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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #209

Superman #209

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 29, 2004

Cover date: November 2004

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Penciller: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams

"For Tomorrow" - Part Six

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Father Daniel tells Superman that he wasn't born in Metropolis, but he knows he will die there. He asks Superman if he knows about his disease, and Superman says yes. He has known from the beginning and he can see it growing. Superman tells Daniel to cry, but when the Father asks Superman if he has, Kal says that he can't.

The water being strikes the Planet globe with a sword of water and sends the sphere flying. Superman catches it in midair and destroys any debris before it can harm the people below. The monster tells Superman that he shouldn't be there. He has offended its mother, and she wants vengeance. Superman's first assumption was that the creature was Aquaman's doing, but he was wrong. The monster says him and his brothers demand his exile. The creature then says he will slaughter Superman, and the 'dogs' on the planet. Superman tells the monster to leave the dogs out of it as he vaporizes the creature with his heat vision.

In the desert a cloaked female begins to rub two pieces of wood together.

As the water monster boils away, a being of flame suddenly erupts from the ground and attacks Superman. The fire monster says that they will destroy everything to get at him, they will not be denied. Superman says that neither will he as he blows the monster out.

Around the world, the hooded woman blows a stream of air.

The winds above Metropolis suddenly swirl and coalesce into a monster made of wind. The wind creature tells Superman that the entire country will suffer until they get their way before dispersing to the winds.

In the desert, the woman piles sand on the ground.

At Mount Rushmore the earth suddenly quakes as the monument suddenly rises up atop a huge stone beast. As he pulls up, his three brothers reform by him. Superman dashes onto the scene, prepared to fight them back. They address Superman as a foreigner, telling him that they are the world and that they demanded his exile, and because of his exile there will be death. Superman tells them that yes, there will. The monsters tell him that they will wipe the entire planet clean and begin life anew again. Superman tells them that even if they do, he'll still be there. And then he will burn away the air and smash the each into fragments. And when the elementals are dead and Earth is destroyed, Superman will find a new home. The giants all stare as Superman for a few moments before dispersing back to the planet that created them.

Father Daniel asks Superman what he would have done if they hadn't backed down, and Superman says that he didn't give them that option. Superman tells him that the world had forgotten its own mortality, Daniel asks if Superman would really have done it.

In the desert, the woman pounds at the earth in frustration, tears streaming down her face. Suddenly a figure appears above her. Diana crouches down and takes the woman in her arms.

2Story - 2: First of all, I'd like to apologize for taking so long to get this review done. I'd like to say it was because I was rereading it over and over to get it right, but I've actually been too busy to devote an hour to it for the past week. I don't know if there are readers out there who wait for these to come out, but I do know that plenty of people enjoy reading them, so I apologize and I hope you enjoy it.

I've given this arc a lot of chances. I've rated it highly and had people complain that it's crap. I've rated it poorly, and again people complain. Either people think I'm giving Azzarello way too much credit, or they criticize me for not understanding what he is doing. I've been doing this for five years now, and I have never received as much disagreement with my reviews as I have with the two issues I've done of 'For Tomorrow' so far. And overall, that's great. If nothing else, this arc is generating some controversy, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The status quo of Superman books needed a little shaking up, and Azzarello is definitely accomplishing that.

However, this is not Superman. I'm not sure who it is in the tights, but it certainly isn't Superman. Now you can argue that Superman ripping Equus' claws out wasn't crossing the line. I'll disagree with you, but I can understand where you're coming from. However, Superman basically flying up to someone and saying 'Go ahead and kill everyone, and then I'll just pulverize the planet and fly away' is crossing the line and no one can argue that. Remember back in 'Dead Again', when Lois asked Superman what he would do if he only had time to save one person before the earth was destroyed? Superman answered that he'd never let that happen. He did not say, I'll watch everybody die, but then I'll really beat up the guy who did it. Azzarello is trying to make Superman more realistic, but in all the wrong ways. Eighteen years ago John Byrne defined post-crisis Superman with the last page of Man of Steel 6. "It's was Krypton that made me Superman, but it's earth that made me human." It's that distinction that has made all the difference between pre- and post-crisis Kal-el. Before Byrne Superman was an alien in human clothes. After, we had a human. Someone who was actually influenced by being raised on this planet, rather than the three years he had spent on Krypton as an infant. And it was a great change. I don't want to read about someone who considers himself an alien. That kind of angle works for someone like Majestic, or even J'onn to a certain extent (although Austen did royally screw that up in JLA 104. J'onn's been here for a decade, he isn't an outsider among the League. All you need to do is read anything by Keith Giffen to know that.), but it does not work for Superman. Not anymore. And yet, we get stuck with a Superman who evidently doesn't care about the people of the earth. And I know there are plenty of you who are thinking, it was just a bluff. That doesn't matter. Batman can bluff. He just did in Superman/Batman 12, and it was great. Superman does not, especially when the stakes are the entire planet. Superman never gives up, he never surrenders, and he certainly never accepts that he has to let even one person come to harm. I have to ask the same thing that Daniel asked, what if they hadn't backed down? The thing that worries me is that I believe that Azzarello's Superman really would have done it. When Parallax tried to rewrite the universe they killed him, or at least tried to, and rightfully so. Now Superman is threatening to destroy the world. I guess I don't see much distinction. Except Hal was crazy, and Superman is supposed to be the purest of them all.

