Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Review: Superman #7

Superman #7 came out last week.

Maybe I should stop there.

Overall I have loved Brian Michael Bendis' take on the Superman family. I have been impressed with the characterization of Superman, the inclusion of the Daily Planet, the threat of the Silent Mafia, and even the way the Rogol Zaar/Phantom Zone storyline ended.

You knew there was a but, right.

The Lois relationship just stands out as a problem. Or rather, the lack of a meaningful relationship with Lois. And that trickles down to the relationship with Jon too. The family was what completely worked in the Tomasi/Gleason Rebirth book. Now that is gone.

Little that has happened regarding Lois and Jon in this book makes sense. Clark and Lois letting Jon go away with the homicidal Mr. Oz makes no sense. Lois joining them made some sense but leaving to come home made no sense. Lois living apart from Clark because 'she needs to' makes no sense. Clark rolling with it and living the life of 'friends with benefits' makes no sense.

And the idea of Jon coming back as an older teen is nonsense. The sheer joy of Jon being the gangly, awkward pre-teen was delightful. Now he's a scarred teen.

This issue at least addresses some of this. But it also had me shaking my head. So much of all this could have been avoided had common sense been used.

I haven't even mentioned the art, a mishmash of Ivan Reis, Brandon Peterson, and a cameo page from Jason Fabok, a Man of Steel epilogue. It's all lovely.

I can only hope this somehow straightens out.

Last issue, Jon arrived as an older teen.

There is a nice opening moment of Superman hugging Jon, assuming this aging is temporary. It has to be an exposure to some odd Kryptonite.

But Jon drops the bad news. It might be three years of Earth time. He has been gone for years.

Hmmm ... what did you think might happen Superman when you sent your son off into space with a lunatic? That he would return perfectly normal and on time?

I do like how Jon calls Superman 'Pa'. Nice touch.

And he's worried about Lois. Remember, he doesn't know about her either.

There is that scar on his cheek.

At least, so far, he hasn't been angry, evil, or jaded.

Superman brings Jon to Lois' swinging singles apartment. With Superman floating over her balcony, and before she sees Jon, Lois gives Superman a 'come hither' look, loosening the belt on her robe. Glad they have a healthy sex life. But this really does seem like that stable healthy marriage has been devolved to a 'booty call' relationship.

Of course, when Lois sees Jon and sees how she has missed out on years of his life, she is saddened.

Hmmm ... what did you think might happen Lois when you sent your son off into space with a lunatic? That he would return perfectly normal and on time?

And then she asks what that maniac grandfather did to Jon.

Hmmm ... what did you think might happen when you sent your son off into space with a lunatic? You knew he was a lunatic. You left your son alone with him. What did you think? That he would return perfectly normal and on time?

We flash back to when they initially left.

The ship Jor-El showed up in was but a flyer. His real ship is a massive ship.

Okay, I chuckled at the 'cabin of solitude' line.

Almost immediately, the ship is attacked by a Dominion fleet.

Jon and Jor leap out into space and mop the floor with the Dominators, smashing the fleet and sending them packing.

I love the look of pure joy on Jon's face as he finally lets loose. And it could be considered a family moment, a second where he and Jor connected.

For her own protection, Lois dons Superman's New 52 super-suit. It gives Jon a good laugh.

The three head to a nearby planet to grab some lunch. While there, Lois learns just how widespread the legend of the S-Shield goes.

This group of peasants consider Superman royalty. As such, Lois is a queen.

I don't know if Lois or Clark would embrace this concept that they are above the masses. Still, I like how word of Superman and his actions have reached even this part of the cosmos. He is a universal hero.

And Jon meets the Main Man, Lobo.

I like how Jon has some gumption in him, demanding that Lobo calls him 'Superboy' and getting in the Czarian's face.

And who would ever expect Lobo to mete out some wisdom! It is Jon and Jon alone who decides when he is no longer a boy and truly a man.

I wonder if this Jon, after years in space dealing with Jor-El, has been aged beyond his years. I wonder if he considers himself a man these days.

Those worshipers tell Jor and Jon about Khund slavers on Daxam stealing the people's children. Heading to Daxam, Jon pinwheels his way through the prison camp, thrashing the Khunds and freeing the wrongly imprisoned.

Okay, one day, two humanitarian missions. Not bad.

But oddly, so good that Lois thinks 'she isn't needed' and heads home.



