I actually mostly like the post crisis Superman, I'm just nit picking.
I actually mostly like the post crisis Superman, I'm just nit picking.
Life looks better in black and white.
Superman (vol. 2) #1
"Heart of Stone"
writer/pencils: John Byrne
(guest) inks: Terry Austin
letters: John Costanza
editor: Andrew Helfer
I suppose this is pretty much what you'd expect to get in a first issue after the six issue Man of Steel build-up. We learn when the present day is (though there are some continuity problems here), get some more important continuity-related info delivered in a relatively subtle way, watch Clark and Lois' relationship begin to progress, get Kryptonite reintroduced via Metallo (a logical method of doing so, though Byrne's Metallo seriously underimpressed me), and finally see Luthor make his first serious move against Superman, ironically choosing to save The Man of Steel in order to do so. Truthfully, a poorly done Metallo and some less than stunning art aside (Supes looks like an ape in that first panel!), this issue did pretty much everything it should have.
- Superman cannot see through lead
- Three months have passed since Man of Steel #6, making it still 10 years since he left Smallville (MoS #6) and at least 5 years since he became Superman (MoS #5). This also makes him 28 years old since he was 18 when he left Smallville in MoS #1. However, there are some major problems with this timeline:
1) Though I missed it in my earlier reviews, I went back and discovered that Clark spent 7 years saving people in secret before he was exposed as Superman (MoS #1), and we already know that he's been Superman for at least 5 years at this point (MoS #5), yet it's only been ten years since he left Smallville to start saving people (Man of Steel #6). The timeline does not work here.
2) Lex still had hair in Man of Steel #5, yet he is bald here. That would mean a significant amount of time passed between MoS #5 and MoS #6, meaning Clark had been Superman for even more than five years at this point, even further screwing up the idea of it having only been 10 years since Clark left Metropolis. Either that, of Luthor lost all his hair in the three months that passed between MoS#5/6 and Superman #1.
3) The Zimbabwe revolution Clark had just covered in Man Of Steel #6 was over by 1980, so unless he's referring to a seven year old government as a "revolution," that story could not have taken place only three months earlier.
4) If only ten years have passed, making Superman 28, if he and Lois met at least five years earlier in MoS #2 (when he therefore would have been 23), and if he and Lois are similar in age (I think this is a fair assumption), then (once again) Lois was already at the peak of her journalistic career in her early 20s. This just doesn't make sense. She should have been just out of college, not getting taken out to lunch by the editor, being given the prime assignments, and writing articles that have all other media outlets take notice and start using the "Superman" name she coined.
So there are already significant problems with the continuity, and we're only in issue #1.
- Hawkman and Green Lantern are already active and presumably in contact with Superman.
- Implied (perhaps unintentionally) that Superman has a photographic memory. He recognizes a specific fingerprint he saw at least 3.5 years earlier (MoS #4, which occurred between 1 and 1.5 years after MoS#2, which occurred at least five years ago).
- Superman is a "special operative" of the Metropolis Police Force.
- Superman causes objects he lifts to defy gravity in the same way that he does
- Superman places the laboratory containing all his personal information gathered by the scientist that created Metallo in orbit around the Earth so that he can go back and decide what to do with it later.
- Superman now sees Clark Kent as his "true" identity
- Lois informs Clark that he is "hard enough to resist," clearly indicating a romantic interest in him, though she promises to play hard to get for some time to come. This is a surprising approach to their developing relationship, perhaps taking away too much of the struggle too early on.
- First time it's implied that Lois is attracted to Superman. Apparently, Clark has been aware of this for some time.
- A minor detail, but Lois' hair goes from very dark brown to light brown as of this issue and keeps that look for the rest of the Post-Crisis. I like it better that way.
- Not new, but worth noting -- Byrne makes no attempt to conceal Clark's hulking physique while in his secret identity. This Clark is not awkward, nerdy, or weak at all. As Clark himself says, "Clark Kent 'keeps in shape'".
