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: January 2004
Writer: Chuck Austen
Penciller: Teddy Kristiansen
Inker: Teddy Kristiansen
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
On the table in the OR, Rebecca Muldoon is dying. She sits up, tells Jimmy "The baby!" Then lies back down. Jimmy, knowing the B13 tech, grabs some nearby electrical cords and shocks Rebecca.
Meanwhile, the goon attacking the couple moves forward, but is stopped suddenly by a gunshot. The woman who hears God through her television has been told that the baby needs protection, and she has used her gun to kill the assailant.
Orderlies move to stop Jimmy from saving Rebecca, but she's up now, and back to normal. They give her a battery pack reserved for Superhero emergencies and she leaves with Jimmy to stop Killgrave.
Meanwhile, looters loot, and a man tries to stop them. The looters move to attack the man, but Superman stops them. He tells them to sit and await the police, and they start to, when a parking meter moves towards them, sees them for common thugs, and takes them over. It's Killgrave.
Lena in Rebecca's body takes Jimmy to the source of the tech's power. She's realized that the tech exists separately from her consciousness. Jimmy rejoices, because Lena can be with him, but she indicates that she may have to go again. She fizzles for a moment, and shoots all the drugs and tiredness from Rebecca's body.
They take a moment together, and Lena tells him that she has to go to stop Killgrave.
Killgrave, meanwhile, appears, having safeguarded his lair. He stabs both Rebecca's body and Jimmy through the torso, and both collapse bleeding.
Story - 5: This has one of the best ending to a comic book I've read in a while. I mean, Jimmy's been stabbed through the fricking CHEST! And unlike the typical fare in comics, I actually have confidence that Austen will take us through this series of events and not play it down next issue. That's what separates this title consistently from the other Superman titles as one of the better pieces of work in the last few years.
I like the scene with Superman. While he does the all too familiar and complained about abandoning the bad guys and just trusting that they'll be okay, it has consequences this time... you've gotta respect that.
And who would have thought we'd ever see the child Lena saved and the woman who talks to God? I went on a big rant that I'm now not with at all about how these expository issues made no sense. I didn't know who I was dealing with at the time in Austen, and I retract. For we will and did see the people in those expositions again, and they play vital parts in these later issues. My critique was that throwaway characters to prove a point again and again (like Casey does to prove that Superman's a good hero and a strong guy, duh, again and again) is stupid. And it is. But these are no longer throwaway characters, as they've been used in vital places in this story several times. And Rebecca Muldoon, who would've thought she'd ever be anyone important, but here she is... and these little surprises, with consistently good dialogue and circumstances, make the issue.
Heck, even Killgrave seemed like a one issue obscure villain wonder, now I know who he is, care, and might want to see him again, which is a heck of a lot more than I could say about The Candidate, Minuteman, and INSERT JOE CASEY VILLAIN HERE.
All in all, this is the best Superman series of stories, for me, since Lost Hearts, and it far surpasses the story in terms of how much I will remember it. This story, even if the last two issues totally blow it, is now a definitive story for me, and hands down my favorite Jimmy Olsen story.
In other words, I like it.
Art - 5: This art was actually pretty lame a few issues ago, but the colorist has stepped it up, Teddy has stepped it up, and now the art is at the standards it was when it was Daniel's duty. I'm very impressed with this issue, in particular the grittiness of the thing despite its utter clarity. And Superman looked like Superman, for the most part.
It doesn't take much to please me, just organic work, interesting takes, and something that's faithful to the subject matter... in this case, the real world outside of Superman. When Superman shows up, it's strange in this comic, because this is a story about the people around Superman, not even those close to him, like Lois, but Jimmy Olsen, the ultimate kid looking up at Superman, and it's how his world looks, well portrayed.
Cover Art - 2: The lone failure of this issue.
It didn't happen in the issue, Jimmy looks like he's not only passing gas but having an epileptic seizure. And what the heck is that elephant trying to eat? That's just not cool, man. Not cool. And no background... that's a minus. And words on the cover... all the typical stuff I don't like.
Plus one for the lone cool logo save Superman/Batman in the entire Supes universe. Other than that, I could have done without this cover.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2004.