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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #184

Superman #184

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 10, 2002

Cover date: September 2002

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Pascual Ferry
Inker: Cam Smith

"Rising Son" (Return to Krypton II - Part 1 of 4)

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

Clark, sleeping in his bed at the Smallville Kent farm, has a nightmare in which his biological mother and father, Jor-El and Lara, talk of Kal's impending birth while morphing between the two Kryptons Clark knows.

He wakes up to find Jonathan in the room, waking him up to face the 5:00am hours his parents still keep despite giving up the farm life in favor of the General Store.

Jonathan goes to make breakfast and Clark goes out to admire the sunrise. A flash lights up the night and Jor-El, beaten and bleeding, lands out in the front field.

Clark, cradling Jor-El in his arms notes that he is hurt, but not internally. The sun appears and heals, under yellow sunlight.

"Is this what it's like, son?" he asks and Clark embraces him.

Jor-El tells him they have to get back to Krypton. "Great Rao" Clark says and Jor-El tells him never to utter that name again.

Jonathan arrives, and meets Jor-El. Clark changes at super speed, prepared to go back to his homeworld in his Superman costume.

Superman tells Pa to let Lois and Ma Kent in on what's going on. He promises.

Superman takes Jor-El to his Fortress, as Jor-El used a power crystal utilizing the Phantom Zone to get to Earth.

Along the way, Jor-El experiments with x-ray, telescopic and heat vision

At the Fortress, Jor-El immediately examines the rocket which brought Kal to earth. He notes that it's of Kryptonian design but visiting with Krypto prevents him from any further postulation.

Jor-El asks about Emil's robot appendage, and Kal tells him about Brainiac 13. Jor-El rips the arm apart and finds the same fuel cell he used to get through the Phantom Zone to Earth. He declares he will examine it later and they use the Phantom Zone projector to go to Krypton, taking Krypto.

Once there, Superman sees the destruction and utters in surprise, "Great Rao!"

"Exactly." Jor-El says. "Welcome home, son"

Superman asks who did this, and Jor-El says that he did. From above, shadows attack. Jor-El uses his new strength to allow them to escape underground temporarily.

The shadowy figures discuss the situation then attack Superman and Krypto.

They make a quick escape and rush to the council room, only to find, to their, horror, a burned out husk that was Lara-El, impaled on a flaming sword.

5Story - 5: This story was a lot of fun and had some great setups for what looks to be a return to some decent story telling in the recent slack Superman books. We have hints of Brainiac being the villain behind the two Kryptons, Jor-El possibly behind some villainy, (he did destroy a city by his own admission), and the death of a major resurrected character, Lara. The only way I can see this going down hill is if immediately, next issue, Lara is not dead and this is a cheap issue selling ploy, or if the whole 2 Krypton thing we've been dealing with for almost two years now remains unresolved.

One weird thing... what is with "Great Rao" seeming like blasphemy early in the issue, then leading to an exultant Jor-El saying "Exactly" later in the issue? This is either a) and editorial flub or b) a hint. But of what? Rao is the bad guy? I don't get it. I lean towards a).

And for all you Kryptonians out there, the shadowy characters say "He's Returned!" The apostrophe is mine.

4Art - 4: This guy is trying too hard to be Ed McGuiness, which, as you can see from my rating, isn't so bad. But I see several problems with this strategy, in the future: 1) He is not Ed McGuiness and 2) If he cares to imitate Big Mac, which is fine by me, he needs to lose the dark, broody inking and feel.

Also, did anyone else (Eddie, this means you) notice that Jor-El had no sleeve for a while, at all, then magically grew one when he got to Krypton? Interesting. This is support for my hypothesis a) from plot section.

And one last thing... how the heck does Jor-El know ANYTHING at all about Brainiac 13?

4Cover Art - 4: A bit odd, and a bit strangely formatted, but with the larger idea of the combined covers in mind, well done. And thank you oh thank you, Superman creators, for making a tolerable logo. May it stay. I didn't mind that the logos were changing, but I did mind that noveau, cruddy, half-on half-off the page nonsense.

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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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