- Superman has fought other super villains prior to this point. What, then, was the big deal about including Bizarro in MoS #5? Apparently he wasn't Superman's first super villain (unless Byrne's timeline is even screwed up and a LOT of time passed between MoS #5 and MoS #6, which occurred only three months ago).
- Kryptonite is introduced. It is more powerful than uranium, is a piece of the planet Krypton (the scientist who discovered it attempts to explain that all of Krypton was radiating power and that's what caused its destruction, but this requires a lot more explaining). According to Metallo, "the radiation from Kryptonite drives the solar radiation out of your alien cells, Superman. It drives out the source of your strength, your powers. And in its place, it fills you with green, glowing death." So that was the "Green Death" referenced in MoS #1, but it's still not clear how the planet suddenly became radioactive and lethal to all Kryptonians.
- Implied that Luthor gets his hands on the kryptonite, and on Metallo.
- Lois learns Superman is not from Earth.
- 1st appearance of Metallo in Post-Crisis
- 1st appearance of Pearl, an assistant to Lex Luthor
- Was this the first ever modern-day reboot of a comic book title? I know Four Color rebooted back in the 1930s or 1940s, but I assume that was not for sales purposes since they rarely even featured issue numbers on their covers, nor do I assume it was in order to conceptually or thematically reset the book since both series changed focus from issue to issue. I also know there was an earlier Superman issue with a "1st issue" on the cover in order to indicate some change in direction for the book, but it wasn't an actual renumbering.
- Interesting that DC's three core characters demonstrate three different approaches to reboots in the post-Crisis, and I would argue that each approach to rebooting the titles reflects the different approaches taken to reboot the character:
* Batman: Reboot is incredibly subtle. Numbering continues from pre-Crisis volume.
* Superman: Reboot is obvious, but is "not so much a renovation, as a reaffirmation" (Byrne, letter col to this issue). Numbering is rebooted, but Pre-Crisis numbering continues in Adventures of Superman volume, and Action Comics continues uninterrupted.
* Wonder Woman: Total reboot/new approach to the character. Title is rebooted, old numbering is not continued anywhere.
- Byrne acknowledges in this issue that the corporate Lex Luthor concept came from Wolfman.
- Byrne refers to MoS #3 as a "new angle on Superman's relationship with Batman," acknowledging neither what had apparently been tried earlier in Batman and the Outsiders, nor what had just occurred in Dark Knight Returns, and yet Byrne references and praises DKR only three paragraphs later. Seems to me that this implies he was conscious of DKR (though possibly not Batman and the Outsiders) in writing MoS #3.
- This brings me back to the bigger question of what MoS's scope was supposed to be. Byrne admits in the back of this issue that he regretted including details about Krypton in Mos #1 and #6, and if we also assume that #3 was written to ride the coattails of DKR, then the real heart of the series was supposed to be in the relationships amongst Lois, Clark, Lex Luthor, and Superman depicted in MoS #2, 4, and 5, as well as a random Bizarro story inserted into MoS #5 that clearly didn't belong. Something apparently got in the way of that vision, whether editorial or managerial involvement, or Byrne simply not knowing what he wanted to do. I really do feel that Man of Steel was a clusterf*ck of a series, and Byrne's regrets about the scope of series in this column, even while relishing in its overall success, are validating.
- What are the chances that Metallo would show up literally less than an hour after Superman discovered the lab in which he was created?
Plot synopsis in one ridiculously long sentence: Superman traces the person who took his birth matrix to a secret laboratory where information about him has been gathered, coincidentally, Metallo, a cyborg created in that very lab, shows up to wreak havoc less than an hour later, he kicks Superman's butt while also providing his origin in flashback and explaining the nature and properties of Kryptonite to Superman, and Luthor intervenes at the last moment, both to obtain the Kryptonite for himself and to ensure that he is the one who finally kills Superman.
Last edited by shaxper; 11-21-2012 at 08:25 AM.
