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Alan Moore Definitely Wrote ‘Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?’ So He Could Kill Superman’s Dog

I attended Terrificon, held the weekend of August 17 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., to meet up with a friend.

This was my first mainstream comic book convention since 2011, which was my first mainstream comic book convention since the mid-’90s. So, if I manage one per decade, I guess I’m doing OK?

I also attended a con in costume for the first time, putting on my Captain Nemo outfit. This thing will deliver forever – as usual, the costume impressed and I posed for a lot of photos.

Among the highlights: talking Wakanda with Christopher Priest and Afua Richardson; meeting Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and buying a sweet new Wonder Woman print from him; startling Henchgirl and Making Friends writer/artist Kristen Gudsnuk with the fact that we have a mutual friend.

In preparing for Terrificon, I went pulled books from my collection for guests to sign. As I dug out issues and trade paperbacks – Priest was deeply impressed that I had the old Marvel Knights-imprint trade of Black Panther – I came across a bunch of other books that I hadn’t read in a long, long time.

Among them was a 1997 graphic novelized reprint of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, Alan Moore and Curt Swan’s masterpiece farewell to Superman.

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? was a two-part story, published in the September 1986 issues of Superman No. 423 and Action Comics No. 583 as the “last” Superman story. Up to that point, Superman had 50 years of continuity, none of which was updated or revamped or relaunched. You had to know all of it, it all counted.

In 1986, DC was revamping Superman (and the whole DC universe) for the first time after Crisis on Infinite Earths, and that included the Man of Steel.

Moore was the young upstart who already was reinventing comics with Miracleman, Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, and Watchmen was about to drop. Swan, then and now, is considered to be the quintessential Superman artist. And on inks was George Perez, running hot with The New Teen Titans and before he birthed a modern Wonder Woman.

In DC Comics editor Paul Kupperberg’s introduction, Superman editor Julie Schwartz says he was discussing the story at breakfast with Alan Moore.

Upon hearing about the project, Schwartz says, Moore “literally rose out of his chair, put his hands around my neck, and said, ‘If you let anybody but me write that story, I’ll kill you.’ Since I didn’t want to be an accessory to my own murder, I agreed.”

Moore, comics’ great deconstructionist, fabulist and all-time kook, certainly was happy to distill 50 years of Superman stories into one last great epic.

And, after reading it for the first time in (gulp) 20 years, I am certain about one thing despite not knowing it to be fact.

Alan Moore signed on to do this story because, what is a more Alan Moore move than to kill Superman’s dog?

Seriously. Curt Swan, in about two pages of panels, does amazing work with Moore’s script.

The story takes place 10 years after Superman has died. It’s framed by a Daily Planet reporter interviewing Lois Lane – now Mrs. Lois Elliot with a husband and baby boy – about Superman’s last days, for a retrospective.

And so Lois tells the story of how Superman died.

After Clark Kent was outed as Superman and the Daily Planet building subsequently attacked, Superman takes all his friends and loved ones to the Fortress of Solitude. There, Brainiac, who has taken over Lex Luthor’s body, lays siege with help from some other villains. The stage is set for Superman’s final fight.

Moore writes with detailed eloquence on Superman’s greatness, his awesome power. The familiar trope of Superman flying to snatch a falling Lois out of the air (“You’ve got me? Who’s got you?!?” RIP, Margot Kidder, for real) turns into Lois calling Superman a “violet comet” because the reds and blues of his costume ran together when he flew. Moore turns the Superman from a static four-color image on a page to a living experience.

There’s a lot of heartbreaking stuff in the book, as well as some horrifying stuff. Toyman and Prankster ship the corpse of Pete Ross, Clark’s No. 1 friend from Smallville, in a crate to The Daily Planet! (Take that, Se7en.) Moore even twists the knife further when a young Supergirl visits from the 30th century with the Legion of Superheroes, not knowing that by this moment in time, she’s already dead at the hands of the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis.

But, for me, Krypto is the saddest.

Kryptonite Man has breached the Fortress of Solitude’s walls. Krypto, who has returned from years traveling in space, comes crashing through miles of rock to attack him.

Krypto, knowing that he is lunging to certain death, does not hesitate, drawing closer and closer, his fangs bared, and Kryptonite Man is deathly afraid.

Krypto then rips Kryptonite Man’s throat out.

Swan’s art puts the mortal wounding off-panel, but the sound effects and make it clear. The look of determined rage on Krypto’s eyes, in close-up, sells it further.

Terminally poisoned and turning green, Krypto lets out one long howl before he falls over dead.

Krypto dies protecting his master, his companion and friend. He protects Superman with his life, as certainly Superman would have done for him.

Reading this book now at age 37, with 20 years of living, wisdom, as well as gaining a wife and a dog, Krypto’s death hit really hard for me. I immediately thought of how often my wife has said that, if she were threatened or attacked in our home, she believes our mellow, pleasant dog would fight tooth and claw for her, and me.

Krypto is the Super-Dog, doing what any good dog owner imagines their own dog would do for them, and they for their dog, if it came to that kind of threat.

Dammit, Alan Moore and Curt Swan.

Y’all got me.

Y’all got me good.

 

 

 

 

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