Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials
Superman/Batman #13Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 3, 2004
Cover date: October 2004
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciller: Michael Turner
Inker: Michael Turner
"The Supergirl From Krypton" - Part Six: "Hero"
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
A moment after disintegrating Supergirl with his Omega Beams Darkseid taunts Superman as he prepares to depart via Boom Tube. He tells the Man of Steel about all of the things he has lost with the death of his cousin and that now he is truly alone. He ends by saying that in the end Superman has only himself to blame.
Superman rises, calls out Darkseid's name and while telling the dark god to shut the hell up delivers a powerful blow that knocks Darkseid across the Kent farm. Flying after him, Superman hits Darkseid again taking the fight into the barn. Superman tells Darkseid that he won't let him talk about Kara like he knew her and that everything, from her smile to her blue eyes to her spunk, didn't matter to him. Darkseid strikes back, saying that Superman is right. He fires his Omega Beams informing Superman that there will be even less of him to bury than there was of Supergirl.
Suddenly Wonder Woman appears and deflects the Omega Beams with her bracelets. The beams ricochet back at Darkseid, hitting the god in the face. Superman grabs Wonder Woman and tells her to stay out of it before throwing her out of the barn. He takes the opportunity to grab Darkseid and takes off into the sky and as they reach escape velocity he lists all of the things Kara will miss because of him. As they reach the sun Darkseid fights back and the two trade blows.
Superman explains that none of what he has talked about means anything to Darkseid since all he knows is death and a blackness that has brought him nothing. Darkseid replies that it has made him a god and throws another punch. Superman catches the fist and breaks Darkseid's arm before savagely beating the dark god. Weak from his injuries, the dark god claims that he is Darkseid. Superman agrees and adds that his defeat was in Supergirl's name.
They fly off and travel via Boom Tube to the Source Wall at the edge of the universe. Superman explains that for years Darkseid has tried to learn the secrets of the ultimate power from the other side of the barrier, but he will never find the answers just like the others who are entombed on the wall. Superman believes this is where Darkseid belongs along with the other failures in the universe.
Superman returns to Earth with thoughts of Kara running through his head and finds members of the Justice League fixing up the Kent Farm. J'onn J'onnz informs him that his parents are fine and were in town during the entire incident. Superman tells them that they didn't have to do this, but the Flash disagrees adding that Diana told them what happened. He goes on to say that Green Lantern is in Granville picking up the new tractor the League bought the Kents. Wonder Woman tells Superman that she is glad he is safe and begins to ask what happened to Darkseid. Superman replies that Darkseid is where he will never bother any of them again. He turns to Batman, who is holding a small glass container. He asks if it is what he thinks it is and Batman replies that it is everything he could find.
Superman takes the container and flies to Paradise Island. After a moment of hesitation he speaks in Kryptonian and enters a shimmering green door. Inside Kara Zor-El tells him that she hopes she did the right thing. Superman explains that they will know in the months to come but for right now she is safe and no one will find her. She asks him about Darkseid and Superman replies that he is no longer her concern. Kara tells him how scared she was about faking her own death. Superman tries to make her feel better but she doesn't completely believe him.
She goes on to question him about her future. Despite the fact that Darkseid is gone there are other threats and Kara wanted to know if Superman planned to teleport her out of harm's way every time she goes into battle. She tells him that he can have a life as Clark or Kal-El or Superman and asks who she is going to be. Superman replies that he can't answer that, but no matter what she wants to be it is her decision to make. He adds that whatever she decides he will be there for her.
Weeks later Superman and Batman meet in the Fortress of Solitude. Batman asks if he is going to be all right. Superman tells his friend that it was the hardest thing he had to do, but the fact that Darkseid showed no remorse made the beating he dished out easier. Batman asks if the fight wasn't bothering him then what was?
