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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Adventures of Superman #623

Adventures of Superman #623

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 10, 2003

Cover date: February 2004

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


Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Lois bundles herself up for a night of flying. Clark wants to talk, and she isn't going to freeze this time. She turns to the window and tells Clark that she is ready.

Zooming away from Metropolis, Superman heads west and descends into Kansas and sets down in a field. He tells Lois that he has been thinking a lot about them lately. He then proceeds to tell her about something that happened near there a few years ago.

While at his parents, Clark saw a falling star streak down and hit near the farm. At the impact site, he found a reindeer in the crater, barely breathing. Picking up the sick animal, he took it to the North Pole where he met Santa Claus. Finding all the reindeer were sick, Santa would be unable to deliver his presents, so Superman stepped in and carried the sleigh all around the world. Santa even let Superman make a few of the deliveries. Lois tells Clark to get back to the real world, but Clark just tells her that Santa keeps records of everything, and the Easy Bake oven she got when she was six didn't come from her parents.

Clark says that he didn't know how the world would react to him, and Lois agrees that they are still getting used to him. Clark says that they haven't had much time together lately and then proceeds to tell her about something that happened last week at the local football game.

Superman arrived on the scene to find a bodiless quarterback running down the field. He tries to tackle it, but instead is met with a burst of energy. Adjusting his vision, Superman finds an energy trail leading away from the stadium. Following it, he finds a man in some type of machinery, controlling the phantom with his mind. Looking around, Superman realizes that the man is doing it to impress a woman. Pulling the plug, the man and the woman are reunited. Superman is always surprised at the lengths someone will go to in hopes of impressing a woman.

Picking Lois up, Clark heads across the Atlantic and sets down in Germany atop of a house. He tells his wife that this was once the house of Friedrich Nietzsche. He tells Lois that when she named him she must have been aware of the irony. And the world has changed so much even since then.

Just a few days ago, Superman found himself being attacked by every other superhero on the planet. He knew they were being controlled from somewhere, and we has able to follow the same psychic tug back to its source, where he found Hector Hammond controlling all of them. Disabling the machine, everyone was changed back to normal.

Lois tells Clark that she knew about Nietzsche when she named him, but at that point she didn't know what he was about either. Suddenly Clark zooms off, only to return a few moments later from a volcanic eruption in Chile.

Taking off from Germany, Superman and Lois head above the clouds. They look down at the world and marvel in its beauty, and Superman tells Lois he never takes it for granted.

Superman tells her about something that happened a few weeks ago. The earth was being wracked with earthquakes and other disturbances. From space he looked down into the planet, and saw that all of earth had been transformed into a single celled organism, and it was beginning to divide. Narrowing the phenomenon down to a source, Superman headed for a temple in the Amazon. Deep beneath the earth he found an ancient spacecraft. The creature wasn't going to give up without a fight, but a quick blast of ice breath incapacitated the alien. Then, donning the creature's thought-controlled helmet, Superman imagined the Earth as it had been before this disaster struck and like magic, the world was returned to its natural state.

Soaring over the arctic, Superman tells Lois that the JLA released a report blaming everything on strange sunspot activity. Suddenly he sets Lois down in order to save a huge tanker from sinking. Leaving the cold behind them, Superman takes Lois to a tropical island and sets down upon the sand. Lois tells him that sometimes when she sees him do things like that she doesn't know what to say. Superman tells her he isn't any different than anyone else who uses the powers that god gave them to help others.

Clark tells Lois that he is selfish. He wants everyone else to see the world like he does. When he first met Lois he knew he wanted to be with her, and he wanted them to have what his parents have. Lois tells him that she wants the same thing, and she is selfish too sometimes, having to share him with the entire world.

Superman asks if it is worth it and Lois tells him that it is. Clark isn't sure what role he has to fill, but Lois tells him that she named him what he is, he is Superman. Clark tells her that he isn't the only one. [Editor's Note: Superman is referring to the everyday heroes in our world such as firefighters, police, doctors, etc...]

Setting Lois back on her balcony, Superman tells her to tell Clark that he is a lucky man. He tells Lois to take care as he heads off into the sky.

2Story - 2: So, we get another issue of Lois and Clark talking about things that have been covered a thousand times before. He is Superman because no one else can be. He is just using his powers the best he can. That was pretty much covered in Superman #59, a great issue that did a Lois and Clark talk a ton better than this issue did. Everything that happened in this issue could have been condensed down into about three pages. Instead, it was drawn out with Casey's habit of trying to fill every moment of Clark's life with an Earth-threatening crisis. Within the course of three weeks the Earth tried to divide, the entire superhuman population turned on Superman, and a Phantom Quarterback appeared in Metropolis? We'll address these in the order they occurred.

