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Superman: Birthright #11

Superman: Birthright #11

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 2, 2004

Cover date: August 2004

Writer: Mark Waid
Penciller: Leinil F Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

The attackers from Krypton descend on Metropolis, destroying buildings and sending the citizens of Metropolis running for cover. Superman streaks into a building to save a woman from an attacking soldier, disabling his armor with a blast of heat vision. Seeing more troops descending, Superman goes to meet them head on.

From the top of the Daily Planet, Lois watches the 'aliens' destroy her city, but she knows that Luthor has to be behind it. She calls out to Superman, offering her help. Crashing into the rooftop, the battle-weary Superman accepts. He tells Lois that most of the invasion is an illusion to create a panic so Luthor can save the city at the last moment. The entire illusion is powered by a chunk of Kryptonite that is preventing him from defeating the invaders. Lois tells him that she trusts him, and asks where the rock is being kept. Superman directs her to a lab on the top floor of Lexcorp tower as a blast of heat vision takes out the lock. He tells Lois to be careful as he heads back out into the war zone.

A group of attackers prepare to fire on a group of civilians but at the last moment Superman dives in front of them, shielding them from harm. He tells them that they are being lied to. Metropolis needs to fight back. Superman charges at the leader but is forced down. The man tells him that they aren't doing it for the money; they're doing it because they know that Luthor is right. Superman is a fraud and they're going to stop him. Superman struggles to get up as a huge tank prepares to fire its cannons. Taking to the sky Superman swoops in and grabs everyone in its path, saving them. Setting them down, he sees a small child in front of the tank. Ripping the Superman shield from the front of the tank, he holds it up, blocking the energy blast and saving the child.

Calling Perry, Jimmy tells him that he's uploading the picture of Superman saving the child right now. As soon as it gets online everyone will pick it up. From his tower, Luthor watches his monitors and swears. His army of Lexcorp troopers stands ready to move in and 'save' Metropolis, but Luthor tells them to hold. Luthor calls the leader of his 'Kryptonians' and tells him that he has sixty seconds to break Superman's spine.

As the Kryptonian charges in Superman screams for everyone to get to safety. As the Kryptonian prepares to deliver the killing blow a rock bounces off of his helmet. Looking up he finds Jimmy leading a mob of angry people ready to protect their hero.

Sneaking into the tower, Lois creeps behind Luthor and pulls the glowing chunk of Kryptonite from Luthor's machine, saying that they've won. Behind her, Luthor smiles in the shadows.

2Story - 2: There's a lot of stuff I didn't like about this issue. A lot. We'll go through the issue page by page. I'll start with Lois' dialog atop the Daily Planet. 'Keep thinking Lois. Think out loud if it helps.' Now comics have this great invention that would have worked great here, it's called the Thought Bubble. Dialog like this just makes you cringe as you read it. Then Superman sends Lois off to infiltrate Lexcorp tower, into the proverbial lion's den, in the middle of an alien invasion. WHAT? Now if this were five years down the road and Kal knew what Lois was capable of I could probably accept this, but he barely knows her, and he would NOT send her off into danger. This is completely out of character for both of them. Superman should have forbid her from going, then Lois agrees, and then as soon as Superman leaves Lois sneaks off. That's how these things work. I guess the new Superman likes sending Lois into danger.

So then a fight ensues and Superman saves this kid with a ripped off piece of metal. Now I can ignore the fact that he could have moved the kid much much faster than he could have ripped off the plating from a tank, turned it around, and placed it in front of the approaching energy blast, as this was meant to be symbolic (more on this later). Then we get more of Waid cramming the fact that this is supposed to be modern day down our throats. I'm sorry, maybe it's just because I'm looking for it, but I know that the reference to uploading the picture and putting it online was strictly to make this seem modern. At least there wasn't a cell phone camera reference, but seriously, give it a rest Waid. Having Superman exist in 2004 instead of 1990-something isn't going to make anyone else pick this book up. It doesn't change anything, other than the fact that it ticks off the fans because now continuity makes absolutely no sense.

And then, and this is the best part (insert sarcasm here), the whole world (we can assume) starts trusting Superman again because of one picture. Excuse me? Now I've already griped that Luthor's grand plot to turn the world against Kal was weak. Incredibly weak. But we are supposed to believe, I understand, that the whole world, and Metropolis in particular, no longer trusts Superman. He's the advance scout of an invading army, right? But then, in the age of Photoshop where anyone with a bootleg copy and some time on their hands can make any picture they want, one picture sways the opinion of everyone. I'm sorry, but this is just weak. I'm reminded of the series finale of the animated series, when Superman asks Lois how he can win back the trust of the world, and she responds 'One person at a time' (it's really too bad that the planned fourth season was never made, that would have been fantastic). Superman cannot restore everyone's trust in him with one picture. This is just a cop out.

And then... the worst part. All issue I was dreading this. It was running through my head the whole time, "Please don't do a scene like Spider-man." You know the one I'm talking about, where all of the New Yorkers start to throw cans at Green Goblin, complete with the horrible line 'This is New York, when you mess with one of us you mess with all of us' or something like that. I'm hoping and praying that Waid isn't going to subject us to this. And then something ricochets off his helmet and I turn the page and, sure enough, here it is. I don't think a panel in a comic has ever made me cringe as badly as this one. This is just... bad.

And that rant turned into far more than I was expecting. I guess there was even more bad to that issue than I thought.

Despite all of this, there were things I liked about this issue. The battle in general was pretty good, and I like Lois having a role in saving Superman, even if I don't like how Kal played into it. The best part though, Superman saving the kid... well, I may not like what it's being used for, but ignoring the rest of the story that was fantastic.

I was really torn between giving this a two and a three. On one hand, I did enjoy parts of the issue and I thought that it was worthy of an 'average' three. I actually started out with a three. However, after my rant above took on a life of its own I realized how much the little things in this issue bothered me. Despite a few good points, and one great point, there were still a lot of problems with that issue that drag it down.

3Art - 3: I've got very little to say that hasn't been said by myself five times already when reviewing this series. The art is all right, but at times the rough look really hurts the book. In particular, the man running from the Kryptonians and the disgusting looking old woman in the 'Spider-man moment' panel really stuck out as horrible. But then, I thought Lois looked good at the end, even if she doesn't look much like Lois should in my opinion. Superman's face was too dark for most of the issue, and he looked almost simian throughout parts of it. Pretty much the same stuff we've been seeing for eleven months now. I just wish that someone else had done the page with the Superman shield. That image, done by somebody else, would have been poster-worthy.

4Cover Art - 4: This was the highpoint of the issue, and considering that's not really saying much I should add that I actually really like it. We've got a symbolic representation of the interior story, and a reference to the movies and to Zod that works really well. The Kryptonian (did they give him a name and I just forgot, because calling him 'The Kryptonian' gets really old) looks fantastic, although he is a little too wide. The only thing I would have changed about this cover would have been to zoom out a little bit so it could show a little more of the attacking army in the background, as well as showing more of Clark lying on the ground. Overall though, it's a good pic.

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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