Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: Batman/Superman #15

Batman Superman #15 came out this week and ended the three part 'amnesia' storyline. Greg Pak has, for the most part, made this a cerebral title for these characters, focusing on elements of their personality and ethics. Yes there is action in all these stories but most have been Batman and Superman dealing with some conundrum and wondering how far they would go, what is the limits of 'good', and in this instance, what sort of personality bubbles under the surface. Where does nature end and nurture take over? What would Batman be if he didn't remember his horrific origin and twisted adventures? What would Superman be like if he didn't remember his upbringing and ethics.

The art work is something of a group effort with art by Pascal Alixe, Diogenes Neves, Cliff Richards, and Mark Deering. After months of delays, apparently due to Jae Lee, it looks like DC is working to get this book back on track. This catches things up and clears the deck for new artist Adrian Syaf. I will state that I love Jae Lee's art. But the delays were killing the momentum of the book. The team on this issue do a nice job bringing a similar style and getting the story told.

The book opens with Kaiyo, the chaos demon, telling Lord Satanus that Bruce and Clark can get their memories back simply by wishing for them. What has stopped them from wanting to return to normal? Maybe it is how much they are enjoying the freedom of a blank slate.

Remember, last issue an untrained Batman couldn't save lives and stop the Scarecrow and as a result some innocents died. It made him question moving forward as a hero at all. But his interaction with Lois must have moved him. Inspired by her detective work and strive for justice, he looks her up, asking for help.

So, while he might like the carefree life of millionaire Bruce Wayne, he knows that he can't let innocents die. And he admits he needs help. I like that Lois recognizes that there must be some part of Batman still in there. Although I would hope that everyone would step up to help people in danger.

To entice (seduce?) Lois into action, Batman says he will bring her along. And the extra lure is that she will be part of the action. He brings her a Batgirl suit and she gladly puts it on.

They spar with each other as they leap the rooftops but it is clear there is some flirting and playful touching and romance happening here. Who is seducing who? It is strange to see Batman smiling and saying how great a catch Lois is.

That said, I don't like Lois getting into costumes and joining the fray like this. Lois strength is that she is one of us, someone without powers, who still impacts the world around her. I don't need her in a cape and slugging it out with villains to know how great she is. She is fine as an intelligent investigative supporter.

As for Superman, he is enjoying his newfound role as tough guy wrestling the world into line. He catches up with Mangubat accosts him. And then he lets a suddenly ruthless Metropolis PD have their way with him, pummeling Mangubat with their nightsticks.

It is just as odd to see Superman watch this 'punching down', this overt and unnecessary violence happening in front of him without stopping.

And even more, he looks downright scary with this odd smirk as he says the world doesn't need anyone's help other than from him. Superman grabs Batman and puts him into a cage, a cage made from support beams Superman has molded into a cell.

This seems to be nature and not nurture. This isn't Pa Kent's son. All bare-chested bravado, acting as judge and jury ... that isn't Superman.

Of course, that is the Superman in Earth 2, Injustice, etc. Kind of sad.

Thankfully, Pak actually shows that Lois' place isn't in combat. When Mangubat and his drones press their attack, Lois get injured in the leg.

Bruce blames himself ... as he should. I would say he should know better but he does have no memories.

Again, I don't need my Lois to be swinging haymakers to recognize her strength.

For whatever reason, seeing Lois injured angers this already slightly unhinged Superman even more.

He cauterizes her wound with heat vision. He then pounds Mangubat and flies him into the sky. This is going to be a very public execution.

Maybe I can say that the anger at Lois' injury shows that somewhere deep in him, his memories are crawling around.

But this is the scary part of an out of control Superman. Now he isn't just judge and jury but also executioner. This is the Superman from the other books, the Dark Superman we see all too often. But as I said, seeing this here and knowing this is the 'wrong' Superman is interesting. I think Pak is trying to show who Superman is by really showing what he isn't here.