Superman explains that when he left for college his father wrote him a letter that stated that he and Clark's mother had down their job by bringing Clark up right. The only thing that meant anything to his father was the morning Clark left he was old enough to say good-bye. Even though Clark didn't raise Kara he realized that he did the exact opposite of what he should have done. He held on tight instead of letting her choose her destiny.
Batman tells Clark that since the night he found Kara he has been trying to understand what the Man of Steel was going through. At first Batman tried to use his own experiences with Jason Todd as a guide but he realized that it wasn't like Jason but like when Dick Grayson left to become Nightwing. He adds that no matter what life she chooses she is safe on Paradise Island. Suddenly Kara enters the room and announces she has made her decision.
Some time later Superman addresses the assembled members of the Teen Titans, the Outsiders, the Justice League and the Justice Society. He introduces his cousin, Kara Zor-El the new Supergirl. Supergirl makes a short speech about how she doesn't know if she has earned the right to the name or the uniform but hopes that with their help she will grow into it. She also looks forward to having fun with the Titans, being challenged by the Outsiders meeting the JSA, especially Power Girl and Stargirl, and reaching for the JLA.
Superman tells his cousin that he knows that she will get to do everything she said and more because each of them, in their own way, fights with the hope of a better tomorrow. He asks her what better role to aspire to than that of a hero. With that Kara hovers above the group and thanks the assembled heroes.
Story - 5: Okay, business before pleasure; reviewing the story.
Well, that ended pretty much the way it had to. What impressed me was the fact that it went down so smoothly. Loeb could have copped out with a very weak ending, but instead he wraps everything up nicely and manages to make Superman look very clever in the process.
On a purely fanboy level I loved the fight between Superman and Darkseid. There is something about these two going at it that resonates with me. Maybe it's the fact that it is the Man of Tomorrow versus a god. Maybe it's the fact that Darkseid has the evil of Lex Luthor with the sheer physical power to match. Whatever the case in all of the battles the two have had, both in the comics and on television, there is always something intrinsically cool about Superman and Darkseid throwing down.
So the fight was fantastic and makes for a great ending.
The Man of Steel beat down aside I thought the end of this story arc was very satisfying. I mentioned in a previous review that it could have been easy to just introduce Supergirl to the DCU and be done with it. This was problematic when you consider the two (technically three if you count Matrix) Supergirls that have been presented to us over the past fifteen years. Despite the fact that Cir-El was about as thought out as New Coke, Linda Danvers was a very complex character, so thrusting in a new Supergirl even though Linda is retired would have been a disservice. Introducing a new Supergirl so soon after the bad taste the last one left was tricky and required a big event to justify it.
Enter "The Supergirl from Krypton."
Loeb really outdid himself. He not only re-established Kara Zor-El into the DCU but linked her to Batman and Wonder Woman at the same time. Batman found her, so he has some responsibility. Wonder Woman and the Amazons helped train her, so Diana has a connection with her as well. It gives Kara a more elaborate background and ties her to the DC Universe as a whole and not just to Superman. The story was epic in scope and bringing in Darkseid gave it a cosmic feel that really helped the story. Not only is there another survivor from Krypton, but she went up against one of the bad guys in the DCU.
Not bad for a rookie.
Loeb managed to balance the large with some nice, quiet moments. I liked the JLA helping out on the Kent Farm. It shows how important Superman is and how much of a family the team is. Superman and Kara addressing the heroes was great as well and gave Kara some legitimacy right from the start.
In this respect, though, nothing beat the Martian Manhunter fixing the Kent house. It was unexpected and amusing.
The only big question I have is that since Superman and Batman buried the hatchet in regards to the Jason comment, is Wonder Woman going to forgive Superman for throwing her out of the barn?
So now we are left with a question.
The DC Universe has a Supergirl. Not only a Supergirl but another survivor from Krypton. It's been eighteen years since the Big Revamp and in all that time there was no other true survivor of the doomed planet. There have been imposters and alternate dimensions, but through it all Superman was the sole survivor. Now he will have to settle for being Krypton's last son.
