Friday, November 17, 2023

Review: Superman Lost #8

Superman Lost #8 came out this week and was another up and down issue in this up and down mini-series. While this issue had some interesting and beautiful moments, I don't know if it pushed the story forward. Ultimately, that means this issue wasn't 'needed'. And that never sits well with me.

Superman has been back on Earth for 7 issues but lived on that doomed planet of 'Kansas' for 20 years of his time. He has been trying to shake off the trauma of that life and of leaving that planet's citizens to die since being home. But since it felt like a few hours to him, his friends and family are struggling to help him. 

Last issue, Superman went to a therapist Supergirl recommended. There would be some interesting stories to tell there. (I loved the therapy issue after Our Worlds at War for example.) But that isn't explored here. Also last issue, Lois went to Lex to try and figure out how help Superman, a very non-Lois idea. Lex gave her cancer to try and shake Superman awake.

This issue? Superman goes to colleagues for advice - Supergirl, Adam Strange, and Black Adam. They all basically give him tough love. It's time to move on. Lois finally admits that she hasn't been able to help her husband. And Lex stews. 

Writer Christopher Priest has certainly padded this series with side plots, homages, and quick scenes. But from a plot view, this feels like it could have been 6 issues. And things I would like to see (like Lois talking to Clark more, or Superman talking to professionals, or more interaction with the Leaguers) haven't been around enough.

Its' a shame because the art by Carlos Pagulayan is great, including the Supergirl scene. She looks fantastic. And Will Conrad gives an assist on some pages but his style meshes nicely. Even the variant covers (like the Stephen Segovia one above or the rarer Denys Cowan one) are quite appealing. 

On to the book.

The opening scene has Lex confronting an art thief who somehow has bypassed thirteen different defense mechanisms. 

Lex is more bemused than upset. He is too busy wondering why Superman hasn't crashed through a wall in response to him giving Lois cancer. He then realizes that it is because Lois hasn't told Superman yet.

I like this scene. It is a peek inside Lex's psyche. I like that he offers this gunman a job. 

But in the end, it is 4 pages of padding. Here is the problem. I like this scene. But this series as a whole has had too much padding so it still feels off.

Cut to Rann where Superman arrived last issue. This is still in the past. This is how Superman finally gets back to Earth.

One thing Priest does is give Superman characters who have lost worlds and lost time in their lives to react to. 

This scene we hear from Alanna and Adam about the vagaries of the Zeta Beam, how their time is short and sometimes random. But somehow they deal. I mean here, Adam seems downright giddy when the beam arrives.

In the 'present', Superman tries to talk down Metallo from a fight.

Supergirl arrives to take out the villain when talking doesn't do the trick. 

This is a Kara that's a little cranky. But she has been trying to help this sort of passive Superman. He is hardly a man of action in this book, almost stuck in emotional amber. She knows Metallo is a K-powered lunatic. Superman needed to act.

And now Superman gets to hear Supergirl's attitude about lost worlds. After all, she probably can relate the most to what he is feeling.

Arms clenched, she gives him some stern words. 'Move on.'

I like this moment too, one where Supergirl plays the role of mentor to Superman. 

But it also feels a little too tough. She probably has had years to deal with her loss and 'move on'. We know she sees a therapist. This seems too harsh for her.

I suppose Superman was flirting with death earlier and might need a kick in the proverbial pants to return to a more normal life. 

Cool to see Supergirl in this book. Pagulayan really draws her wonderfully. 

Lois is dying. We hear she'll be dead in a week. But she isn't telling Clark.

Instead, the two are living this icy life where Clark remains emotionally distant. We learn he hasn't even said the name Lois since he's been back.

So she gives him advice albeit it more gently than Kara. Clark has to resolve his issues. 

I still think Lois would never go to Lex ever. 

Time for one more hero interaction to help Superman wrap his head around his troubles.

Adam Strange and Superman help Black Adam quell a demonic incursion. Superman remembers that Adam was banished in space and needed to get back to Earth, a trip that took 5000 years. Did he pass 'Kansas' on the way?

Adam talks about how that lonely trip led him into the depths of psychological darkness. 

So he gives Superman some advice, closer to Kara in tone than Lois'. 'You're home.' He shouldn't waste the time he has left perseverating.

Four people telling him to move on. 

Perhaps the message finally gets through.

Heading home, Superman finally discovers signs that Lois has been talking to Lex and has cancer. 

So there we are.

I suppose each scene with the heroes adds to Superman's 'therapy' as he tries to reconcile his trauma. I like how they each are rather up front with Superman, realizing the world needs him to start being Superman again. Supergirl being the role model for him is a nice switch. And the Lex scene was fun.

But basically, we are sort of exactly where we were at the end of last issue. Superman got some therapy. Lois is dying. At least Clark knows it now.

Fantastic art, as always.

Overall grade: C+


PT Dilloway said...

Issues like that are why I'm glad I don't buy individual issues. It's annoying enough in a trade paperback (or ebook collection) but reading it an issue at a time and having to wait weeks or a month or however long for the next one is really frustrating. It's like binge watching a show vs shows that drop week-to-week. Issues like this are definitely better for binge reading where you can quickly put them behind you to get to the main event.

Martin Gray said...

Gosh, I’m so glad I packed in this book, it seems so depressing. Superman is one character who should never give in to wallowing, and you’re right, Priest doesn’t get the Lois/Luthor relationship.

Why is Kara wearing a white suit like the one Superman had while lost?

Anj said...

PT - I do wonder if this will read better in trade/one sitting.

Mart - you're right. Supes is just stuck in sadness. As for Kara, that suit is a survival suit which protected her from Metallo's K-energy. While we don't see the lead in, my guess is Supes went in vulnerable to try and talk Metallo down and Kara went in protected knowing she'd need to dust knuckles.

Jeffrey Imm said...

This is definitely NOT a story you should not be reading one issue at a time, but at least 3 issues at a time. Totally different perspective that way. As to Supergirl, I am sorry but her role in #8 is virtually a cameo.