Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review: Superman #689

Superman #689 was another interesting issue in this current run focusing on Metropolis without Superman. One thing that I have liked about the last couple of issues has that they have really focused on Mon-El. Despite setting up a huge supporting cast for the title, James Robinson really has been concentrating on the dying Mon-El, setting him up as a tragic hero.

Last issue, Mon-El realized that he needed to get as much out of whatever is left in his life. As a result, this issue reads more like a travelogue. He is travelling around the world to help international heroes stop major threats and, should time permit, to take in some sightseeing.

While he hops from country to country some ominous things are unfolding at home.

First off, we are re-introduced to WGBS owner Morgan Edge who looks and acts remarkably like old shock TV host Morton Downey Jr. In this instance, Edge decides to take an anti-Kryptonian stance voicing his concerns in a televised statement. Part of his concern is about Mon-El who he feels is an outlawed Kryptonian brazenly acting openly against the UN decree.

While I question Edge's underlying motivation, I can understand his confusion. Mon-El has a Kryptonian name, Kryptonian powers, and was given the city to protect by another Kryptonian. If you are a fear monger, you would be pointing your fingers right at Mon-El.

While Edge continues his statement, Tellus is released from S.T.A.R. labs. He tells the Guardian that he has to leave to protect the universe from some upcoming threat. Before leaving he does something to the Guardian to even up his upcoming fight against Agent Assassin. My guess is that some sort of psychic blocks have been placed in Harper's mind so that Assassin can't mentally attack him.

I would love to know why Robinson picked Tellus to be part of this story. Certainly there are many telepathic characters that could easily be plugged in here, even from the Legion. Tellus! Unbelievable!

But enough about Metropolis for now.

Mon-El starts his sightseeing in Russia, visiting Red Square where he helps some Red Rockets fight off some armored troops. After the battle he gets his first kiss from Rocket Red Ivana.

He then travels to England and Spain to fight along side those countries heroes: Beaumont and Sunny Jim in London and La Sangre in Barcelona. One thing I did like here was Robinson including some of these new heroes rather than retreading the old Global Guardians. He even gives them some quick backstory too.

Back home in Metropolis, Steel continues to hang out with his new BFF Atlas. Of course Steel thinks Atlas is just a guy named Tom who he met at the diner. But he has hit it off so well with Tom/Atlas that he gives him access to the nanobyte protected Iron Works.

This was the one part of the issue that just felt wrong. Would Steel really give this new friend total access to his top secret lab? After being attacked and beaten up for years as a hero, would he open up so quickly to a man he just met?

Here is one of those new heroes that Mon-El meets on his world tour. In Germany he fights along private detective Von Hammer, a man who sounds like that country's James Bond and Doc Savage rolled into one. Their mission sounds like it has been ripped from old pulp novels. I actually would consider reading more of this guy's adventures.

M0n doesn't stop there though. He fights alongside Freedom Beast and Congorilla in Africa. He fights along side Dr. Light and Rising Sun in Japan. Each time he visits some part of those places searching for peace whether it be communing with nature or meditating in shrines.

I have to say this world tour felt like a completely appropriate response to last issue's revelation about life and living. Plus it allowed Renato Guedes to work in some very sharp near-splash pages throughout the issue.
But while Mon-El searches for peace, Metropolis is starting to boil a bit.

First the Guardian feels he needs to publically defend Mon-El and actually goes on Morgan Edge's show revealing that Mon-El is not Kryptonian. The Guardian does talk up Mon's heroism leading Edge to welcome Mon-El to Earth.

I don't know about you but I don't trust Edge in the least.
General Lane also makes an appearance and shows that he is still watching Metropolis very closely. He has some plans for the big city. To enact that plan he has hired to Prankster to help set up the playing field. For one thing, the Prankster has arranged some events to lead Black Lightning out of the city.

Now Lane tells Prankster that he needs to manufacture a crime scene away from Metropolis to lure its other heroes away too. And not just any crime scene ... a murder scene .... a superhero's murder scene. Lane promises to provide the body ... Steel's body.

I do think it is interesting that Lane doesn't seem to have any problem working with super-criminals. I wonder if he simply plans to eliminate them once they have served their purpose.

Once inside Iron Works, Atlas wastes no time to drop his guise and promises to kill John Henry. Nice cliffhanger!

Overall this was a very nice issue. The part of this current arc that I like the best is the journey Mon-El is going on so I was happy that was the main thrust of the issue.

But the background events seem to move the overall story of a 'Metropolis without Superman' forward nicely.

I have said in the past that the cast of characters that Robinson has here seem unwieldy. We added the Prankster and Morgan Edge to that cast but seemed to have lost Black Lightning. We also haven't seen Zatara in a while. I was concerned that some space would be devoted to the individual SciPo officers in the Guardian's unit and so far that hasn't happened. This book really feels like it is Mon-El and the Guardian's title rather than some large team book. I like that.

Overall grade: B


TalOs said...

Mmmm ...I enjoyed the Mon-El sections of the issue and I think we'll see Tellus in LO3W #4 as of now. But in having had said all of that if 'Sam Lane' (i.e. the current Superman team handling the titles) are thinking of offing Steel I might just drop 'em and only be willing to pick up Supergirl's out of protest! >:(

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Anj said...

But in having had said all of that if 'Sam Lane' (i.e. the current Superman team handling the titles) are thinking of offing Steel I might just drop 'em and only be willing to pick up Supergirl's out of protest!

Thanks for the post.

I can't imagine Steel being killed off.

But don't ask me how he can escape that behemoth Atlas.

TalOs said...

Exactly! It's not as if John Henry is in his Steel battle armor going against Atlas here. :/

Anj said...

Exactly! It's not as if John Henry is in his Steel battle armor going against Atlas here. :/


It should like an abattoir when Atlas is done.