In the meantime we have a Supergirl but no clear agenda, which is hazardous for the character. Outside of Peter David's run there has never been a real solid take on Supergirl. She went through back up features to her own series and couldn't hold either. Supergirl has become a tough sell and while this was a kick ass introduction it also leaves things kind of vague. I have a feeling Loeb did this on purpose to give the next writer a free hand, but without a really solid concept I fear that the new Supergirl will flounder around and not find a direction.
I also have a feeling that she is going to bounce around the DCU for awhile. Call it a hunch but her addressing the Outsiders, the Titans, the JSA and the JLA means we will be seeing her in those titles. This might not be a bad idea (except for The Outsiders, which is a terrible book) but could leave the door open for inconsistent characterization. Geoff Johns I trust, but Judd Winick doesn't have a solid track record with female characters. I'm not completely certain that this is the direction DC is going to take, but considering that the main Superman titles seem to be otherwise occupied this is the best bet.
Then again they could just ignore the character, but I doubt that.
Overall I really enjoyed this issue and this story arc. It was exciting and a lot of fun. I can't say if I like the new Supergirl, but if I had to shake the magic 8 Ball it would say that all signs point to yes.
Art - 5: You know, sometimes an artist, especially a "hot" artist like Michael Turner, will phone the last part of a story arc in. I think that Jim Lee's artwork has suffered as the "For Tomorrow" arc has progressed. I can see why, though. It's hard to keep up the enthusiasm. I'm happy that with Turner this wasn't the case. He kept the energy going and provided one heck of a fight between Darkseid and Superman. A fight between these two has to be epic and Turner delivered.
Another great thing about the artwork is that the settings are all over the place. Not only that, wherever the story is set the backgrounds are packed with detail. The sets are ornate and while some backgrounds are sparse none of them are boring.
I especially liked the Source Wall. Really nice.
The quiet moments are nice as well. I enjoyed the shot of J'onn making repairs to the Kent's house. It was interesting and very amusing.
The super-hero spread at the end was also well done. While not as detailed as I would have liked Turner did a fantastic job all the same. Given a few more issues he could really nail them as he did with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
There were two images, outside of Superman belting Darkseid that stood out in this issue. One was that of Wonder Woman putting herself between Darkseid and Superman. Awesome. Really awesome. It was a very powerful image. The second was the last page of the book. Supergirl looks really good. Sure it's a pin-up shot, but it is an iconic pin-up, so all is forgiven.
I must admit that I am torn about the costume. I think that it is great that the costume has a nice retro-feel to it by having the blue skirt. However I am not sure about the bare tummy look. I prefer a timeless look to a costume and I don't know if it will hold up. Of course, the original Supergirl went through four or five costume changes, so it's not the biggest problem in the world. I like the cape. It almost reminds me of Mary Marvel for some reason. All in all I like the costume, funky belt and everything.
Since this is the last issue of this arc it would be remiss to leave out Peter Steigerwald's colors. The art was great, but the coloring really knocked it out of the park. They made the artwork sing and Peter deserves a lot of credit for this arc looking as good as it did.
Cover Art - 5: Supergirl Cover: The great thing about this cover is that, as a "variant" cover it really separates itself from its "sister." Instead of a montage of images Turner focuses solely on Supergirl. On one hand it kind of blows the "surprise" ending because why in the heck would they put her on the cover if she had died in the previous issue? But this is a minor problem. The cover looks good and we get a real solid look at the costume.
This is a powerful cover. It's sexy, as far as a drawing can go in that direction, but assertive. It says to me that Supergirl is here to stay.
This cover has a Grab Me Rating of 9.
Darkseid Cover: (To be read with a dark, booming, movie trailer voice.)
A Man of Steel in mourning. A Dark Knight enraged. Kansas is burning. A dark god stands victorious.
