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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Superman: The Kansas Sighting #2

Superman: The Kansas Sighting #2

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 17, 2003

Cover date: February 2004

Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Penciller: Jamie Tolagson
Inker: Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh

Reviewed by: Barry Freiman

When last we left our hero, he had come face to face with the John Byrne version of his biological father, Jor-El, and a bunch of little green men right smack in the middle of a flying saucer. As the story continues, Superman is angry. "WHO ARE YOU?!" he screams as he bursts out of the stasis bubble. Jor-El spouts a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about reality being a limited concept and that he is Superman's father, but then suggests Clark check in on Laura Wright (the old lady who, years earlier, had her son kidnapped by aliens), who'd also been abducted by the aliens that night.

Superman tears her out of the wires and technology that the aliens have her hooked up to and Superman is shaken when he realizes that her reaction of terror is not terror of her situation, but a genuine fear of Superman, the alien she believes brought all this about whether directly or indirectly.

The pair wake up in the middle of a field in Smallville where they're found by Jimmy Olsen - Clark is back in his civilian clothing and glasses but fears that Ms. Wright put 2 and 2 together and came up with Clark Kent being Superman.

Clark is troubled and avoids Ms. Wright but finds that she is being interviewed by the sensationalistic tabloid show hot on the trail of UFOs in Smallville.

Dr. Berenson, the skeptic about Superman as hero vis a vis some subversive force of Krypton, agrees to hypnotize Clark Kent who fakes going under to remove Superman from the equation of who was on board the spaceship. But in the middle of his performance, it all becomes real as he suddenly finds himself visualizing Superman amidst a sea of aliens of all shapes and sizes, including Ms. Wright's long-lost little boy, Jonah.

Meanwhile, Ma Kent goes to see Herbert Moore, the old coot who sold out his UFO story seemingly to upgrade the technology in his shack. Ma finds out the old coot is dying of cancer and needed the money from the tabloid journalism industry to pay for pain medicine. Ma also finds out that, while Herbert believes he saw what he did that night (and Ma knows he did - it was baby Clark's craft after all), he never took home movies of the craft, that he let the TV people embellish his story; after all it didn't bother him so long as he knew the story he was telling was true. After a brief conversation between Clark and Jimmy, suddenly those affected by the Kansas Sightings in the past begin receiving messages, beginning with Ms. Wright and even Superman.

Woodstock-sized crowds of those seemingly in contact with the aliens are suddenly gathered on Mr. Moore's property. Clark stops Ms. Wright on her way and transforms in front of her eyes to Superman, disclosing his secret identity. When Ms. Wright realizes the alien is right in front of her, an alien like those who tortured her and stole her child, she is initially terrified, but she sees the goodness in Superman's eyes and suddenly believes in him. Clark is grateful and understands her reticence given his alien origins. This experience, as he is explaining it to her, is putting him more in touch with the realization that, no matter what, he is not from Earth, he is an alien. Ma and Pa Kent decide to return to Herbert Moore's house and help him to realize his charade for the TV show brought out all the crazies, that now he'll never get a moment's peace. That's when - seemingly - the aliens return and Herbert, Ms Wright and Clark are all struck by visions. Clark and Ms. Wright see Jor-El dressed like a cowboy.

Ma and Pa discover that Herbert has collapsed and can't call for help because he doesn't have a telephone. Herbert regains consciousness long enough to tell Ma and Pa that his dead wife had visited and touched him and then begins having a seizure.

Jor-El, meanwhile, has seemingly transported himself and Superman to Krypton spouting a bunch of mumbo jumbo about the human mind being a hologram. Superman begins realizing that Jor-El took humans from Earth by sending a probe to Earth to research the planet. Superman beats Jor-El, almost begging for answers to the question of what Jor-El did to these people in Kal-El's name. While Clark continues with his conversation in this netherworld, Ms. Wright is in a field and comes back into contact with her son, Jonah. Jonah is still 6 years old and it is 35 years later and he seems quite OK with it. Apparently Jonah wasn't kidnapped but he made a choice before he was born.

