I think this is an excellent issue all over. It's definitely sentimentally valuable for being such a round numbered issue, #100. It also deals with the secret identity aspect which is at the center of the spinal chord of the entire Superhero genre. Unless you're part of the Not-So-Fantastic-4, or the X Men? The X Men do try to stay secret, but they don't have dual identities, they do but it's not as relevant. I for one LIKE the dual identity thing. This issue also paints Superman, everybody's hero, all American good guy and the flawless ideal of perfection, as a cheater. No, he doesn't destroy worlds or kill people, (that's still to come, ahead, in the "Trial of Superman") He's not running a dictatorship, but he does (in the villain's eyes) cheat to win in high school athletics. And Superman loses.
First of all, I love the ART! I mean look at the first panel where he assesses the situation and how it affects the Kent persona. That shadow on his face, brilliant inking? (also notice how he keeps his football trophies right there). In one panel, we have the plot, brilliant art, and Superman's ego which got him in trouble, all at the same place. If this comic had a trailer, that's what it would be. The '90s Superman, appeals and revolts for a couple of reasons. Ah, Jurgens and Rubenstein! What a team right? both stupid and great. From Death & Return to Marvel vs DC, if you like that stuff, they've had quite a spectacular run. I love all that muscularity in the male bodies, there are muscles upon muscles, but in clean, tight perfection so as to not make them disgusting. There was Rob Liefield, Jim Lee and Clairemont/Byrnes working on X Men for some time by now, and they did great work on physical perfection as well. Definitely, compared to the old fashioned loose fitting clothes, these RADICALLY awesome figures sell covers with ease. It's evolved from flat to a little more 3D, adding some glossy effects to that depth, and has amazing, amazing colours. No era, from before or after, has appealed to me more as far as the art goes, than superheroes in the 90s and the 80s. BUT, Jurgen's Superman has long hair, is more.. should I say 'burly'? and is more aggressive than I would like to imagine Superman as. I guess one could justify, the guy had just died and come back, learned the price of failure, and is taking no more chances, not holding back and has become a little more serious.
And even then, he's defeated again, or is being given one heck of a challenge, by Conduit! Comparatively not as well known, appearing in only 24 issues according to the site, Conduit is a great villain. For one, he's a blast from the past, once even a friend, to the greatest guy on Earth. He knows Superman as most people don't. He's also drawn really beautifully, essentially a mass of wires resembling muscles and a visor that hides his humanity and makes him look like a robot. I thought of him as a Venom/Flash Thompson, with a Kryptonite engine. So Metallo into Venom, in both that his armour can create these tentacles, and the guy inside has a rivalry with Clark Kent.
Now, the secret identity thing, definitely starting out with the oldest superheroes, even Zorro, but more of a Peter Parker thing,(Spidey on a few accounts could be described as the marriage of Superman and Bats. He runs around on the rooftops, but wears colourful clothes and is a good natured person) I guess, has stuck around for multiple decades and, is it getting stale? Not really. Without the dual identity, the hero, and the story, is half of what it is. And as Superman explains here, come on, it's the DEATH of CLARK KENT! Everyone's like come on Superman, stop dying so much, wait till 2000, but this metaphorical (not permanent) set back is a huge blow to not only Superman, but everyone around him, parents, wife, pal and all! And this is what happens.
Like we mentioned, Superman is getting his butt kicked (metaphorically, not physically) on his 100th issue! all because of what, a past mistake? It is only human to err, we all make mistakes. But some men, we might hold in such high regard that they're not "allowed" to make mistakes. But can't we just forgive him? But it wasn't a mistake, turns out Conduit is just crazy and it's all just a big misunderstanding, (even though Superman does seem to have a bit of an ego, as he keeps his trophies on his shelf with pride). I mean, IF Conduit was really racing against Supes, as he claims, and not Clark Kent, then Clark would have left him in the dust. Clark controlled his power to stay within human performance range. He was even then both morally and powers wise his own master? But that's not true. Back in Smallville, he was just discovering his powers, and in fact wasn't he forbidden from participating in sports in fear of exposing himself and hurting others? So what was it, did he race this man at all? I'm not sure. Oh speaking of Smallville, there's a meteor rock reference here.
At the end of the day, Superman is ready to admit defeat like a man. It's weird though, because Superman never loses. Well he does here. Now if he were always as humble, and did not show off his trophies as much, he would have saved himself a lot of trouble, wouldn't he?