Saturday, May 2, 2009

Review: Superman #687

Superman #687 was only the second issue of this title's 'World Without Superman' run but it already felt like it was a little bit of a step backwards. After a couple of months which felt like prologue, last issue seemed to firm up where the title was going with Mon-El and The Guardian.

Unfortunately, this issue again seemed like it was more introduction then progression. James Robinson certainly has a lot of players on the chessboard of Metropolis. If anyone can weave together multiple storylines it's Robinson. I just hope I don't lose patience before things start to come together.

And of course it didn't help my initial impression to see a glaring editorial error on the cover. Steel's S-shield should be backwards in the reflection of the Guardian's shield.

The issue actually starts very strongly with a frenetic 16 panel page showing just snippets of the Science Police's battle with Shrapnel. The odd panel shapes and up close perspective gives a sort of claustrophobic feel to the fight. You don't get a great sense of what is exactly happening until the 2 page splash above where you see the officers getting perforated. That opening page is just a good way to suck the reader in.

While 'Jon Kent' is nowhere to be seen, Mon-El shows up and tears into Shrapnel. The Guardian comments that Mon is not as polished as Superman. I mean, when was the last time you saw Superman use his head as a battering ram?

It is a nice touch. Mon-El has been in the Phantom Zone for years. I doubt he has been sparring there. He would have to be more a brawler than a polished combatant. A devastating uppercut later and Shrapnel is down for the count.

The Guardian however realizes that it won't take the SciPo officers long to realize that whenever Jon Kent disappears that Mon-El shows up. Even if Mon-El has some tech which vibrates his face to make it indistiguishable, the situation is doomed to fail. The Guardian states he will need to think of a way to make the Jon/Mon situation work.

But The Guardian isn't the only one watching Mon-El.

The Parasite is stalking him hoping to drain him again.

And General Lane rears his ugly head again.

Considering General Lane's major involvement in the New Krypton story arc, I figured he would be the main villain in this title. But the Parasite is obviously active.

And Mon-El and The Guardian aren't the only heroes in town.

Black Lightning takes out The Untouchables. He realizes that Superman's absence will bring more super-villains into Metropolis looking for an easy score. He figures he'd better stick around.

And The Parasite and General Lane aren't the only villains. Turns out The Prankster is getting ready to make a move. So two more major players.

Oh, and let's not forget Steel and Atlas. Seems they have been introduced by Bibbo and have become fast friends, although I get the feeling that Atlas isn't being genuine here.

So that makes the tally 4 heroes (Mon, Guardian, Black Lightning, and Steel) and 4 villains (Parasite, General Lane, Prankster, and Atlas).

But even after we hear how Steel is having some feelings of inadequacy, how he feels Metropolis is still Luthor's town, we skip to a couple of other players.

Seems Jimmy has not forgotten the Atlas fight or the satellite based weapons used on Supergirl and Krypto. Since Kara was so effected, he wonders if the energy might have been magical. He turns to Metropolis' resident magic expert Zatara, talking to him in an empty theater.

Zatara seems like a narcissistic publicity hound but decides to help and confirms that the two rays were actually two different types of magical energies. While the magic reveal is interesting, I was more interested in seeing how much Jimmy has grown in the comic. This is old fashioned investigative journalism.

Somehow, the Parasite is also in the theater and wonders if magical energy might also be the answer to his problems.
Finally we meet the last new members of the cast. The Guardian introduces us to his elite Science Police squad which includes Jon Kent and Jamie Harper. They have been formed to break into Project 7734 and free Tellus.

That makes the tally 5 heroes (Mon-El, Guardian, Black Lightning, Steel, Zatara), 4 villains, 4 SciPo officers, and one cub reporter.

Just as I was digesting all the characters and plots shown in the issue, it ends on a nice cliffhanger with Mon-El's powers quitting on him in the middle of a flight through town.

While the individual scenes all are well written, this issue worries me a little. As I said before, this seemed to be another set-up issue. At least all the players are in place to now have their stories told. Let's get to the stories!!

But I also worry about the size of the cast. It just feels too big to me. Can Robinson devote enough time to all these characters and effectively move their plots along in only 22 pages? In this issue we basically got 2-3 page snippets for each one. Maybe I am worrying too much. I suppose that some of these stories might be wrapped up in one issue.

One thing I do know, this is a very different style book than Action Comics. I think that is a good thing. I like diversity in the super-titles.

Overall grade: B


Heath Edwards said...

good look at the coming storylines, anj... i think some will be paying off long term. but we've got a superman (family?) crossover coming in august, and i'm sure we've now got some set up for that...

Nikki said...

Remember in the last cosmic adventures Kara's powers quit because of her past self appearing? Maybe thats why Mon-El#s powers are fading, his future self is back to stop him from messing with the timeline. It was he who dropped off the cure? left and is now back.

TalOs said...

I like that theory Nikki. ;)

Personally try as I might I just can't get in to Robinson's run on Superman as well as Superman: World of New Krypton for for some reason they both make me feel unease come the way he handles the Super-family. (Especially his portrayal of Supergirl) :/

Anj said...

Maybe thats why Mon-El#s powers are fading, his future self is back to stop him from messing with the timeline. It was he who dropped off the cure? left and is now back.Thanks for the post.

Very interesting theory. I like it.