Cover date: June 2002
Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Duncan Rouleau and Keron Grant
Inker: Marlo Alquiza
"Man and Beast" (Part 2 of 2)
Reviewed by: Nick Newman (NNewman8283@yahoo.com)
Superman suddenly finds himself transported months into the past, again watching Imperiex's attack on the Earth. He sees Gardner impaled on a spear, and presumed dead. But his Vuldarian genes kept him alive, trying to regrow his body. As the probe traveled around the world, Guy was dragged with it, his body constantly adapting both to heal and to remain hidden. His body was destroyed and reformed time after time until he resembled hamburger, and no one ever came looking for him. When General Zod destroyed a probe, Gardner's probe was sent in as a replacement. Zod then proceeded to destroy that probe as well, and Gardner was plunged into hell.
Sent into the Gorge, Guy was slowly rebuilt from the pitiful remains into a perversion of his former self. Somehow he survived, and thrived. In the gorge he is a god. However, being a god in hell isn't worth much. Guy wants out, and that's where Superman comes in. Kal tries to apologize, to explain that they all thought he had died. At this Gardner explodes. They forgot him and left him to rot in hell. All the heroes left him behind. Striking Superman across the face, Gardner sends him flying. Kancer suddenly leaps onto Guy's back, demanding that Superman is his. Gardner simply swats him away.
Superman recovers and knocks Gardner back with a mighty blow. Recovering, Guy covers Superman with a blast of fire-breath. Guy tells Clark that he can't leave the Gorge unless someone takes his place, and that someone is going to be Superman. Superman asks what happens if he refuses. Guy responds that nothing much happens, except that Superman will have to kill Kancer, because if he doesn't Zod will have Lois dead by morning.
Zod is approaching the Gorge right now, fighting off the monsters that Guy has been unleashing on the country. He's coming for Kancer, and once Zod knows what Kancer knows, it's all over for Lois and Clark. Enraged, Superman demands to know how a former hero could sink to this level. Guy simply tells him that he is trapped in hell, and he wants out. Down on the ground, Krypto suddenly enters the action. With a roar, Krypto launches himself at Kancer and buries his teeth into the monster. Guy continues to tell Superman his future role. If he assumes control of the Gorge, then he becomes all powerful within its walls. Not only could he wipe Kancer's memory of Lois, he could also kill Zod with a thought. Gardner demands that Superman choose.
Standing up, Superman stops Krypto before he can kill Kancer with a quick command. No one is going to die. As Krypto bounds away obediently, Kancer questions why Superman would let him live. As Krypto lands at his master's feet, Superman bends down and tells Krypto to take care of Lois for him. Suddenly, Kancer springs to his feet and pushes Superman out of the way. Kancer lunges for the throne and seats himself upon it. Before Superman can intervene, the living Gorge ties Kancer in and draws the entire throne into the Earth. As Superman desperately tries to save Kancer from damnation, Guy Gardner looks skyward with a smile. The Earth closes around Kancer as the two heroes vanish. Above, Zod kneels where the Gorge once was. Picking up Kancer's chains, Zod realizes that this first defeat teaches a lesson: "Put no faith in monstersŠlest they be of your own blood." Rising into the sky, Zod soars away into the night, leaving behind a huge S-symbol, scorched into the Earth.
Someplace sunny, Superman and Guy sit upon beach chairs by the beach with Krypto stretched out between them. Shocked, Superman searches for an explanation before Guy provides one. He's a hero; he never really wanted to send Clark to hell. He knew that Kancer would take the seat. He figured that Kancer had killed enough people the he would be headed to hell anyway, but at least this way he got a way to redeem himself.
Guy explains that he now knows how the world works. From now on, Gardner is going to clean up after the heroes. Superman tells Guy that this isn't over, but Gardner just brushes it aside. As a parting remark, Guy tells Superman to stop whining about everything going wrong in his life. He is Superman, and he should act like it.
Guy looks on as Superman streaks away into the sky. Coming up behind him, Guy turns to find a man in a hat and overcoat. The man asks Guy if he is having second thoughts about what he has done. Guy says no, because he can accomplish much more out of the Gorge than in. Holding a small ball up, Guy examines the teleporter that allowed him to send Kancer into the fray in the first place. Gardner admits that he wishes it wasn't him, and he wouldn't have even taken the teleporter if he thought the cloaked figure could do Superman any harm. Superman means too much to the world. But if the man thinks he can take Superman down then he might as well try. Guy vanishes with a flash, warning the man that if he ever sees him again he will kill him, and then wishes him a nice day. Alone on the beach, the man crushes the teleported in his fist and assures Guy that he plans to do just that.
Story - 4: I really debated what to rate this issue. I wasn't a big fan of the first part of the story, and I really haven't enjoyed many of the issues dealing with Kancer and the gang up till this point. This issue, however, appealed to me. One, I really liked the resolution of it. It was nice to see something actually be accomplished in this issue. Kancer is gone, finally, and Zod has finally been dealt a defeat. Two, we got to see Krypto act like Krypto should act. Like a dog, but obedient to his master. Three, we got to see Guy Gardner come back. Whether you like him or not, which I happen to (again, for probably the hundredth time, I urge you all to go pick up some late 80's Justice League issues written by Keith Giffen. They are truly some great issues. I know everyone thinks the team was a joke, but the stories are actually good. You can pick them up for under a buck an issue, so you should really give them a try.), it was nice to see Gardner's death finally get resolved. My favorite part of the issue though, would have been the mystery man at the end. A little mystery is always good. Of course, I already have my theory of who it is, but it's still great to have a mystery for us to ponder.
Art - 3: A three is the middle grade, so that's what this issue gets. I don't like Rouleau's art at all. I think his Superman looks horrible and everything else isn't too great either. However, Grant's art was good. It kind of reminded me of Mike McKone's art, which I have always been a big fan of. His Superman looked very nice, with good attention to detail and a complete lack of Rouleau's style. I wouldn't mind at all to see this guy come back. We didn't get to see him do much, but I think he could handle it. So the book starts poorly, but the art definitely turned around when Grant started.
Cover Art - 2: But I really don't like the cover. Krypto looks alright, and Kancer looks as good as he can, but the art just doesn't do it for me. I really debated what to give this cover. I really felt a three was more appropriate, but then this cover has suffered from the same problem that many have of late. There is no background. I suppose the right side is the Gorge, but what is up with the black on the left half. I really don't get it. And then, of course, there is the awful logo. I like the idea of having the symbol on the cover, but not if it is going to push Superman off of the cover. They need to be redesigned, and hopefully soon.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2002.