Superboy #21 came out last week and continued a trend to re-invent this comic, moving a bit away from the angst-driven early issues to more straight-forward super-heroics with a dash of humor. I, for one, welcome the change.
Writer Justin Jordan has shifted the story of the book from running from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. to fighting the more psionic-oriented H.I.V.E. With the complicated nonsense of NOWHERE/Harvest/The Culling/multiple layers of subliminals in the rear view mirror and with a complete lack of acknowledgment of Scott Lobdell's inane genetic history for the character, I really feel like this is a fresh start and a 'bold new direction'.
Suddenly this book feels like a super-hero book again with a young man with powers striving to help people. Great news!
RB Silva and Rob Lean do the bulk of the art and it has been interesting to see their style morph in front of our eyes to the thicker lined murky look he currently sports. It works well with scenes with psionics or tactile telekinesis. However, I miss his cleaner look in the quieter moments of the story. Edgar Salazar pitches in on some pages and his thinner smoother style worked well.
With the threat of HIVE now front and center, Superboy has teamed up with Dr. Psycho to try to bring them down.
I like the contrasting personalities between these two new friends here. Certainly there is a banter here which allows Jordan to bring some humor into this book, something much appreciated. But Superboy wanting to act while Psycho investigates is similar to the friction/friendship between Huntress and Power Girl in Worlds' Finest.
It feels consistent for Superboy to be bored just sitting around, saying it every three minutes.
Psycho's old school corkboard investigation of psionic-like events leads him to a young girl named Sarah who is homeless and on the run. She can't seem to escape from a monster named Decay.
A psionic connected to a being named Decay?? Could this be a new Psi for the New 52?
Unlikely, but I can hope.
Anyways, I liked how Psycho's powers are stronger around Superboy. I wonder if he is leeching off Superboy eventually weakening Kon. It also makes Psycho have another reason other than just being a good guy to stick with Kon. I wonder if that leads him down a path from funny cohort to super-villain.
In another move to bring a bit of whimsy to the book, Jordan has Krypto become Superboy's pet.
As they say, there is no greater friendship than a boy and his dog. I love this addition to the book.
It is funny how Krypto was also part of the Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire Superboy books as well.
This also adds another link to Superman as a Superman Family starts to form in the New 52.
As I said, Superboy hasn't exactly been acting like a pure super-hero in this title. So I thought this scene was touching as he moves towards that role.
When he encounters Sarah, she runs into his arm and shouts Superboy, happy to see him and be able to help her. That look of surprise on his face that someone would be so happy to see him is wonderful. And that casual conversational 'yes' which becomes 'YES' as he takes on the role of protector for this girl. Really nice moment which encapsulates a thematic change in the book.
Despite the more serious story of a young girl in peril, Jordan continues to inject some lighter moments into the book. This scene where a starving Sarah is fed at a diner is funny especially with the quiche discussion.
It really reminds me of the lighter adventures of the original Kon on Hawaii. We lived through the somber Johns/Lemire era (which I liked). We lived through the anti-hero era of Lobdell/DeFalco. Nice to see some of these moments with this character again.
And then we get the 'origin' of Sarah and Decay. She was in the clutches of HIVE, being experimented on, when Decay showed up and slaughtered everyone there but Sarah. In fact, he brought the entire facility down.
That looks like Psycho running on the left. Is this how he escaped?
Nice coloring here. Making this red brings a disturbing feel to this, making this destructive scene feel bloody when it isn't.
Decay arrives at the diner and things become clear. Whenever Sarah feels threatened, she manifests the Decay monster as a separate being. That is her psionic power, to bring this creature into existence to fight for her.
I like how Superboy's first plan is to simply talk down Sarah, to try to show her she isn't in danger. That is what Superman would do ... talk first, then resort to fists.
When talking doesn't work, Superboy defeats Sarah/Decay in a risky but inventive way. He stops the flow of blood to her brain temporarily. In theory, he gives her a stroke ... or more apt would be a transient ischemic attack (TIA). But that seems unbelievably risky to me.
Luckily she survives and ends up being sedated/living in a dream world where things are happier.
So this was another step on the new road this book is on. This felt like a 'one and done' story which also effectively moved the H.I.V.E. story forward. Now we know that these people have big facilities and don't mind experimenting on children. They can't be nice.
It is hard to believe that 3 issues ago I truly disliked this book. Now, I look forward to it. Hope Justin Jordan continues to bring this style of adventuring to the book. I have been very entertained with this book these last 2 months.
Worlds' Finest #13 came out last week and was a sort of let down. After reading the very good Superman Unchained #1, this issue seemed to be a bit of a pause on the momentum this book has recently had. Not much happens here that pushes the story forward. And the few things that do seem to do that aren't exactly mind-blowing or even exciting.
Writer Paul Levitz has been building up this story of Huntress and Power Girl fighting the forces of Apokolips while on the run. Given that the two have been operating under the radar for 5 years on Earth, I didn't expect that wrinkle to add much. There is some possibilities there. Power Girl as Karen Starr is a celebrity who was attacked at a convention and has gone missing. There has to be some fallout from that.
