James Robinson begins his run as writer with Superman 677 (Aug. 08), with Guedes and Magalhaes on the art.
Things open on a really light note, as Superman and Green Lantern play frisbee with Krypto in space.
Robinson introduces the Science Police, an element of the Legion of Super-Heroes, into present day Metropolis, run by the mysterious Control. She monitors everything going on in the city with hovercams.
The Science Police go into action against an invading monster, and are not that impressive in their first outing, getting trashed by the creature. The battle reaches the globe atop the Daily Planet building, sending it crashing towards the ground. Atlas makes his big debut, appropriately catching and holding up the globe.
But it becomes clear immediately that this is no new hero for Metropolis, and he is searching for Superman. This is the second appearance of the character, following his debut in First Issue Special 1, back in 1975.
Atlas spends a few pages tearing up the city, before Superman arrives as the issue ends.
The story concludes in the next issue.
Superman 665 (Sept. 07) is a Countdown crossover of sorts, a special issue devoted to Jimmy Olsen, relating how he came to work at the Planet, and become friends with the Superman cast.
Busiek is joined by Rick Leonardi and Ande Parks as we meet Jimmy as a young boy, selling newspapers on the street. Perry White is impressed with the boy, who also makes an impression on Lois Lane and new reporter Clark Kent.
After Clark finds out that Jimmy is homeless, and living secretly at the Planet, we get the story about the disappearance of his father, and how his mother went off searching for him.
Some criminals are working with experimental kryptonite based armor, and Jimmy happens to be on the spot when they are threatening Superman. He risks his life to help the hero, which leads to their long, close friendship.
Not bad for what it is.
Kurt Busiek, Geoff Johns and Pete Woods launch the post-Infinite Crisis Superman, jumping One Year Later, as all the DC books do this month. The title also reverts to Superman with this issue, while retaining its numbering. In the intervening year, Superman has been without his powers, a result of his exposure to kryptonite at the end of Infinite Crisis. He has been living exclusively as Clark Kent.
A scientist, K. Russell Abernathy, has been working on an experiment to use kryptonite as a power source. What a surprise, the experiment goes horribly wrong.
Abernathy winds up converted into the new Kryptonite Man.
But this is not a job for the powerless Superman. It’s a job for Supergirl, as Clark observes the scene, to report on it for the paper.
Lex Luthor has been booted from his own company, after all the scandals that the Planet has been reporting about him. He blames Clark for this, and has his goons rough him up.
The story continues in the next issue of Action.
As the cover of Adventures of Superman 645 (Dec. 05) proclaims, the issue leads in to Infinite Crisis, and takes a few less artists to do so. Rucka is joined by Defilippis, Weir, Guedes, Kershl and Faucher.
The Daily Planet staff are shown, watching the endless loop of Wonder Woman killing Maxwell Lord. The discussions that Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, Ron Troupe and Clark Kent have about how to interpret the out of context material help to convey the attitudes of the people across the world seeing it.
The skies of Metropolis fill with OMACs. They aren’t taking action, just “protecting,” and making no one feel safe.
While Luthor, with Mercy and the female Parasite at his side plots with both the Secret Six and Ruin. No wonder he’s getting headaches.
Emil Hamilton visits Lupe Leocado, having deduced where Ruin must have his power supply. She heads out, although we do not see her again this issue.
Luthor draws out Superman for Ruin, in a broad daylight confrontation. Superman figures out that Ruin’s teleportation is physically draining him, and that he must be using Phantom Zone technology. But before he can unmask Ruin, he gets teleported away.
Superman winds up at the Moon, and the wreckage that used to be the Justice League Watchtower. Infinite Crisis 1 picks up from this point.
Adventures of Superman 632 (Nov. 04) continues with the Ruin storyline, but Superman himself has other concerns in the Rucka, Paul Pelletier and Rick Magyar story.
The story opens with a great shot, overlapping from the end of the previous issue, showing Superman flying around the world to Umec in the milliseconds after he hears Lois Lane get shot.
Ruin and Xlim are being taken to prison by the SCU. Ruin explains his motivation for killing Superman, that the hero is slowly draining the sun, which will now perish in a few million years. He sounds totally crazy, until he threatens the men in the van with him. And, indeed, we later see that all those in the van have been killed, except for Xlim, who he left behind, still chained.
News reaches the Daily Planet about Lois Lane’s shooting. Jimmy Olsen tells Perry White about it, and he calls Clark – who is really the Martian Manhunter, running interference for Superman, who is with Lois.
He stays with her in Umec while the doctors stop the bleeding, them flies her off to Dr. Mid-Nite to take care of.
And we see that in shooting Lois Lane, someone has taken Superman completely off the game board. This ties in to events in Identity Crisis.
The story continues in the next issue.
Casey, Woods and Marzan conclude the introduction of the Persuader in Adventures of Superman 602 (May 2002).
Not only does the new Persuader have his atomic axe, capable of cutting through anything, but he also has his followers, garbed and armed with knock-offs, but still a force for Superman to reckon with, through sheer numbers.
The Persuader does get distracted from his intention to destroy the Daily Planet, finding Superman a much better target. The properties of his axe amaze Superman, especially when it appears to cut through the borders of reality, and seemingly opens a gateway to Krypton.
It’s not Superman who defeats the Persuader in this story. Rather, it is the mystery man who is manipulating all of this. Wouldn’t it be nice to know why he is doing this? Tough luck. It won’t be. He somehow creates a vortex that draws the Persuader away. To the Krypton that we saw? Maybe.
At least Lois returns at the end of the story, making Clark happy. Too long a departure would have just been too soap opera-y, but two issues to cope with her father’s death feels real.
The new Persuader gets his atomic axe in Adventures of Superman 601 (April 2002), thanks to Casey, Pete Woods and Marzan.
Lois Lane is still grieving over the death of her father, and leaves Clark a message explaining that she needs to be alone for a while.
That’s ok, she really isn’t needed in this story. Cole Parker is the at the centre of this tale, still in prison after leading the Persuader revolt a few issues ago. In the one element of the story that I really do not care for, a mysterious man is his cellmate, and uses some apparently magical powers to transform Cole, and turn an ordinary axe into the Persuader’s deadly atomic axe.
Who is this man? What is his plan? Beats me. Unless it’s explained in a story I haven’t come across, this character, whose actions are so vital to this tale, is never really identified or explained.
Aside from that element, the story works well. Cole looks very creepy as he escapes prison with his new friend, and rallies his disenfranchised comrades.
As the issue ends, the Persuader once again attacks the Daily Planet.
The story concludes in the next issue.