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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #200

Superman #200

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 24, 2003

Cover date: February 2004

Writer: Steven T. Seagle
Penciller: Scott McDaniel
Inker: Andy Owens
Guest Artists: Jon Bogdanove, Tom Grummet and Nelson, Dan Jurgens and Kevin Nowlan, Gene Ha, Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning, Talent Caldwell and Jason Gorder

"The Last Superman Story"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

First we see young Kal-L, rocketed from the Planet Krypton, destroyed by earthquakes, in the style of the original Superman of the forties and onward.

We then see the modern version of the mythos, with the aesthetically cold Krypton destroyed by a former nuclear explosion.

Finally, we see the Krypton of Birthright, and a Clark Kent among the contemporary, Smallville-type family from television, thinking about all three versions of Clark in a montage of faces.

Future Superman then reveals to present Superman that he is losing track of himself, and that he needs to pay attention in the time stream lest he lose his purpose.

Superman questions altering time, and the Superman of the future decides to show him why altering the timeline is essential, projecting them a year into the future.

First, Superman sees a flood destroying Smallville, killing his parents, and then watches in horror as terrorists blow up a bridge Lois is on, killing her.

Superman takes her to Luthor, desperate to save her, and Luthor agrees, in exchange for a bargain...

Five years into the future, Batman sneaks up on a Superman in exile, telling him to return. Luthor's bargain is that the public will think Superman has returned to Krypton in exchange for saving Lois. Superman has long hair, and is diminished.

He tells Batman to stop drinking "Yes", because Luthor found out that it had nanotech in it five years ago.

Ten years from the start of the story, Batman tries to save Gotham, as the flesh eating properties of yes are killing everyone, including Batman. Superman shows up, but Batman yells at him, asking why he hadn't come back earlier.

Gotham collapses, and Superman slips back into the time stream.

Farther on, Rian Ciba creates a cure, but it replaces human tissue with synthetic skin... everyone lives forever.

Unfortunately, the Amazons, through some fluke, are still infected.

Wonder Woman calls on the dead to attack the genocide of her people, and a completely nanotech Batman arrives to help.

The armies of the dead rise and prepare to do battle.

Superman of the future shows Superman a gap in the time stream that is essentially a gap in space time created by the folding of time the Futuresmiths perpetrated.

Arriving thousands of years in the future, Superman and future Superman find a world controlled by the Futuresmiths, with Brainiac's mainframe at the center of everything.

Cir-El is being placed into Brainiac's heart, and Superman attempts to intercede, only to be pulled back by future Superman, telling him that Cir-El might be working with them.

The Futuresmiths become aware of the Supermen, and attack. Lex Luthor, now fully biotic, comes to the rescue. Future Superman realizes him to be fully synthetic human, and confronts Lex about orchestrating Smallville's flood. The current Superman reacts with incredulity.

In the remains of Lexcorp Tower, Luthor brings Lois back to life, which involves re-experiencing the pain of death.

From Lois' pain, her body explodes with green and becomes a vessel for Brainiac 12. She blasts Lex and unleashes herself into the technology, allowing the Futuresmiths to merge with a more powerful consciousness to become Brainiac 12.

Brainiac 12 explains to Supergirl that she's his "mother" and that since 2000's Brainiac 13 attack, he's been hiding within her. The hair that Amok stole was used to create Supergirl, and then put Brainiac's essence into her until the Futuresmiths could bring Brainiac back, in the form of the new and more advanced Brainiac 13.

Brainiac explains this to Superman, and as he does, the Amazons show up with Batman and attack. Brainiac gloats that he and future Superman are now connected through blood, and Superman asks how many times he'll have to fight him in this lifetime.

Brainiac swats future Superman of the future away, sending him towards a now tied up Lex, who asks future Superman to save him. When future Superman asks what Lex will do for him, he says he's the only man alive with the will to override Brainiac, and he can save mankind.

Superman of the future said that the answer he wanted was the same he gave when Lex asked him the same question, saving Lois. "Anything you ask." Denied what he wants, future Superman leaves Lex to die.