And, after being spoiled for a while with George Perez and Kevin Maguire on art, we get Robson Rocha on art today. The art here is fine but nothing spectacular and certainly not the wondeful stuff Perez and Maguire brought here. One thing I do like is Emanuella Lupacchino doing covers. Nice work here.
Comics as a medium relies on story and art to work together to bring me in and let me lose myself. Mediocre story and lackluster art together isn't ever going to entertain.
Desaad has taken over Starr Industries and attacked Helena and Karen at a recent trade expo. With no where to run without being out in the open, the two decide to go into hiding.
That doesn't mean that they are huddled in the dark. If there is one thing I like about these two heroes in this book is that they have been very pro-active, bringing the fight to the bad guys rather than reacting. This has been Huntress' modus operandi in the New 52 since her first mini-series (well worth reading if you haven't with drool-worthy art by Marcus To).
Anyways ... the two decide to investigate how Desaad (as Michael Holt) was able to take over Starr Industries. And that means a heart to heart conversation at arrow point with someone from the SEC.
So this is about as close to criminal activity as you can get, tying up a government official and threatening death. Again, there could be some interesting future beats for this title here. Two super-powered beings on the run and breaking into the SEC ... sounds like they are super-villains. Wouldn't it be interesting if Superman and Batman get brought in to bring them down.
Now as it turns out the woman from the SEC is actually a minion of Desaad and goes into a sort of mental shutdown when the Huntress' questioning probes too deep.
Meanwhile, Power Girl is also in the SEC thrashing some of the security guards as she looks for more concrete proof of the takeover.
Now this part made me chuckle a bit. Karen comes across a moldy sort of ledger in the SEC safe which holds information about Holt's taking over Starr Industries.
Really? A paper ledger? It felt antiquated, like Eliot Ness discovering Al Capone's accountant's receipt book.
It seems that Desaad has his claws in the SEC more than I would expect because a giant wolf creature plows into the office and attacks the two to a standstill, forcing them to repeat.
It is hard for me to believe that a giant wolf is able to be easily corralled in the SEC without everyday workers stumbling across it. So this also felt a bit silly.
Since the two are on the run, there really isn't a home for them to run to, they have to hole up in a safe house Huntress has set up in Virginia.
One thing that does work in this book is the way Levitz is able to play on 'The Odd Couple' sort of personalities between these two women. Karen is an outgoing and brash. Huntress is cool and calculating. But there is this other side of her, a sort of product of her Wayne Manor upbringing.
So this moment where they pause to catch their breath was entertaining. This 'safe house' is a tastefully furnished mansion. And Huntress pouring coffee seems so formal. Meanwhile Karen seems uncomfortable in this place. She seems too bright to be in a such a 'stuffy' place.
It is a brief repose because Desaad is hot on their trailer.
Earlier in the story we see him torturing one of his minions to death. Here he is fascinated by Power Girl being from another Earth. It sounds as if Desaad is trapped on Earth too ... and he wants out. So he needs to learn more about her.
And so he turns this new acolyte into a sort of ogre-like being to send out.
If anyone else reads this book, is it implied that the earlier dead acolyte was Hakkou?
This was my favorite part of the book and definitely elevated the final grade.
The giant dog-thing ends up sniffing out Huntress and Power Girl and the attack ends up spilling over into the city.
I love the first two panels. Huntress questions just how a screaming squad car can help out against this beast. And then the next panel shows it flying backwards upside down while she sarcastically says 'right'. That worked very well.
Another thing that I like about this book when we get a sense of the heroic upbringing of these two. These two were raised by revered heroes on Earth-2. So I liked this aside when Huntress talks about how Batman would train her to weaponize her environment.
That is a great page.
The idea works when a couple of factory chimneys and a whole ton of electricity finally brings this monster down when straight-up haymakers by Power Girl couldn't.
Simmering in the background since the first storyline was the idea that Power Girl might be slowly growing weaker. Against Hakkou, she succumbed to the radiation. Here her punches seem ineffective. Why this would happen 5 years into her stay on Earth seems odd so hopefully that will be explored. I do like the idea that the people from different Earths might have different power levels in a different universes.
So what can I say, this felt like a pretty empty issue with a couple of good moments. As usual, it is the small character moments that shine here ... no surprise given Levitz is at the helm.
Spoilers ahead for those who haven't read everything else written about this movie. And this is going to be a sort of rambling stream-of-consciousness sort of thing. So if halfway through you think it is inscrutable, feel free to bail.
In 2003, The Matrix Revolutions came out and I was there. While I was completely disappointed with the movie, the climax scene has Neo fighting Agent Smith in a city ... flying, punching, and smashing their way through a brutal brawl. At the time I said to myself that I had just seen the template for a future Superman movie.
It turns out I was prophetic.
