Friday, February 23, 2024

Review: Superman #11

Superman #11 came out this week, the next chapter in the Joshua Williamson era and a chapter moving the 'Lex Luthor Revenge Squad' storyline forward. After last issue's wonderful Western side mission, this issue sort of puts the pedal down on the plot, pushing it forward nicely. It also sharply shines a spotlight on Lena.

One thing that I have appreciated about what Williamson is doing is how he is leaning into older, some might say 'classic' (although that makes me very old) storylines and making them part of this continuity. In this issue we hear about Lena, Brainiac 13, Imperiex, and even Lex's Kryptonite poisoning. I don't know how easily I can squish those into a Rebirth timeline, but here we are.

These references are done to build on this storyline. Finally, the Lex Luthor Revenge Squad is formed and it includes a couple of surprise members. There's even a decent cliffhanger. 

David Baldeon is on art here, bringing a stylized take on the action. There is a hint of anime in his style but nothing overwhelming. It feels sort of classic, a nice resonance with this story. 

On to the specifics.

We start out at SuperCorp during the time Superman was in the old West.

Perhaps sensing that the readers might need a primer on Lena Luthor, he has Lena ask the Lex AI to read Lex's files on her. It is a bit of exposition but at least the buzzwords are there for folks to read the wiki - Contessa, Brainiac 13, Imperiex, and Lena's island exile.

Even I needed to be reminded of all this and I read those stories lo those many years ago. I am glad things like 'Our Worlds at War' is somehow in the mix.

Of course, even Lex's mother hates him. 

I like that Lena is working for SuperCorp not to support Lex but perhaps to needle him by working for Superman. 

Given the upcoming Brainiac storyline, this Lena refresher was a nice start.

And there might even be a hint that Lena is smarter than Lex (a little Brainiac boost can't hurt). 

It's Lena who realizes that perhaps the multi-colored K-glove is the key to figuring out where Superman is. 

We skip up to the present with the Revenge Squad leading an assault on SuperCorp just as Superman returns home.

We get a 'sort of' surprise reveal when the person in the Lex-O-Suit turns out to be his mother. She hasn't hidden her hate of her son so this wasn't too big a revelation. 

I like the wide-eyed madness Baldeon gives her. She looks unhinged.

But then we get a real surprise member.

Graft tells us the Kryptonite in her glove are all synthetic, including a special Synth-red-K designed to enrage Superman.

Irate and out of control, Superman seems to join the bad guys as they head to Stryker Island to face Lex.

Again, solid art by Baldeon here. Superman clearly is filled with rage and insane. 

It's a double edged sword. 

An angry Superman doesn't like these villains either. He dispatches them all, including the vaunted The Chained, with little effort.

Once more, kudos to Baldeon for making these panels seem both effortless for Superman but also filled with impact.

Finally, the Squad engages their ultimate plan.

They release a Kryptonite cloud over Metropolis. But not the usual K, a special version that can hurt Earth-born beings too. And this was a scheme Lex designed win his youth when he teamed up with Pharm and Graft.

If there is one part of the issue that didn't truly click for me, it was this. Why would 'super-hero' Lex dream of this? If he knew then (which it is said he did) that regular Kryptonite can effect humans if prolonged exposure happens, why would he let himself be effected in the past (something said in this issue, a reference perhaps the to K-cancer Lex got in the Byrne era??).  And a synthetic Kryptonite cloud that can kill humans? Is that the best revenge this squad can do to Lex?

Still, overall I liked this issue for it's honoring of the past while pushing this fun story forward. Fun art as well.

Overall grade: A-


Martin Gray said...

I’m so glad you’re enjoying this as much as I am. Well done for spotting the incongruities as regards Lex, they went over my head like a cloud of Kryptonite!

And it looks like you have as much of a problem as I do remembering which is Pharm and which is Graft and that they’re both fellas!

Anj said...

Yes to confusing Pharm and Graft. Yes to forgetting they are males. Tricky!!!
Put a P on Pharm's costume please!!!

Allen Francis said...

I like the artwork more than I like the story here....