Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #173

Superman #173

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 1, 2001

Cover date: October 2001

2001 Shield No. 38

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

"The Red Badge Of Courage"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman (

Superman stands with Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, and tells Luthor he needs to know how to end the war. Luthor begins to explain their one chance. Imperiex is merely armor, containing a huge amount of energy. With his ship destroyed, Imperiex Prime is the only threat left, and destroying it will stop the war. If they can crack the armor open, then the energy will be released. Darkseid can open boom tubes to funnel that energy back to its original systems. Superman agrees this might work, but he doesn't think he has the power. Someone else in the room agrees with him, and Kal spins around to find Strange Visitor standing there. If Superman can get her to Imperiex, she'll deliver the blast that they need. Superman agrees.

Standing together, Kal awkwardly expresses his condolences about Lois' father. Quietly, Lois says that she misses Clark. Looking up, she tells Superman that he has to go. He agrees and in a blur of color he is gone.

On board one of the Blackhawk jets, Superman, Strange Visitor, and General Rock head for Imperiex. As Superman talks with some of the Blackhawk pilots, Visitor and Rock talk alone. She talks of his illustrious career, but she doesn't understand why he doesn't want to be remembered. Rock turns away from her and walks away, telling her that he would trade all of his fame if he could only forget the things that made him famous.

Ejected from the ship, Superman and Strange Visitor hover together in space. He tells her that when they get back they will spend some time together, training. She says that he is very sweet, and calls him Clark. She then tells him that she isn't going to be coming back. While Kal begins to protest, she touches him and expends her energy into him. This has been Kismet's destiny all along. She hid inside of Visitor and now she can protect Superman like he once protected her. Crackling with energy Superman, an amalgamation of both his normal and his electric form, flies toward Imperiex.

While Diana, Kyle and the Alien Armada occupy his forces, and General Rock flies in close to the armor, and Darkseid fires his omega beams into the sky, Superman streaks straight in towards the beast.

All forces collide at once and the armor is ruptured. Green Lantern struggles to control the energy and Superman is shocked as more energy than he has every seen is suddenly released all around him.

On Earth, everyone begins to celebrate, and then GL calls in that he can't see Superman anywhere. In the void where just a moment ago Imperiex was, Warworld appears. Absorbing the energy from Imperiex Prime, Darkseid and Lex look on in horror as Brainiac 13 stands triumphant. B-13 signals to Earth and the cannon built into the Lexcorp Tower suddenly fires skyward, striking Apokolips. Furious at this apparent betrayal, Darkseid prepares to rain fiery vengeance upon the Earth, as Brainiac prepares to conquer all.

4Story - 4: Now don't get me wrong, this was a great issue. We tie up lots of plot threads (Strange Visitor and Kismet) and see the emergence of Warworld into the storyline. In fact, this story was very deserving of a five. What kept it from one? Imperiex was defeated so easily. Now I do realize that SV had to sacrifice her life to defeat the behemoth, but in a war that has (apparently) already claimed the Kents, Aquaman, Guy Gardner, and a couple million others, is one more death really that shocking, especially considering it was a character that most of us would probably like to see go anyway. But after a build up of two whole months battling this creature, to have him defeated in the space of two or three pages was kind of weak. Its only saving grace, that awesome splash of Warworld appearing. Hey Ed, if you are reading this, if you don't have anything to do with the original art from that drop me an email and I'll gladly take it off of your hands. Most of us have probably completely forgot about the presence of B-13 in this story, and his appearance was great. Now even more heroes get to die in the books to come!

5Art - 5: Like I already said, that page of Warworld was so incredible. Also, Superman transformed looked so cool with his metallic skin. Ed was definitely the right artist to draw the final destruction of Imperiex. His art carries with it such a bold energy that makes any story better. But then, if you visit this website often, you already know my thoughts on Mr. McGuinness' work.

5Cover Art - 5: A great cover, again, another great shot of that cool Superman, and even better, no sign of Warworld, preserving the surprise entrance until you hit that page near the end. Very nice and simple. My only problem with it is the title written across it: "The Sacrifice". If Aquaman, a major staple of the DCU and a hero for years and years, will throw down his life to stop a probe, not Imperiex Prime, then is Strange Visitor dying to save the universe really as big of a deal? Perhaps it is also referring to Superman having to 'kill' Imperiex, which he was reluctant to do, but personally I would have to agree with Lex's judgement that it is just like stopping a force of nature. Other than my issue with the text, a great cover. Also, semi-spoiler, check out the globe in the lower corner. You will notice a blast radius taking off most of South America and a small portion of Africa. I seem to recall someone saying something about South America being gone after this story. A little foreshadowing perhaps?

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Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic was on sale.

January 2001

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