Three days ago, I saw Man of Steel, a movie which culminated with the hero and villain fighting in a city ... flying, punching and smashing their way through a brutal brawl. But more on that later.
Like many, I have been looking forward to Man of Steel since I heard it was being made. I was optimistic given that writer David Goyer wrote the critically acclaimed Dark Knight movies and Zack Snyder brought a visceral feel to 300. In the same fashion, I was wary because I thought some parts of Dark Knight Returns and Dark Knight Rises felt off. I thought the Dark Knight Returns went on too long with too many 'climaxes', so many that by the time James Gordon Jr. is being threatened by Two-Face I no longer had energy to care. And I saw the flaws in Snyder's style in Watchmen and Sucker Punch. Man of Steel was the very definition of cautious optimism ... and it was founded.
Because there are parts of Man of Steel I very much like. And there are parts that feel so wrong that I don't know if I can recommend it. It is the problem with Superman ... he is supposed to be above us and inspire us. But it is hard to look that long at the sun. We want to make Superman more like us, bring him down to our level, to make him interpretable to us. When, in fact, we should be trying to understand him.
The film starts on Krypton where the world has become sterile and stale. Children are born in pods that look suspiciously like the battery towers of the Matrix. Those newborns are made via a scientific mix of Kryptonian DNA. The babies are programmed with their lot in life. They know what they will be (I suppose what guild they will belong to) immediately. Kal, on the other hand, is a 'naturally born' baby, the first in centuries. Already there is a specialness about him, something new and vital. General Zod tries to unseat the existing government and Jor steals the Kryptonian Genome, imbues Kal with its knowledge and sends Kal on his way.
But this scene, as it unfolded, felt too long and complicated. The information about the Genome Codex and the state of Krypton was conveyed. But I also have to digest scenes of the military fighting Zod's men. We see Jor-El flying a winged horse-thing. And we see Jor-El and Zod engage in a fistfight that Jor-El wins! Kal is rocketed away and Zod kills Jor-El. It is some time later that Zod is imprisoned with his men in the Phantom Zone and the planet explodes.
I didn't need to see 'Action Hero' Jor-El flying through a battle and throwing punches. I certainly didn't need to see Zod kill him. And by delaying the destruction of Krypton, we lose the famous scene of the planet crumbling around Jor-El and Lara as they make their decision to rocket Kal to Earth.
The next hour of the movie is really the high point of the movie for me. We see Clark struggling to find his place on Earth, trying to lose himself in menial jobs and hiding his powers until he must reveal them to save people from danger.
In flashbacks, we see how troubled his life in Smallville was. He is constantly picked on by the other children. And Pa tells him to hide his powers until the time is right, until the world is ready to look up to something. But he is loved but the Kents and accepted. Even the death of Pa, being swept up in a tornado while telling Clark to stay back and not reveal his powers, worked for me. It showed the depths of Pa's convictions. It showed Clark how personal sacrifice needs to happen sometimes to save people.
In the end, Clark discovers his origins when he enters a Kryptonian ship which crashed on Earth 18,000 years earlier. A key from his rocket opens up Jor-El AI which explains everything. Jor-El (and his AI 'ghost) has a way bigger role in this movie than I anticipated, popping up and having a crucial role in saving the day.
Meanwhile, Lois, played tremendously by Amy Adams, shows just how good an investigative reporter she is, witnessing Clark in the spaceship and tracking her leads all the way back to Smallville. Adams is perfect for Lois ... smart, tough, and determined ... inserting herself into the story.
Of course, Zod arrives, looking for the Kryptonian Codex and Superman has to reveal himself. The scenes that follow where Superman talks to Ma, talks to a Smallville priest, turns himself into the military and talks to Lois work too. There is a sort of 'aw shucks' innocence to Henry Cavill's Clark, a guy who is unsure just what he is supposed to be, just what he is supposed to do, yet understanding he needs to go public and become a hero.
But once these scenes are over, what is left is a long brawl between Clark and the Phantom Zone villains. And this is where the problem lies. I know I am echoing Mark Waid's recent review but frankly I would think that Superman would be trying as hard to protect us as he be interested in fighting.
The first fight scene takes place down Smallville's main street. With people scurrying around, Superman engages Zod's troops, fighting in enclosed spaces like an IHOP filled with patrons. I can think of a million explanations for Superman to take the fight somewhere else. But he doesn't.
After destroying Zod's plans to turn Earth into New Krypton, after Lois helps zap Zod's troops back to the Zone, we have the second long fight scene ... an absolutely gratuitous violent melee that levels most of Metropolis. We see Superman and Zod throwing each other through buildings, rippling through skyscrapers, tossing cars at each other. And all while we see citizens in the background running for cover. The damage Superman and Zod do to the city easily must have killed hundreds of thousands if not millions of people.
Where was the scene we have all witnessed in comics. Superman flying into the villain, bear hugging him, and taking him somewhere deserted. That could have been done here. Heck, we could have simply been told that a portion of the city was evacuated. Instead we see Superman more intent on fighting than saving, literally bringing the city down onto the heads of its people.
