Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #161

Superman #161

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 8, 2000

Cover date: October 2000

2000 Shield No. 39

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciller: Ed McGuinness
Inker: Cam Smith

"You Say You Want A Revolution?"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

Superman surfaces from under the water, preparing an attack on the HaHacienda with Supergirl and Superboy. They figure that the water route will be least expected, while Lois and Steel attack straight on in their respective battle suits. To understand how they got here, read Emperor Joker #1.

Supergirl and Superboy are being routed by Joker-faced fishes when Superman arrives and blasts them to oblivion with his heat vision, regretfully because he figures them semi-living creatures. The fish aren't done for, but Aquaman and Aqua-Lung Lad arrive and finish them off before leaving. Meanwhile, Steel and Lois break the barrier to the fortress on the HaHacienda. Superman notes this, and the Super trio takes off to enter the fortress. In the HaHacienda, Harley asks Joker for a parcel of land. He refuses her. He then does a roll call for his evil JLA, brings Luthor, previously killed, back to life, and then kills him again when he acts arrogantly.

At the gate, Superman and Lois kiss. The group spreads apart into their original groups.

Bounty arrives, and launches DNA specific bullets at each of the heroes. They run, bringing the bullets back to Bounty, and they all dodge at the last second. Bounty blows up.

All of a sudden, a large explosion seemingly obliterates Superboy and Supergirl. Ignition has launched a volley.

Superman vows to kill Ignition if he's killed Superboy and Supergirl, and Ignition scoffs, shooting at Superman. Bizarro blocks the shot and begins speaking his backward-speak threats, which may or not be threats.

Superman crushes his amulet, and Bizarro suddenly gives up. Madness, Superman laments.

Lois and Steel burst in to Joker's throne room. Lois says that she has a business proposition for Joker...

Superman takes off to find Batman for help... but he's dead, tacked to the door of the Gotham City Police Department door. 2Story - 2: I have such mixed feelings about this whole Emperor Joker thing right now. At first I was cynical. I figured this to be another Millennium Giants piece of unmentionables. I thought Superman would be confused for a few issues, and then magically be restored back to normal. But he wasn't, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Joker where he usually isn't. My problem with the whole storyline thusfar is the fact that it is taking something that can be easily condensed and spreading it out over the course of several months. Bounty, Ignition, all of these new villains are easily dispatched and no real threat... heck, every time they encounter the heroes they're taken out in a few blows, or successful in their endeavors in a page or two. This is irrelevant to my take on this issue, but it is a set-up for what I have to say: this issue, while an essential part of the story, could be just as effective without Bounty or Ignition, and it would have taken up five to eight less pages. The Joker fish seemed kind of dull, and Aquaman showing up where he isn't really that needed (They could have, perish the thought, left the water) all eat up space to add to the feeling of chaos that this world occupies in the DC Universe. But weren't the last five issues all about setting up the chaos? Now something needs to be done about it. Those ten extraneous pages could have been better used. I mean, he crumples Bizarro's amulet, and Bizarro whines like a baby and gives up the fight. That keeps with the chaos but it's just not that intriguing. Several other nit picky problems: Superboy and Supergirl die. Superman's not that upset. Bounty is killed. Superman doesn't even examine the moral ramifications of this. Bounty's bullets are meant to lock on to DNA, and yet they travel straight into their shooter without much of a fight. I know the super crew is fast, but...

Bizarro shows up to block Ignition's shot, and then Ignition suddenly disappears. Bad enough to have a fairly weak villain appear for no apparent reason, but if he's there, criminy, he's there. Take care of him.

This story was taking a turn from a crossover that exhibits each individual Super team's talent to a unified narrative with a point and strengths. I fear that the next few issues may be stretched out to give each creative team their hack. I know this review is harsh, but it is a reviewer's responsibility to focus on the bad while giving credit for the good. There is good, and I see it, I'm still buying the book and will continue. My point here is merely that Jeph Loeb and crew, up until this series, have produced my favorite Superbook since I started collecting when the main man died, and I don't want that run to slip at all. Sorry this is so long, guys, and good reading.

4Art - 4: Very, very nice. I love the work of McGuinness. The only thing I had a problem with was the splashes that were unnecessary. As people who have read my reviews know, I hate unnecessary splashes. But dang nabbit, these splashes, while unnecessary, look so darn good that I can only take one point off, and I had to grab my hand at the wrist and force it down onto the four to make it do that, because extraneous spreads or not, it's the best Superman's ever looked. And even though he was dead, it's the best Batman's looked. Buff is good.

3Cover Art - 3: A very aesthetically pleasing cover. The colors are very brilliantly plotted out. On close scrutiny, the aura around Joker seems weird, but only if you look too closely. Minus one for being an overstatement of the plot, and then not eliciting the specifics of the issue (It's titled Reign of Emperor Joker, no need for Joker to remind us of it in big, cliche words and terms) (Though the insanity is nice) (Like the insanity of too many parenthesis in one paragraph). Minus one for the Godzilla Superman. He's looming there, looking afraid with his face, but like he's going to pound the crap out of Joker with his fist. The emotions conflict.

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January 2000

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