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Old 02-01-2019, 04:00 AM   #1
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Stories You Love That Most People Never Heard Of


I have a bunch of 'em. We all know about the Watchmens, the Dark Knights, the Clone Sagas, and all'a that jazz. Let's talk about some of our favorite "pet" stories; ones that mean a lot to us personally, but aren't part of the larger conversation when people talk about comic books and the "greatest" stories ever told. They can be objectively "great", but they don't have to be, because it's all relative anyway. They can even be ones that most people may not like. As long as it impacted you personally, it counts.

Spoilers will be unavoidable and I'm not gonna bother trying very hard to avoid them anyway, just to let you know. So if you wanna use Spoiler tags, fine, but I wouldn't sweat it. Be as detailed as you want; the more the better, I say.

- Adventures of Superman Annual #1: "The Union" (1987)

This was one of the first comics I owned, and if you know me well you've heard me mention it before. In brief: The President sends Superman to investigate a small town in South Dakota where every living inhabitant seems to have vanished into thin air. Superman encounters a giant, blob-like mass of flesh, and after they do battle he's faced with the alien Word-Bringer, who reveals that he's in fact murdered the entire town (pets too) to "free them" from their flesh-prisons, and has turned them all into a hive-mind which he controls (physically manifesting their remains as the blob creature), giving him great mental powers. The alien flees upon witnessing Superman's rage; the hive-mind reaches out to Superman and tells him that they collectively refuse to exist in that intolerable state, and they beg him to put them out of their misery. When he refuses, they psychically overtake him and, to his horror, force him to shut down the life support systems which sustain their "brain", granting the sweet release of death.

This was my first exposure to the concept of a "Pyrrhic Victory", and frankly, I loved it. My Dad used to read it to me when I was 4-5; I eventually wore out a few copies, then couldn't find it for many years, but thankfully I eventually replaced it. I think it's actually Dan Jurgens's very first published Superman work, so if you're a fan of his, check it out.

Trivia: This story was followed up on two years later during Superman's self-imposed exile in space, following his execution of Zod and subsequent split personality/nervous breakdown event. The issue is Adventures of Superman #452: "Hell Beyond", where he encounters the Word-Bringer again, and is ultimately successful in reaching a compromise whereby, rather than resorting to kidnapping and murder, only those who volunteer would be selected for "The Union". Superman warns him not to f*ck it up and that was the end of that, forever. Kind of a mediocre ending, but the original story has a sincere and definite Creepiness Factor. It's totally unorthodox for a Superman story, right up until the "Did Superman actually just 'kill' an entire town?/"It's okay, they made him do it" ending, which is why it's so great.

"I left some words quite far from here to be a short reminder...
I laid them out in stone, in case they need to last forever..."

"But hey... I'm not telling you anything that you don't already know."
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