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Mild Mannered Reviews - Superman Confidential

Superman Confidential #7

Superman Confidential #7

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 17, 2007

Cover date: December 2007

Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Penciller: Koi Turnbull
Inker: Sandra Hope

"Welcome to Mer-Tropolis: Conclusion"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Three weeks ago: Lori enthralls Superman.

Now: Lex gloats over the dead Lois before hitting Superman with Kryptonite, which weakens him. The real Lois blindsides Lori, trying to take the necklace. She fails.

Superman attacks Jimmy, then reveals it's a feint by taking aim for the necklace and stopping Luthor as he attacks again with the Kryptonite.

Lois gets the necklace, Lex punches her and takes it, Jimmy tackles Lex, and Lois takes the necklace again. Metropolis begins crumbling, and Lois can't stop it with the amulet.

Lori takes the amulet, this time attempting to override the necklace. Superman freezes lava from the earth's core beneath Metropolis, which somehow raises the entire city within two minutes and saves everyone.

Clark and Lori talk about what happened.

1Story - 1: The "Countdown" writing style pervades: Extrapolation through dialogue, extraneous pages, over-stretched story for pages given, lack of character, or character with no purpose from the story, bad twists that are too easily resolved...


Page 1: Recapping something we already know, that Lori enthralled Superman.

Page 2-4: The writers take three pages to do this:


Lex: Eat Kryptonite!

In the midst of this, Lex extrapolates through dialogue unnecessarily multiple times, first to reveal something that we already know that is plainly obvious to Supes: "Do you remember Kryptonite? It's a little something from home that you seem to be deathly ALLERGIC to." Even more ironically annoying, given that this series set out to establish the origin of Kryptonite for SIX ISSUES, and yet here we are with fill-in issues still describing it through dialogue.

One could argue that Lex is just a gloater by nature, but this, to me, is obviously a conscious writing choice of extrapolation, and could have been more artfully done. For instance, NOT EXPLAINING THE PLAN TO THE VICTIM and instead, you know, GLOATING. But that's good writing for you. And not here.

There's more: "I'm the man who's been trying to DESTROY you for a VERY LONG time!" (Lex. No kidding? Here, let me write a Lois line: "Superman... you're the man I love! You know I love you!")

And one more: "It's true. Lois Lane is DEAD, Superman ... and it's all YOUR FAULT!" I guess this'd be enlightening if we hadn't read the last issue. Or if Lois wasn't, you know, LYING DEAD IN LEX'S ARMS.

Also, hey, good to know that Lex Luthor has mermaid Lois robots sitting around. God, that one's creepy.

Beyond that, the scene with Lois' death, while interesting for shock value, is incomprehensible as a plan. Kryptonite stops Supes, so you open the box, go in, he goes down. No need for an overly elaborate diversion.

The argument would then be that killing Lois might snap Superman out of it. Then why not weaken him, THEN kill Lois? Writing choices.

Page 5: Lois reveals she was a robot all along, attacking Lori and taking the necklace. We now scratch our heads at this impossible twist, wondering how a guy who can see through things wouldn't know Lois was a robot.

Lex, to sweeten the pot, extrapolates unnecessarily through dialogue: "In due time, Olsen. The plan isn't complete. I thought for sure that killing my ROBOT LOIS would be enough to jar his memory..."

God, Palmiotti and Gray's dialogue is awful. I mean, it's really, really awful. This plot is somewhat interesting, but the dialogue drags all attention away from what's going on with its gawdawful fixation on, ironically, telling us what's going on. You do realize, writers, that this is the COMIC medium, where visual stimulus gives us a good portion of the story?

Page 6: Lori, to Lois: "I should have KILLED you instead of tossing you into Stryker's prison!" Extrapolation through dialogue for something we already know, and even if we didn't know, is irrelevant to the plot at hand.

Superman attacks Jimmy, and Lex uses the Kryptonite again, repeating a dilemma without raising the stakes, basic writing mistake #804. That's one you see in a lot of fanfic. Bad fanfic.

Page 7:

Superman, with no rationale whatsoever, can suddenly avoid Lori's thrall. See, usually, this kind of thing requires a CATALYST. That's something that causes a progression in a plot. Instead, it's just a twist that just HAPPENS. Like in a TV show.

Also, despite being in front of Kryptonite, which seconds ago nearly killed him, Superman suddenly has the strength to overpower Lex, shut the case, and crush his fingers. Yeah, that makes sense.

Page 8: The plot moves on from where it was on page 1, with Lois stealing the necklace. Even though it requires a woman, apparently, and corrupted Lori on contact, it has no visible effect on Lois. Or Lex when he punches Lois and takes it (which doesn't really enrage Superman in the slightest, which to me is criminally out of character), despite the fact that later Superman indicates he can't touch the thing because of its magical properties.

