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Cover date: April 2008
"K" - Chapter 3: "Varietals"
Writer: Michael Green and Mike Johnson
Penciller: Shane Davis
Inker: Matt "Batt" Banning
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
Batman brings Superman to the Watchtower and summons Zatanna to get her opinion. After Zatanna chides Batman for his lack of faith in magic Superman wakes up and the effects of Silver K take hold. Not only does he see his teammates, friends and cousin in a super-deformed style but he also has the personality of a child. Zatanna theorizes that to unlock the "curse" that Superman is suffering from is to find the mythical other half of the amulet. They track it to Dinosaur Island and Batman braves a volcano to find the artifact. The amulet tempts Batman with several visions of his heart's desire but he overcomes them and gets the amulet back to the Watchtower.
Superman comes out of his stupor and asks Batman what exactly happened. He puts the last few hours together from the evidence around him and tells Batman that he must have acted the way he did because he desperately needed to take a break from their current mission and relax. Superman finally sees why people need an escape.
Story - 3: I'm trying to get a grasp on how Green is telling this story.
A normal story arc follows a pretty simple formula; plot + character + action = four to twelve issues worth of comic book. It's fairly simple and though there are times when a six or eight issue story could have just as easily been told in two it is a formula that works because that's how stories are told. There's a beginning, middle and an end and hopefully every chapter has their own beginning, middle and end too. This is Creative Writing 101 at its most basic.
When this arc began it seemed like Michael Green had set up a good premise; Superman and Batman, both on their own and with others, work to rid the world (eradicate, you might say) of Kryptonite. The first chapter was very much in the first chapter of a six part story arc mold complete with cliffhanger ending. After that things got a little odd. Last issue we were treated to Aquaman being kind of a jerk and making Superman feel bad about himself after Firestorm used the clean up effort to get on to a team he is already a part of. This issue we get...
...Well, we get Silver Kryptonite and Tiny Justice Leaguers.
The big hype surrounding this month's installment was the new Kryptonite. "Hey, look!" they said, "A new Kryptonite. You'll like that, right? A new color of Kryptonite? Because it's kind of like the Silver and Bronze Age where you had a rainbow of Kryptonite and that did pretty well, so we're going to bring that back. Get excited. No really, get excited."
Now you would think that my problems with a thousands different hues of Kryptonite would stem from the fact that I came up as a Superman reader during the Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths era. That's part of it I suppose. For the longest time there was Kryptonite. Not Green Kryptonite, but simply Kryptonite. A chunk hit the birthing matrix of Kal-El, hitched a ride to Earth and for the longest time that was ALL of the Kryptonite on the planet. There was Red Kryptonite during "Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite", but that was created by Mr. Mxyzptlk and it only popped up twice. Until Jeph Loeb did the whole return of Supergirl thing in the pages of this title (which I was and am rather fond of, by the way) and brought metric tons of the stuff to Earth there just wasn't a lot of Kryptonite to be had.
I liked that. Just a little bit of the stuff. Enough to be used once in a while but not enough that every five pages we get Superman lying on the ground literally turning green, which brings me to my problem with the stuff. Let's face it; Kryptonite is a plot device. It was conceived as a way to give Bud Collyer some vacation time on the radio show and over the next few decades became as plentiful as Kryptonian survivors. It was an easy tool to reach for and after the first Crisis it was severely diminished and thus made more effective. It made the writers think harder as they came up with ways to bedevil the Man of Steel.
That time, it seems, has past. Now we're back to a forty-eight pack of Crayola Kryptonite crayons. I don't really blame the powers that be and the writers for doing it. I mean they're telling the stories that they not only feel the need to tell but they're also finally getting the chance to work with the character, which means they want to pull out all of the toys that they're used to and apparently still care about on some level.
The thing is I don't. I like to keep things simple and not let the character get bogged down in the minutia now like he got bogged down in supporting characters in the late nineties.
So we got a new form of Kryptonite. Silver. And how does this affect the Man of Steel.
It makes him crave cereal and see the world as if it were comprised of super deformed styled characters.
Cute. Not entirely entertaining but cute.
It's not that I had a serious problem with what Green did in this issue. It's just that I think I see what he is trying to accomplish and because of that I am getting less enjoyment out of the story than I might have if I just turned my brain off and let it roll over me. What Green is doing, I think, is trying to show us various facets of Superman's psyche. Last month we saw that the world might not think highly of Superman as their savior. This month we get to see that all Superman really needs is a day off where he can watch cartoons, play video games and just relax.
I really don't know if it's worth it. All it seemed to do is allow for Green to let the story go wild and get Batman to Dinosaur Island (the poor man's Savage Land) with Zatanna where he too gets to see what he really needs while Superman acts like a little kid on the Watchtower.
It's like someone took the sensibilities of the Silver Age and put a modern day spin on it, which leads to a whole lot of me not caring at all. It's characterization, but it's not good characterization because it seems like Green is giving us nothing but an emotional core at the expense of the overall story. There needs to be a balance where plot and character come together in harmony and I'm just not seeing that here. "Deep" and "insightful" character work hung around a skimpy plot does not a good comic book make.
The problem is I really don't see the story going in any other direction. I have a feeling that after the upcoming Annual it will be more of the same.
And it started off so well.
Art - 4: Wait a second.
Wait one gosh darn second.
Has that symbol been on Superman's belt for the past two issues?
Sweet Christmas! How could I miss such a thing?
I hate the symbol on the belt. Hate it, hate it, hate it.
I mean it just doesn't look right. I mean the symbol on the chest? That works. The symbol on the cape? Love it. Symbol on the belt? Despise it.
Man, I mean the art isn't all that bad. I rather like it. They even had more of that lead shield outfit that I liked so much last issue and then they had to go ahead and ruin that by putting the symbol on that belt as well.
So, in summation, the art is good except for the horrendous symbol on the belt.
Cover Art - 4: Oh man. The symbol is on the belt here too!
Great. Just great. Go ahead and ruin a perfectly good cover why don't you?
That's it. I'm done for this month. The cover's fine and everything but I just can't do no more.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2008.