Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Review: Superman #696

Superman #696 was a quick and pleasant read.

Continuing the quick crossover with Nightwing and Flamebird, the issue takes place completely just outside the recently devastated outside Science Police Headquarters. Yes, that means that almost all of the subplots going on in this title were ignored. (I can't remember the last time I saw Mirabai.) But I can't have it both ways. In the past I have complained when issues feel disjointed by 2 page scenes catching up on everything happening in this book.

And, to be honest, by concentrating on the aftermath of the explosion, this was a nice spotlight on Mon-El who really acted like a hero in this issue. I haven't always felt that Mon-El has filled Kal's boots here. In this issue, he really played the role of Superman well.

For one, we open up with a nice dramatic double page spread of Mon-El struggling to hoist the building's debris of his shoulders.

I said above this issue was a quick read. Part of that is the use of large panels and splash pages. It rally gave the book a sort of wide screen disaster movie feel. I thought it worked well here ... big moments with big panels.

As he scans for survivors, Mon-El starts piecing together the explosion. Who could have set off the bomb? After quickly concluding that it couldn't be Thara and Chris, he wonders if it could be Officer Romundi.

I don't think he realizes that this is Car-Vex ... but at least he is on the case.

Mon-El isn't the only one trying to help the wounded. Flamebird is also scouring the wreckage. She helps the Guardian who finally softens his stance. He realizes that Nightwing and Flamebird aren't criminals and shouldn't be handed over to General Lane.

I know her time as a headliner is short but I have really come to like the Thara character.

Despite the Guardian's change of heart, he realizes that no matter what he or Lois says, General Lane controls the media. While the people there might realize that Nightwing and Flamebird did not detonate the bomb, there is no way they will be able to convince the population if General Lane's propaganda machine is clicking on all cylinders.

The Guardian realizes that the two young Kryptonians have to leave and leave fast before the military gets to them.

There is a nice scene between Lois and Chris here where Lois tells him how much she loves him ... as a son. That has to be a kiss of death, no? Chris isn't going to survive this 'Year Without Superman' is he.

Despite being told to fly away, Chris dawdles a bit allowing the Project 7734 troops to arm and fire some Kryptonite RPGs.

In another nice splash page, Mon-El intercepts the artillery and bluntly tells the two to fly away.

One subplot I haven't liked is the on again/off again powers angle with Mon-El. It seems he only loses his powers when it will be dramatic but not lethal. For example, his powers never click off at any time in this action filled issue.

Once again, General Lane and Mon-El butt heads.

One thing I think will need to be hammered out in the DCU is extradition laws and treason laws for interplanetary figures. We have seen this argued in Supergirl about Reactron and now here.

You would think for a planet where alien visitations are common that there would be some legal guidelines.

And here is the winner of the 'panel that made me cringe' award from last week.

Lane reminds Mon-El of their time together which has this memory bubble up into the hero's mind. I don't know about you but reading that the evil Gorilla City scientist was experimenting on Mon-El's reproductive organs made me squirm a bit. I don't know if I needed to read that.

Mon-El is suddenly called away by the Guardian who has found the Science Police leader.

Just a couple of weeks ago in Action Comics, I wondered just how many people were not who they said who they were in the Science Police. Looks like there is one more. Looks like Chameleon Boy is also incognito in the Science Police ... as the leader no less!

Looks like Superman is building some momentum as we cruise into the Legion-filled Last Stand of New Krypton story arc.

Sometimes I have to take a step back from book analysis and instead ask the simple question 'was I entertained'. While I have had my issues with Superman's pace and innumerable plots, the truth is I enjoyed this issue. So lack of subplot progression ... lowish content due to splash pages ... who cares. When I was done with the book, I was entertained.

I think Bernard Chang's scratchy style was perfect for this issue filled with dirt and devastation.

Overall grade: B+/B


Anonymous said...

The Nightwing Flamebird storyline is starting to look like the same issue over and over, isn't this the third time they've been captured by General Lane's crew in the past four months?
If not, then it sure feels that way.
As for Mon El he isn't making much progress either, a bunch of xenophobic Earthers make a monkey out of him on a monthly basis.
I think Superman (and by extension cousin Supergirl) need to reclaims their respective titles and send the B-Team back to the bench to rest up.

John Feer

Anj said...

I think Superman (and by extension cousin Supergirl) need to reclaims their respective titles and send the B-Team back to the bench to rest up.

I completely agree with this. I think the bloom is off the rose a bit here. I also think sales reflect that.

The stories may be formulaic, but Nightwing and Flamebird (or maybe more the character of Thara) has grown on me.

The Superman and Mon-El has been muddled. This issue was a but more fun than priors.

TalOs said...

When all has been said and done I hope both Chris and Thara end up becoming the official protectors of New Krypton itself. (That is if it survives.)