Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #178

Superman #178

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 16, 2002

Cover date: March 2002

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciller: Ed McGuinness and Kevin Maguire
Inker: Cam Smith

"The American Way"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman (

In the Smallville General Store, Superman considers the pie flavors, arguing with himself about which is the best, finally settling on the apple. Outside of the building, a bright banner announces the grand re-opening of the store. Inside, Martha serves up a big slice of apple pie. Pa warmly embraces his wife and then walks away to get some cheese for the pie. Whispering to his mother, Clark comments that his father seems in good spirits. Martha agrees, and then remembers how shocked she was when Jonathon told her he was going take over the General Store. Pa rejoins the two, and says the he's not sure whether or not he'll miss the farm, but every now and then you need to try something new.

In the White House, Luthor yells for Pete Ross to get into the Oval Office. When Pete gets in there, Luthor asks why Superman is in the same soda shop that Pete was nominated for VP in. Pete passes it off as Smallville being a small town, but Luthor argues that if they don't stay three steps ahead of the Man of Steel, then he will trip them up. Fumbling for words, Pete mutters that he always thought they were on the same side as Superman. The two men stare at each other for a moment, before Pete requests permission to leave. As Pete leaves the room, Luthor comments that in the Pentagon, the Vice President is referred to as being only a heartbeat away from being President. As Pete leaves the room, a tech enters in through another door. He tells Luthor that he works for the Satellite Recovery Division, reviewing aerial photos from the numerous satellites in orbit. Luthor snaps at him, questioning what in the world he could have that is important.

Back in Smallville, Superman leaves the General Store, declaring it officially open. Behind him in the crowd, a man slowly removes his jacket and hat. Rolling up his sleeves as he approaches the Man of Steel, the man tenses his muscles preparing for a fight. Without warning, the man launches three quick punches, sending Superman flying across the street. As Superman gets to his feet, the man taunts Superman, accusing him of not helping, and of being a non-interfering alien. As another punch comes in, Superman catches the punch, and tells Uncle Sam that he shouldn't hit a man when he's down.

Uncle Sam is caught unaware for a moment, as he tries to figure out what he was doing. Superman tells him that he has an idea, but they should go somewhere else. The two men vanish into the sky together, as Martha comes outside and offers everyone a slice of pie, on the house.

In the White House, Luthor looks over the photos from the technician. The tech says that they found these photos sifting through all of the data from the last forty years. Their best estimate of these is that they are about twenty-five or thirty years old. Luthor questions the markings on the 'space ship' in the photo, and the tech says that due to their recent alliances during the war, he was able to identify the lettering... as Kryptonian. The tech begins to spell it out for Luthor, but the President cuts him off. After questioning the man and ensuring that no one has heard about this, Luthor reaches into his desk and pulls out a gun.

In Topeka, Superman hovers next to Uncle Sam as they watch the rebuilding. Superman tells him that he is always most proud of who they are after a tragedy. He just wishes that they didn't need learn the lessons over and over again. Turning to Uncle Sam, Superman then tells Sam that some of the things he said weren't American, they were Lex Luthor corrupting him. Superman tells Sam that the President isn't America, the people are America. Sam agrees, but he remarks that now it is harder than ever, to be the Spirit of America. As Superman and Uncle Sam shake hands atop the Statue of Liberty, the Man of Steel tells him that he'll do fine, because one of the best things America does is endure.

In Tokyo, Clark and Lois meet in a movie theater and discuss the American way. Clark thinks that maybe it should be something more universal, but before he can get any further, they are being yelled at to get a room.

At night in the Oval Office, Luthor dismisses Mercy. As she leaves, he requests the she gets the maintenance team to shampoo the carpet. Turning to the pictures, Luthor views the pictures of a rocket penetrating the atmosphere, a close-up on the Kryptonian writing (reading "The House of Jor-El"), and a smoldering streak in the field of the Kent farm. Standing in the shadows, Luthor proclaims "Clark Kent is Superman..."

5Story - 5: Well, the last page alone wins a five for this issue. Luthor finally realizes the mistake he made way back in Superman #2 when he didn't believe the computer info about Superman. This is going to take us in great new directions, unless of course it just turns into a repeat of the Conduit story, but I don't think it will. The Uncle Sam scenes were nice, not much long term purpose, but it tied in well with the Luthor story. It was also nice to see the Kents owning the General Store again. It's been a long time (well before Crisis) since they owned it, and I like the idea. It's also always nice to see Superman in Smallville, which is always a nice treat. But in the end, it comes down to that last page, and Luthor finally knowing. It's going to be wild ride.

5Art - 5: It's McGuinness, of course it's worth a five. Although I really don't have anything else to say, I will try to elaborate. It was big and bold and exciting, like it always is. Superman was great, Uncle Sam was great, everything was just great. I love this guy and I hope he doesn't go anywhere for a long while.

5Cover Art - 5: I like this cover a lot more than the patriotic cover from last week's Adventures of Superman. A very nice, bold cover to inspire us all.

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

January 2002

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