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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #191

Superman #191

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 26, 2003

Cover date: May 2003

Writer: Steven T. Seagle
Penciller: Scott McDaniel
Inker: Andy Owens

"The American Way"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman (

Superman speeds along the desert floor, pushing faster and faster, but still not faster than the Flash. The two heroes stop, and Flash tells him that if Superman was the fastest man alive then he would be out of a job. Flash does comment that Superman has gotten faster since the last time they did this. Flash asks why he suddenly has the need for speed, and Clark tells him that he feels like Metropolis has changed so much, and he's been left behind. Superman thinks it's important for the heroes to train each other and improve their abilities. Flash just laughs and asks what they could learn from him, he's godlike. Superman stops him, and asks if that's really what they think of him. Wally says yes, but in a good way.

Flash then stops to show Superman a trick. If he concentrates enough, he can speed between two positions and create two of him. If he developed it enough, he could almost lead two lives. The two heroes speed off. Flash waves goodbye and is gone in a flash. Superman smiles, and then suddenly hears the SCU directing people to shelters.

Superman speeds to Metropolis and finds the SCU guiding people away from S.T.A.R. Labs, where a giant energy beam is erupting from the building. Superman stares up at the phenomenon with infrared vision, and sees hands reaching out of a void. Superman tells Turpin to keep his men back as he takes to the skies. A yell from below suddenly brings his attention about. The US army arrives on the scene, and the General tells Superman that they will handle everything from here. Superman tells them that he should handle it. A blast of energy suddenly knocks Superman to the ground, and sends tanks flying. Superman tells them to wait here, and heads into the rift. Behind him, the General tells his troops to load up.

As soon as he enters the breach, Superman finds his speed amplified beyond belief. He screams along until he is traveling at just under the speed of light. As he speeds up, Superman finds himself developing extra head and arms as he moves at super-speed. A voice from behind him draws his attention around. He finds the creature flying along behind him. The beast tells him that it is no use, he will die there.

Outside, Turpin argues with the General about firing on the rift. The General orders Turpin away, but Dan just says that it's a good thing that he doesn't have to listen to him.

In the rift, Superman tells the creature that he doesn't have to threaten him, but the beast says that he isn't threatening him, it is just impossible to escape. Superman doesn't believe him, but the monster demonstrates by heading towards the rift. As he tries to pull himself out the General orders all weapons trained on the hole.

Falling back into the rift, Superman tells the monster that if the rift is really a tear in space, then they could escape it if they reached the speed of light. However, as he hit the rift he would lose energy and be sucked back in. Superman tells the creature that if he held the rift open, then Superman might be able to escape, but the creature would be stuck behind. He tells Superman that he wouldn't want to live away from his world, and by closing the rift Superman would save his own world. Superman thanks the creature and then begins to fly. Darting around the creature, moving faster and faster until he almost reaches light speed.

The beast reaches forward and tears the rift open. The General orders his troops to fire right as Superman soars out of the rift. He turns around, rushing to stop the missiles streaking toward the creature, but he is too late. The detonation closes the rift and Superman demands to know what the General has done, but the man just smiles and says he saved the day.

Somewhere else, Cir-el watches Superman on a screen. The Futuresmiths tell her that she can meet her Father soon.

Even more elsewhere, the creature, Baxt, soars among his people. They thank him for saving their world, but he tells them that he had help, and that there are other worlds with other heroes on them. On his back, he proudly wears Superman's cape.

2Story - 2: I'm not really sure what to make of this issue. The part with the Flash was very nice. It's nice to see guest stars, and I really liked the idea of Superman wanting to improve his powers. There was so much potential with that way back in 152, but it never really went anywhere (other than the very much enjoyed more frequent use of heat vision and super breath). I don't want Superman to suddenly become massively powerful, but he should train. Then we cut to the SCU (not even mentioning the fact that he'd have to be pretty close to Metropolis to hear them, the speed of sound is only 700 mph after all) and some weird thing happening a S.T.A.R. No reason or explanation, or even a quick appearance by Kitty Faulkner, just this energy. Anyway, then Superman darts into this rift (since charging in is such a smart way to deal with things) and finds himself inside this black hole.

