Adventures of Superman #426
"From the Dregs" (Legends, Chapter 18)
writer: Marv Wolfman
co-plotters: Jerry Ordway and John Byrne
art: Jerry Ordway
letters: Albert DeGuzman
colors: Tom Ziuko
editor: Andrew Helfer
I go back and forth on this issue. On the one hand, it had great scope. Whereas Byrne's chapter last issue accomplished absolutely nothing, what occurs in this issue could have been decompressed into three tightly plotted issues. Additionally, Wolfman's narration is quite eloquent, even when I find his dialogue for the Hunger Dogs inconsistent and often sounding a little too educated and introspective for the dregs of a society. And finally, Ordway's pencils and inks are absolutely stellar here, and I was particularly amused by the Kirby-esq mechanical frame he created for the panels on page 4. Perhaps my one complaint with his art is how creepy and mannish he makes Amazing Grace appear as she's about to get intimate with Superman (more on this later). I suspect he was trying to make us uncomfortable about the character, but it worked too well.
And then there are straightforward problems with the issue. There's definitely something off in the pacing where a crowd goes from not believing Superman has special abilities to instantly assuming he has come there to destroy them and then quickly rally behind him as their savior to the point that they're willing to publicly blaspheme and plot against Darkseid, their master. Granted, Wolfman is struggling to fit so much into 22 pages, but it threw me.
Then you've got the whole romance bit between a disoriented Superman and Amazing Grace. It goes so far that I'm truly not sure whether or not they slept together after page 15, and that really bugs me. Supes is the morally righteous guy, he's destined to be with Lois, and this would presumably be his "first time" as well. It just really rubs me the wrong way. Even Bruce Wayne is generally depicted as sending the girls home long before it gets this far, and I don't hold the same level of expectation for moral perfection with him, nor am I waiting for him to end up with Vicki Vale in the same way that I expect Clark to get Lois in the end. Maybe I'm just too old school or something, but this truly bothered me.
So this was a pretty mixed issue for me, though, all things considered, it succeeded more than it failed.
- So many aspects of the plot of this story still remain a total mystery to me. Did Darkseid want Superman to come to Apokolips specifically to use him in the way in which he did in this issue? If so, how could he have orchestrated events to have worked out in the way that they did in this issue? So much of it could not have been anticipated. Additionally, what's causing Superman's head to be clouded?
- So the fire pits of Apokolips only hurt Superman a little bit, but he can be electrocuted easily (as per Adventures of #424). Considering that these are both forms of energy, I find that a little surprising. I suppose it's possible, but it just seems improbable.
- More issues with this Aura of Invulnerability crap. Supes just survived a plunge headlong into the fire pits of Apokolips, and his cape is only a little torn. I forget the exact measurement Helfer provided in a previous letter column (perhaps half an inch) but he specifically made the point that Superman's aura of invulnerability does not extend out to his cape, and, in MoS #1, Ma Kent even indicated that it would not protect loose fitting clothing.
- That unskilled Hunger Dog clumbed up on Darkseid's statue and recarved it to look like Superman with flawless ease in one very quick session!
- I'd love a poster of page 17. Jerry Ordway seemed to have suspect as much when he took the time to sign the page-long panel.
Plot synopsis in one ridiculously long sentence:
Superman survives the fire pits but is disoriented, the Hunger Dogs find him and take him to Amazing Grace, she sets him up to be their savior and courts him romantically, Superman leads them into battle against Darkseid, Darkseid ends up having been in control of Amazing Grace and hypnotizes Superman into betraying the Hunger Dogs, squelching the rebellion, as Darkseid had planned all along.