Friday, April 20, 2018

Review: Superman #45

I know that Action Comics #1000 came out this week and that is an historic issue that should be first in the review chute.

But before I cover that book and the future of Superman under the reins of Brian Michael Bendis, I feel I had to close the door on the Rebirth/Reborn era of the Superman family. And that means covering Superman #45 by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. And this is an ending. It reads like an ending. And it reads like a metatextual ending as much as a storyline ending.

I said in a recent review, when discussing the ending of this run, that nothing gold can stay. There is some cosmic karma in that Robert Frost run because the team says it here as well. Yes, good things can come of change. Yes, people need to expand their horizons. But it is a shame when something that is still gold is going away.

The Kent family's life is changing. No more Hamilton farm. No more wheat fields. No more country days hanging out with Kathy. It is time to move on.

And this book is changing. No more Tomasi and Gleason leading this family forward. No more stories of father and son, no more mother and son, no more father and mother. This book sold well and was loved. And yet the creative team is being forced out to move on, cleaning up plot threads so 'new owners' can come in to the space.

It has to be both a story and a comment on things.

Thanks again Tomasi and Gleason. I loved this run and I hate to see you go.

On to the book.

In Dune, the Duke says (and I paraphrase) 'when nothing changes, something sleeps inside. We need the sleeper to awaken.'

In Hamilton, Jon is sulking, wondering why things have to change, why he can't continue to live his comfortable life with his friends. In some classic 'new Pa Kent' wisdom, Clark talks about potted plants needing to spread their roots and find new soil. To grow and become stronger.

Okay, the metaphor is a bit on the nose. Even Jon saw it wasn't plant talk. But I like these moments when it was Pa and Clark. I like seeing these second generations lessons. It reminds me of me ... telling the wisdom of my father to my kids.

But we get pretty specific to this book, both the characters and the creators. We are brought back to the tree where Jon accidentally killed the pet cat (remember, he was nudged by Manchester Black). But Jon is reminded how much he has already grown. Things are different even now.

But then we get what I think is some meta text. Clark talks about how life isn't fair. No one owes you anything. It is how you respond to those challenges that defines who you are.

I am sure that Tomasi and Gleason don't think it is fair to be taken off this book. Things change. DC doesn't owe them anything. Time to move on ... hopefully to a Super Squad book with the sons. But do it classy. No need to complain or bemoan Bendis getting keys to the kingdom despite the great work that Tomasi/Gleason/Jurgens have done.

They might not complain ... but I can.

Superman has suffered for so long. Rebirth and Reborn resurrected the franchise. It was fun to read Superman again. Fans were excited. And now it is over.

I can bemoan the loss of 'Truth, Justice, and the American Way'. That phrase can't be said anymore. I guess no one really knows what the American Way is anymore. In this splintered nation, I don't think there is an American Way anymore.

But if it had to be replaced 'Truth, Justice, and Family' is a great tinker. Always love and support your family and, by extension, people.

And there it is. 'Nothing gold can stay.' Nothing lasts forever.

The time in Hamilton is over.

Tomasi and Gleason's time together is done.

Nothing gold can stay.

Lois even sheds some tears cleaning out the house.

Someone new is moving in .., into the farm. Into the title.

Luckily, the Flash shows up when the moving van doesn't. In short sprints, he moves all the boxes. But he can't dawdle. He can't join the family at the county fair. Batman would be unhappy.

It is always good to have friends you can call on to help you move.

I knew this book was going to be special in Superman #7, a rest issue where the family hangs out at the town fair. That was were the feel of this book was cemented. This was going to be a book about the Kents, not just Superman.

So I was thrilled when Tomasi and Gleason bring us almost full circle, back to the fair.

Is it Clark or is it Tomasi and Gleason saying this has been their town and they have made special memories here. I suppose it is both.

This has been a special run.

My hope for a Super Squad book was stoked a bit when I saw that Boyzarro and Robzarro are still living in Hamilton with Kathy and hanging out with Nobody. This would be a fun book.

Here the Bizarro Sons are working a food truck. As before, Boyzarro is learning to speak some forward speak. But he is awkward. He tries to serve frozen fries. He sticks his hand in the fryer to cook them.

But my favorite thing is his saying hello instead of goodbye with his hand turned to wrong way. Love it.

I also love Robzarro and his slick moves. The side-eye by Nobody is fantastic.

And then a bit of a wrap-up.

Remember that Hamilton was populated by alien refugees in hiding.

Here, the mayor recognizes how despite all their differences, they are all working together. This is a place of unity and hope.

I suppose that is the American Way. We are supposed to be working together to make something better.

So why not have a nice statue in the town to honor Superman and Superboy for saving everyone and being the inspiration they were.

It is a nice moment. This has been a wonderful run. I have loved the Hamilton stories. I have loved Superman and Lois and Jon adventuring together. I have loved the introduction of Kathy and Nobody.

For me, as much as this is a statue for Hamilton it is a trophy for the creative team.

Who knows.  Maybe Brian Michael Bendis will blow my mind, writing great Superman stories. I still will recognize and love this run with these creators. With Rebirth and particularly post-Reborn, the Superman books have been consistently great.

Life isn't fair.

No one owes you anything,

Nothing gold can stay.

Thanks one last time Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and all the artists who have helped out.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Wonderful review of a wonderful issue, and I suspect your thoughts about Gleason and Tomasi's attitude are spot on. You certainly deserve a Reviewer's Statue for anticipating the Robert Frost reference.

Andrew said...

Great review. Couldn't agree more and it was such a wonderful end to a fantastic run. This issue stole the show this week in my opinion!

Anonymous said...

