Superman #27 came out last week and was another example of how DC Comics and Scott Lobdell don't understand the character.
The Superman in this issue acts selfish, thinking of himself before others. He is willing to put Lois in danger because it might help him with his problems. The Superman in this issue has little regard for those around him, fighting the Parasite in an area where people are most vulnerable. At the very least, Superman questions his actions but only after he allows them to happen. I don't think Superman would so casually roll the dice when gambling with other people's lives.
In fact, just about every other supporting character - Lois' boyfriend Jon, Cat Grant, even Sam Lane - come off as stronger, better people than Superman. Sadly, they also come across as more interesting too! Superman shouldn't be the least likable protagonist in the book.
Ed Benes does the art on the book but this sure doesn't look like Benes' work. Maybe I am used to his stuff from years ago when he was on Supergirl and Birds of Prey. But this is scratchy and sloppy for the most part. In fact the only page that looks Benes-ish are the Cat Grant pages.
But this was a pretty sorry issue of Superman. And with Action Comics, Superman Unchained, Adventures of Superman, and Smallville all hitting some strides, this now stands out like a wart on the Superman books.
Part of my concerns have been assuaged by this announcement over on Bleeding Cool. Geoff Johns is coming back to the Superman title. Some of us guessed this when the Romita news broke.
So last issue the Parasite made his way to the hospital Lois was admitted to and was draining her of her Brainiac energy.
While Superman and the Parasite pummel each other, someone actually shows courage and nobility! That is Lois' new boyfriend Jon, who looks like he has been living in the hospital at Lois's side. That alone is commendable.
But here, unsure why the Parasite is honing in on Lois, he decides to defend her against a super-villain. He shoves an oxygen tank into the Parasite's lap and shoots it with a pistol he grabbed off a dead policeman. While he is feels confidant that Superman will save him from such a close explosion, it still takes some guts for an 'ordinary person' to wade in like this. Jon has been a cardboard cut-out up to now. Here he is a hero!
Now whether or not an oxygen tank would explode? That is a different debate.
And if shooting the Parasite at close range wasn't brave enough, he picks up the comatose Lois and swings to a lower (and safer floor) on a fire hose!!
Who is this Jon? John McLean?
I mean this guy goes from beefcake annoyance to action hero in a couple of pages!
The bottom line, as you will see, Jon acts better than Superman.
We then go catch up with some of the supporting cast.
I will give Scott Lobdell some proper respect here. He has made me like Cat Grant, a character I have never really taken a shine too. Impressive!
Here she refuses to divulge her sources to other reporters. And later, she is offered $13million cash by Morgan Edge for clarkcatropolis.com. While we end that moment on a cliffhanger, I think this Cat, a more idealistic Cat, might just say no.
But the bigger thing revealed here is that Cat's boyfriend is Aaron Lord. The last name of Lord is well-known to the DCU. And a Lord working on some brain enhancing machine?? Concerning. Maybe Aaron renames himself Maximus after a brain upgrade ... a new Max Lord. (Is there a Max Lord in the DCnU?)
And General Lane, while approaching his Senate confirmation, is told interviewed about by a man shrouded in shadows. It sounds like this unnamed man wants General Lane to work with him and discuss something called The Tower.
The silver hair and 'cloak and dagger' feel to this guy makes me think he is King Faraday. But I also wonder if it is Sarge Steel (is there a Sarge Steel in the DCnU?).
I am hoping this means I won't see General Lane and infantry firing on Superman any time soon. A new role for him is welcomed.
So after a couple of intriguing side trips to the supporting cast, what is Superman up to?
Well he is still punching the Parasite, hoping to overpower villain. At one point he talks about pounding the Parasite to oozing pulp.
Here he seems satisfied with himself for finally slowing the Parasite down by 'pummeling him through twelve floors' of the hospital. That doesn't seem very heroic. It isn't like patients can run away from a building being brought down around them. Why not take the fight outside?
As if that wasn't a big enough characterization gaffe, Lobdell piles on.
While we all knew that the Parasite draining Lois was going to be the solution to her Brainiac-energy and her knowledge of Superman, I thought it would happen serendipitously. Instead Superman thinks selfishly and decides to let the Parasite get to Lois, hoping he will drain her knowledge.
Superman even recognizes that he is endangering Lois but still decides to go through with it.
Superman is willing to risk Lois' life to protect his world as Clark Kent. I can't believe I just typed that. Why would DC allow that to happen?
I mean, here he is allowing the Parasite to get to Lois.
Yes, Lois is dying of Brainiac energy. Yes things are dire for her. But to let the Parasite get to her alone, without any sense of control, knowing he could drain her completely, killing her ... that is not any sort of Superman I want to read.
He should go rescue Lois ... shouldn't he? I can't believe I just typed that.
Sure it all turns out okay. The Parasite drains all the energy out of Lois and her memories of that time too. And luckily, in the Parasite, the Brainiac energy dissipates quickly as well as incapacitating him. All ends well. Luckily.
But Jon knows that Superman basically sicced the Parasite onto Lois, endangering her.
And Superman wonders why he did what he just did, risking his best friend's life over his secret identity. Is this really the Superman that DC is printing? This selfish creep who is putting his personal life over Lois' actual life? Did I really just type that?
So this is an awful issue. Superman is an egotistical ruffian, risking Lois' life, risking the lives of everyone in the hospital, thinking only of himself. And the art is the roughest I have ever seen of Ed Benes.
It is hard to believe that the parts of this issue that raise the grade are Cat Grant and General Lane! I can't believe I just typed that!