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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #685

Superman #685

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 25, 2009

Cover date: April 2009

"The Long Goodbye"

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Javier Pina
Inker: Javier Pina

Back-Up Story: "Mon-El: Origins and Omens"

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Pablo Raimondi
Inker: Pablo Raimondi

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Lois rushes through the Fortress toward Superman, who cradles Mon-El in his arms as he's dying. Superman tells her that the Phantom Zone is gone.

Superman attempts to go to the future, but his Legion ring fails to take him there, which he thinks means that something is wrong with the future.

Superman rushes to find a cure, and when he fails, he finds a vial with a Legion symbol on it that reads "Drink Me."

Desperate, they give it to Mon-El, and he appears to get well.

Superman leaves Mon-El to acclimate himself to Earth in the hologram chamber. Superman indicates that he's wearied by the strain of recent events. They realize that Mon-El isn't supposed to know about the Legion for the next thousand years.

On the television, they see that Kryptonians have been ousted from Earth, save Superman.

The Guardian has a dream about a protoplasmic clone with a Legion ring. He tells the clone (via talking to himself) that he's coming.

Superman (as Clark as well) explains why he needs to leave to Martha and Lois. Alura has offered him the chance to come to his homeworld conditionally... if he appears to renounce Earth. They both tell him to go.

Mon-El, Guardian, Jimmy and Steel agree to watch Metropolis after he goes.

Superman kisses Lois, and leaves Earth.

4Story - 4: The story here is very solid. The concepts are great, the execution is, at times, brilliant. At other times, the writing gets very sloppy and distracts from the overall strength of the story. Ultimately, however, it's a strong tale.

The writer in me cringes at the multiple, constant examples of extrapolation through dialogue, but in all honesty, I didn't see them until the second read. At the same time, a story shouldn't get any worse on the second read.

Superman and Lois talk about Daxamites, explaining it to us, the reader, despite the situation being plain to them and in front of their faces. They also explain leaving Mon-El behind to each other after (presumably) flying back from the Fortress for some time, whereby realistically it would have been discussed. He also explains to Lois that the Legion is his team, despite the fact that she's his wife, and would know it. These things are for the benefit of the reader, to make the writing clearer, but because it's done without any subtlety, it pulls you out of the story.

I've criticized this before and the response from the proponent of extrapolation (like people who yell at me for my assertion that you don't need speaker tags in novels, which you don't, if you work the prose enough) is that there is no other way you can convey the information. There is, it's just difficult, and takes time and thought.

Example: "How do we convey that Mon-El is a Daxamite and that lead's killing him because the Phantom Zone was destroyed?"

Here, Superman states: "- - My friend - - the one I told you about - - trapped in the Phantom Zone because of his vulnerability to the lead in Earth's air."

Lois: "Yes. He's from Daxam."

They both KNOW this information, so them stating it is maladroit. It's easier that way. It's better writing, however, in my opinion, for Lois to rush in:

Lois: "Mon-El's out of the zone? Why? The lead will kill him!"

Superman: "I had to. The Phantom Zone is destroyed. Here. Watch him. I'll try and find a cure."

Then show him looking at Daxamite physiology on the computer. All three things conveyed, in equal space, without extrapolation.

The story also emphasizes the fact that the writer missed the "teleport" thing Busiek established, for good or for ill, in the Kent apartment, if Superman is still flying Lois back.

The Steelworks was also labeled the "Iron Works." Not too big a deal, but STEEL is STEEL, and Iron is an inferior metal. I could be wrong on this, but I'm fairly certain it's the Steelworks.

The thing is, there are GOOD uses of extrapolation through dialogue too. He uses extrapolation as the first tenet in a series of points he's using to explain his problem to Lois before he makes his decision, and it works well, when he reveals Alura's actions to us AND them at the same time.

And there are MASTERFUL uses of character and dialogue peppered toward the end of the issue. He covers the emotion of Clark leaving brilliantly. It just sucks that such great stuff is mixed in with so many rudimentary mistakes, and that takes something from the story.

Still, having noted them, I have to go from the overall experience, which was above average, thus the four despite explaining my points in detail.

4Art - 4: At times there are a few panels that are rough and seem to miss the essence of the characters, but for the most part this is a real home run. The scenes with Lois and Martha in particular are well done, as is the leaving scene, as is the desperation of Mon-El's malady.

Back-Up Story: "Mon-El: Origins and Omens"

Scar examines Mon-El.

Mon-El goes to Martha Kent and explains that he is establishing a life on Earth. She offers him a name as a secret identity. Soon, he goes to his new apartment, and calls himself "Jonathan Kent."

We see glimpses of his future, including a fight with Ion and a strange bald figure.

4Back-Up Story - 4: Interesting. I'm beginning to get more into Mon-El, and I dig the re-use of Jonathan Kent.

I don't see how this has any tie at all to Blackest Night, and I'm tired of the "Sightings" and "Origins and Omens" and "Faces of Evil" crap being forced into the books (no matter how much I dig Blackest Night).

But this story is just fine.

5Back-Up Art - 5: Very strong, and full of character in touching ways at times. Too brief to be a huge display, but still a great series of pages.

4Cover Art - 4: I am upset that Pa's death is such a small part of this issue but the focus of this cover. It also suffers from the insanely weird light source thing Ross has had going on for some time. Still, it's a compelling image, and an emotional one. I just wish it was more in context instead of just capitalizing off the throngs of us who worship the Donner movies.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

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