And then, to make matters worse, Superman ends up killing Zod.
So much for having the people of Earth being inspired, of seeing someone we can look up to.
Superman recklessly brings a city down around him and kills his opponent. Sure, we see he immediately regrets it. But still ... Superman kills someone.
Yes, the effects are incredible and the fight scene is slickly done. Yes, it shows just what the destruction would be if two super-beings fought in a city. But, this is Superman. And Superman simply doesn't kill. Nor does he bring down a city on top of its citizens, most likely killing them indirectly.
On top of that, I felt that whole scene felt like the end of Dark Knight Returns again. The climax of the movie should be the return of the villains to the Zone. Surely there must have been a way in the script to put in the fight scene between Superman and Zod earlier, have him fling Zod back to his troops and then send them on there way to the Phantom Zone.Instead it comes later and ends with Superman executing someone.
There was only one part of the movie that gave me goose bumps. While Zod and Superman fight, Superman blasts the 'birthing towers' that Zod has found, very physically putting Krypton behind him and embracing Earth as his home. When Kal screams 'Krypton had her chance' while heat visioning the place, I was on the edge of my seat. It is a great moment.
( Aside: There was a lot about Superman Returns I did not like. A lot. But the scenes where he saves the plane and the scene at the end when he risks his life to hoist the growing K-riddled land mass into the sun gave me goose bumps. That's two goose bump scenes to one.)
I know I am glossing over the good parts a lot, the solid middle hour plus of the movie. This was good story-telling. And it was great to Superman push himself to the limits. But the character building and evolving relationship between Lois and Superman, between Superman and the people of Earth, was sort of forgotten after the loud ending. It is hard for me to dwell on the good things when there was (at least for me) such a major misstep at the end.
I do wonder if people not so tied to the mystique of Superman will like the movie more.
Overall grade: C
PS: This also gives me great pause when thinking about Supergirl appearing in the second movie. I can imagine them making her a hard-line Kryptonian, questioning Clark's decisions, and turning her into the villain. Hopefully, if she appears in a movie, it is as a hero.
It was 2 years ago in September that DC decided to do the New 52 experiment, rebooting the entire universe. It certainly hasn't been a durable reboot and has had as many downs as ups. And yet, despite that, DC has decided that each September they will honor the anniversary with something 'big'. Last year was the Zero month. This September is 'Forever Evil' villains month with special 3-D covers. 'Cool covers' seems so retro ... and not in a good way. The solicits are all out and can be seen here on Comic Book Resources: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=45983
As I have written elsewhere, it is hard to look at this month's solicits as a celebration of the New 52 when so many titles have been put on the back burner. There is no Supergirl, Superboy, Vibe, or Worlds' Finest this month. Four titles I buy aren't being published. Not much of a celebration for those books.
We do get a major push of the big name books and as a Superman fan it is good to see his villains getting a big push. And I have to admit, some of the creator teams here are intriguing.
ACTION COMICS #23.1: CYBORG SUPERMAN Written by MICHAEL ALAN NELSON Art by MIKE HAWTHORNE 3-D motion cover by AARON KUDER Deep in space sits a cybernetic force of evil unlike any other. What terrible
connection does Cyborg Superman share with Krypton? And what alien force
commands the robotic terror? Find out here!
So the villain that was just in Supergirl is getting a spotlight issue written by the current Supergirl writer. Couldn't this have been Supergirl #23.1? Wouldn't this have been great publicity for her book? Seems like a missed opportunity by DC to plug a mid-level book.
I am a fan of the Cyborg Superman (and the whole Reign of the Supermen story). So I am glad to see him back in this version of the DCU.
ACTION COMICS #23.2: ZOD
Written by GREG PAK Art by KEN LASHLEY 3-D motion cover by GENE HA General Zod storms into The New 52! Witness the origin of this genocidal
maniac, and learn how far he will go to destroy those who oppose him!
I am surprised that this story wasn't pushed up to now to get some buzz from the Man of Steel movie.
It will be interesting to see if this Zod is the Colonel currently storming through the Action Comics back-up feature. I trust Pak to come up with an interesting origin for Zod. And Ken Lashley's brash style should work with this character.
ACTION COMICS #23.3: LEX LUTHOR Written by CHARLES SOULE Art by RAYMUND BERMUDEZ 3-D motion cover by AARON KUDER Evil genius, sadistic businessman, sociopathic inmate—Lex Luthor is all this
and more. Now released from prison, there is nothing to stop Luthor from getting
his way...not even Superman!
I have heard enough great things about Charles Soule to be very eager to see his take on Luthor. I like how this Luthor seems like the right mix of the Byrne businessman and the brutal scientist. A genius and a sadistic businessman. Best of both worlds.
