The review for Superman #41 will happen soon. But first a small rant.
All I want is a good Superman story.
A story where an aspirational hero with powers far beyond mortal men fights for truth, justice, and the American Way. Where he battles one of his rogues. A story where, disguised as a mild mannered reporter for a great Metropolitan newspaper, we see him value his humanity and cherish his friends.
I don't think that is what DC wants.
Because it seems that what DC has been trying to do for too long has been to do something different with Superman. It seems like DC thinks Superman as a concept is stale and needs to be freshened up. So we end up with stories where he walks across the country acting aloof. Or where he becomes Doomsday.
And now we have The Truth, a story where he loses his powers and his secret identity.
Superman #41 is the first part of The Truth, an issue that precedes the identity reveal, showing us the events that lead to Lois telling the world about Clark. It is the first issue by writer Gene Luen Yang. And it isn't very good. The whole thing is basically derailed by the shoddy portrayal of Clark, both in his civilian identity as well as when acting as Superman.
Sadly, the first issue released in The Truth was Action Comics #41, a sort of throwback issue that gave me some optimism. But each subsequent issue has been worse than the last, leading to this issue with a Superman/Clark I simply don't recognize.
The issue starts with Clark and Jimmy planning on heading to a sporting event. Before they can head out, Clark gets a text from an unidentified caller saying they know the source of an influx of technically advanced weapons. Maybe Clark should investigate.
Now I suppose that Clark, as an investigative journalist, might get anonymous tips directly to his phone. But would he trust them, drop all his plans to follow-up? And wouldn't he be a bit more curious about how someone got his number?
Now here is where things get wonky, almost nonsensical.
Clark has gotten a tip about the factory of advanced weaponry. Rather that do a fly by using xray vision, rather than going directly as Superman, he decides the best thing to do is sneak in, as Clark, with Jimmy! Jimmy knows he's Superman! Why not be prepared and go in as Superman? Or reconnoiter? Jimmy could still get the story from the outside, from safety.
Instead, Jimmy is there, in his bright yellow tank top, as some slick arms dealer is showing off a three dimensional printer capable of making individualized weapons.
At least we get one tiny sliver of proof that the concept of Superman still exists. A flunky is surprised to be saved by Superman but Jimmy reminds the thug that saving people is what Jimmy does.
But then, in another one of those moments I don't quite understand, Superman uses a more controlled solar flare to destroy the giant 3-D printer which has become a sort of attacking robot.
Why the flare? Hasn't he fought giant robots for years before he knew about this power? Isn't it like using a bazooka to swat a fly.
First off, we see him getting dressed in his Clark garb in the middle of the planet staff area. Not a broom closet. Not the roof. The main floor. Lois approaches as he is buttoning his shirt.
Lois hears about Clark and Jimmy's story and shows them that the arms dealer in the factory was their recently elected Senator.
Why didn't Clark recognize him? Well, it seems when he ran for office he wore a fake mustache. What??
And while we hear that Clark was on assignment when the election was won, you think he would still know the man from the primaries or lead up to the election.
And why would this guy wear a fake mustache? Why not put on a mask when acting as an arms dealer.
Regardless, the story breaks and the Senator is arrested. It is a story so big that even Perry toasts Clark and Jimmy.
At least here, Lois is written pretty well. Although I think the 'fooled by fake mustache' line is a jab at her being fooled by Clark's glasses.
And he better do it ...
What is Clark's first thought? That Jimmy has betrayed him. He practically throttles Jimmy, shaking him while accusing him of the reveal. That's not the Clark I know, immediately thinking the worst of his friends.
It is only then that Clark remembers that when he uses his flare power, he is slightly depowered. Maybe his speed isn't what it was, allowing these pictures to be snapped.
This isn't the Superman I want to read. This isn't the Clark I want to read. He would allow a threat to himself interfere with the truth. He doesn't even check to see if these are actual agents. He just lets them take her!
At least Lois puts up a fight here.
This is wrong.
Especially when the anonymous tipper starts to sound like a blackmailer.
The clenched fist shows it. Clark knows he screwed up.
But how would he feel if the next day they found this woman dead? Would he ever just turn her over? Listen to this person and potentially hurting someone else?
But once again we see some absurd ideas by Clark.
He has to rescue this woman. So instead of going as Superman, he dons a ninja suit. He is still somewhat depowered from the flare attack that destroyed the robot-printer. He jumps on their moving car, telling the informant that he is there to help (an attempt to sound like Superman at least).
With the woman in his arms, he runs back to Jimmy, waiting in a car. Lois shows up, having tailed Jimmy. Then Clark shows up, bleeding and battered from his 'Captain America' style rescue.
The bad guys follow along and shoot the car up with machine guns. Everyone could be dead.
Isn't this an idiotic rescue mission? Ninja clothes? Jimmy is again squarely in the line of fire. This whole thing sounds like a bad idea. After his years of heroing, this was his best idea?
I just don't know what to say. Incredibly, for the first time in a while, I was very pleased with how the supporting characters were written. Lois and Jimmy were written well. The characterization of Clark is so foreign to me in this issue that I don't know who I am reading. It might say Superman on the cover, but at least in this issue, it didn't read like Superman.
Overall grade: C-