Lois knows that Superman would never forgive himself for killing someone. She knows someone needs to stop him. And she knows the only one who could get through is Batman.

She asks Bruce to remember.

There is a pause. He might not want to return to that brooding guy. And he actually loves Lois and knows there is no place in the 'other' Batman's life for her. Ultimately he knows what's right. He kisses Lois and remembers, complete with a slick splash page with highlights of his career.

I do think there is a little too much 'love at first sight' here. Both of them acknowledge a burgeoning love here ... but doesn't it feel soon? Or am I an old jaded reader?

And Batman knows the strings to pull.

He calls Superman Clark and tells him he has to know who he really is. And the word Clark opens the flood gates. Also in a splash page we see Superman remember everything.

He floats down with Mangubat, tells the cops not to beat him, and thanks Batman.

Just like that, the adventure is over. Batman walks away from Lois. Catwoman walks away from Clark.

Nurture is back.

But there is this wonderful ending where Superman and Batman deal with what they have done.

Lois tells Superman that the person he was without memories is not who he is.

But Superman knows it was. He realizes that somewhere in him is that angry control freak. That sort of super-dictator, that bully, is just under the surface. I wonder how often it is a struggle to not let *that guy* just come out. That is the never-ending battle.

That's just great.

And Batman. Well, he tells Alfred to not call him Bruce. Because Bruce is the mask. He is Batman. Somehow the small family picture in the background of the first panel adds to the funeral feeling here.

All those things that Bruce was just enjoying ... flirting, parties, toys, etc ... it is gone. He can't be that man. He has to be this crusader. And we see Alfred silently mourn.

So I will admit that when I read the first part I sort of bemoaned another look at 'just how far will Batman and Superman go' theme feeling we had read a number of those stories already. But I really liked this story. It was interesting to see just how much the overlay of tragedy has formed who these two are.

That said, I'd love an old-fashioned punch-em-up. Maybe throw in a couple of super-villains.

Overall grade: B+/B

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sales Review: September 2014

ICv2's coverage of last month's sales somehow slipped past me so I am sorry this post is coming in later than usual.

September is DC's gimmick month (although with all the 50/50 variants lately there have been a fair number of months which could fit the bill). Last month was the Futures End month, a look into the future of the title characters in issues complete with lenticular covers. As I said during the month, unlike" Zero month" with its origin stories or "Villains month" with its look at arch enemies, "Futures End" month didn't entice me to sample new titles. Why read a new title if it is a future story which may never come to pass? In fact, I skipped some of my monthly titles! I guess I am not a complete completist.

The sales for the month are reviewed here: http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/29843.html
As always, I thank ICv2 for their great coverage and recommend you visit the site.

Supergirl's Futures End issue was a mixed bag. Again we have a story where she was (presumably) defeated by the Cyborg Superman and brainwashed.

While she does end up throwing off the brainwashing, ripping off her robotic bits and defeating the Cyborg, she only does it with the help of her boyfriend Captain Comet.

The art was lovely.

I guess my lack of excitement over the month didn't mean sales weren't brisk. (As always, when I say sales, I mean volume purchased by comic stores for sales.)

Amazingly, all DC titles sales were up. And it has to be because of the fancy covers and the Futures End crossover.

Futures End Supergirl sold 48,597 units. Incredible. That is the most the title has sold since the second issue of the New 52! Even her zero issue only sold 34K. I hope that some of those new readers, buying the cover, will stick around. Of course, there is a new direction coming up.

I suppose this means that DC will continue doing such things as fancy covers and big crossovers as they seem good for business in the short term. Let's hope Supergirl continues to get some boost from these things.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

IGN's Interview With Laura Vandervoort At New York Comic Con

There was very little Supergirl news coming out of New York Comic Con. And I have to say that surprised me.