Please go back and reread the Mr. Oz stories. How menacing and evil and murderous this Jor-El was. After one day, Lois feels comfortable enough to let Jon stay there? Did she make a plan about his return? Did Jon have a way to contact them?

What parent would ever do this?

Hmmm ... what did you think might happen Lois when you sent your son off into space with a lunatic? That he would return perfectly normal and on time?

And then Jon says the thing that Lois and Clark knew.

Jor-El is completely insane. Completely ... italicized for emphasis.

Ummm ... duh!

This was Mr. Oz who imprisoned Mxy and Tim Drake. Who gave rebels guns to slaughter each other. Who incited evil on the planet to show Superman that Earth wasn't worth saving. Who tried to kill Superman.

He did all those things! Why would you ever let your son go with him ... alone? WHY!?

What did Lois and Clark think would happen?

I don't know. Maybe this will all make sense in the end. But right now this whole story doesn't make sense because I can't believe that it ever should have happened. Clark and Lois willingly let their innocent son be left alone to be mentored by the malevolent Mr. Oz.

That simply shouldn't have happened.

Overall grade: C-


Anonymous said...

Not sure what I can add to your statements.

I did/do want to be open-minded regarding this storyline, but this issue has been... weird. Things happened only because the writer wanted them to happen.

And Bendis has done this to himself. He could have justified Clark and Lois' decision by showing Jor-El was now sane and seeking to redeem himself. Instead, he proved people who defended their actions in "MoS" wrong.

I'm not thrilled with Jor-El being dragged through the mud, either. Maybe I'm being unfair, but I blame it on John Byrne and his anti-Kryptonian revisionism. Prior to "Man of Steel", Jor-El was a good, intelligent, admirable man and a great male role model for Superman right like his adoptive father. Depictions as "For the Man Who Has Everything" Jor-El and Jur-Ll were rare. The exception that proves the rule.

In the Post-Crisis era, though, anything and everything from Krypton is bad and proves Krypton deserved blowing up. Kara -and maaaybe a dog- is the exception that proves the rule, and even she was tainted with the "Zor-El sent her to kill her cousin" nonsense. Jor-El was portrayed in a less negative light at the beginning, but his name had already been damaged before "Smallville" brought the "Jerkass Jor-El" depiction to the mainstream.

And now he's a murderous lunatic. Ugh.

And people wonder why I prefer the Pre-Crisis universe... (Well, some of them think I'm blinded by nostalgia... which is funny because I didn't read Pre-Crisis DC comics before the 00's)

Anonymous said...

I knew Bendis was going to handle Lois badly because of the spiteful proxy "Terri Kiddar" in his Avengers stuff and how cruelly she was treated showed how he viewed the character. This mangling of a fun character like Jon is something the Superman writers have been itching to do for a while, too (there were so many stories where Jon was foreshadowed to grow into a villain). There was never any promise here except for the promise of pain.

I don't know how you can remain so stubbornly optimistic when there's really nothing there to be optimistic about. It's forcing yourself to like something when you really don't after a while, and it's painful to watch/read.

Anonymous said...

I'm mostly upset because they let Jon grow up before Kara could bond with him as a child.

They completely wasted Jon as a character. His greatest strength was giving the child perspective to the Superman story. Now he is just another Superman.

Complete waste.

Can Superman and Lois get another child please?

Anonymous said...

"Can Superman and Lois get another child please?"

So he is wasted, too? Jon isn't Clark and Lois's first canon child. He is preceded by Chris Kent by nine years.

In hindsight, we should have expected something like this. During Tomasi's Superman and Super Sons' runs, we were subjected to several "Oh my God, what if Jon goes evil?" plotlines. Back then it was already obvious that DC didn't know what to do with the character.

Anonymous said...

"Back then it was already obvious that DC didn't know what to do with the character"

DC really doesn't know how to handle all the Superboys. Hell, considering how they are going about with their other characters, the Heroes In Crisis mess, the stinking state of Supergirl as well and the looming Titans and Green Arrow cancellation; I have no idea what DC thinks it is doing. Someone please tell me are Tom King and Bendis that great writers that they and their fellow friends get books after book even with tanking sales?
Is this the death of rebirth? It certainly looks like that sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I'm not the first person online to make this observation, but isn't it true that the part of his story that Jon tells is the part that Lois already knows (she was there) and that Lois presumably would have already told Clark once he found her?

