First Appearance: Superman: The Man of Steel #17 (December 1992 DC Comics)
Created by: Dan Jurgens
First Appearance Rating: 5/10
“Big monster flipped Moon’s rig…one hand tied behind its back!”
What makes a great villain. Writers and artists constantly try to add in new villains for their heroes to battle; some become popular and remain to fight again while others are destined for obscurity. While a lot of factors go into this such as costume design, powers, and personality as a few exaples, killing your arch nemesis certainly raises a villains notoriety. In 1992 DC Comics created a media storm that swept the world, they killed Superman at the hands of Doomsday, a villain created a few issues before. Sure, technically Superman just went into stasis to recover from the fight, but back then it seemed he was surely dead when we didn’t have the internet telling us otherwise. Doomsday has not had as big of a moment since, but killing Superman was enough to send him down as one of Superman’s most formidable foes.
In issue #17, Doomsday did make a brief cameo as his fist punches through a steel wall, but issue #18 is where we get to see him in action, albeit still just a little. A majority of the issue focuses away from Doomsday however. Keith Richards is trying to rescue his mother from the Underworlders, the group he believes is holding his mother hostage. He fears that if he goes to Superman for help, his mother will be killed so he decides to take matters into his own hands and rescue his mother himself.
Meanwhile, Lois receives a letter warning her of the Underworlders plot as well as requesting Superman to come stop them. She decides to go to the location by herself and is quickly captured. Keith who has been lurking through the tunnels in search for his mother sees this and overhears that the Underworlders do not take prisoners as Lois is seemingly led to her death. Realizing he was lied to, he rushes out of the underground tunnels and spray paints a S symbol for which Superman sees. He quickly bursts down to the tunnels and defeats the Underworlders. After defeating them, he finds Lois being already being aided by one of her informants whom had sent her the letter to bring Superman to stop the plot.
During all of this, every few pages Doomsday is shown. He finally escapes from the tomb he was encapsulated in underground, in the middle of nowhere. He only has the use of one arm though, as his right his still entangled behind him in chains. A poor little bird flies into his open hand and is squished as Doomsday laughs. A giant tree stands in his way and he pulverizes it into splinters. A bridge gets in his way so he topples the bridge. Lastly a big rig gets in his way, so he flips and destroys it. Another truck driver sees the rig destroyed so calls the state troopers, who decides this sounds like a job for the Justice League.
With his initial appearance, the reader really does not get much of a glimpse of who or what Doomsday is. He is in the green containment suit the entire issue and his right arm is chained behind him. The only thing you can see is his left hand with the bones sticking out. It’s nice in the fact that it builds up this mystery of who he is. You still have to wait another issue to get a look at him.
While I like this unknown factor, they really don’t give enough of an insight of just how powerful he is. Sure he is cruel to animals killing the bird, but that doesn’t scream mega villain; maybe just crazy little neighbor kid at it again. Plus he destroys a big tree, is this really supposed to make Superman quake in his boots? Now destroying the bridge was cool, but they decided not to stop there, they had the climax be him destroying a big rig. Hide yo trees, hide yo bridges, and hide yo big rigs because they destroyin everything out here. Seriously, not super impressive yet.
His first appearance would have been much more impactful if the entire Underworlders story would have been wrapped up in issue #17, and then #18 could have focused entirely on Doomsday. His power levels are through the roof, but how they tried to show it here was unconvincing, leaving you to read the next part in the Justice League to see it. For a villain who went on to defeat the entire Justice League, and finally of course Superman, he could have used more of a grand entrance then what this gave us.