The comic is just about to kick off a bold new direction. Kate Perkins is taking over the primary writing job and is only the second woman to write Supergirl. Emanuela Lupacchino is the artist. Things are going to be very different. You would think that with general comic panel and a Women in Comics panel strictly for DC that the book would have got a little publicity. But nothing.

And let's not forget that CBS has picked up a Supergirl show for next season. Now it is early. But surely there could be something official about the show. But nothing there either.

There was one thing that I did stumble across which was this interview that IGN did with Laura Vandervoort where they talk about her show Bitten as well as her thoughts on Supergirl. Here is the link:

Please visit the site.

I am a fan of Vandervoort and I love that she feels some attachment to the Supergirl character. So I have a couple of comments about this interview.

I love that she talks about whoever is taking over the role should pick something that resonates personally about Supergirl and bring that to the character. With Vandervoort I think she brought that strive for justice, even a fierce edge about it. She was great as Kara.

But I do like that she acknowledges that everyone has a sense of what Supergirl should be like. As I always point out here, Supergirl is a complicated character. Is she sweet and innocent? Bright and optimistic? Fallible as a new hero? Fierce crusader of justice? All of the above? And there is a subset of her fandom which think she should be primarily one of those categories.

I am glad Vandervoort went with the fierce aspect.

Vandervoort also wouldn't mind guest starring on the Supergirl show if they would have her. As she says, Smallville did a great job with that, bringing in Terence Stamp as Jor-El, Helen Slater as Lara-El, and Christopher Reeve as Dr. Virgil Swann.

For me, I wouldn't mind seeing her as a villain (something she says in the interview). And if I had to pick one that has some Supergirl history, I would pick The Enchantress.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Supergirl #35

Supergirl #35 came out this week, the last issue of the Tony Bedard's all too short run on the title. From the beginning, Tony Bedard said he wanted to rehabilitate Supergirl, moving her away from anger and isoloation and more towards optimism and hope. And I think he succeeded ... amazing given that one of the editorial choices was to send Supergirl into the ranks of the Red Lanterns.

This issue seems to cement that new outlook by Kara. She rejects a 'bad boy', doesn't lose control, grows in a relationship, and (gasp) seems happy! This issue seems to be a repudiation of much of the tone that this title had in the first 2 plus years.

Of course, cement might not be the best verb as all of this is going to go away next issue when Kara heads off to outer space school. So maybe showcase would have been a better word. Still, this was a nice little coda for Bedard's run, an issue were the mission seems forgettable but sets up the characterization nicely.

The internal art is done by Jonboy Meyers who brings a bright, stylish, almost Anime-like feel to the book. It works nicely with the feel of the story and reminded me of Ame-Comi Girls.

The issue starts with Supergirl flying Michael's parents to their home so they can be reunited.

The interaction is sweet. The family thanks her, telling Supergirl that she didn't need to fuss over them, and makes sure that taking them home isn't taking her away from her Justice League duties. These are ordinary, nice people and I like them already.

But Supergirl's response is even better. She wants more friends like Michael, people away from the insanity of her adventures. It means she is embracing Earth as her home, looking for a community to be a part of, and a circle of friends to be part of. The smile on her face says even more.

That is about a light year away from the Scott Lobdell Supergirl who called Earth a 'ball of mud filled with sweaty humans' (I'm paraphrasing from H'El on Earth).

Unfortunately life isn't always so simple. When Supergirl enters Michael's apartment who is there waiting for her ... Red Hood.

Even this internal monologue tells us so much about the current Supergirl. The Red Hood is trouble. And she is 'sick to death' of trouble.

You get the sense that Kara recognizes the pandemonium of her time on Earth up to now and just wants to catch her breath.

 She grabs Jason and flies right through Michael's window to get him away from the family.

Now I really have never cared for Jason Todd since his resurrection. Here he is sporting some new super-powers. And he is a true anti-hero. He wants to stop alien weaponry to hit the streets and he needs some back up. This wraps up the 'alien gun runner' plot that Lobdell started and dropped in Superman. (Remember Brainiac Lois freezing a whole city block?)

