Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: Superman #12

Superman #12 came out this week, the last issue of the Dan Jurgens 'era'.  This book seems to be struggling to find its way, getting it's third creative team in a year despite this being a major reboot.

Add to that the Rob Liefeld twitter-storm from 2 days ago saying he is leaving DC because the editors were micromanaging his title. I don't read any of Liefeld's book ... but this complaint about creators being stifled has permeated the DCnU and it is disheartening as a fan. We heard George Perez say the same thing about his treatment here.

So I entered this issue with a bit of apathy, a bit of ennui, and a bit of despondency because it seemed like DC just doesn't know what to do with Superman.

As for Jurgens, I think he must have known that his time was short and wrote a relatively forgettable story which echoed his Helspont arc from just a few months ago. Here, an alien is played up as a foil to Superman, a vision of what he could have been, or ... more chilling ... what he might become here in the DCnU.

I think Jurgens has a great grasp of what Superman is and so in many ways I am sort of sad to see him go.

One of the slight missteps I have felt about this last arc has been Jurgens' portrayal of Lucy Lane. She initially is portrayed as a sort of flirty thrill seeker that has men swooning at her feet. She has little patience with people and it is hinted at by Lois that she can carry a grudge.

And yet, Lucy continues to pursue Clark and give him chance after chance. I don't quite know how to reconcile this patience with Clark with the implied quick axe for others. Maybe Clark is considered that much of a catch? That mysterious?

Of course, Clark has been beaten to a pulp by the alien the Russians plucked from another dimension. Trussed up as Superman he is forced to watch the alien opening up a portal back to home ... maybe to let in an invasion force?

As for the Russians, they decide to literally go for the nuclear option, firing a nuclear missile at the power plant where Superman and the alien are, hoping to rid the Earth of both. Seems like a rather quick decision to nuke your own country.

Now despite having been pounded by the alien last issue to the point that the 'indestructible suit' is tattered and back to basic white, Superman handles him pretty easily here. Using a 'stick and move' fighting style, he batters the alien. Seemed a bit off.

At least the two can talk. The alien says he didn't come to Earth but instead was basically kidnapped. He is opening the portal to return to his world, despite Superman's protests that he stay to answer for the crime of obliterating all human life in a Russian town.

Again, like with Helspont, Jurgens uses the alien as a mouthpiece for what Superman could have become under different circumstances. Here it asks why would any alien stay on a world not their own. It's a question some people ask of Superman ... why would he stay amongst us.

Moreover, the alien says that the Russians wanted to make him into a weapon and so he became one.

I do wonder if this might be some slight by Jurgens on the direction of Superman in the DCnU. This is an alien, foreign to Earth, with great power. Why would he do good when he can act as the aggressor? Is Jurgens wondering if the current powers that be are turning Superman into a weapon, a gritty hero, and not the heroic inspiration he has been for decades?

Or is he merely showing that Superman could have felt like this alien, become a force of destruction, but instead rose above it all.

Either way, nice moment.

Unbelievably, the Russian missile actually does strike the power plant but not before Superman has fled and the alien has escaped to his dimension. So lots of destruction for naught.

I do like that Superman called the Russian agent on this tactic, wondering why he wasn't warned about the incoming nuclear device.

The strength of Jurgens run has been to hammer home that point that Superman doesn't want to rule, he doesn't want to destroy, he doesn't want to be considered superior. He wants to help.

"They" should know he is here to help ... "everyone". In my heart, I think Jurgens is again saying that to the powers that be. That everyone knows what Superman is about ... so write those stories. I don't want Lobo or Wolverine or Batman in a Superman suit. They aren't Superman.

I would love to ask Jurgens if this was his intent here.

And then, as if giving Clark a little going away present, Jurgens let's him have fun.

He loves being on Earth. He should cut loose. He picks up Lucy for a date of bungee jumping. He's smiling.

Again, it seems bittersweet. Because I think Jurgens gets Superman. He certainly had him say all the right things on these 6 issues. But now he is gone and I have to wonder just what Scott Lobdell is going to bring to the table.

All that said, despite the nice moments, this is a pretty nondescript issue most likely constrained by the impending change in creative leadership.

How can DC not know how to handle Superman??

Overall grade: B-


Dave Mullen said...

Agree with much of what you wrote but myself I can't judge it too harshly as I understand the difficulties Jurgens has been under. Giffen leaving so unexpectedly, the now notorious politics of the DC/Superman offices, being told he's basically off the book just as he's started with it - I think overall he's done well with what he's been handed, DC have lost a really solid creator here and I would have kept him on the art at least.

Best pages were the last few with a human and very optimistic Superman, I definitly feel Jurgens was making a point with these scenes and others in the run.
On the downside the idea the russians would so readily opt for a Nuclear bomb to solve such an unclear issue and leave it to 'Ivan' to have the final say is absurd. Likewise I'm left baffled as to what that tentacled thing was reaching thru the portal when the main protagonist has been this humanoid lizard.
Regarding the damaged supersuit:I think the idea was that because the aliens weapons had affected Supermans nervous system it disrupted his bio-link to it and hence the damage and reversion to white when he finally lost conciousness. Again though I wish it had been more clearly explained.

So, Scott Lobdell enters the arena next, anyone taking bets on his odds on survival?


Martin Gray said...

What you and Dave said. Not a terrible issue, but likely forgettable. I found myself far more grabbed by the Metropolis moments than the alien incursion.

I liked Clark and Lucy together - I don't find a picky person giving someone extra leeway too surprising ... maybe this could be THE one (though DC's horrible Wonder Woman plan looks set to put the kibosh on a Lucy/Clark romance for now, dang it).