Supergirl sees the point in time that she dreaded seeing, and tries to stop it, but Brainiac kills Wonder Woman, Batman, and future Superman with a blast.

Supergirl, realizing what Brainiac has done, throws herself into time to delete herself. Superman sees her do this, and is moved. He takes Brainiac to the fold in time and leaves him there, telling him to rot.

Thrust back into the time stream, he has trouble choosing which path is the right one, and ends up in the timeline of Birthright, rebooting the Superman origin and destroying the entirety of continuity from the first comic until Mark Waid picked up his pen a good year or a year and a half ago, assuming comic scheduling is about as normal.

1Story - 1: Well, this is either the best thing that has happened to Superman in a while, or an affirmation of the hell we've been through in the past year or two with scant hope for the future save flailing... and we ain't got no Futuresmiths.

We can take consolation in that this is the end of all that is, and has been, crummy, or we can salute with regret all of the wonderful continuity this issue so belligerently kisses goodbye.

Allow me to explain my thinking...

This is a landmark issue, to be sure. Continuity is rebooted, Superman's story from 1986 to today is brought to an end (unless this is somehow resolved in about four or five weeks, which I doubt), and seems a deliberate attempt on the part of the writers to start over.

With the Crisis on Infinite Earths, there was a good reason to reboot Superman. People, kids, they had some troubles identifying with a million different little continuity issues, a thousand stories they'd never read, Beppo, Zak, Jayna, Gleek, Harpo, Streaky, Krypto, and all the other Super-powers and feats were confused and muddled... and the movies left people wondering what was what.

Enter "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" A story I was turned on to by a fan (I forgot who mentioned it, but thanks, whoever you were). Superman stories, from the last, oh, 50 years, were wrapped up in a nice bow by Alan Moore and given a finality. We see the death of Lana, Jimmy, Luthor, and the fall of the Daily Planet. It's kind of heartbreaking, actually, and it's not the way you'd WANT the story to end, but it's how it actually probably WOULD end... I mean, all this talk of nobility aside, enough baddies come at you for long enough, you and your loved ones will fall. Just don't tell the kids that, or they might start doubting Santa Claus.

This comic, as near as I can tell, tried to be a "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" so that Eddie and the new crew can revamp Superman and start from Waid's concept, more hip to the TV jive and more Silver Age and Smallville to attract more readers.

I wish to hell they'd just realize that the only thing keeping readers away is that the villains stink, the continuity is lousy, each comic has its own direction which generally stinks, and there's no sense of community, family, threat to the mains, or even events anymore. There hasn't been a real event since Our Worlds at War, and if, unlike me, you are a new comic reader, you aren't going to wait that long. You'll go two, three months, tops.

So here's why I think, on a simple level, this attempt to revamp will fail critically, based in the things drawn from this book's approach:

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow rid us of a series of annoying continuity problems very specifically. This doesn't let us know if any of the events of the past still happened or not. For instance, with the end of Birthright, will Superman still have died, risen, went out into space, fought Imperiex, Brainiac 13, endured Emperor Joker, and the like?

And what does this mean to the rest of continuity? I mean, does Batman and its team now have to change the entirety of their year one first meetings, since Waid and company got it into their head that Superman needed changing?

Well, hey, that does what, folks? Anyone?


Much like the last few years of the Super-titles, just for the sake of "shaking things up".

You change the man's hair, that shakes things up. You change his costume, that shakes things up. You make him fight a war, that shakes things up. You throw him into random situations that restart everything for no apparent reason, you bore people, and anger long-time fans who frankly, have taken this sitting down for long enough.

All of the events of the last three years, the random, crummy, newly created characters were what, now a waste? Great. Great. That ending sure validates me, having bought this issue now.

And my collection for the last ten years and beyond, which I rather enjoy, wasn't good enough for these five or six writers to preserve? That's a nice little gut shot, but then, the blow is softened by the fact that they systematically dismantled it for about four years, with rare rays of hope from Jeph Loeb, now writing a rather superficial Superman story that now has no consequence for me, because, I'm assuming, Superman/Batman now takes place in a history that is erased, as does Superman: Metropolis.

