I am going through the five stages of grief when it comes to the ending of Adventures of Superman. I was finally coming to acceptance (pushed there by the awful Landis story last month).
And then Adventures of Superman #15 by Ron Marz and 'Doc' Shaner came out last week. And just like that I am shifted back to denial. Because stories like this one make me want to deny that this title is being canceled.
Everything about this story was perfect. Superman's actions. A determined and independent Lois. A connection to Krypton. And especially ... especially ... the 'villain'/'hero' of the piece, a clear homage to The Iron Giant, with an ending as sad and wonderful as that movie.
And everything about this issue's art was perfect as well. Shaner's work is so well-suited for this tale, classic and retro, pure gold. This is one of those truly rare issues where when I finished reading it I immediately reread it. When done the second time I said 'I would read a Marz/Shaner Superman book. But more specifically ... I would read a Marz/Shaner Lois book!'
Seriously, this was a perfect sort of Elseworlds' DC Comics Presents. Superman teaming up with the Iron Giant. Too fantastic!
The issue opens with Lois playfully jabbing at Clark that his news articles are nothing but fluff pieces. Here Clark has just written a story about twin brothers separated at birth now meeting each other for the first time. That theme of long lost relatives will travel through the story.
But I love this Lois ... her thoughts, her words, her body language.
And you can't tell me that there isn't something smoldering beneath the surface in that last panel, Lois and Clark's faces just a bit too close, their looking into each others' eyes just a bit too long.
The scene is broken up by a meteorite landing in the harbor outside Metropolis. In some ways it is reminiscent of the opening scene of every issue of Superman Family Adventures. In the midst of the action, Clark slips away and shows up as Superman.
This is such a great panel by Shaner. I smiling Superman swooping in for the rescue. But I love his body language here. There is something about him flying in boots first that makes this seem more fun and light and optimistic.
The meteor turns out to be a giant robot, eerily similar in appearance to the Iron Giant. And it seems bent on destroying the city. Amazingly, it seems to have enough strength to effect Superman, swatting the Man of Steel around.
Another small but great moment. Superman's first thoughts are of the safety of the people of the city. He asks that the harbor area be evacuated.
During the skirmish, a piece of the robots head gets broken off revealing an S-shield built into the machinery.
It turns out that the giant robot was built by Jor-El! Odd coincidence.
Another great panel here. Definitely a perspective shot letting us get a sense of just how massive the giant is. But there in the foreground is Lois, on the trail of a great story. It shows how brave she is.
It also puts some humanity into scene for me, showing just how small 'we' are here.
During the fight, the robot ends up de-escalating. Superman's blows have jarred it free of outside control. And we are given some back story.
He was originally a deep space probe by Jor-El to find some world where Kryptonians could potentially re-settle. Somewhere along the way he was captured by a race called the Vendai (invade spelled sideways?). They fit him with weapons and reprogrammed him, and made him the vanguard. The Vendai conquer planets and this robot softened up the worlds before the fleet arrived.
You know, I always wondered about the Iron Giant's back story, why he was laden down with weapons despite seemingly being a peaceful being.
Marz leans a little bit on the Silver Age notion that Superman feels alone, mourns the loss of Krypton. So it is interesting to see Superman suddenly feel a sort of familial connection to this thing.
Still, it is reminiscent of Hogarth in the Iron Giant. And it does feel like Superman to feel an attachment to this thing.
Every year on this blog I list the top ten Supergirl moments for the year.
If I did a top ten moment list for Superman, this would be number 1.
Is there anything that screams what is great about comics more than this panel? Superman, back to back with an Iron Giant, fighting off the invading Vendai, and making sure the other is okay. This is the power and glory of comics.
And I like that Superman and this Giant not only repel the invasion but remove the guns from the Vendai ships. No one else will face their weapons.
Unfortunately, the Vendai are a vindictive bunch.
They built in destruct mechanisms into the robot. And they aren't happy he betrayed them.
How sad! Does the Iron Giant have to die at the end of every story!!
(I know he is rebuilding himself at the end of the movie. But I still well up.)
Marz and Shaner give us a nice moment to end this story. Mirroring the reflection in the 'brother' panel, we get a cracked eye lens showing a sad Superman, talking about how he shouldn't feel sad for losing something he only had for a moment.
And there is Lois. She is in the thick of it during the story. Here she shows her human side a bit. There is a 'fluff' component to this moment, but she feels it too.
Beautiful story. Beautiful art. Great action and character moments. And the Iron Giant.
I don't want to believe this book is being canceled. Thank you Ron Marz and 'Doc' Shaner.