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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #686

Superman #686

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 25, 2009

Cover date: May 2009

"Yesterday and Tomorrow"

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Renato Guedes
Inker: Jose Wilson Magalhaes

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

People look up in the sky, and see Mon-El.

Bibbo and Atlas banter in the Ace O' Clubs.

We recap Superman saying goodbye in more depth, with John Henry Irons, Jimmy, and Guardian. Jimmy gets a Mon-El signal watch. Superman has Guardian set up a secret identity for Mon-El.

Mon-El fights Rampage by raising her a mile into the air and slamming her into the pavement. Guardian arrives with Steel, and chides Mon-El for potentially killing her.

At a roll call, Guardian introduces Jonathan Kent (Mon-El). Jonathan meets a woman named Billi Harper, a transfer from Gotham, who shows him around the locker room.

Guardian barks for Kent, and Mon-El appears in a Science Police outfit, with a different haircut after someone poked fun at him in the roll call.

5Pre-Story - 5: BIBBO. Actual Bibbo. This issue gets honorary preliminary five of five for Bibbo, story regardless. THANK YOU, James Robinson, for bringing Bibbo back outside of getting hit by Atlas. Who he's talking to in this issue. But I even forgive that, because Bibbo is back.

Now the actual rating:

3Story - 3: There was a LOT of cool stuff here, so that three sounds harsh. It is. But then, I've gotta stick to my guns. Flashy devices and cool developments can't hide certain fundamental errors in storytelling.

The first, which eats up half the issue, is not repeating yourself unless it's fundamentally necessary. Here it almost is. I would argue the repeat of the scenes with Jimmy and Guardian and Steel add some character. But the thing is, when I looked back and said, "Well, what character?" I couldn't come up with a palpable answer, beyond a good feeling. Which is worth something, but then, I already had that good feeling in the last issue, so it's not story, it's just flash. To that end, there's only eleven pages of story here that's linear, with two pages devoted to Jimmy's signal watch (new development one) and the establishing of the Ace as an entity again (new development two).

And though it's done through extrapolation through dialogue, I appreciate the nod and care put into explaining the sudden building change for Steelworks. That means something. In hundreds and hundreds of reviews, I see two general trends. Writers who do incoherent things and then never fix them, and then writers who do an incoherent thing and then immediately fix them, making the reviewer look stupid. I'm glad to look stupid for a good story. Steelworks is now Ironworks, and the plot made it plain. Good form.

As for the story itself, when it begins, it was 5 all the way. Mon-El finding his place. A re-appearance of Rampage, who I haven't seen in forever. A team forming to watch over Metropolis after Superman is gone. Primo stuff.

The only thing that doesn't seem to fit and seems extraordinarily odd is why Mon-El would join the Science Police. I mean, he's Daxamite. He's stronger than Superman, so he's gonna encumber himself with a suit he has to ditch every time he wants to Supe out? A reporter can disappear in the mix. If a Science Police member abandons his or her position, people could die, and that person would certainly be (presumably) fired. It'll create awkwardness.

I'm still unsure what the heck the point of Atlas is. I'm trying to like him, I really am.

4Art - 4: Most of the art is brilliant. There are a few points that make you cringe and go, "Huh?" but they're in the minority. The splash where Rampage and Mon-El are hitting each other, I still can't figure out who's hitting who. The splash where they rise into the air isn't that compelling, given what it could have been. But the descent more than makes up for it.

I don't understand why Mon-El in a Science Police outfit merits a splash. I mean, it's neat, but the outfit is kind of plain. As a mirror for Superman in the Kryptonian military, however, it's a cool parallel, intentional or not.

5Cover Art - 5: Beautiful piece. Tear that "FEATURING MON-EL AND GUARDIAN" off the bottom, and you'd have a really awesome piece. I swear, if you can't figure out that they're in the issue based on them being on the cover, you should stick to newspaper funnies.

I think this uses a bold sense of lighting in the way Alex Ross has been trying to for years and failing. I dig it.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2009

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