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  1. #706
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    Adventures of Superman #443

    "Prisoner of Conscience"
    writer: Jerry Ordway
    pencils: John Statema
    inks: Doug Hazelwood
    letters: Albert De Guzman
    colors: Julianna Ferriter
    editor: Michael Carlin
    associate editorL Renee Witterstaetter

    grade: C-

    What goes on here?

    Just as the most recent issue of Superman seemed like two different stories cut and pasted together in a disjointed manner, this issue has its own share of dual identities going on. What begins as a grounded and powerful extension of Wolfman's exploration of terrorism abruptly shifts into a story involving alien abductors, with the life of Jimmy Olsen on the line. It's the type of fluff we've come to expect from Byrne, carelessly tacked onto the second half of this story, and yet there's no indication that Byrne was involved.

    There are other oddities this time around -- 30 pages of content instead of the normal 20, a fill-in penciler, inker, and colorist. Does this all have something to do with Byrne leaving and the mad rush to get all his ideas in before he does so? After all, the next issue of this title is going to be hijacked by Byrne in order to get the three part Supergirl storyline done before his departure.

    So, essentially, we're evaluating two only loosely related and entirely different stories. The first was a fantastic return to Wolfman's work on Qurac, showing the natural result of Superman just going in and dismantling the military by force. Now terrorist groups are rising up and using Superman's image/reputation to fan the fires that rally their base. Yet another ingenious way of exploring the post-Crisis concept of limiting Superman's powers. Instead of doing so literally, we see that even his use of brute strength, as well as his image, can work against him with devastating results.

    The second story was just ridiculous. There's little more to say about it beyond the idea that I feel like we're drowning in stories of ancient alien races that have been visiting Earth all along. We had that group from Superman #5 and 6, The Circle (which, at least, gets a minor acknowledgement in this issue), and even the ancient race Deadman recently encountered in Action Comics Weekly (though, to be fair, that feature is overseen by a different editor). Only a year into the Superman relaunch (not counting Man of Steel, since it was only six issues) Superman has already come across THREE such ancient races. Seems like a bit much.


    Minor Details:

    - Superman rescues two hostages who were about to be executed after being held for a year, ties up their captors, gives them the guns, and tells them to call the police while flying off to save Jimmy Olsen. THAT was the story I wanted to see -- what kind of psychological ordeal it would be to suddenly have your captors/would-be-executioners at your mercy; I could give a f**k about following Superman to instead discover whether or not the space aliens will suck the life out of Jimmy Olsen.

    - How is Clark going to write up his article for this adventure? "And then I took out six heavily armed terrorists all by myself and, by the way, I'm not Superman"?


    plot synopsis in one sentence:

    Terrorist activity is on the rise across the Middle East in response to Superman's actions in Qurac several months back, a woman with connections to Perry White is demanding to find out what happened to her husband, a reporter taken hostage a year ago by one such terrorist group, Clark and Jimmy are sent to Jordan to find out, they meet with a group of terrorists, they attack him as a means of trying to draw out Superman, Clark takes them out as Clark Kent, Jimmy and their guide/connection escape, they end up in another dimension controlled by space aliens who have been visiting since the time of ancient Egypt and need Jimmy's body in order to augment their own, Superman follows and gets a history of their people (which I won't go into here; it's truly not worth it), and he manages to enable a righteous insurrection while also rescuing Jimmy and learning the fate of the reporter he and Jimmy came to find in the first place (he died a year ago and had his body used by the alien leader since then).


    So really, what the heck was all that?
    Last edited by shaxper; 09-21-2013 at 08:41 PM.

  2. #707
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    Action Comics Weekly #607

    I'm continually staggered by the immensity of ambition and risk that was involved in the Action Comics Weekly experiment. This time around, we're starting to see the very first letters come in responding to the preview edition of the first issue of Action Comics Weekly. If I recall correctly, it takes a company at least 3 months to get a semi-reliable sense of how well a comic is doing (looking at sales numbers and fan reaction). Generally speaking, that isn't much of a problem, but in the case of ACW, they've already put out 7 double sized issues involving 5 creative teams and are already planning new features, creative teams, and story arcs, and yet they have next to no idea how people are responding to the title or if it's even being read.