ACTION COMICS #23.4: METALLO Written by SHOLLY FISCH Art by WILL CONRAD 3-D motion cover by AARON KUDER Before he became Metal-Zero, John Corben had two great loves: his country and
Lois Lane. Awakening from a coma after the events of ACTION COMICS #8, Corben
finds himself betrayed by both—and now his Kryptonite heart beats only for
revenge! And when he joins up with the Secret Society, there’s no limit to the
destruction he can cause!
As a huge fan of his Action Comics back-up features during Grant Morrison's run, I was so glad to see Sholly Fisch's name in the credits here. Best of all, it is with a character from that run so we get to revisit some of the beats there.
Fisch's stories always seemed to get the right mix of action, characterization, and humanity. I had hoped he might get the Action book when Morrison left. So I can't wait to read his Superman again.
SUPERMAN #23.1: BIZARRO Written by SHOLLY FISCH Art by JEFF JOHNSON and ANDY SMITH 3-D motion cover by AARON KUDER Lex Luthors’ sinister plan to manipulate Superman’s genetic material to create
a mindless soldier under his control results in the monster known as Bizarro:
opposite of Superman in every way, with no compassion, no remorse and no mercy!
And if one wasn't enough, I get more Sholly Fisch on the Bizarro issue. I am glad that the "H'El is the new Bizarro" discussion is put to rest. I am glad that Luthor is again thrown into the mix of Bizarro's origins. And is that 'cold vision'?? I love it!
SUPERMAN #23.2: BRAINIAC Written by TONY BEDARD Art by PASCAL ALIXE 3-D motion cover by GENE HA Brainiac was the first adversary Superman fought on Earth, but where did he
come from? A lineage that spans the universe holds many secrets when we ask,
“Who is Brainiac?”
Well, as someone who is still trying to wrap his head around Brainiac as Kryptonian AI, being part of the Collector, and being from Colu, I need an origin issue! So hopefully this will straighten out my misunderstandings.
And, as a bonus, it is written by Tony Bedard who wrote Vril Dox in R.E.B.E.L.S.! Hopefully we see some Coluan stuff!
SUPERMAN #23.3: H’EL Written by SCOTT LOBDELL Art by DAN JURGENS and NORM RAPMUND 3-D motion cover by GENE HA After his last battle with Superman, H’el wakes up on Krypton years before it
is destroyed! Can H’el manipulate the Science Counsel, soldiers and countless
others including Jor-El, to save the planet? And what does it mean for the
birth of Superman if he succeeds?
Can we forget about him?
SUPERMAN #23.4: PARASITE Written by AARON KUDER Art by AARON KUDER 3-D motion cover by AARON KUDER Parasite: Noun. An organism that lives in or on another organism. Preferably Superman.
That is about as close to the bloated tick of a Parasite that we saw in Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman. Kuder sure brings that feel.
I haven't read anything Kuder has written before but I like his art style. While dominating the covers, I am glad he got this issue to draw. That is what the Parasite should look like ... horrifying.
BATMAN/SUPERMAN #3.1: DOOMSDAY Written by GREG PAK Art by BRETT BOOTH 3-D motion cover by TONY S. DANIEL Long before Superman fought the unstoppable monster known as Doomsday, the
beast’s reputation for death and destruction haunted The Man of Steel’s home
world of Krypton.
I can only hope that Supergirl is somehow brought into this story which includes Kryptonian history. Brett Booth should bring some wild art to Doomsday.
Can't wait to read Greg Pak in the DCU.
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #5 Written by NATHAN EDMONDSON and KYLE KILLEN Art by YILDIRAY CINAR and PIA GUERRA Cover by YILDIRAY CINAR
an alien baby crashes on Earth, Superman must protect the screaming
infant from her pursuers both human and extraterrestrial! Plus: a Lex
Luthor tale like you’ve never seen before, written by Kyle Killen,
creator of Awake, and drawn by Y: THE LAST MAN’s Pia Guerra!
After all that villainy, it will be great to cleanse the old palate with some old school red-trunked Superman. I think this is going to be my go-to comic for my Superman.
SMALLVILLE SEASON 11 #17 Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER • Art by JORGE JIMENEZ Cover by CAT STAGGS Superman and new ally Diana race to stop magickal terrorist Felix Faust from
launching an attack on the nation’s capital. Meanwhile, Lois launches an attack
of her own by digging into the shadowy connection between Faust and the new
Department of Extra-Normal Operations.
Of course, I also have been going to Smallville to read my Superman too. I love how this book is bringing in more and more of the DCU characters to this Smallville universe. I am convinced this is on purpose so that the ultimate Crisis this title is building to is going to be a massive 'crossover' of all the heroes we have met here with Superman leading them. Supergirl better survive this one!!
And then we get a lot of 75th anniversary trades coming out celebrating Superman. Here are the ones that caught my eye.
