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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #183

Superman #183

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 5, 2002

Cover date: August 2002

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

The Secret (Part Two): "-30-"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman (

Lois and Clark approach the Daily Planet, amidst mutterings of disbelief at the story the Planet printed. Most are sure that it is not a coincidence that Bruce Wayne, the murderer, is the owner of the paper. Passing by Jimmy, the young photographer tries to introduce Hank, the new alien employee of the Daily Planet, but the couple just passes him by without at word. Opening the doors to the newsroom, Clark is greeted by Perry's booming voice yelling his name across the room. He angrily thrusts a finger through his office door and demands to see the two reporters, now.

After slamming the door shut, Perry gazes out his window and begins to question Clark about the Luthor story. Clark had promised that it was a solid story. Before Clark can respond, Lois argues that the story was true and that Luthor is lying. Perry turns around and begins to yell at Kent. He knows that the story was Lois', and he cannot figure out why it suddenly became Clark's. He wants hard evidence by the end of the day or both of them are out on the street.

Walking out of the newsroom, all eyes turn to them as every voice stops. Lois whispers to Clark that they should go back Perry and tell him the truth of Lois' deal with Luthor. Clark says that they can't, because if Perry knew that then he would never keep the Planet open. And with his heart condition, that could very well be the end of him. Heading into an electrical closet, Clark strips off his suit and promises Lois to find the evidence that they need. Kissing his wife, Superman takes off and zooms out of the building through the air duct that Clark and John Henry built into the building.

Taking off into space, Clark soon arrives at the JLA Watchtower on the moon. Meeting with the JLA, J'onn admits that he is wary about this. While he was undercover as "Mac" at the White House he never sensed anything from Luthor. However, the JLA is going to go and clear the matter up once and for all. As the JLA arrives on the White House lawn (save for Batman), Luthor welcomes them. J'onn approaches the President and lightly presses his fingers to Luthor's forehead.

As the world watches, J'onn probes through Luthor's memory, examining his knowledge of the war. With a shout, Pete demands that he stops as Luthor pulls back from the Martian. Turning away form the President, J'onn and Superman begin to converse telepathically. As far as J'onn can tell, Luthor is telling the truth. He has no memory of prior knowledge of the war, nor does he even remember meeting with Lois and telling her. There may be a trick, or some other power at work, but in front of the world J'onn cannot say that Luthor is lying.

Wonder Woman steps forward with her Lasso of Truth, but Batman stops her with a telepathic warning. Luthor will have something prepared for that as well, and tying up the President would only hurt their case. Before Clark can turn back to Luthor, J'onn touches his shoulder and tells him that Luthor still believes that he is in love with Lois, and he made that very apparent to J'onn during their mind meld. Clark then asks J'onn to link him and Luthor telepathically.

As Superman verbally informs Luthor, and the world, that Luthor is indeed telling the truth, he telepathically converses with Luthor, telling him that he knows that he is lying and they all know it. Staring back at Clark, Luthor thinks to him that once a secret has been revealed it is no longer a secret. Confused, Superman does not know what to make of this. As the crowd breaks up and the rest of the JLA teleports back to the moon, Lois approaches Hope and asks her what happened. Hope has no idea what Lois means, and turns to follow her employer. As the lawn is cleared, Superman and Lois are left standing alone.

In Perry's office, Clark stands before his editor. Perry loves Clark, but with this Luthor story Clark has made the world feel sorry for Lex. He has damaged the reputation of the Daily Planet. Now they will have to apologize in print to the President. Perry asks if he has any evidence yet, but all he has so far are leads.

Looking Clark in the eye, Perry tells Clark that he is fired. He is to collect his things and leave the building. As Clark walks out of the office and to his desk, all eyes turn to him. As he packs his things into a box Lois comes up behind him, but he has nothing to say. As he walks out of the building he takes one last look up at the Daily Planet globe glowing over Metropolis.

Back in their apartment Lois asks Clark to please talk to her about it. Clark doesn't see much to talk about. They were defeated this time, but sooner or later they'll get Luthor. Turning, Clark pulls his wife into his arms and gives her a long kiss. They'll be alright, as long as they're together.


Superman lands on the roof of the Daily Planet and asks a shadowy figure what they do next. The man in the shadows responds that they let the world believe that Kent has been fired and that they don't believe the story, while they actually do. Superman responds that he isn't sure how long they can keep Lois in the dark of the fact that Clark is working undercover for the Daily Planet. Perry steps out of the shadows and tells Superman that Clark can handle it. They'll keep it a secret. Sooner or later Luthor will slip up and then they'll get him, because it's a never-ending battle.

