Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review: Adventures Of Superman #13

Adventures of Superman #13 came out in print form last week and this book continues to impress me.

This time writer B. Clay Moore and artist Gabriel Rodriguez weave a story of desperation and inspiration. I have long applauded the feel of this book, a sort of classic Superman. And this story continues that. This is a Superman who is here to help. The Daily Planet workers are friends, playfully jabbing at each other. Clark and Lois have a competitive but amicable relationship, help each other finish work and meet deadlines. The villains are villains. And Superman inspires.

I don't seem to cover it in my scans but the Daily Planet banter is great here, something not seen too often in the New 52, which is a shame. That alone might be worth the price of the book.

Gabriel Rodriguez does solid work here. His characters are very expressive, adding some punch to the story. I love his Lois and hope to see him on more super-books at some point.

The issue opens up with Metallo attacking Metropolis, causing a lot of property damage around the Daily Planet. While Lois and Jimmy cover the story on the ground, Superman arrives with a lead plate. With the Kryptonite heart covered, Superman makes short work of Metallo. With the villain down, the Metropolis SCU comes in.

Some things I like about this fight. I love how Rodriguez adds some sweat to Superman's brow. He should break a sweat fighting someone who wields Kryptonite.

And I love how Superman says Kryptonite is his Kryptonite. I don't know how to explain it. It is collegial. He is working with the police and able to drop a little funny blurb amid the danger. I am so used to seeing Superman fighting the police and military that this one line stood out.

Unfortunately, Jimmy isn't the only photojournalist covering the story. A man named Hobson, a former Planet reporter now working for a second rate paper is also there. But he seems more intent on photographing the Planet staff rather than the fight.

And look how he notices that Clark arrives right after Superman leaves.


It turns out that Hobson is completely obsessed with Superman and the Planet. He thinks he is going to break the story of the century. And what obsessed character in a comic or movie doesn't have a complex shrine of newspaper clippings, maps, and yarn showing all the connections.

Moore does a good job of showing just how close Hobson is to the edge here. This isn't a nice neat investigation. And Rodriguez is able to add to the feel. Small things like the numerous post it notes (on the back of the desk?), banana peels, and pizza boxes show just how much this story is driving Hobson.

And I like how the cover is a close-up of this.

One part that I thought was a stretch was Clark physically confronting Hobson when he discovers Hobson tailing him. Felt just a smidge out of character. But by this time, Clark has noticed Hobson in the background of Jimmy's pics and is wondering what is what. The physical part quickly calms to sharing a cup of coffee.

So what is Hobson's story?

It sounds more like a vendetta on the Planet than on Superman. Hobson even calls Superman "him", in quotes. We know that Hobson once worked for the Planet. Maybe this is revenge? Bitterness?

Again, Clark's discussion of his friends shows how chummy and easy they are around each other.

But it gets Clark thinking. Is he concentrating on the area around the Planet too much?

He isn't, of course. We see him make time to stop a simple mugging.

But what a great panel here. A sort of upward viewpoint, making Superman bigger than life, iconic pose behind the criminal, the woman looking up at him .. beyond the crook. Slick.

Hobson isn't done though. To gather more info, he heads to Stryker's Island to interview Superman's foes. Why do they attack? And why attack the paper?

The Toyman attacks the paper to get in the paper. The Atomic Skull attacks because he thinks Superman has feelings for Lois. Metallo doesn't have time to answer because a jail break happens during the interview. Metallo grabs Hobson as a hostage and takes off.

I love Metallo's speech here discussing the bizarre behavior of supervillains. While he knows the right thing to do is escape, most villains would rather stick around in the chaos and beat up guards. It is so true ... at least in comics.

Superman comes in to mop things up. 

Okay, I include this because how often do we see Bronze Age Terra Man.

Unfortunately, Metallo is missing and the guards know he had Hobson in tow.

Hobson has bartered for his life by saying that he has information about Superman to give Metallo. And finally we hear what Hobson's story is.

He thinks that Superman is a publicity stunt, cooked up by the Planet to increase sales. And therefore, the Planet knows who he really is.

It is an interesting concept - the endorsement super-hero, the noble spokesman. I suppose that in a cynical world a person wouldn't help without being paid. So why not?

Of course Superman is able to track them, defeat Metallo and save Hobson.

And now we know the true story Hobson is holding on to.

It is implied that he has cracked the ultimate case and knows Clark is Superman.

Hobson has seemed somewhat oily throughout this story and yet ...

He could have told Metallo this a page earlier, a way to save himself. But he didn't. He knew it was wrong.

And then the 'ka-pow' classic Superman moment.

Hobson asks why Superman does what he does. And Superman simply says that with his gifts what else would he do. It is a reminder that we should use our gifts to help each other. It reminded me of the Superman movie where we learn he wasn't put on this world to score touchdowns. We see Superman going out of his way to help someone who is working in ruining him.

This is Superman.

And that simple statement inspires Hobson. We see the front page of Hobson's paper. And there is Hobson's byline under a story of how Superman saved him even when Hobson was trying to ruin him.

This series is an anthology. Stories like this are one-offs. But they have often cut to the essence of Superman. It once again shows how Superman as a hero ... as an idea ... can inspire people. This is a cynical world. People are jaded, distrusting, and self-centered. But that simple idea ... to be there to help ... can lead us from the shadows.

Okay ... maybe heavy-handed and schmaltzy.

But this is the kind of Superman I want to read. So thanks to Moore and Rodriguez. And thanks to Adventures of Superman. I'll be sad to see this book go.

Overall grade: A


Count Drunkula said...

Thanks for reviewing I got the first part of this story digitally when it came out, and even though I enjoyed the opening chapter, I didn't follow through with it. Now I will. I really like Hobson's conspiracy theory angle that Superman is a PR stunt. And with Metallo being my favorite Superman villain, how could I stay away from this story?

I was so excited when the New 52 kicked off that I bought every first issue, but less than two years later I was so dismayed by the entire line that I dropped even the books i was enjoying (GREEN ARROW, AQUAMAN, WONDER WOMAN). But I think DC recognized the value in the more classic tales of Superman and Batman, even if that value is nostalgia for the readers. The digital-first books like ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT, and BATMAN '66 were pretty consistently great, and it gives me a lot of hope for the upcoming SENSATION COMICS starring Wonder Woman.

Count Drunkula said...


The beginning of my comment above was supposed to read: "Thanks for reviewing this story at last. I got the first part..." I'm not sure how, but part of that sentence got cut before I hit publish and it was bothering me to look at.