Tag Archives: Superman

Listmania part 2: Favorite individual issues

Daredevil #181 “Last Hand” April 1982: Frank Miller was just hitting his stride and the character of Elektra was becoming hugely popular.  I remember picking this one up at the local newsstand and thinking it was just going to be cover hype.  I was already a jaded fan at that point.  By the time I was done reading this I had a new interest in comics.

Justice League of America #0 “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” September 2006: This was more like favorite single page.  Each of the short scenes in this story are interesting, but the single page that references Batman’s reaction after Superman was killed by Doomsday redefined the character for me and put a lump in my throat.  You don’t often think of Batman as human and this changed that for me.

The stunning wraparound cover to Mage #14

Mage #14 “…Or Not to be” August 1986:  This was the issue after the series lost the character that was the emotional center of the book and set out the direction for the lead Kevin Matchstick.  Drawing the parallels to King Arthur seemed odd on the first page, but by the last page I could not imagine a time when I couldn’t see them.

Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children #21 “Dances with Cows” February 1991:  There was never a point I didn’t love this forgotten series from Piranha Press (a DC precursor to Vertigo), but this issue was funny and sad and odd all at once.  I really wish they would collect this anthology series in bookshelf volumes.  There is a large amount of creator owned and fringe material that is all but lost to readers now unless they search out the original back-issues.  This series was uneven at times, but so different from what was out there then, and still very readable now, that it could not help but find a new audience today.

Miracleman #22 “Carnival” August 1991:  It is very hard to pick a single issue from this amazing series, and picking a Gaiman issue over a Moore one might be considered a bad choice, but this issue had an emotional core that would resonate with anyone, even people who had not read the preceding 21 issues.  It touched on much of what had come before without ever relying on it and made this a stand-alone issue that really packed an emotional punch.  Now all we need is for these to be reprinted.

Avengers Annual #10 “By Friends — Betrayed!” 1981:  An uninspired Al Milgrom cover (nothing against Al, the cover just didn’t work for the book) covered up the first appearance of Rouge, and began a run of X-Men stories that would see the book rise in sales to be Marvel’s biggest book for many years to come.  The fact that it was in an Avengers book, and that the X-Men are only in a few pages of it messed with my head a bit, but this really is more of an X-book than an Avengers one.  Art by the amazing Michael Golden with inks by Armando Gil gave this book a look that no other book at the time had.  This is collected (finally) in Marvel Masterworks X-Men vol 7 and the Claremont omnibus.  It had been reprinted before, but never in an edition where it really worked, and certainly not as nicely as it is here.

Lord Julius and a “like-a-look”. Cerebus #137

Cerebus #137 (& 138–sort of) “Epilogue” August 1990:  This was a single story that Sim used an issue and a half for, but the first part is the best.  It has never been collected in the phone books since it was a fun filler issue that really does not fit in either the book before it (Jaka’s Story) or the one that followed it (Melmoth), but gives a silly look at Lord Julius and his “like-a-looks”, explaining a lot about the character in a funny way.  It is available ONLY as the original issue(s) or in Cerebus #0 which collected the other in-between issues that are not included in any of the phone books.

Toad Men!?!?

Sensational She-Hulk #2 “Attack of the Terrible Toad Men” June 1989:  The first issue seemed like a fluke or a one-off, but when they did this one I was left in awe of how funny this book really was.  Byrne left the book after issue 8 over a flap with editorial and the book never quite recovered, until his return in issue #31 that is!  Then he left at issue 50 and the decline started all over.  Dan Slott did some fun stuff with Shulkie later, but this series is still the best there has been.

