Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: Superman #6

Superman #6 came out this week, the last issue of George Perez's short run on the character. The issue is given some extra pages to get to its finale, no big surprise given that last issue didn't get us where we needed to be. As a result, this issue is very heavy on exposition and explanations. Perez's issues have all been very dense, but this one felt the densest because we have several pages in a row at the end where Superman basically explains what has been going on. What is worse is that this was a strange resolution to the arc. Despite pages of explanation, I don't know if I quite get it.

But perhaps my biggest problem with this story is that it hinges on the ending of the Collector arc in Action, an arc that hasn't ended yet. In some ways, this issue needed a spoiler alert because now we know some of what Morrison is going to give us next issue. I don't need this crossover this soon. And, it some ways, as I'll explain below, it felt forced.

Add to that, some of the things that Perez has started here, some things that might be carried forward in this new era of Superman, have been wrapped up already. I don't know what to say. I didn't think Superman needed to be rebooted in the first place. But if you are going to do it, let some of the new elements breathe a bit.

The one thing I will add is that in this issue Supergirl looked wonderful. Nicola Scott does great work here. And it is amazing how little things like adjusting the corners on the red aspects of the lower costume can make a difference. Can we start a petition to just have the seam be straight?

The issue starts off with this great near splash page of Supergirl, saving Billy McCoy, the anti-Superman reporter that was pitched off the Planet building last issue. This works on a number of levels. It has a nice POV as Supergirl streaks towards us, the street in the background. Supergirl looks determined and ready for action. And again, the lower costume looks so much better without the unnecessary corner cutouts where red meets blue.

She was headed to Metropolis to talk to Superman about Superboy, the clone she just me. Luckily she arrives as McCoy is plummeting. The thing is it is tough to shoehorn this into her even brief history. Many of the people and reporters on scene act like this is the first time they are seeing her but  Jimmy also says this is after her post-World Killer battle in Manhattan. So that seems odd.

I also like Kara's confusion here. She is still trying to figure out who she is and what her role is on the planet. She has met Superman once but knows he defends the Earth. So seeing him pitch people off skyscrapers should be odd.

Again, look at how sleek the costume looks here.

Unfortunately, the phony Superman seems more powerful than Supergirl and begins knocking her around. She is able to hold her own briefly but is soon overwhelmed.

But then the real Superman begins responding to Lois' phone call to Clark, a call he is receiving on a phone built into his uniform. The phony Superman also hears that call. And somehow that rattles this creature.

On top of it, a psychic link that exists between the real and phony Superman is now open, allowing Superman access to fake's memories just as the copy had access to Kal's. I don't know if I buy it, or why Lois' call is the trigger, or why it is even a two way street ... but there it is.

 It turns out the fake Superman is composed of alien nanites from the planet Jazuur. And these nanites had a symbiotic relationship to everything on the planet including life forms. These things cured all the ills on the planet, repairing damage to structures, the people, etc.

It was captured by the Collector but somehow could not be maintained in one of it's bottles. They exploded, the remnants of the city destroyed ... well ... mostly destroyed. A couple escape.

Again, we haven't really met the Collector yet. 

And now even more spoiling.

One of the nanites landed on the cermonial armor which now we know Superman finds on the Collector's satellite. In fact we even see Superman in the blue uniform land on Earth the first time here. I am assuming that this is a big moment in Action Comics. Now it is going to have much less of an impact. It simply doesn't make sense to link up these stories, five years apart in continuity.

More importantly, it means these nanites lived within the uniform all this time.

In the meantime, the U.S. Military isn't going to let Superman and 'this unknown girl' tear through Metropolis. They are ready to strike and are going to send in fighters. What good will that do? Other than add to the collateral damage?

General Lane calls to warn Lois to leave but she says no. Even she realizes that an air strike probably won't harm either combatant. I like the combustible relationship between the Lanes, two strong personalities.

Just as the real Supergirl is about to be killed or 'assimilated' by the nanite construct, the real Superman arrives. Superman scoops up his doppelganger, shows that this 'evil' Superman isn't him, and shouts down the incoming fighter planes. He then takes off to the arctic with the nanites in tow.

Why it's enough to make McCoy sing a different tune! But this also felt too early. I didn't like this 'distrusted' plotline, but it is here.You can't wrap it up so easily. McCoy could just as easily continue his original argument that Superman's presence brings threats the the city, now a very personal threat. It makes no sense for this plotline to be stopped so quickly. That said, it shouldn't have been started in the first place.

