly one-sided as the child begins to put things together, as his invulnerability does not work the same way that Supermans does, and is exposed to energy explosions and fire. The last panel in the question is just a red and black splash after the Cyborg has apparently thrown the child’s head in.
Are you missing any previous posts in The Never-Ending Battle? The early contributions can be found on Comfort Food Comics, while newer ones can be found here on The Beat.
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