Alpha Flight #12 “… And One Shall Surely Die” July 1984:  I freely admit I was one of the zombies that jumped on this Byrne book when it arrived, and I loved it for the first years’ worth of stories.  Byrne himself has said he never really saw the point of having an AF book, but it didn’t show for most of his time on the book.  This issue was a surprise in every way.  Yes, they advertised that a major character was going to die for weeks in advance, but how often had we heard that before only to see some turd third stringer die?  Yes, death in comics has since become a revolving door plot hammer.  Never in a million years did I think Byrne would GUT the heart out of the team and kill someone as important as that!  Naive of me?  Maybe, but I had not become so jaded at that point and just didn’t see it coming.  This book gave me chills, and still does when I read it.

Uncanny X-Men #186 “Lifedeath” October 1984:  The single most beautifully drawn mainstream issue of the 1980s.  Barry Windsor Smith as inked by Terry Austin was too much for many at the time. It was a challenging story that made me expect more (too much) from my comics after that.

Superman #712 (had to sneak this one in) “Lost Boy: A Tale of Krypto the Superdog” August 2011:  I was never a huge fan of big blue and have only occasionally read his adventures.  What I AM is a dog person.  This was an inventory story used to fill time while the Grounded arc needed to get caught up.  This issue was better than ANY of those.  I defy any dog person out there to not be an emotional wreck after reading this book.

This was a REALLY hard list. To just come up with ten (OK, eleven) was really tough, and if asked in a month I would think that there would be changes.

Feel free to start throwing chair and arguing, but I would really rather see some other people’s lists.

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Action Comics vol 1: Superman and the Men of Steel

Action Comics vol 1:  Superman and the Men of Steel

A great homage to the original Action #1 without just doing the same old thing!

2012

DC Comics

256 pages $25

This was arguably the big dog in the New 52 relaunch.  One of the longest running American comic book titles was being renumbered to 1 and Superman was being rebooted.  Everything that had come before was now gone.  Sort of.  All of the familiar faces are still there, just not quite how we remember them.  Grant Morrison was the clear choice to re imagine this icon of comics.  Bringing Rags Morales along for most of the ride was an inspired choice.

This book reads very well as one volume, unlike many comics written for the collection though, this one suffers from very few of the problems that many other books do.  The book feels like Morrison in that, whether it is present or not, the hand of DC editorial seems light enough to not be there at all.  The book chose a direction and rarely strays from it.  Morrison’s new take on the character is a strong one, rooted in his personal view of what Superman used to represent.  Here is a Superman that is firmly anti-establishment.  This is the Siegel and Shuster Superman, really.  There was a time that he was not the big blue Boy Scout.  A time before the super villain Dr. Wertham and the evil rays of the comics code.  Before the changes made in the 1940’s even, Superman was an agent of change and justice.  In this day and age, I imagine there are people that would call him a Socialist. Ultimately he is Superman, pure and honest, with a fair bit of justifiable anger toward most authority figures.  He is not as powerful as before, but it is made clear that he is getting stronger every day.  The T-shirt design is replaced by the new costume, (bummer, I kind of liked that) and much of the origin is left to be told yet, or at least filled in with backstory, as there are few real changes to the “doomed planet, desperate scientist, kindly couple” motif.  What is here is cleaned up and made more believable.  The current status of Krypto is still just plain mean though.  The supporting cast is here too.  Jimmy Olson is now Clark Kent’s pal, NOT Superman’s.  Lex Luthor is here and even more slimy than ever.  Interestingly, Ma and Pa Kent are dead already.  I always felt them an interesting touch stone for Clark, so it will be interesting to see how they fill that void going forward.  The Landlady character may fill part of it, but I don’t see that having legs.  Then there is the voiding of the marriage of Lois and Clark.  They barely even know each other at this point, and they are not friendly.

This cover to the first monthly issue really set the tone.

The art, mostly by Rags Morales is a bit problematic, but only because it is just MOSTLY by Morales and not ENTIRELY by him.  While the fill in art by Andy Kubert others is very good, the changes chapter to chapter and within some of the issues themselves can be jarring.  I really wish the schedule would take a back seat to just making a good product that flows properly.  The real gem here is the look of Clark.  With just hair, clothes and a properly awful pair of glasses, the disguise actually works for a change.  Another good touch is the bruises.  When Superman is getting pounded on, he bruises, and later Clark is still banged up.  It works wonderfully here.  For the first time, I actually find myself caring about Clark Kent and I am even worried for him!

