Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Realworlds: Superman

Realworlds: Superman

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 14, 2000

Cover date: August 2000

Writer: Steve Vance
Penciller: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez
Inker: Josef Rubinstein

The Mark of Superman

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

If you're reading this, I guess I'm dead.

So says Eddie Dial, erstwhile hero of this story, set sometime in the fifties or sixties, seemingly New York. Currently Eddie, a store clerk, is harangued by several of the more beautiful ladies in his neighborhood. They make as if to speak with him, and then retract their offer, giggling and treating him like your garden variety nerd when Pete, local ruffian, gives the cue.

Pete D'Angelo is a gangster of some stature...while he's telling the girls to ignore Eddie, he's taking money from several cops. After taking his ill gotten gains, he walks over and threatens Eddie, tripping him into a stand of fruit he's sweeping in front of. The manager promptly comes out and blames Eddie.

The manager finds a kid stealing a candy bar, and orders Eddie to call the police. Even though Eddie knows the kid is guilty, he pulls out a dime and absolves him of any guilt, saying that he just forgot to put the money in the register. The manager relents.

Walking home, the girls are off in the distance talking about him. Poor Eddie, they say, his mother died when he was young and his father died just the year before.

Eddie stops and confronts Betty, Pete's girl. He asks her why she doesn't go after someone better than Pete. To which she replies, "You just don't know how the world works, Eddie." "Yeah." He replies. "I guess I've got a lot to learn."

A back alley. Pete is passing some kind of smuggling deal to Eddie's manager, in the form of boxes. Eddie happens upon the group and listens. Through small talk, Pete reveals his Superman tattoo, on his arm. He says Betty called him her Superman, and that's why he got it.

Eddie steps out into the alley and declares him a liar. That he doesn't deserve Betty. Pete bats him about like a gnat, eventually throwing him into his own car, where Eddie breaks off his rear view mirror.

Eddie pretty much figures himself dead, but instead of pummeling him, they smile to each other and take him out for a drink.

Round after round after round, they drink him under the table, until he passes out.

He wakes up the next morning, looks in the mirror, goes all wide eyed...and...

Runs away, flying down the street in desperation.

His boss confronts him as he runs by, saying that Eddie's late for work. Eddie ignores him, finding Pete's nice car and whipping out a switchblade.

"You shouldn't play with sharp objects." Comes Pete's voice. He pummels Eddie around, eventually tearing his shirt open to reveal why he took off running: there's a huge Superman symbol on his chest, tattooed.

Eddie slinks to work, where his manager promptly fires him after some of the customers remark about his tattoo.

Over the next few weeks, he is pursued relentlessly. People make fun of him, owners of shops refuse to hire him, all because of his tatoo.

His landlady begins pestering him for the rent.

One of the girls who used to torment him knocks on his door, and when he opens it, leaps in, pelting him with kisses. Thinking he's got a break, Eddie jumps in, retiring to the couch with his lover, when suddenly the neighborhood kids break in (after she's got his shirt off) was all a ploy to get a picture of the girl with the Superman tatoo.

"Women in your room last night!" fumes the landlady. "You'd better have my rent today!"

Despondent, he tries to get his old job back, but his new manager has nothing to do with him.

Desperate, he finds Pete's apartment and breaks in, for revenge. The cops that Pete paid off before catch him using a silent alarm, and throw him in the clinker.

In the showers, Eddie's tattoo is revealed, and he is beaten within an inch of his life. Broken, he makes a vow to get revenge.

Flash forward a few years. Eddie is working out, and he has massive muscles and friends all around on the inside of the prison. The warden wants to see him: he's paroled.

The warden implies succinctly that Eddie should join forces with him on organized crime...which Eddie does, taking his former city by storm and establishing power with his Superman symbol on his chest. Stop one: He beats the crap out of Pete D'Angelo.

Women flock to him, and he is almost murdered, left and right. But he feels unfulfilled. He goes to see Betty.

She's moved out, he finds, and is so angry by this that he breaks the railing in front of her old apartment in half, like a twig. Kids run to crowd around him, thinking he's really Superman, and he picks them up and flies them around.

Suddenly, he's less of a tough guy. He starts raiding Superman action figure trucks instead of drug runs, and he distributes them to the local kids. He also plans a fireworks display. Word comes down from the top that Eddie's getting soft.

But not really. He stages a birthday party for a kid, so he can play with the children and put pressure on one of their fathers...the father who's planning on talking to the grand jury. He grabs the dad, Mr. Timpone, and drags him off into the bathroom to beat him up. His son runs in at an opportune moment. "I'm just beating up this Super-Villain." Eddie protests. "But...that's my Dad!" The kid counters. Eddie leaves, feeling terrible.

The big bosses want Eddie out. Eddie arrives home to an ambush, and again he is beaten well within an inch of his life and left in the gutter. Mr. Timpone pulls him out and gives him a place to stay.

At the fireworks show, gangsters pull up in a car and begin to sweep the crowd. Eddie leaps on the car and blinds them, making them crash, and taking a few bullets.

They think him dead.

The witness relocation program, however, has other ideas, and the scene flashes forward to his real death, the death implied on the first page. Eddie Dial is having a heart attack, many accomplished years in the future at a children's center.

He dies before the paramedics arriving can save him. "Too bad. Woulda wanted to hear how he got that tattoo." One of them remarked. One of his coworkers, pulling a sealed envelope from the desk and opening it, reads on the first page: If you're reading this, I guess I'm dead. This is a true story, so listen up...

"Maybe you will." He notes. "Maybe you will."

4Story - 4: I'd give it a three and a half if I could, but I'll just be nice and round up to a four. The reasons it is not a five? Well, the story is very stereotypical in some ways. The sixties girls, the ruffian with the nice car, the poor, unassuming shop guy. Organized crime is typically stereotypical, but seemingly more so in this story. The reasons it IS a four? Well, despite the handicap of stereotype, Monsieur Vance pulls this one out of the garbage. I think that the tone of Eddie's redemption could have been a lot stupider. I honestly expected that straight out of prison he would head over to the Children's Center after getting his revenge on Pete. But nay, he dabbles in the dark side for a good while, taking power and prestige from it, and doing what a real human would do: malinger in pleasure. This dabbling, friends, is called character, and is integral in a good plot. That's two and a half of the points right there. The other one and a half is the way that despite the enclosed and tight format, Vance takes the gaps in time that could have been used dully with unimportant attempts at character (See Realworlds: JLA), and he makes them great. Eddie getting more and more whomped on, Eddie getting stronger and stronger. He uses lots of character. The only reason that this is a four instead of a five is for the stereotypical plot. And I have no idea who to blame for that.

5Art - 5: I'm not picky. If a piece lets me move through it without saying to myself that I feel awkward, then it is a good piece. No splashes that were unnecessary, no trumping up the fight scene. I got the impression of the real world, and that's all I need. The characters were consistent. Eddie's change from weakling to automaton was especially well done.

3Cover Art - 3: It's a good cover, but it doesn't give an accurate depiction of the way the story goes. It just amalgamates three scenes into one, with a character that looks less like Eddie and more like Superman if he hadn't shaved and got in a bar fight. It's a good cover, but It loses two points for not reflecting more accurately the story.

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Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic was on sale.

January 2000

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