And Jason liked how Kara and he teamed up on Warworld. And he thinks Supergirl won't be so controlling as Batman would be. I suppose that means that he thinks she is something of a loose cannon who might look the other way if he decided to use lethal force. Again, I can't help but think this is a look at who Supergirl was and where she is now.

There is a lot of punching and flipping and shooting, an almost afterthought in this issue.

But I did like how Supergirl acknowledges that maybe she is drawn to 'bad boys'. But admitting you have a problem is the first step of beating it? She also calls him obnoxious. And the tone in my head was that she wouldn't get sucked into a web of chaos again.

The initial battle leads them the the stronghold. To get the information, Red Hood had to threaten to kill one of the thugs, something Supergirl didn't appreciate.

One of the thing that Supergirl writers seem to struggle with is how to have her be a part of the super-family but not be defined by Superman. Her adventures shouldn't be Superman adventures with Kara simply as a stand-in.

I liked this panel. When Red Hood asks Supergirl to look the other way like Superman does with Batman, she says outright that she isn't her cousin. I actually like the annoyed look on her face. She might aspire to be a hero like Superman. She might be striving to honor the S-shield. But she isn't a follower. She is her own person. 

 Then there is more action as the two shut down the weapons ring.

And Supergirl helps mop things up. Red Hood can't help but be impressed. She is something all right.

It reminded me of this moment in Superman/Batman Annual #5 where Dick Grayson (acting as Batman) calls Supergirl magnificent.

Or this moment where Damian Wayne says she has earned his respect.

I like that the Bat-family recognizes Kara for the greatness she is.

 With the adventure over, we actually get to see some downtime between Kara and Michael.

One thing I liked was how Supergirl replaces the window she smashed, even putting on a red bow.

Michael and Kara care for each other. He worries about how alone she is. And let's face it, she has been alone for most of her New 52 life. Heck, she created a true fortress of solitude, someplace she could be completely alone. It was only with the Reds that she had someone to lean on.

But I think Bedard ends this chapter of Kara's life. She leans in and kisses Michael. She has someone who cares for her. She has someone she cares for. It is progress.

She kisses Michael.

And then she dismisses any concerns about her falling for Red Hood.

She wants something normal and real.

It is a very nice last panel for this particular run. We have gone from out of control, angry, isolated, disaffected Supergirl to a heroic Supergirl, embracing Earth, helping people, finding romance, and being part of the super-family.

Of course, it is also ironic that the last panel is that she wants some normalcy because we know next issue is anything but normal, sent to a warrior school in space. So we finally get to a place I like with Supergirl only to blow things up completely again.

Still, I will enjoy this issue for what it was. And I will again applaud Tony Bedard for bring Supergirl much closer to what I see in her and farther away from an abomination. I can only hope this isn't the last chance that Bedard gets to write the character.

Overall grade: B+

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Figures Toy Company Silver Age Action Figure

There are a number of pieces of Supergirl memorabilia that I have on my wish list which I know I will never own. One of those is an original Supergirl Mego figure. There is no way I can afford that.

So I have to thank Figures Toy Company for coming out with faux Mego figures. Based on the original designs, these figures really channel the Mego's but for a far more affordable price. (Not that this wasn't pricey - coming in at $29.99 at my LCS.)

This is one of the few pieces of merchandise that have Supergirl in her Bronze Age hot pants costume. And it is interesting to note this figure has her in the ballerina slippers, the original footwear for this costume. Ultimately she dons red boots (as we see in the packaging).

There is a very retro feel to this figure right down to the 'real' hair and the flesh leggings to cover up the doll legs. There is also an innocence in her face which goes well with the curled up old fashioned hair style.

I also have to give kudos to the company for the packaging. This is a beautiful card with a great Supergirl flying into action. But I also love that this clam-shell plastic packaging allows you to open and close it without ripping anything. As the figure can't stand on her own, it is nice to put it back and use as a display. Lastly, there is a plastic bundler which closes the top so you know if the figure has been opened (as mine has).

