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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #203

Superman #203

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 31, 2004

Cover date: May 2004

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

"Godfall" - Part Six: "Divinity"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

As the refugees from Kandor succumb to the alien environment around them, one tells Basqat that they would have followed him if only he believed as they did.

In the sky above Metropolis, Superman commands Preus to stand down. Preus knocks him back with a powerful punch, slamming him into a building. Lois looks up as the rubble falls toward her, only to be saved at the last moment by the remaining Kandorians. Recovering, Superman tries to tell Preus that Kon-lar and the other victims were only constructs of Lyla, but Preus doesn't even listen. Looking towards the ground, Preus' eyes begin to glow as he sends a blast of black heat vision towards the bystanders. Superman dives in front of the beam at the last moment. From the sidelines, Lyla wonders why he would sacrifice himself for others.

Tearing across the wreckage caused by the fight on their bikes, the remaining Kandorians cheer for Kandor as they fire at Preus. Preus staggers for a moment, but then blasts them all out of the air. Grabbing Superman by the throat, Preus' eyes begin to glow when suddenly Lyla grabs him by the head and feeds him all of the shame and hate that she feels for betraying Kal-el, whom she now knows is a good man. Turning on her, Preus tells Lyla that his armor protects him against her powers, and can even let him control her powers. Grabbing her by the throat Preus uses Lyla's powers to corrupt Metropolis.

Leaping up from the ground, Superman grabs Lyla's free hand, telling her that she has the choice. Lyla erupts into a blast of light as Superman hammers at Preus. The Kandorian tells him that she will poison him, but Clark says that he has faith as he blasts Preus into the ground. Superman reaches out to Lyla, but instead she tells him that some things cannot be made right. She says goodbye as she vanishes.

Weeks later, Clark cooks breakfast when Lois runs out to kiss him. She asks how Kandor is doing. He tells her that they've arranged a cease-fire and they are working to get equal rights for everyone. He also knows that Preus and Lyla are both still alive. Both will grow stronger in the yellow sun.

Somewhere, inside of a cave, Preus cuts at the Superman symbol emblazoned across his chest. It won't come off. He will see Kal-el die for this, him and all of the impure.

4Story - 4: The entire Godfall arc has been a good story, and the final chapter does not disappoint. Superman is home with his wife, Kandor has been resolved enough that we don't need to worry about it, Lyla is left floating around the world, and Preus has turned into the villain that we have all been speculating about for the past two months. When he was first introduced I thought the murderer motivation was a new direction for a Superman villain, and could have been interesting. This issue does away with that opportunity, but it opens up a new one relatively unknown to Superman, religious fanaticism. Now Preus views the whole world as impure, and he's the one to cleanse it. If this is handled well in the future, this could really turn out to be a good villain. My only real problem with this issue was that in its short 16 pages it focused too much on Lyla glowing and not enough on Kal and Preus hitting each other. It's rare that we see a Kryptonian brawl, and it would have been nice to have this one go on for a little longer. Almost everything else was positive though. Superman was actually tough; something which the books have been sorely lacking of late with all of his soul-searching and lack of self confidence, and it was much appreciated. Overall a good read that just fell short of a five because I thought it could have been even better. This marks the end of Kelly's run on Superman, and it's hard to believe that he's been here for over four years now. While everything he did wasn't great, he did bring us some fantastic stories (Action Comics #775 comes to mind) and I'd like to thank him for that.

3Art - 3: As Godfall has progress Caldwell's art has become increasingly annoying to me. The lack of detail in many of his pages, especially in his characters isn't appealing at all. Sometimes it's great and other times it looks like he just didn't feel like finishing a page. Take a look at page six (stupid lack of page numbers) and you can see what I mean. None of them have defined faces and Preus looks sketchy at best. Yet on other pages, like the fourth, his detail on Lois is spot on. I don't really get it. My main gripe with this issues art was the way he drew the panels. Maybe it was Kelly plotting out the story that caused it, but through the second half of the story it felt like Superman's struggle was always behind something else. On page seven Lyla gets a pointless shot while Preus strangling Kal is just a shadow in the background. Then Superman's triumph over Preus on twelve is comprised of a few sketchy images against a white background. Other than the fact that Superman is the one still left standing after Lyla disappears, you really can't tell who is hitting who. There are better ways to show a big fight like this. Caldwell is still a great artist, but I think the initial appreciation I had for his work has faded. It worked for this story, but I'm all up for new artists. Bring on Lee, Clark, and Reis!

"Jim Lee's Superman Sketchbook"

3Overall - 3: This one can't really be rated on story or art, but both played a role so I'll just go for an overall rating. You would think that DC could put something better than this together for us to look at over the next month. I do appreciate that this is showing Lee's design process, but would it have been too much to have one or two pages with finished images? I think it can pretty much be summed up by the fact that I enjoyed Lee's narrative more than I did the sketches. Lee's column was interesting, letting us see what he was thinking of while getting ready for his run on Superman, especially hearing that he didn't like the Superman he drew in Hush. I always thought that the Superman in Hush was decent, but it wasn't great, and I'm glad to hear that Lee will be adapting his style. So overall, I liked what Lee wrote, but I feel like DC gypped us with these rough sketches and no finished images.

3Cover Art - 3: First off, I really like the collage cover idea. Lyla looks good and Preus looks absolutely fantastic. So why only a three? Superman doesn't look good. Great pose but his face has no emotion, at all. It ruins the whole image. Plus the huge "Jim Lee Bonus" on the cover isn't helping anything at all. On a positive note, the font used to write Superman looks great. Now if only they could only get rid of that bar behind it and the cover logo would be great.

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