Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Review: Superman #694

I read Superman #694 after I had read the excellent Superman Secret Origin issue and the intriguing Cry For Justice issue. It would be hard to follow up those issues in terms of quality and mystery but I tried to keep an open mind.

Unfortunately, this issue is a microcosm of my concerns with James Robinson and this title. In some ways it was a fine read. The issue really focused on Mon-El and his reemergence into the DCU after his presumed death. It also focused on his realization that he was not representing Superman well enough. He feels guilty that General Lane was able to orchestrate a smear campaign against Kal-El.

But there are a lot of the subplots in this title that have been dangling for some time. And while it was interesting to see Mon-El struggle with these issues, I would've rather seen these other subplots moved forward.

Or, more importantly, I would love to see how people - superheroes, the media - would have responded to his return to the "living". Remember, it was his death that was such a key propaganda tool against the "Metropolis Three". Doesn't Mon-El's return negate that? Shouldn't he come forward and say that Gen. Lane has lied? Isn't that going to be a better way to defend Superman and root out villainy than wearing a new costume?

I know that these concerns may be answered in the future ... but I sometimes feel impatient with this book.

The issue starts with a Science Police struggling in the battle against Bizarro. I love how Javier Pina draws Bizarro as just an immense monster.

I don't know howBizarro got to Metropolis. And I don't know if it was hinted at that Lane had him in Project 7734. And I don't know if I should be wondering about that or if this is simply Bizarro showing up randomly as he has in the past.

But one thing for sure, the Science Police are outmatched.

Suddenly, Mon-El shows up and joins the battle sporting his new costume.

Of course his former colleagues are shocked to see him. But there isn't much chance for him to tell them what has gone on. Bizarro is keeping him too busy.

We then flashback to Smallville. It seems when Mon-El returned to Earth from Mirabai's dimension, he went to the Kent farm to figure out his next step.

While there he realizes that he should not only have defended Metropolis in SUpwerman's absence but also defend Superman's character as well. Sure, Mon-El has stopped a super villain here and there, but he has also allowed General Lane's twisted version of events to become accepted truth.

Moving back to the battle, we see that Mon-El is having a hard time with Bizarro. In fact, during the battle, Bizarro overturns a car trapping a young girl inside. Before Mon-El can break free from Bizarro's grasp, his friend Mitch runs to the car and rescues the girl by eating his way into the chassis.

That's right... Mitch is Matter Eater Lad! At least it makes Mitch's career as a restauranteur a more whimsical touch.

And so another Legionnaire is revealed to be acting in current time. I think that makes the current count of known Legionnaires 5.

We again flashback to Smallville.

Ma Kent gives Mon-El a pep talk, telling him some of Pa Kent's small-town wisdom. When you strive to do good, when you live up to your ideals, you will always have the final victory.

You can see how Clark became who he was if these are the lessons he was taught in his youth.

One part of this issue that I did really appreciated was Mon-El's discussions with Connor.

I do like how Mon-El reassures Connor that he is the true legacy to the name Superman. That he is not trying to replace Connor.

I do think that it was good to acknowledge that Connor might be thinking this. And I think that it was good that Connor states that he wasn't thinking that at all. It shows that some maturity in the character of Superboy.

When Connor reassures him that he will help Mon-El anyway he can, Mon-El says he does have a favor.

He says he wants to go to the Fortress of Solitude.

Apparently, an idea came to him while he was being tortured by the mad Gorilla City scientist. Any guesses anyone? I have no idea.

And so we come to the evolution of the new costume.

Ma says that she has an idea that can help Mon-El reclaim what the S-shield stands for. She can help him defend who Superman is. And one easy way to become that symbol is to don a new costume which evokes Superman's legacy.

I don't know if I really like the small symbol over the left chest. Why not have it be big like it is on Superman's costume? It almost looks like a name tag.

And don't you think that Mon-El will need to do more then just put on a new costume? Shouldn't he go public and confront General Lane? I know that may come in the next issue but I worry about pacing in this title.

The issue ends with a cliffhanger.

Both Bizarro and Parasite converge on Mon-El. And, wouldn't you know it, his powers have decided to disappear on him.

To be honest, I had completely forgotten the subplot that Mon-El's powers were switching on and off. And the thing is ... I don't think I should forget about things like that. I wonder if it is because there are too many things going on in this title for me to keep track of.

I know this is a repetitive complaint I have when I review Superman. The issue itself was an okay issue with some good back-and-forth transitions from Smallville to Metropolis. And the moment between Mon-El and Connor was a good one. On its own merits, the issue is fine.

The problem is an issue like this seems like wasted space for me when there are so many unanswered questions and prior events that I have been waiting to learn about. Instead of just enjoying this issue for what it is, I end up thinking about this over arcing story as a whole. When will some of the prior subplots be shown again? Or wrap up? I know that isn't fair to the creative team to feel this issue is something of a failure because I am looking for the overall plotline to be advanced. But that is how I feel.

Javier Pina's art seemed a bit different than his usual. His lines seemed a bit thicker. Still, it is a clean style which works well with the Super titles.

Overall grade: C


TalOs said...

And don't you think that Mon-El will need to do more then just put on a new costume? Shouldn't he go public and confront General Lane? I know that may come in the next issue but I worry about pacing in this title.

The above raised is actually what I was thinking through out reading it all too.

Maybe Mon thinks that the people of Earth wont believe him if he were to end up spilling the truth abut Lane. :/

P.S. I can't believe Mitch was really the Legions time displaced Matter Eater Lad! Cool! :D

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