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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Adventures of Superman #626

Adventures of Superman #626

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 17, 2004

Cover date: May 2004

Writer: Joe Kelly and Michael Turner
Penciller: Talent Caldwell
Inker: Jason Gorder

"Godfall" - Part Five: "Tempest"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Superman flies through the air towards Metropolis, lamenting the fact that his lack of attention to the Kandor city has brought about the current situation. Behind him streak the bounty hunters that formerly hunted him as Kal-El in Kandor.

Nearing Metropolis, Superman asks Kelex for some information. Kelex reports that thanks to the same temporal glitch that sped up time for Kandor, Superman had no way of knowing that time was passing at an exponential rate.

Approaching Lyla, the bounty hunters advise Superman that Lyla is an Empireth, that she can make people see and hear things that she wants them too. It's why Superman heard Krypton instead of Kandor while imprisoned. Lyla, meanwhile, battles Brainiac in front of a captivated crowd.

Lois starts asking Lyla questions, and Superman streaks towards her. Lyla stops him and taps his brain, explaining that she took him in while in hiding as an Empireth, attempting to bond with him, giving him the past that he believed while in Kandor. She also explains that she created him a family.

Lyla then presents Clark with a vision of his enemies, Imperiex, Doomsday, Metallo, Mxyzptlk, and explains that she will release his enemies on the globe unless he allows her to earn the people's love, unless she can teach him pain.

Superman, realizing that he hasn't killed Kon-Lar, allows Doomsday to hit him, and Doomsday disintegrates.

He explains to Lyla that he has been taught pain, and that he understands her world.

The bounty hunters begin to fall from the sickness that plagues Kandorians outside of the bottle city, and Superman urges Lyla to take them back to Kandor with him. As he does, a yellow streak appears, taking Superman down.

It is Sergeant Preus, wanting vengeance on Superman for bringing murder to Kandor.

4Story - 4: Right now, in this story, there seems to be an arbitrary stretching going on. It's still a great story, and it's still well written, and I'm still enjoying it along with the reasons for it and the ramifications, it's just, well, stretched.

First, we have the fact that it takes three pages to extract, in the beginning, what happened the previous issue and what it's doing to Superman, though we can imagine it already. And three pages in an abbreviated story, that's something. Then we have the Empireth's explanation of why she took Superman, and how she created for him an artificial family and life. If I'm not mistaken, that's already known, isn't it? So though the art is beautiful, why another few pages of recall? Now I understand that this was so that Superman could plow through the pretty empathic illusions and learn that he hasn't killed anyone, a great step, but why not just have someone tell him? All in all, it seems like the really great art co-opted the story at times. Including, as I have mentioned before, the splash page at the end of most of these installments. Sure, tall and blond is herky and scary, but why the heck waste a good page of story? Why not just make it into the main story, and expand the main story, or, perish the thought, shorten it to the length that a story is supposed to be, like a woman's dress, long enough to cover everything but short enough to keep it interesting.

But that slight criticism aside, there are some really wonderful aspects of this story. The recurrence and rememberance of the main villains is exactly the kind of thing we've been wanting. They're verging on overkill now, but at least with Brainiac, Doomsday, and Mxyzptlk, we've had a good run of all the Superman villains and the past to help usher in the new teams, a nice summary, anything further than what we have now might be a little patronizing to those of us who have been clamoring for the past. It's like, okay, you want the past in each comic, we'll keep bringing it up and bog the story a bit. Right now it's not doing that, but if you follow, it will get to that point. The idea is not to pander to we continuity freaks, but to just have a firm knowledge of the past and a nod to it when writing. And in all other respects, this series is still doing that. Kandor, I had feared, would just for no reason have a time change, and they would forget the Brainiac machinations, the past actions of Superman. Very cool.

And hey, while I'm here, why did Lois have NO reaction at all to seeing Superman when the whole backup story (which I'll get to) is all about how much she misses him? Faux pas! [Editor's Note: I think this was simply another of Lyla's manipulations... making Lois not recognize Superman is well within her capabilities.]

So the story is stretched, and it bugged me, thus the non-5, but other than that, the writing itself is superb, even for stretched, the dialogue, the internal thought, it's very cool. I don't want all Superman stories to take this long, but I would sacrfice speed any day for this level of thought and care put into the stories. And heck, having a story every week, a CONTINUOUS story, is almost enough to make me give this man a five right out. Good show.

5Art - 5: I wouldn't say that this guy is an iconic Superman artist. It's obviously not his main gig. BUT, that said, this man is a very great artist, and he tells his story better than most of the people who have been Superman artists of late, with rare exceptions I'm sure you know and I won't drop.

So am I saying I don't like this artist as opposed to others? Not at all. Look at these pages. Look at these characters. Look at Lois, looking like Lois, by God. The images of Kon-Lar, the streaking Superman coming for Metropolis, this series is so good so far just for the art that I would consider buying this book without the words.

I want this person on a regular Superman book.

4Cover Art - 4: All right! What happened? They broke the rules!

There's a pose that never happened in the book (though it is a cool symbolic gesture towards ripping off the suit...).

There's a look like Superman's passing a kidney stone (and I know, I've passed three).

There's a lack of a background.

There's the horrible logo.

There are words on the cover.

But you know what the funny thing is? The art is so danged good, I can't ding it that much for it. I have to stick with 4 of 5. It's just... well, Superman looks like he SHOULD be on a black background. Color me stupefied, because I never figured art could be good enough to justify a cover out of context, after so many years of it done badly by anyone other than big Mac. Well, there's a new start for everything. Why not?

"Small Hours, Long Days"

Writer: Greg Rucka
Penciller: Matthew Clark
Inker: Nelson

This is a silent story:

Lois struggles in her bed and feels for the space where Clark was, sleeping. When she doesn't feel him, she startles awake.

She wakes up, leaves the apartment, sees people going about their business all around, looking down.

Outside, a number of papers tell the world there are troop build-ups, that Superman is missing. Lois gets a coffee and rides the escalator. Superman merchandise is on sale.

On the rail whale, she sees someone with a Newstime with Superman on the front.

We see the front of the Daily Planet.

At her desk, she sits, looks at copy, walks to the roof, stands in their place on top of the planet roof, and very quietly says,

"I miss you."

5Story - 5: How many times do little things like this go unsought in the mind of the fan, for favor of a beating or cleavage? Yet here, we see Lois in her human state. I like this story.

The people forgetting their greatest hero with a little bit of absence, it's a nice set-up of the human apathy, an examination of the condition. Also an examination of loneliness, which I have a special identity with, writing into the night and not really seeing many people. It struck a chord with me.

5Art - 5: I have to plead bias, but I mean this rating 100%. I was lucky enough to meet Matt Clark, the pencil man, and Greg Rucka, the writer, at the Emerald City Comic con. I was offered a viewing of this story a month ahead of time, in pencil form, and what coolness! Anyway, I think Clark will make an excellent penciller based on what I've seen thus far (he showed me a few pieces, and I'm pleased beyond nuts), and this issues only goes to show my point.

He told me, pointing this story out, that this was the very first time to anyone's knowledge that we've seen the door of the Daily Planet in the comics. How cool is that, and how many people will miss that?

His style is very human. I'll be interested to see how it translates to extreme action...

So often we've lauded the very comic Superman, I would be interested to see how a more real, more photo realistic Superman would interact with the world, and I think here we may get our chance.

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