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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #189

Superman #189

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 4, 2002

Cover date: February 2003

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Pascual Ferry
Inker: Keith Champagne with Pascual Ferry

"Lost" (Lost Hearts: Part One)

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (baileyn@cc.wwu.edu)



One week ago, in Hell's Heart, Washington, D.C.

A young woman in inner city clothes prepares to mail a letter to Lana Lang, care of the White House. Several men in threatening manor tell her that they want to help her. She says that she doesn't want their help, and as they inch closer, she blasts them, telling them to stay away.

Today.

Lana reads a letter from a woman named Traci Thirteen, explaining how more and more people are missing from her neighborhood. She tells Pete Ross, who scoffs at Traci's name, Thirteen. Lana tells him that the letter is important, but Pete counters that Luthor will probably just say he's already looking into it. Lana, in a furor, tells him that he shouldn't listen to Luthor, and that she's tired of eating everything that's put in front of her, tired of always settling for second best. She storms out.

In a diner, the waiter calls out orders, looking for the recipients. Most of the food is greasy spoon, but when the corn flakes with whole milk comes up, Clark Kent calls for his meal. Clark hears a sounds outside, and excuses himself because his pager is going off...an excuse. He asks for a phone booth, and, finding one outside, changes into Superman.

He confronts a new villain, Mr. 104, as he attempts to kill a man who is going to rat him out on the stand tomorrow. He changes into plutonium in order to avoid police bullets, and then, revealing his power to be the ability to shift elements, turns into Kryptonite when Superman arrives.

Superman is dropped, but Power Girl arrives from nowhere and knocks a large chunk of Mr. 104 from his body. She tells him that there are more than 104 elements. Then she starts to collapse, the Kryptonite to blame.

Superman, however, has risen, and uses his heat vision to put Mr. 104 down for the count.

Power Girl and Superman ruminate on how the Kryptonite affected her. They note how she was thought to perhaps be his cousin from Krypton when she originally arrived. She thanks Superman, overdue, for helping her get into the JSA, explaining that this is what she came to Metropolis for in the first place.

Superman returns home and changes from Superman to Clark Kent. The phone rings, and it is Pete Ross, telling him that he is needed, and that a helicopter is on the way. The helicopter arrives.

At Ross' residence, Pete tells Clark that Lana is missing, and that he wants him to go undercover to find her.

Later, in Hell's Heart, Clark unpacks. He is brought up in the darkness of the room by the sound of a heartbeat, and a quick check with X-Ray vision reveals Batman, in the shadows. Clark calls him out.

He tells Clark that he needs to leave the search to Batman, because in order to go undercover, he can't be who he is. He needs to lie. He needs to change his persona, and he can't. He tells Clark to put on his cape and inspire people and let him save Lana. Clark retaliates by pointing out that Bruce, if he truly wished to inspire and help people, would become the most respected philanthropist in the world, and instead he's become a laughing stock playboy idi-

And that's where Batman stops him. Clark apologizes, reminding Batman that he can't lie.

He tells Bruce that he appreciates the advice, but that he's not always the naÔve, friendly alien Bruce thinks he is.

Lana, somewhere looking very grave and wearisome, shivers in the snow. Clark, in an over-monologue, tells her that he is on his way.

5Story - 5: Well, heck. This story is actually really well written, in character, for the most part, and enjoyable. It has all of the things that make up a good Superman story. There's peril or mortal danger for the main characters (rare these days), an at least semi-plausible storyline, continuity (we see what happens after this issue next week!), action, drama, suspense, guest stars.

Heck, you'd think they were actually starting to listen to the fans. I'm amazed.

This issue is great on a lot of levels. The spread of Superman changing is just as great as the Hulk rampaging in a recent Ultimates. I abhor splash or full-page spreads, for the most part, but when done right, they can be incredible, and I have to applaud Ferry for creating such a pose in this one. I want it as a poster. Please, DC. It's great. It's Superman with his yellow shield, back in style.

Corn flakes with whole milk. Enough said. Absolutely incredible characterization, with humor to boot.

I said to myself, no way that Pete Ross' choice of Clark Kent makes sense. He has the CIA, the SS, and anyone else he so desires. It makes no sense, logically. And it still doesn't. But the writer makes it plausible by the scene with Bruce and Clark, where we see two incredible things...the fact that Batman is taken to task by Clark, proving that Clark is just as intelligent as he is (a fact often glossed over), and a reasonable way for us to buy into the fact that Clark Kent, if prodded, and in the name of the common good, may lie.

We see main characters other that Superman. Where have Pete, Lana, Jimmy, Lois even, Ron, Perry, and the like been of late?

Mr. 104 is a great idea. I don't know if he existed already, but a guy who can change into different elements is like taking Colossus and actually making him worthwhile as a villain. Power Girl is an iffy rescue, but then, she does seem to have a foreshadowing future in these comics. Or at least, it's hinted at. And a more simple explanation for the weakness she feels? Heck, Kryptonite in such mass would affect ANYONE like that. It practically killed Cyborg, way back when, remember?

Besides, the area was probably incredibly radioactive after a large man's weight of Plutonium suddenly appearing. That might make someone weak.

And best of all? No little implausibility plagues like in other recent issues of the past. Good editing. The pacing is dead-on, the story is well executed. I'm amazed. Truly amazed.

I eat my words. Superman is not dead yet. That doesn't mean I'm not watching like a vulture... I loves me my Superman, and I absolutely demand he be done right.

Like this issue.

:)

5Art - 5: Ferry is coming into more of his own style here. In the past, I have been able to somewhat criticize him for being a bit like McG, but now he's very distinctive, and although slightly more cartoonish than some of the fans might prefer, this is almost exactly the way I'd like to see Superman drawn. Dynamic panels, straight shot characterization, and there's also that wonderful spread. Top-notch.

4Cover Art - 4: Not perfect, but definitely better than of late. The logo is changed, but it makes sense, and it's well done, out of the way, but still prominent. The cover is a bit water colored to death, but it creates that street feel, almost negating the usual but still present complaint about the lack of the background. All in all, it may be dark, but I much prefer it to what has been coming out of late.



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