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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman: The Man of Steel #125

Superman: The Man of Steel #125

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 17, 2002

Cover date: June 2002

Writer: Mark Shultz
Penciller: Yvel Guichet
Inker: Dexter Vines and Scan Parsons

"The Big Compromise"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

Superman, in the grip of Overmind, struggles to overcome the solar inhibitor ray and defeat his captor.

At Lexcorp, Talia ponders the battle with advisors. They note that Metallo is still down, that Steel must be using the Aegis. They postulate that if the battle goes too far, they will have to use psionics to vaporize the brain underneath Metropolis and hope that the tech will build a new one.

Steel, in the Aegis, sends an automated Steel armor to return Shrew Face and Bloat to Stryker's Island. He tells them thank you, and that they deserve better. The fellow CAELOSS members helping Steel cobble together bikes that can fly and shoot and take off with Steel.

At the brain, they realize that the flying machines are approximately three generations behind the brain. Steel attacks, to no avail. Then they burst through. Talia tells her technicians to throw their machines in before it repairs.

Nat tells the Overmind that Steel is coming. Overmind holds a very pummeled Superman in his arms.

Steel bursts in, in the Aegis. Overmind uses the B13 tech in Steel's helmet to knock out the Aegis.

Superman prepares to attack Overmind while he chides Steel, when Earthquake bashes him. Overmind asks him where the hell he has been.

Overmind commands him to kill Luna and take Superman and Steel away and kill them. He proceeds to Natasha, notes her expendability now that they have the Aegis, and prepares to kill her.

Earthquake gets a bit out with Steel and Superman, then releases them abruptly, telling them to remember that he could have killed them and that he let them live. He releases the solar inhibiting field. He says that the fight wasn't personal, he'll just always be there for Mother Earth. He departs.

Steel gives Superman a plan to destroy the Overmind's constructs, and he flies off, putting the plan in motion.

Superman waxes philosophical about his need for friends and their importance while flying back to the Overmind. The Overmind puts the helmet of the Aegis into the tech and begins to reboot Brainiac.

Luna creeps up and prepares to release Nat.

Superman puts heat vision to a cell, blowing Steel's console apart.

Luna releases Nat.

Steel, in human form, rips the Overmind apart with his bare hands.

Superman destroys the nerve central from the inside out. Overmind realizes this, even as he is being ripped apart.

Superman has to stop Steel from killing the Overmind. Steel has realized that the Overmind is who killed him before, on the moon, while he used the B13 override. And that he was going to kill Natasha. He calms. Superman rips the Overmind's mask off, thinking that he's known who the Overmind was for a time now. He reveals Emil Hamilton, who pleads that his arm made him do it.

Superman blasts the arm off. Emil screams.

Talia arrives with Lexcorp goons in red armor, very reminiscent of Zod's. She beleaguers Superman for destroying Lexcorp property.

Superman rips her apart, telling her that he's actually given Lexcorp the power beneath the streets, much as he might not like it. He tells her that there are no laws down underneath the city, and that CAELOSS is now his gang, and he will use them to watch underneath the city for anything Lexcorp might do in the future down there. They will also keep the tech they got from the nerve. They will also be given control of the B13 infrastructure directly affecting Suicide Slum. Because Superman says that that is what is best for Metropolis.

As an Epilogue, Earthquake is revealed to be in partnership with Talia, who is celebrating because her goal has been achieved, the B13 tech threat is gone, Lexcorp has been delivered a crippling blow, and the nerve central is temporarily destroyed.

As a second epilogue, Superman angrily confronts Mrs. Lane (Lois' mom) about her accusation, with Clark in the room, telling her that he owes the Kents, nothing more. Lois resents lying to her mom, but Clark points out that it wasn't really lying, after Martian Manhunter, again playing Superman, flies off.

2Story - 2: This issue had a lot of good resolution to some hanging issues. First, the Lois' mom thing, second, Talia's true intention in the B13 matter, and thirdly, Emil's big problem.

Also, the red Lexcorp suits. Is Zod involved with Lexcorp?

Emil's conversion to the dark side was malevolent, unpredictable, and very cool. I loved the revelation, which truly surprised me, and the idea that Emil is now a villain again. For you younguns, he was once a nemesis to Supes, albeit briefly, and I've always wondered what would happen if STAR or Cadmus or Emil went bad. Here we go. Good plot device. It will profit from the future.

Poor execution. Bloat killed some people way back in MOS #112. Steel says that they deserve better. So now they're heroes? I was wrong when I thought that they were just Mort of the Months, here and then gone, but to insinuate that they are good after they blow up a building and kill people? Maxima-ville.

