Friday, December 9, 2016

Review: Superman #12

One of the good things about twice monthly titles is that you never have to wait too long for the next issue to hit. I have been loving what Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have been doing on the Superman book and so it makes me happy that every other week a new issue is in my hands.

And maybe it is because I know that issue turnaround is so quick that I don't quibble as much about pacing or quick reads. When you receive a new chapter in 14 days, you're allowed to take a breather or hit the gas pedal now and then.

Superman #12 came out this week and was one of those gas pedal issues. The majority of the story is a fight between Superman and Frankenstein. We don't really get an understanding of why Frankenstein is acting the way he is until the final cliffhanger page. Instead, in large beautiful panels drawn by Doug Mahnke, you witness the brawl between titans.

Big panels and high action made this a pretty quick read and sometimes I quibble about that. If I had to wait a long time to get the progression of the story I might think that the fight could have been pages shorter and therefore the story could move along. But knowing the next issue is now just 12 days away, I allowed myself the joy of just seeing an old-fashioned donnybrook, all delivered to my eyes beautifully.

Maybe I need to stop and smell the comic roses now and then?

On to the story.

The issue starts with Lois Smith following up with the editor of the smalltown newspaper The Hamilton Horn about a job. The two had met at the County Fair in a prior issue and both thought Lois would be a good fit.

Now Lois just started acting like .... um ... Lois at the Daily Planet again. So how she can be both a reporter for a major Metropolitan newspaper and for this little one is debatable. How no one in Hamilton recognizes her as Lois Lane is even more questionable.

And how is Lois going to be a presence at the Planet and live in Hamilton 300 miles away? Will she live in the other Lois' apartment?

I kind of need answers how Lois is going to be able to do it all. And to be honest, I wouldn't have minded if this subplot never happened.

But the early morning meeting is interrupted when Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. arrives.

He seems to think Candice is not what she says she is and is going to kill her. Luckily, Lois (armed with a glove from the bat-armor she was in on the moon) is able to fire a force beam at him and the two make a hasty exit.

I like Frankenstein's dialogue here. "You have put on a play ..." I like that, like whoever she is, she is just playing a role.

Of course, it is odd that something bad enough to get S.H.A.D.E.'s attention would be masquerading at the Hamilton Horn. Unless they are there because of Superman/Lois or those haunted woods the kids keep talking about.

Lois, with Candice, commandeer Frankenstein's hovercraft and fly off with the monster hanging on. This is a small part of a two page 'mostly splash' of the vehicle speeding away. In the big picture, Mahnke really imparts a feeling of the speed and force of this thing.

But I especially love these panels. You zoom in on the Frankenstein monster, increasing the feeling of threat from him. Then suddenly ... wham ... it's Superman's fist. It implies that Superman arrived very quickly, inserting himself into the action when not expected.Just great pacing and art.

Of course Frankenstein thinks Superman is interfering in his case. He obviously knows something Superman doesn't.

It is Superman's response that I love. His job is to protect innocents and he'll do his job even if it means stopping the monster from doing his.

Remember about a year ago when angry and grumbling, wrestling professionally, and viciously beating up a shackled Parasite just because? I didn't like that Superman.

This guy? I like him.

But Frankenstein isn't easily defeated. The fight goes on, spilling into the farm country of Hamilton.

I had to include this panel because I love the perspective here. Superman on the ground, looking up at Frank who is hoisting a tractor over his head. That's just beautiful.

After being pounded by the vehicle, Frank is delayed by the Smiths' neighbor Farmer Cobb who unloads a 12 gauge into the monster. It has no effect. And just when it looks like Cobb is going to suffer, Superman is back, tapping Frank's shoulder and delivering a left hook.

This is almost cartoonish. But so much fun.

But he is still Superman. He advises Cobb to head to his basement with anyone else in the house. And, respecting Superman, Cobb agrees and walks on his way.

I loved this small moment. One, it was great to see Cobb stand up to Frankenstein. Perhaps he was inspired by Supes. But it was also great to see him trust Superman and listen to him. Again, it is a subtle nod to a more classic interpretation of Superman. People trust him.

The funniest moment happens when Superman is about to tell Frankenstein to stand down before someone gets hurt. But before Superman can finish the sentence, Lois accidentally slams the hovercraft into him. I actually laughed out loud at the moment. Again, there is a bit of classic Bugs Bunny humor to that ultraviolent moment. It is ironic!

But that does give Frank the time to grab Candice and show everyone exactly who/what she is. Nice cliffhnager.

So overall, this was a punch-em-up issue whose highlight was the fight. But I loved that so many little moments of humor and old-fashioned Superman goodness were peppered throughout. And that cliffhanger? Just what is happening in Hamilton?

Only 12 days til we find out!

Overall grade: A

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