Grand. Now, explain to me why I should plunk money down on that again, save to write my review of it? Explain it to the readers, the tens of thousands of readers, who DO NOT have a review to write, like me.

Go on, Eddie. We're listening. That's my question for the Ask Eddie Fan Forum this month, but it's a bit long, so I'll leave it here. I've written him several times asking where he's planning to go with this, along with a heap of fan letters asking for change, and he doesn't answer.

As a super-fan, I'm actually angered to near tears on this. I mean, you care about something deeply, and you see it fading, and you realize that you don't want things back the way they were, necessarily, you just want passable. Just passable. Smallville offers more than passable, but the comics, they've been down for years save in scant instances I've already mentioned, and even they are not tied into the other books.

Instead, we are delivered the horrible. Like this issue, which, while it gets from A to B, has such innumerable flaws I was forced to take three pages of notes for a two page summary. Commencing:

Superman of the future is not effected by the time stream as Superman of the present is, for some reason. And somehow, Superman of the future came back, reason unexplained, having found out about the future, somehow unexplained, and is not killed by Brainiac, for reasons unexplained.

The JLA, of course, is not brought to the future with them, despite the fact that Superman knows how much they could help.

Waverider and the Linear Men, who would make quick work of this situation, don't even make an appearance, despite consulting Superman rather intimately on the future on many occasions, most recently OWAW.

I have a feeling Seagle, given what he's said about writing Superman and the fact that he's not even as read as I am on the man, didn't care to check, or perhaps lacks knowledge of the Linear Men. So he made a time stream his future Superman could arbitrarily control just to move things along. If you're not looking, it might slip right past you, but I'm a writer, and I see those things. I'm willing to bet bucks that a good portion of the rest of us do as well.

Superman finds out Brainiac is trying to take over the world, so he and his future friend go to revive Lois, for no real reason save that they want to. And somehow, future Superman doesn't know that this is exactly what Brainiac wants, despite having access to every component of the future, seemingly more than the Futuresmiths, who, seeing the future, might have avoided Brainiac's fate, right?

Anyway, I was at Lois... they move to save Lois, but then why trust Luthor to save her, since he caused the mess in the first place, and that said, why does Luthor not get assimilated with the rest of the people?

Well, okay, let's assume Brainiac let him live to enact his future that he threw together.

Then why not just release Lois real quick like himself, using the Futuresmiths?

Why does Superman, in the past, not suspect that Luthor is behind Smallville? He knew Luthor was behind Topeka... it's a fairly logical stream of thought. Oh yeah, that continuity, just, what, three years old, is too far beyond the references of most of us, right?


And, what, five years later, Superman has gone into exile, but a quick scan of the planet by Martian Manhunter couldn't have revealed he stayed behind? And hey, for a guy in exile, wearing an S on your chest is a dead giveaway, Supes.

FURTHER, Superman knew about the nanos in YES but did nothing about it?

FURTHER STILL, Batman, the man with one of the most trained minds on Earth, perhaps second only to Luthor, becomes ADDICTED to YES, and doesn't realize anything funny about it immediately, but he can find a man who can hear you miles away and sneak up on him like it was nothing?

And look, folks, I'm just getting started here. Do you know how ticked off I am to be writing these? How sick I am of having to cite editorial failure after editorial failure on the part of Superman comics? Look back to my first reviews... when things were still half together. There are inconsistencies, but I don't have to go NEARLY this far to describe the level of incredulous bull that flies from these pages. And it's not impetuousness... I read the issues in a row from #93 on recently, just for the sake of fair play, and read my reviews, and save my harsh tone on Emperor Joker (which I now like, in retrospect), I stand by my reviews.

Onward. I feel like cursing, I really do, but instead, onward. An outlet rather than belligerence, eh?

Loose ends. First, the future is infinitely malleable in this comic, and no one uses it, and then, the future is set and determined, but randomly. And thus ends the dangling ends that we have no way of understanding now, including:

Girl 13, why Lana moved to Metropolis and left Pete, what happened to their kid, Ron Troupe, Ashbury, Perry and Alice's adopted son, the villains, the friends, everyone.

