"Superman Graphic Novels"
The capital city of Krypton has appeared on Earth, containing one hundred-thousand men, women and children, each with the powers of Superman! And after having spent decades at the mercy of the villain Brainiac, the Kryptonians decide they aren’t going to take any crap from the Universe. Starting with Earth!+Continue Reading
One Hundred-Thousand Kryptonians now fill the skies over Earth. Rescued by Superman from the villain Brainiac, this once-great people suddenly find themselves endowed with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, after having been prisoners for decades. As Superman tries to smooth out relations between his two people, conspirators on both sides begin to encourage hostilities, neither trusting the other, in hopes of landing a preemptive victory strike in a war each one seems hell-bent on causing.+Continue Reading
The point, as I have been told, of writing the All Star Superman series, was to capture all that embodied Superman himself, be it the actual character we know or what he stands for, what he signifies.+Continue Reading
War has broken out among the United Planets of the 31st Century. The Legion of Super-Heroes is broken, its members scattered, while a new group of Human Supremacists calling itself the Justice League has risen to take its place, calling for the expulsion of all Alien influence from Earth culture. And the only person capable of saving this world is the very man whose memory the Justice League has used to destroy it – Superman!+Continue Reading
Superman: Last Son
The Last Son of Krypton. That term carries a lot of weight. But starting with this story, Kal-El learns that not only is he not the last surviving member of the Kryptonian race, he’s technically not even the last son of Krypton. First, Superman discovers a mysterious young boy in a rocket ship. One who can lift enormous weights, fly, and most importantly speak Kryptonese. After some initial hesitation on Lois’ part, she and Clark finally adopt the poor child, naming him Chris (after Christopher Reeve) only to have their happy world torn apart by the discovery that he is actually the son of General Zod, and is instrumental in his father’s plot to conquer the Earth.
Written not only by Geoff Johns, but also by Johns’ former boss/mentor and legendary Superman director Richard Donner, “Last Son” makes it perfectly clear to the reader that the Superman movie universe has collided with the comics. If the “crystal cathedral” Fortress of Solitude wasn’t enough, we also get a super-powered lad with mysterious parentage (can you say Jason from Superman Returns?), the bumbling, stumbling Clark Kent (by way of Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh), and the full-on movie version of General “Kneel Before” Zod!
Yes, this is indeed the movie’s General Zod, complete with Ursa and Non, folded wonderfully into comic continuity. Accept no substitutions! However, the writers smartly and skillfully move Zod beyond his initial depiction as a “mustache-twirling” super villain by giving him and his companions rich new back-stories. The reason for their revolution now revealed to have been a desire to aid Jor-El in his attempt to save the people of Krypton. But when it failed, Zod blamed Jor-El and thus swore revenge against all his descendants.
Zod plans to utilize his and Ursa’s son, who escapes the Phantom Zone and comes to Earth, only to leave the door open for his parents to follow. However, Chris falls under the influence of the Man of Steel, and refuses to blindly follow his father’s orders anymore. Chris’s numerous acts of heroism in this volume are quite inspiring, given that he only wants to follow in his (new) father’s example.
When read alone, Last Son’s strict adherence to the movie universe causes little-no-problems. But running alongside other, non-Johns’ stories, the differences were pretty obvious. For some reason, Clark Kent reverts into the buffoonish 2-dimensional cartoon character of the movies. Gone are any hints of personality and seriousness with the character, as Clark begins his long slide into becoming just a running joke. My own personal explanation is that, after a year of not having to hide his identity, Clark simply found it difficult to separate his Superman side from his Clark Kent side without making public Clark a parody of his former self.
Superman himself receives better treatment than his other half. This is a Superman who is smart, confident and fully capable of defending both his city and his family. The rage he displays when he discovers that the Government has attempted to take Chris for their own purposes without his permission is a sight to behold, and proves that Superman is not always some goody-goody who plays by the rules.
