Friday, August 5, 2016

Review: Superman #4

Superman #4 came out this week and continued to be a fast paced, wild ride of an issue. There is barely a change to catch your breath as story-tellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason give us a horror-tinged tale of death, souls, and ghosts.

I will admit that I am not entirely on board with the idea that the Eradicator sucked the 'life force' out of Kryptonians. It seems a bit too nebulous to me. If this was Hellblazer or Madame Xanadu, I might be on board. But I am still mulling over if I like it here. How many souls does the Eradicator hold? All of them? Is the 'soul' of Jor-El and Lara in him?

That said, the book has a great feel of terror in it. There are scenes that are evocative of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Some of the pages seem surreal like Dr. Strange. The colors by John Kalisz really dazzle, a wild display of yellows and purples. It feels a little out of place in a Superman book and that is a good thing. It is engaging.

Lastly, there are some great personal moments here as well. Jon takes a big step towards being a hero. We meet Superman's pal Bibbo and hear how inspired he is by the big red S.

On to the book!

The opening sequence is brilliant as Jon embraces his role as a super-hero. If I could post all the pages I would because this was the most brilliant part of the issue.

Superman and the Eradicator are at a stalemate. Jon momentarily thinks that he will use his heat vision to kill the Eradicator like he did with Goldie. But Lois stops him. Jon can be great, the best of both worlds.

Emboldened by her speech, he zips up his sweatshirt thus displaying the s-shield proudly and throws on his cape. Suddenly inspired, he leaps into action, joining his father in smashing Eradicator, breaking the villain's shell.

So much to love here. Lois' speech. Jon's expression. The zip up panels, sort of him donning the costume for the first time. The splash of Superman and son side by side punching the Eradicator. It's all wonderful.

I just can't wrap my head around Gleason's approach to Lois though. She looks like she is a teenager here.

With his shell broken, the Kryptonian souls begin spilling out.

This is one trippy page. From the three eyes, to the angled panels on the bottom, to the soul streams, it is all very Illuminati plus Raiders of the Lost Ark. This feels like something from Dormammu's realm.

Still, I don't know if I like the idea of a soul-sucking machine and repository.

But that art, those colors! Wonderful.

Back at Metropolis, we see Bibbo, owner of the Ace O' Clubs arm wrestling to win a moon rock. He is victorious and puts the rock in his Superman shrine.

I love having Bibbo back in the Super-books. I liked him as an everyday guy inspired by Superman to try to be a better person. And I love that he has a shrine. As a guy with a Supergirl shrine in his man cave, I get it.

It is interesting that this is a shrine to the New 52 Superman. Will Bibbo accept this pre-Flashpoint Superman?

That moon rock has a piece of Kryptonite in it. The freed souls are drawn to a piece of their world. They somehow teleport everyone ... themselves, the Eradicator husk, Lois, Clark, and Jon to the bar. Seems a bit sudden but the change in venue adds a nice element.

The souls shriek and storm around the bar, briefly possessing one of the patrons. Superman and Jon are helpless given the Kryptonite in their vicinity.

It is up to Lois to try to grab this thing which is floating inside a soul cyclone.

I can't explain it but this panel of Lois seems off to me? Maybe it is just that she again looks like a teenager.

And then I become lost.

Lois reaches up to grab the moon rock. But it looks like there is another hand reaching down to grab it as well.

Whose hand is that?

Mr. Oz?

Someone else?

I do love the skull souls swarming around.

Luckily, the rock is grabbed and one of Bibbo's customers tosses it out the window.

With the Kryptonite gone, Superman is able to communicate with the souls. But first he has a vision of Pa Kent who lays down some wisdom (as he does).

Pa tells Clark that Superman can't pass on. He needs to stay alive so he can carry on the legacy of those who have passed.

With that memory in his head, Clark somehow speaks to the souls. The souls feel tortured. Their existence in the Eradicator is burning pain. Now, out of that shell, they are whole and free.

Unfortunately, the Eradicator has repaired himself enough to begin sucking up the souls again. He won't stop in his quest to either cleanse or kill Jon for being a half breed. There is a whole sort of pureblood/mudblood Harry Potter overtones here.

Two of the souls still free decide to turn on the Eradicator once and for all. These spirits are confident in what they have seen of Krypton's sons.

A massive explosion occurs when souls and Eradicator meet, blowing the Eradicator into water.

I like how the ghosts seem to recognize the legacy they have in Clark and Jon. I like that they turn on their captor. But ghosts in a machine?

For some reason, Superman decides the best thing to do is put Lois and Jon into a submarine and fly them to the moon.


I suppose that maybe he wants to take the next round of the Eradicator fight away from Earth and casualties. But why take Lois? And why the moon?

I suppose I have to wait and see.

So how do I grade this? I think the opening moment with Jon is near perfect. I like the visuals of souls and ghosts swirling around people. The colors are spectacular. I like Bibbo and Lois playing a role. Even the fights are great. I just have to somehow get past the idea of the Eradicator being a Well of the Souls, a Chamber of Guf.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

'Chamber of Guf'? I had to look that one up!

I assumed Superman was just moving Jon and Lois to the Moon for safety, then he'd come back for an Eradicator fight, preferably away from Metropolis. But I could be wrong.

That hand, I was thinking it was one of the souls, or the possessed Hacken (identified as an another old DC supporting character by clever Rob in the comments over at my place), but Hacken is below the funnel, and the hand is flesh-toned... hmm. Whatever the Mr Oz business is, I hope it goes away soon so that we can concentrate on big stories that aren't part of bigger stories.

Anonymous said...

I'm enjoying a lot the current Action Comics and Superman runs, but I miss Supergirl. I wish she would have joined the battle against the Eradicator. Someone has invaded her late cousin's Fortress (which now belongs to her)? Someone is attacking her alternate universe relatives and has EATEN Krypto? This will NOT stand!

I hope Kara shows her face in the Superman books again after Supergirl Rebirth starts out. I think she and the pre-Flashpoint Superman need to have a long talk.

Anj said...

I only know the Guf from the Demi Moore movie Seventh Sign.

Doubt the Oz thing will wrap up soon. That has 'long play' written all over it. Maybe next summers event?

And anon, I also want Supergirl in these books. But she needs to get established on her own a bit.