    Wow.

    As for the features, themselves, this felt like a better week for most as their first story arcs approach their final chapters next week.

    Blackhawk is winding down well. Less humor and personality this time around, but the plot is finally advancing, and I'm slightly curious to see where it goes.

    Green Lantern still feels utterly directionless, but Hal's characterization is beginning to come through a bit, and we're starting to see our first indications that Owsley is capable of throwing in some humor even at the darkest of times.

    Deadman is trying far too hard to be clever, but it isn't hitting the mark. This installment, in which Deadman seeks to escape from Hell and encounters the Man in the Mountain, was intended to be a mind-bender, but it just came off as nonsensical and trying too hard to look like a mind-bender.

    Secret Six just isn't doing it for me anymore. I don't care about the old team's back story, nor about thwarting Mockingbird nor uncovering his identity. I just want to see more cool espionage, and we're not going there.

    Wild Dog still has great art, vibrant coloring, and absolutely nothing else.


    And then there's Superman...


    "Familiar Face?"
    writer: Roger Stern
    pencils: Curt Swan
    inks: John Beatty
    letters: Bill Oakley
    colors: Tom Ziuko
    assistant editor: Renne Witterstaetter (wasn't she an [b]associate[/b[ editor previously?)
    editor: Mike Carlin

    grade: B

    Stern segues into a new story arc (though continuing from the old one) in which Superman seeks a motive for the attempt on Bob's life in the previous story arc by attempting to determine the identity of the head thug who blew himself up to escape capture. It's a tough challenge to convey such information in only two pages while also keeping things interesting. To be blunt, Stern fails in this regard, ending with a shock ending that really isn't all that shocking -- the man was vice president for a high tech firm, and a cover for his death was provided to the news sources that he was badly burned in an electrical fire (but then presumably still alive?).

    Still, this is a strong outing for Swan, who changes up the panel arrangements and finds dynamic camera angles to keep things visually interesting. John Beatty, who's been doing a heck of a job on coloring up to this point, also works hard this time around to find dynamic shades of purple and green in order to keep things exciting to the eyes, even while nothing is really happening.

    So are we to infer that "Charles Culper," the head thug from the previous arc, is actually still alive, or should we instead infer that a double of his will be taking his place? The high-tech firm angle, along with the fact that Culper seemed somehow alien in his inner thoughts previously, suggest to me that he's either an alien, a robot, or a clone (perhaps one of many). I'll admit this leaves me somewhat intrigued. Some good sci-fi would really liven up this feature, especially with Swan and Beatty on the job.
    Last edited by shaxper; 09-22-2013 at 10:25 AM.

  3. #708
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    World of Metropolis #2

    "How I Spent My Summer Vacation"
    writer: John Byrne
    pencils: Win Mortimer
    inks: Dick Giordano & Sal Trapani
    letters: Bill Oakley
    colors: Tom Ziuko
    assistant editor: Renee Witterstaetter
    editor: Mike Carlin
    featuring characters created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster

    grade: D

    There've really only been two things I was looking forward to learning about in World of Metropolis -- Lex Luthor's rise to power (which, it turns out, we're not going to get) and the story of how Lois got her job at the Planet. We've known from Action Comics #594 that Lois was 16 when she got hired (though now she's only 15. Oops), but I wanted to learn how she did it and what that was like for her. Most importantly, especially after we saw her hero worship Perry White in the previous issue of World of Metropolis, I wanted to see what their relationship would be like. Instead, we get a 15 year old Lois Lane bumbling around with dumb luck towards an unclear goal (she, or is it just we, have absolutely no idea WHAT she's supposed to be digging up about Lex's new corporate acquisition), and the story simply drops off once she's gathered some piece of evidence, with a summary then quickly provided by Lois of the present day.

    Couldn't we have cut out that UTTERLY USELESS six page intro of Lois risking her life to save Lucy's dog in order to get the story we were actually waiting for?


