Peter Tomasi has been given the keys to the super-kingdom in the time between The Truth's ending and the official #Rebirth. And, for the most part, Tomasi has done a very good job. Leaving behind the nastiness of The Truth and embracing some of the more classic tones and themes of Superman mythos, Tomasi has made 'The Final Days of Superman' a very good read.
Now last week's Superman/Wonder Woman issue was something of a step backwards, rekindling the Clark/Diana romance which I thought had been extinguished. Luckily, this week's Batman/Superman #32 righted the ship a bit. In fact, this issue reads the most like a Silver or Bronze Age book in some time; I mean that in the best of all possible ways.
There are a lot of classic comic bits working their way through this issue. We see the Trinity smiling and joking with each other, declaring their friendship! There is the classic 'heroes fight before they realize they are on the same side' trope. And we get an evil scientist whose evil project escapes (and will probably become good; shades of Red Tornado!). That is just about as classic as you can get!
The art is wonderful inside and out. I have really been enjoying Yanick Paquette's covers on this book. In particular, this busy cover works well. The Trinity are a down the center, grabbing my eye immediately. I especially like Diana here. And Doug Mahnke is on the internal pages, inked by a bevy of creators. As always, Mahnke is fantastic.
On to the review:
Last week, Superman and Wonder Woman had gone to A.R.G.U.S. to investigate the solar flare Superman who has been cropping up around Metropolis. During a skirmish inside the prison, this fiery Superman avatar was able to escape.
Clark and Diana ask their colleague Batman to join them in tracking down the solar energy trail of this imposter to try to bring him down again.
As I said in the intro, we see the Trinity smiling here. Batman says he is 'happy' that Superman and Wonder Woman seemed to have patched up their troubled romance. And Superman calls the three 'the Super Friends'. Even Batman's snarky response to not call the group that was perfect. The feel of the interaction is right.
That said, I was hoping we were moving beyond Clark/Diana. But the close ups of the two holding hands and smiling at each other makes me think it isn't quite done.
The trail leads to China. Crossing international borders, the three are met by The Great Ten. Remember them? Frankly, I remembered the group and a couple of names but I couldn't tell you their powers.
Rather than talk things out initially, the two groups decide the best thing to do is fight. The dialogue is straight Zach Snyder. Superman yells 'we'll leave when we're good and ready!' The August General retorts 'It was not a request!' Diana follows with 'We don't like ultimatums' and draws her sword.
We get 8 pages of fighting. In some ways, it seems foolish. These heroes have teamed up before. Superman could have started out with an explanation. That said, the fight sequence gave Tomasi the ability to show the Great Ten's (actually only 7 of 10) power set.
It is only when Superman saves one of the Ten from death that the two sides calm down.
And shockingly ... shockingly I tell you ... when Superman states why the trio are in China, the Great Ten decide to help them.
Okay, I know that the 'hero confusing each other for villains and fighting' is a classic comic plot. So it was a little nostalgic to see it here, especially given the tone of this whole arc.
The trail of energy leads to the Loess Plateau in the Shanxi Province, the secret lab of Dr. Omen we have been peeking into since the start of this book.
The investigation leads to her experiment, clearly the New Superman from Gene Luen Yang's new book post-Rebirth. Omen states she has been trying to create a Superman for China, a 'super-functionary' who can thrive and serve.
But this isn't the being that terrorized the Planet. This is something new.
I like that we get just a little bit of Omen backstory here. The General talks about her years of unsanctioned experiments and the damage she has caused. She must be the Luthor of China.
Omen won't let the heroes commandeer her project. She frees this new Superman who immediately flies off.
Omen gets led away in shackles. The Great Ten state this new Superman is a problem for China. They will deal with him but will keep Superman in the loop.
This plot seemed to wrap up a bit quickly. Omen is arrested. New Superman is free. We only got scraps of history. But I suppose the purpose of this thread is to whet our appetite for more.
And the idea that this being will become a hero after being created by the evil Omen adds a nice wrinkle.
Powerful panel here by Mahnke.
Meanwhile, the flaming Superman being who escaped ARGUS is back in Metropolis. And he wants to talk to Lois. The opening to this scene is very much like a similar scene we saw in Superman #51 by the real Man of Steel. So there is a resonance here.
I love the bravery of Lois as she tells herself to keep her cool so this guy doesn't go supernova. But is there anything more classic than Superman floating outside Lois' balcony saying he would like to talk. This is a very nice cliffhanger.
Overall, I liked this issue more than the Superman/Wonder Woman chapter. It is a quick read as a third of the book is the Trinity/Great Ten fight. But the plots are moved forward in anticipation of #Rebirth. The backstory of the New Superman and Dr. Omen gets fleshed out a bit. The Trinity are united as friends and allies. And this ending with a strong Lois made me want to read the next chapter right then.
I do wish Supergirl was part of this investigation team as Clark has put the weight of the world on her shoulders. It would have been nice to see the family together again. But I guess she has her own issues she is working out.
As for the Clark/Diana romance? I give up. I don't know if they are on again? Or off again? Or feeling things out? But I wish it was just settled.
And, as always, Mahnke brings a great feel to the book. I love his stuff.