Back in Smallville, the Kents finally get Herbert to a hospital and he suddenly doesn't have cancer anymore - at all. He claims that it was his deceased wife who touched him and cured him and the Kents, no stranger to aliens and life after death, seem to accept his story. He goes on to tell that his wife was visited by aliens her entire life, she claimed, and that he had always believed her. Pa Kent, evoking memories of finding baby Kal's spacecraft, acknowledges that things happen that make us have to accept that some mysteries in the universe are just bigger than individuals. Back in the dimensional plain, "Jor-El" reveals himself to be some sort of other-dimensional creation manifested by collective consciousness, that he can be Jor-El if he chooses to be because his essence is all around them. He invites Superman to partake, and what he absorbs tells him what he needs to know - that any human specimens taken by Jor-El were already dead when he took them.

Suddenly, Superman finds himself in the field with Ms. Wright and Jonah and is surprised that she wants to stay wherever her son is. The "Jor-El" manifestation reappears to say Goodbye and Superman experiences in some fashion the rocket trip he took to Earth, landing explosively in Smallville - back in reality.

Superman flies to Dr. Berensen's office and thanks her for doing her job of distrusting him - that he realized that he is as uncertain about Superman as she is, except he is at peace with that. And, as Superman flies off, Dr. Berenson smiles, despite herself.

The story ends as it began in Book One, with an episode of "Mysteries of the Unexplained" - this time the completed episode being watched by Clark and Jonathan much to Martha's dismay on the Kent farm. The subjects of the evening - Superman and Herbert Moore. Clark postulates that he's just fine with the subject of the show, that he knows exactly what their conclusion will be and that is just fine with him - that Superman is a mystery that can never be solved.

2Story - 2: The idea of Jor-El having actually researched the Earth, beyond the scientific analysis of composition of atmosphere is an intriguing one. It's been played well on "Smallville" and resulted in a sultry meeting between young Jor-El and Lana Lang's great aunt. But, this story - told now - is just another confusing reminder that Superman continuity in the comic books remains an absolute mess. The only way to tell this story was in prestige format not because it was so good it deserved the format, but because it clearly chooses John Byrne's Jor-El - and Lara - in both physical appearance and coldly logical and emotionless personality - over what Mark Waid is doing in Superman: Birthright and even the story just told in Superman #200. It was a story that personifies all that is wrong with "Hypertime" - it adds little to the myth by its extremely contradictory take on Jor-El and Krypton and will wind up largely ignored - just like Waid's Birthright - because it ultimately just won't matter.

The Superman books are headed the way of Marvel in the 1990's - embracing different continuities for the same heroes depending on the particular book; ironically, Marvel embraced this and ultimately alternative continuities completely like the Ultimates Line only after Marvel's supposedly simpler universe pushed the DC Multiverse out of business in the Crisis. I cannot in good conscience recommend this book to anyone - except the dolt who winds up buying it from me on Ebay.

Combining two of the first - and best - movies of the late 1970's (namely, Superman and Close Encounters) was just a really lousy idea in execution. One more thing: Who else who reads the Superman books religiously is sick and tired of all of these Return to Krypton stories that raise more questions than they answer? The lame duck editorial team made it part of their Superman plan - twice - and well, they are the lame duck team after all.

2Art - 2: Same artist as the first issue - same comments. He can't draw women, he's lousy with old people looking anything other than like stereotypes, and, I don't care what point was trying to be made by putting Byrne's Jor-El in a cowboy hat - DO NOT DO THAT AGAIN WITHOUT WARNING ME TO TAKE THE SAME DRUGS YOU AND THE WRITER TOOK WHEN DREAMING IT UP. And it seems to me that, somehow between Book One and Book Two, Jonathan Kent went from looking like a slightly aged John Schneider to a fat John Schneider with an attitude problem.

2Cover Art - 2: Deja blue. Last month, we had Superman surrounded by lime green aliens and that same hideous lime green color forming the cover border and logo. This month - same thing in a horrendous sky blue with sky blue aliens with green eyes. Superman looks pissed, and, given he knows what's inside is even worse than the cover, he has the right to be.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2004

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