Please note: I have now added a Post Crisis Superman Timeline in the third post of this thread: http://forums.comicbookresources.com...1#post16138374
There is also a post keeping track of series hightlights and Superman's Post Crisis powers: http://forums.comicbookresources.com...1#post16138373
I always attributed the hair loss to some weird accident off panel, or perhaps close exposure to kryptonite rather than a marker for time passing. Nothing hinted at either in the book but that's what I thought when I read it the first time.
His hair is clearly thinning in MoS #4 and #5, and Lois' "Fred Mertz" comment in #4 draws plain attention to this, so I just assumed it had all fallen out over time.
Well, first thing: I am a hardcore Pre-Crisis Superman fan. I've never considered any Superman since 1986 with the exception of some stories to be the "true Superman", as ridiculous as it sounds.
I hope I am not too biased but in general I found "Man of Steel" to be pretty weak. Especially compared to "Year One" and, to some degree, Perez' Wonder Woman, it looked really pathetic. It didn't even feel particularly fresh and it wasn't even a story. It felt more like a reprint series where they left out 80% of the issues.
That said, in many ways John Byrne was the needed injection into the Superman's bloodstream since the Superman books before that were pretty generic for some time. But Byrne and Wolfman were the wrong guys for the jobs. They never got Superman. I'd wish they'd taken Alan Moore as the writer, Elliot S! Maggin as editor and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez as the successor of Curt Swan (who could have switched to some background Superman title). This would have been possible but they chose the big superstar John Byrne (yes, unbelievable today that at this point John Byrne was a bigger star than Moore).
The regular comics were better than "Man of Steel", no doubt, although for issue#1 the story "Heart of Stone" was pretty weak, including the Schwarzenegger rip-off Metallo. The cover is actually pretty symbolic and showed what was going to happen in the next years. Here look at Superman #1:
And the new Superman #1:
One has Superman soaring majestically, the other one has him owned on the ground. Pretty much the thing they were doing the next years. Superman humiliated. Add to that the fact that even in his first regular story Superman is not able to save himself. No, Lex Kingpin had to save him.
Otherwise, really nice reviews, shaxper. Enjoy them a lot. Including your Batman thread.
First off, pleasure to meet you, Van Cleaf. Welcome to the board, and thanks for chiming in!
Truly, the biggest challenge in ever writing a Superman comic is that there are two Supermans: the cultural icon that people NEED to be unstoppable and unconflicted in his pure heroism, and a compelling comic book protagonist who doesn't have all the powers and all the answers each month. It's the same problem Disney constantly struggles with when they try to do anything with Mickey Mouse. How do you make him FUN in comics, cartoons, and video games when we all expect him to be so pure, perfect, and uncomplicated?
Thanks much!Otherwise, really nice reviews, shaxper. Enjoy them a lot. Including your Batman thread.
Last edited by shaxper; 12-31-2012 at 07:41 AM.
I'll just point out that there is absolutely no way J. L. Garcia-Lopez could have maintained a monthly book, particularly a flagship book. He is simply too slow an artist. That's why they went to having a back-up on Atari Force and he eventually moved in to working on DC's advertising and art bibles with sporadic stories when he could find the time.
My Cooking Blog!
1) Most people are stupid.
2) Most people who aren't stupid often behave as if they were stupid.
3) Many people who are not stupid nonetheless believe a lot of astonishingly stupid things.
“really? isnt the bible millions of years old?” – curefreak
“Yep. It was originally written by a stegosaurus and a fern.” – Dan Apodaca
Interesting perspective. I wonder if that had been part of the thinking behind such a change.
Of course, the fun of the earliest Superman stories were that they were empowerment fantasies: by bending a metal bar or taking a bad guy for a flying leap, they'd instantly cave in and submit to Supes' moral authority. If anything, this new Luthor is the absolute reverse of that: the first bad guy that Superman can't intimidate, no matter what he bends or from what height he dangles him.
