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Superman: Secret Files and Origins 2004

Superman: Secret Files and Origins 2004

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 30, 2004

Cover date: August 2004

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

"Suicide Watch"

Writer: Geoff Johns and Jeremy Johns
Penciller: Jim Fern
Inker: Larry Strucker

Pete Ross laments that he does not think his presidency will end well.

He recalls years ago, when his father died. We see Lana and Clark wishing they could do more to help.

Lex arrives, telling Pete that he'll use his connections in Metropolis to help his father go up the donor list, because his father was one of the only people kind to Lex.

In the White House, Pete is confronted by a shadowy figure at his desk with a metal pawn who suggests that he is the power behind the presidency, and the presidency is a puppet shadow affair.

Clark gets a call from Pete Ross, who asks him for help.

As Superman, he meets Lois on a rooftop and identifies the pawn with Amanda Waller's fingertips. Superman surmises that the shadowy Sergeant figure wanted Superman to be led to Waller, because she's become a pawn. And pawns, Superman notes, are expendable.

At the jail, a man in a suit advises Amanda Waller to take a deal. A group of villains bust in, freeze and kill two cops, and attack Waller. Killer Frost, Killer Shark, Captain Boomerang, and Double Down.

Superman arrives on the scene and takes them all out, despite Double Down's magical card tricks.

Waller kicks Captain Boomerang in the crotch.

A blond man sets a Sarge Steel mask and glove on a table, talking to shadowy figures. Steel has been removed, they rejoice, and Waller will rejoin them when they find out what they're up against.

Clark and Pete take a stroll through the cemetery and reflect on life and family. Pete says he hopes to sort out what's going on with Lana soon.

In the White House, the new President, Jonathan Horne, finds a shadowy figure with a pawn at his desk.

3Story - 3: Well, there are good things about this story, and bad things.

The good is that we have a little more resolution of the whole Luthor fiasco, meaning, the Luthor meltdown has now actually happened in a non-Superman/Batman comic. That's nice. Problem is, we have a number of pages to really get through very little work, and it's not amazingly enthralling.

The Pete Ross conversation at the end was great. That was appropriate, and it established that his father is dead. I guess that's important somehow to the Superman mythos. I think it's more important that we understand what's happening with Lana, but hey, they've only been teasing us with that with no delivery for almost two years now, huh? It's like the Luthor presidency. They'll talk and talk and talk about it, then one issue will resolve everything in an anti-climactic way. Like Zod. At least, that's what I expect. But hey, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I'm just saying, I'm sick of waiting. I have patience (you have to with monthly books) but it's been too long. Far too long.

The bad? I absolutely despise Killer Shark, Killer Frost, Captain Boomerang, and I have no idea who Double Down is, but Superman mopped the floor with them. Here's the deal: Why have a fight if there's no way the combatants can do anything to Superman? What's wrong with picking the villains that CAN hurt Superman and putting them on the Waller death squad?

I'm intrigued by the idea of a power behind the power, but how long will we have to wait for it?

It's kind of weird that Superman can remember fingerprints. I mean, the differences are pretty small. I don't buy it.

I'm also confused by a number of things. Peripherally (meaning, I can't blame it on this particular story) I'm wondering why Pete Ross was made president without the ramifications being thought out. Put it this way: He's Vice President. That means he has to be at least 35. Assume he JUST made the age limit. That means that he (and thusly Clark) are now both 39. Whups? And hey, now that there's a new president, they're more likely 40. Whups again?

Also, what's with Luthor being in Smallville in the past? All right, let's look at the multiple flaws with this scene.

1) Lex Luthor (Byrne continuity) meets Clark, Pete, and Lana after Clark is in Metropolis.

2) Lex Luthor, by Birthright continuity, is not balding. He is BALDED by his experiment. He is balding here. Lex Luthor, by Birthright continuity, does not have ties to Metropolis until he leaves Smallville for good, and then he doesn't remember the past. So this is not Birthright continuity (although according to Waid, it should be).

3) If this is Byrne continuity, this makes no sense

4) If this is Waid continuity, this makes no sense.

Conclusion: Only if this is Smallville, the television show, does this make sense.

So get this, folks. You've been co-opted by a TV show across a medium, as if being co-opted by Waid wasn't enough.

Hey, editor and writer guys! GET YOUR STUPID CONTINUITY STRAIGHT!

It isn't that hard. And it confuses people. Even ME. I actually talk to people who refuse to return to Superman because of Birthright. Why? Because it complicates continuity, and they're already confused. PICK ONE, I DON'T CARE WHICH, AND STICK TO IT.

And don't give Superman a direct age.

That is all.

No it's not. One NYARG just for frustration.


All right. So it's an interesting concept, polluted by continuity error and Captain Boomerang. Ergo average.

And hey, at least there's a nut kicking involved with Boomerang.

3Art - 3: Nothing that really sticks out... about average. The splash with all of the villains coming in would be much cooler, if it weren't for the fact that it was a bunch of moron villains.

I want to knock for the fact that Lana looks like Kristen Kreuk, but I'm guessing this is art direction. If the artist chose to do that without prompting (meaning, it's not the fact that they're confusing continuity purposefully that led to this, but rather just artist's initiative) I'd go 2.