What a quick, abbreviated, and foolish end to what has been a long and prosperous continuity, taken seriously and without camp, unlike its predecessor, pre-Crisis, which even so had a touching and fitting serious end, unlike this thrown together puerile infantile absolute crap.

Forgive my language, please.

Continuing, why was Superman a robot? Why did Superman not realize that throwing someone into time, even the end of time, usually doesn 't dissuade them from coming back? First, he does it to Doomsday (who returns), then, he does it to Brainiac, who he ALREADY DID IT TO, FAILING, still unsure that he's destroyed his presence on the planet (did he look? Check? Assure himself?).

Why does Superman of the future know how to control time, and know that the gap is important, but not leave Superman the right way home? And why would Superman forget his own past just because he was traveling through it? I mean, you might say, "Oh, that's odd. In this timeline I had blonde hair." But in all Superman's travel through time in the past, save in DeMatteiss ramblings where Superman tends to lose all his senses often and well, HE NEVER HAS ANY TROUBLE KNOWING WHO OR WHERE HE IS.

Notice Time and Time Again, eh? Maybe a beard, but no revamp.

Odds that Seagle would even know what superhero was involved in Time and Time Again?

1,000 and one day to one.

Why a last Superman story again, with no real buildup, no real reason, no real point, unlike Whatever Happened? Nothing is resolved, there's just a reboot for the sake of a reboot.

18 years for this reboot, 50 for the last. Good going. Looks like those TV watching punks DO have less patience these days. Too bad there are some of us with a firm grip on works and comics, including 10-15 year olds, who know how to remember a story but just hate reading something that is boring and worthless.

So what, the Amazons imported Yes and somehow got addicted across mythology and an impossible guard? Then why is there no Pepsi in the Amazonian homeland? And why is Diana, an Amazon, able to adapt with human synth-flesh? And if she is, why isn't Brainiac able to take control of her?

The Amazon army is interesting, but why didn't the Amazons attack when they were alive? And why is Wonder Woman the only one still living? And as she is living, why does she seem otherwise unaffected save some cybernetics and white hair?

Superman can just manipulate the time stream, in the future and the past? What do the Linear Men have to say about this? Oh yeah, forgot. Not only do they not get brought into this, their jurisdiction over time is overruled.

Okay, folding a future onto the present, because it is a future which was destined for later, causes a gap in space time where nothing exists, happens, or can be altered. That's why the law firm of Superman and future Superman can fly around in it? And escape? And comprehend it, despite its lack of existence in the space-time? Wow. That's certainly a leap of faith there.

Why doesn't the Superman of the future just throw Brainiac into the time gap? Why does the current Superman have to do it? Tarded. I guess there'd be no story if they did that. And no Brainiac 12, and no Supergirl number twenty, and no Futuresmiths, and no Yes, and no armored Superman that is not Krytponian, and Amok with the rip-off from Superman IV and...

Come to think of it, I'm going to go into the future and stop Brainiac myself.

Okay, so the Futuresmiths are tools of Brainiac. Why? Where from? What made them capable of working the Brainiac magic without Brainiac, as Brainiac was dissipated and thusfar has not been explained back into existence?

Think about it... Brainiac 13 manifests from the Future, meaning that he SKIPS Brainiac 2-12. That means they don't exist in our timeline unless Brainiac still exists. Superman takes out Brainiac 13 twice (Brainiac 13 thus is still around), but Brainiac 2-12 don't really develop, per ce, just his future incarnation, which is now in the past. Like the Borg... you take a Borg from the 30th century and you insert his tech into the 20th century (essentially what B13 did), Borg from the 29th century cease to exist. Similar forms may come about, but the sequence is derailed and forever altered.

Even assuming time goes on, what does Brainiac 12 have that 13 doesn't? This isn't explained, save a system flaw that Superman exploits, which I'd assume is Y2K, but wouldn't Brainiac 12 have the same flaw, as he hasn't adapted yet?

Makes my head hurt too, and that's why this sucks.

Why not, simply enough, Brainiac 14?

Why Brainiac 12 after Brainiac 13? So Brainiac 13 had flaws... make Brainiac 14. This must be some in-joke I don't get, or just bad writing.