    Important Details:

    - Lois got her first job at the Daily Planet by swiping a piece of evidence from Lex Luthor's desk at the age of 16 which was not enough to prove guilt, but enough to finally convince Perry White that Luthor truly was crooked. Of course, we NEVER learn what the evidence actually was.

    - Lucy Lane was not yet deaf as of this story

    - The constant reference by both Perry White and Lex Luthor to the idea that Lois would be worthy of them in about ten more years suggests that Lois might be exactly ten years older in the present day. This is just a hunch, of course, but that would make Lois 25 while Clark is 29.

    - Heavily implied in this issue (though with more tact than usual for Byrne) that Luthor was attracted to a sixteen year old Lois and spanked her with a ruler(?), video taped the whole thing, and mailed her a copy. What is wrong with you, Byrne?


    Minor Details:

    - Perry's reaction to not remembering Lois was priceless; truly the only worthwhile part of this issue. Why couldn't Lois reversing that impression have been the focal point for this story?

    - There are MANY plot lines barely begun that Byrne will not be addressing before he leaves (not the least of which is the laboratory in orbit of Earth containing Superman's secrets that's been there since THE FIRST ISSUE), but two in particular come to mind this time around: The fate of Lois' mother and Luthor's role in it, as well as the hinting provided way back in Superman #4 that something illicit was going down at Lucy's work that Jimmy wanted information on. Lucy refers to hating her work and her boss in this issue, but any hint as to illegal transgressions going down has been forgotten here.


    plot synopsis in one sentence:

    Lois is in a burning building trying to rescue Lucy's dog, she is rescued by Superman, she allows Lucy to stay with her for the time being, the two reminisce on how Lois got her job at the Planet at the age of sixteen by recklessly breaking into Lexcorp in order to indiscriminately steal papers from Luthor's desk, she gets caught but hides a crumpled paper in her mouth, and that paper is enough to get her a job at the Planet.


    Truly disappointing how badly Byrne misused the potential of this story. I wanted to see a 15 year old Lois fighting to earn the respect of her hero, working to prove she belongs at a world class newspaper at such a young age, and experiencing something other than rising action in meeting Lex Luthor for the first time.
    Last edited by shaxper; 09-22-2013 at 04:45 PM.

  4. #709
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    With Byrne's tenure on Superman ending, here's a list of unresolved plotlines that he probably had no plans to return to anyway:

    PLEASE DON'T POST ANY SPOILERS IN RESPONSE TO THESE. A simple, "It gets resolved in issue #blahblahblah" will suffice :)


    1. A laboratory orbiting the Earth since Superman #1 containing all of Superman's secrets within it (I hear this gets resolved later on)

    2. Lois Lane's mother being near death, presumably because of Lex Luthor (I know this gets resolved later on)

    3. What's going on at Lucy Lane's place of Work.

    4. Mxyzptlk can still visit Earth every 90 days.

    5. Vril Dox and the carnival performer he is controlling (I assume this gets resolved later on)

    6. Lex Luthor's Kryptonite ring -- what happened to it? (I know this gets resolved later on)

    7. What happened to Jimmy Olsen's dad?

    8. What will happen to Jose Delgado (I know this gets resolved very soon)

    9. Was Superman ever a member of the Justice League in the Post-Crisis? Post-Zero Hour stories will sometimes depict him as a founding member.

    10. Who mailed Ma Kent's scrapbook to Clark Kent? (I know this gets resolved later on)


    Feel free to add to the list, as I'm sure I've forgotten some.

  5. #710
    Veteran Member SJNeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    9. Was Superman ever a member of the Justice League in the Post-Crisis? Post-Zero Hour stories will sometimes depict him as a founding member.
    Post-COIE, Superman's first tenure with the League started with Dan Jurgens and Gerard Jones Justice League Spectacular, a one-shot that immediately followed the Giffen/DeMatteis run, setting the stage for a new era. He led the JLA from #61-69, when Doomsday showed up. He didn't rejoin until several years after his resurrection, with Morrison's famed JLA.

    EDIT: As far as I know, The current "New 52" continuity is the first time Superman's been a founding member of the League since pre-COIE.
    Last edited by SJNeal; 09-22-2013 at 06:05 PM.

