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: April 2008
Writer: Kelley Puckett
Penciller: Drew Johnson & Lee Ferguson
Inker: Ray Snyder & Marc Deering
Reviewed by: Jeffrey Bridges
Kal goes after Reactron while ordering Kara to save some people from buildings that have been damaged, but the people seem unhappy to have "just some girl" being sent to save them. She also saves a small boy, Thomas, who's afraid he's going to die, and Kara reassures him that he won't.
Superman's fights Reactron and another building is damaged. Kara tries to save some people and ends up hurting them, and Superman shows up to do the job right and sends her after Reactron instead. She beats him up, which hurts him even though he says she can't knock him out, and it turns out he wants to rob banks. She grabs some little sphere floating around his body and sticks it into him, and his powers seem to shut off.
Kara and Kal find Thomas in the hospital. Turns out he has a brain tumor and only has weeks to live, and Supergirl told him he wouldn't die. Superman tries to explain that superheroes can't do everything, when Kara interrupts him and says she WILL save Thomas.
Story - 1: Will someone put Rucka or Bedard back on this book, please?
I can't take this anymore.
What's that you say? My last Supergirl review started with those same last two sentences? Well yes, yes it did. But you know what? It's still true.
I think I'll leave them there until we get a book that DOESN'T make me wish for a different writer. Any bets as to how long that will take?
At this rate, we may not live that long.
Who.... WHO writes Superman saying you should stop thinking about the bad guys and just beat them up?! Has Puckett never even HEARD of Superman before? How is such a thing possible?
Why would people in a crumbling building be upset to see Supergirl and call her "just some girl"? They are in mortal danger and she is a well-known hero! Maybe they just know the way she's been acting for most of the run of this book... tell you what, in their position and knowing that, I might have said the same thing.
But within story context, it makes no sense and is just random drama for the sake of giving Kara even more unnecessary angst.
So there's collateral damage from Superman's fight with Reactron, which we only see as dots high up in the sky, and Clark doesn't seem to care about it at all except when Kara accidentally hurts people while trying to save them.
This isn't the first time Kara's saved people. She should be past breaking their arms by yanking their limbs to save them. That might have made a good story (if told by the right writer) two or three years ago. Now it just comes off as ridiculous and more forced angst.
They have to make you think Kara can't do anything right at all, so that her end resolve to try and save Thomas from his brain tumor works. Even though she certainly CAN do things right because every instance of her "messing up" in this book is forced and contrived. If you want her to mess up, give her a real mistake to make! Don't force her into a situation that makes no sense for her or the people around her. Cripes, it's all so lazy.
So Kara punches Reactron and he says "ow". So it hurt him. And then he laughs at her for "boxing" him because she can't knock him out... even though he just said "ow". And Kara grabs... something or other, that's circling around his body, and sticks it into him, and he passes out and his powers seem to shut off.
That's a statement, not a question. It's my new adjective for this book.
I don't know how else to describe it. This book just makes no sense.
So Reactron is still there, so he was posturing when he said his consciousness was out in space or something and couldn't be knocked out? It didn't come across that way. And how the hell did Kara know to grab that... thing... and randomly stick it into his head?
And his entire motivation is to ROB BANKS? You couldn't think of anything better for him to be doing? Yes, Kara calls attention to it... because it's RIDICULOUS. What was the point of him even being in this book? For two issues he's there to fight Kara and.... nothing else. And the only lesson from it that she learns is from Superman, and that she should JUST BEAT THE BAD GUYS UP AND STOP ASKING QUESTIONS.
The end was telegraphed from pages away. We see Thomas in the hospital after knowing Kara saved him from the building, so as soon as you see him you know the deal. Kara mistook him saying "I don't want to die" and he has some terminal illness. But you get a page of dialogue of Kara going "Wha? Hwa? Hmm?" while Thomas's parents yell at her.
Well we readers figured it out, Kara, I guess we're smarter than you.
I get what they're going for with the end... "all these powers and I couldn't even save him." It's been done well, in "Superman: The Movie" and, if I remember correctly, an issue of one of the Superman comics back in the '90s.
It was one of those Christmas issues, where Superman would read through his fan mail from the year and try to grant wishes for people all around the world, and I think one kid said his mom was dying from cancer or something, and Superman had to explain to him why he couldn't save her.
Done right, that story can be moving and good development for the character. Based on the track record of this book and Puckett so far, I'm half-inclined to think Kara is actually going to "laser-vision" the tumor out of his head and accidentally melt his brain in the process. Why?
Well clearly Puckett thinks this book needs a lot more angst, so why not?
And "Say goodnight, Gracie!"
How out of touch is DC? I am all for remembering the yesteryear of radio shows, believe you me, and who doesn't love George Burns? Well I'll tell you who doesn't love George Burns.
Teens. From earth. And from other planets. Who likely have never even heard from him. Not only is it totally out of character for Kara to say that, how the heck is that relatable to the target audience of this book? Is there literally no one at DC with any idea what's going on?
Superman condoning violence over thought, and Kara having no intelligence?
I have no explanations for any of this. It's maddening.
Art - 2: Two artists. Why?
It's disjointed, it's jarring, and frankly even most of the art itself, disregarding the differing art on pages around it, isn't that stellar.
The last page, for example, is fantastic. And Kara in the last panel is absolutely wonderfully done. I love it.
But look at her and Kal in the left panel on the page right before it. Kara's face has been flattened and Superman looks like a Bizarro robot.
Don't even get me started on page 6. Thomas is fine, but every single panel with Supergirl looks like her face was made out of Silly Putty.
And what the heck is up with Kara's skirt creeping back down into the danger zone? I thought you were trying to appeal to more female readers, DC? I thought you were trying to be respectful to the character and her readers, and not cater solely to the hormonal drives of 13 year-old males.
Remember the realistic art of Renato Guedes? Remember how he gave Kara an actual skirt and not a glorified loincloth? And he put the skirt on her hips and not tight across her THIGHS, mere inches above making this comic For Adults Only?
Cover Art - 3: "Action and Reactron"
Who comes up with these?
And worse, who says, "YES! Let us put that on the cover!"
You first have to think the art isn't enough to sell a cover, which is an insult to the artist and/or means you need a new artist altogether as you clearly have no faith in their product.
Then you have to think that something along the lines of "action and reaction", as words on a cover, somehow do something that the art does not and will make someone pick up the book.
All I know is that when I merely see the word "action" on something, I can't help but fork over my money. It's a compulsion. It's why I own 53 copies of "Action Jackson".
And then you think you'll do a clever play on words (also always makes people fork over money, doesn't it?) and THEN, the worst offense of all, you have to actually believe that REACTRON will be a selling point for this book.
I was in my comic shop, talking with the owners, and what we really agreed on was that we haven't seen REACTRON in a really long time, and boy wouldn't it be great to see him again? Oh if only some book would use him for no reason and then promote it on the cover, so that we would know! Woe unto us, my friends!
The coloring is really nice, though.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2008.