If you have never read a comic before, and if you have no idea what an “Infinite Crisis” is, this is probably the best place to begin reading Superman. Last Son touches on practically every character in Superman’s world, from Ma and Pa Kent to the Daily Planet workers to Lex Luthor and several of Superman’s more classic villains. Not only that, but this story is the foundation upon which the massive New Krypton story, running through every Superman-title for the foreseeable future, is built upon. So get in on the ground floor, why don’t you!
So what do you think? Were you thrilled about the introduction of the movie versions of Zod and company? Did you like Chris, or was he too similar to Jason from Superman Returns for your taste? Did his adoption by the Kents feel like a slap in the face coming so soon after Conner Kent’s death? Do you even know who Conner Kent is? Let us know what you think!+Continue Reading
Superman: Up, Up, and Away
It all begins here, the “Geoff Johns Era of Superman,” for lack of a better title. This story bridges the gap between Infinite Crisis and the “New Earth” Superman, establishing new status quos for many of the main characters in an attempt to reintroduce more Silver Age concepts to the series. And no character is hit harder than Lex Luthor.
While the story focuses mainly on Clark Kent as he is pulled out of superhero retirement, this is nothing new, stories like this are rampant in superhero comics. It is Lex who changes the most. Here, businessman and politician Lex Luthor’s crimes finally catch up to him, and we watch as he is stripped of his untouchable status. Yes, the legal system lets him off scot-free again (he blamed all his recent crimes on his alternate universe doppelganger, Alexander Luthor… seriously!), but the people of Metropolis are not easily fooled, and Lex soon discovers he has lost their respect and protection. As a result, Lex embarks on a vendetta against his city, reverting to the classic “1950’s fugitive mad scientist” version of the character.
Lex’s scheme to use Kryptonian Crystal technology to destroy the city (a plot not unlike his Superman Returns one) eventually calls the powerless Clark back into action. The only problem is we are never really told how Clark gets his powers back (ironically, kind of like in Superman II). The logic given is that Clark was actively rejecting his powers after the tragic events of Infinite Crisis, only to magically “allow” their return when his city was in danger. This is an interesting choice for Clark, even on a subconscious level, and it’s one I intend to dissect in a future post.
While the Silver Age Lex makes his return, it is the Richard Donner movie version of Krypton he attempts to utilize, complete with the crystal-growing technology first seen in the films, and later displayed in Returns, Smallville and even DC vs Mortal Kombat. The idea of fusing of these two elements, Silver Age and Movies, is one that will continue for the next several years.
While I credit Geoff Johns with this story, it was actually co-written by him and Kurt Busiek and I suspect Busiek actually had the task of writing the scripts for this one, as certain parts of his own run debut here as well, and the overall tone just fits Busiek. Sadly, with the gift of hindsight, one can see that Busiek’s run does not necessarily fit well with the current direction of the series, and so I won’t be reviewing any of his other work. That’s not to say they are bad, in fact Busiek does a great job of creating a tight continuity within Superman’s world. Unfortunately, this came at a time when Superman’s past, present and future were still in flux, and the attempts to create a solid world ultimately did more harm than good. Again, this is not Busiek’s fault, but the changes he made have all but been ignored since his departure.
The art chores are handled very well by both Pete Woods and Renato Guedes. The joy here being that these two are still very much involved in the Superman line of comics to this day, so it is fun to watch their art evolve over time.
At the end of the day, this story strives to reintroduce Superman to the world (complete with his powers returning in stages resembling their development over his entire history). And given the fact that this is a New Earth and indeed a new Superman, this is a much needed “pre-cursor” to the rest of Geoff Johns’ era.
So what do you think? Were you onboard with the decision to incorporate themes and visuals from the Movies into the comics? How about the return of Mad Scientist Lex Luthor? Do you think Busiek got a raw deal when it comes to his time on the books? Please, let us know how you feel!