The Man of Steel #3
“One Night in Gotham City”
Writer: John Byrne
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Dick Giordano
Colorist: Tom Ziuko
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Andrew Helfer
Published by: DC Comics
In Man of Steel #3, Superman flies to Gotham City to apprehend the vigilante known as Batman. I don’t recall the exact reason Superman goes after Bats, but it was probably as simple as Clark not liking Batman’s method. Unfortunately, fr Superman, Batman knew they would cross paths one day and has prepared for his visit. First, Batman uses a Superman-detecting force-field around himself – and if Superman triggers it, a bomb will kill an innocent person somewhere in Gotham City.
As you can imagine, the big blue boy scout ain’t too happy with the news. He’s probably fast enough to take down Batman, but he’s not about to risk an innocent person’s life either. Instead, he agrees to team up with Batman against a Gotham City crime lord known as Magpie. The deal is Superman helps take her down but only if Batman hands over the detonating device for the bomb.
To be honest with you, Magpie is not much of a threat. She’s a jewel thief and her look made me laugh the first time I read this comic. The most horrifying thing she does is blow up one of her goon’s heads with dynamite in what another henchman called “Happy Birthday.” Superman and Batman do some detective work and eventually track her down in a museum. I don’t remember all the details, but I seem to remember the heroes defeat Magpie by ripping off her wig.
As the issue nears its end, Superman and Batman say goodbye, not as friends, but as two guys who now respect each other. But before flying of Superman wants Batman to defuse the bomb, but it turns out that the innocent person Batman put in danger was… himself! Yep, Batman never intended to kill anyone. He just figured that Superman wouldn’t kill anyone and kept the bomb in his utility belt the entire time. And with that, the heroes finally part ways.
The first time I came across Man of Steel #3 was in 1990 at a church flea market of all places. One lady had a few comic books on her table, but the one that caught my eye was Man of Steel #3. For one thing, Batman was on the cover. and coming off the Batman movie I was devouring anything the Caped Crusader was in. Two, the splash page featuring Batman standing over a criminal blew me away. Up to that point, I’d only been reading comics for a little over a year and a half, and I hadn’t seen Batman without the yellow oval on his costume. Also, the way John Byrne drew Batman made him look huge and I loved that.
Plot-wise, the story in Man of Steel #3 is not the best I’ve ever read. Having the heroes go up against Magpie was not very exciting because she wasn’t much of a threat. For what is supposed to be Batman and Superman’s “first” post-crisis meeting, the threat needed to be bigger. Maybe not Lex Luthor or the Joker, but surely there were better options than Magpie. That said, I do love the one-on-one scenes between Batman and Superman and the beginning and the end of the issue. They told me everything I needed to know about their relationship at that point and laid the groundwork for the friendship that was to come.
Nitpicking aside, Man of Steel #3 is a very entertaining issue. I felt like I got an entire story without having to read the rest of the mini-series. John Byrne’s art is stunning (he was awesome back then), and even his dialogue is sharper than usual. But perhaps the best part about this comic is that it only cost me $1.