  6. #711
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    Superman #21

    "You Can't Go Home Again" (The Supergirl Saga, Part I)
    writing/art: John Byrne
    inks: John Beatty
    colors: Petra Scotese
    letters: John Costanza
    editor: Mike Carlin
    assistant editor: Renee Witterstaetter

    grade: B

    At most points in his Superman run, it has felt like John Byrne was half assing the whole thing. Yet now, in his final major storyline before his (presumably, at this point) imminent departure, he comes alive on this story, at least in terms of art. This is a beauty of an issue to look at, with exciting panel arrangements, vibrant art, and some really fun ways of expressing movement/momentum (something Byrne always seems to do well when at his best).

    The story, on the other hand...

    There's A LOT I've outright hated about Byrne's run that I wish would be washed away from continuity. probably #4 or 5 on that list is the absurd "pocket universe" concept he introduced as a means of restoring his favorite aspects of the Silver Age while also allowing the Post-Crisis to move forward. In actuality, all it did was manage to make the concept of a Post-Crisis universe even more confusing and problematic. So, sure enough, we're returning to that terrible concept again as a means of explaining where this Supergirl came from.

    And yet why is Supergirl Lana Lang??


    Important Details:

    What we know about this Supergirl who, most likely, isn't sticking around beyond this storyline anyway:
    - Really Lana Lang
    - Has "chameleon" power that allows her to change her appearance
    - Can become invisible (even to Superman's senses)
    - Does not possess most of Superman's powers, including his X-Ray vision
    - Cannot fly as fast as Superman
    - Has a psycho-kinetic blast


    Minor Details:

    - How can Perry just keep ordering Clark and Lois to drop everything they're doing in order to go on long trips in pursuit of minor stories? In this case, Lois is essentially being Jimmy Olsen's chaperon. The Daily Planet's top reporter has nothing better to do for a week or so???

    - Why would Superman automatically assume Supergirl is from the Pocket Universe? My mind immediately went to her somehow coming out of the Crisis.

    - Is Byrne still planning on explaining how Supergirl was buried beneath the surface of the Earth for thousands of years before being uncovered?


    Plot synopsis in one sentence:

    The Pocket Universe Earth(?) is in the process of being destroyed, the Pocket Universe Pete Ross and Alex Luthor (now ten years older than they were in Superboy continuity) are monitoring Supergirl and counting on her bringing Superman to them as a solution to what is occurring, Supergirl is at first convinced Superman is some imposter Kryptonian but gradually comes to her senses, Superman learns that she tied up Ma and Pa Kent and the real Lana Lang (presumably because she thought they were lying too???), he convinces Supergirl that she is from a different Universe and helps to jog her memory, Jimmy Olsen persuades Perry White to send him and Lois Lane to Ireland in search of the Silver Banshee's past, and Supergirl and Superman are transported back to the universe she came from, where he meets that version of Lex Luthor and is reunited with the Pocket Universe Pete Ross.


    A fun issue in terms of action and art, but I dislike the return of the Pocket Universe and am not at all confident that this story is going to pay off. Plus, dangling Supergirl in front of the readers for all these months only for us to learn that she's from the Pocket Universe and, thus, probably not sticking around, must have been infuriating to fans at the time.
    Last edited by shaxper; 09-22-2013 at 05:52 PM.

  7. #712
    Veteran Member SJNeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Plus, dangling Supergirl in front of the readers for all these months only for us to learn that she's from the Pocket Universe and, thus, probably not sticking around, must have been infuriating to fans at the time.
    Luckily, she did stick around. I was/am a big fan of the Matrix Supergirl, since she was the first version I was introduced to way back in '91/'92, but I also remember she didn't get the best reception from a lot of long term fans at the time.

  8. #713
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJNeal View Post
    Luckily, she did stick around.
    Wow. That's news to me.

    Is she the same one who was working for Lex Luthor "Jr" later on? I'd always assumed that was Kara, but I never read the actual issues.