SUPERMAN: A CELEBRATION OF 75 YEARS HC Written by JERRY SIEGEL, EDMOND HAMILTON, OTTO BINDER, CARY BATES, JOE KELLY,
ALAN MOORE and others Art by JOE SHUSTER, WAYNE BORING, CURT SWAN, DOUG MAHNKE, DAVE GIBBONS and
others Cover by TBD This amazing celebration of all things Superman includes stories from ACTION
COMICS #0, 1-2, 137, 242, 544, 775 and 900, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #498,
Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, SUPERMAN #11, 17, 53, 75, 76, 141,
149, 247 and 400, SUPERMAN ANNUAL #11 and a 1940 story from LOOK MAGAZINE!
I don't know if I am going to get this because I have read many of theses stories in other formats and other places. Still, good lineup there including the Look Magazine story of Superman ending WW2.
LOIS LANE: A CELEBRATION OF 75 YEARS HC Written by JERRY SIEGEL, JOHN BYRNE, GRANT MORRISON, GREG RUCKA and others Art by JOE SHUSTER, JOHN BYRNE, PHIL JIMENEZ, FRANK QUITELY and others Cover by TBD Don’t miss these tales starring Lois Lane, Superman and more, reprinted from
ACTION COMICS #1-2, 6, 484, 600 and 662, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #631, ALL-STAR
SUPERMAN #2-3, MAN OF STEEL #2, SHOWCASE #9, SUPERMAN #29, 33-34, 58 and 168,
SUPERMAN 80-PAGE GIANT 2011 #1, SUPERMAN: LOIS LANE #1, SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND
LOIS LANE #5, 16, 23, 42 and 106, and WONDER WOMAN #170!
This one I might be more apt to buy because I don't have many of these in other places.
I am glad that DC is celebrating Lois. It is her anniversary too!
SUPERMAN ADVENTURES: THE MAN OF STEEL TP Written by MARK MILLAR, DAN SLOTT, ROGER STERN, LOUISE SIMONSON, DAN JURGENS
and others Art by NEIL VOKES, MIKE PAROBECK, RICK BURCHETT and others Cover by BRUCE TIMM It’s a special all-ages Man of Steel collection, with stories from SUPERMAN
ADVENTURES #17, 18, 40 and 41, and SUPERMAN/BATMAN MAGAZINE #1, 3, 5 and 7!
And an added bonus ... an all ages Superman collection. Something I can buy and give to my girls!
It is hard to believe that Mark 'Kick-Ass' Millar wrote some great Superman stories for Superman Adventures. And if only DC kept Dan Slott around!
Superman Unchained #1, the highly anticipated new title by current DC mega-star writer Scott Snyder and industry legend artist Jim Lee, came out this week. There was certainly a huge amount of pubilicity for this book. Innumerable interviews and articles talked about the creative team and their approach to the Man of Steel. It came out on the week that the Man of Steel movie is opening, adding a surge of mainstream interest. It came with a slew of variant covers by incredible artists. And it included a previewed 'fold-out' poster page which was actually part of the story. With all that coming before, I wondered if the story itself could hold up to the crushing weight of pre-expectations.
Surprisingly, despite the double-edged sword of hype, I was very very happy with the story. Did it completely floor me? No. But was it a solid Superman story with great characterization and some nice nuances which made it my favorite book of the week.
If there is one thing that I have come to realize ... and it is a sad thing ... is that it is becoming rarer for me to read a Superman book where he is written right, with the right ideals and right personality. So when I read characterization that is consistent with what I want to see in Superman, I am happy. It almost makes the action secondary. Here, Snyder captures Superman's characterization nicely (as well as Jimmy and Lois) and has a great plot as well.
Jim Lee's art is a bit rougher than I am used to seeing but it works with the early part of the story, a frenetic rescue.
The story starts in 1945 Japan where a young boy in Nagasaki looks up to the sky and through binoculars and sees the actual 'atomic bomb' which levels the town. Except, it isn't a simple bomb. The skin of the bomb peels away to reveal a 'human bomb' who explodes and destroys the city. Within the binocular's view, the boy witnesses the utter destruction of the city. Snyder even plays off the 'it's a bird ... it's a plane' Superman line as this being plummets like a missile.
We heard that Snyder wanted to talk about weaponizing super-humans and this is that idea brought to fruition here. It wasn't American know-how which 'conquered the atom'. It is a metahuman. So who is this human bomb? The Human Bomb? Hmmm ... certainly that would play into a WW2 motif. And does this idea explain the names of the atomic bombs in military code back then? Is there a 'Fat Man', 'Thin Man', and 'Little Boy'?
That said, the date of the Nagasaki bombing was August 9th, 1945 ... not April 9th, 1945 as written in the issue.
Flashing forward to the present, Superman has been busy. For some reason, eight space objects - satellites or stations - have plummeted to Earth over the course of the day. It can't be coincidence. We hear he has stopped six. The seventh is going to crash on an abandoned US military base near the Andaman sea off the coast of Thailand.
The bulk of this early story is Superman saving the eighth falling star - the 'top secret' multinational Lighthouse station, a sort of stop-over site for deep space travel.
