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Superman: The Unauthorized Biography
Glen Weldon (Author)
A celebration of Superman's life and history - in time for his 75th birthday. How has the Big Blue Boy Scout stayed so popular for so long? How has he changed with the times, and what essential aspects of him have remained constant? This fascinating biography examines Superman as a cultural phenomenon through 75 years of action-packed adventures, from his early years as a social activist in circus tights to his growth into the internationally renowned demigod he is today.
Hardcover: 352 pages
Cover date: June 2004
Writer: Greg Rucka
Penciller: Matthew Clark
"Battery" - Part One
Reviewed by: Nick Newman
Across town the SCU Lieutenant, Lupe, walks in and asks where Clark Kent is. Clark shuffles in behind her with his stuff. She tells him that the Daily Planet has ride-along, so Clark needs to be on the helipad in ten minutes. He tries to put his stuff on his desk, but no one took the time to clear it off for him. As he heads up to the roof the reporters left behind talk about him. Clark's friend tells the new recruit that Kent may not look like much, but he can write.
In the Daily Planet, Lois talks to a source and, after getting confirmation, heads off to find Perry. In his office, Lois tells him that she's confirmed that they (America) are going to invade Umec. Lois tells Perry she can't wait for Pentagon approval, she needs to go in right away with Jimmy. Perry tells her it's too dangerous, especially for Jimmy. Outside the office Lois finds Jimmy eavesdropping. She tells him that it is dangerous, but she will work on Perry for him.
On the helipad Clark tries to get out of the helicopter ride by telling them that he doesn't fly well, but it does him no good. On board the officers tell Clark about how the SCU has changed. They didn't renew any of their contracts with STAR Labs because they decided that the high tech stuff just wasn't working. Suddenly a call comes in; there is metahuman activity across town.
Arriving on the scene, they find Replikon tearing up property. Suddenly a blast hits the helicopter and Clark goes tumbling out, falling onto a roof and sliding into a dumpster. As the SCU officers turn away to fire at Replikon Clark takes his glasses off.
Slamming into Replikon, Superman tells the criminal that he'll have to leave. Replikon responds by shooting at the SCU helicopter, knocking Lupe out. Catching her in midair he asks her why they always ignore him. Setting her down Superman tells her to keep her officers back, Replikon is as powerful as the whole Justice League.
Superman and Replikon hammer away at each other as Lupe has one of her men launch a rocket at the villain. Taking the advantage, Superman hits Replikon again and again, finally knocking him down. The mysterious voice that has been monitoring Replikon decides that he has waited long enough as he triggers a button.
Replikon suddenly begins to burn up. He can only ask Superman for help before he is consumed by the flames. The mysterious voice confirms that it was a positive test.
Lupe walks up behind Superman and asks him what happened, but he tells her that he has no idea.
Story - 5: First off I'd like to welcome Greg Rucka to the book. He's a very talented writer and I look forward to his work on the title. Now on to this issue. This one had it all. We've got the return of the SCU, and while I will miss the days of giant robots and the like, it is nice to see Metropolis have an actual police force. We really haven't seen anything like that since back in the early nineties when Inspector Henderson would make regular appearances. We also see Clark and Lois both returned to actual jobs as reporters. I'm not sure how I feel about Clark being demoted, but if it gets us good stories then I am all for it. If nothing else, it provides a nice way to reintroduce some pre-crisis nerdiness to Clark without completely destroying his character. We also see Lois actually working at the Planet, and not only that, she's actually doing something there. And if this issue is any indication, Lois is actually going to be somewhere covering a story in the next few issues. Plus... Jimmy! That guy with the freckles actually still works at the Planet. It has been ages since we've seen the entire supporting cast actually working, and I am thrilled to see it come back. The fight between Superman and Replikon was short, but it was good too. Superman's comments about the criminals never listening, thinking he is kidding, were great and worked much better than Austen's attempts at Superman cracking jokes last week. All in all, this issue was good. Very well written and it leaves me wanting more, and that's about the best thing I can ever say about a book.
Art - 4: I've said before that Clark is my least favorite of the three artists, and I still hold to that, but by no means is that an insult to the quality of his work. The man draws beautifully. Lois and Clark both looked fantastic, especially Clark, who has just a touch of a dopey look to him. I don't like Jimmy's hair but it was really just in two panels, so I don't think that it's going to be a big issue. The inking was a little too heavy in places, but it may just take me a little time to get used to it and it didn't really detract from the art at all. There was one problem with the art though, and that's Superman's facial expressions. It starts off with his face on page two. It just looks... off. It's the same way on the bottom of three, with Superman looking like he is a little out of it. Then there's the worst of the bunch when he flies in to attack Replikon. His mouth looks unnatural and his whole face in general just doesn't fit. Superman also seems to slouch a little too much. Superman should stand tall with his shoulders spread wide, he shouldn't look like he's afraid of anything. Normally you'd think that problems with Superman would be a big issue in a Superman comic, but it doesn't really bother me. Clark draws one of the best Clarks I've seen in a long time, and if he can do Clark then he can do Superman too. I think he just needs an issue or two to get into the swing of things and his style will adapt a little bit and we'll be getting great art throughout this book.
Cover Art - 4: I really wasn't sure what to give this cover. On one hand the art is fantastic and it applies to the issue. However, it has no background and that's a big turn off in my book. On the other hand though, the gray look really matches the crime-themed story. So overall I have to give the cover itself a three. But then there is that logo. That glorious, wonderful, magnificent logo that delivers us from the logo-hell that we've been living in for the past I-don't-know-how-long. This logo is everything I could have asked for. There is no stupid shield behind the words, nor is there a bar behind them. It has a slight retro quality that I have always felt applies to Adventures for some reason. My only gripe is the lack of the word "The". The book is called, after all, "The Adventures Of Superman". Maybe they'll add it on, maybe they won't. Either way, it's great. So in honor of the fantastic logo, I give the cover a four.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2004.