First off, from a physics perspective I'm not sure where the Swartzchild radius came from. I've heard of it, and I even did some more looking and didn't find anything to support what was said in this issue about things not being able to be sucked through a black hole. The radius refers to the event horizon, or point-of-no return of a black hole. You get sucked in and nothing (not even something traveling at light speed, but more on that later). The idea of getting sucked through is based on the theoretical existence of white holes, which are the opposite of black holes and repulse everything. The two would be connected with a worm hole, and form a tear in space-time. So I'm not sure where Seagle came from, disputing the fact that black holes suck stuff up, because they do, but anyway, back to the comic.

Then we are greeted by this whale thing that talks to Superman for all of a few pages (this was a little rushed) and then convinces Kal that he will sacrifice himself to free Superman, and Supes doesn't have a problem with this loss of life. All he wants to do is get free. This seemed a tad out of character to me, but we'll move on.

Then Superman decides to go the speed of light. Now I realize that we are dealing with a character that violates countless laws of physics in every story, with the first law of thermodynamics probably being the biggest (there is no way he's absorbing enough solar energy to allow him to accelerate 225 pounds to anywhere near the speeds he reaches, and that not even considering all of the other energy he expends). I'm fine with those. But I still have major problems whenever a writer has someone move at the speed of light. I don't know why, but this really bothers me. Relativity is weird. Really weird. If he was really going at 184,000 miles per second, which is about 99% of light speed, his mass would be HUGE. We are talking near infinite mass here. He wouldn't be able to see anymore, everything would be different colors. Lois would be aging tons faster than he is and distances would be contracting. Stuff like this just bothers me, but I suppose that's just the engineer in me talking, again back to the story.

So he busts free, lucky that he didn't convert all of his mass to energy when he hit the escape velocity, and despite the fact that he was just traveling fast enough that time should be dilating right now, he isn't fast enough to stop some bullets. That seemed a little incongruous to me. Then he yells at the General for a second and then we see Cir-El bouncing around and the whale is back home.

Anyone else think this story was not only incredible rushed, but also really pointless. Was the point of this issue to establish that Superman is fast? I'm pretty sure we already knew that. Was it to make him faster than Flash? This issue is kind of like all those ones last year where they would introduce a new character and then he is immediately gone, except instead of a human it's a talking whale. I liked the Flash part, and I like the idea of training, but the rest is just lost on me. I don't care about the whale, and I'm sure all of you are equally apathetic. We never see a reason from S.T.A.R. why this happened, nor do we see anyone look into it after. I'm sure that everyone will just go home and forget that S.T.A.R. almost destroyed the world.

This whole issue just seemed rushed, and I'm actually kind of glad because if this had been spread over two issues then I really would have been upset. I'm still giving Seagle the benefit of the doubt. I'll wait until the approaching Cir-El arc and issue 200 to pass judgment. I know he has skills; I absolutely loved his X-men run, but his Superman really hasn't been doing it for me.

3Art - 3: After that huge rant, I really don't have much to say about the art. I like the poses the McDaniel draws. Superman flies in poses that look much cooler than they normally do, and I think the race at the beginning looked fantastic. However, I don't like most of the facial expressions, and I'm still not sure how Clark thought those things were hands on page 9. I like the concept of McDaniel's art. It's very dynamic. There are lots of shots of super speed that just look fantastic. But the faces and the heavy inking just drag it down. Because of that, it's average art, but it could be so much more.

3Cover Art - 3: I don't like this cover for one reason. I know I'm going to get emails saying I'm a hypocrite because of this, but I really don't like the fact that this could be a panel from inside the book. Now I know I am always saying I want to see something that happens inside the book, but there is a line that should be crossed. The cover should be a symbolic depiction of the story, not something that didn't happen but not a carbon copy of something that did either. My example for this is always JLA #11 (I think) with Superman and J'onn in the maze. It's symbolic, but not a direct snapshot of this issue. Still, I've to give the cover points for actually showing what happens in the issue, and for having at least a partial background. It pretty much just falls in the middle.

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