The story moves along well enough, but there are occasional jumps that feel odd.  As though there needed to be a “meanwhile” or “later that day” caption.  The inclusion of the back up stories featuring the John Henry Irons character are fine, but the real treat is in seeing a Superman that I might actually like.  Many of the old clichés are gone as well, and I cannot say I’m sad to see them go.  I know that Morrison is off the book sometime around issue 16, but until then I am all over this book!

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Übermensch

Probably the best alternate Superman

Having just finished the JMS Supreme Power books, I had been thinking about the many and varied Superman analogs out there in comics.  Of course, I will skip over the countless DC versions of this.

Hyperion from Supreme Power is foremost in my mind since I just read it.  As originally portrayed, I never really felt he was supposed to be Marvel’s Superman.  Just never occurred to me at the time.  With JMS revamping the character, the connection is clear.  In fact Marvel has never really had a Superman of their own.  A character that is the clear leader, someone who is the ideal in power and attitude.  Mostly that is a result of the modern company’s genesis.  The first Marvel heroes as we think of them today were the Fantastic Four, and even those that have come later, have never really filled the spot.  With the purchase of the Marvelman rights, I had hoped that he could be retconned in and become that person for Marvel.  There is a lot that could be done with him, despite Marvelman actually being a Captain Marvel rip off rather than a Superman one.  But alas, that appears dead in the water since Marvel has yet to get everything ironed out legally, and has made no new use of the character.

Also among the modern versions is Mark Waid’s Plutonian from Irredeemable.  This version is the nightmare.  The “what if Superman were bad?” vision that plays out in a mostly believable fashion.  Like Hyperion (JMS version only), he is dark and imposing and not really a friend to humanity.  the Plutonian is what Superman would be if DC could get away with a story like that, which they can’t.  While Irredeemable is a very good book, the fact that most of the characters are Captain Erzats version of more recognizable ones makes this never seem quite real.  Basically, all of the Übermensch archetypes in comics are compared to Superman, and often seem hollow by comparison.  As much as I like Irredeemable, that is always in the back of my mind.Here, all the characters were created ONLY for the purposes of this story.  With no emotional investment from prior knowledge, the book cannot help but suffer at times.  Not the fault of Mr Waid, just one of the pitfalls of playing in this particular sandbox.

Invincible by Robert Kirkman is another.  Cant say I have even been able to enjoy this book, but I can clearly see the similarities.

Marvel made another attempt, this time very obvious, with the Sentry.  This was a good try, but once multiple writers and editors got a chance to use the character, things got very muddled and the focus was lost.  There was huge potential here and they completely missed the chance.

The closest of the “sun-god” analogs (and, yes, all the Samson and other bible parallels aside, Superman is a modern sun God) is Apollo from the Wildstorm end of the DCU.  Another missed opportunity here, I feel.  The various writers have, for the most part focused on just one aspect of the guy, and missed other, more compelling aspects in the relationship between him and the Batman analog he is involved with, Midnighter.  Most gays and lesbian people will tell you, that while their sexuality is an important component in who they are, it is not the sole defining one.  Any person that is completely one thing to the exclusion of all else, is not much of a person.  Comics still fall back on the shallowest possible traits to define individuals much of the time.  This is very evident when the character in question COULD be interesting and complex.  Instead of  really giving a full multi-layered relationship between these two, they are just portrayed as the new gay stereotype, and that is no better than the OLD gay stereotypes. But, in mainstream comics, I may be asking too much.  For that kind of depth, there are lots of good indi books.  While under Wildstorm, nothing really improved, they were token gays.  I am hopeful, but not very, that DC can improve on this.

