Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Adventures of Superman #484 (1991) - "Blackout" Review

Writers: Dan Janke, Jerry Ordway
Artists: Tom Grummett, Doug Hazelwood
Cover Price: $1.00
Release Date: September 24, 1991
With all of these amnesia stories that we're seeing in DC right now with Nightwing, Aquaman, and Heroes in Crisis, it's a perfect time to go back to the amnesia story that I remember most (get it?) as a kid. This is when Superman lost his memory.

I was eleven when the five part Blackout arc came out, and I bought the issues as they were released at a book store in Reading, Massachusetts. The owner was an older gentleman, and truly just a great guy with a kind heart. When me and my buddy Ryan came in he'd be excited to see us. We loved looking at the real books, being readers, but it was always the comic book rack that we were actually going to buy from. Ryan was more of a Marvel guy, while I liked Spider-Man but was more of a DC guy.

That little book store was a big piece of my childhood and brought me so many stories that I will remember forever, such as the Robin II: The Joker's Wild series I just reviewed. At some point Comically Speaking opened, which was just down the road and across the street. We would always go to the book store first and get the new releases he had there out of loyalty, but how can you beat an entire store dedicated to comics? With back issues and trades, Comically Speaking broadened my comic nerd world beyond anything that I could imagine. Eventually the entire plaza that the book store was in was torn down, and now Comically Speaking is, in my opinion, a Mecca among the comic book stores in Eastern Massachusetts. I could spend an entire day there.

If you asked me to name the one moment that stands out the most as a comic book related childhood moment, it would be the first sight of Superman #62, which was Blackout #4. I remember seeing it on the rack, dust in the sunlight floating through the air, with the book store owner in the background working diligently to put things away behind the counter. There was Superman, unshaven and using a piece of his cape as a headband, watching as Lois Lane, the most iconic woman I had ever known, fighting against near-naked dark-skinned hotness. It was glorious. What the hell was going to happen in this one? Could Lois bring Clark back? Did I even want her to?

I still have all five issues of this arc from when they came out, but does it hold up after 27 years? Also, I've been drinking. So there's that.

A disgruntled mustachioed man reads the newspaper. S.T.A.R. Labs may pull out of Metropolis but their freelance scientist Emil Hamilton will stay, the city is under an energy crisis, and the Lex Luthor's Australian son and heir is to be welcomed by the mayor (at this point Lex is dead, or everybody thinks he is). Our mysterious man sees what he needs, that Emil Hamilton is "a friend to Superman", so he tosses the paper into the trash and heads off to exact his revenge.

Emil Hamilton is working in his lab on some helmet device when the buzzer rings. He's convinced to open the door through telekinesis or a spell, and our disgruntled mustachioed man walks in. He is Mr. Z, an immortal who collects souls in the gem of his cane. However, in his last confrontation with Superman, his gem was confiscated by Superman and now he wants it back. The helmet that Hamilton is working on will allow Superman to see, through a satellite, the area around his Fortress of Solitude, specifically to keep tabs on this gem. So this Mr. Z is a real threat according to Supes himself. Well, Mr. Z keeps Hamilton under his control and commands him to make some adjustments.

Meanwhile, newly engaged Clark Kent and Lois Lane have burnt their pot roast. Lois warns him to use pot holders, but Clark uses his bare hands and points out that he's never needed them. Then he shows why he never needs a footstool too. Jerk off show off.

Later, Superman flies into Hamilton's lab to see what's up with his project, and when he sees a full helmet instead of a headset he's disappointed because it's supposed to be a headset, Zodamnit. But Hamilton explains that he's tired and he's been up all night and that he needs to test the basics before he downsizes. So Supes steps into position and the helmet is lowered on to his head. Power goes out for a second, with the city in an energy crisis, but it comes back on.

Then Superman sees an excess of energy and Mr. Z makes himself known.

"... but I can also override the programming, allowing me a view from your mind's eye!"

A device that was once meant to look outside now looks inside into Superman’s brain, projecting Superman's memories and enemies using the display on the helmet's screen for Mr. Z to see. I got a good chuckle when Mr. Z sees Superman's point of view of him holding up a defeated, cross-armed Mr. Myxlplyx and says "that one looks rather puny, though!" But it's Hamilton who spills the beans that the gem is in Antarctica, not the look inside Superman’s brain, so that's where they go.

While the workers at the energy company struggle to keep things working, Lois shows up at Hamilton's lab for a scheduled interview but Hamilton's brains seem scrambled, residual from being controlled by Mr. Z. He slowly comes to and finds that Superman and the man who did this to him have landed in Antarctica.

In the Fortress of Solitude, Mr. Z is reunited with his gem. But within his helmet, Superman is envisioning himself punching through walls. He breaks one down and there's another, so he breaks through that only to see another. Then... he removes a brick to see Hamlton.

Suddenly, Mr. Z can't control Superman. Hamilton has connected to the helmet through his own technology and is further influencing him, knowing the risks of energy supply and danger to the subject. Lois warns Hamilton that he may be going to far, but Hamilton keeps going.

Supes takes Mr. Z and brings him up, up, up, up into the sky... and Hamilton uses so much energy resources to make it happen that Superman and Mr. Z are overpowered by a power surge and go crashing back down to Earth. Metropolis's power goes out. The grid is gone. There's no light. But there was enough energy directed to Superman's brain to cause serious damage to even a Kryptonian. Is his grid gone? Has his lights gone out? Lois is worried that they may even be dead...

Bits and Pieces

We have a good set up to the story ahead. Mr. Z uses Hamilton to trap Superman, and Hamilton risks it all by pushing city power to the limits to save Superman. The main players are laid out in place: Clark, Lois, Mr. Z, Hamilton. And if you're a writer who wants to "Blackout" Superman, then what would work better than a blast of electricity directly to the brain? Also: the art is classic Grummett.



  1. You have a real talent for writing unique content. I like how you think and the way you express your views in this article. I am impressed by your writing style a lot. Thanks for making my experience more beautiful.
    Also visit Whitening Face Wash for your skin health.

  2. Thank you for sharing such valuable content! Your dedication to delivering quality information is inspiring. Keep up the fantastic work, and I'm looking forward to more enlightening posts from you.
    Jeddah to Makkah Taxi

  3. "I always leave your blog feeling more informed and inspired."
    dynamic software