Cover date: January 2008
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Penciller: Peter Vale
Inker: Jesus Merino
"A Fall of Moondust"
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
Superman tosses out the first pitch at game seven of the World Series. He throws a pitch, flies forward at superspeed, and hits it into orbit toward a target on the moon, which corporate sponsors will use to determine a series of donations.
Chris cheers Clark on. As he gets excited, he falls over, sick, and his powers begin to malfunction. He tries to hide it from Lois.
Superman checks on Lana, and is surprised to find her missing. He chases clues to Morehead, North Carolina, where he is ambushed in a Lexcorp facility by Pyridax, an alien being with a small army of insect thralls.
Superman is thrown aback by their extraterrestrial attack, and submits to being cocooned as he bides his time recovering. He bursts out when he finds out they're hurting people, however, so he flies Pyridax up and demands to know where the queen is.
Pyridax explodes himself, and Superman returns, only to learn that the bugs had moondust about them.
On the moon, Lana watches in horror as a four armed, winged, naked version of herself emerges from a cocoon.
Story - 2: This story started off with a lot of potential, then dove downhill into the typical fare that has been making this run bothersome for me.
We have a (while somewhat indulgent to the creator over plot that's relative to the arc) neat little scene with Superman throwing out a first pitch, grabbing the bat, and hitting the ball into space. It's not really relevant, in that it establishes something we already know (that Superman works for charity, etc) and the concept of Superman hitting something into space has been done to death, but it's at very least interesting in the execution, if, like I said, a bit indulgent.
We also go a bit into Chris and his life with Lois to a degree, finally, and there's some peril there, that Chris' powers are out of control, and that he's getting sick. That might be something to wrap a story around, and I dig the subplot as a concept.
But beyond that, it's more of the typical same. We have a fairly boring interaction with "PYRIDAX," a pretty lame and typical insect-man. There isn't much obvious thought in the character, and I ended up wandering in my attention as I read the whole encounter to the point that I had to read it three or four times to review it, and the review takes longer, because I keep getting distracted by shiny things like my clock, or my soda. Point being, it doesn't hold my attention well to see yet another cheesy, Silver Age style faceless villain with ridiculous motivation appear. Gee! An anthropomorphic bug! That really challenges Superman morally AND physically, right? Or not.
I'm sick of Superman stories without attention paid to character focused on the novelty of the situation, quite frankly. I'm sick of stories in comics in general with no attention paid to character.
I'm close to leaving mainstream comics because of it, and this is in all seriousness. I'm to the point of either a catalyst that makes me give up entirely, or a catalyst that brings me a slow rebuilding of trust in the medium being treated as serious art. Because of issues like this. I think I'm going to give it until Final Crisis, and make a Final Evaluation. Comics as a medium have grinded very quickly to a halt with the major companies in terms of any real character outside of a few creators, and I have more character-indulgent mediums to spend my money on, like books.
The Insect Queen as a concept, though I've never read the original story, seems more of a reason to use Lana Lang than anything else, and I can't really find rhyme or reason as to the motivation of this in terms of broader scope. In terms of minor scope, I'm not that interested in it so far. I'm utterly perplexed as to why these aliens go to such insane and incredible lengths to kidnap humans, and more particularly why they pick Lana over anyone else on the street, and once they've picked her and cloned her, she's still alive.
Beyond that, why "PYRIDAX!" and not Hellgrammite? Why, again, insanely boring creator-spawned stunt characters with little depth over existing awesomeness? Other than Prankster and Luthor, what villain has Busiek used from the Superman universe that he hasn't created on his own? The whole run, this issue included, feels quite indulgent.
There was also some awful, Countdown-style dialogue and extrapolation. Superman, in a panel, hurls himself and Pyridax into the air. He then says, to Pyridax:
"And just to make sure we won't be disturbed, we're putting some distance between us and the rest of your friends back there. So it'll take some time for them to find us."
That second sentence, after the first which tells us (in a visual medium) what we're already seeing, puts another nail in the coffin of my sigh. I'm bored with this story. Bored with this story. (That's the construction, only applied to my review. It states the obvious after it's already stated, then does it again in brief.)
Also, on Lana's part, after waking from being knocked out:
"*HNHHH* Feel...dizzy, drifting...light, too light."
It's really an odd thing to say to yourself, and stuck out madly.
I had another plug for the "nice" side of this story, then I thought about it. The scene with Clark establishing his feelings for Lana, and Lana's dilemma of not having moved on from Clark. It almost seems poignant, then you look at it, and realize that they've been beating the same dead Lana horse for years without bringing anything new to it (begging the question, why continue?). You also see Clark in his youth, which is a prime chance to take a little time and explain what's different about his youth now that we're in NEW EARTH, where we've been for two years now with relatively little revealed about Clark or Superman's differences from previous continuity, aside from the fact that he's gone from a world of compelling villains where all of the stories tend to synch up in four books to two books where the Silver Age runs rampant and no character ever seems to be examined.
I'm tempted to create a Busiek plot generator, if I had anything more than apathy for this crap.
Superman meets ________ in issue one. Superman realizes that _______ is not what he seems to be in issue two. In issue three, _______ is defeated, with the promise of some future return that will not occur. If this is Camelot Falls, add in a bit of Arion subplot. Use lots of names like Cephalodan, Chexmex, Supradon, Captivaudience, and Bob the Monitor.
Art - 2: The paneling is quite good at times, at other times is very plain. The art depicts the story accurately, but it is also very plain and old-fashioned, of the style that was pretty common in the early nineties. There's nothing really compelling or original here, which is unfortunate, and may not entirely be the artist's fault, maybe more a story that doesn't really stretch its legs that much.
Still, I've seen bad stories have some great art (the Annual proved that for me with Terebithia), so that's not really an excuse.
There's also a brief panel where Chris' hair, in the light of the fire, doesn't just brighten with the flames, it actually wholly changes color, which is sloppy.
Cover Art - 2: Bugged!
Superman fighting generic insects on little to no background? Yeah. That's not gonna win any awards.
But at least there's no dialogue, like, "Get off me, or Lana will die!" or "You'll never put me in a bubble, Pyridax!" or "Prepare for a heat vision colonic!"
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2008.