If humanity is controlled by Brainiac, Lex never took the nanobots, but he still has synth-flesh? Or rather, even more condemning, Lex is the only remaining resistance to an entity essentially caused by Superman's aggression against it (a Luthor character trait... blame Superman for his enemies), and as soon as he sees Superman, he's like, "BUDDY!"? Wow. That's a heck of a leap. Too bad Lex is still the same character, trying to take over the world, or that leap might be plausible.

Lois has to re-experience the pain of death? Why? And why isn't she brought back to life yet? And why save Lois when destroying Brainiac will stop the whole mess from happening? And why not just go back a few seconds early and save Lois, provided the time stream is going to be altered?

For that matter, and this is just ABSOLUTELY FUNDAMENTAL for anyone writing Superman, Lex is in love with Lois Lane in this continuity. In fact, the reason he doesn't harm Superman at times is if he fears it will harm Lois. Above all, he desires power, but Lois is his Achilles heel. So if she was on ice, and he had a cure, she'd be thawed and he'd be hitting on her. Believe me. Hell hath no fury like a geek scorned in love, and that is why despite his wickedness we can relate to Lex Luthor. He paid the price for intelligence by becoming fat, bald, power hungry and scorned, and for this he gained bitter rivalry with a man who won his regard through strength, not intelligence, and took his beloved out from under him simply because of the Birthright of flight.

Now tell me that I don't understand the characters here and Seagle does.

Tell me that with a straight face.

And tell me that this all isn't the biggest pile of horse...

Let's not make a glue factory of my license here, but I'm positive you get the point, if you're still reading. I wouldn't be. You know what follows. But then, maybe I can provide you a little more pinash than what you've just been forced through by dissecting it further:

So the Futuresmiths wanted to become Brainiac 12, something they could have no knowledge of, as it hasn't really existed (the future Brainiacs were theoretical, and negated when Superman destroyed Brainiac 13, further theoretically). Further, if it's thousands, plural, of years into the future, where's the Legion, and what happened to their knowledge and combating of future Brainiac, and heck, even their own Brainiac's input?

Rapid fire... Supergirl is somehow the only way that Brainiac 13 could survive, even though Lena was already that only way, and Supergirl was brought into being long after 2000 but just in time to save a fictional future Brainiac who died in 2000 in the form of Supergirl, a genetic replica of Superman and Lois' DNA. And somehow, Lois is the only way that she could become active and restore Brainiac, and somehow, Brainiac knew that Lois would not just die, and somehow knew that she would be Cryogenically frozen, and somehow knew that the future Superman and Superman of the present would come back and eventually save Lois, and instead of having the Futuresmiths simply awaken Lois, who would easily be found with his superior technology, he chooses to instead wait thousands of years while cronies he apparently doesn't know or is, the Futuresmiths, do his bidding in some half-attempted kind of way, sending things back in time to annoy the Superman of the present. Starting with the big guns, like Amok.


Okay, there's something to be said for Superman being related to Brainiac, in blood, like with Shinzon in Star Trek, but unlike Star Trek, there is no reason for this whatsoever, save a random happenstance plot reason to throw in pet faves Amok, Supergirl (the unnecessary NEW Supergirl, I might add), future Superman, Futuresmiths (who I still don't understand) and Brainiac and make it all seem arbitrarily connected in a last issue.

Okay, assume all this makes sense. Future Superman just leaves Lex to die when he knows Lex can override the intelligence, or at least seems to be able to, resulting in the future Superman's death, a death which he should have known was coming, being immersed in the time stream, and somehow doesn't prevent?

All this hubbub about Supergirl, only to have her jump into the time-stream stupidly and delete herself in a selfless expression of her own naive dedication to the father that's not really her father, rendering the storyline either impossible and thus not continuing, or, given the rest of the story, a waste of her life, as she failed.

Wow. I'm moved here.

And hey, not only does she waste her life, she also doesn't bother to tell Superman until the last minute that this was the second that Diana and Batman die, despite the apparent things that made such a scenario possible (i.e. the mise-en-scene, the place, persons, things) were present and accounted for a number of pages earlier. Good going for plot.