First off, I have the original Phantom Quarterback story from the seventies (or late sixties, I'm not sure) sitting in a box somewhere in my basement, and the story wasn't good then either. Then we have all of the superhumans turning on Superman. Right. Casey feels the need to make everything in this book ridiculously dramatic. And along with that comes the total unrealism. Hammond took over all of the hundreds of metahumans on the face of the earth, yet he didn't have one to protect him? Superman would not have stood a chance against them. One-on-one he takes out pretty much everyone in the DCU, but combined he wouldn't have a chance. But Casey doesn't think about this, he just creates an incredible situation and then resolved it in two panels. He did the same thing with the universe destroying thing back the Mxyzptlk story. The planet is not almost destroyed every other day, and Casey trying to force this idea down our throats is getting really tiresome.

Finally you have the Earth splitting, which falls under the previous category. The entire world came this close to death, but Superman just froze the guy and then thought the world back the way it was. Casey, go pick up some issues of JSA. Read that book. Then think about what it means to tell an epic story with a well thought out introduction, body and then a satisfying conclusion. Then apply it to you work because what you are doing here isn't good, at all.

You may notice that I skipped over the Santa portion of the story. It's not that I am above little flights of fancy in my books. There was a good JLA story last year where Santa made a shadowed appearance. It added that nice little Christmas feel that TV sitcoms always have in the holiday episodes where the kid gets a present that no one bought and the parents look at each other in wonder as they hear sleigh bells. However, it isn't fun to see Superman finding a crashed reindeer, carrying it to the North Pole, and then carrying Santa around the world. This wasn't cute or magical; it was just corny and painful. And doing this made Superman feel like a part of something bigger than ever before? I guess delivering presents to kids is bigger than saving the world from Mageddon, or standing toe-to-toe with Asmodel and turning him back. Or how about the hundreds of other times that Clark has saved the world? Casey has no sense of perspective at all. He fills his issues with five panels of saving the world and then has Superman talk about nothing for the rest of an issue.

And overall, what exactly did they talk about in this issue anyway? The fact that Clark has lots to do? Oh that's brilliant. This entire issue was pretty pointless and embodied everything that Casey has blundered during his run. Joe Kelly managed to pull off a very good story for his last issue, and while that doesn't make up for a lot of the stuff he's put out, it was still a good read from a guy who did a lot of good work on the books over the past four years. Casey gives us an issue that sums up his run nicely, but that's not a good thing.

3Art - 3: This is the same exact art that I have disliked for every other issue of late. The art is lacking in any detail and it really just isn't visually appealing. In almost every page the inking is way too heavy, making everything look dark and clumsy, and any image that isn't a close up looks like a quick sketch. Definitely not something I'm going to miss. Next month we get good art. Just a few short weeks. It's so close....

1Cover Art - 1: And if you can believe it, the cover is actually the worst point of this issue. Filling in for Superman we have...Frankenstein's Monster. Nowlan's art has never been good, and I have complained about it ever since I first saw it on the covers of the DC First books. Everything is out of proportion, his right foot looks like someone mangled it, he has no eyes, and his mouth looks like he forgot to put his dentures in. Then behind him we have a collage of images. First off, there are four pictures, and four different scenes that happen in the book. I'll slow down in case the math is too complicated for those working on the books. We had Santa, the quarterback, the mind control, and the earth splitting. On the cover we have Santa...and three non-descript images of Superman doing average stuff. WHAT? How hard could it be to make this part of the cover correct? FOUR STORIES, FOUR IMAGES! This isn't that hard guys, really it isn't. If it's too hard for you then I have a proposition. Send me a preview of every issue and I will tell you what should be shown on the cover. I will do this free of charge. Then again, you could just stop by your local day care and let the four year olds do the same thing because they could probably see the purpose of tying a cover into the interior story better than you can. Alright, I'm done ranting on that. On top of that, there is a white spot? Why is there a gap? Here guys, I'll give you instructions. Go into Photoshop and select the layer with the background images. Press V (that's the move command). Drag the images to the top of the page, covering up the gap. Look, now you have no gap and all four pictures are the same size, instead of the bottom two being chopped off. Honestly, this stuff is not that hard to think of. I am an engineering student, the complete and utter opposite of anyone related with art and graphic design and these things come naturally to me. How can the professionals not understand things like this? Finally..."BELIEVE!" I'm not sure what exactly we are supposed to believe. Believe this issue can be even worse that you are anticipating. Believe that this cover was actually approved and printed. Believe that you will spend another US$2.25 on this issue even though you know it will be bad. Whichever it is, I definitely do not believe in the Superman books right now.

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