Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics
Adventures of Superman #588Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 10, 2001
Cover date: March 2001
2001 Shield No. 11
Writer: Joe Casey
Penciller: Mike S. Miller
Inker: Jose Marzan Jr. and Walden Wong
"Pillar of Earth"
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A gritty looking, scruffed up Superman burns "Beware of Dog" into a dam on the edge of Metropolis with his heat vision. "Grrr... Better." He notes.
In a packed monorail, people complain about the packed conditions. Lois notices.
In the Daily Planet, Clark bangs away on his keyboard at a frantic pace, oblivious to the fact that he is revealing his secret identity. Lois questions him and Clark snaps at her. Lois leaves in an angry huff.
Clark sees a beautiful woman and hits on her after Lois has left. The woman denies Clark's advances, noting that he is married. Clark tells her that he won't let that be an issue if she won't.
A car accident stops Lois in the streets. Jimmy is on the scene. Lois asks what happened and Jimmy is short with her. Lois hails a taxi, and the taxi flies off, telling her to find someone who cares. Later, at home in bed with Clark, the mysterious Night Owl from issues previous appears, and tells Lois of a danger from hell itself.
Superman's soul is chained up in hell.
Satanus is upset because he can still read by the light of Superman's soul.
Prankster attempts to question Satanus as to his plans, and Satanus commands Adversary, through the little boy that controls him, to rip out Prankster's vocal chords, surprised that Prankster is still alive.
Lois learns all about "the Deciever's" plan through Night Owl, who tells her that she must find Clark's true self to save the city.
In hell, the Prankster hangs upside down with his vocal chords apparently ripped out. Possibly, he's dead. It's never really elaborated upon. Satanus admires the simplicity and strength of Adversary.
Cary asks Superman why he doesn't break away. Satanus explains that it is because Superman has given himself to Satanus freely to save Metropolis.
Lois tells Night Owl about Torquasm-Rao. She tries to use it to reach Clark. Night Owl tells Lois that she can feel her slipping away, and Lois joins the spirit plane.
She awakens in a hotel. When she hits the service bell, Adversary shows up, throws her into a roller coaster with a snake's head, and takes her to Satanus.
Satanus prods at Superman, with Adversary hanging from Superman's lips.
Lois arrives. Superman goes bonkers and pulls free of his bondage, attacking the many versions of Adversary. He defeats the many visages while Satanus gloats to Lois. Superman blasts the Adversary holding Lois.
Satanus insinuates, "No more 'Mr. Nice Darklord.'".
Satanus commands Cary to attack. Cary doesn't. But he doesn't refuse. He just doesn't. Superman grabs Lois in a lover's hug, goes for Cary, and says that they are leaving.
Satanus points out that Cary gave his power to Satanus, and thus Satanus controls Adversary. Cary says that Satanus promised him the power to do anything he wanted. Cary then says that he doesn't care to be in hell anymore, and that he's leaving. Adversary tells Cary that Cary is nothing without him.
Cary promises to show Adversary power. Superman says "Let's not", because this hell is collapsing around them.
Superman blames the collapse on their refusal to acknowledge Satanus' power. Lois takes Cary home. Superman flies off. Night Owl smirks and Satanus smiles. The end. Story - 1: This is quite possibly the most terrible, pointless Superman story I have ever had the displeasure of encountering. To give you a conception: I enjoyed the Millennium Giants with Superman Red and Blue a heck of a lot more, and I hated that series with a passion.
Why did I hate this issue so much?
First, it follows three issues dealing with the exact same story that were slow, dull, too wordy or too arty based upon whichever page you happen to be on, and full of little inconsistencies in character and plot.
In this particular issue?
- The story takes eight pages to get to the title. The title. As in, page three at the latest.
- Superman is still in the real world, somehow, though he is in hell and chained to a wall. He has been separated in a scene that never occurred, by a power that is only explained through extrapolation by assuming that Satanus can do anything of this nature. And if this is the case, then why would Superman agree to leave an evil version of himself in the real world? Perhaps this is the same process that Satanus applied to the various villains and such with split persona in the first issue. But this is never explained.
- By the second page, we have the clue that Metropolis is somehow now an angry place by the influence of Satanus. And we already knew this, if we have been reading the series thusfar. And if we didn't already know what was going on, we would be at a loss, because this issue makes no attempt to clue the reader into how the characters got into this situation until page ten, in a brief aside from Satanus to Cary. We only know that Satanus is involved, and that he is somehow in league with the Adversary.
- Even though we have said clue by the second page, the writer tries to further clue us in, using no less than five angry scenes involving the main characters and the city of Metropolis. In my eye, as a writer and reader, the scene with Clark hitting on the lady and the scene in the monorail were completely unnecessary. The Superman "Beware of Dog" and the Jimmy scene with Lois were all the reader needed, and they could have fit into two pages. Even the Jimmy scene was unnecessary save in the context of showing that perhaps the entirety of Metropolis was being affected. BUT...