One thing I like about this sequence is Superman's internal monologue as he goes about this delicate rescue operation. He initially compares a drop into atmosphere with his jumping into hay in Smallville. Here, we see a little bit behind the mask of the confidant and placid exterior Superman. Here he reminds himself he needs to talk to the astronauts to calm them and make them feel safe.
It is here that the fold-out page comes into play. I have to say that, for me, this was gratuitous and even unnecessary. The careful unfolding and refolding of the page broke the sort of early excitement in me as a reader and took me out of the story.
That internal monologue sort of humanizes Superman, shows us a little bit of the Clark inside him. Here he almost sounds a little nervous as he tries to figure out how to deactivate the stations nuclear power core so that this thing doesn't become a massive nuclear strike.
After pleading with himself to think about an answer, he uses some ingenuity. Snyder has Superman be able to manipulate the EM spectrum of his vision to go from X-rays to gamma rays. And that flood of gamma radiation shorts out the electrical wiring of the nuclear pile, shutting it down.
I suppose if his eyes can emit x-rays and infrared rays, why not gamma radiation.
And when Superman finally delivers the station's crew to Earth safely while crashing the satellite in a safe place, he has to tell himself to take a deep breath.
So much works here. Calling himself Clark (not Kal). Pausing to regain his composure, to once again exude the Superman-ness, that confidence, that 'I had this handled all along' easy smile when knowing he was unsure, shows us what is inside the man. While we might see an infallible being, he is working hard to do what's right.
This sort of humbleness, turning away any recognition while telling the astronaut that this is his moment to get into the world record book, is perfect Superman. You could almost expect him to wink at the camera!
Still, eight satellites don't just plummet out of the sky. While a terrorist group called Ascension is mentioned, Superman goes to the most likely candidate to perform such tremendous terrorism ... Luthor.
Turns out Luthor is still imprisoned, being shuttled from one site to another. And while the two exchange barbs, Snyder gives us some exposition. Luthor is helping power Metropolis by designing a clean energy source for the city ... a solar tower.
So Luthor's face doesn't seem to carry the scars we have seen in Scott Lobdell's books. He also isn't in the 'solo prison' site he was seen in there either. And why would anyone put Luthor in a helicopter with other convicts to move him to a different prison? Isn't that asking for trouble? And given all he has done, would anyone actually trust Luthor to build an innocent energy source?
With the panic over, Superman becomes Clark and becomes a journalist again. On his website, Clark publishes an interview he got with one of the rescued astronauts.
He has an interesting conversation with Jimmy who has a sort of cool slacker sensibility here. Jimmy thinks it is great that Clark stuck it to the Planet. While Clark talks about wanting to write the human interest angles about news stories, something the Planet wasn't allowing anymore.
I still don't think Clark not being at the Planet is a good long-term move.
Nor do I think that he is actually being a good journalist. Lois calls him to tell him that any story about the rescued astronaut needs to include the fact that Superman rescued the crew. Clark didn't mention Superman at all. I suppose it helps Clark from an ethical journalistic viewpoint since he isn't writing about himself. But doesn't Clark's covering only the human interest angle seem like a waste of his investigative journalistic skills.
Clark didn't mention Superman. He didn't mention Ascension (who we are told again that as a terrorist group it is too small to pull off something like this - a guarantee that they are big enough). And he didn't mention that the eighth satellite was pushed off course into the sea, something Lois assumes was done by Superman.
I definitely liked Snyder's take on Lois. She seems more in control of the Planet than Perry White. She is smart and strong and sure of herself. And she challenges Clark. How many people can say they can do that. No wonder he loves her.
Of course Superman knows he didn't push that satellite away from the US base. So he goes to investigate. The satellite is in the ocean and a handprint is impressed into it's hull. A huge handprint in comparison to Superman's. If it wasn't him ... or Diana or Hal ... it is someone new.
His investigation is interrupted by a US submarine who ... of course ... fires on Superman. I have said it other places and I will say it again. I am completely exhausted with seeing Superman fighting American troops. It is has been omnipresent these last years. I would love to see Superman working with the troops at some point, protecting the American way with the military.
Anyways, I thought this panel showed the sort of roughness to Lee's art. Doesn't that last panel have an almost Frank Miller feel to it?
It turns out that the 'abandoned' US base isn't so abandoned. Deep below the surface is a working military site commanded by General Lane! It is an odd mix of big weapons and tanks but also with a farm, a small church, a sort of phony small town USA. And that seems to be there not for the army but for the 'first Superman' who lives there. It was this guy who pushed the satellite aside, saving his ersatz home town.
Clearly this is the same guy as the Nagasaki bomb agent. So who is this? There is a sort of star/eagle feel to that energy logo on his chest. Could it be a dark version of the parody character General Glory? The new Human Bomb? A re-imagining of Damage? Cyclotron?
The issue ends with an epilogue with art by Dustin Nyugen.