Anyway, my apologies for neglecting to get to new reviews this week. Cei-U's Twelve Days of Classic Comics Christmas has sidetracked me in a major way as I have been digging through my collection to finally read stacks of old eligible comics I've always meant to get around to.
Adventures of Superman #424
"Man O' War!"
writer: Marv Wolfman
pencils: Jerry Ordway
inks: Mike Machlan
letters: John Costanza
colors: Tom Ziuko
editor: Andy Helfer
Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway jump onboard to bring their own talents to the new Superman mythos. Few overt attempts are made to reference Byrne's specific continuity (aside from the further development of Lucy Lane after MoS #5), but Helfer seems to keep the story well aligned with what's happening on Byrne's watch in Superman. Still, there's a subtly different flavor that the Wolfman/Ordway pair brings to this new Superman mythology.
On the surface level, the differences are obviously in art and writing style. I definitely prefer Ordway's leaner/less apish depictions of Superman and his far out sci-fi gadgetry and dynamic panel arrangements. Meanwhile, while I'm generally a big fan of Wolfman, I find his writing problematic here as the momentum he strives for via overlapping narration is jarring, and his need to have characters over-explain themselves is quite annoying, especially when Luthor's motivations had already been subtly implied prior to the long debriefing he provides for our sake at the end of this issue.
But, on a deeper level, we also see slight differences in how this creative team perceives their characters. Much attention is given to portraying how much more limited the post-Crisis Superman's powers are as we get six panels of extensive internal monologue as Superman attempts to pep talk himself into finding the strength to climb out of rubble that he's been crushed under. It's certainly the most dramatically powerful moment in the issue.
Additionally, this Luthor is more clever and subtle than Byrne's brazen and foolish antagonist, actually managing to confuse Lois as to whether he's truly a villain or not after she was dead set against him following Byrne's Man of Steel series. Luthor as business tycoon was Wolfman's pitch in the post Crisis, and so it's no surprise to find Wolfman depicting him better than Byrne did.
Wolfman and Ordway also spend more time at the Daily Planet, concocting soap opera style complications for the characters (Lois' mother dying, Cat Grant as vixen rival for Lois, Lex Luthor as the dark suitor rival for Clark), and depicting Clark as a true klutz even while strong, confident, and attractive.
Finally, the team also gives an exciting and advanced sci-fi feel to Metropolis, in which villains utilize super advanced robot technology, and even nutty professors can concoct magnetic repulsor fields. Perhaps this is largely due to the advances made by Luthor and his company.
In contrast, the actual conflict of this story isn't all that interesting to me -- a terrorist organization implied to be backed by Luthor and inevitably being used as a front to eliminate his own enemies without getting his hands dirty. I find what Luthor is doing with Lois far more interesting than the main conflict, though I do applaud Wolfman for doing a bit of universe building here by bringing back the terrorist nation of Qurac (first introduced by him in Teen Titans Spotlight 3-6, a non-Superman story). Qurac surfaces again in some later non-Wolfman, non-Superman stories, most notably including Starlin and Aparo's Batman: A Death in the Family.
-1st post-Crisis appearance of Sam Lane (Lois' father) and the revelation that he and Lois are not on speaking terms. This comes as a surprise since, in Man of Steel #2, while praising her own strength, Lois identifies herself with her father. We can also deduce that Sam Lane was in the military since Man of Steel #4 refers to Lois having been an army brat.
-1st post-Crisis appearance of Elinore Lane (Lois' mother) in a coma. Works at a chemical plant owned by Luthor.
-1st appearance Cat Grant. Gossip columnist from LA hired by Perry White. Reputation for promiscuity.
-1st appearance of Professor Emil Hamilton
-Clark Kent has published more than one novel, and it is implied that they are widely read. Perhaps this is what he was doing prior to working for the Daily Planet.
-The Daily Planet was Lois' first serious job.
-1st appearance of The Freedom League (though I do not suspect they'll show up again)
- 1st post-Crisis appearance of Bill Henderson, Superman's equivalent of Commissioner Gordon. I was not aware of this character previously, though wikipedia indicates he has a long history in the Superman mythos, stemming back to the 1940s radio show and 1950s television series.
