Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: Superman #16

Superman #16 came out this week, the final chapter of the Multiplicity storyline.I had gone into this arc with high hopes and the first chapters really gave off a grand scale vibe. This had the feeling of a company wide mega-crossover.

But this final chapter seemed to end too quickly. We didn't get too much explanation of Prophecy's motivations, just a tease of some incoming multiversal threat. And we certainly didn't get an explanation of how these Supermen save themselves. It just all seemed to end ...

And that was a bit deflating. Because everything up to this point was just clicking.

Writers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are obviously building to something. We see Mr. Oz in this issue. We hear about this threat coming to all Earths. We know there is an army of Supermen out there. And I have had little to complain about in their run. But I wonder if they were constrained on pages and needed things to end magically to keep a company-wide timeline on track.

Art on the book was a mix of Tony Daniel and Clay Mann and the book is pretty lush. I thought the art was very good and continued that feel that this was something grander than a simple issue in a monthly book. Between the cover and the final battle with Prophecy, there was an echo of Crisis on Infinite Earths #12. There was an outright swipe of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, the image that is always homaged.

Or am I just imagining this?
On to the book!

Prophecy, I presume an enormous Superman from an alternate Earth, has been kidnapping and draining other Superman of their powers. He keeps saying that Doom is coming for all of them. And it is only by draining all the Super-beings will he be able to stand up to this threat and protect his world. The other worlds be damned.

There is lot to digest in this interaction.

For one, I am so interested in the fact that 'our' Superman is labeled an anomaly. This is why Kenan Kong was gathered, not Superman. We know this is a continuity-displaced Superman. But I still think there is something more. We will find out soon enough how the New 52 Superman and this one are linked.

But who is this doom that is coming to Prophecy's world? Dr. Manhatten? Mr. Oz? Or something even more horrible?

And is this a multiversal threat? Or just the main universe?

As I have said, this arc so far has really had a huge feel to it. The images have been wonderful in scope and grandeur.

I had to include this image of the depowered Supers digging their own grave while Prophecy looms over them.

That is great art and imagery.

But this was Superman's plan all along. The Ultima Thule is at Prophecy's feet, transmitting a signal to to the Justice League Incarnate. Unfortunately, the League has no other Thule ship ready to follow the beacon.

It is up to the Red Racer to build one. And knowing it took Nix Uotan 1000 years to build his, it will take a tremendous and most likely lethal. I love the heroism of the Racer. Speedsters never think about the cost. Remember, it isn't a Crisis without the death of a 'Flash'.

He'll build it.

Prophecy continues to drain the Supermen. Our Superman finally meets Kenan Kong. The throng of depowered heroes are losing their hope and resolve.

But the current Superman rallies the troops. They were created equal, to help people. And as long as someone with an S on their chest lives, the battle goes on.

It is small moments of inspiration like this that remind me how much I love Superman, why I love Superman.

 No big surprise, the Red Racer needs to compress so much time to build another Thule ship that he dies.

Cue the Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 cover homage.

Again, this sort of imagery elevates this story into something bigger!

 And then the turn of events that just pulled me out of the story.

The new Thule ship arrives.

And ... for some reason ... that isn't revealed ... all the Supermen regain their powers and attack. Is this because the new Thule ship arrived? If so, why not just say it?

Prophecy screams that a bigger threat is coming. He is the last sentinel. They shouldn't be fighting him.

But against a swarming throng of tiny Supermen, Prophecy is defeated. Prophecy's right hand, the core of his power, is literally removed. And then, lying defeated, Prophecy disappears.

This 'magical' return of all the Supermen's powers seemed to happen out of the blue. Now, the blue energy cover could be some hint that this was the intercession of Mr. Oz or Dr. Manhatten. But it all seems too easy.

And the battle is over in a couple of panels.

This arc seemed to end with a whimper. 

Once on Earth we get a nice scene between Kenan and Kal. (Can I get a team-up book with Kenan and Kal and Kenan and Kel??)

I love how Superman offers to be a mentor or sounding board for the New Super-Man.

Again, just a very nice Superman moment showing again that he is there to help. I'm glad these two have finally met. Now how about some Superman and Supergirl moments??

Then we get the ending. And this was a very nice and ominous ending.

Prophecy is now a captive of Mr. Oz. Is it me, or does Prophecy look very Parasite-like in this panel? The blue energy cuffs add to that.

But who is Prophecy? What is his story? How did he learn of the threat? Was he ever a Superman?

And what does Mr. Oz mean? Is Oz the person that Prophecy was planning to battle? Given the blue tinge, was it Oz who returned the powers to the Supermen, using them to defeat Prophecy so Oz could capture him? Did Oz always want Prophecy the way he wanted Doomsday and Tim Drake? His dialogue doesn't seem like that is true. It sounds more like Oz just wanted to remove Prophecy from the equation.

But that return of all powers in one panel and the brief fight seemed to be too swift an ending for the arc given the prior buildup. Now maybe this will all be explained. And maybe this is just a puzzle piece in bigger story.

Still, I felt a little let down by how quickly it all unfolded. Still very good. But I wanted something mind-blowing and spectacular.

Overall grade: B/B+


Anonymous said...

That cover has to be an homage to COIE #12. It's too similar.

"I'm glad these two have finally met. Now how about some Superman and Supergirl moments??"

I'm craving for SM/SG interaction, but now I know when it's coming I can afford to be patient. It's not easy, though.

Sigh. Only two more months. We can do this.

I agree with the conclusion feeling rushed and inadequately explained. Maybe Tomasi needed to get this arc out of the way quickly so as to be ready for the incoming crossover?

Anonymous said...

Talking about COIE homages. Reading "Superman: Lois and Clark #1" and seeing the heroes striking the Anti-Monitor from all sides and Kara punching his ugly mug felt soooo good.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I really didn't like the art this issue. Very inconsistent, particularly the Super-Demon. I might not have care if the story hadn't ended so abruptly. I think the takeaway here is that the new Superman is an anomaly.

The cover certainly was an homage to COIE#12, but the heroes were drawn badly, look at Sunshine Superman. That was always my biggest problem with the new52, multiple artists and inkers who don't even know what Super-Demon looks like. Three editors can't straighten this out.

I loved the story arc, and am looking forward to Superman Reborn. I assume this would happen with the twice monthly status of the book. And the Superman book likely has to synch up with The Button stories that will appear in Flash and Batman.

Interesting to think that Prophecy is Superman from another Earth. My thoughts was possibly a Brainiac from another Earth. I do agree with you, there is no reason to believe that he came from New Earth. Prophecy had stopped at other worlds first. I dunno.

Great review, Anj.

Martin Gray said...

I seem to have enjoyed it more than most, maybe I'm just a sucker for big, bombastic stories. I am really looking forward to having some mysteries solved, even as I'm enjoying the riddles themselves.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Martin: I enjoyed the story very much. But the artwork really threw me off, even though different artists each had a few good panels. It was a nice set up for the next arc, and if the regular team is on the book without multiple artists, all the better.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.
I liked this arc quite a lot. But it was then rushed ending that was the sore spot.

Wish there was more the The climax.

Procoehcy being a Brainiac is an interesting idea!

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but I didn't know where else mentioning it. In ''Superman (volume 1) #165: The Sweetheart Superman Forgot'', Superman loses his memory and becomes Jim White, a cowboy working in a ranch. I wonder if the "Clark White" name is a reference to that Silver Age story.