Monday, October 16, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #7

Superman Lost #7 came out this week, an appropriate title. Sometimes as a reader of this book, I feel lost. There are two plot threads on this book. 

One is a 'flashback' of sorts. Superman has been stranded on a planet doomed by polarized political parties and climate change. Despite all his efforts ... for 20 years, he cannot save the place. In this issue, Superman has finally escaped that world and is heading home.

The other plot is the 'current' time. Even though it has been 20 years of his time, Superman has only been gone a short while on Earth. He is struggling to acclimate himself back at home, re-engage with friends and family, and save his marriage, strained by his psychological damage.

Writer Christopher Priest has been a little hit or miss on the book as he weaves these two stories together. This issue is something of a miss because he suddenly injects a third plot. Most of this issue is told by a Superman from another timeline, trying to stop our Superman on his journey. It is a lot of pages devoted to an Earth we'll never see again, which has little impact on the story, and doesn't make much sense. I mean it. I have read the section several times and I still don't know what this 'other' Superman is trying to accomplish. It's almost like Priest had an Elseworld story he wanted to tell but had no place for it but here.

And then a fourth plot involving Lex Luthor, hence the stark black and white cover contrasting our hero with his nemesis.

The act continues to be lovely. Carlos Pagulayan does the art for the main story. Lee Weeks is brought in to do the 'Elseworld' portion. Both shine. Weeks brings a grittiness to this other Earth which works well for that world's history.

I'll add that sight unseen, Supergirl does play a sort of key role in the plot progression. 

Still, this issue vexed me a bit. On to the details.

We start out with Superman seeking out help from a therapist. The man was recommended by Kara, who sees the man under the pseudonym 'Havemeyer'. 

I find it interesting that Kara is seeking help, something which makes sense. And good for her. 

Superman is having a hard time dealing with the tragedy he has witnessed. He lost his world. Suddenly, he has more in common with Supergirl than he has before. This moment where he realizes that, realizing how his 'mentoring' her wasn't helping her with the sadness she is feeling.

Any time that the relationship of the cousins is moved forward and strengthened makes me happy.

But then we flashback. Last issue ended with an aged Superman trying to stop our hero from heading to Earth in the wormhole/time stream.

This old Superman says he IS the other Superman, trying to change the timeline and stop Clark from dooming himself.

But I don't understand why, even when this Superman tells his tale of woe.

He makes it back to Earth.

But climate scientists helped the planet by altering the atmosphere. No more climate change. But also no Superman as the new atmosphere disrupted the yellow sun rays. Suddenly Superman is old and powerless, a beggar on the street. You'd think the planet would revere him more.

Superman is living with the two scientists who helped the world. But feeling so guilty because they also robbed the world of Superman led them to experiment on themselves to try and cure the man of steel from his powerless state.

Since all of this comes out of nowhere, it doesn't really have the impact that I think it was meant to convey.

Then we hear more.

Before his powers faded completely, in his weakened state, he led the heroes against an army of robots. In this battle his back was broken. 

Thankfully a cure is found. Superman is rocketed above the atmosphere. In space his powers returned. But he could never return to Earth again or revert.

Weeks' work is quite powerful here. 

So this Superman wants our Superman to stop trying to return home. Because that history would play out. 

But our hero sniffs out that this is a ploy. This Superman can't return to his world. He is trapped in this timeloop. He has probably said this story before. It won't stop our hero from heading home.

I don't know this old Superman doesn't want our hero to make it. I don't know what he is gate-keeping. I don't know if this actually IS our Superman on some tangential timeline or some other dimensional hero.

Just like that, our hero leaps out of the wormhole at the right time.

So anyways ... that means these pages focusing on a world I never knew before, showing me another damaged Superman, a Superman trying to stop our hero but I don't know why ... all these pages don't matter. 

Perhaps I missed some key revelation, some character bit that would make them worth it. But for me, this seemed like dead space.

And it seems this is the right time and place. Superman is saved by Adam Strange. He is home.

But wait, there's more. The Epilogue.

Lois knows that Superman is troubled. Her marriage is slipping away. Nothing can spur Clark back to normalcy. 

So she goes to Lex Luthor for help.

Lex Luthor ?!?

She hopes that somehow, perhaps, a skirmish with Lex will rouse our hero from the emotional doldrums he is in. After all, Lex is defined by Superman, the shadow to his light.

But this seems utterly wrong.

We haven't seen her reach out to Kara yet. Or other heroes. Why not J'onn again, someone who lost a world? Going to a villain, hoping a fight will help??

And then the cliffhanger.

Lex is up for the idea. But he will do it in an insidious way. He gives Lois fatal cancer, all while casually ordering soup. Okay, that's pretty cool. Lex is just a cold bastard.

But this is exactly why it would make no sense for Lois to go to him. This isn't smart. And Lois is smart.

So what to do with this book which vacillates from great to perplexing? I guess just hope it comes together in the end.

Overall grade: C


Martin Gray said...

File this under ‘you read this so we don’t have to’. I jumped off this day and date as of last issue, and you’ve explained why - it’s too unfocused. What’s Priest trying to do? Why is he doing it in such a confusing way? And it sounds like it’s got even more ‘Priesty’.

Luis Olavo Dantas said...

The older Superman's story is an obvious reference to the 1971 two-parter from Action Comics #396-397.

Martin Gray said...

Good spot, though it’s only ‘obvious’ if you’ve read the old story. Poor old Carl and Lisa.

Anj said...

Thanks for tip Luis.
I will look for those issues on the app to read tonight!

Martin Gray said...

They’re not there, sadly, but you can find them by Googling. My conscience allows me to use streaming sites if things aren’t available to buy.