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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #196

Superman #196

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 27, 2003

Cover date: October 2003

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

"Dr. Metropolis"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman (

Two paramedics rush a visiting diplomat to an emergency room when Dr. Gonzales waits to care for the man. He collapsed at a Yes! Shop and they aren't sure what is wrong with him. In the background, Lois Lane gives a news report on Metropolis' terrorist threat level being raised due to the fact that a foreign government has smuggled an experimental bomb into the city, and authorities do not know where it is hidden.

The Doctor prepares to treat his patient, and pauses to ask about the briefcase the man is holding on to with a death grip. The doctor rips it way from the man and it begins to emit a high pitched noise. Doctor Gonzales stares at it for a moment before he realizes that he is holding the experimental bomb. Yelling at his assistants to evacuate the hospital, he lifts the bomb up and starts to run.

Clark tours the new police precinct building when he suddenly hears the scream of the bomb. Just then a group of officers run by and tell the Chief that there is a situation at the hospital. The Chief turns to Clark, but the reporter is already on the roof and heading for the hospital.

Outside of the hospital, Dr. Gonzales runs through the crowd and out into the parking lot. He thinks he is alone when a small child inside a car suddenly attracts his attention. Hoping to protect the child, the Doctor covers the bomb with his body and curls up on the pavement. Arriving on the scene, Superman mistakenly tells the doctor to step away from his weapon, and then at the last moment dives down over the man to cover the bomb. The explosion destroys much of the surrounding parking lot, but the young boy is saved. As Superman explains to the Doctor that he had no time to do anything and that his aura can protect things close to him, Dr. Gonzales tells him to get off of him. When Superman doesn't back away, Dr. Gonzales swings at the Man of Steel and sends him flying in a burst of energy.

At Channel 6 Studios, Lois gives her report on the explosion at the hospital. As she talks, her cell phone suddenly rings. An assistant crawls onto the set and turns it off before it can totally interrupt the show. Bringing the phone back, Lois' producer answers the phone to find Perry on the other line. Finishing the report, Lois storms over to her producer and snaps her phone away. She tells him that she's a reporter, and they can cut to her on a scene, but if they touch her purse again then she will punch someone.

Across town, Superman lies stunned in a park. Two boys approach him when he suddenly regains consciousness. He is shocked to discover that he can't hear the boys. He quickly takes to the sky.

In his house, Dr. Gonzales staggers around the wreckage while talking on the phone, convincing them not to come to his home. His hands begin to glow with energy.

Back at the Medical Center Clark rushes through the crowd to ask the police chief what happened to the victim. The chief says he was vaporized, but there is one crazy guy who claims otherwise. Flying up, Superman uses his super vision to read the man's lips and immediately turns and heads for the Doctor's house.

Outside of the house, two men stare at the destroyed house when suddenly a wall is blasted out towards them. Superman intercepts the projectile at the last moment and saves the two men. Walking into the house, Superman calls out to the Doctor. He tells the Man of Steel to get out. When Superman doesn't, he jumps out of the shadows and begins to attack him. Glowing with energy the Doctor punches Superman around and finally out into the back yard with no trouble at all. Superman tells the Doctor that he has to control his power and he will try to help. The Doctor asks why there are problems like terrorists at all with Superman around, but Superman tells him that it isn't his job to lord over humanity and make every decision for them.

Superman grabs the Doctor and flies him up into the sky. He tells the man that a bad thing did happen to him, but it is what he does after the tragedy that determines the kind of person he is. He cannot be a surgeon anymore, but he can use his new powers to help heal Metropolis. Setting the Doctor down on the roof, Superman flies away.

Returning to the scene, Clark finds Lois has already beat him to the punch. She asks Clark to head home and he agrees.

Later that night, Lois tells him that he needs to see someone about his hearing. She sees a falling star and the two of them kiss. Across town, the shooting star resolves into a space craft that crashes down into the earth.

2Story - 2: I'll start off with saying that there wasn't anything terribly wrong with this story. Seagle seemed to try and make Superman a big deal again, by having everyone be amazed by his presence, but while that should be the reaction of everyone, to start doing it in one issue just seems clumsy. I liked that Clark is on the police beat and that Metropolis has a police station that we actually see, but considering that Greg Rucka is planning on doing the exact same thing its not really that big of a deal. I am also still confused about the point of Lois' job at Channel 6. She's at both places and she doesn't like Channel 6. This whole plotline just isn't working out. Then there is the whole Dr. Metropolis idea. This was just corny. We really don't need new two-bit characters like this. His entire purpose was just to knock out Superman's hearing. Plus, why are we even reading about someone like Doctor Metropolis? That is such a horrible idea I don't even know how to effectively debate against it. Just read the issue and you will know what I am talking about. Or better yet, don't read the issue and just take my word on it. This issue was pointless and had no terribly redeeming qualities. It wasn't that bad, but the whole concept of Dr. Metropolis just makes it bad. It would have been an average issue, but the good old Doctor drags it down a notch.

3Art - 3: Normally I really don't care for McDaniel's art but this issue was better that most of his. The facial expressions still were lacking detail and characters didn't look that great, but it was a definite improvement over last month's installment. This was average art that didn't really excite me at all.

2Cover Art - 2: To its credit, the cover does actually represent what happens inside the issue, and it does it semi-symbolically too. Superman is fighting against Dr. Metropolis, and the hands are big, which makes sense considering that is the source of the Doctor's powers. I also really like the electric glow effect and Superman looks halfway decent, with the exception of his eyes. However, the entirely black background is horrible. Why can't we have backgrounds on covers? Every single month this happens and it never ever changes. This black just makes the cover look cheap. Finally, and the thing that really kills the cover, 'In the grip of Dr. Metropolis' written right across the bottom. They might as well just write 'Corny story, don't buy me'. I realize that it is probably a good thing to warn potential new readers away from issues like this, but regardless, that tagline just spells complete doom for this cover.

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Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2003

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