Whatever happened to The Man of Tomorrow?
By Alan Moore and Curt Swan
Reviewed by Jamil of Jamil's Comics
The 'Whatever happened to the man of tomorrow' story is the best Superman story I have read in my life, period. It was written in 1986 by a genius in his prime - Alan Moore. It collects the final two issues of Superman (Superman #423 & Action #583) featuring his final story as told by Moore, Curt Swan and George Perez. This is an end of an era and you will seldom find a better superhero story. And I cannot think of a better farewell to any icon in the world of Superheroes.
The end started with the sudden madness of Bizzarro. Bizzarro is the splitting anti-image of Superman. He comes from the imperfect Bizzarro-world where, with seemingly same powers, they do most things opposite to what Superman does. They laugh when they are hurt, they cry when they are happy. (Hmm, we do that sometimes too don't we?) But he is in essence a peaceful person, and he has never done criminal acts. All of a sudden, to become 'more' opposite, he starts a killing frenzy (Superman never kills). Then he commits suicide (Superman is alive, therefore Bizzarro must be dead). He dies in Superman's arms with the words, “Hello, Superman, hello.”
Soon after, the Toyman and Prankster, seemingly harmless silver age villains, gang up to torture Superman's old friend, Pete Ross, in an attempt to know his true identity. Pete dies from the torture. But before his death he admits that Superman is Clark Kent. The two then reveal his secret identity on a live TV newscast. Fearing for the safety of his loves ones, Superman takes his old friends, including Jimmy Olsen, Lois and Lana, to his home, the fortress of solitude.
Meanwhile in the arctic, Lex Luthor has discovered Brainiac's head; the remains of his battle with Superman in space. Lex opens it up, and accidentally activates it. The head takes control of Lex's body. With this bizarre new 'team-up' the Brainiac turns towards the fortress. Superman is visited by the Legion of Superheroes and is given a trophy 'His supreme hour' - a statue of Superman holding a Phantom Zone projector. A final farewell from the time travelers to the greatest hero that ever lived? Perhaps. Believe it or not, that is not even half the story. It is a wonder; and a testament to the genius of Alan Moore, that he could fit so much of a story in mere 40 odd pages of comic. We learn of the attempt of Brainiac to erect a shield to deny other heroes entry into the fortress. We learn of the final fate of Superman's close friends. We see a new side of him - rage - when a childhood crush dies in the hands of the Legion of Super villains. Most of all, when we are made privy to the identity of the master-mind - the single most powerful villain Superman has ever faced.
After this - the last Superman story - DC revamped/re-introduced him with the mini series The Man of Steel by John Byrne in the same year. This story is available in a hardcover collection, along with the two other Alan Moore classics on Superman: “The man who has everything” from Superman annual 11 and DC Comics presents 85, where he meets the Swamp Thing. Excelsior!