Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: Superman #3

Superman #3 came out this week and continued a sort of up and down ride on this title. Plotters/storytellers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are joined by Jorge Jimenez (the eventual artist on Super-Sons) to spin a new origin for the Eradicator and move the main plot around Jon forward.

I have to be honest. It has been quite some time since an Eradicator existed in the DCU. So it is hard for me to quite remember exactly where the character was in the pre-New 52 world. Wasn't he a sort of anti-hero in the Outsiders at the end? I don't think he was a out and out villain. I ask the question only because I am trying to reconcile Superman's immediate response here.

I am also trying to wrap my head around the Eradicator's new power set. There is something off about it. Does it fit the character? Does it make sense? Did we have to see the last scene in this book? Did we have to see another pet get injured?

I suppose I should be happy that, for the most part, Superman has acted like a Superman I can root for in this Rebirth world. And Jorge Jimenez art has always been delicious. So visually the book is striking.

But after last issue's step forward post Goldie, this issue felt like another step back.

The issue starts with Superman bringing Lois and Jon to the Arctic Fortress of Solitude. He needs the Kryptonian technology there to evaluate Jon and his on-again/off-again powers. We saw this Superman's 'mountain fortress' in the Lois and Clark mini-series. But the tech isn't there. So now this Superman will use the dead Superman's fortress. Lois comments on how odd it is and I agree. I hope we hear this Superman discuss what it feels like to walk in the footsteps of his younger doppelganger. There is some story there.

As we saw last issue, the Eradicator has recreated himself. When they enter the Fortress, Superman sees the Eradicator and immediately attacks. This is where I have to question where the last relationship ended. Yes, back in Reign of the Supermen, the Eradicator was a pretty bad guy. But hadn't he sort of reformed? Was this response by Superman appropriate?

In any case, the Eradicator espouses the same ideas as the old one. He is present to preserve the Kryptonian culture. His dialogue is perfect. He is thrilled to see a strong, vital, passionate Kryptonian.

Plus, look at these panels by Jimenez. Great energy here.

 Of course, a vulnerable Lois and Jon are in the place while the two Kryptonians tear the place apart. When a chunk of the wall threatens to crush Lois and Jon, it is the Eradicator who saves them. Again, I have to question Superman here. Wouldn't he know that something like this could happen? Maybe he should've grabbed Lois and Jon and put them outside the Fortress for safety before initiating the slugfest?

Instead, it is the Eradicator who does the rescuing. So maybe he isn't all bad? This action leads to a sort of uneasy truce. Clark goes to work examining Jon while the Eradicator looks on.

I do like this design for the character, so evocative of the earliest incarnation.

 We then get a bit of an info-dump by the Eradicator who tells his origin.

One important little piece to the origin is that the Eradicator has linked with 'personal objects' of the Fortress to get an understanding of Superman. He is proud to wear the S-shield.

What objects? Are we talking just about the glasses and Planet ID badge? Or did he absorb some of the other technology present?

 And then the weird new power set.

The Eradicator was a sort of Terminator style robot working for General Zod. It would go out to gather up people who were felt to be insurgents. It would drain their life forces and store them in a Phantom Zone projector. He would then put the bodies in suspended animation until trial.

So that seems off. Is it just the life force that gets sent to the Zone? Why do this step when you can cryo-freeze the body? What is a 'life force'? A soul? Was there a bigger plot here? Did Zod want to use this energy for something else?

When Krypton exploded, the Eradicator somehow survived. Seeing Kal's rocket, he followed it to Earth, stopping on random planets and draining people there.

I am just having a hard time wrapping my head around this. I suppose I will need to see how this is going to play out. But I was scratching my head a bit here.

 To the Eradicator, the reason Jon's powers aren't working is because he is impure. The human side of Jon needs to be erased ... ingested.

Again, we see the Eradicator's try to absorb, hitting Jon in an attempt to remove the Earth side of his genome. And Krypton isn't having any of it.

I can understand, given the character, why the Eradicator might look at Jon as something of an abomination. But how can he ingest half a genetic composition?

But admit it, isn't that Krypto cute?

Yes, he is cute. And in an attempt to save Jon, Krypto jumps into the ingestion beam and gets 'eaten', assimilated, absorbed by the Eradicator.

That's three issues and two dead pets.

Now maybe he will vomit up Krypto next issue. Maybe he is like Cell in Dragon Ball Z, absorbing people but able to regurgitate them back up whole. I can only hope. Because if we don't see Krypto again, I have to question the plot here. How much animal cruelty and emotional trauma do we need Jon to see? Isn't he supposed to be the pure, bright super-son in comparison to Damian?

I know. I shouldn't jump to conclusions. Maybe I will grow to like this Eradicator like I did the last. Maybe he just needs to be educated a bit. But after the Goldie incident, this seems like too much too soon.

All that said, Jorge Jimenez' art is fantastic. There is some panache here, a stylized approach that draws me into the story instead of distracting me. I am glad he will eventually be on a monthly.

Overall grade: B-


Martin Gray said...

I think the reason Superman is super-wary us that this is likely a different Eradicator. And he survived Krypton because he was off-world at the time doing Zod's shopping or something.

Blimey. Whatever will happen in the next edition of Dead Pet Comics?

Uncle Screensaver said...

In the solicits for October, it mentions Krypto, so hopefully it means he's back, or it's New 52 Krypto, as others have pointed out, the Krypto in #3 looked nothing like the wolf-like version. In any case, I wonder if the animal deaths are commentary on the Silver Age Superman Family, or if the creators need some therapy.

Mr. Gray, your title for this comic is brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Even if this is a new Eradicator and Superman knows this, his response was extreme. The pre-52 Eradicator did become a good guy who worked with the Outsiders. Not only that, but during the Reign of Doomsday arc he took over the original Doomsday to help fight the others, and then sacrificed himself to protect Superman and the world. He was an out and out hero.

Anonymous said...

This was not the Eradicator from the older Superman's would (who was pretty bland and boring) it just somewhat took it's form. For one thing, the Rebirth version clearly showed that it had a much different background than the one from New Earth, who is much more interesting.