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Cover date: January 2003
Writer: Mark Schultz
Penciller: John Lucas
Inker: Walden Wong
"The Big Parade"
Reviewed by: Nick Newman (NNewman8283@yahoo.com)
The streets are packed with people, all dressed up in superhero costumes, as the heroes of the world wave to the crowds from floats. The JLA and the Marvel family are only a few of the many heroes on hand for Metropolis' Superman Day. High above the crowd, Mxyzptlk hovers with a mischievous look in his eyes.
In their apartment, Lois and Clark argue about the parade. Clark says he isn't going, he isn't in the mood and there are just too many things that can go wrong. He is going to stay home. Lois, dressed in her replica of Power Girl's costume, tries to drag him out the door. She says that with all that they have been through, she wants to cut loose. Clark says that someone has to stay outside of the mess with a clear head in case something happens. Exasperated, Lois says that he can do what he wants, but she is going to have some fun. The door slams behind her as Clark sighs.
At the parade, commentators wonder about Superman's absence as they watch the Superman float proceed down the street, carrying only the Superman actor from a popular television show. Actor Jorge Tomas doesn't need super-hearing to hear the kids mocking him as he passes.
Inside his apartment, Superman stares at his computer when the monitor screen suddenly comes to life. The Man Of Steel just sighs as Mr. Mxyzptlk removes himself from the computer. Mxyzptlk first asks about their last meeting (in "Ending Battle"). Superman explains, but Mxy doesn't think it was that big of a deal. He then wants to know why Superman isn't down on the streets. Superman starts to explain, but then just says that he doesn't have to explain anything to Mxyzptlk. With no enthusiasm, he tells the Imp that he just wants to get it over with. Mxy explodes and tells him that he doesn't like his attitude. If Superman just wants to watch from the sidelines, then that is what he can do. In a flash of magic, Superman appears in a strange room, obviously somewhere that he cannot escape from.
Reappearing above the street Mxyzptlk smiles at the crowd, and then transforms the balloons above into a half-dozen hungry Tyrannosaurs. As the dinosaurs crash to Earth, the Superman actor just stares in disbelief. Mxy spots him and then suddenly gets an idea. Jorge grips a handrail on the float in fear, and is astonished to find it come loose in his hand. With shock, he finds that he can fly. The imposter Superman grabs one of the beasts by its tail and slams it into the ground, stopping its rampage. He darts through the remaining monsters' jaws and slams into them, incapacitating them. He stumbles away from the wreckage, only to be grabbed by a giant robot. He looks at it in anger, when suddenly his heat vision kicks in and melts the android into a puddle.
Staring at the battle on his television screen, Clark demands for Mxyzptlk to stop this. He is going to kill someone. Mxy reappears and tells Superman that he is missing a great time. Superman snaps at him, the only time he thinks something is fun is when it hurts everyone else. Mxy objects to this. He has never caused permanent damage to anything. Superman just looks at him and says Emperor Joker. Mxy went way over the line with that one, not to mention the fact that some of the characters even survived into the real universe. With eyes glowing, Superman tells him that he can take being the butt of his jokes, but he won't tolerate others being involved. Pouting, Mxyzptlk releases Superman to the real world.
In a flash, Superman stops a rampaging Batman robot and builds a cage out of I-beams. Jorge crashes to the street, uninjured but without any remnant of his powers. Superman takes off to round up the dinosaurs in his improvised pen. Down the street, a young girl stands in shock as rubble from a damaged building falls towards her. Without a thought, the actor Superman hurls himself forward and shields the girls from the stone. He grits his teeth and prepares for the doom he knows is coming, only to turn around and find Superman holding up the rocks.
Afterwards, Superman shakes the actor's hand. His selfless act towards the little girl was extremely brave. They both turn as the little girl calls for Superman. Clark responds, but the girl throws herself into Jorge's arms and thanks him for saving her. Taking to the sky, Superman waves at the assembled crowd and soars above the city. Mxy appears next to him and says that it bothers him. The little girl going for the actor bothered him. Superman just ignores him and says that once again Mxy endangered the life of an innocent. Mxy says that she was never in danger, and she went for the actor because he was more familiar. He wasn't some distant icon. That was the way Superman was once, and that is the way he needs to be again. Mxy then says that he taught him a lesson. Superman tells him that he is horrible at teaching lessons, and Mxy tells him to lighten up. Superman says goodbye and Mxy, after telling Superman to be in a better mood next time, vanishes in a puff of smoke.
Hovering alone, Superman's expression of seriousness slowly transforms into a smile.
The parade resumes, with both Superman and Jorge proudly waving from the Superman float as the citizens of Metropolis wave back.
Story - 2: This story disappointed me on a number of levels. The first problem was the timing. Mxyzptlk showed up less than two months ago. So much for the ninety days rule. Second was my gripe with "Superman Day." Stuff like that bothers me, mainly because it is just invented for the purpose of one story and then discarded forever. Not to mention the fact that this celebration is coming only a short while after Superman's murderous rampage in Superman #188. Then there is the reaction of Superman. He doesn't feel like it? He is just going to sit in his apartment? Superman does not avoid a parade in his honor because he wants to watch from above with a clear head. This just didn't add up. Plus there was Lois' horrible part in the beginning where she pleads with her husband, and then storms out. This really didn't seem right to me. Then when Mxyzptlk shows up Superman doesn't care at all. Never mind the fact that this Imp is probably the most powerful being on Earth when he shows up, Superman just sits at his computer. This just didn't seem like Superman to me. Then there is the editorial problem with Superman. The last page has the Kara Supergirl flying, yet Superman has no idea about her. You would think that he would notice a flying girl. Finally, the whole notion of Mxy being there to teach Superman lessons was just ridiculous. Mxy is a prankster; to try to force any other role on him is just dumb. I don't think Mxy needs the extra motivation that he is there to teach Superman. Superman shouldn't need any teachers beyond his parents and Lois. Then there is the desire to show Superman to value the regular person when the girl embraces the actor instead of him. Sorry, but I don't think the general populace feels apart from Superman the way this issue implies. He's not Batman, they see him everyday and he has done many things to make people in Metropolis accept him. Yet another reason he should have been at the parade. This whole issue just didn't do much for me. It felt forced and awkward, and not at all like Schultz's normal work. If you want a good depiction of Mxy's visit to Metropolis, pick up a copy of the latest Supergirl. Seriously, you should. It has great art, terrific characters (Superboy and two Supergirls last issue) and Peter David has been doing a fantastic job at this title for the past six and a half years. If you've never given it a try, pick up an issue. You won't be sorry.
Art - 3: And the art fails to please as well. One look at Mxy anywhere in this issue and you will see why. Then check out Lois and Clark in their apartment at the beginning. Why is Lois' hair two colors? Why does Clark look like an idiotic muscle-bound creep? Throughout the whole issue nothing looked right. There was plenty that wasn't bad, but this issue barely pulls average. Barely.
Cover Art - 4: And yet I like the cover a lot. First, Mxyzptlk looks like he should. Secondly, you have a symbolic depiction of what actually happens in the book. Is there a parade? Yes. Does it involve Superman? Yes. Does Mxyzptlk show up at the parade? Yes. This cover definitely works for me. The colors are nice and bright too. It does lose a point though, for the text on the cover. I hate word balloons on covers with a passion. There is no need for this bubble. We can tell Mxy is in the issue. The bubble does nothing for the cover other than interrupt what is otherwise a good image. Oh, and the cover logo is horrible, but you knew that already.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2003.