Still other Captain Erzats versions of Superman include Dr Manhattan from Watchmen, the Sameritan from Astro City, Captain Marvel of course, Alpha one from the Mighty, Gladiator of the Shi’ar over at Marvel,  Supreme, Atoman from  Top 10 and even the Saint from The Pro.

anyone have some others I may have not mentioned?

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Superman Grounded vol 2

Superman Grounded vol 2

DC

168 pages

$23

Well, I reviewed volume 1 back in September, and I recall liking it.  Quite a bit.  Gosh, I wish I could say the same for volume 2!  This thing says “I changed my mind” at every turn.  A lot was made of J. Michael Straczynski leaving the book and I had my doubts as well at the time.  The first volume was a surprise.  Solid and consistent through, except for the interludes, which felt like filler.  Not that they were bad, they just didn’t work in that volume.  This book takes everything that the first volume got right and destroys it.  Sometimes by running it into the ground, others by ignoring or flatly contradicting it.  It is hard to point to the exact spot that JMS left most of the heavy lifting to Chris Roberson, and I don’t think it matters.  They are both good enough writers to know better.  Roberson in particular is one I have watched with great interest.  JMS on the other hand, really should have just stayed with this or let Roberson handle it on his own.  It is the mix of the two, as the only reason I can come up with, why this thing is so miserable.  It is not that any one thing is bad, the book just has the narrative flow of molasses in January.  Nothing has anything like dramatic impact, and there is never a point where I cared even a little for the outcome.

The fluctuating art chores are another part of the problem.  There are 5 pencillers and 7 inkers.  Unlike Identity Crisis or even 52, which tried their best to be as visually seamless as possible, this book is a mess.  All of the art is pretty good, but unless there is a narrative reason for such jarring changes, they can really kill a book.  Everything about this book screams “corporate Product” too.  I know DC is a company out to make money just like all the others, and that is no bad thing.  But when I can see the wires SO clearly, it removes the escapist enjoyment we are supposed to get from this kind of entertainment.  The appearance of the other major DC players is an even bigger issue.  The Flash is kind of wasted, Batman’s appearance feels like filler and an excuse to use the character, and Wonder Woman’s very brief trip into the story only reminds us of another book the JMS failed to do justice to.  If you were not familiar with what was going on over there in her regular book, her showing up here makes no sense at all.  As it was all of the appearances felt like a cross between Sammy Davis jr or some other celebrity sticking his head out of the window while Batman and Robin unconvincingly climb up the side of a building and the intense need to fill up a second complete volume.  Speaking of this volume, even the cover is jarring.  Liking the cover or not is not the issue (I didn’t really, but that is just a personal taste issue), the issue really is that this does not even look like it is the second volume.  While John Cassaday was not doing his best work on these covers, they tended to feel like inventory being used up, they pulled the individual issue together and would have done the same here.  This one looks just plain wrong next to volume one.  Everything about the second book feels like inventory.  No one cared.  I know the New 52 was well into the planning stages at this point, as it is likely that there was little attention paid to this book once the publicity for it died, but this whole thing is a slap in the face to the reader.

I don’t like writing all this negativity, so to sum up the gripe…

Superman Grounded volume one did what it was supposed to do as the first book in a two book set:  It made me want more.  Volume two just makes me want my money back.  And to smack someone.  And punch Superman in the gut.

 

 

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DC New 52: Action Comics #1 review

Action Comics #1

DC Comics

September 2011

$3.99

Well this one certainly lives up to the title on the front of the book!

Now THAT'S a cool cover!

