Friday, February 9, 2024

Review: Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #4

Superman '78 The Metal Curtain #4 came out this week and was a quick, entertaining read by creative team of writer Robert Venditti and artist Gavin Guidry.

I have very much enjoyed the Superman '78 titles mostly for the character interactions. Here, this issue very much had the feeling of the action sequence in a possible movie. Earlier we saw Metallo nearly take out Superman but pulled away because the USSR leaders wanted Superman's defeat to be televised.

In this issue, Metallo takes the fight to American land, calling out Superman in Washington D.C. and once again nearly defeating our hero before an unusual ally lends a hand. Since this is mostly a brawl, and a well drawn and choreographed one, the book reads quick. But you need this to again show that Metallo is a legitimate threat. Even though the villain suffers a setback here, there is still no obvious answer to how Superman will defeat him. As a result, the tension is ratcheted up here, a nice plot nudge in a middle chapter.

Robert Venditti continues to write a brilliant Hackman-esque Luthor who both helps and derides Superman here. And we also get several more nods to the movies in the book, subtle so not overdone but appreciated.

Gavin Guidry continues to bring it here with perfect expressive work. We feel Clark's concerns over again facing the K-powered assassin. We see Lex's joy over saving Superman. But we also get nice action in the brawl. A couple of panels, seen below stand out.

On to the book. (Apologies for panels, scanner on the fritz.)

We get right into the action.

Metallo lands in Washington D.C. and calls out Superman.

Things I like here. 

One, the revolution will be televised. Like Zod calling out Superman in the second movie, here Metallo calls out our here demanding that the whole world bear witness. We hear his rant from TV screens. It cements the point. This is worldwide news.

Second, I like how Clark is at the Planet and it takes him a little bit of time to gather himself. We see concern on his face. I think he is worried about how easily Metallo defeated him the first time.

But once we hear that innocents could be hurt, Clark springs into action.

I really liked this a sort of humanizing of Clark. But it also shows how heroic he is, heading into what he thinks is a losing battle.

And then we get a nice nod to some of the costume changes in the movies.

Clark leaps out of the Daily Planer, gives is a shirt rip, and flies off.

We need a shirt rip! We got one!

In the streets of D.C., Superman is sort of manhandled. Metallo is dripping K-energy, well shown by the colorist Jordie Bellaire with bright green soaked panels.

This also reminded me a little of Superman's fight with Zod. The military personnel there can't believe Superman is hurt. They rally and fire everything.

If I have one quibble it is Metallo's bare head. Surely one well placed sniper could end this. But I suppose you have to suspend disbelief.

My favorite panel ... this one. 

We see Superman struggle to lift a tank and then smash it onto Metallo. 

This could have been a straight on shot echoing Action Comics #1. But I like this angle, emphasizing the slam a little more.

Unfortunately, the tank slam isn't enough. 

Just when all seems lost, Superman hears Lex in his ear, pointing out that this is a Luthor armor with a secret depowering button, one Superman presses.

It is a little bit of a deus ex machina, but one hinted at early in the series when Lex was obviously in the shadows.

But I love the look on Lex's face, pleased as punch with himself. And I like the 'frequency' communication, a trick we saw Luthor use in the first Superman movie. 

With his armor powering down, Metallo has to leave. I love the defiant Superman, sporting the 'General would you like to step outside' pose.

The problem is that Kryptonite is still there. Metallo's threat is still there. And I am sure this depower button will be removed by the Russian army. So this is a pause, not a win.

But this was a solid middle issue. The threat of Metallo is again confirmed. Lex comes out of the shadows. We see Lois worried about Superman. And we see a sliver of worry in our hero.

Hoping this is doing well enough to warrant a third book!

Overall grade: B


SG Fan said...

I had fun looking at this one. I'm kind of hoping that if they do another, we can get Supergirl appearing with Superman for a proper Reeve/Slater adventure we never got on the big screen...creepy CGI stand ins don't count lol

Dig the art style and yeah just having fun with this one :)

Anonymous said...

The KGB went to elaborate expense to heist Luthor's kryptonite powered armor and never thought to retrofit the system with a pressurized helmet to protect "Metallo" from a right to the jaw....stagnation indeed.


SG Fan said...

What I know of Soviet/Cold War history and their general weapons development...that actually wouldn't surprise me at all lol