By the way, Lex, in this comic, has blue eyes. Continuity error.

Page 9: Lori apologizes as Metropolis crumbles. Superman, instead of saving people, reassures her, telling her that it wasn't her fault, despite the belabored extrapolation captioning at the beginning of the issue explaining that the necklace did this because it fulfilled Lori's desires.

Page 10: Jimmy hits Lex, Lois takes the necklace and puts it on. Two panels, but somehow it's a whole page. Also repeat of positive dilemma without escalation: Lois getting the necklace.

Page 11: Superman realizes that Metropolis is crumbling. This has been happening for four pages, but he takes an entire page realizing this. In other words, filler page among filler.

Page 12: Superman burrows to the molten core as a way to, uh, float Metropolis to the surface. Boy, this sure educates me as to the buoyant properties of MOLTEN LAVA. And hey, a major Metropolitan city that was TOTALLY SUBMERGED in water, when raised within two minutes, will still stay standing as BILLIONS of gallons flood through its every orifice, causing tidal waves all the way to Gotham and across the pond to Britain. Yeah. Right. Talk about retarded ex machina.

Page 13: Lori takes the necklace, and puts it on, and now is apparently NOT controlled by the necklace. This is because, uh, her desire is not to destroy the city, which she says, conveniently, through extrapolating dialogue. Bad extrapolating dialogue: "I don't want Superman ... I want to SAVE METROPOLIS. That's my true heart's desire!" This dialogue seeks to affirm that she DID in fact have culpability, and it takes a repeated dilemma (Lori putting on the necklace) and makes the dilemma lessened, in that she is no longer controlled when she puts it on, so why was she in the first place?

A wasted panel letting Superman fill his lungs with air, this despite the fact that he's been underwater despite not having a tail for the whole issue with no need for an air break.

More extrapolatory monologue from Lori, explaining what's happening despite the fact that people don't do this, so it's bad writing practice:

"I can feel you, CHALCHIUHTLICUE, goddess and lady of the waters ... bitter, anger wanting to drown the world in your SORROWS. I WON'T let you do it! Even if it KILLS me, I'll make things RIGHT!" No kidding, she's gonna try and right the wrongs? I wouldn't have known that if it wasn't for this dialogue. Oh, and the fact that she declared this intent with her last piece of dialogue and on page 9. Four pages ago.

Page 14: Superman blows on the lava, which cools it, which somehow turns it into something that can lift a city. Convenient. I see so many boats made out of frozen lava these days. Way to tap prevailing trends.

The city raises, Lex escapes. Superman explains what he's doing through caption as opposed to letting the action depict it in a visual medium.

Page 15: Lori is taken by the necklace, now reversing the reversal of dilemma without catalyst or reason. Lois takes it as the necklace is doing this (unaffected, sigh) and throws it to Superman. Superman can't touch it though Lex could, and when he BLOWS on it, for some reason, Newton's Laws do not apply, because instead of going away from him in response to the force of his breath, it simply freezes in a neat ball in place.

Page 16: A page for one panel, throwing the ball into space.

Page 17: Perry, Lois, and Jimmy banter in a way that forwards the plot in no way, save to establish that Clark is talking with Lori, something that would be plainly obvious by cutting to Clark and Lori. Another wasted page.

Page 18-22: Lori talks about how any woman would fight tooth and nail to have a man like Superman (ah, Feminism and abject characterization through dialogue!). Basically, because the story is over, we get five more pages of filler dialogue.

That makes, by my count and analysis, about seventeen pages of filler and five of story, stretched out to fit 22 pages.

This is why Countdown sucks, this is why this story ultimately sucked despite a semi-interesting idea, and this is why I'm still not buying this title, and borrowing for review, until quality raises.

Vote with your wallet.

4Art - 4: Generally, the art is very good. There are a lot of places that are rather rough hewn and out of proportion. Often in that good way, but sometimes in a bad way, particularly in the page where Superman just sits around while Metropolis falls, and in many of the hands.

Otherwise, though, the colors are very vivid, the characterization is strong, and despite looking like everyone is a supermodel (something that typically comes across poorly for me), things worked well on the art front.

4Cover Art - 4: I enjoy this cover. People seem to really, really be liking this one. To me, it's a re-imagining of a classic concept in a nice visual medium, but it's not related to the story, and it's also got nothing new added to the classic concept, so it loses a point. Still not bad, not by a long shot, above average. It just needs a little more pop or originality to be a five to me.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2007

February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007

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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2007.