All Associated Cover/Issue Images
Cyborg Superman: My throat is artificial. How can it be so dry?
Batman: Mikaal… Superman died. Do you remember when all of that went down. You have to. Right?
Starman: Er honestly, I was an emaciated drugged exhibit in a freak show at the time, so no.
Synopsis "Reign of Doomsday Part Five: No Exit!"
Previously: Doomsday, the juggernaut who had once killed Superman, has returned and has been stalking the quartet of heroes/villains who tried to succeeded Superman. It has already captured Steel and the Eradicator and has now turned its attention to Hank Henshaw, the Cyborg Superman. Henshaw had escaped from the Green Lantern Corps by hiding his program within the cybernetics of the Alpha Lantern Boodikka. In JLA #55: Boodikka was talking to Supergirl and Batman (Dick Grayson) near the remains of New Krypton when Doomsday attacked. The heroes managed to flee to the Justice League’s Watchtower, but the Cyborg revealed his presence just as Doomsday caught up with them.
The Cyborg’s electrical consciousness takes control of the Watchtower and puts up its defenses preventing Starman and Saint Walker from reaching Supergirl and Batman. The heroes outside realise that the Cyborg is in control when the exterior of the Watchtower rearranges itself into a version of his face. Inside the Watchtower it is all that Batman and Superman can do to stay alive. They leap aside as the Cyborg turns the Watchtower’s internal weapon systems on Doomsday. Supergirl tries to fight back, but something is making her weak and disoriented. Batman orders her to the Sick Bay as it is heavily shielded by “organic” Martian technology. He theorizes that the Watchtower is creating a magic-like energy-field designed as a counter measure against kryptonian attackers – which is what the Cyborg and Doomsday effectively are, but the field only seems to be affecting Supergirl.
Batman tells Supergirl to stay in the Sick Bay whilst he tries to locate the control system generating the magical field. Supergirl is alone when the medical computer announces that it has detected that she is sick and begins an automated medical analysis. The computer tells Supergirl that she is dying from whatever has turned her into Dark Supergirl. Over the intercom Batman tells her to activate a control on the console and a holographic recreation of Doctor Mid-Nite appears. It has no luck diagnosing the underlying cause of her condition so hands off the analysis to a holographic Doctor Fate. However, it’s Fate’s psychologist skills that are being emulated her. He diagnoses that Supergirl’s conversion is psychosomatic and discusses her past with her.
Henshaw refuses to simply give in to Doomsday – he may want to die, but he refuses to let that death be at somebody else’s hands. Their fight plunges through the heart of the Watchtower and rips through floors and bulkheads. It eventually looks like Henshaw has landed a killing blow, but he’s shocked when Doomsday recreates himself as Cyborg Doomsday in exactly the same way as the Henshaw’s own powers created his current body. Doomsday’s consciousness now replaces the Cyborg’s as the controlling force on the Watchtower. The two Cyborgs continue to battle as Henshaw’s face on the outside of the Watchtower is replaced by Doomsday’s face.
Batman has to go through the Arena, the League’s holographic training area, but the alterations to the Watchtower unleash a hoard of lethal holographic villains against him. He survives and finally makes it to the junction box that controls the magical dampener. He almost isn’t able to disable it as Henshaw and Doomsday crash into the room, but he succeeds and the restored Supergirl (complete with blue/red costume) swoops down to pacify the combatants. She almost succeeds, but the Cyborg Superman shoots her in the back. Doomsday then throws both of them to the floor before teleporting away with the defeated Cyborg Superman and Supergirl. Saint Walker and Starman rejoin Batman as the Watchtower’s defences finally go off-line, but they cannot detect where Doomsday teleported to.
- Starman’s gem is magnifying Saint Walker Blue Lantern ring
- The Watchtower’s sick bay operates as a Panic Room and is shielded by Martian “organic” technology. It’s medical systems include holographic versions of Doctors Mid-Nite and Fate.
This issue is the fourth part of the “Reign of Doomsday” crossover. How well you respond to it will depend on your thoughts about that crossover. IGN’s Jesse Schedeen makes the very valid point that:
If any DC series is known for its strong annual issues, it’s Superman/Batman. The first two were deliciously fun throwbacks to classic team-ups by Joe Kelly, while last year’s annual offered an equally fun glimpse at the Batman Beyond world. But apparently that trend had to end at some point.
This Annual definitely doesn’t continue that tradition.