To start off, I think it is inevitable that Superman will go back to the same character we have all know for our entire lives, The Big Blue  boy scout.  I really don’t see that staying away for very long.  The core concepts of the character are pretty much untouchable, but the things that hover just at the edge of that, the apple pie goodness that so many fans find foolish and hokey, seem almost as pervasive.  As a quick aside:  I am not blind to the fact that many people just don’t like Superman.  There is one particular reader out there that seems to waste focus a great deal of energy on just how much he dislikes the character.  First to that person, and the other people out there that calls themselves “fans” of comics…  It is perfectly acceptable to dislike everything you read, see, hear and otherwise experience.  I would respectfully suggest that if you do not like something, stop trying to explain to everyone why you hate it, and try to spread the word on something that you DO like.  On this blog I welcome all views as long as they are reasoned and expressed respectfully to everyone that might read it.  To be honest, I am not a Superman fan.  Not really.  There are people who have an allegiance to a character regardless of any other factors.  I am not one of them.  I enjoy good comics, and that starts with talented and inspired creators putting that product out there for me to read.  Superman, like all other company owned properties, has had many creators far beyond the two kids from Cleveland.  Many have been hacks, or at least did not really bring their “A Game”.  Many others were masters of their craft.  And many more were somewhere in between.  I should not really ever say (but sometimes I do slip up on this) that I like or dislike Superman, Batman, Thor, The Avengers and so on.  What I should say is I like Thor as written by Walt Simonson, or the Avengers as drawn by George Perez.  Saying “I hate Superman” is really not saying anything of substance.  Opinions are only valid when expressed with a reason attached, even if that reason is irrational.  It is like saying “I hate cabbage”.  Well, OK, sure, but WHY?  No one NEEDS a reason to hate something, true.  But without a reason, you will not get anyone to listen to your opinions.  The best way to get people to dismiss or just plain ignore your opinions is to shout them out at the world like an idiot.  So if you have an opinion, share it, but do so intelligently and respectfully.  The words “Superman Sucks” over and over will lower the interest has of everyone reading it.  Even if they agree with you.  If you don’t like something here, that I DO, or the reverse, try to change my mind.  You probably won’t, even as I cannot change yours.  Opinions are like that, once formed, they tend not to change much.  But the debate is always more fun and stimulating that just mindless bitching.

Having said that, it is true.  I am not a Superman fan.  On my shelves right now are 8 trades or hardcovers where they are predominantly Superman books, and that is out of, what I will guess to be something between 750 and 850 similarly formatted books.  ( I don’t really do floppys anymore and the New 52 books I am reading now are very much the exceptions to the rule, as I might have something in the area of 100 floppys at any one time.  When they are put in a nice trade or HC, I tend to get rid of the originals)  Those Superman books are by some of the best of the modern writers.  (sorry, not much of the classic stuff out there that I enjoy enough to own and re read) Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, being the most recent of the really fine books.  And that is why the New 52 and the re launch of Action Comics really had me interested.

If you were not previously much into Superman, this might be the book that changes your mind.  If you prefer the boy scout as mentioned above, this may really send you screaming.  I hope not.  As I said, this will not last.  The Supes we all know will slowly return.  But for now, there is a pretty good take on the character.  This Superman has returned to the social crusader that first appeared in the late 1930s and his methods have a lot more in common with Batman than the big blue we all recognize.

This book is in the past, behind the continuity of all the other new books except Justice League.  These are here to establish the world as it is now.  As I understand it, JL will eventually catch up.  That has not been explicitly stated for Action, but that is a safe bet.  The world does not understand or really even trust this guy in a tight T-shirt, jeans and a cape.  They are wary and frightened of him.  The police and military are after him even as he tries to fight FOR them.  Lex Luthor is here too, and he is on the side of the average man, much like he has always claimed.  The plot really is just “let’s get Superman” at this point.  They manage to re-establish that Clark Kent is there and that he still works for a news agency , but Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane work for a rival one.  This Superman is FAR from invulnerable.  Yes we have seem him take a pounding in books before, but not really like this.  The beating he takes has consequences and they follow him.  Clark SHOULD have bruises if Superman does.  I like that this Superman is more fragile, it adds impact to the story, but I don’t want to see his de power go to far.  He should still be the most powerful being on the planet.