- 1st appearance of Lilya. Is Wolfman conflicting Byrne in giving Luthor a second female assistant/implied sexual partner that isn't Pearl (from Superman #1), or are we instead meant to infer that Luthor has an endless supply of such trusted assistants/sexual partners with whom he enjoys discussing his most intimate thoughts and intricate plans?
- post-Crisis re-introduction of Suicide Slum, Metropolis' crime-infested section. I suspect this was done to give Superman more crime to fight and Clark more victims of social injustice to champion. Meanwhile, Man of Steel #3 implied that Metropolis was relatively crime-free compared to Gotham.
- Luthor is still a scientist, though he has largely moved away from this in order to run his empire. So, essentially, the concept is not that Luthor is now a business tycoon instead of a scientist, but rather that a scientist with Luthor's hunger for power operating in the 1980s would inevitably utilize his gifts to further his own quest for power via the business world, the easiest and most admired way to legitimately amass power in such a time period.
- Luthor views everything in terms of winners and losers, even counting Lois the loser to his victory as he begins to succeed in wooing her.
- Wolfman attempts to create a return to the foundational Superman concept of news reporters as agents of social justice. People call the Planet for help when they have no other recourse, and we also see a "Mr. Gunderson" contact Clark in the hopes that he can reach Superman.
- The professor that Clark and Cat are assigned to help is not given a name in this issue. Is this a purposeful omission? Will he turn out to be a famous villain or supporting character in the Superman mythos?
- When responding to the Qurac terrorists' assertion that they are entitled to their course of action because they are taking a war that America started in their land back to the West, Superman responds by saying “Not in my town. In fact, not in my country.” I find this surprising in that it shows Superman having a greater allegiance to America than to justice. As I discussed in my review of Man of Steel #6, I find it disconcerting that Byrne never had Superman reflect on whether or not to get involved in international justice before deciding to settle for a life of stopping petty criminals in Metropolis and saving the average citizen from occasional disaster. Now, I find it further disturbing that, when confronted with such injustice in this context, his rationale for continuing to fight the terrorists is not that two wrongs don't make a right, but rather that they should not bring this battle to his territory, entirely ignoring the injustice of which they speak.
This is further exacerbated by the fact that Superman earlier asks “What’s this war they keep talking about?” implying he's not even aware of what has been happening in Qurac. Surely, as a news reporter, he'd be up on current events, wouldn't he? Certainly, the terrorist acts of the Freedom League should not be condoned, but to totally ignore the initial injustice that has bred their hatred seems irresponsible, especially for a writer like Wolfman who has proven to be conscious of international affairs and injustices in several other stories he has written.
So is Superman a blind patriot who defends America simply because his rocket fell there? The Superman I've always believed in supported America because he generally felt it was an agent of justice in the world. Maybe it's just me, but I've always felt that a true patriot questions his country when it commits acts that conflict with the basic ideals upon which it was founded -- basic ideals that any true patriot is passionate about defending. I therefore find Superman's blind patriotism here disturbing.
- Where did these enormous robots/vehicles come from that they weren’t noticed until the last moment? Certainly, someone would have noticed their rolling down the streets of Metropolis, descending from an aircraft, or rising from beneath the Earth, yet no one seems to see them until a moment before they begin destroying things.
- Why would Clark attempt to punch the professor’s magnetic defense system with full strength? If he succeeded in breaking it with his super strength, wouldn't he have a few questions to answer for the professor?
- Robot vehicles that combine together at the last moment to create a super robot creature? Seriously? Even Superman acknowledges how ridiculously they resemble children's toys of the time period (Voltron, Transformers, etc).
- No letter column to address the renaming of this title nor the introduction of the Wolfman/Ordway creative team?
(continued in next post)
Last edited by shaxper; 01-02-2013 at 02:14 PM.