Monday, August 22, 2016
Review: Superman #5
Superman #5 came out last week, the latest chapter in the Eradicator storyline which straddles science fiction and metaphysical plot elements. The new Eradicator is a warehouse not only for Kryptonian culture but also Kryptonian life forces (or souls). And that element is troubling me as a reader.
I can't think of many super-hero stories which are able to easily meld religion and science fiction. (Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and Peter David's Supergirl come to mind as good examples.) A story has to be pretty stellar for it to work for me and so I am mulling over this new Eradicator in my mind. Does his new function work for me?
If I am able to move past that plot point, story tellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason continue to give us a wonderful Superman family. Clark is trying his best to protect the world and his wife and son. Jon is being asked to grow up pretty quickly in terms of using his powers and being a hero. And Lois continues to show why she is one of the strongest characters in the DCU. My one quibble is that, like Action Comics, this issue is almost completely a brawl with just a smidge of plot progression. I don't mind action ... but I want more.
The art on the issue is done by Doug Mahnke. I love Mahnke's style and he brings a sort of otherworldly feel to the Eradicator and the souls within. There does seem to be some softening of his work in places which jibes better with the Gleason style in earlier issues.
On to the book!
Last issue ended with Superman taking Lois and Jon to the moon. At the time, I questioned why. Here we learn that Batman has a batcave on the moon. Superman learned about it by spying on the Dark Knight (interesting). Wanting to take the fight away from Earth, he thought this would be a fine place to hole up.
Given the threat level of the Eradicator, Jon wonders why Superman hasn't called in the whole league. Clark responds that it is a family matter, a Kryptonian matter, and that others shouldn't get involved.
I really am trying to wrap my head around this. I like the sentiment, a sort of 'family business' Godfather take on the Eradicator. Also, the Eradicator only wants to deal with Clark and Jon. Why bring the League into a battle where they have no stake?
But it also reads a bit like hubris. I am sure Superman would want to help his friends if they needed it.
Later in this scene Lois tells Clark he needs to train Jon quickly so Jon can be a hero and battle. This seems a little rushed given that she has hidden his abilities all his life and didn't want him involved just issues ago.
Superman and the Eradicator fight in the cave and trade blows.
But then the Eradicator uses his 'life suck' power to basically swallow Superman, just like he swallowed Krypto! This really is starting to feel like Perfect Cell or even Majin Bu! (Sorry to wave by DBZ flag.)
But there is something bizarrely fascinating about the line 'Your home is you.' I keep ruminating over this line. Like it should be on a motivational poster.
Nice panel art by Mahnke and brilliant colors here by Wil Quintana.
With Superman suddenly ingested, Jon is basically alone to face the Eradicator. I still don't know if the Eradicator wants to kill Jon or gene-cleanse him. But it definitely is an attack. Jon has no choice but to basically run and hide in the cave.
I suppose the moment of the book is the above panel. Lois isn't going to let her child get killed without putting up a fight. Nosing around the cave, she discovers a 'Hellbat Suit'. Donning it, she engages ...
Okay, there is a lot to just roll with here. Lois knows how to pilot a battle suit? Batman doesn't have an encrypted start up? It fits?
Anyways, quibbles. How great is this panel with Lois yelling 'Get your hands off my son!' And she gets in some shots, tossing the Eradicator around a bit.
Meanwhile, within the Eradicator, Superman communes with the souls of Krypton. Okay, odd for me to say that Eradicator houses the souls of the lost planet. But there it is.
Within this realm, Superman pleads with the souls to give him their power and life energies. If they help him, Superman will free them once and for all. Sure enough, the begin to infuse Kal with their energies while simultaneously weakening the Eradicator.
Okay, I can't be the only one who thought of Aragorn convincing the Armies of the Dead to join his fight against Sauron, fulfilling a pact and freeing the ghosts. Here is the link:
Honestly, how could Tomasi and Gleason refrain from having Superman yell 'What say you!'
Powered by the souls, Superman is able to force himself to be vomited by the Eradicator.
On to round two!
Again, I can't help but think of Dragon Ball Z once again, when Cell vomits up Android 18.
Look, I have a lot of love for DBZ despite the unbelievably immature and formulaic plots. Call it nostalgia.
So more fighting for the majority of the issue. We didn't learn too much more about the Eradicator. But the Lois moments, Jon sort of stepping up a bit, and Superman talking to the souls elevated this book a little. Still, this seemed like a pause rather than a progression.
Overall grade: B-