The back shows the other Superman figures including Lois !!! And Mxyzptlk! And Bizarro! And Jimmy!

I wish I could buy them all! Again, nice art on the back as well.

As I said, there isn't much merchandise in this costume. But this has a nice spot surrounded by others including the two tumbler glasses and the Crisis on Infinite Earths action figure. Here is that corner of my collection.

I love this figure and so glad to have it in my collection. There is no way I could afford the original Mego. So glad that I have some version of it in my collection!

For complete details head here: http://figurestoycompany.com/supermanretro8inchactionfiguresseries1superman-1.aspx

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman #12

Superman/Wonder Woman #12 came out this week, another Doomed Aftermath and the last issue for writer Charles Soule. With both of those endings, the book reads like a 'last issue', a way to once again showcase the Clark/Diana romance and prove that it is valid.

For me, the relationship has been the weakest part of this book. I have enjoyed Soule immensely on She-Hulk and Red Lanterns. But here, it feels like he is trying just a little too hard to make me tolerate this loving relationship. I am sure that much of it is my baggage. I am a Lois/Clark guy. It would take something significant to make me think these two characters should be together. Unfortunately, the romantic interludes in this book have been relatively cringe-worthy. And I have yet to understand why these two are together when they are so wholly different.

Still, Soule gives it a good go here in this issue. The two certainly seem to enjoy each others affections.

Jack Herbert and Cliff Richards split the art on this issue and it is very nicely rendered. There were months were the art of Tony Daniel was the only thing keeping this book on my pull list. But these two do a fine job. And Daniel gives us an excellent cover to wrap up his time on the book. I actually didn't see this was a scrying pool with Strife until I got the book home.

And with the trusted creators Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke coming on, looks like this book will remain on my pull list for now.

The book starts with Wonder Woman fighting Giganta on a soccer field filled with fans. How the heck did that happen? I have to say that it felt a little off for me. It just seemed to further advance the "Diana as Gladiator" persona, as if she had people buy tickets to watch her fight a villain. Remember when Diana was an ambassador of peace?

I suppose it did allow Soule the opportunity to have this kiss put on the jumbotron. This is supposed to show us that Superman is now comfortable enough to have their romance plastered in front of the masses. And Wonder Woman raises one of her feet in the air like a swooning princess.

It still doesn't feel right.

I will admit that I liked the next several pages. Soule recaps the whole series in pictures showing us how much time has elapsed. It starts with the scene from Superman/Wonder Woman #1 where Superman gives Diana an alien flower that likes cooking oil.

But then life happened. So while the couple fights Apollo, Zod and each other that flower mutates into something toothy on Diana's kitchen counter.

If this did anything, it reminded me that there really has been no 'down time' for the power couple. Plus it was interesting to see these scenes replayed with the new artists.

Maybe because there has been no 'down time', plus the fact that Superman has been in deep space for months, the two are very amorous with each other ... hugging, touching, squeezing each other!

In fact, there is a sly rapport here as Superman tells Diana that 'he isn't dead' just as she inserts a key into its hole.

I suppose if you like these two together than it makes sense that they would fall into each others' arms with some passion.

The plant likes oil. And as it has been starving it seeks out crude oil, drinking a gas station and then entering an oil pipeline, drinking straight from the tap.

Who is to blame? Superman for giving a dangerous gift? Wonder Woman for neglecting it?

The two begin to squabble, trying to blame the other.

Luckily, Diana realizes that it doesn't feel right. She knows this isn't them.

Should this make me think their feelings are legitimate?

Diana realizes that this is the work of Strife. Of course Eris wants to stir things up. And Diana isn't going to have it.

I do like that Diana almost immediately figures out what is happening and how to stop it. This is better than seeing the Clark and Diana come to blows again.