"Bipolar Disorder"

Writer: Greg Rucka
Penciller: Jon Bogdanove
Inker: Jon Bogdanove

Zzxzzcyy is getting her nose honked by (a classic looking) Mr. Mxyzptlk when Mr. Mxyzptlk (the one seen in the Joe Casey issues selling Encyclopedias), walks through the door. Mr. Mxyzptlk tells Mr. Mxyzptlk hello, and Mr. Mxyzptlk goes to bed while Mr. Mxyzptlk (classic) continues honking Zzxzzcyy.

Encyclopedia Mxyzptlk is annoyed, so he snaps his fingers and muffles his ears.

The next morning, Encyclopedia Mxy, missing his special edition drinking glass, goes postal on Mxy classic.

They switch identities, fighting as giant robots, as Yoda and Count Dooku, as Gimli and Legolas, and then finally as Wonder Woman and Supergirl before Zzxzzcyy grabs them by the ears and slams them together.

Classic Mxy again!

Zzxzzcyy asks him to thank her by honking her. Mxy smiles.

5Story - 5: Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes.

For Casey, all is forgiven.

Rucka... you rule.

Best... filler... ever.

I knew something like this was coming a few months back, but I wasn't allowed to say anything, but what I didn't know was how utterly cool, straight to character, and simplistically sensible this correction would be.

Go Greg!

5Art - 5: Bog is sometimes my thing, sometimes NOT my thing.

In this issue, however, and with Mxy, the man is perfect. Great little story, great art. I'm impressed.


There are a multitude of character profiles which feature information about characters involved in present, past, and coming arcs, including Gog, The Shack, Replikon, Lt. Lupe Theresa Leocadio-Escudero, Father Daniel Leone, Eradicator, Preus, Mr. Majestic, and Supergirl.

3Profiles - 3: Average. This is the kind of stuff that you should know if you read the book, and aside from reiterating the stuff in your mind and helping you remember the plot points, they aren't really that useful. Interesting, perhaps, but not really worth 9 pages of a large book.

4Art - 4: Overall the ratings on these work out as a score close enough to give these Profile pages a 4 rating. However let me rate each one on its own merits:

Gog (by Ivan Reis and Marc Campos): 2 of 5 - Interesting, but the art is half off the page. Don't blame the artist, blame the format.

The Shack (by Matthew Clark) 3 of 5 - Interesting picture again, but there's little background or reference, so it has more of the feel of a sketch. But not a bad sketch.

Replikon (by Matthew Clark): 5 of 5 - I liked Matthew's Replikon in the issue, and I like it in the context of a background here. Well done, distinctive, and very human. Good stuff.

Lt. Lupe Theresa Leocadio-Escudero (by Matthew Clark): 4 of 5 - Lupe is one of the few distinctive characters that makes you just know her by feel. She's got a look like an actress, the one from Resident Evil, I believe it is, and that's okay. I mean, look at how cool Sam Jackson Nick Fury is, and there are still a lot of things in this Lupe that the actress doesn't have, like determination, strength, etcetera. I think of all the new characters, even including the Shack, which is very distinctive, I like Lupe best. Minus one just for a lack of background to reference with... it's again a sketchy feel.

Father Daniel Leone (by John Paul Leon): 1 of 5 - Uh, IS that Father Daniel? It's just a stock priest shot with a cathedral background thrown in. It's arty, perhaps, but it's very, very dark and kind of undefined.

Eradicator (by Karl Kerschl): 5 of 5 - I love the new Eradicator design. I really do. It's the best one yet, I believe, and here we have a cool pose set against a dynamic backdrop. Probably the best sketch/pose of the lot.

Preus (by Talent Caldwell and Jason Gorder): 4 of 5 - I'm a king bee bay-bee...buzzin' round yo hive! Nah, I'm just kidding. It's a good sketch, albeit a bit too yellow. I like Talent's work.

Mr. Majestic (by Karl Kerschl): 3 of 5 - I like Majestic just fine after his arc, it's just, this picture's kind of, well, just Majestic laying down. We want AC-shun, here. It's definitely Majestic, but it's just a normal rendering.

Supergirl (by Michael Turner): To date: 5 of 5. As Supergirl: 4 of 5 - It's a really cool picture, but it's a lot like every other Michael Turner woman I've ever seen, which, while cool to date, is still stereotypical in context. I still think he draws a heck of a gal.

4Cover Art - 4: It's above average, and heck, it's McGuinness, but it's also got a heck of a lot of words, which I don't like on covers, and the pose is somewhat stereotypical and a bit darker than McGuinness usually does... is his style changing? I hope not. Some hope he does, I liked it just as it was... but I guess that's the nature of art. As a cover, at least it has a decent logo... mwu ha!

4Overall - 4: Not a bad read, not at all, and worth most of the 5 bucks. I'm impressed. So there was continuity error... okay. And so some of the pictures were off, and so some of the words on the characters were repetitious. It still jazzes you up for the runs, it still is more just a fun little piece, and if you ignore all of the stuff I can't ignore as a columnist about ongoing continuity flaw, and if you look at the fact that Mxy is back, this is a pretty darned good book after all.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2004

February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004

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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2004.