SUPERMAN. BATMAN. ISSUE NUMBER 13.
That about covers it I think. Stylistically it matches the past covers in the arc and is pleasing to the eye. The flaming Kansas is a nice touch and I really enjoy Turner's Darkseid. This cover gives more of a sense of mystery about the outcome of last issue's cliffhanger ending. While I was absolutely sure that Supergirl was going to live this cover plays on the doubts that Loeb was going for.
This cover has a Grab Me Rating of 9.
Mild Mannered Reviews
2004Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.
- Action Comics #809
- Adventures of Superman #622
- Superman #199
- Superman/Batman #4
- Superman: Birthright #5
- Superman: Metropolis #10
- Superman: The Kansas Sighting #1
- JLA #90
- Justice League Adventures #25
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #11
- Superman/Thundercats #1
- Smallville #5
- Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity #3
- JLA/Avengers #3
- JLA-Z #3
- Action Comics #810
- Adventures of Superman #623
- Superman #200
- Superman/Batman #5
- Superman: Metropolis #11
- Superman: The Kansas Sighting #2
- JLA #91
- Justice League Adventures #26
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #12
- Action Comics #811
- Adventures of Superman #624
- Superman #201
- Superman/Batman #6
- Superman: Birthright #6
- Superman: Metropolis #12
- JLA #92
- Justice League Adventures #27
- Smallville #6
- Superman: Secret Identity #1
- Action Comics #812
- Adventures of Superman #625
- Superman #202
- Superman/Batman #7
- Superman: Birthright #7
- JLA #93
- Justice League Adventures #28
- Superman: Secret Identity #2
- Action Comics #813
- Adventures of Superman #626
- Superman #203
- Superman/Batman #8
- Superman: Birthright #8
- JLA #94
- JLA #95
- Justice League Adventures #29
- Smallville #7
- Superman: Secret Identity #3
- JLA/Avengers #4
- Action Comics #814
- Adventures of Superman #627
- Superman #204
- Superman/Batman #9
- Superman: Birthright #9
- JLA #96
- JLA #97
- Justice League Adventures #30
- Superman: Secret Identity #4
- It’s a Bird [Vertigo] (Hardcover)
- Action Comics #815
- Adventures of Superman #628
- Superman #205
- Superman/Batman #10
- Superman: Birthright #10
- JLA #98
- JLA #99
- Justice League Adventures #31
- Smallville #8
- Justice League of America: Another Nail #1
- Action Comics #816
- Adventures of Superman #629
- Superman #206
- Superman: Secret Files and Origins 2004
- Superman: Birthright #11
- JLA #100
- Identity Crisis #1
- Justice League Adventures #32
- Justice League of America: Another Nail #2
- Action Comics #817
- Adventures of Superman #630
- Superman #207
- Superman/Batman #11
- Superman: Birthright #12
- JLA #101
- JLA #102
- Justice League Elite #1
- Identity Crisis #2
- Justice League Adventures #33
- Smallville #9
- Justice League of America: Another Nail #3
- Action Comics #818
- Adventures of Superman #631
- Superman #208
- DC Comics Presents: Superman #1
- Majestic #1
- JLA #103
- JLA #104
- DC Comics Presents: Justice League of America #1
- Justice League Elite #2
- Identity Crisis #3
- Justice League Adventures #34
- Action Comics #819
- Adventures of Superman #632
- Superman #209
- Superman/Batman #12
- Majestic #2
- JLA #105
- JLA #106
- Justice League Elite #3
- JLA: Secret Files and Origins 2004
- Identity Crisis #4
- Justice League Unlimited #1
- Smallville #10
- Action Comics #820
- Adventures of Superman #633
- Superman #210
- Superman/Batman #13
- Majestic #3
- JLA #107
- Justice League Elite #4
- Identity Crisis #5
- Justice League Unlimited #2
- Superman: True Brit
Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2004.