  9. #714
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    What's left to review before Byrne's run is done:

    Action Comics Weekly #608
    Action Comics Weekly #609
    Adventures of Superman #444 (Byrne)
    World of Metropolis #3 (Byrne)
    Superman #22 (Byrne)
    Action Comics Weekly #610
    Action Comics Weekly #611
    Adventures of Superman #445
    Action Comics Weekly #612
    World of Metropolis #4 (Byrne)

    After that, I'll be getting to reviews in this thread less often as I start some new projects and resume a few old ones, as well. I still have every intention of getting to the Jurgens/Ordway era, but those issues are a LONG while off, and getting through the Byrne issues was an effort all its own.

  10. #715
    Veteran Member SJNeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Wow. That's news to me.

    Is she the same one who was working for Lex Luthor "Jr" later on? I'd always assumed that was Kara, but I never read the actual issues.
    Yep, they're one and the same. Matrix/Pocket Universe Supergirl held the title until 1996 when Peter David spun her off into her own title that would eventually radically alter her.

  11. #716

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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Wow. That's news to me.

    Is she the same one who was working for Lex Luthor "Jr" later on? I'd always assumed that was Kara, but I never read the actual issues.
    Yes, that was her.

    The character stuck around for a bit after the Pocket Universe- though not as Supergirl. Then "it" left for space looking like Superman.

    A few years later the creature returned and resumed the Supergirl ID. As Supergirl she fell under the sway of Lex, who was in a cloned body and posing as his own son.

    Peter David then had that Supergirl merge with the DCU Linda Danvers to create his Supergirl. Though based on Supergirl's history of stealing other people's lives, I always assumed that she was no more Linda than she had been Lana (or Clark) duing the earlier runs.

  12. #717

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    Quote Originally Posted by SJNeal View Post
    Post-COIE, Superman's first tenure with the League started with Dan Jurgens and Gerard Jones Justice League Spectacular, a one-shot that immediately followed the Giffen/DeMatteis run, setting the stage for a new era. He led the JLA from #61-69, when Doomsday showed up. He didn't rejoin until several years after his resurrection, with Morrison's famed JLA.

    EDIT: As far as I know, The current "New 52" continuity is the first time Superman's been a founding member of the League since pre-COIE.
    They always implied Superman shared a bunch of JLA adventures without being a member. Power Girl mentions that he was present for the JLA/JSA/New Gods story. And I think there was a Starbreaker story that mentioned he happened to be there when the JLA first fought Starbreaker. It was a way of keeping most of his major JLA appearances in continuity while still technically saying he was never a JLA member.

  13. #718
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJNeal View Post
    Post-COIE, Superman's first tenure with the League started with Dan Jurgens and Gerard Jones Justice League Spectacular, a one-shot that immediately followed the Giffen/DeMatteis run, setting the stage for a new era. He led the JLA from #61-69, when Doomsday showed up. He didn't rejoin until several years after his resurrection, with Morrison's famed JLA.

    EDIT: As far as I know, The current "New 52" continuity is the first time Superman's been a founding member of the League since pre-COIE.

    Meltzer's Justice League of America #0 (2006) outright has Superman and Batman form the original Justice League (unless this is supposed to be Pre-Crisis history?). If I recall correctly, #1 goes on to imply that he, Batman, and Wonder Woman have had a hand in the formation of nearly every incarnation since.
    Last edited by shaxper; 09-22-2013 at 07:12 PM.

  14. #719
    Veteran Member SJNeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Meltzer's Justice League of America #0 (2006) outright has Superman and Batman form the original Justice League (unless this is supposed to be Pre-Crisis history?). If I recall correctly, #1 goes on to imply that he, Batman, and Wonder Woman have had a hand in the formation of nearly every incarnation since.
    Ah, you are correct. This was a result of Infinite Crisis though, not Zero Hour. I remember there was a bit of outcry from Black Canary fans that she'd been replaced as the founding female.

  15. #720
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJNeal View Post
    Ah, you are correct. This was a result of Infinite Crisis though, not Zero Hour. I remember there was a bit of outcry from Black Canary fans that she'd been replaced as the founding female.
    I didn't realize Infinite Crisis had done anything other than restore the multi-verse...and I was reading at the time!

    I do recall Superboy Prime's "retcon punch" changing a few things, but when/where did they explain that IC had made changes to continuity?

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