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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Adventures of Superman #622

Adventures of Superman #622

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 12, 2003

Cover date: January 2004

Writer: Joe Casey
Penciller: Derec Aucoin
Inker: Derec Aucoin

"Mighty Bubbles"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

In STAR Labs, a team of scientists watch in horror as the children that have turned into bugs break free from their containment jars.

The Anti-Angelica, a team of bug people in robes, swarms with teams of bugs in the Metropolis streets.

In the Daily Planet mailroom, Superman confers with the Minuteman, who sits in Lotus position and explains that the signs of Armageddon indicate that the Anti-Angelica will soon make their move to destroy Earth.

Minuteman explains that as he was being baptized, his preacher realized that he existed on a higher plane of existence than most others, and thus trained him for the coming threat of Anti-Angelica.

The power fails, so Minuteman knows the threat is upon them.

The Anti-Angelica gather the children of Metropolis, all of whom have been cocooned into pods. The honeymoon suite, as it is described, allows them the ability to finally copulate.

Minuteman attacks before Superman gets there, and gets popped in the chest. He falls over. Superman tries to attack the beasts, but they stop him with an egg, which they encase him in.

Inside, he tries to blast out with his heat vision, but it ricochets and burns him. Through the egg, he sees a crazy and different version of our own dimension.

Some of the children turn 6 right at that moment, and since only children 5 and younger can be encased and turned into insects, they fall out of their eggs. Superman breaks out of his egg and catches the three children.

Minuteman raises his shirt and blasts the Anti-Angelica back to their own start, but he accidentally sends Superman as well.

Anti-Angelica explain to Superman that they were married in the cathedral that they now find themselves in. Superman is an intruder, they indicate, and attack him.

Superman closes the dimensional gate, noting that because he too is married, he can operate the dimensional gateway.

Minuteman then meets him in Limbo, and sends Superman back to Earth while he goes to fight the Anti-Angelica on their own turf.

Later, at home, Lois talks with Clark about Minuteman, and suggests a second Honeymoon. Clark suggests that they have to talk.

1Story - 1: Adventures of Superman was number 88 on the sales chart last month, and it is consistently the worst performing Superman book on the market, not counting back issues. This issue is why.

For the last number of Adventures issues I have reviewed, I have, in many harsh words, explained why this book is the worst of the Superman lot. It's a shame to the Superman legacy, to be honest, and Casey never should have been given this assignment, he's bungled it so badly. From the first issue he did, which I at the time called the worst issue of Superman I'd ever read, to when he beat his own title in this, to today, where we read a story of two aliens copulating and Superman standing between them and Metropolis (forgive me for that one, it was too easy). There's a long list of what's wrong with this, and I'll get to it.

He's almost gone. We have that to look forward to. But look at the end of this one. "We have to talk." He says to Lois. Think there's a chance that on the way out, Casey might try to break up Lois and Clark? I think he might. I have no idea, but I don't like the idea of a story titled The Glorious Denouement. What spectacular foolish self-righteousness such a title inspires! But hey, it beats the title of this one.

Mighty Bubbles.

Ladies and Gentleman, I have fought and cried and worked and bled to be the best writer I can. Daily I walk through storefronts where people can have their name sell books. Tom Clancy comes up with an idea, fires it off to some ghostwriter, and that ghostwriter is subsumed for the simple writing/reading power of a name. There are few arenas where a good writer can work his way up without contacts, money, and fame, and these last few bastions are things we, the up and coming, must protect. Joe Casey, a relative unknown, has shown the world what happens when you don't put a Jeph Loeb on a Superman. This is why we never get a chance... luck of the draw goes to the worst of the worst. Or friends of friends. Or the men who are not willing to see what the fans want and deliver. If you are making music for yourself, do it, and do it as you'd like. When you work with an icon, you work under that mantle, like it or not, and Superman is an increasingly defamed institution because people have forgotten this for the internet, perhaps, for the popularity of anger over bravery, courage, intrigue, imagination...

