Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman: The Man of Steel #118

Superman: The Man of Steel #118

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 19, 2001

Cover date: November 2001

2001 Shield No. 44

Writer: Mark Schultz
Penciller: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Walden Wong

"Time and Punishment"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

On the news, a blond reporter portrays the new Metropolis... a Metropolis lacking those pesky flying cars, if one desires, a Metropolis offering non-automated cooking apparatus, such as a toaster. The new B-13 technology is working wonders.

In the Steelworks, Superman, Steel, and Emil pour amassments of energy into the Aegis, with the hopes of determining a weakness, if not an origin to the power behind it. The Aegis seems indestructible and nearly limitless in its power.

It is revealed that John lacks memory from before he discovered Warworld until his resurrection, when Darkseid offered him the Aegis.

Steel consoled Superman regarding his missing father. Superman, regarding Steel's reminder, takes to the sky to renew his search.

A beam teleports the Man of Steel from the skies into limbo, where he meets Hunter and the Linear Men. They escort him into a pseudo-galactic defendant stand to be tried for crimes against the continuum.

The Hal Jordan Spectre appears, and offers Superman his counsel in the trial. Superman accepts, and after some hesitation goes quietly.

He meets his judges... Highfather, Shazam, Ganthet, Zeus, and The Phantom Stranger.

He is accused of disrupting potential futures by the council, to which Superman takes offense, noting that the war was long and hard, and not only on his behalf... the very universe that maintains the existence of the council relied upon his intervention.

Hunter argues vigorously that Superman has disrupted the Linear Men's ability to maintain a steady understanding of the future. Spectre argues that Superman acted selflessly and heroically, the final results notwithstanding.

Hunter counters that Superman's selflessness disrupted the Universe's scheduled rebirth, and allowed Strange Visitor to commit suicide, and Kismet to be loosed from her shelter of flesh.

Superman apologizes to Kismet, who forgives him.

Hunter calls the Black Racer, who testifies that Superman even convinced him to cheat Steel of death. He calls Superman a nexus being that doesn't fully understand the consequences of his powers.

Steel appears, having rent space-time with his Aegis to arrive on the scene. He tells Superman that after two days he decided to use the Aegis to go after Superman.

Superman explodes, finally unable to control himself. He accuses the judges of ignoring the fact that his family, the people he saved, are the source of his selflessness, and if that was a crime, then as far as he is concerned they can judge him as they will.

The judges calm them all, telling them that this was not a trial, rather a hearing to ascertain the path of the future. The higher-beings see a future involving human masters of destiny as opposed to deity figures. Superman is an integral part in this. He is therefore dismissed.

Hunter is infuriated, calling Superman an uncontrollable rogue. They dismiss him as well, sending him from sight.

Epilogue: In the Oval Office, Luthor pours over a flawless resume for a Liesel Largo... she's been all around the world, and she has glowing recommendations from captains of industry, heads of state, kings. Luthor has indeed, himself, found no dirt on Ms. Liesel. Therefore, he hires her as Lena's new nanny. He asks her when she can start. With the hidden Brainiac-green of her eyes now showing, she tells him that she can start anytime.

4Story - 4: AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Not another LL name! Joking. Joking. I like the pseudo-trial. It sums up what the "Trial of Superman" lacked. Not that I'm knocking the trial, I like it... but it never covered the idea that hey, maybe Superman is altering the course of the universe and needs to be checked. Of course, if he is, no more comic, thus his victory in this case, but it's not a schlocked-on reason, it's a well thought out argument, which is nice. No BIFF BAM SOK Superman. I miss that often, and I've said it once, I'll say it again: I love it when Superman fights with his mind, not his fists. Great power, great responsibility I'll say no more. It's going to stretch thin if they do this storyline one more time (I understand it's necessary to show reaction to OWAW, but don't overdo it...), but now it's working out just fine. One covered the people lost and rebuilding, this one covered the moral ramifications. I like.

The Aegis is a good and a bad thing, as described here. If it does have nearly limitless power, then Steel is on a par with Superman. This is good. Maybe he'll get his own book again. Maybe he might appear in the other books in something other than a cursory gathering of heroes type role. It sticks out like a sore thumb that he's mostly only in this book.

Liesel Largo... hmmm. I like that Luthor and Brainiac are gaining the sort of evil-guy rivalry and partnership that they had a while back, a long while back. It makes Luthor weaker, as a leading villain, but it also makes him more worth his mettle when it's tested. I like this direction.

I took a point off because I don't like it when determinism, fatalism, and possible existences are tossed around and forgotten. The Linear Men either knew or did not know the entire course of history, by Fatalism. There exists a set of true statements governing the past, present, and future of all existence, or there doesn't. If there doesn't, no Linear Men. But then again, the Linear Men sometimes take a pseudo-alterable Determinism approach to history, say, when they change something or an event. It's confusing and a bit unquestioned, and that bothers me.

3Art - 3: The art was very dark, and sometimes that works, given the nature of a given story, but this was a story that took place in a mostly idealistic god's court. I would envision that, personally, a little lighter, a little more perfect... less shady and brooding. An Old Testament God might judge Batman, whereas these judges, which I'll admit include a darker character in The Phantom Stranger, nonetheless were fairly idealistic kinds of gods. Zeus' adulterous misconstruing history notwithstanding... he's still basically a guy commited to justice. It just felt too dark.

4Cover Art - 4: This was dark as well, but it is just hands-down a great pose. It lacks relation to the story, but I can forgive that, because it's just a classic rendering of the Man of Steel. The pose, with the new shield, reminds me a lot of the old Superman, the one from the forties and the fifties. While this is apart from the story (and thus the knocked point), it is still stunning. It makes me put a little more faith in that shield, which I haven't learned to like as of yet.

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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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