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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #226

Superman #226

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 8, 2006

Cover date: April 2006

Writer: Joe Kelly
Artists: Ed Benes & Mariah Benes, Jerry Ordway, Howard Chaykin and Renato Guedes

"Superman: This Is Your Life"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Click to enlarge

Superman's history is told by Lois' scrapbook, from his arrival on Earth to his adoption and development of powers. When his parents died he went to work at the Daily Star in Metropolis and donned the costume that his mother had made for him, becoming a champion of the oppressed.

Lois and Clark remember his early adventures. Saving a woman from her abusive husband, butting heads with Lois as Clark and charming her as Superman. Then World War II came and Superman went with the rest of the JLA to fight for America, although Hitler's Spear of Destiny kept them from ending the war outright.

After the war, the government cracks down on heroes, demanding their secret identities. Most refuse, but Superman travels to Washington and tells them all that he is Clark Kent, and that he is ashamed to be an American that day.

While the history of Earth-2 Superman is revealed, the modern Superman battles against the crisis. In Metropolis, modern Lois looks up at the sky and tells her husband that she believes in him, as the impending crisis cycles her through her past incarnations.

4Story - 4: I'm not sure what to make of the appearances of 'our' Superman, or of 'our' Lois in this issue. Sometimes it looks like he is hammering on the barrier, sometimes it looks like he might be battling Earth-2 Superman (as we will see in Infinite Crisis #5). I am betting on the latter, but time will tell.

My confusion on those interludes aside, I really enjoyed this issue. I like the idea of doing a nice summary arc before the crisis and "One Year Later" truly hits next month. Of course, I'm worried that this implies that Earth-2 Superman will be sticking around, but I'm not going to base anything on that until I know it's the case.

I loved the Tim Sale scrapbook. I felt this was a great way to cover the background (and the subtle Earth-2 differences) without killing a whole issue by itself. I also really like the interaction between Lois and Clark. This helps to make Earth-2 Superman a much more sympathetic character. I can understand why he would be blind to the plans of Luthor and Superboy-Prime while the woman he loves is dying.

A recap of the classic wife-beater episode is always appreciated, at least by me. Dan Jurgens and Louise Simonson did one a number of years ago (Man of Steel #16 and Superman #72) called "Crisis at Hand" that I've always enjoyed, and this one was nice as well. I think that this really sums up the Golden Age Superman, fighting for what's right his own way. A true, as Lois put it, champion of the oppressed.

My favorite part was definitely the World War II scenes though. I've always liked the idea of tying the heroes into the conflict, and watching the whole JSA go to war is a great concept. The holocaust page was also very appropriate, and very in key with the Earth-2 Superman.

I also loved the scenes with the JSA standing up to congress (if you haven't read The Golden Age, by James Robinson, go do so now... I'll wait) and Superman standing up to congress was great.

Finally, Lois undergoes the same 'crisis panel' that is afflicting most books across the DCU this week.

In all, I think this was a great book. It introduces Earth-2 Superman, gives a nice background story to him, and gives a few examples that really show off his character. I may have been critical (very critical) of Kelly at the end of his run on Action Comics, but it looks like we're going to get a good story here and I'm looking forward to the next issue.

5Art - 5: Normally I don't like multiple artist comics, but there are a few exceptions, the primary one being different setting books. That is definitely the case here and I feel it worked very well. I will never ever say anything but the best things about Sale's work, and the origin photos worked wonderfully. Ordway's page, between Lois and Clark was also a perfect fit. Chaykin's stuff though, that was fantastic. It's not the type of art I'd want in a monthly Superman book, but it fits the Golden Age Superman, and especially WW2 wonderfully. I thought the splash of the concentration camp was probably the strongest page in the whole book. Just beautiful stuff.

Guedes and Benes round out the issue. I've already raved about Guedes work over in Adventures, and Benes' work continues to be strong (can't wait till he's back on Supergirl in May).

Considering that this arc is essentially the end of an era, I'm glad we're getting a tour of artists though the books. Normally I'd complain, but well done DC.

5Cover Art - 5: Love it. McGuinness' work became more Golden Age-esque as he spent more time with the character, and I think this shows his strength in that area. Superman looks great, and the Daily Star in the background is a very nice touch.

My favorite part though is the appearance of an old comic. The missing corner, the fold marks, the coloring, everything is just perfect for setting the mood of a comic from the 30s or 40s. My only complaints are the modern DC logo and the Infinite Crisis bar, but you can hardly expect DC to omit them from the cover, so you can't really complain about that. A great cover.

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

January 2006

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