I wanted to hate him. I do. I looked him up in various places on the internet, and he's not so bad a guy, actually. He has a pretty cool band. He makes MUCH better music than he does comics. He has a band, ironically enough, called The Sellouts. Look them up. Their music is actually nice. Unlike his comics.

Let's start the list, shall we?

All of the children of Metropolis turn into bugs. Superman does not call in the JLA, there are no consequences explored, and they just magically go back to normal at the end. Amazing. You'd think a malevolent force turning children in another dimension wouldn't just put things back to normal, but apparently a born-again whacko lifting his shirt can make them do that.

Speaking of said whacko, let's see... what's the most intriguing idea for a character you can come up with? Any of you. Here, let me just randomly pick a character name from the dictionary, and I'll build a character around him.

Infraction. Okay. That's a toughie.

Infraction is a man who was sent to prison numerous times over the years because of things he didn't do. Bad luck followed him wherever he went, and when he went through shopping lines, the kid ahead of him would steal candy bars and he would be arrested. He would be sent to Juvenile hall, be released, and increasingly find himself on the bad end of the stick. As he grew older, things got worse. People were murdered in front of him. Finally, he realized that if he paid attention, he could fight crime by watching the people just ahead of him. One day, a couple of Taoists with bald heads and robot arms walked in front of him into a bank. Realizing what was going on, Infraction put on his tights and went into the bank. Superman arrived at about the same time, and the two used Infraction's knowledge of the future and Superman's powers to break off the arms of the Angry Robotic Taoists and end the threat, once and for all. Infraction's curse was cured. He disappeared, and Superman went home to talk to Lois about it.

Enter a Joe Casey Superman plot, minus the gratuitous redundant action page. In this issue, it's the whole scene in the other dimension, or the entire page wasted with Superman musing through the egg. For Infraction, it could be two pages of Infraction watching the murders occur in front of him.

My point? This is not an interesting plot sequence. It's not what we, as fans, like. We like stuff like, let's say, Ultimate Six 4, which I just read.

Electro, Sandman, Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Kraven, the Ultimate Six, team up to ruin Nick Fury and the Ultimates, a team of Superheroes consisting of Thor, Iron Man, Wasp, Captain America, and others. In a series of both characterizations and bold action moves, including a conversation/allegory with the President of the United States about terrorist and basic human rights, a call to the family of Spider-Man (Aunt May) and a pep talk by the Green Goblin, a flowing narrative proceeds to a cataclysmic climax in which the Ultimate Six attack the Ultimates Headquarters, the Triskellion, and knock Spider-Man senseless, showing real peril for the hero of the story and something that makes me want to read next month.

This story has only one flaw. It's called Ultimate Six, and there are five villains. But unlike this issue, I'm sure that loose end will be fixed by the end of the series. Why? Because Brian Michael Bendis knows how to write, and his editor knows how to check him when he doesn't.

Little inconsistencies, for instance. Like the fact that when the Anti-Angelica cross into our dimension, they aren't able to be understood, because their language is extra-dimensional. But when Superman goes to their dimension, he can somehow use their language. Or how when Superman is trapped in an egg that can't hold a person over five somehow, he can't blast through it with his heat vision, the most powerful thing he has in his arsenal, but he can punch through it like butter. But doesn't, until someone's in peril. Or the fact that somehow lights going out tell the Minuteman, who's probably seen the lights go out a hundred times, that it's time for Armageddon.

This is a comic book about giant bugs copulating, folks, and it tries to come off as deep, metaphorical, and religious. Leave that to DeMatteiss. I'm not the man's hugest fan, but it's not because DeMatteiss fails as a writer, it's because I'm not a big fan of religion and planes of reality in comics. But at least he pulls it off. Check out Where Is Thy Sting? for that, if it's your thing. But Casey fails miserably. A Born Again Christian can just project healing light from his chest? And navigate limbo, when he can't even stop a blast from a bug from knocking him out or aim straight when shooting things into oblivion?

