Friday, November 17, 2017

Review: Superman #35

Superman #35 came out this week, the third part of the Imperius Lex story arc, as it continues to move our super-family across the desolate wastelands of Apokolips. Last issue focused on Lois. This issue we focus on Jon. But throughout, we keep seeing Superman and Lex both dealing with being labeled the messiah of Apokolips. As I have said for some time, I am having a hard time reading this Lex. His actions have always seemed heroic but his words have occasionally been concerning or troublesome. Is he faking us out with this desire to be the new Superman, a hero?

For me, the Jon portion of the issue was the most enjoyable. Writers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason bring the youthful energy to Jon, making him act the way I think a tween with super-powers would act. He is growing in confidence. He is trying to emulate his dad. But he is impulsive.

I will also admit to having something of a hard time wrapping my head around the actual status of Apokolips these days. It looks like it is plunged into chaos. And I have to think that Tom King and Mitch Gerads Mister Miracle as well as the Allred's Bug are out of continuity. But it doesn't feel streamlined.

The art on the book is a mix of Travis Moore, Stephen Segovia, and Art Thibert. It is hard for me at least to pick out where one begins and the others end. But overall the book looked crisp and clean.

On to the books.

This whole mess started when Lex was kidnapped by Ardora and her rebels. They thought he was the Messiah they heard about in a prophecy of who would ascend to Darkseid's throne.

Last issue, Lex made a good pitch to convince them that Superman fit the bill better than him. But Clark wants nothing to do with this.

As a result, the whole thing has gone pear-shaped. Ardora's band wants to kill Lex. They want to capture Superman and convince him to lead them. What a mess?

I suppose Superman never wants to be considered a god. But could he be convinced that for the universe the best thing for him to do is change things on this evil planet? Hmmm ... what are the ethics around this?

Meanwhile Jon runs across the Hunger Dog troops.

Apokolips is in shambles to the point that the Hunger Dog troops are forced to eat their canine rides in order to survive. And they eat the puppies because they need to ride the adult dogs. When Jon finds the bone field, he can't abide. He can't sit by and watch these men eat cute giant doggies.

He would rather eat school food than eat dog. That is a kid's burn!

Single handedly, he drives the troops off.

And then he frees the puppies' parents. The dogs are thrilled with their new 'master', licking Jon as they reunite.

I love that last panel and Jon's realization that even in a hell like this there is family. I love these puppies and doggies cuddling and kissing each other.

And like any good dog, they are suddenly loyal to Jon. He thinks they'll be able to lead him to his parents. So he grabs a polearm and saddles up.

I like Jon being an animal lover. I suppose his relationship with Krypto has impacted him.

Meanwhile, Lex and Superman have a second to take a breather and address each other.

Lex points out that Superman has had a profound effect on these people. He has given them hope.

And we see the downtrodden and emaciated come out to view Superman in the sky.

Superman wants to be an inspiration. He wants to bring people hope. And these people deserve hope. Will this make it harder for him to leave? How do you remove hope from this group who are already a bit hopeless?

This is just a couple of pages in the middle of this magazine but I love this whole interaction. I love how Lex basically begs off of being the hero here. He wants nothing to do with giving hope to people in this place. Even he recognizes that there is no hope here.

So does that make him less of a hero that he only wants to be the savior of Metropolis and Earth? After all, isn't Superman also uninterested in being these people's hero? It is pretty thought provoking.

And all this revery is broken up by the arrival of Kalibak who says there can be no hope on Apokolips. And luckily he knocks out Lex so that Luthor doesn't see any of what happens thereafter.

It just reminds me that there are all these factions now on Apokolips. We have Ardora and her rebels who want a messiah on the throne. We have Granny and her Furies who want to be in the throne. We have the Hunger Dogs who want to rule. And we now have Kalibak who thinks Darkseid is trapped somewhere on the planet and is looking everywhere, even in a firepit! Now that's idiotic.

As luck would have it, despite their being a whole planet, Granny and Kalibak's forces meet up. Kalibak is about to throw a trussed up Superman into the Firepit to look for Darkseid.

But the discussion between Darkseid's lieutenants becomes heated. Finally Granny can't put up with how asinine Kalibak is and lashes out with a very Kirby punch. The two sides begin to melee.
I love that without the guidance of Darkseid, the whole civil structure of Apokolips has been shattered. Who will rule?

This whole thing becomes almost too nutty. Lex is still unconscious. Kalibak blast so deep into one of the planetary firepits that he has vented the planet's core. All the firepits are extinguished. I have said it before, Kalibak is pretty stupid. That said, he is pretty pleased with his efforts. With the firepits gone cold, he and his troops can search for Darkseid themselves. So they have no need for Superman as an indestructible probe.

Before Kalibak can kill Superman, who rushes to his defense but Female Fury Lois! (Good thing Lex is unconscious!) She slaps Kalibak!
That is freaking incredible.
That said, *she* slaps Kalibak. He grabs her and seems ready to kill them both.
But then ...

Who appears on the surrounding ridge, like Gandalf outside of Helm's Deep? Jon, with his new army of Hunger Dogs!

Cry havoc! And let slip the dogs of war!!!

This was a standard middle chapter to an arc. The threads of the three members of the super-family get pulled a little tighter. Everyone is in the same area of the chessboard. And luckily Lex is unconscious so he can't see the Kent family surviving on Apokolips.

But for me, the best part of this arc is the Lex stuff as I try to piece together his heroic motivations and contrast them to Clark's. Who is a hero? How much do you need to help another planet? Should you step in to make Apokolips a better place?? Fascinating.

Overall grade: B


Martin Gray said...

I'm enjoying this story so much more than I expected. And while it is convenient that Lois, Clark and Jon are so close together, maybe that's part of a plan by Mother Box, isn't she still sentient and connected to the Boom Tubes?

Probably just artistic licence!

I really want Lois to slug Granny Goodness!

Anonymous said...

It was a truly enjoyable issue, although I'm still ticked off with a certain relative's absence... OH, well.

Superman really DOESN'T want to rule Apokolips. It'd not end well. Let us remember Kingdom Come, when poor Orion realized the only way to keep the place working was becoming a benevolent version of his father... or let's remember that John Byrne "Darkseid brainwashes Superman into being his son" story...

... on second thought I hated it, so let's NOT bring it up.