This was a sweet issue, but this run is nothing worth holding over anyone's head or celebrating, and while you can say it sold relatively well, in terms of overall sales, the entire industry has been sinking like the Titanic for well over a year now. Good moments? yeah, but plenty of bad ones too (They actually made Lois Lane a Female Fury), and nothing that really pushes it above and beyond. Like a lot of Rebirth titles, there's been a lot of regression, pandering to the worst and most narrowminded kinds of fans, and a lot of stories and writing elements that will make it harder to innovate in the future (at least not without dividing what few fans still remain).
Conversely, everyone cannot stop talking about My Hero Academia, which arguably has the best interpretation of a modern Superman, embodied by All Might, who often overshadow's Deku as the poster boy of the series. Heck in only 2 weeks the opening alone of the new season got over 6 million views to fans All Might may as well be this generation's Superman. MHA is the best interpretation of DC, and it's not even DC. Sad but stories like this, the American comic industry, and the toxic comic fandom are why almost nobody cares about American comics, and why they feel stuck in the stone ages of today's pop culture

Martin Gray said...

Never heard of My Hero Academia. I guess ‘everyone’ is talking about it pretty quietly. If a series featuring Lois and Clark as parents, and establishing a new character who’s become very popular, very quickly, is overly nostalgia, it looks like the word has been redefined.

Anonymous said...

If you've never heard of My Hero Academia, in spite of it being one of, if not the most popular anime of this season, and of last year (maybe even topping JoJo), Shonen Jump's 2nd most popular current manga series after One Piece, and just got approved for it's first movie then you're paying attention to a very limited field of vision considering this has been such a cultural phenomenon in worldwide (as in not just the very limited reach of American) comic books, and will soon be getting a movie. If you did a twitter search at any time of the year for anything related to Superman (though maybe not this week since action comics 1000 just hit), vs something regarding MHA, it's probably dwarf anything going on with big blue.
Lois and Clark as parents is ok, but not as compelling as it could be, and Jon is somewhat popular within an American comics community but is probably completely unknown outside that limited fandom. Contrast that with Midoriya who's become a very popular protagonist, and is similar to Jon, but written in a way that feels much more real, and seems to speak to a lot of people (myself included), and has a great relationship with All Might All of that just makes it hard to look at the current state of Superman and wonder why things can't be that good.

Anj said...

Well, I’ve never heard of My Hero Academia either. This isn’t an anime site either. So hard to talk about anything like that here. Comics are a relatively small niche of geek culture but it’s the one I love the best. And this Superman has been the best Superman we have had for a while.

And things have to be looked at both long term and short.

If you think of the Superman books since The New 52,they were far from standard Superman fare. It was constant deconstruction of him. Or at powerless, then Doomed. Never with Lois. Aloof.

So this was ‘new’ in the sense that we hadn’t seen this since the early 00s.

Anonymous said...

"If you've never heard of My Hero Academia, in spite of it being one of, if not the most popular anime of this season, and of last year (maybe even topping JoJo), Shonen Jump's 2nd most popular current manga series after One Piece, and just got approved for it's first movie then you're paying attention to a very limited field of vision considering this has been such a cultural phenomenon in worldwide (as in not just the very limited reach of American) comic books, and will soon be getting a movie."

I've never heard of My Hero Academia either, and I pay attention to way more things than comics.

And I DON'T CARE how many times MHA got tweeted the last year. The mere notion this "Midoriya" is a bigger pop culture icon than freaking SUPERMAN is laughable, at best. So what if his anime is getting one movie? Even if it's made (Do you know how many times I've heard rumors about such and such anime show having a movie?) Devilman, Cutey Honey, Crying Freeman... got movies and they are not cultural phenomenons worldwide.

Stop random people and ask them who is Midoriya. Most of them will not even know what you're talking about. Ask them who is Superman and everybody will know who he is. Even if they don't like the character. Even after 80 years. Do you think Midoriya will be one of the best known fictional characters worldwide in 2098?

I read/watch a lot classic manga/anime shows. A lot of them were tremendously popular hits in their time and they're hardly remembered nowadays. City Hunter, Touch, Kimagure Orange Road... were hugely lucrative cash cows several decades ago.

MHA was -according you- the most popular anime the last year? So what? If it's incredibly popular among people who has never touched one manga twenty or thirty years from now, I'll believe Midoriya is a cultural phenomenon worldwide. Until then I'll consider it a flash in the pan like Urusei Yatsura, Ashita no Joe or Kyojin no Hoshi.

I've got several issues with Tomasi/Gleason's run. I don't think it's a golden standard. But it was nice after enduring several years of Superman deconstructed and diminished.

And anyway I don't get why you chose to come to a Superman-focused site to drone on about how much sucks Superman compared with your beloved new anime series which apparently we should be keeping an eye on. It sounds like viral marketing.

Anonymous said...

P.D.: Besides, do you really think anime fandom is SO huge? I've been an animne fan for decades (I knew about JoJo since the early 90's, LONG before the American anime fandom heard about it and decided it was their new favorite stuff and source of memes) and it was always a geek thing saving exceptions like Dragon Ball.

Anonymous said...

Wow, there's been quite a debate going on (I think, maybe? I'm not sure who's saying what)
Well I like Boku no Hero Academia and Superman, I've been enjoying this book and season 3, I don't think either suck, and I think we should all just be happy that no matter the medium there's lots of great heroes for everyone.
I really liked this issue, Gleason's art was fantastic in both this, and in Action Comics #1000. He's gone a lot of great work with Superman, and while I'm a little sad to see him go, but I'm kind of interested in seeing what he works on next (he drew the Flash really well).

Martin Gray said...

Patrick Gleason is actually heading over to Action Comics as artist for Bendis. I wouldn’t be surprised were he to wind up co-writing.... dialogue, at least.