What's the big compromise? Story?

Why does Overmind need a solar inhibitor UNDER THE GROUND, where there is no sun? To drain Superman? Wouldn't that involve some kind of Kryptonite ray? To deprive Superman of sun only means he expends his powers faster. Not a big deal when the villain, apparently, can be taken apart with bare hands (by John Henry, later). And why, when the solar inhibitor is destroyed, does Superman get any of the power he's lost back, considering he needs the sun to do so?

Hippie Suicide Slum people make FLYING BIKES out of stuff lying around in a few minutes? Suuuuuuure.

I like the Overmind's official, patented Dr. Evil strategy. "Oh, I'll just send Earthquake forty feet away, assume that he'll kill Superman and Steel and that everything will go to plan. Right?" With what, Mutated, Ill-Tempered Sea Bass? GO GET A GUN AND POP THEM BOTH, IN FRONT OF THE DIABOLICAL MEGALOMANIAC!

And I call bull on Earthquake's motivations. If he didn't think the fight was personal, then why did he relish being the victor so much? And if he's really for Mother Earth (and thus against Overmind and company taking over the underground), then why ally with Overmind in the first place? He could easily ally with Steel and Superman, and then this issue would never have occurred. Character consistency is showing that a character can arrive at his conclusions logically, and that these tests actually make sense and put him through a trial entertainingly. The writer dropped the ball here with Earthquake.

Why is Natasha still alive? Overmind, if he put Superman through the paces, could squish her like a (whups, tee hee) gnat. Pun intended. A great period of time passes while Overmind's preparing to reboot that he could have reached over, squish, no more Nat. He doesn't. Dr. Evil syndrome again. Or a writer thinking that because he changes the attention of the narrative a death threat might go unnoticed.

And beyond that, JOHN HENRY rips apart a machine with his bare hands that took Superman to task. While this shows how much Steel kicks rear, it is completely implausible save as a dramatic device. I read for content, not the dramatic. If I wanted the dramatic, I'd pick up something Marvel and wordy, like, say, X-Men, last time I read it.

I will buy that an arm, completely unrelated to the brain, can somehow control Emil Hamilton. I will not buy that Emil Hamilton can evade Superman in a foot pursuit versus X-Ray vision, super speed, and telescopic vision. The B13, I'm almost certain, is not lead.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT a second. Superman now has a "gang" which consists of counter-government revolutionaries, Luna, and Steel (the only trustable member of the three), and that gang works "outside of the law" to police Lexcorp, and they will, without question, on Superman's strong-arming, be given control of the Suicide Slum related B13 tech? I thought we did King of the World three years ago. SUPERMAN DOESN'T DO STUFF LIKE THAT. He would perhaps make recommendation to a presence of law, but he would not recommend without authority, and he certainly would not force his own law on someone else. BULL. Superman, and I quote: "Because I say that's what best for Metropolis." My foot.

Talia's motivation makes up for her attitude with Superman in the end, but the whole bit about crippling Lexcorp? Not hardly. How much of Lexcorp is actually based underground? In the B13 tech, a whole lot, sure, but how much of the B13 was destroyed underground? Like they said, the nerve center and the brain rebuild themselves. No loss to Lexcorp I can see. No reporting where there are NO LAWS, right?

All in all, the resolutions offered in this issue are tarnished by the implausibility surrounding their arrival. And not that a larger issue necessarily means a better issue, but this was an anniversary issue (125), and I had hopes for something larger, or more epic. Emil was a big deal. I'm not discounting that. But I wanted more.

3Art - 3: Average. Nothing amazing, nothing that stands out especially as bad. Superman is not this dark. I don't think all of the tech is really needed. It seems forced, and not bearing utility to much of anything, save as a plot device. The Aegis looks cool, as did the Overmind, but much of the issue was a good deal of unused background under the generic category of B13 tech. And it changed colors, too. Interesting, but not really sensible.

2Cover Art - 2: Hmmm. Let's see if we can take another Superman cover, add just a plain color for the background, and Superman in a dramatic pose, to help sell comics and expose the new, HORRIBLE title that takes a good portion of the title itself and shoves it off the page. Man of Steel, thusfar, has been fairly good about the new look. Here, we see the whole obscuring of the title thing starting to detract from the enjoyment of the cover.

I give 2 instead of 5 because I considered that this might actually be a homage to the Superman breaking out of the chains image that most of us are familiar with. I don't think it is, but I'm giving it the benefit of that doubt, because Superman breaking through tech instead of chains is a novel concept.

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January 2002

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