Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Review: Superman #695

While we know from the cover of War of the Supermen #0 that Mon-El will be an active character in the DCU for at least another year, Superman #695 gave some clues as to what his ultimate destiny might be. (Of course we know regardless of his thoughts, that he has a thousand year tenure in the Phantom Zone coming up at some point.)

One thing about this title that I think has plagued it has been James Robinson’s ‘tread water’ pacing of the absolute multitude of subplots that he has going on in this book. Some of these plots are dropped and not seen for several months.

At least Superman #695 showed some progress on many of these plot threads while adding a new wrinkle.

Last issue ended with Bizarro and the Parasite descending onto a suddenly powerless Mon-El. With the Science Police too far away to provide any immediate support, Mon-El has to rely on some basic martial arts that the Guardian taught him just to survive.

He adeptly tosses Bizarro into the Parasite. Somehow that contact adversely effects both villains’ powers.

It is an interesting little piece of this issue. I mean … what would it mean to absorb imperfect duplicate powers?

Whatever has happened, it lets the Science Police recapture the Parasite. When captured, the Parasite begs to not be returned to General Lane. What could Lane have done to this super villain to make him that afraid? It makes Lane that much more sinister.

Mon-El's powers returned while Bizarro’s powers have become a muddled because of his contacts with the Parasite. Suffice it to say, Mon-El is able to outmuscle Bizarro, pounding him relentlessly with fists and heat vision.

The beating is so severe that Bizarro flies off, apparently to his home world. But he vows to return ... this time with Bizarro Mon-El.

A Bizarro Mon-El? Now that is an interesting new wrinkle!

Could a Bizarro Mon-El somehow be used to help him with his power issues ... like some sort of antiserum?

But remember, this is a Mon-El that has just recently returned from his time in Project 7734. The rest of this issue deals with his homecoming and people's response to his homecoming.

First, we see a continuation of his conversation with Conner in Smallville. The favor that he wanted from Conner is to have the Fortress repair the Daxamite’s spaceship.

What would Mon-El want to do in space? Return to his home world of Daxam? Or something else?

That is a new and intriguing subplot.

Another thing that I am glad was handled here was the propaganda around Mon-El's return.

Wouldn't Mon-El be able to topple or at least expose Lane’s Project 7734 now that he returned? Wouldn't he shout the truth from the rooftops? Wouldn't the new hero of Metropolis be able to turn the public sentiment?

Well, as usual, Lane is one step ahead of the game. His public relations team has churned out the perfect story to block any attempt to Mon-El would have to expose the military black ops group. He has the media spread the story that Mon-El was brainwashed into believing the military is conspiring in the background. This is of course the truth but now if Mon-El says it he will be labeled insane or compromised.

As always, Lane remains a great character, the perfect "win at all costs" military genius. At least the Guardian seems to believe what Mon-El is saying. And at least Mon-El does his best to clear the name of the Supergirl, Nightwing, and Flamebird.

But there are more subplots to cover... and they keep on coming.

Mon-El returns to the Science Police headquarters where he is greeted as a hero.

As he walks through a phalanx of the officers, he pauses to tell Projectra (in her Wilcox disguise) that he knows who she is.

How does he know?

How does he even know her? Has this Mon-El ever teamed up with the Legion before? Since I don't know how he can recognize her, it is seen that bothered me somewhat. It may just be that I don't know the characters’ current history well enough right now.

And, we finally see that Jimmy is alive and well! It turns out that he was saved by Tellus.

Moreover, Jimmy has been continuing his investigations. He is able to go places and research things that he would be unable to if Lane knew he was still alive. And Jimmy has an insider from Project 7734 working with him … Natasha Irons. In fact, it was Natasha that gave the Parasite he escape codes that he used with Mon-El to get off of Mirabai’s world.

It was really good to finally see Jimmy again. Like many subplots in this title, it feels like this one was lost in the shuffle. It's been at least several months since the Jimmy Olsen special was released. I also like Mon-El telling Jimmy that Superman would be proud of him. But Jimmy's return is cut a bit short because we need to catch up with other subplots as well.

I don't know much about Natasha Irons other than the fact that her relationship with Steel has at times been strained. He or she realizes that she should have appreciated him more.

Like with Jimmy, it was good to catch up with Steel as well. It has been a while since Atlas took him down. He has remained offscreen since then.

However, in an overly dramatic fashion, Natasha’s bedside chat seems to spur John Henry out of his coma. It is a bit too ‘Lifetime movie of the week’ for me.

And as if that wasn't schmaltzy enough, we get this scene showing some post lovemaking cuddling between Mon-El and Billie.

And some of the dialogue was tough to swallow too. “Once you go Dax, you never go back”??

I suppose it was good to see the couple's relationship grow but this scene seemed off to me.

The moment is all too brief as Mon-El is suddenly call to action. This time he has to face off against Nightwing and Flamebird. Remember, Kryptonians are still not allowed on earth.

There is almost too much going on in this book as a whole. With so many pieces to cover, we have an issue with a slew of brief scenes catching us up with all of the moving parts of this title.

Surprisingly, despite this, the book actually flowed well with no jarring transitions. Moreover, the scenes were for the most part very good and moved their individual plots forward. (Only the ending of the Natasha/Steel and the Mon-El/Billie scene were subpar.)

Bernard Chang does a fine job on art with his unique angular style.

Overall grade: B/B+


Manu Mane said...

Hi, from France ! I've discovered your blog by seraching for the kryptonese alphabet on google ! (I want to write a "Happy New Year" in kryptonese for my own visitors ^^)

I discovered Supergirl in the 80's as a kid, saw the movie in 1984, and recently read the new relaunch by Loeb ! It's nice to find a blog dedicated to her ! I'll come back !

Happy New Year !

Anj said...

I discovered Supergirl in the 80's as a kid, saw the movie in 1984, and recently read the new relaunch by Loeb ! It's nice to find a blog dedicated to her ! I'll come back !

Thanks so much for the kind words!

Glad you found the blog and liked it.

TalOs said...

Hmm the issue was decent but man is Robinson really taking his time to wrapping up 'em sub plots.

Also, that Mon-El/Billie after the "deed being done" scene dialogue was just plain awful.