That is where I didn’t care for this book.  To me, and this is strictly MY opinion, Superman IS a Sun God, just as Morrison has stated.  If any but the most amazing mortal was confronted with seeing a being with the kind of power that Superman has, they would likely be unable to function.  They would go bibbldy.  At least they would wet themselves.  That might be why Superman has been a character I have failed to enjoy as regularly, I cannot believe in the more simple aspects of the story.  Suspension of disbelief starts with very subtle things, after all.  My version would probably not make for very human comics, though, so the approach here is bringing the Sun God down just a bit, and making him more believable.

Grant Morrison and Rags Morales are the writer and artist that are bringing you this book, and I have to say that it met my very high expectations for it.  I will be picking up the monthly issues for the duration of the first arc.    Morales’ art has found a perfect complement in inker Rick Bryant.  The line is stunning and pulls you in and keeps you there.  Clark is believably human and he and Superman actually do look like they might fool you into thinking they are different people.  Morrison’s new take on Superman is an interesting one and I can only say 2 things:  One, please stay on the book as long as you have good stories to tell(with the obvious thought that there are a lot to tell, rather than just this first arc).  And two, that they don’t chicken out.  Take your ideas to the logical conclusion without making concessions to the commercial aspect of the industry.  I doubt DC editorial will allow something with an actual beginning, middle and end, but I can dream.

Buy this book.

 

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The New 52 Starts here-ish. Justice League #1: Review

Justice League #1

August 2011

DC Comics

$3.99 comic only/$4.99 With digital comic included.

A long wait for the New 52 or DCnU (DC new Universe) as it has been called.  With the end of Flashpoint setting off the end and the beginning for DC Comics, and all the hype surrounding this reboot/restart/cajigger or whatever you want to call it, the expectations for these new number ones could not be higher.  For every whining fool out there that swore he would never pick up a book from DC (the popular phrase was “oh look, 52 jumping off points!”) there must be at least one that is interested to see what is going to happen.  With an initial print run of over 200,000 and 2 reprint runs already scheduled, this book is going to be the big seller for august (or Sept, depending on how they calculate it)  and one of the biggest of the year.  DC’s attempt to grab back market share from Marvel is off to a promising start, at least from a sales standpoint.  (SIDENOTE:  does anyone else recall the halcyon days when a book that sold ONLY 200,000 was not a great seller?  Ah for the return of the 70’s and 80’s!)

This book, by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee is fun, I will say that much.  But I have to be honest, it is ultimately disappointing.  I was really hoping for a huge game changer.  Not just in story, but in the whole approach.  I had been hoping that this book might change the way we looked at comics.  Something that was such a clear shift of perspective in how we read and perceived comics, that the entire industry might follow suit. No.  That didn’t happen.  What did happen was a decent comic that will make me pick up the next issue, and ultimately that is what the goal is.

The book is a sort of soft boot for the rest of the new 52, as this book (and Action #1) take place 5 years prior to what will be current continuity for the rest of the books.  This issue really plays out as a team-up between Batman and Green Lantern.  Where Batman seems more and more like the Dark Knight Returns version, all-knowing and all-confident, with everyone around him managing to look like fools or amateurs in comparison, the Hal Jordan Green Lantern is a bit of a clown.  No experience and no subtlety, pushing with all his power to keep up with Batman, the Lantern comes off as an arrogant lightweight.  There is also a brief look at the pre-cyborg Vic Stone.  Does anyone but Geoff Johns really like this character?  I certainly don’t think he belongs in the Justice League.  As the issue ends, we see Superman, clearly post-Action Comics, but before his solo series starts presumably.  Not the intro for the most powerful hero in the DCU.  Next issue promises Batman vs Superman, but I don’t really expect much that I have not seen in other books.  I am hopeful, but not very.

Many of the moments that need to be done well are not.  They are glanced over for bigger action bits.  The first instance where Green Lantern realizes that Batman is “just a guy in a suit”, with no special powers, should have been a strong character moment, but Lee is just not that subtle.  While there is some visual storytelling going on (more than usual for a Jim Lee book), I really missed those smaller moments that define what the characters are going to be.  This is the chance to make real change and develop these guys into something special.  More than just a retelling, and right now, that is what this feels like.  It is a retelling of a story we have never heard.