While Diana takes care of family business, Superman tries to stop this plant, now big enough to be draped over an oil platform in the ocean.

I haven't read Swamp Thing for any prolonged period of time since Alan Moore. This interaction does make me want to seek out Swamp Thing #20. Superman tells Swampy that they can be human ... as much as they want to be.

As someone who thinks Superman considers himself a man before a Superman, as someone who loves Earth more than Krypton, he would make a good sounding board for the 'not human ... was human ... more than human' Swamp Thing.

Anyone out there read Soule's Swamp Thing? How is it?

Initially Swamp Thing wonders if maybe he shouldn't stop this thing. If it drinks up all the oil, the world might heal a bit. But Diana, as the god of war, let's Swampy know that first there would be war ... and suffering.

Seeing her wisdom, Swamp Thing calms this thing - "Enough my friend." And he uses his abilities to shrink it back into it's simple flower form.

This is an interesting creative choice for Soule. This is his last issue to write these two. He could have had them go out with a bang. But instead he has a guest star solve the problem.

And suddenly the two do have a moment to catch their breath and enjoy a sunset. Superman tells Diana that no matter what their relationship faces, they are ready.

It is a little cliche to have the two looking out at the sun, a feeling of a journey ahead of them, dripping with love. It can't be coincidence that Swamp Thing guest starred here. Because this ending reminded me of this ...

The cover of Alan Moore's last issue of Swamp Thing oh so many years ago. (Man I am old!) In that issue Swamp Thing  also returns after being away for months (like Superman) ... in space (like Superman) ... with Abby thinking he has died (like Diana). And they rekindle their love.

I have to say that this is as close as Soule has come to me feeling like their might be some real love between these two. They have said it an awful lot in this comic but I haven't *felt* it. At least here he comes close.

But he still didn't get there.

Still, for an epilogue, for a parting issue to show how legitimate this romance is, this was a decent try. But if you want to read what real romance feels like in a last issue, you should seek out Swamp Thing #64. That is a very good read.

Overall grade: B

Monday, October 13, 2014

Review: Smallville Chaos #3

Yes, I know that Smallville Continuity is being release digitally already.

And yes, I learned here that the end of Continuity is the end of this series.  Miller kicked things off talking about the end of Smallville Season 11, the end of which will mark the end of the series. And that stinks because this book has been a revelation and the last bastion for some Lois/Clark, some Superman Family, some classic Superman action.
Old-timers like me rely on print so I am still reading Smallville Chaos. And Smallville Chaos #3 came out last week and continued this whirlwind of an 'episode'. As I said before, the title Chaos is completely appropriate. There are three storylines right now that are roiling in turbulence. Superman and Lois are stuck in alternate universes being destroyed by Monitors and are hoping to get home. Lex has taken over the Holt/Kord particle accelerator with a squad of LexCorps Yellow Lanterns. And Metropolis and the world are in danger of being taken over by Eclipso possession. Pure pandemonium. And, gladly, we see two of those plots weave together in this issue.

I have praised writer Bryan Q. Miller of bringing a DC Universe to this Smallville world. It continues to grow in this issue as we start to see individual creators interacting with each other in an almost familial way. We are heading to a crisis of Continuity and people need to start teaming up.

Still, things seem more tumultuous at the end of this issue than they are at the beginning. Fantastic.

The art of the issue is a mix of Agustin Padilla and Marcelo DiChiara. Padilla has a fine-lined look compared to DiChiara's thicker, rougher feel. But both serve the issue well. DiChiara's look is perfect for a Darkseid-ruined Earth.

The Eclipso 'virus' is sweeping over Metropolis and there is a chance that it might spread beyond. The issue starts with someone on a plane transforming into an Eclipso acolyte. After a melee with a Federal marshal on board, the plane's wing snaps off and it begins to fall to the ground. In some ways, it is a good plane crash, keeping Eclipso stuck in Metropolis for the time being.

