Monday, January 8, 2024

Review: Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #3

Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #3 came out last week and continued this look at the Donner-Verse Superman interacting with the world of the Cold War. This was a relatively sedate issue, a standard middle chapter of a story, which pushed the plot forward without much action. There is continued excellent character moments however which make this a really entertaining comic, especially if you love the movies.

Writer Robert Venditti continues to handle both ends well. The Russian Metallo and the desire for the Soviets to destroy Superman as a symbol of American superiority are both excellent wrinkles to the mythos. The zealotry of this Metallo and his compulsion to kill Superman shows how ingrained those feelings of rivalry were then.

More importantly, Venditti just seems to have a great grasp of these characters and is putting them a bit through the paces. He has the luxury of this being untilled soil. He can write the first time people are meeting, like Superman meeting Sam Lane. He can show a world where Lois doesn't know Clark is Superman, where Lois is pining for Superman. But it all still feels classic while being new. Even the true supporting cast a written well. What's better than an irascible Perry laying into Jimmy? And let's not get the not so secret villain behind it all!

Gavin Guidry shines in those character moments. I love his Clark, sometimes perplexed, sometimes acting awkward, always wearing his heart on his sleeve. I also love his Lois, at times steely in her desire to scoop everyone, at times a smitten woman. 

No complaints here. On to the details.

Last issue, Superman was taken out by the Green K-powered Metallo and dumped in the sea. This issue he awakens, still smarting and still having flashbacks of being trashed, but alive. The downed pulot, presumably Hal Jordan, pulled him out of the water.

He meets the head of the military base ... General Lane.

Love the strained scene here. Lane has no time for niceties. And Superman is too nice a guy to see the shake isn't going to happen. 

The government knew about Russia's Metallo project but didn't know it was close to fruition. 

As Superman flies off to get Lois at the Fortress, General Lane says he doesn't approve of the Superman/Lois relationship. He also knows Superman is listening.

So this was both the introduction of these two have met but also a very classic feel to their squabbles. Together again ... for the first time!

I also like how there is a 'dream casting' feel to these books. Lee Marvin as Sam Lane is perfect casting.

Lois has been at the Fortress for a day awaiting Superman's return. She threw on this dress while waiting.

Lois is sort of tough as nails in this book, really written like the Margot Kidder go-getter. That's what makes this moment, where she looks at herself in the mirror in the S-shield dress, almost like someone who is trying on a wedding dress might do, that is charming. Guidry really shows it so well. 

This might be my favorite panel in the issue.

Back in Moscow, Metallo is champing at the bit to get back to Superman. 

I did wonder why he didn't just finish off our hero. So I am glad Venditti put in this scene. Metallo was called back. The Soviets want a very public killing of Superman.

They should be confident. Superman got his hat handed to him in the fight. 

Back in Metropolis, Clark continues to suffer a but from his encounter with Metallo. Whether lingering illness or just PTSD from the fight, he retreats to the bathroom to gather himself.

Of course, Lois would follow him in to check. That's what this Lois would do, not be stopped.

And, of course, Clark would be dismayed by her doing it.

That last panel is another contender for my favorite panel. Guidry communicates so much with expression and that wagging finger.

Superman told Lois about Metallo and that information isn't known to anyone else. So Perry let's her run with it. 

I don't know if Clark is too keen on it.

This sort of three way relationship between two people can certainly have some friction. 

The story runs about the Russians beating Superman.  That irks the real source of Metallo's power ... Lex Luthor.

It was obviously Lex in the first issue who sold the suit to the Russians. But he is too full of himself to not get the credit he craves. 

Any time I get to see these versions of Lex and Superman interact is fantastic. 

So even though this is a plot issue, nudging things forward, it was a ton of fun. And this ending left me wanting more. Plus, the art is slick.

Overall grade: B+


Mitch said...

Lois following Clark into the men's room is probably intended as a reversal of Clark almost following Lois into the women's bathroom in the first movie (when Lois is heading to the helicopter).

Anonymous said...

Yeah I love the dream casting of Lee Marvin as Sam Lane, it reminds me, Helen Slater's Kara is only a few pencil strokes away.
Or Ted Cassidy as Solomon Grundy...
The mind reels with the possibilities, now where do we shoe horn in Orson Welles??