"Pa" - If Jon never called him Pa before, is this fan service? If he previously called him Dad, he'd remember him as Dad. He wouldn't start using some other name out of the blue.

"Boy!!!" - On seeing him, does Lois actually call him "Boy"? Or am I not imagining properly how it would sound? Maybe she means it along the lines of "Boy oh boy!" or "Oh, Boy!" or "Wow!"

I don't get the Lois & Clark relationship. (Does anyone?) Is there a family home for Jon to rejoin? Is he old enough that he wants to live alone?

And what happens when Jon runs into Conner (who may or may not be in our universe)?


Anonymous said...

Is there an actual "looming cancellation of Titans"? The solicit for the March issue #35 isn't marked FINAL.

I did notice, though, that sometime during the last year they announced Titans would be twice a month, and that didn't last long. It very quietly returned to once a month.


Martin Gray said...

Extremely fair comments, Anj. Incredulity is the only sane reaction to this storyline. I’ve been protesting the ‘My vacation with Mr Oz’ nonsense since Man of Steel and hoped something good might somehow come of it. Not so far.

But this is comics - anything can be reversed... heck, three years ago or something we didn’t even have this version of Lois and Clark, but Convergence brought them back, and with them, Jon. Sanity is just one editorial decision away.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

"Little that has happened regarding Lois and Jon in this book makes sense."

SOMETHING is not right. There may have been some subtle kind of mind manipulation to cause Lois and Jon and maybe even Clark to act as they did. Why was Jon so anxious to go with "Jor-El? Why did Lois do what she did? And why did Clark just let it happen?

I still don't believe that "Jor-El" is Jor-El.

Anj said...

Great comments everyone.

You'd think that after a lifetime of reading comics I would remember that nothing truly sticks.

Perhaps all of this will vanish away and we'll get some better answers or better worlds.

And I also hope this isn't *the* Jor-El. Perhaps all this Doctor Manhattan stuff will make it vanish in blue mist.

Anonymous said...

"I have no idea what DC thinks it is doing. Someone please tell me are Tom King and Bendis that great writers that they and their fellow friends get books after book even with tanking sales?"

I'm so, SO glad to hear someone else say this. I used to like Bendis, but his last few things at Marvel were the definition of "all concept, no execution", and he's brought his worst tendencies to DC (remember the comment about how he feels about Lois Lane via a proxy in Avengers?). King is the definition of overrated - he writes shock value stuff wrapped in art student pretentiousness, and his interviews are always very defensive & condescending (look at his snide reaction to people rightly pointing out his "many gory & agonizing deaths of Lois" story was inappropriate to sell at Walmart's toy section or him bringing up his military record & 9/11 apropos of nothing when people starting pointing out Heroes in Crisis is bad). I don't understand why the entire industry falls over themselves for a man past his prime and another man who will never have one.

"DC really doesn't know how to handle all the Superboys."

I get the impression that most of the DC editorial/creative staff doesn't actually like the concept of Superboy - any Superboy. They're only launching the Wonder line cause they know there is still a fan base to get money from for Connor & his peers, and I'm sure it'll eventually end in blood & misery just like Rebirth. Like others pointed out, no one knew how to get a good story out of Jon other than "he's destined to be evil & have to fight his father". It was disappointing to see Tomasi especially, who wrote him as his own hero so so well in Super Sons, fall back into this tendency over & over in Superman. It feels like the folks at DC are embarrassed by the concept of "Superboy" but know it makes them money to have at least one around (or it's trademark maintenance), so they keep them around just to use them badly.

"Sanity is just one editorial decision away."

Unfortunately, DC needs to get a new editorial pool for that to be true, and I don't see that happening any time soon. I'm getting sick of Didio's endless insistence that "we're bringing fun back to DC Comics!" and then nose-diving right back into the grim & gritty stuff. Rebirth's fate feels like the third or fourth time now, and like I said, I'm sure Wonder will meet the same fate too.

"The solicit for the March issue #35 isn't marked FINAL."

It's confirmed on CBR that Titans #36 is the last issue.

Anonymous said...

Bendis generally has had difficulty using any existing characters consistently with continuity. He seems to have little respect for existing characteristics, and loves to make drastic changes. Has ruined many titles in my opinion. I no longer ever purchase anything he writes.