This issue is deeply embedded within the “Reign of Doomsday” and Justice League of America plotlines so readers who aren’t familiar with those could be baffled by some of the psychoanalysis and bloodlust. Nevertheless, each issue of this crossover has just been a standalone fight with the feature character being defeated by Doomsday (I can safely predict the out come of next weeks Superboy appearance). You don’t have to worry about what is happening in the other comics – it ain’t anything different.
How well each part of this crossover works should then depend on how the writer responds to that challenge. James Robinson takes a different approach with this issue than he did with Justice League of America (vol. 2) #55 (May 2011). In that chapter Doomsday was fighting the Justice Leaguers in a crampt and overpacked comic, but in this chapter the Doomsday fight is left to decompress in the background as Supergirl and Batman’s separate activities take center stage. Supergirl Commentary’s Anj even makes the point that
But really this is a Supergirl story with a lot of carnage happening around her. The issue wraps up the Dark Supergirl story started back in the Omega Man arc and does it in a very satisfying way. In fact, one of the reason it works so well is that it is a moment of calm in this book surrounded by the chaos of the brawling within the JLA satellite.
It is in that calm that the strengths of James Robinson’s writing shines, in his ability to really focus in on a character – it is a trait that can too often get lost in the craziness of the Justice League.
Miguel Sepulveda’s art is fantastically detailed and this may be the best that Satellite Watchtower has ever looked (personally I prefer the lunar version, but a Satellite ain’t bad). Sepulveda’s art is also well suited to a character like the Cyborg who assembles himself from surrounding technology. Comic Bulletins’ Jamil Scalese nicely describes the action scenes as
..beautiful in a devastating and chaotic way. The big-time battle between Cyborg and Doomsday feels like it’s blasting through the panels into your lap and the page layouts are creative and classical at the same time.
My particular favourite is the sequence on page 3 when the Cyborg recreates his current body by pulling it together from thousands of components telekinetically pulled from the surrounding machinery.
|Reviews Portal||Comic Bulletins||Jamil Scalese||4/5|
|Reviews Portal||IGN||Jesse Schedeen||4/10|
|Community Reviews||Comics Vine||Ave of 1 review/s||4/5|
|Community Reviews||iFanboy||195 pulls||3.5/5|
|Character Site||Supergirl Comic Book Commentary||Anj||A|
|Character Site||Superman Homepage||Michael Bailey||5 (story) & 3 (art)/5|
|Reviews Blog||Comics Per Day Reviews||Timbotron||Fair|
|Character Site||The Captain's JLA Homepage||Jason Kirk||3.5/5|
Page 1 - The Justice League’s orbiting headquarters is the third incarnation the “Watchtower” and is their second satellite. The original Watchtower was created in JLA #4 by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter as the League’s lunar base. That was revamped during the Mark Waid and Bryan Hitch era into a second more-advanced incarnation, but that was destroyed by Superboy Prime immediately before Infinite Crisis. This current incarnation was introduced in Brad Meltzer’s run and serves as part of the League’s twin-headquarters – a Washington ground-based Hall of Justice and the orbiting Watchtower. The satellite version is based on the version from Justice League Unlimited.
Page 2 – Saint Walker is the leader of the Blue Lantern Corps. These are like the Green Lanterns, but their rings are powered by hope rather than willpower. He popped-up in Justice League of America (vol. 2) #55 (May 2011) when he sensed Alpha Lantern Boodikka enter near Earth space and got caught up in the fight with Doomsday.
A Blue Lanterns’ ring only gives them basic flight, communication, and survival functions unless a Green Lantern ring is close-by. In that case the Blue Lantern ring symbiotically boosts the power of the Green Lantern ring and becomes more powerful in its own right (the idea is that hope and willpower produce greater results that either alone). It appears that Saint Walker’s ring is having a similar affect with Starman’s gem.
Page 3 - The Cyborg Superman is Mister Fantastic or be began life as a Mister Fantastic clone. Dan Jurgens wrote a story where an astronaut called Hank Henshaw and his crew of four were exposed to cosmic radiation. Superman saved their crashing Space Shuttle, but he was unable to prevent the hideous mutations it caused. It was a throw-away pastiche on the Fantastic Four’s origin, but the Henshaw character survived. He was mutated into an electronic conciousness who could create new bodies for himself from whatever technology was around. Henshaw eventually transferred his conciousness into the rocket-ship that had brought Superman to Earth and through it gained a knowledge of kryptonian technology and Superman’s DNA. He then left for outer space on a mission of exploration.
