etragedy's Superman Annual #2 - The Cadmus Project; Love's Labors... "Private Lives" review

DC's First Lesbian Character?

As I write this review, the late Joe Simon, the legendary creator of The Guardian and The Newsboy Legion has been deceased for less than a month. But here's a comic that paid tribute to him (and co-creator Jack Kirby) more than 23 years ago. That's how important Simon and Kirby were to DC and the comics field in general.
 
This story brings the Newsboy Legion and The Guardian into the post-Crisis DC Universe through a complex plot that doesn't bear summarizing here. The trouble is that even "King" Kirby had more than a little difficulty selling us on his acid-trip hippie wonderlands within the DCU, himself. And Roger Stern is not a Kirby or Simon, and writing this tribute nearly 20 years after Kirby resurrected the Newsboy Legion the last time ( which itself was pretty iffy) just doesn't work. Everything here comes off like a contrived mandate to bring these characters back and Roger Stern is stuck with the chore.
 
But there's a silver lining to this issue in the form of an 8 page backup story sans Superman. 'Loves Labors... "Private Lives"' is as forward looking as 'The Cadmus Project' is backward looking. John Byrne focuses on another Kirby character, 'Terrible' Turpin, and succeeds in humanizing him in a way Stern couldn't with any of the Newsboy Legion. Not only that, but Captain Sawyer is revealed in her home life to be a lesbian - it's thinly veiled, true, but pretty obvious. And, this was in 1988 - making this quite probably the first gay or lesbian character in a mainstream (DC or Marvel) comic! The art is superior to that of the main feature, and the story gives us some great insight into Sawyer and Turpin and how they separate their private lives from their on-duty ones.

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