Saturday, January 28, 2012

Review: Superman #5

Superman #5 came out this week, the penultimate chapter in George Perez' brief run on the title.

I always worry about the second to last chapter of arcs. The story has to be brought to a point where an appropriate and satisfying conclusion has to happen in the next issue, in a short 20 pages. I usually hope that any major reveals have been revealed (even if it is a last page splash) so that the finale is all about conclusion. If there is a big reveal and the finale in the last issue, I usually think that things are rushed, that neither the reveal or the conclusion is given enough time to breathe.

And my guess is that there isn't going to be enough space next issue to satisfactorily wrap things up. We still don't have all the answers, we still have to have a 'final battle', and we know that Supergirl is going to guest star adding another element that needs to be covered. Heck, this is the second meeting of the two cousins ... that alone should be given several pages to cover their emotions.

Anyways, I do want to commend Perez for continuing his pattern of dense story telling here. There is a lot of stuff happening in this issue, in all of his issues. And while not everything needs to be answered in this arc, the major plot points need to come to fruition. I guess we'll see.

Art is again done by Nicola Scott and she does a great job channeling Perez here with inset panels and big action. Her art is solid. I can't wait to see her on Earth 2.

Last issue we learned the alien avatars of fire,ice, and invisibility were created by Superman at some point (although he doesn't seem to remember making them). And in the opening pages of this issue, they seem to be attacking him.

A cyclone of fire and ice is focused on Clark's old apartment building with Superman floating at the top.

From a characterization point of view, it is a good scene to see the PGN staff mobilize for the story. Jimmy and Miko remain on the ground, rushing into the dangerous scene for up close reporting. Ron Troupe is also there, but farther back taking in the big picture. And Superman gadfly Billi McCoy is in the news chopper to get the bird's eye view. Perhaps best of all is Lois managing things from the Planet building, both eager to get the story but worried about her staff.

Superman somehow absorbs the cyclone into himself. Then speaks the language the aliens have been speaking and claims himself as the savior of the city.

It appears that he somehow absorbed the alien presence from their human hosts. He drops them off for medical care and then takes off.

One thing I like about this scene (although I haven't shown it) is that when Superman makes the cyclone disappear the people on the street are cheering him. This is in contrast to McCoy who continues to wonder if Superman is part or the source of the problem. Not everybody distrusts Superman.

But then Superman goes on a mini-rampage, scouring the city of potential threats.

With little regard for possible human casualties, he vaporizes the Fleisher giant robots, freezes the Sky Raiders gang members to death, and immolates Titano and 'other mutations'. Superman kills.

For a while I have wondered if these entities represent a New DCU Eradicator. There is too much use of words like 'purge' and erasing 'contagions' for me to change my opinion.

The city appropriately responds negatively. Some, like the mayor, plead with him to fall back into line. Other like McCoy go on the attack wondering who can stand up to him.

But acting as judge, jury, and executioner ... sounds like the Eradicator.

And, of course, who is the person who wants to step up to the fight? Why General Lane and a new K-Squadron.

So again, the military wants to attack Superman, an all to common theme these last several years in comics and a mere month since they actually did attack him in Action Comics #4.

But seriously, when has any K-Squad been able to do much against the man of steel.

Unfortunately, it seems as though this prickly Superman doesn't like dissenting opinions either. McCoy is flooding the airwaves with anti-Superman sentiment. And Superman doesn't like it feeling it interferes with his mission to keep everyone safe. And so, he bursts into the Planet and drops McCoy from the top floor.

Meanwhile, and interestingly, Lois is frantically calling Clark. At first I thought she was simply calling out to Clark knowing he was Superman, hoping to break Superman out of his vengeful state by calling him Clark. (I think this Lois knows Clark is Superman but is playing along.)

But then she says she wants him to pick up the phone. So maybe I'm wrong.

I still think she knows there is a connection between Clark and Superman.

And while he doesn't answer his phone, her call does awaken THE REAL SUPERMAN who is charred and floating in space. So this killing Superman is some simulacrum comprised of the alien presences. But it also means that they walloped Superman enough that he has been unconscious long enough for them to run amok. How long does it seem this Superman was active ... days? Incredible.

But more impressive is that Lois' voice awakens him! I keep hoping that a Clark/Lois relationship will happen. Of course, the fans in 1938 had to wait 50 years! So maybe I won't see it!

Anyways, while this issue showed what an out of control Superman might do, we have seen this before. Maybe too many times. And I wouldn't mind this issue that much if there were 2 more issues to wrap this up. But in 20 pages we need an explanation of what these alien things are, a Superman/Supergirl fight, a Superman/FakeSuperman fight, some public response to this guy not being the real Superman, and some denouement of all the 'where was Clark, what is wrong with him' angst we have been wallowing in. I don't know if that is enough time or space. Now the Clark stuff might linger ... but the rest of it needs to happen. And if the origin if these things is explained in 3 panels, I'm not going to be happy. I suppose I shouldn't judge this issue on my perceived problems with the next. But I can't help it.

Overall grade: B


Dave Mullen said...

All of this is a problem of writing very specifically for the Trade collection. I didn't get the same degree of the problem from 'Superman' here but rather over in Justice League where I have no idea how they are going to wrap everything up with just one more issue to go.... of course that's been a poor book so far in my view so a poor resolution is only to be expected.

Superman has been pretty good, last issue is where it all started to come together for me and and I have faith there will be a decent enough conclusion next issue, I just wish they would lose the Public distrust angle, it's way too overdone and too strong. If the public aren't getting behind Superman he becomes just-another-hero who's out there, and this is damaging to the character as he most definitly isn't just another hero.

Anj said...

I'm with you.

There has to be a straightforward hero in the DCU. Superman has to be the inspiration and role model.

If he is distrusted, then no one can be trusted, and the idea of heroes goes out the window.