A quick word about the digital version.  I looked briefly at the book on my friend Kurt’s smart phone and was impressed.  The panels, formatting and the interface were easy and seamless.  There was a lot of versatility in the way you could read this.  One way the digital score over the paper version is the depth of the color and the black levels.  This looks much darker and richer than the printed comic.  It is a natural limitation of the print medium.  The best comparison I can make is what we all saw when we first opened the books in the 90’s that were utilizing the better paper and computer colors.  Like when you first opened Spawn #1 (ugh!) and were blown away by the visual quality of the product, if not the actual art or story.  I think the biggest likely benefit from day and date digital, will be the people, not that want one or the other, as those demographics will not change.  Many of us are in one camp or the other now.  Where the benefit will be felt is from the people who want both.  And there are those people out there, more I suspect, than anybody realizes.

This is a fun book.  It just isn’t worth all the build up.  But given the hype and press these have gotten, I am not sure that anything would have genuinely impressed me.  Sad to say, but true.

I am still very excited to see Action #1.  It holds most of my hopes for the main body of the DCnU, and after that, it will be up to the fringe books, like Justice League Dark to keep me on board.

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Superman Grounded: The Review

Superman Grounded

2011 DC Comics

168 Pages

$16 online-but buy it at your LCS if you can.

I was looking forward to this one.  There were a lot of mixed feelings in the industry as this was coming out monthly.  From the hit and miss nature of the story to the controversy surrounding J. Michael Straczynski’s departure from the series, this book had lots of light on it.  JMS pulled out after the huge success of Superman:  Earth One, and left the basic plotline in the hands of G. Willow Wilson, who also wrote some interlude issues.  Who wrote what does not really interest me at this point.  What matters is how good the book is, and I have to be honest, this is a decent book.  First, the weak point: the interludes.  These were put in as filler and to cover delays in the book.  They were likely going to be there in one form or another from the start, but as they are now, the really kill the flow of the book.  Which is not to say they are bad, as stand alone issues, they are fairly good reads.  But as a part of this book, they are literary speed bumps.  

The main story here is Superman’s trek across the nation he calls home.  Prompted by average human beings calling him out for the betrayal they feel from the events of earlier stories, and expressing their new level of distrust they feel for the alien, Supes decides to walk, like an ordinary man, across the country.  While not completely void of superheroics, this is a quiet book.  There is very little action here and it works like that.  From dealing with a suicidal girl on a high ledge, to pushing drug dealers out of a run down area, this books works as a character piece and a study of what people see as “hero” and what Joe Punchclock wants and expects from the world.  The issues brought up are as real as any I have ever seen in a comic, and they show Superman for the hero he is and the struggle he has in meeting the impossible standard he sets for himself.  The ordinary people that he encounters are not fair to him, in fact they are often mean and rude.  In that, they still manage to not be wrong.  The issues in the story are the kind of real world concerns that should be a part of any super hero story.  Like the fear that a mother in the park with her children would feel upon seeing Superman casually walk through.  Are her children in danger?  This man brings destruction in his wake.  His motivations are as positive as they can be, yet his presence is the very definition of danger.  These are not new to comics, but they are handled very strongly.  The people walk up to Superman with no fear or concern, talking to him like they would someone they have known all their lives.  In that honesty of storytelling is where this story has its heart.  This is the kind of Superman story that works in every way, succeeding at most everything it tries.

This and All-Star Superman make great bookends for the character.  They both do what they do better than almost any other attempt out there.  They try to define Superman.  One by setting that definition in his origins and deeper mythos, the other by showing Superman’s inner concerns, mirrored in the eyes of the people here has always tried to protect.

This is a great first volume (of 2) for someone trying to re discover Superman, but not wanting mindless comic drivel.  A fine read, and I will be picking up the second volume and will be sure to review it here.

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