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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #202

Superman #202

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 25, 2004

Cover date: April 2004

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

"Godfall" - Part Three: "Goddess"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Sergeant Preus, arriving on the scene of where Kal has accidentally killed Kon-Lar with his freeze breath. He regards the death with contempt, because there hasn't been a murder in their city for decades.

In a restaurant, Lois talks with Perry about Clark showing up. She believes he will return, but her body language, as she takes a large drink of something looking alcoholic, tells us otherwise.

At the Terraforge, the giant planet stabilizer that Jor-El put in place, Lyla takes Kal into a corridor. Kal laments that he will never be safe again, and that he is forever tarnished with murder.

In the bar, the murderous goons from the first and second issue lament that they couldn't kill Kal. One of the leaders says that he knows where Kal is hiding.

In the Terraforge, Kal wishes that the gods would grant him a respite. Lyla says that they can, and she reaches into his head, stunning him.

At a Superman symbol, Sergeant Preus looks up to the monument he's standing before, vowing to avenge the murder in his streets. He's standing before a giant statue of Superman. He vows to save the city, for Kandor. (Reviewers Note: Read that last sentence again, and make sure you're really paying attention. That's right, I said KANDOR).

Lyla has merged with Kal's consciousness, and we see figures from the Superman mythos up until the point at which Superman saved Kandor from Brainiac (with a line, "Raped by the dark mind Brainiac"). At this point, we see him standing before Kandor, and Lyla intimates that life was well with Superman watching over them, meaning Earth, but symbolically showing Kandor.

Then we see images of Superman battling Doomsday, Superman and the JLA, and Superman with the host of creatures he battled, such as Darkseid, Imperiex, the Parasite, Metallo, and Brainiac 13. We then see the image of Superman dead. Through this all, Lyla narrates.

Finally, we see President Luthor, Superman rising from the dead, the marriage, and Lyla further commentates. She talks about how a hundred years passed in Kandor as Superman forgot their plight, she talks about how she needed to know why her God had forgotten his deeds.

She talks about how she pulled the God down and made his body her own. She wells with energy as Kal, now realizing he is Superman, collapses.

Lyla ascends and leaves Kandor, emerging in the Fortress of Solitude prepared to visit a little town called Metropolis.

5Story - 5: There are definitely some things that are odd here, but nothing, I would say, wrong. This is a great direction. This is what Return to Krypton 1 and 2 might have been if taken with a more adult tone.

It's almost as if the writers are going out of the way to say, "Hey, we hear you guys, we understand what you wanted fixed, and here it is." Can they keep that up? Who knows. I think so. I went to a con yesterday and had the good fortune of meeting Greg Rucka, and I also saw some prelims from Adventures of Superman through #628, and while I'll not spoil them for you and betray the trust they showed in sending them my way, let me just emphasize, the art is rocking, the scripts look really tight, at least from what I saw... we're in good hands now, so far as I see.

This issue is another example of that. I have a few gripes. First, Kandor has been forgotten for a long time, true, and this is a good reason to be angry with Superman, but why and how did Lyla get these powers? I really have no idea, but at least she's not fluff, she's actually part of the story. That was one of my big gripes of the Casey and etx runs. Introduce someone, like the bug, the politician, then they just disappear, have no ramifications. Here we have Lyla a prominent character in three issues, heck, even the random thugs are playing an ongoing role. I like that. Tight writing, a bit wordy, but if you're a big boy and can read in the big boy voice, as they're realizing we can, it works out. I like it.

GREAT story concept. GREAT twist. Is this Sergeant the new Zod? Will Ceritak factor into this (Hah. That was a joke. But hey, anything's possible.)?

I believe that DC should take a page from Marvel and go ADULT and KIDS versions of their superheroes. Why? Because the "Raping" of Kandor by Brainiac and the drink Lois has while contemplating her missing, perhaps dead husband are both apt and very well done, a fine turn of the phrase indeed, but a lot of kids would have parents to take issue with things like that. Now, mind you, my mom let me read and watch whatever I wanted as a kid, for the most part, and I learned to not censor, to be a free spirit, to express myself, but lord knows these days what chaos a nipple on the Super Bowl can inspire. Heck, if the NFL were even paying attention, I can even be censored and criticized for even using the trademarked name of their final competition. But really, I'm not afraid of being that recognized yet. :)

So make an adult Superman, where he bleeds, where people die, where it rains all the time and villains talk like villains WOULD talk (you know what I mean) and have someone hammer out the original Superman. The fun, kid friendly guy from the early days. But then, Superman Adventures was kind of the failed test of that, I guess. Still, a guy can hope.

Regardless. My point? The actions in the comic were a little mature for kids, but I can't criticize it because I read it, and I prefer it. See my predicament? I like big kid words with little kid pictures (though homina, what a little kid this Lyla is, no?).

And lookie here! CONTINUITY! SIX PAGES showing us that they care about the past, that they're not junking it. People write me saying I shouldn't have been so harsh on #200, because it wasn't a revamp. Take into consideration that at the time I had no idea, no idea at all it could turn out this good. I stand by my flaming on that issue, and the issues previous, but I have to say now, now is a whole new ballgame. I had a bunch of people tell me they gave up with Superman #200. I openly urge you all to come back... look at this stuff. The art drives the story, the STORY drives the art, and heck, the only thing I have left to complain about is the logos, which we'll get to.

