Friday, November 24, 2023

Review: Superman #8

Superman #8 came out this week and moved along the plot of The Chained quite well while continuing the subplots that have been percolating from the first issue. There is a little bit of a cheat in the action in this issue, the one thing which sort of brings the efforts down. Still, quite a fun ride, a solid middle chapter. 

Writer Joshua Williamson does a good job here of building up the threat of The Chained, tying the villain into Lex's history and Conner's history. The threat feels real. As this is a Lex villain more than a Superman villiain, this battle leans into the new dynamic between Luthor and Superman, forcing a bit of a team-up. And we get quick peeks at the newer members of the book - Lena Luthor, the Countess, Dr. Pharma and Mr. Graft. Still, the ending of the fight with the Chained is a bit of a stretch on a couple of levels. 

The art is a bit all over the place with Gleb Melnikov, Norm Rapmund, David Balteon, and Jamal Campbell all listed as being on art. I really like Melnikov's grungy, energetic art on the Chained battles. There are nice, bigger panels highlighting some of the action. The cover by Campbell conveys the threat of The Chained, Superman weighed down. 

On to the book!

We start with a flashback where we see Sammy Stryker when he first manifests his powers. It is tactile telekinesis. But Sammy realizes that the atmosphere puts him in touch with everything ...

So his power is ... telekinesis. 

Why this makes him more powerful than a plain old telekinetic I don't understand. Perhaps he is just a VERY powerful telekinetic?

We do get a visual of Carl 'Moosey' Draper though! Woo woo!

In the present, Graft and Pharma try to recruit The Chained to the Luthor Revenge Squad. They show Sammy all the things that Luthor has been and done since he imprisoned Sammy - from President to superhero to supervillain. If The Chained wants revenge against Lex, who deserves it, why not team up. 

I like that Williamson is doing a deep dive into Lex's history. President Lex is ... I think ... 4 continuities ago. And I really love the name 'Luthor Revenge Squad', a nice riff on the old Superman Revenge Squad of the Silver and Bronze Age. 

In Metropolis, the super-family helps with the clean-up of the attack by The Chained.

I like that Conner could sense the tactile telekinesis power. I like seeing the supers helping with the rescue efforts.

But really, I like how Gleb Melnikov has drawn Supergirl. She looks great. 

Superman heads to check on Lex to try and learn about Stryker. 

The Chained doesn't join Graft and Pharma and decides to continue his efforts fighting Lex. 

Time for another throwdown except now there are civilians around including Lex's daughter Lena. 

It is a brief moment but it shows a couple of things. One, readers could find Stryker's story sympathetic but here he is outright evil, threatening a child. Second, old Lex might not care about Lena if it meant saving his own skin. But this one steps right in. 

I still don't know if I believe this Lex who has 'seen the light' but he is saying and doing all the right things so far.

The fight is on with Superman and Conner trying to stop The Chained in really solid art by Melnidkov giving the action a dizzying sort of feel with collateral damage flying all around the web of chains. 

And we learn that Sammy does have extremely powerful telekinesis AND is filled with rage. 

But those powers were given to him by Lex and Luthor built in a weakness ...


This was before Superman's weakness to Kryptonite was even known. Lex just wanted a unique vulnerability and this odd stone he found seemed convenient. Hmmm ... it's a bit of a coincidence.

But great sentiment by Superman here. Yes he is risking his life using Kryptonite to save Lex. But that's what he does. Awesome.

But it does lead to this fun sequence where a lead-suited Superman uses Kryptonite gloves to batter Stryker.

As if the Kryptonite detail was out of the blue, the end of the fight is another rabbit out of the hat.

Conner shows up with a helmet to negate Stryker's power. And instead of chains, straps suddenly fly about pinning him.

Just like that, it's over.

I don't know where this helmet came from. Is it the one from The Chained's original cage? If so, what about the straps.

Was this grabbed when Superman flew to LexCorp to get the lead suit? A line telling me that he was going to get 'something' might have made this less jarring. I mean, I went back to reread the prior pages to see if I missed something. At least it wasn't the Phantom Zone Projector.

Of course fighting with Kryptonite was a rish because the lead suit didn't last.

Good cliffhanger.

So it seems like the threat of The Chained is over, perhaps a bit too suddenly. But with Graft, Pharma, Lena, and Marilyn Moonlight still around, there is plenty of story to keep the book moving.

The art does flip around. The ending is partially by usual artist Jamal Campbell. But 4 artists on one issue is at least 2 too many. 

Still, the book has a nice energy and pace to it.

Overall grade: B


Martin Gray said...

I agree that the constant extra artists is dizzying, though I’m guessing that Rapmund is inking Melnikov, given he’s always been credited as an inker previously.

Hopefully the business with Superboy stopping The Chained will be explained next time.

Do you think Moosie might suit up soon?

Great review!

Anj said...

I'd love for some hint at the Master Jailer to come out of all this.