Friday, October 21, 2016

Review: Superman #9

Superman #9 came out this week, finishing the Escape from Dinosaur Island storyline. This brief story was a nice homage to Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier book and a deserving tip of the cap to Cooke's brilliance. Tomasi and Gleason finish up the story of The Losers, the ragtag group of WWII soldiers whose story opened up the New Frontier book.

From that viewpoint, seeing Captain Storm dealing with dinosaurs and shooting machine guns, this story was wonderful. Cooke's work was brilliant. I don't mind revisiting that world one more time.

But beyond that, what I liked about this was that Tomasi and Gleason didn't treat this as a simple side mission diversion. They do end up tying it into the bigger arc coursing through the Superman books. There does seem to be a link to Mr. Oz here.

Most importantly, at least for me, is the interaction between Jon and Clark in this issue. We truly get a sense of how young Jon is. And we get to see Clark acting as the dad here, guiding his son through this crazy world while dropping some knowledge. I will be honest, there was a moment here that reminded me of a young Anj and his father. It reminded me of Anj and his young children. That is powerful stuff.

The art is done by Doug Mahnke and has is usual panache throughout. Sure, there are battles with giant gorillas wielding sea mines and torpedoes. There are pterodactyls zipping around kaiju. But again, the power here is Mahnke's expressive work with Jon and Clark. That is really where this book shines.

 Last issue ended with Clark and Jon discovering the Losers cave on Dinosaur Island, reading Johnny Cloud's final testament.  We pick up right where we left off.

What I love is Clark dropping a little knowledge to Jon. He explains what the O.S.S. is, asking Jon if he knows about the C.I.A. as well.

This reminded me a ton of my father and me. I can remember reading things or seeing things in movies and asking my dad about it. And I can remember my father, a really smart guy, talking about things. Mostly in discussions about old movies, my dad nurtured a curiosity in me to learn more. (And since we watched a lot of old movies - including some war pictures - this rang really true.)

It turns out that Captain Storm is still alive and initially attacks the two heroes. After that brief misunderstanding, Storm relays his story. The rest of the Losers have died. He was thought to have been eaten by pterodactyls but was able to escape.

The conversation leads to a discussion about how much time has passed. WWII is over. Storm remains young. He has buried his friends. He has never been able to find a away home.

I love this panel so much as it speaks volumes about Jon.

He is completely wide-eyed here. Storm is reflected in his eyes, as if he is filling his mind. There is a sense that Jon is either stunned or scared. Either works. Later Storm recalls how he lost his eye and leg in dramatic fashion further shocking Jon. This should be overwhelming to a kid.

 And then we see Jon break down. He begins to cry and admits he is scared they won't get home or ever see Lois again. He is scared. And again, he should be. What 10 year old wouldn't be worried they would be trapped in this place given everything he has seen and heard.

But there is Clark to calm him. I love how he even brings in some humor telling Jon that Lois is going to yell at them when they got home and tell her what has happened.

It breaks the tension a little. And it also sounds very true to life.

This whole issue just really showcases this father-son relationship wonderfully.

 Superman realizes the device which teleported Jon and him there needs to be recovered. And Storm thinks he has seen something like it on the other side of the island which is even more untamed than this area. But they have no choice.

In a nice little Silver Age nugget, Storm rides on a pterodactyl he has trained. And he named her Myrna after Myrna Loy! I love it! I can tell you as a kid I knew about Loy (thanks again Dad!).

 There is several wild action pages of the heroes fighting monsters and dinosaurs. And both the cube looking device as well as its crystal power source are found. But the crystal is a giant white gorilla's eye! And it looks like the eye of the giant octopus which attacked Superman earlier. Everything seems to be connected.

Again, the fight pages are gorgeous and fun. I mean there is WWII era weapons and heat vision and Storm on a dinosaur and energy beams. Mahnke really pushes it to 11. What more could people want out of a comic.

 After a skirmish, Jon and Clark are able to rebuild the device and it warms up to take them home. Amazingly and heroically and selflessly, Storm decides to stay behind to make sure no monsters follow them through the portal. That is what the Losers do ... fight to protect others, even if it means risking their own lives.

It also let's me keep Storm's stories happening in my head canon, something I am sure Cooke would appreciate.

Back home, Superman realizes that the crystal portion of the device has vanished.

And then we see it in the hand of someone I can only presume is Oz. And he places it in some monster of his own.

We all know Oz has something hidden behind a massive vault wall. Maybe it is this monster which looks so similar to the telepathic squid-bomb Ozymandias used at the end of Watchmen. Certainly something of that magnitude would need to be shut away.

And maybe this means Oz is Ozymandias ...

Regardless of the end game (which I hope gets wrapped up soon), this was a wonderful issue. Clear away all the trappings and you have a touching father/son issue. Add in a dollop of New Frontier and the quintessential comic book battle and you have a real winner!

Overall grade: A

I am done guessing.


Anonymous said...

Nice to hear this issue had a personal resonance with you Anj, I suppose that highlights how good Tomasi's Superman comic is if it connects with the reader. I love seeing Superman as a comforting and wise father, it offers much better emotional moments than the emotions New 52 Superman focused on. Can't wait to read this.


Martin Gray said...

The consistency of the Superman books in terms of quality right nice is amazing. I loved this two-parter, it scratches so many of my DC itches in terms of characters and locales. And the mystery continues - I say get Lois on it, she's the too investigative reporter around.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Loving this series right now!