Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Review: Superman #6

Superman #6 came out this last week, ending the first arc of this book, setting the stage of the pre-Flashpoint Superman taking up the mantle of the New 52 Man of Steel while introducing us to the super-family of Lois and Jon.

I have had a few quibbles with parts of this book, especially the flash fry of the family pet Goldie, but here is one thing I know. Creators Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason completely stick the landing. If you were hoping that the Superman books post-Rebirth would return the Man of Tomorrow to his optimistic and idealistic roots, you are in for a treat. Because the second half of this book really immerses the reader in some of the classic imagery and dialogue of the character. Was it laid on a little thick? Maybe. But after years of wondering where 'my' Superman was on the shelves, I didn't mind wallowing in this classic pastiche.

Now there is a plot to wrap up. We have the ending fight with the Eradicator. But that whole thing seemed to be an easy plot to set up all the wonderful things said about Superman, who he is and what he represents. I don't think we've seen the last of the Eradicator. But I still don't quite get what it is either.

Lois and Jon continue to be important and integral to the book. They are co-stars not supporting cast. And they get, perhaps, the best moment in the book.

As for the art, I am slowly getting used to Gleason's look here. Some panels truly shine. And the action sequences are laid out on the page in dynamic fashion. This was a very slick issue to look at.

On to the book.

Last issue ended with Superman, empowered by the souls of Krypton, breaking free from the Eradicator.

The Eradicator continues to say that Jon is an abomination to the purity of Kryptonian culture and must be destroyed.

And so a battle ensues.

I was particularly impressed with this page layout as the two battle their way down into the moon's crust. With the ditch splitting the page and your eyes going from left to right and back again, it adds a lot of energy to the page. You feel them careening and bouncing off the walls. And the different viewpoints and zooms of the smaller panels really gives this a frenetic feel.

Despite losing most of his power source, the Eradicator still is able to put up a fight because there is one live being within him ... Krypto.

But Superman isn't about to let his pet dog be marooned within this construct. He calls his pooch to the surface and then rips him free.

As a big fan of Krypto, and less a fan of pet deaths in comics, I was glad that Tomasi and Gleason did this. Rebirth is about rekindling the joy of the DCU. What can express that better than a flying dog wearing a cape!

Without this living energy, the Eradicator begins to weaken. But not without still claiming that the legacy of the El family is tainted. But Superman states it clear. The future of Krypton belongs to Jon.

Again, this is a nice panel layout with the two panels forming one complete face. But that face is split between the Eradicator and Superman. These are two very different visages of what Krypton is.

As I said earlier, slick!

The fight is loud and furious and destructive of the moon's surface. But in the end, the Eradicator simply powers down. We end with a sort of whimper rather than a bang.

I thought this was a nice touch to end the fight. Superman says to the departing souls of Krypton that they are free. The Eradicator thinks they might be against Jon's existence. But they show who they are loyal to by forming the S-shield. Nice imagery there.

The rest of the issue is dedicated to this Superman taking up the mantle and legendary status of Superman on this new Earth. And Tomasi and Gleason really lay it on thick.

We see Superman standing before the American flag on the moon, his picture broadcast to Earth by NASA cameras still online there.

I mean, that is Superman. Hands on hips. Defender of truth, justice, and the American Way.


We also see him accept the key to the city of Metropolis and shake the mayor's hand. Also fantastic.

But I loved this little side scene with Lois and Jon as they watch Clark and the mayor on television. Jon teases his mother for her time in the Bat battle-suit on the moon, even making a silly face at her. And she then pounces on him, tickling her little boy.

It is this wonderful super-family atmosphere which is a draw for me to the book. I mean, how wonderful is this scene. It is probably my favorite scene in the book!

But we get more.

Clark gives Jon a pair of glasses for him now to wear. It is a sign that he is growing up. It's time to start the preparation of super-heroics.

I love Jon's youthful bravado, saying he isn't scared.

But Clark knows that it is okay to be scared. That is part of the job.

And then the two take a trip.

They head up to the Justice League headquarters. If Superman is going to be an active hero on this Earth, he needs to be part of this group. They need to know him, trust him, recognize that he can be just like the Superman they have lost.

And then Tomasi and Gleason hit us with a very classic Superman line.

He tells the League that he is here to help.

That just happened.

Suddenly we are back to the classic days of an optimistic Superman who is eager to be the hero. Nice homage to Christopher Reeve too!

And then he introduces Jon to the League. He is officially Superboy.

Diana smiles. Bruce scowls. No surprises there.

So overall this was a really wonderful issue. It wrapped up the Eradicator arc. It showed how Superman has embraced Earth as his home. It gave Lois and Jon important roles. And then it ends on this wonderful coda of Superman iconic images and phrases. Oh, and Lois tickling her little boy!

I think this represented what #Rebirth is meant to be. Things are fresh and new and modern. But the classic natures of these heroes, the legends they are built on, are back. And that makes me happy.

With this re-introduction behind us, I look forward to whatever the team is going to give us next.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

I agree. It was a great issue.

Batman looked annoyed at his Moonbase's destruction. Apparently Mr. "Preparation Time" didn't prepare for the possibility of Superman and one of his enemies duking it out in his base. Heh.

Anyway... Krypto returning... Superman pummelling the Eradicator... the souls of the departed saying goodbye to the heirs of Krypton... Krypto sitting ON the Eradicator... Superman and Krypto flying together... Clark giving his son glasses (and Jon looking completely confused and adorable)... Jonathan taking up the Superboy mantle... All of it was great.

Although I guess Conner/Kon fans will be upset...

Talking about Krypto again, it was great to see him. And this is because I'll never agree with the "Superman MUST be the only survivor of Krypton" phylosophy. I can understand why some people are against too many Kryptonian survivors, but erasing Supergirl and Krypto from existence because Beppo the Supermonkey was silly and because Superman can't be the Last Son of Krypton if the Kandorians are around is a good example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I'm looking forward to the next arc, Jon meeting other members of his family (namely a certain second cousin. I wish Pa and Ma were still alive to be introduced to their grandson. I bet they would be proud) AND the Bat-family. Will Jon and Damian will manage to get along?

Anonymous said...

At one point, Superman says he has never been alone. I can't help but to remember the opening monologue of "Superman/Batman #8", in which this same version of Superman says he feels alone.

It's easy to attribute this inconsistence to Tomasi not reading or not caring for that story. But what if Superman had really felt alone until Kara showed up... and he felt all the pieces started to fit at last? What if she helped him realize that he never was alone because many people -his parents, his friends, his comrades, his life's love and now his cousin- were always there for him even if he did not know or notice?

It's only a fan theory, but I think it sounds nice (and I'm tempted to declare it my personal headcanon)

Anyway DC tends to flip-flop on Superman's feelings of loneliness and isolation. Jack Kirby's Superman felt very lonely and was obsessed with finding Supertown. I didn't get that when I read it: back in 1971 he had found his cousin, several blood relatives and rescued Kandor. So why did he feel alone?