What we get next is a lot of explanation from Superman while he beats the nanite-creature to a pulp. And I don't know if I get it.

The short story. The nanites' programming to adjust and salvage and eradicate threats (as on Jazuur) was corrupted by the explosion on the Collector's satellite.

Awakened recently the nanites tried to conform to their environment. The first ones were shed in Superman's heat vision creating the first heat being. Subsequent use of supervision and hearing lead to the invisible one. Using his super-breath led to the creation of a cold one. These nanites thought these environments were the norm. They used humans to try to recreate the 'symbiosis' it had with the planet's populace (like on its home planet). But then it realized that Superman was an imperfection that must be removed. It thought the best way to do that was to replace Superman while making him doubt himself.

I can echo Superman in the last panel. 'How did that make any sense?'

But why did it take 5 years for these things to shed? Did they just live in the uniform during that time. Will I be thinking of these nanites whenever I read one of Morrison's stories from the past?? Should I?

And why not just assimilate with humans like on the home planet? Why not repair? Why do all this chicanery with becoming a mean Superman? I don't know if I can wrap my head around it enough for it to work.

Regardless, Superman literally punches the nanites to bits and throws them in the sun. Sort of an 'yeesh' moment.

With the battle over, Supergirl arrives for a wrap-up conversation. This is only the second Supergirl/Superman meeting. The last one ended with Supergirl taking off. This one seems much more cordial and comfortable. Maybe too cordial and comfortable? Shouldn't there be some awkwardness here given the heated way things ended. I keep hoping the cousins will become friends. But it should feel natural.

Anyways, Supergirl looks wonderful here. DC, please note how the costume looks here!

And just like that, all is well. Everyone seems happy with Superman again. And everyone is normal. The nanite effected people are back to human.

Heather is glad that Clark is visiting but understands that he doesn't love her. And a Lois/Clark relationship is strongly hinted at in the end. In a short time, we have gone a long way away from a naked guy in Lois' apartment in issue one. But, much like with the 'distrust' plotline, why open up the can of worms of Lois dating someone else and someone being interested in Clark, only to semi-shut the door on it. I actually was hoping to see more of Heather and Clark.

But this issue felt like Perez was cleaning the deck for the incoming Giffen/Jurgens team.

So, suffice it to say, I had some problems with this issue ... from the upcoming Action scenes, to the muddled explanation of the nanites and their aspirations, to the truncated plotlines (even if unwanted plotlines). Nicola Scott's art helps lift the overall grade a bit.

Overall grade: C+


Anonymous said...

Not sure I'm interested in this one. If its a story about a bad guy that easily beats the snot out of Supergirl, but somehow Superman easily beats the same bad guy, I probably won't like it.

I'm sick of the need to make Superman so much bigger, better, and stronger just because he's male. I like it better when they seem about equal-- like in the Supergirl issue.

Anonymous said...

The story here is, Superman's dingy doppelganger beats down SG who is jobbed out AGAIN to Kal El's villain of the month.
Same old same old from DC, as you say, nice artwork though.
I liked Supergirl better when she was SAVING Superman's @ss all the time, but we have to go back to 1964 for that happy situation!!

BTW Anj, DC is discontinuing it's message boards next month in favor of some dopey Facebook application, I suspect the change will greatly empower blogs like this...could be wrong though.

Anj said...

The story here is, Superman's dingy doppelganger beats down SG who is jobbed out AGAIN to Kal El's villain of the month.

Well, to be fair Superman was trounced by them in #5. But I don't know how he can now 'control' their nanotech and bash them in this issue.

BTW Anj, DC is discontinuing it's message boards next month in favor of some dopey Facebook application, I suspect the change will greatly empower blogs like this...could be wrong though.

It will be interesting to see how the new message boards work.

Martin Gray said...

Sssh! Yes, the explanation was a head-scratcher, but pretend you understand it, otherwise the story might never end.

I so agree about Kara's appearance here. It'd have been good had her hair been more Mahmudian, but hey, Nicola and Trevor did wonders this issue.

Anonymous said...

Superman should be bigger and more powerful. He's Superman.

Anonymous said...

"Superman should be bigger and more powerful. He's Superman."

Since Superman and Supergirl's powers depend on external factors, both should be equally powerful.