Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Superman #712

Boy, a lot has been said about Superman #712, mostly about what wasn't in it ... the intended 'Grounded' story by Chris Roberson involving Muslim hero Sharif.

First, there was this very good article by Jill 'The Nerdy Bird' Pantozzi where she lays out why she thinks the story was dropped:
Given the recent concerns about Superman's patriotism (Goyer's story in Action Comics #900) and some concern about DC's lack of commitment to diversity, this would have to be a perfect issue not to put Superman into a tempest within a teapot.

Shortly after that Newsarama story, Bleeding Cool broke another story about the issue change here:  Now the book was pulled not because of patriotism or Muslim issues but instead because Superman rescued a kitten a tree, a symbol of Superman that DC didn't like. Could this image be that awful as to scrap the whole issue? After all, there have been some pretty lousy images earlier in Grounded than that.

And then Comics Alliance put out there story about the change: CA wondered if this kitten story was a sham, a snow job to move away from the fact that DC pulled the issue because of the recent kerfuffle with Superman's American leaning. This, of course, after Roberson's last issue being very pro-American doesn't make much sense. Nor does it make sense for DC to do this when they have been under the magnifying glass with the announcement of the reboot and the concerns by some of a lack of diversity.

As for me, I worried about this issue when it was announced. Much like other pieces of Grounded, it is tough to have Superman in a story centered around prejudice. Superman can never win that war and in the end usually comes out looking inept. Also, it sounded from the solicitation that Superman was going to be facing the ire of Americans who don't trust Sharif as a hero. That means once again we would have a story with people hating Superman and Superman feeling hated. And that wouldn't feel right given the turn around in the tone of Grounded these last 3 issues.

I am not saying I am against comic stories centered around the issues of race or sexuality or prejudice of any sort. It is just they need to be very good stories ... or else they come out as cringe-worthy as an after school special. Given what I have seen in Superman, I probably would trust Roberson more than Straczynski to pull this off. I guess we'll never know.

Instead of that story, we have the release of the Busiek/Leonardi Krypto story promised and shelved years ago. I am glad that we got to see this story finally.

With so much talk about this issue, I will be brief with the review of this sweet story.

The story is called 'Lost Boy' and shows us how Krypto is mourning the loss of Superboy. It starts out with a flashback of Conner playing frisbee with Krypto ... ultimately settling on a manhole cover as the sturdiest 'frisbee' he can use with a super-powered dog.

I am pretty blown away with Leonardi's art throughout the book. I mean his flying Krypto looks so natural flitting and darting around the skies.

The thing is the impact of this story has faded a bit. If this was released when Superboy was still dead it would resonate more than now when we have seen the two of them horsing around together again.

Of course, I think Krypto is probably going to be retconned away in 2 months so I am glad this was dusted off.

The remainder of the issue shows Krypto wondering why Superboy isn't around. We see him looking to the sky for Con. And then finally, he decides to follow any scent he can get of Superboy. And at each site we see him reliving memories of him and Superboy.

That brings him into to the Titans Tower in San Francisco.

Back to Smallville and the Kent's barn where she remembers Con and Cassie sharing a quiet moment. That top panel is one of those 'nice flying dog' panels.

And then finally to the Arctic, the site of Alex Luthor's vibrational tuning fork, and the site of Superboy's death at the hands of Superboy Prime.

This is a great scene, Krypto finally realizing why Superboy isn't around and then letting out that funereal howl. We see the howl on several places around the world, a super-howl of mourning.

But this panel with a small Krypto surrounded by the wreckage just feels sad.

And with that realization, Krypto heads to an asteroid to quietly grieve, his favorite toy by his side.

So a sweet story with a somber ending, simple and pure. But we know things change pretty quickly and Conner comes back. I don't know the whole story about why this story was scrapped way back when.

Why did DC scrap the Sharif story? We may never know the reason. But this was certainly my favorite 'Grounded' interlude.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

I think it's too bad DC dropped the original story. I also dislike the simplistic, rosey, and unrealistic Americana given to readers as DC attempted to back away from the renouncing; it was easily one of the worst moments in recent Superman.

I think DC should try and tackle some of the ugliness involved in real America. Superman should combat Islamophobia. If this annoys some hate-filled, misguided conservatives, so be it. So, instead of actually having a story with a muslim hero, DC gives us lighthearted fluff and makes Superman the conservative, white alpha male to please America's least.

taichara said...

I still find myself wondering if a goodly portion of the reason behind the substitution isn't

1) that, indeed, this is all but the eleventh hour to squeak this story out before the reboot comes crashing in


2) there was just now an awesome two-issue story in Power Girl that dealt with Islamophobia

so that

3) DC, in their oft-thoughtless way, decided that #712 could be switched because of the "repeat" of subject without even remotely considering what the all-too-reasonable response would be.

Anonymous said...

I think Supergirl should take a stand on behalf of poor persecuted internet trolls whose lonely martydom on behalf of her hemline are a shining example to Western Civilization.


John Feer

Anonymous said...

I think it's a case of "Final hour antsy-ness'. DC is so close to the reboot, that editorial couldn't even stand the crap JMS, and then Roberson, was churning out. So, they ditched it in favor of an old story that was lying around.

I like Busiek, so I don't mind. Krypto isn't my thing though. Still, much better than the garbage that would have been a given, with the Grounded junk. That last issue of Roberson's run with Superman grinning about how America is the greatest thing in the history of the universe would have made me light the comic on fire, had I actually wasted money on it.

Anonymous said...

I love how Kon El rose from the dead after all of about a thirty minute absence, I doubt anyone had time to order flowers or sign the guest book at the wake.
Kara Zor El was dead and expunged from continuity (along with her fan) for what twenty five years?

Just sayin'

John Feer