Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Review: Superman #43

Superman #43 came out last week, the penultimate issue of the fantastic run that creators Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have blessed us with over the last couple of years. Yes, this wasn't perfect. But when compared to the odd early days of the New 52, the odious Lobdell years, the depowered Yang years, this has been (with Dan Jurgens' Action) a big upgrade. This was an enjoyable, modern but classic take on the Man of Steel. And goodness knows, I needed it.

As I have said elsewhere, Brian Michael Bendis has big shoes to fill. Unlike prior reboots made necessary by the lackluster stories which preceded them, Bendis is coming on board when most Superman fans (and Supergirl fans and Super Sons fans) are not only happy ... but buying the books.

Tomasi and Gleason are sending us off on a high point. The Bizarroverse arc has been a hoot. I love how Superman can inspire the most backwards of beings. And somehow Tomasi and Gleason have figured out a version of Bizarro speak that I can decipher without getting a headache. Plus, I get the sense we got a sneak peek at where the Sons will end up.

And Gleason nails it on art here.

Nothing gold can stay.

 We pick up at a point early in last issue with Jon flying away from Kathy. You might recall that Lois and Clark knew everything Jon had been doing. Well it turns out that they had Nobody, the girl with the invisible tech, tailing him and giving them the info. It is a little creepy. Clark and Lois are supposed to be trusting. Sending an unseen stalker? Seems off.

Meanwhile Kathy has labeled herself Beacon and now sports a very super-heroic look. She and Nobody seem like frenemies, especially concerning Jon. And, I have said it before, Nobody looks like an Eva from Neon Genesis: Evangelion. Love it.

I wonder if this whole thing was a backdoor introduction to a new Young Justice comic. Jon, Damian, Nobody, Beacon, and .... hmmm ....

 Back at Metropolis, while Jon is in his bedroom, Clark and Lois have a talk about their relationship and why it is so successful. Clark is amazed that Lois can be both mother and incredible journalist.

Some of this sounds a little clunky or corny. "Moms deserve awards"??

Both Lois and Clark are pulling triple duty as parent, worker, and superhero (Lois is thrown into the action too much to not include her). It is loving parents that matter.

Still, it is this loving relationship and family that has been the foundation of this title. It is what I have loved most. And now we see in solicits that Lois might be gone?? Painful.

 That loving and respectful family dynamic is the exact opposite of the Bizarro family.

Upstairs in Jon's room, Bizzaroboy uses his flame breath to warp Jon's action figures so Superman and Superboy toys resemble Bizarros. In a sad moment, we see that the Bizarro relationship is marred by physical violence.

Whoa. That adds a heavy tone to the otherwise silly proceedings.

When Clark goes to investigate the noises, Bizarroboy thinks Jon is going to be punished and grabs him and takes off. The resulting bizarre flight endangers a medflight in progress. Bizarroboy can only look on while Superman and Superboy team up to save the copter and all those within.

I love this panel where Bizarroboy's eyes are opened to Superman's goodness. He has to acknowledge he is different from our heroes.

What I like is the lack of background here. This is a big moment for Bizarroboy. He probably only 'sees' Superman, a giant figure in his mind. We should be concentrating on this moment, not the buildings in the background. We should just be seeing Superman too.

Nice art choice.

 Back in Hamilton, Robzarro, the Bizarro Damian, arrives to bring Bizarroboy home. The opposite of Damian, he is a dashing, debonair, charming guy, swooping the girls up in his arm and backwards speaking.

Clark, Jon, and Bizarroboy arrive to have Beacon bring them back to Bizarroworld. I love the reverse Super Sons aesthetic here. In The BizarroBoys, it is Robzarro who is affectionate and hugging. And it is Superboy who stands stiff and grunts.

Beacon opens up the door and brings the group back to the cube world.

 There, Bizarro angrily confronts his son for leaving. It quickly becomes violent.

But now that he has seen Superman and Jon, BizarroBoy has the strength to stand up to his father.

That first panel is small. But that is the crux of this story for me. The Kent family of Earth have somehow got through to this boy that he doesn't need to be silent.

Again, it is somehow heavy in the context of a scene where the sound effect is 'plant' when Bizarro uproots a tree, a tree where cats bark as they fall out of a tree, where things which land heavily have a sound effect of 'landsoft'.

I suppose that is what makes this Bizarro World, real emotional pain in the midst of reverse shenanigans.

 In the end, Superman isn't going to take any of Bizarro's nonsense. In a beautiful splash page, he clocks his imperfect duplicate with an uppercut, literally sending him to Bizarroworld's moon (should that be a cube?).

The Honeymooner reference goes back to the Lois and Clark talking about watching old reruns again.

Once more though, we see Superman being a beacon of hope and understanding for BizarroBoy. Superman tells him to go check on BizarroLois. BizarroBoy says she is strong enough on her own.

That might have been a nice place to wrap up the story. But there is more.

There is a Legion of Fun planning to warp the BizarroWorld even more, perhaps making it round? That sounds like a super-evil plot for this place. Perfect for the warped villains sitting around a ball pit.

I'll sigh again.

It is a shame this is all ending. I wish DC could have figured out a way to both appease Bendis and leave the successful super-books they are producing alone. I know Bendis says he is building on this continuity but it is my nature to worry. Suddenly four books which I enjoy are either missing or radically changed.

So let's enjoy this while we can!

Overall grade: A

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

I love your glass half-full attitude in the fact of possibly awful changes! Meanwhile, this is indeed a great story, I can't wait to see what the Legion of Fun get up to!

Great point on the scene with no background, it makes me think of the Saturday Evening Post covers I've seen.