I was also disappointed with the elementals for a few reasons. First off, any time the earth is alive and sentient it just leads to problems. When Superman was 'healed' by the planet back in Superman Forever it was stupid, and I think that applies here as well. Secondly, and probably most importantly, the DCU Earth already has a set of elementals. Swamp Thing is one, and for awhile Firestorm was too. To invent these new ones just to give Lee something cool to draw is pointless.

Diana's appearance is a real shame too. I just know that she is only being thrown in so Lee can draw the fight, but I really disagree with it. And what makes it worse is that we finally have the guy who truly gets the Kal/Diana relationship writing on the books. I've heard Rucka speak before and he really gets it. Clark and Diana are not supposed to be together. As he so eloquently put it, 'It'd be like screwing your sister'. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to see them married in 'Twilight of the Gods' (the Alan Moore Kingdom Come that will never happen), but that's a different issue. They're best friends, and that's what makes this so much more painful. Diana should not be siding with some new character against someone with whom she would and has trusted her life. I bought the Superman/Batman fight in hush. It needed to happen sooner or later, and the mind control idea at least made it plausible. But Diana is not going to go off and attack Kal, and if she did he certainly wouldn't fight back. But now I'm really getting ahead of myself. It'll be Neal's job to back that one next month. It's never a good sign when you're already pissed off about an issue four weeks before it hits the stands.

There are a few things that I did like about this issue, and I feel it's my job to look for the good in a bad issue (or the bad in a good one). The dialog impressed me, as it has throughout the storyline. I particularly liked the beginning, where it appeared that Superman was talking, only to have Father Daniel actually being the one speaking. Azzarello uses off panel characters with terrific effect, and it's that reason alone that I accept, and even enjoy the time difference and narration he uses. Azzarello can write, there's no doubt about that. The problem lies in the plot, not in the story.

Neal argues that 'For Tomorrow' falls short as individual issues, yet will succeed in its entirety. Up through issue five I completely agreed with him. As the years progress more and more stories are being written that way. You can argue that Dan Jurgens really stared it for DC, with massive sweeping storylines, which many people have criticized. I do love story arcs and I love crossovers. I can't tell you how happy Identity Crisis has made me. I think it's the first time in a long time that the DCU has felt like a family and I couldn't be enjoying it more unless it came out bi-weekly. However, an issue needs to be able to stand on its own. Comics are a serial medium and that's what makes them so unique. They are a special kind of art form and a distinctive way of storytelling. To focus on the whole story and ignore the issue is to destroy something that makes comics great. This issue definitely lacked that something. Nothing happened. At all. We didn't even see what this entire arc has been about. Instead, we've been introduced to a new character and a bunch of angry giants. After reading it I'm left unfulfilled. Not wanting more, because I don't want more of Azzarello's Superman, but definitely not satiated. This arc just isn't going anywhere. We are halfway through now, and we don't know where we are coming from, who the main players are, or where we're going. Azzarello's entire arc is based around 'Lois is missing'. Lois has been missing before, and I think Loeb and Kelly handled it a lot better than this. I hate to have to compare this to 'Hush', but I'm kind of forced to by the fact that 'Hush' and 'For Tomorrow' are analogous and the same way that Knightfall was to the Death of Superman. By issue one we knew where Hush was going and each issue brought us closer to that conclusion. Each issue of For Tomorrow seems to take us in a different direction. We're halfway there and we have no clue where 'there' is. I really don't care about this arc, and when a die hard fan like me starts saying that, you know there's a problem.

5Art - 5: The one shining part of this issue is of course, the art. Lee never disappoints. There's not much I can say about his Superman that hasn't been said five times before, cut I can comment on the elementals, because they did look cool. The water giant in particular was very well done. Of course, you know the only reason there were elemental giants in this issue was to give Lee something cool to draw, and that's really unfortunate when you have a writer and artist with so much talent.

2Cover Art - 2: They really dropped the ball on this one. We've got a battle between four giant monsters and Superman in this issue. The giants are elementals, so you have water and fire and all sorts of exciting stuff. So of course, Jim Lee turned out a fantastically brilliant cover with Superman battling the four of them. No. Of course not. Instead, it's a cover of Superman destroying the Vanishing globe...which didn't even happen in this issue! I'd really like to talk to whoever thought this cover out. It's the missed opportunities that are sometimes the most frustrating. This one could have been poster worthy.

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