It is a back and forth story. We see Perry White talking to Jimmy about some old binoculars his great-uncle gave him. They are from ground zero at Nagasaki where his uncle was stationed. The story opened with those binoculars seeing the bomb-man. It closes with the same lenses, that shadow of the bomb-man again seen in the reflection. It is a nice image which mirrors Perry's warning about how that strike was the beginning of a lot of terrible things.
But mingled in with this life lesson by Perry are panels of a fishing vessel which picks up a man whose eyes are burned out ... asking for Lois??
Overall I thought this was a very good introductory issue. Take away the fussy fold-out and the standard 'Superman vs the Army' angle here and I would have been thrilled. Those things took just a smidge away from the experience.
Otherwise, Snyder was able to capture the essence of Superman, Clark, and Lois. And the rescue scene with that internal monologue worked very well. And we have a great hook and cliffhanger to make me want more.
Now I was waiting for the numbers to come out regarding Supergirl #20. The Mike Johnson era had ended. Michael Allan Nelson had taken over on writing and had a fair amount of publicity heading into the series. The book guest-starred Power Girl, so maybe her fans would come over. And, frankly, it had this eye-popping cover. Would any of that translate to more sales?
Unfortunately, the book sank a little lower.
Sales dropped about 2000 units from last month (which had a MAD variant to boost things). And the book ranked 81st.
Could people have felt that this issue was a jumping off point given the change in writer? I can't imagine so. This wasn't necessarily a *bold new direction* as Nelson picked up right where Johnson left off, even picking up from a cliffhanger.
Is there simply erosion of sales on a mid-level book. Probably. But it makes me feel like I am simply watching something I love die slowly. Is this simply the natural progression of comics these days? Or can there be a 'boost'?
Hopefully ... somehow ... Supergirl is able to latch onto the media blitzkrieg that Superman is getting right now. Supergirl #20 was a very good issue, fun and dark, with the right mix of angst and sorrow. That is a tough stew to get right.
This is going to be a busy week for me here at the Comic Box. Between four comics to review, sales review, a back issue I have been longing to look at, and the Man of Steel movie coming out, my plate is full.
That said, there have been a bunch of stories that I have come across that are worth reviewing here even briefly.
First off, we knew that Kara Zor-El was going to be part of the Man of Steel movie universe given the exclusive prequel comic that came out. Now there might be a little fire where we saw that smoke. Here is a link to Comic Book Movie.com who asked producer Deborah Snyder about Supergirl: http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/GraphicCity/news/?a=81271 When asked about Martian Manhunter rumors, Snyder
merely laughed but when pressed about Supergirl, her reaction was
entirely different. "...the one thing if you look closely when Henry’s
going through the Fortress of Solitude there’s an empty… you know all
the bodies… the pods? There’s an empty pod. I’m not going to say what,
or if, it means anything but there is an empty pod there," said Snyder.
When Snyder was
pressed to elaborate on her answer, she didn't offer up much more, "No.
[Laughs] I’m not going to say anything but, it’s a thing. It’s a thing.
That’s one Easter Egg that, I don’t know. Again, it might not mean
anything, [but] it might mean something…"
Can you imagine seeing Supergirl on the big screen? I worry about what Zach Snyder's version of her character might look like ... but this is amazing news.
I have been intrigued the content of the Superman:The Legend trading cards as it seems to fly in the face of the current New 52 DCnU. I doubt any kid out there is collecting these cards as a gateway to the comic books. But if they did, they would be pretty confused between what is on the card and what is in the stories.
Take, for example this great Kara Kent card by one of my favorites Mike Maihack. I love Maihack's take on Kara. And I love this image of a happy-go-lucky super-teen walking the hallways of high school. But when was the last time there was a Kara Kent?
During the announcements of the impending celebration of Superman's 75thy anniversary, it was noted by many (me included) that Lois Lane seemed to be being ignored. This was Lois 75th anniversary as well. She has been a mainstay in comics since Action Comics #1 and has been a hero and role model. It looks as if the grass roots efforts of a lot of people to get Lois into the spotlight has been recognized a little. DC just announced a anniversary trade for Lois here:http://www.dccomics.com/graphic-novels/lois-lane-a-celebration-of-75-years
And here is the solicit: LOIS LANE: A CELEBRATION OF 75 YEARS
Don’t miss these tales starring Lois
Lane, Superman and more, reprinted from ACTION COMICS #1-2, 6, 484, 600 and
662, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #631, ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #2-3, MAN OF STEEL #2,
SHOWCASE #9, SUPERMAN #29, 33-34, 58 and 168, SUPERMAN 80-PAGE GIANT 2011 #1,
SUPERMAN: LOIS LANE #1, SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND LOIS LANE #5, 16, 23, 42 and
106, and WONDER WOMAN #170!
It is 384 pages and $27.99. Can't wait to get this.
Lastly, I know it is probably money not well spent but I will be pretty pumped to pick up this variant cover of Superman Unchained #1 by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez today.
I even think the price tag of 499 cents is amusing.
Anyone else pick up any of the many variants out there?