Out in space the now insane Henshaw discovered and them teamed-up with (c.f. enslaved) Mongul in a mutual revenge quest against Superman. However, upon reaching Earth they discovered that Superman was already dead at the hands of the monster Doomsday. Henshaw used his knowledge of Superman’s DNA and technology to pose as a convincing “Cyborg Superman” – Superman’s corpse supposedly returned to life by the technology in the Fortress of Solitude. He sought to gain the everybody’s trust before utterly ruining Superman’s legacy by turning the Earth into a new Warworld. However, three other three claimants to Superman’s legacy had appeared – Steel, Superboy, and the Eradicator – and they worked with the real Superman to expose the Cyborg Superman’s plans and to defeat him.
The Cyborg Superman has become something of a bad smell – it is literally impossible to get rid of him. He’s fought Galactus, been chained to the Source Wall, been reformatted, presumed dead, but has always returned. His last big come back was as the Grandmaster of the Manhunters during the “Sinestro Corps War”. Geoff Johns and co gave him the motivation that he has become sick of his constant reanimations and now just wants to die. He’ll serve any big bad who he think will grant that to him (Anti-Monitor, Krona, etc). When last seen he was calling himself the “Alpha Prime” and had subverted the Alpha Lanterns via their cybernetic implants in “Revolt of the Alpha-Lanterns” (Green Lantern Corps #47-52). He believed that he would be able to gain mortality – and thus he able to die – if he turned himself into an Alpha Lantern and then discovered a way to make an Alpha Lantern mortal again.
During that battle Boodikka’s chesty battery was smashed breaking breaking Henshaw’s control of her. Afterwards the Cyborg attempted to hide in her battery…
The Cyborg Superman remained in Boodikka’s circuits until Justice League of America (vol. 2) #55 (May 2011) when he popped-out in response to Doomsday’s attack.
Page 6-7 – Visible at the bottom on the floor is Alpha Lantern Boodikka. She was injured by Doomsday in Justice League of America (vol. 2) #55 (May 2011) and remains unconscious for this entire issue.
Page 9 – We’ve seen medical facilities in the JLA various facilities over the years, but this is the first look at the new Sick Bay. Batman explains that it is isolated from the rest of the Watchtower which explains why the Cyborg’s system don’t affect it. He also calls it a “panic room”, a term that was popularised by the 2002 film of the same name. It refers to a room that is specially strengthened to act as a refuge in the event of an attacker gaining access to the house.
Page 18 – Dark Supergirl is something that relates back to immediately prior to the Infinite Crisis in Supergirl #3-5. Lex Luthor used a sample of black kryptonite to split Supergirl into two people. Black kryptonite is the youngest form in the comicbooks, but it relates back to the scene in Superman III where synthetic kryptonite splits the Christopher Reeves’ Superman into the good Clark Kent and the evil Superman. Black Kryptonite has the same effect on comic book kryptonians. It’s shown up in Smallville as well. The “evil” version of Supergirl wore the black costume Kara wears here. During “JLA: Omega” the Omega Man turned Supergirl into her dark doppelganger again, but this manifestation wasn’t so evil and was more of a rogue or brat.
The Cyborg Superman exiled Doomsday in a bit of house keeping in the original 1990s “Death of Superman” story. Whilst posing as Superman he attached Doomsday’s inert body to an asteroid and blasted it off into deep space.
It seems that the Justice League Watchtower is getting more and more like a Star Trek space ship with every visit. The Arena is the Watchtower’s holodeck danger room. It has appeared in various guises over the years and this version was collogually known as “the Kitchen” during Brad Meltzer’s run – the point being that if you can’t take the heat you should get out of the kitchen.
Page 19 – Holographic Doctor Mark I: What was I saying about Star Trek? Star Trek: Voyager was famous for its holographic doctor who asked “Please state the nature of the medical emergency!” each time it was activated. The holographic Doctor Mid-Nite’s “Hello, I presume you are unwell” seems rather polite by comparison. This Doctor Mid-Nite is Pieter Cross – a member of the Justice Society of America.
Page 20 - These villains are (top-right and proceeding anti-clockwise) Sinestro (in his pre-Sinestro Corps uniform), Solomon Grundy, Scandal Savage, Deathstroke, Cheetah, Gorilla Grodd, Lionmaine, and Bane.
Page 31 – Holographic Doctor Mark II: This Doctor Fate is Kent Nelson, the grand-nephew and namesake of the original Doctor Fate. He is also a qualified psychologist. He makes the connection between the physical incarnation of the Dark Supergirl and Supergirl’s deep seated psychological problems. When she first appeared this version of Supergirl was a screwed-up brat and it took quite a while for her and her writers to work through that ill-judged baggage.