- After all that setup, after all that crud, Night Owl shows up and tells Lois what the writer has just spent six pages setting up.
- Somehow, despite the fact that the entirety of Metropolis is now glum and angry, Lois and the lady that Clark hits on exhibit no sign of untoward behavior. WHOOPS! Even Ron seems fairly nice over the phone.
- Lois demands an apology from Clark for his nasty attitude, then two pages later they are in bed together as if nothing has happened. Clark would be in Couch City, nearing Divorce Town knowing how tough and headstrong Lois is after behaving as he did.
- A whole page of story is lost showing Superman chained up in hell, an image that could easily have fit where the fireplace is on the top of page eight.
- If you had not read previous issues, or didn't have them handy you'd have no idea who Night Owl is because her name does not appear anywhere in this issue. Hmmm.
- Wouldn't Satanus know if Prankster was dead, by virtue of his sensitivity to the passing of souls?
- Lois learning of Clark's predicament could have easily been condensed into Night Owl's first appearance. The cryptic language is unnecessary, silly, and insulting to the reader, child or adult. Look at all the empty space on page six and tell me that the words could not have fit there.
- Lois never hears the name of the "deciever" until she's safely back from hell with Superman. She never says, "Hey, what's going on here?". She just is carried away like a damsel in distress and treated like candy for Superman to save. That was Lois' role in the fifties, not in 2001. She is now headstrong and demands to be in control of the situation.
- So... uh... Prankster is still in hell with his vocal chords ripped out? Bet that'll carry over into his next appearance. Not.
- Lois and Torquasm-Rao. First off, she's not Kryptonian, so I don't buy that she could even achieve the state Clark can. Second, Night Owl would more than likely, if she is of the spiritual world, make Lois achieve the state without any work if Satanus can make Superman do so, or Prankster. Or Thorn. Or Rampage. Or... etc, etc, etc. And Lois has to explain the mind state to Night Owl FROM that mind state. If I were Night Owl, a Semi-deity, I would be offended, or at least put my tongue in my cheek.
- Why in the heck does Lois' dream-state start in a hotel? Pointless.
- Apparently, Adversary can now split into many versions of himself. New power. Hmmm. Guess we can just chalk that up to Satanus' control. But hey, if Satanus can make multiple versions of Adversary, why not just make multiple versions of himself, and attack? Hmmmm, it follows then that Adversary is more powerful that Satanus, right? Oh, no, I've gone cross-eyed. [Editor: I think Cary is actually the one controlling Adversary at the request of Satanus... but that's purely my guess from what I've read.]
- Well. Eight words on pages fifteen and sixteen. Three panels. Six panels on one page, page nine, and one hundred sixty four words. I counted. Seems like a little spreading out could be done, eh? But who am I to judge?
- Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I thought Superman was vulnerable to magic. Is Satanus some kind of physical, or non-magical religious entity?
- "No more Mr. Nice Darklord" HAHAHA... uhhhh...??? Dumb. Tacky. And he never really presses the attack after he says this.
- Satanus, who has Cary's soul, cannot make Cary use Adversary in the name of Satanus. Superman, who has ceded his self-control to Satanus, can easily and without consequence break free from the bargain and take his magical lair and foes apart. Good God, we're at twenty.
- Cary, it seems, does have the power to do anything he wants, though he says that he doesn't. Adversary's power seems infinite. He can take hell apart. He can defy Satanus. I'd call that power.
- Cary also says that the "hell" isn't real. So, then, none of the events that have been occurring there have occurred there, huh? Then where have they occurred?
- Hell collapses because the people present do not believe in it. Right. Sure. Are we to gather from this that things can be made to disappear if no one believes in them? Or maybe this just applies to pseudo religious demi-god figures with the power to steal souls and control people who can break that control at will. There. That settles it. What was I thinking.
- Satanus loses, and Night Owl, essentially, wins. So why, in the last panel, is she smirking angrily and Satanus smiling?
And those are just the plot-holes. There are other beefs I have with this issue. Oh yes. This story, as convoluted as it was, stretched over FOUR MONTHS! FOUR MONTHS!
THIS IS AN ALL CAPS CALL TO THE DC STAFF, HIGHER UP, LOWER DOWN, WHEREVER YOU ARE, TO BRING BACK THE COHERENT, CONTINUING STORY, NOT SEPARATE THE CONTINUITY INTO FOUR SEPARATE BOOKS!
This story would have been over in a month, and chances are good that at least one of the issues would have went over well despite the terrible story thanks to a take of a particular creative group.