5Art - 5: How can you argue with this? My one complaint about arbitrary hot chicks has been smacked down royally by said hot chick becoming much more than background, the freeze breath is more vivid than I've ever seen it, heck, even Lois' DRINK sported more character than some of Casey's entire arc!

The coloring is fantastic, the characters are very well done, I'm just very pleased with this. The ending, while usually I've criticized splash pages, is consistent with the other issues, and hey, writing comics myself now to a good degree, I understand the value of a good splash page a little more. I suppose it depends on the artist to pull it off. You can write a great splash, but it can turn out horrible with the artist. Here, it's just Lyla standing, but it's still dynamic, amazing, nuts.

Great stuff.

"Lex Luthor: Man of Steel"

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Penciller: Lee Burmejo
Inker: Lee Burmejo

A woman named Mona talks to Lex Luthor about how a bad boy can cure a heart, turn it to porcelain, then break it. Luthor indicates Superman, and wonders if he'll ever break her heart. She tells Lex that he's super, but not a man.

Lex's phone rings, and he picks it up. It's Orr, who tells him that a Doctor Federov was kidnapped by Hasballah. Luthor asks him why this is a good thing, and Orr tells him that he has the doctor due to Luthor's intel, and that the Hasballah folk are taken care of. Luthor has Orr put the doctor on, and as Luthor talks to the doctor, Orr kills the terrorists.

Luthor promises the doctor that his work will be used for the betterment of mankind, rather than destruction.

Luthor, ending the conversation, looks at an evil looking visage of Superman being fired at by goons. He stands before the picture, musing as to the falsity of truth, justice, and the American Way, how malleable they are.

He notes that while all men are created equal, Superman is not a man.

End Prelude to Lex Luthor: Man of Steel.

4Story - 4: Now, I've been interacting with Superman fans for four years now through this site, and if there's one thing I always get asked, it's "What would you do if you could write the Superman comics." Aside from asking the genie for the other two wishes, one involving Denise Richards and pudding, the other involving a candle stick and Joe Casey (make your own joke here), I always say one thing, unequivocally:

I would write a Lex Luthor comic book with Lex Luthor as a hero.

Now, for saying that, I'll likely get a cease and desist, heck, but hey, it's true. I mean, that's the ultimate comic book for me. Make the villain the hero, and JUSTIFY it. But though DC is paranoid, though DC will not accept submissions for fear of something like what happened here with me happening, and someone much more vile than me with a suing on their minds when a good idea crops up twice, I am very glad that DC has in effect, appropriated an idea I never gave them. Make sense? I mean, if I say to myself, this is the kind of story I want to see, and it comes up, I know American logic says, "Sue." I just say, "ROCK!" And applaud DC. Very cool.

Nonetheless, I deserve credit to say, "My idea!" Heh. Anyway. I would have done it a little differently, anyway. But not much.

Which brings me to the crux of the matter. Very well executed. I wish we knew how or why Lex, who is supposed to be ruined and obsessed with K-Venom, is somehow back in business, but that's all right. He's Lex. We'll find out.

What's he doing with the doctor?

Who is Mona?

These are all questions I care about, so the prelude has succeeded.

I like this. Ease a really good set of teams in over a really good story. It seems like, what, 1993? New Supermen, new concepts, bold new direction with continuity? I'm impressed. I feel like a kid again.

Hasballah. Very nice. I mean, while Pokolistan and Qurac are interesting, I much prefer the real deal being covered. And though I keep mum on this site about the war, I have to note that to me, the biggest threat to American safety and the number one villain in the war on terror is Hasballah. It does not surprise me that Lex Luthor is associating with them, and it lends an air of realism to the comic. And killing the terrorists? Harsh. Again, not for kids, but hey, this is what I want to see in a Superman book myself all concerns for readership aside. See the previous review for this comic... :)

Now, all we need is a


for things to go back to normal and rocking.


4Art - 4: I'm not sure what it is, but I had to try a little bit to figure out who was talking to who on the phone, and I can't blame the writer for that, but I can kind of lay it on the artist a little. But it wasn't that bad. All in all, I see in this art exactly what I saw in the art for Metropolis. We have a very nice setup with Lex Luthor, a human, in the forefront of the story, and then we have Superman, the villain, if you will, in the background. And what does Lex's world look like? About like this. Superman is rough hewn, everyone is gritty and real, and things are not pretty, but they are defined.

Fine work. The one point missing is not for the art, just the understanding of the dialogue, which the artist and the writer share.


5Cover Art - 5: I don't have anything against symbolic covers. I just hate it when they don't involve anything in the issue. This one is a great symbolic portrayal of all things in the issue. Superman realizing the divide between his worlds, Lois, Lyla, and heck, if you look close, though it's succinct, you can see Kandor and Metropolis. Very nice.

Kal is not in the clothes he wore in the issue, but then, at least he doesn't look constipated or awkward, he looks thoughtful, and hey, I'd be thoughtful two if my head was sandwiched in the middle of what Superman's head's sandwiched in the middle of, if you know what I mean...

(Neal now pauses from the review to sit back and make naughty French guys sounds. Hoh hoh hoooooh! Beaucoup decolletage! Oui oui!)

Take some French.

Anyway, the only complaint I still have is that BLASTED ACCURSED LOGO, but the art far outshines it, TODAY.

Two months ago, where were we? Where are we today?

Pop open the two liters and let's celebrate, fellow geeks! Cheers.

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January 2004

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