5Story - 5: This issue was a very fitting end for Jeph's goodbye. As the secret storyline that began almost three years ago is fully resolved and Clark loses the job that he reclaimed in that same issue, we see everything come full circle. Luthor continues to be the snake that he should be, and the simultaneous vocal/telepathic conversation between him and Superman was terrific. Luthor also tipped off Superman for the first time that he knows something. Perry emerges as the cunning reporter that he is, determined to get Luthor no matter what. This issue reminds us exactly what each character represents. This also begins a great new angle for Clark. With him working undercover to reveal Luthor, that opens up many new possibilities for our hero. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable story, and a fitting end to a terrific series of stories.

5Art - 5: Likewise for the art. McGuinness did something for Superman that I feel was fantastic. Even in an issue like this, with absolutely no action whatsoever (although we did get to see Ed's JLA, which is always a treat), Ed's artwork just shines. Clark looks terrific. Perry, with his rolled up shirt and untied tie projects just the right image. And McGuinness' Lois is, as always, fantastic. I realize that there are many of you out there who don't like McGuinness' art because it is too 'cartoony'. However, I feel that Ed has captured a dynamic look to the characters the skirts the line between realistic and toony beautifully. Every month his art is a treat, from his action sequences to his quite moment with Lois and Clark. The ending slash of this issue says it all. While he may be the master of a battle scene, Ed draws Lois and Clark embracing beautifully. Neither appears real, as they would under someone like John Byrne or Dan Jurgens, but both are still fantastic. You do a great job Ed.

2Cover Art - 2: And then unfortunately we come to this. I so wanted this issue to be a perfect issue, with straight fives, and it definitely earned it in the other two categories, but why does the cover have to be this way? It's not the characters, both Clark and Perry look great, with Perry obviously furious and Clark downtrodden and he leaves the Planet. It's not the logo either. While the other three are definitely in need of some (or total) alterations, the Superman logo actually looks good in my opinion. The traditional logo is still there, and the band with the symbol just adds to it. However, this issue falls prey to the same problem that has been plaguing DC books left and right lately. There is no background, none whatsoever. It's not just a background lacking in details, or a boring background. It is the complete lack of a background filled in with a gradient color. I can do that in thirty seconds with Photoshop. So why can't the artist accomplish more that this? I'm not asking for something with a George Perez level of detail in it, but we need something. Luthor laughing, the Planet globe, Lois and Clark embracing, or even just Perry's office. It doesn't matter to me. But these backgrounds are just detracting from the book. The covers just look simple. If they want to leave the attention on the characters fine, but in a faded or boring background, but don't just leave it blank to be filled in at the last minute. If this cover had a background then it would have easily been a four (and I hate covers with speech too, so that's pretty high) but without a background this cover barely pulled above a one. Come on guys; give us some decent covers, please.

And after all that negativity, I just wanted to end this with a personal note. I came on the Superman Homepage not long before Jeph Loeb started writing and I reviewed his first issue, way back with 151. I thought his writing was great then, and I still do. Three issues later, we were introduced to Ed McGuinness and his dynamic, bold, and exciting way of telling us a story. Ed did something for Superman that was truly different. Now I love the realistic Superman, and count Dan Jurgens as one of my all time favorites for his ultra-realistic art, but McGuinness' art just pops off the page. Nothing beats a big splash page of Superman swooping into battle with his eyes shooting heat and ice cold breath freezing his enemy as a rain of super-speed blows defeats them. Ed's art has been terrific. And lets not forget Cam Smith, our inker. Ed's pencils would not have been the same without your skills. The inker tends to go unnoticed as we review these issues, and it takes a trained eye to even pick up a good inking job. Most of the time the praise (or blame) falls solely on the penciller. But your addition to the art has been fantastic. I loved your work before you came on Superman, and I have continued to love it here. You made Ed's pencils come alive. The book would not have been the same without you. And then there's Tanya and Richard Horie, our colorists. While the inker gets less recognition, at least his name is on the cover. I remember way back during the first few issues of Jeph's run he said something about you two, praising your work. It was then that I actually sat down and looked at the coloring instead of just taking it for granted. In the new issues of Superman I saw some truly great work that I hadn't seen before in any of the Super-titles. In just those first three issues, you proved that your coloring would truly add something to the book. While Ed and Cam worked together to give us a great image, it was your skills that completed the work. And one cannot forget Richard Starkings' addition to the book. With Comicraft doing the lettering, we saw new things in the world of Superman. We saw different characters have different fonts for their speech. While this sounds inconsequential when it is written here, it has a huge effect on how the comic is read. You addition has definitely influenced the book. And lastly, there is Eddie Berganza, who guided the book as its editor. His contribution, while not directly apparent, is undeniable. These last few years have given us some great stories, from Lois' secret, to Luthor's presidency, to Lex learning the secret, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. You have all done great work. Superman is a better hero than he was back in September of 1999, and it was your contributions that made it that way. Thank you all, you shall be missed.

-Nick Newman, June 10, 2002

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