If this separation continues, I will be forced to stop reading the books that I don't like, because I will not be missing an essential plot element of the books that I like. Though it cost me more money, in the past I bought them all so that I could have the one, continuing storyline that dated back ten years. Where is that now?
I am told by many people that the writers and staff of the books read these reviews. I apologize for being harsh, and I mean no harm by it to you or your professional careers. I just want you to see that you have a very real adult audience that sees through bad plots, and more than likely the younger readers are as observant as well. We care about character, and continuity, and this story is just not up to par.
It has also been brought to this reviewers attention that this story did not start out on the Casey foot, but rather the DeMatteis foot. With this knowledge, I have to give Mr. Casey credit for taking what is an obviously difficult and plodding story and winding it up with haste. I suggest that despite my review, if anyone is swayed by it, that we all give Joe a good starting chance, because many times writers are put into difficult positions, whether by choice or circumstance, and I'd hate to throw a stone without openly admitting that I have written things that I have no faith in, or that I have ultimate faith in that people have torn to shreds and hated. Good luck Joe, and sorry for being so harsh...
I do like seeing Mr. Younis and this website mentioned in the letter column though. In that respect, keep up the good work.
Art - 3: Very clean, very nicely colored, but there are the problems, mostly related to writing, that throw this issue off. There are pages that take up entire pages that are unnecessary, large splashes that are unnecessary. Page seven. Page thirteen. Page fifteen and sixteen are nice, but they use up so much space that is crammed into six to nine panel pages through the rest of the issue. There is some detail lost. The people on the fourth panel on page five. Words missing on the pages on the posterboard on the second panel of page three. Little things. They add up. But overall not that bad.
Cover Art - 3: It's representative of the story, and it's interesting, but it doesn't really stand out that much. The flames are all fairly similar, and there is nothing on the ground Cary lays on. No rocks. No situation related items. Again a lack of detail throws the situation.
Other recent reviews:
-  Adventures of Superman #587
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #109
-  Action Comics #774
-  Superman #166
Mild Mannered Reviews
2001Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic was on sale.
-  Superman #164
-  Lex 2000
-  Adventures of Superman #586
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #108
-  Action Comics #773
- JLA #49
- JLA: A League of One
- JLA: Act of God #1
-  Superman #165
-  Adventures of Superman #587
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #109
-  Action Comics #774
- JLA #50
- JLA: Seven Caskets
- JLA versus Predator
- Justice Leagues: JL? #1
- JLA: Act of God #2
-  Superman #166
-  Adventures of Superman #588
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #110
-  Action Comics #775
- President Luthor: Secret Files and Origins #1
- JLA: Act of God #3
- Justice Leagues: Justice League of Aliens #1
- Justice Leagues: JLA #1
-  Superman #167
-  Adventures of Superman #589
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #111
-  Action Comics #776
- JLA #51
- Legends of the DC Universe #39
- Superboy's Legion #1
-  Superman #168
-  Adventures of Superman #590
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #112
-  Action Comics #777
- Superman Adventures #55
- JLA #52
- Superboy's Legion #2
- JLA: Black Baptism #1
- Batman: Gotham Adventures #36
-  Superman #169
-  Adventures of Superman #591
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #113
-  Action Comics #778
- Superman Adventures #56
- JLA #53
-  Superman #170
-  Adventures of Superman #592
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #114
-  Action Comics #779
- Superman Adventures #57
- JLA #54
- JLA: Incarnations #1
- Super Friends! Trade Paperback
- Superman: Where Is Thy Sting?
-  Superman #171
- Green Lantern: Our Worlds At War #1
-  Adventures of Superman #593
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #115
-  Action Comics #780
- Superman: Our Worlds At War: Secret Files and Origins #1
- Superman Adventures #58
- JLA #55
- JLA: Incarnations #2
-  Superman #172
-  Adventures of Superman #594
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #116
-  Action Comics #781
- JLA: Our Worlds At War #1
- JSA: Our Worlds At War #1
- Superman Adventures #59
- JLA #56
- JLA: Incarnations #3
-  Superman #173
-  Adventures of Superman #595
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #117
-  Action Comics #782
- World's Finest: Our Worlds At War #1
- Superman Adventures #60
- JLA #57
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #1
- JLA: Incarnations #4
-  Superman #174
-  Adventures of Superman #596
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #118
-  Action Comics #783
- Superman Adventures #61
- JLA #58
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #2
- JLA: Incarnations #5
- Joker: Last Laugh #1
- Joker: Last Laugh (Secret Files & Origins) #1
- Joker: Last Laugh #2
-  Superman #175
- Joker: Last Laugh #3
-  Adventures of Superman #597
- Joker: Last Laugh #4
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #119
- Joker: Last Laugh #5
-  Action Comics #784
- Superman Adventures #62
- JLA #59
- JLA: Gatekeeper #1
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #3
- JLA: Incarnations #6
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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2001.