Adventures of Superman #11 came out this week and, for the first time, I was underwhelmed.
Maybe it is because I thought this story could be told in half the pages and without a forced super-villain angel.
Maybe it is because the super-villain angle seems like an overly complicated antiquated super-villain plot.
Maybe it is because last issue of this title was sooooo fantastic that whatever came next was going to pale in comparison.
Writer Jim Krueger and artist Neil Edwards (of the recent Forever Evil A.R.G.U.S. book) spin a fine tale showcasing Superman's forgiving nature and the weight that grief can put on a soul.
But ... it just doesn't click.
We start out somewhere in deep space where a Green Lantern is drowning his sorrows. Despite his sullen and perhaps inebriated state, he is able to hold off a ruffian trying to grab his ring.
A mysterious stranger decides to talk to him, especially how the Green Lantern keeps his power battery visible, out in the open, and sheathed in some interesting dense metal.
So the 'mysterious cloaked stranger' bit is a bit played out. You would think that a Green Lantern would want to know who he was talking to.
I did like the fact that this Lantern's battery doesn't look like a standard Earth lantern. You would expect that different planets might have different looking lighting devices.
The stranger seems to know just what strings to pull with this distraught GL.
He name drops Superman, a Kryptonian who survived.
That information seems to set the GL into further emotional pain. He takes off for Earth.
I do like that the stranger smiles about how he has pointed this GL at Superman like a weapon.
The GL arrives on Earth and makes enough of a spectacle for himself, endangering people just through property damage, that Superman arrives.
It turns out that this Green Lantern has been depressed, laden down with torment. And he wants Superman to kill him.
Of course Superman talks about how he believes in the sanctity of life. He won't murder this man.
But why would he ask this?
It turns out this alien was the Green Lantern given the task of protecting Krypton. And since he couldn't save Krypton, he wants Superman to kill him. That justice demands it.
So this is where me being an avid reader for 3 plus decades also doesn't work with a story like this.
For one, and it is even side-mentioned here, Tomar Re has been listed as the Green Lantern for Krypton's sector. So who the heck is this guy?
Second, it seems like I have read something similar with John Stewart. Way back in Cosmic Odyssey, John Stewart fails in saving Xanthu and deals with grief. That plot point for Stewart has carried forward even as recently as Blackest Night. I suppose this is the curse of reading comics so long. Is it fair to compare this story to one done almost 3 decades ago?
Now here is where things get a little nutty.
This Lantern is actually on the planet when Krypton explodes! Sure, this is old school Green Lantern rules so this GL can't effect anything with yellow. And we get to see that the predominant energy in the planetary explosion is yellow. So I guess that explains why he couldn't save the planet.
But seriously ... how about scooping up a couple of hundred Kryptonians in a bubble and taking off?
Are you telling me that he was on the planet as it is exploding and he couldn't save anyone??
When Superman refuses to kill the Lantern, the GL decides to push the issue. He begins peppering the crowd with green energy, trying to kill them, hoping to goad Superman into action. Wouldn't the Guardians know this guy was going rogue and stop the ring?
And then, weirdly, the Lantern strikes Superman with his power battery. The dense metal breaks away showing that this isn't his battery, but instead a chunk of Krypton (now Kryptonite) that the Lantern is carrying around like an albatross.
This is a pretty big chunk of Kryptonite and Superman is almost immediately incapacitated.
But really ... a Lantern would use his battery, or his sign of shame, as a weapon?? Seems off.
And then the 'mysterious cloaked stranger' shows up. And ... shocking I know ... he turns out to be a bad guy.
He stabs the Lantern in the neck with a yellow shiv and reveals he is .... Brainiac.
So this might be the biggest issue I have with the story. And part of it is I am still reeling from the crazy Brainiac plot from an earlier Adventures of Superman where Braniac rebuilds a Krypton in hopes of keeping Superman busy until he loses his powers. What a crazy scheme that was!
So why go through this whole thing, luring the GL here, hoping he'll bash Superman with the lantern to expose the Kryptonite, and hope it all turns out evilly? What if the GL didn't expose the K? What if Superman talked him down? Isn't this too complicated for the surgical Brainiac?
Wouldn't Brainiac just kill the GL in that bar and grab the Kryptonite??
Brainiac basically starts to kill Superman by draining his brain. And he comes close!
But after forgiving the Green Lantern, the GL rallies, scooping up the Kryptonite, breaking Brainiac's tendrils, and whisking him into space.
Boy, that was a long way to go to have Superman forgive this guy and for the Green Lantern to move on.
The issue ends with a bang when the Green Lantern shoves his hand into the chest of Brainiac. And when the GL dies from his neck wound, the ring bursts from Brainiac to find it's new wielder.
So, again, this is a fine story. There isn't anything too egregious. The underlying theme of dealing with grief constructively is a good one. I like Superman forgiving the Lantern. But some of the plot turns are a bit of a leap. And this seems like the story could have been told without Brainiac at all. This GL could have heard about Superman and gone on his own.