Monday, November 13, 2023

Review: Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #1

Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #1 came out this week and was a wonderful dive back into the Donner-verse. 

I loved the first Superman '78 mini-series. Writer Robert Venditti perfectly captured the characters in that world. The dorky Clark. The sassy Lois. The ruthless but also surprisingly funny Luthor. AND we got Brainiac ... finally!

So I was thrilled when I learned about the sequel. 

Venditti is back as writer and picks up right where he left off. The issue does just what a first issue should do. We get the main plot set up. Kryptonite lands in the Soviet Union. An American colonel turns out to be a Russian spy and has sent tech to the USSR as part of a Metallo project. And Lois is on the case. So I am ready! A cold war era story, US vs USSR, Superman vs Metallo! It all sounds great and enough has been shown to excite me.

But beyond that, Venditti makes sure the book feels like the movie world. My favorite part of this issue was the Daily Planet scene. Seeing Clark challenging Lois a bit but still being meek. Hearing Perry tell Lois the rules of the road. Watching Lois not slow down in her pursuit of a story. And all have the mannerisms and tone of the '78 film. Pitch perfect.

Gavin Guidry joins the team on art duties. This is my first time seeing Guidry's work and I am impressed. The Planet scenes are just incredible. I love the expressive work and small touches like Clark pushing his glasses up on his nose, Lois' icy glare, and Perry's exasperation. 

We start with a flashback of Krypton exploding. A chunk flies off, heads through a wormhole, and lands on Earth in a barn in the Soviet Union.

A couple of small things.

First, given the 'fancy chandelier' style of Kal's ship in the movie, I thought this might be another ship. For all I know it still might be another ship. But I was confused, expecting to see this as a ship. We don't learn of another being having been rocketed off the planet. 

Second, don't think I didn't notice Bizarro World in a panel. How the heck is that there??

Cut to the present. 

Lois is caught covertly watching an American colonel purchasing arms from a man in a suit hidden in the shadows. 

Now that has to be Luthor. (More on that later.)

Unfortunately she isn't quite covert enough. She is tied up and gagged, put on a boat just pointed out in the water. Moreover, her evidence, the audio tape of the deal is destroyed. 

But here is the kicker. Lois talks about her father as though he is General Lane in this world. Given the military bend to this story, I hope we get to see Sam Lane. 

And that leads to 'who would play Sam Lane in the movies'? Clint Eastwood? 

Despite the gag, Lois is able to scream for Superman who saves her. 

Somehow this line about 'boating at night' reminded me of the 'safest way to travel' line about air travel in the first movie. 

It is this sort of resonance that just puts me in this world, this universe. 

The next day, Lois demands the story of this American soldier doing an illegal arms deal needs to be printed. Of course, she has nothing but her word as proof and given that, Perry tells her he can't put it in the Planet. Makes sense. 

Of course Lois isn't happy. And she definitely doesn't like Clark teasing her about how every story is 'the story of the century'. 

But it also shows that perhaps Clark is getting a little more confident, confident enough to tease Lois.

That last panel is just spectacular.

The scene continues.

How great to see Lois basically talk herself into continuing to pursue the story. 

I just see and hear Margot Kidder here.

Seriously, the friction and interactions between Clark and Lois was really the juiciest thing for me here. I really loved these scenes. Guidry's art just amplifies it. Lois glare in the earlier scene is perfect. Her disinterest or lack of notice of Clark here is perfect.

Meanwhile, in the USSR, we see the American military uniform tossed in an incinerator. The Colonel Lois saw is actually a spy for Russia.

This is pure, late 70's cold war politics. Superman is called a canker. Superman is propaganda promoting the American way. And Russia luckily has a secret weapon ... that Kryptonite from the beginning of the issue.

Now how did they find out this was Kryptonite and that it can hurt Superman? Well, the only other use of Kryptonite in this world was by Luthor. 

And then we see the weapon this 'Colonel' bought.

Now doubt this is a Lex-o-suit. 

It is only a matter of time until we see this world's Luthor again. That just adds to my excitement.

But a true Kryptonite-powered Metallo is a threat. So I am also excited about that too. 

This is what a first issue should do. I know the world. I know the main plot. I have some questions. I want more.

Overall grade: B+


William Ashley Vaughan said...

A worthy successor to the first Superman '78 mini series and a perfect palate cleanser for the awful Supergirl Special. These are the sequels the Christopher Reeves Superman movies should have had instead of II and III. Please, DC. bring us Supergirl '84.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I mean III and IV.

Anonymous said...

Yeah when does Linda Lee start her Daily Planet internship? Lois could use a sister female to mentor...


Anj said...

I am hoping for Supergirl '84.

And let Venditti write it!