Monday, June 21, 2021

Review: Superman Red And Blue #4

Superman Red And Blue #4 came out this week and was another fun issue in this mini-series. After the somewhat glum first issue, the series has turned it around giving us some excellent stories about Superman, his villains, and his influence on people.

In fact, this series seems to have few stories about Superman himself and more about how he has impacted or influenced other people. I think in this time of grim and gritty story-telling, where Supergirl is drunk and murderous, I need to hear that Superman still inspires.

This issue also includes a trope that I never get tired of even if others have. We get some Pa Kent wisdom told in flashback and still powerful in the present. I can't get enough of it!

And it was interesting to see two Bizarro stories make it into this one volume. You think they could have been spaced. The tone of the stories are very different so I suppose they are fine together.

Finally, it was nice to see Mark Waid get another shot at the Man of Steel. His story is my favorite of the book. Why hasn't this story been done before? And the ending is just pure perfection. Put Waid back on a DC monthly!

On to the book.

In 'Namrepus' by Mark Waid and Audrey Mok, Superman heads to the 5th dimension to cause Mxyzptlk grief in the form of pranks and nonsense. He hopes that by doing this, he will show Mxy that it is annoying and meaningles.

How has this story never been told before?? I love it. To see Superman burning Mxy's dinner and making him pratfall on ice is hysterical. Moreover, to see the moronic ways Mxy tries to get our hero to say Namrepus is Silver Age brilliance.

But for me, the best part is how Superman ends up returning to Earth, saying his own name backwards. But which name? That is the part I love.

'Prospect of Tomorrow' is written and drawn by Francis Manapul who works the red inks like a virtuoso in this story set on Mars. Superman is trying to recover a Mars probe which has gone off line only to discover a hunk of Blue Kryptonite on the planet.

We get some pretty heady voiceover narrations of someone growing in knowledge and presence. Since Blue K is here, you can guess who is stuck on this planet.

I don't know if I quite understand the theme here but the art and coloring is gorgeous.

'A Little is A Lot' is the Pa Kent story told by Robert Venditti and Alitha Martinez.

We see in the past the neighbors of Smallville kicking in some crops and cash to help out a struggling farmer even if they all have been hit hard that year. Clark learns that giving a little is a lot and that most people want to do good. If you do good to others, they will hopefully do good too.

Flash forward to the citizens of Metropolis helping Superman out in a disaster, everyone kicking in a little bit when they see Superman helping. 

Ahhhh, Pa Kent wisdom! I can't get enough.

'For the Man Who Has Nothing' is the other Bizarro story by Michael Conrad and Cully Hamner.

We see that Bizarro is sad, dreaming of a day when he will be accepted by other heroes. He is at a birthday party with the JLAers when his gift from Superman turns out to be a gag gift which makes Bizarro more forlorn and the heroes crack up.

Turns out this is just a prank by Mxyzptlk, showing up again in this story. 

Thankfully, the real Superman comes by to save the day with a simple kind gesture. Bizarro ... am .. sad.

This would have been the best story in the issue if the Waid/Mok one wasn't there. Hamner's art is just grotesque enough to raise the bar.

'#SavedBySuperman' was written by Rich Douek with art by personal fave Joe Quinones.

In the story, an internet influencer starts a fad of #SavedBySuperman in which on-line personas put themselves in harm's way so Superman will swoop in and save them. While our hero gets to them all, we see has other bigger threats on his plate. It is getting tiresome.

When the first personality tries to repeat the trend and get rescued again, Superman swoops in. He basically tells this guy that he has to use his 'power' (people watching him) for good. He has to use his influence to not be a bad guy. And having people almost kill themselves is being a bad guy.

It is a simple message but one maybe even I need. I don't have a big internet presence but I strive for it to be a positive one!

Anyways, I liked all of these stories making this another winner of an issue. But that first story is a revelation!

Overall grade: B+


H said...

They have done the 'Superman in the 5th dimension' story before, in the Silver Age appropriately enough. I'd need to look it up to find the issue number but it may even have the same twist at the end.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

It was Action Comics # 273 (February 1961) a story called "The World of Mr. Mxyzptlk!" Because of having to deal with Mr. Mxyzptlk, Superman misses a scheduled visit to Smallville Orphanage. Superman decides to teach the imp a lesson and harass HIM! Superman goes into the 5th Dimension and finds out that Mxy is running for mayor.

(I should probably put a SPOILER ALERT here)

Superman's antics cause Mxyzptlk to lose the election. The imp tries several times to get Superman to say his name backwards, but when Superman finally DOES say NAM...REP...US Nothing happens! Then Superman turns and whispers something so softly that Mxy can't hear ..and disappears. Mxyzptlk can't figure it out.

What did Superman whisper to cause him to return to his own dimension? Not "Clark Kent", but his real name, Kal-El (Le Lak).

This was the issue that featured the "Pick A New Hairstyle For Linda (Supergirl) Lee" page.

By the way, in the Mark Waid story where Superman comes out of the Food 4 Less pushing the shopping cart, he's singing the theme song to the 1960s Superman cartoon show: "It's Superman! Superman! Super Super Superman!).

Anj said...


Hope it is on DC Infinite!

H said...

It's in Showcase Presents: Superman 2, I know that much.

Thanks for the assist, Prof. I knew I'd read it but didn't have time to go looking through for it.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

Thanks for the information on the reprint, H. The DC Data Base entry was no help, as it does not list Showcase Presents: Superman 2. Probably due for an update.

Might as well mention here that the Supergirl story in Action 273 is part 2 of a fun story in which Kara travels to an Earth like planet and meets the Supergirl of that world, her exact double MARVEL MAID! The story was written by Otto Binder who had to be thinking of Mary Marvel when he wrote it.

This was several months before Fantastic Four # 1. I doubt that Marvel Maid would have been called MARVEL Maid had this story been published 2 or 3 years later.