And even that said, why the heck does Brainiac let her out of the heart without crushing her? So that she can fight him? Not very logical for a machine. Not even very dramatic, when it comes down to it, because we still don't know what the heck Supergirl could have done, or why she even had two personalities, or what it meant, or why it happened. And then, she just deletes herself. Maybe he's the only one using the time stream tactically. That's why he loses, right?

Superman's solution is to then immerse Brainiac into the time stream with himself, the TIME STREAM, where Superman lacks control and Brainiac is masterful, and use physical power in a temporal (read: NOT CONTROLLED BY PHYSICAL POWER) realm to drag a large mechanical body's share of the consciousness still spread across the planet into a fold in time that, given Futuresmiths or anyone else with a hand in time, is not entirely certain.

And then POOF.


And to thank us for suffering through this, we are treated to a pseudo-sexual image of three women luxuriating in the middle of the most contemptible Joe Kelly storyline in his entire accursed run, the Supergirls trilogy. Supergirl, Girl 13, and what is mislabeled as Steel, correctly as Natasha Irons. Top it off with the fact that the three aren't particularly attractive, and at this point in the story have suffered grievous wounds they no longer sport, hey, now you're rubbing in, with the PIN-UP, for the love of God, the lack of continuity to close out the Superman run.

I've said "Make mine DC" while tacitly reading more and more Marvel over the last few years. This is why. This is absolutely why. Read Ultimate Spider-Man and compare it to Superman. The difference, and I'll say it one more time just to make sure it's repeated...


Not pet projects by "names" in order to briefly spike circulation and make reviewers like me vomit regret.

Image from Superman #200 I will leave you plot-wise with a light summation of what I consider to be the larger problem of the last few years. Look at this picture:

We have Superman of the 40s, who people stopped relating to, the Superman of the late 80s to the late nineties, and the new Superman. Note several things.

Superman of the past was brutal, rough hewn, and harder to follow. He was constant, I'll give him that, but he was also a stereotype, destined for commonness and obscurity.

Enter the re-imagining, and look at this picture. A friendly, home-spun hero with a look of depth, the writing to back it up, and enough events and fun to keep it interesting.

Then look. Back to the old Superman essentially, with slightly more detail, but still looking angry and like a lumbering brute who would rather smash you than keep things straight. Only now, without the positive creativity associated with the former years, the wonder that attracted the kids and Reeve.

Welcome, new and strangely off Superman. I'm sure there are places to go with you, Supes of the new Millennium... I just don't exactly know if I'm going to enjoy what that's gonna be, and if the past few years are any indication. You've just been given glimpse to the final irony of whatever truly happened to the Man of Tomorrow, folks.

Stay in the time stream, old friend. Stay in that time stream.

And next week? Guest heroes we don't know at all and Return to Krypton 3.

Enjoy, folks.

Hey Eddie. For the millionth time, get someone who knows and loves Superman and his history, knows how to write a page, and cares for direction.

I'm here when you're ready. But oh, yeah. You guys don't accept unsolicited writers. Just in-guys. My mistake to dream.

5Art - 5: Look at the list of names. All it lacks is Big Mack. And while McDaniel has a somewhat slanted style, I was somewhat fond of it, as it lasted. Of course, Seeing old favorites had me looking twice, and it was good to see Tom Grummet at the wheel, even if it was one page, right with Bog and Jurgens.

Good stuff, and definitely worth the paper... if only the story supporting it had been better. I loved the Amazons, not the device, but the picture, and Wonder Woman and Batman were innovative, and even Brainiac 12 looked cool, even if he didn't make any sense.

Top-notch stuff.

5Cover Art - 5: It's a bit out of sorts and done to the ground, but really, if you just look at it, it doesn't matter. It's a classic Superman pose in a new and dynamic style, the logo rocks, the words (though usually a peeve of mine) say it all, and all the names on the side hook you right up with excitement for this failure of a story, in spite of it all.

May this be the new logo... that's my wish. That DC, though... man, it's getting small. Soon we won't even be able to see the letters. I guess that makes some sense. Still, all around, this cover was great. Way to go, Ha.

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January 2004

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