Friday, August 4, 2017

Review: Superman #28

Superman #28 was the second chapter in Clark and Lois's walk through American history, teaching Jon about the sacrifice of the military in defending this country's freedoms. It also slips in some simple lessons about living in a society and how to impart change. Writers Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason pick up where they left off last issue although maybe a little more heavy handed than they were last issue. There is a lot of history exposition here to bring the point home for Jon. While some exposition is needed, there are whole pages of near text book style discussions of events. I think dialing things back a bit would have made the issue roll a bit more smoothly.

There also is a rather gruesome ending, a moment that was meant to be heartwarming but seems like it is more of a horror movie shock. That ending sort of soured some of the pride that was building in this story.

The art is again by Scott Godlewski who brings a nice feel to the story. The scenes at real national monuments feel real and sharp.

On to the book.

 The road trip would be a bit too much driving and so twice in this issue we see Superman flying the family to their destinations. This feels a little off. Wouldn't people see this RV in the air? Later at Gettysburg, Superman is flying Lois and Jon around. This seems like a bit too loosey-goosey with the whole secret identity bit. But that is a quibble.

I do like Lois wanting to be General Leia. That makes sense.

In Washington D.C., the family walks around taking in the monuments. Outside, Jon sees two groups of people confronting each other apparently about climate change. This isn't a formal discussion. We see the protesters yelling.

Lois says that the right to disagree, the freedom of speech is crucial to our freedom. And protesting in the nation's capital might get more attention. Of course in this country right now, both sides are so entrenched on 'being correct' that there can't be any discourse and compromise. Neither side wants disagreement.

Clark reminds Jon that words matter but deeds matter too. I agree.

 We then get a lot of exposition. We have word for word reprints of parts of the WWII monument. And we hear a lot about the Korean War.

Then we head to the Vietnam War memorial where we learn that Lois' uncle died in action trying to save people. Kurt Lane inspired Sam Lane to join the military.

I am all about honoring the men and women who defend our country and fight for my rights. I believe in respecting these soldiers. But this felt just a bit too text-y and less like a story. I understand that this issue is about teaching Jon and to do that you need to teach. But the dialogue felt a bit too stilted.

 The next stop is Gettysburg to learn about the civil war and that battle.

Jon hears about the strategy about the land, the Union's stand against Confederate troops. Jon looks around the field and 'sees' those fallen men.

And Jon learns how reverence, in this place being quiet, is a show of respect. That is a simple level in civics.

 While walking around, the Kents run into the Down family.

Each year, this family gathers to honor their ancestor Thomas Dowd. A young 22 year old, Thomas saw he needed to fight for his country and his beliefs and enlisted.

He left behind his wife and young child. But deeds were important.

 In this battle, Thomas was shot in the shoulder. He was stabbed in the leg, forcing an amputation.

And then fate was cruel. Despite surviving these wounds, the environment took Thomas. His tent flooded and he was swept away and drowned. His body was never found.

Knowing this sacrifice, the family meets at Gettysburg to celebrate Thomas' birthday and his life defending the nation.

Dowd is a hero.

But then we get this weird ending.

Superman decides he will give this family some closure. He trawls the creek, finds the body of Dowd (proven by DNA), wraps the bones in an American flag, and leaves it on the Dowd front porch.

How horrifying!

Imagine walking outside and seeing the moldering bones of your ancestor on the picnic table! Chilling. There are other ways that Superman could have given this family closure. I can't get passed this. This was just an off note to end this story on.

Still, the sentiment of history and civics being shared in a comic is retro and appreciated by this old-timer. Remove this weird skeleton finale and I would be singing this story's praise.

Overall grade: B


Anonymous said...

Well the people at Superman Homepage gave a little more praise than you did to this comic.

On their scoring system of out of 5

Story – 5
Art- 4
Cover Art - 5

And variant cover art-- 5

So based on those four items the rating would be a 4.75 average

Adam Dechanel wrote...

Tomasi & Gleason have crafted a touching, emotional story that reaches into the heart of Americana and puts Jon in touch with his roots, while exploring Lois & Clark’s own roots in American history. I still enjoyed the Hamilton Fair issue over this one but this story would thaw even the coldest of hearts.

I found this a breath of fresh air and much needed break from the super-heroism, but like last issue I hope Clark gets back into action next issue.


Thematic covers, I feel, can only work for characters that have been around a long time and are recognized for their actions. The looks on the faces in the crowd speaks volumes.

And Anj, quoting something from you

Still, the sentiment of history and civics being shared in a comic is retro and appreciated by this old-timer.

At 43 I might as well be an old timer myself, but as someone who appreciates Americana and Western Civics, I FIRMLY believe that civics must be taught again in our school.

I think I might get these books.

Anonymous said...

Should've used quote marks in quoting. My bad!

Anonymous said...

This could be a nice thing if DC did some collaboration with schools to get more kids interested in history - an edu-side-brand of DC.

Buuuuut... putting this textbook history in a Superhero magazine that I am subscribing to because I like Superhero stories makes me just as happy as if I were to tune into the CW one week and got 40 minutes of Masterchef with Supergirl.

Cooking is important, everyone should know how to do it, but I don't want it in my fave Superhero show.


Professor Feetlebaum said...

That WAS a weird ending.

Remindful of Superman 414 (post crisis) when Superman took Supergirl's body to Rokyn, wrapped in a cape, and "gave" it to her parents. At least there he didn't ring the doorbell and run.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't a fan of the last issue myself but this issue was worst. I found the American history to be romanticised and one sided along with not addressing the historical failures and bad things America has done. Not that America's soldiers don't deserve praise and respect for everything they've sacrificed but the talk of their sacrifice doesn't work without acknowledging the collateral damage America has caused. Still, that wouldn't really work in a Superman comic. And like Anj said, that ending where Superman leaves the Dowd ancestor skeleton on the frontyard was weird not to mention that it exposes Superman's identity wide open to anyone with a lick of common sense. Definitely the weakest Superman story of Rebirth so far. At least the Sinestro and Apokolips stories look promising.


Supertorresmo said...

I'm hating this stories, they are basically a wikipedia page on American History. I wouldn't mind if I was not paying 2.99 to read it, but as it is feels like just a waste of my money!

TransformerMan said...

Well.. the cover art was nice. Particularly the variant cover. The interior art is decent, if not particularly exciting.

But the writing.. jeeez.

Even disregarding the crazy ending, or the fact that the dense fact bubbles are really boring to read when you know it's just that - random military facts. For the first half of the comic they're not even trying to tell a story.

I find the characterization totally unbelievable. If they had been walking there with Major Lane, and he'd been going on about old war facts, it would have made sense, but the words coming out of Clark's mouth would seem out of character from just a regular 35 year old journalist who's traveled the world. He sounds like a 70 year old army buff, this is not the world view of someone who has seen what Kal-El has seen.

And Jon (is he 6 or 12? it seems to change between issues).. his "I can feel their fear of dying in the air.. their courage under fire.." is just cringe worthy! These are not the words of a small boy!

The second part is at least less wooden, but it's manipulative and ends in the same fetishizing of the "military sacrifice".

The whole thing feels like some kind of commercial. Which I guess it is.


Anj said...

I agree that this issue was a bit too text heavy.

But i will again say that I think th sentiment was spot on. This was honoring those who made this country what it is and those who sacrificed their lives defending it.

I wonder if this was a two issue historical review of non-military and more social activism if it would get this much hate.

Martin Gray said...

First Anonymous, I do hope you tell the Superman Home Page what Anj thought of this this issue.

Nice review. I agree, not as good as last issue, far too much tell when comics need show. And that ending. Blimey.