I did like one thing about this issue. When Superman is first encased in the egg, it looked like when he's hit with the plastic bubble in Superman III. But then, it was the artist's thing, not Casey's, that made this work.

Why do three babies turn six at the same time? It doesn't make much sense. And if all of the children of Metropolis were there, they should have started turning 6 last issue, by sheer laws of probability.

Marriage is not an extra-stellar or extra-dimensional creation. It's just not. If you disagree, skip this paragraph rather than flaming me. But if you're with me, and you realize that the concept of marriage is certainly different for extra-dimensional bugs than it is for you, I, or Superman, then you too see how retarded it is that Superman, though he is not powerful, as the bugs indicate, in the extra dimension, can terminate a doorway he's in the process of going through.

But let's assume he can. Why in the world does Minuteman have to go on, and why doesn't Superman tell him the problem's solved? Does this mean Minuteman is in limbo?

In more senses than one. Probability of ever seeing Minuteman again?


And hey, let's stir things up by having Lois and Clark have some kind of serious talk about how his being Superman changes their relationship. That hasn't been done a MILLION times since 1997, now, has it?

Well, hey, it says denouement. I'm assuming that means it's Casey's last issue, though I'm sure it won't be a denouement, considering this is a serial, but then, we can't hold the editor for semantics, now, can we? How about for some semiotics?

For that, I leave you with this issue, an equals sign, and a big pile of crap.

And next month? Here's the description in the faux letters page:

Take a walk down memory lane with Supeman and Lois as the Man of Steel recounts such stories as "The Secret of the Phantom Quarterback," "Crisis on Earth Mind" and "The Day the Earth Divided." Also, look for the new villain, Infraction!

I made that last sentence up.

Sounds as appealing as four paragraphs up, no? See you there. Sigh.

2Art - 2: The aliens were disinteresting, limbo looked like a colorist having fun, the panels were very staccato and forced, the plot drug down the art, and we had a number of rather large images that could have been smaller, because they weren't interesting. Usually, this is a little better, but in the next to last page, look at Superman. At a Con, a long time ago, I saw a guy in front of me show a really nice picture of Venom to a known artist I won't be naming. He shredded it in several ways, but the biggest was the exagerration of the body. He pointed out that while some exaggeration works, like, say, Spider-Man's foot, because that's a prominent and flexible part of the body, there are things, like muscles, which have to be textbook and look human. This Superman looks as contorted as the piece of art I saw, which, while really cool looking, was indeed implausible. Not McGuinness exaggerated, but if you look, in the bottom right, the tip of Superman's head to his belt is longer than his legs. I'm not sure how bad that is, but I'm pretty sure it's what's screwing up this panel. I'd give you the page number, but that went the way of the letter column and the baldy (except for Steve Younis in Metropolis. GO STEVE!).

Under expectations.

1Cover Art - 1: Okay. I've done it in French, Pig Latin, plain English, and now I'm going to use a little trick I learned from a mass email. It's called the word rearrange. Basically, since the human mind, when reading, only acknowledges the first and last letter of a word, and since the letters in between can be in any order (thus the sensibility of some typos), you can read a sentence that is writer lkie tihs. Here goes!

Aynnoe esle terid of cvreos taht hvae no bcakgnourd? And tihs one was PNIK!

Add to tihs the fcat taht it ftaerues ailen bugs coualtping.

Add to tihs the look of etionvaacun, the carp knid, on Smapuern' s fcae.

Add to taht the fcat taht tihs ddni't hpaepn in the iusse.

Add to taht the fcat taht the otfiuts dno't eevn mtach tohse in the isuse for the bgus.

Add to taht the hblirroe SmnapeurS lgoo.

Add to taht a scenod dminang of the pnik in the lgoo.

Look. Wdros on the cvoer. Uhnloy Miatmorny. Joy.

And there you have it! 1 of 5! I hope it changes with the new guy. If you need help packing, Joe, give me an email.

Mhgity Bblbues? MIGHTY BUBBLES?

Position 88 is lucky sales for something like this.

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

January 2004

February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004

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