Cover date: April 2008
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Penciller: Jesus Merino
Inker: Jesus Merino
"Moonlight & Victory"
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
On the moon, Superman hallucinates the world the Insect Queen desires, with hives, leading to a universe at her command by virtue of Ambrosia.
Superman sees that the Insect Queen is attempting to make clone warriors with his DNA. She then leaves him in a web to be watched by three inept guards, assuming everything will go to plan.
Lana rallies the workers and attempts to save Superman.
Chris freaks out, afraid that Superman will send him away.
Lana rouses Superman, giving him enough time to take the Insect Queen above, where he is then attacked by the Superman insect soldiers.
He maneuvers it so that the Insect Queen is hit by the baseball, and when she is, momentarily distracted, he stops the soldiers. He punches her into Ambrosia, encasing her in hibernation.
Soon after, he reassures Chris that he will not send him away, and Lana delivers moon base technology to Earth, making Lexcorp look good.
Story - 1: I had trouble reading the second part of this story. It took me three tries. I only did it because I had to for the context of this review. This issue I read in one clip, like swallowing medicine.
I don't know what inclined them to think bugs and Silver Age homages without anything really added to make it compelling would make great reading. It didn't. It also smacked of bad, amateurish writing, or at least writing in a style of a bygone age that just doesn't appeal to me. I can read a Silver Age story now and enjoy it, knowing that it's a historical read. We hadn't figured out, at that point, that a comic story was more than just a hokey device and characters who spout each other's name in dialogue while extrapolating. Now we have, and this story has yet to catch up with that fact. Enthralling... giant bugs trying to take over the universe. How (yawn) engaging.
The story starts with Superman talking to himself, per any superhero cliché. "Must... not... let... her... do... these... awful... things... I... will... now... describe... for... the... benefit... of... the... reader... in... a... visual... medium!"
Public attention is drawn to the Kents and their new child whiles Superman is publicly seen with a Superchild. Not sure what the thinking is there, and the Intergang excuse doesn't cut mustard with me.
Lana became the Insect Queen, it would seem, for no real apparent reason other than an homage to her past position as the Insect Queen. Very arbitrary. The Insect Queen being Lana didn't logically make much sense, nor did it provide a rationale, for me.
The Insect Queen's dialogue made me want to throw the book across the room. Just add Zs, and we have CHARACTER! Or not.
The scene where she hands Superman off to three inept guards and trusted that all would go to plan DID make me briefly put the book down and reconsider reviewing this title.
The Insect Queen, when not talking to Superman, still speaks English. Or there were no brackets to indicate insect language.
Chris Kent's subplot of being afraid that Clark would send him away was annoying and incoherent. Chris acts like a four-year-old, which is annoying on its own, but then he adds into it the idea that Clark, who has been nothing but beneficent to Chris, would suddenly send him away for an accident. Abused kids do this, I know. But they don't suddenly start doing it after acting perfectly normal on a constant basis, as Chris has thusfar.
Lana goes and rouses Superman, and the inept guards do not respond... sigh.
So, this Insect Queen can take over Superman's mind, is strong enough to slap his arm away when he touches her, and yet, a baseball knocks her senseless? WHAT? She doesn't see it coming? Ridiculous. Absolutely contrived.
And then... all of the dilemmas are solved arbitrarily in one panel. Superman DESCRIBES having cleaned up all of the clone soldiers instead of it being shown (after going to pains to extrapolate a vision of what the queen MIGHT do instead of what she is doing, and forsaking what might have been an interesting fight), and then says that he blew the midges out of his brain with... internal heat vision and superbreath? I flat-out giggled at that. What did he do, mold a tunnel to his ears and blow? Roll his eyes and think naughty thoughts? It's good to know that Superman can self-nuke his own brain and get rid of parasites. I mean, there's that little catch that it's utterly ridiculous and implausible, but hey, he can always use superbreath to blow them out, right? God. Sweet God.
Add my favorite little sweetener: Kenny Braverman, tuba player. One of the more original, interesting characters in Superman history, and one that stayed dead, note, had a good story and then stayed dead, has now been retconned from a football star who challenged Clark when Clark was a champion of football (Which I think he wasn't any more, now, right? Ah, who can keep track, and now, who cares? And why would they?) into a tuba player. I know, I know, that'd inspire anyone to passionate villainy. Clark must have been first seat. Oooh... the drama.
So hey, why not just, I dunno, step in there and make Doomsday a monkey in a chicken suit that loves Lois and beat Superman at ping pong and finish the job you started with continuity? Or is that not arbitrary enough to be edgy and Silver Age?
I got it. Doomsday is the new Koko for Brainiac. Zing! I expect to be hired any day now. He can hang out with Streaky and Beppo and Comet in the Final Crisis before killing them brutally, randomly, and arbitrarily. I'll even write his dialogue, per this issue:
"Ook! ...suuuuu... Ook! ...peeeeeer... Ook! ...caaaat... Ook! ...muh... Oook! ...troh... Ook! ...pliiis?"
Art - 2: Very early nineties, per typical, and lacking in many backgrounds. Overdone on the emotions for Chris, and many of the character designs (per the story) were bland. That's mostly the story's fault, but it still doesn't endear me to the art. Superman.
Beyond that, there's a good level of detail in some places, but the panel stylings are very standard and not very enthralling, and most of the action is stills, for the most part. With all of this action, I felt rooted in one place.
Cover Art - 1: I got two comics this week, and this is one of them. The comic book guy holds it up, and actually laughs out loud. I couldn't help it. I did too.
He says, "You know, you say you have trouble convincing people Superman is cool. I see why."
I nod. I say, "Yep. It's this kind of crap that makes people scoff and think I'm moronic when I say Superman can be an awesome literary entity. Then they do stuff like this and I have to push back for literally YEARS."
"It's... It's just... " (He struggled to find word to express it.)
"It's Silver Age crap. Call it for what it is."
And I do. And it is.
This cover just screams: "Epic literary endeavor filled with character and content."
Or wait, no. It screams: "Stupid bug lady story."
Is the image odd? Yes. Will that draw you in? Maybe. For me, it just reminds me of Silver Age nonsense red K stories I read and scoffed at even as a kid.
With GOOD REASON.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2008.