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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Adventures of Superman #632

Adventures of Superman #632

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 15, 2004

Cover date: November 2004

Writer: Greg Rucka
Penciller: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Rick Magyar

"Time Elapsed"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Following the events of the last issue, Superman streaks into space and comes back down in Umec, catching Lois and covering her in his cape. As he does, the time elapsed is noted above. This pattern follows for the whole story.

Superman takes Lois to an American military medical tent and pleads with them to help her. People rise from their beds and try to make Superman heal them. Superman watches in fear as they take Lois in to operate.

Mopping up at the scene from the Ruin fight, Skeeter loads Ruin into the van and flirts with Lupe, rationalizing that Superman wouldn't leave in such a hurry unless it was important.

In the van, Ruin tells Skeeter that Superman is hurting the Earth by soaking its sun up, and that things will end soon. Skeeter mocks him and tells him that his mask is coming off at the jail. Ruin tells Skeeter that he's already dead.

Superman watches the operation. The bullet ricocheted off of a rib and clipped the aorta. Someone offers him water and he declines.

At the Planet, Perry blusters about and demands that someone get Lois on the phone, seeing as one side of the war where Lois was stationed has just surrendered with the arrival of Superman. Jimmy tells Perry that he can't, because Lois has been shot.

Perry goes to call Clark, upset.

Martian Manhunter takes the call for Clark and acts distraught, telling Perry he will call him back. Martian Manhunter calls the Justice League and informs them of the emergency.

The SCU opens the van at the jail only to find all three SCU guards inside to be dead, shriveled corpses, including Skeeter. Replikon swears that he had nothing to do with it, that Ruin did it.

The Flash, in disguise for the JLA, informs Superman that Wonder Woman's jet is outside, and that they're ready to take Lois.

Lupe gets the call about Skeeter, and orders an APB for Ruin. She goes to the hospital to check on the people doused with Ruin's chemicals, and they're thrashing, in pain. Ruin appears, and Lupe opens fire on him. Ruin blows her aside and tells the patients that it hurts, yes, because birth always hurts.

Pieter Cross gets a call about Lois being hurt, and is told to be ready to work on her.

Dr. Mid-nite later informs Superman that she should be okay, as long as over time she recovers well.

Superman takes a moment alone with his wife, telling her that he won't leave her.


I mean, how can you do something that looks like a ploy for readers, and make it instead an emotional milestone for a character. Read this issue to find out.

I look at this from two angles. As a plot, it fails, because there's really no tension with the idea that Lois will die. I mean, that's utterly negated by the fact that we know she disappears in about a year. So that tension is utterly lost thanks to editorial decisions, but hey, I can live with that. Why?

Because I'm not evaluating a Greg Rucka story on the plot. That's not his juice, his vibe, that's not what makes him great. It'd be like rating Bendis on his plot instead of his dialogue, though the plots are almost always intriguing, same with Rucka.

No, I rate this more on its character, and as a character story, this is one of the best Superman stories I've ever read. It reminds me of my absolute favorite Superman story EVER, the one where the Joker poisons Lois and Superman has to decide whether to murder him to save her or just let her die, and he has to sit there and watch her die, almost coming to blows with Batman in the process. Killer story, just like this one. Superman has to stand idle while his wife dies, and with all of his powers, he can't save her. It taps into that Superman: The Movie vibe, only without the cliche time travel solution, but rather the kind of solution we must all confront in life, the reality that our loved ones might die.

You listening, writers? THIS is what humanizes Superman, not making him talk trash or murder or be complicit to a noosing or a mind wipe. Making a man with infinite power relational on a human level.

Money, Greg Rucka. That's all I have to say.

I have one regret, and to be honest, this is the first thing that I wish Rucka would have done differently. I think that the scene with Clark answering Perry would have been a lot more gut wrenching had Clark actually had to put the persona on in the middle of his crisis and talk to Perry. But then, it accomplished a Martian Manhunter guest appearance, and hey, it's logical. It's what the League would do, move in to jockey and save their friends, so I knock nothing for it. It's just something that I noticed.

Skeeter is dead! Now I want Ruin toasted! As you may recall, Skeeter was my favorite addition to the cast, just for his name, on the Rucka run. Now Skeeter is Skeetled! Too bad! Good call, though. Much better than killing Lupe, and now Lupe is mad. I want to see her uncorked and kicking butt.

And the subplot of Ruin advances nicely. A lot of people are saying Ruin is a sub-par villain, but watching the story move along and trusting to Greg's advice of allowing things to run their course, I am finding that what could be sub-par villainry is actually just a growing set-up for revealing just why Ruin is a good villain. I've already seen Rucka do it in Wonder Woman, and I know he's a slow paced but ultimately hard punching finisher. Give him a chance, guys. Don't be fickle about it. Austen, he's had six issues, and what do we have? One new villain with no depth and a bunch of fights that are reminiscent of other fights. Az? He's had six issues and all we have is a building catharsis. I'll give him more of a chance, but I mean, at least Rucka is paying off in emotion, whereas Az is all setup.

I love this story so far, and this is my favorite Superman run since the beginnings of the Loeb run. It's already my favorite character arc since Our Worlds At War.

Nothing but goodness here.

And hey, the use of the Flash? Pure genius, even if it is hard to catch at first.

5Art - 5: I prefer Matthew Clark, and I wish they'd be a bit more consistent with the art (I'm sure there's a reason). But as a stand in, Pelletier does just fine, really well in fact, particularly conveying the emotion, and the great moment scenes, like Superman going around the world and wrapping his wife in his cape.

Mid-nite also looks really cool, and the SCU are spot-on consistent, his continuity is flawless.

I like Clark as a regular, but if there must be a sub, let's stick with this guy.

3Cover Art - 3: Okay, what happened here? We have all of the criteria that have been used to describe bad covers coming back to haunt us. Words on the cover (and cheesy ones at that), a scene that didn't happen in the book (he didn't use his heat vision while holding her on the ground... symbolically though, this scene's intent happened.).

There's also the fact that Lois was shot in the chest, not the stomach, but hey, what's a little continuity of artwork?

And no background. That always bugs me. Though I promised I would harp on that less... I still noticed it in this one, big time.

Superman also looks like he's having gastric problems, and instead of being Superman, he looks like the Incredible Hulk in a Superman suit, ready to murder, not save the day. I don't like angry brooding Superman.

And yet, this image is still extraordinarily powerful, the format is used well, and so despite all of those little flaws that can bug you, it's still a compelling cover. I'd say the good and the bad about balance out in the middle.

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

January 2004

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