In fact, Tess, now running the Watchtower, knows the key to success is to quarantine the city, keeping those possessed inside.

In this time when the Ebola crisis may be reaching the US, this resonated a bit.

So only the heroes within the city limits are allowed to lend a hand, keeping this not under Eclipso's thrall safe. One of the heroes is Superboy.

Another is Supergirl, who pulls off a Routh-ian rescue of the falling jet plane. I wonder if I am imagining the homage or if it was there intentionally.

And so we have the first Supergirl and Superboy meeting.

I have really started to take a liking to this Smallville costume for Kara.

As for Superman, we left him on a world in ruins, being attacked by Monitors, but with a clear Apokoliptian feel. Turns out the look is because Darkseid is actually on Earth.

There is a nice wrinkle about this Darkseid. He states that there is 'one' Darkseid, albeit who exists in all universes. He tried to take over Earth in all universes because Earth is the center of all things. And only in the Smallville universe was Superman successful.

While it appears in ruins, the Monitors are leaving this Earth. And Superman needs to get on their ship to head home.

I forget ... did Superman ever face off against Darkseid like this in the last episode of Smallville? Or was it a more metaphorical battle?

And in Antarctica, Lex is about to fire up the accelerator for his own nefarious reasons. With Kord and Holt held hostage, Luthor bides his time by torturing Booster Gold.

Now, Luthor hasn't always been so overt with his evil nature. He usual has agents do his dirty work, covering his tracks.

This panel did grab me. Since returning, Lex hasn't killed anyone. And Booster isn't important enough to break that run.

But this has to fit the Chekhov gun rule, right? Why announce this here unless Lex is going to kill someone. And my guess is Otis. His only friend. Otis, who clearly is having second thoughts about Lex's plans in this story, has to be the victim.

And won't that make Lex that much more despicable, that he would kill the one person who has stood by him.

Darkseid relents in helping Superman and Lois get on the Monitor ship in exchange for the Jor-El AI from the other universe.

Again, this was another interesting wrinkle on Darkseid. With the Jor-El tech, Darkseid builds a new Fortress and declares it a new genesis. Or is that New Genesis?

Could Miller have redeemed Darkseid??

But if there was one moment that hit me it was this panel.

Tess realizes that the only way to stop the Eclipso plague is to strangle it at the source - Bruce Gordon. And look who is going to look for him! Team Superman. The Superman Family. Whatever you want to call them this is the closest we have seen Supergirl, Superboy, and "Steel" (here Henshaw) actually liking each other and working together.

No 'I'll kill you because you're a clone' angst. No 'Bank robbing dude'. No New 52 awfulness. It is Team Superman!

Team Superman!

There is unfortunately chaos within the chaos.

Lex has asked the Yellow Lanterns to keep the prisoners alive. But these are career criminals. One of them realizes that being a ring-slinger and having a base is too good a brass ring to let go. He gets some allies, slaughters the loyal LexCorps members, and moves to start liquidating the loose ends.

There is no honor among thieves. Although I have to assume Lex has some failsafe built into these rings.

On board the Monitor ship, Superman and Lois see that their Earth is still intact. But before they can head home, a number of super-powered Monitors discover they are on board and attack.

Wait a minute ... why is Vegeta working for the Monitors?

You would think the Dark Prince would rather rule than destroy.

The Monitors encircle Superman.

And then more chaos and an intermingling of plots. Lex fires up the accelerator. And this time he doesn't try to contact other versions of himself. He instead heads up the food chain and asks the Monitors a question. Why destroy when they can recreate?

What the heck is Luthor thinking? I suppose he wouldn't mind a new universe where his faculties are intact and he is ruling.

So another issue of Smallville is in the books and this one is a great middle chapter. The plots all move along nicely. We have some new ripples to contemplate. And we have the return of the Superman family!

Nothing but praise here as the team continues to tighten the noose around this universe with a Crisis around the corner.

Overall grade: A