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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: July 2, 2008
Lead Story: "A Great. Now He's Holding His Breath."
Lead Story Writer: Kurt Busiek
Lead Story Penciller: Mark Bagley
Lead Story Inker: Art Thibert
Back-Up Story: "Knight in Shiny Armor"
Back-Up Writers: Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza
Back-Up Artists: Mike Norton & Mike Farmer
Batman's got Graak captive in the ship they arrived in. Superman arrives, Batman uses the threat of violence from Superman to intimidate Graak, and they find some gas that's used for cryogenic sleep during long flights on the ship.
Morgaine and Enigma watch them and keep talking about how amazing they are.
Superman sprays cryo-gas in Konvikt's face from a big purple balloon and Wonder Woman punches him (Konvikt) in the stomach to make him breathe it in. He does, and then passes out.
Batman captures one of Morgaine's flunkies who burned Wonder Woman a few issues back, but before his monologue can even get going he's fried from afar (I presume by Morgaine).
The JLA sends Konvikt off to the DEO, and Wonder Woman makes passive-aggressive comments about men always being in the wrong and delighting in how uncomfortable it makes Bruce and Clark.
Rita, the tarot girl, does a reading and sees Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in the cards (literally).
Jose is keeping Rita in the community center for her safety. She does a tarot card reading for him, and he writes it off as nonsense. Rita wants to get out and run her business, so they go to a diner where Rita meets one of her clients.
Blindside, Throttle and Whiteout (the three yahoos from the last cliffhanger ending) appear and try to kidnap her. Jose emerges once again as Gangbuster and saves her, by following some of the advice from the aforementioned tarot reading.
They run away as blue, fanged beasts watch them from the rooftop.
Lead Story - 1: I finally had to drop this to a 1, so low was my enjoyment of this issue, so low was my ability to find anything redeeming about it.
Superman can apparently shatter small planets again. Or at least he thinks he can, I'm not sure which is worse.
SUPERMAN thinks to himself that he wanted to be the one to put Konvikt down, but then a second later says he doesn't need the ego boost.
Now correct me if I'm wrong (and I know you lovely people will), but the very THOUGHT that he wanted to be the one to put Konvikt down IS an ego issue!
It's like me thinking that I should get food, but then changing my mind because I'm not hungry. Clearly I AM hungry or else why would I be thinking that I should get food?
It makes absolutely no sense, and seeing Superman cocky and full of ego is not a Superman I like to see.
Once again Wonder Woman is treated like a second stringer, for even when she herself says she can hold the line, Superman doubts it and doubts in her. Were this some new meta he'd not encountered before, that would make perfect sense. Were this Firestorm or Flash, that would make perfect sense.
But this is WONDER WOMAN, folks. Superman knows her better than any other hero and trusts her implicitly... unless Kurt Busiek is writing, apparently.
How did Graak go from being on Konvikt's shoulder to dropping in on Batman in the ship? When I saw that in the previous issue I assumed it was another of whatever species Graak is. How did it get there before Batman? WHY did it even go there? How could a small alien thing with a speech-pattern about as endearing as that of Jar Jar Binks and the ability to read Konvikt's thoughts and with no other discernable powers simply escape from bindings that Batman put him in?
You think too much, son! This here's a comic book, and we don't take kindly to no thought put into things!
And then we get to the greatest affront of all... the passive-aggressive man-hating page. Diana looks coyly over her shoulder, teasing Bruce and Clark about why neither of them has told her to get her wound checked out yet.
Because that is absolutely something an Amazon warrior, much less the former GODDESS OF TRUTH, would do.
And then she proceeds to outline just how up a river without a paddle our poor fellas are... because if they DO tell her she should get it checked out it can clearly only be because they're patronizing her because she's a woman, and if they DON'T tell her she should get it checked out it's because they're "holding back" because she's a woman.
Not because they're just concerned for her safety. Not because they trust she can take care of it herself or knows when she needs medical attention. Oh no. Only because she's a female and gosh darn it, Superman and Batman just don't know how to treat a woman like an equal, haw Haw HAW, ain't that hilarious boys?
Now let me explain something before I continue.
I do not condone violence against anyone.
I am a huge Wonder Woman fan. She ranks just below Superman and is tied with Batman for my favorite comic characters (note, to wit, this book SHOULD be my fanboy dream... SHOULD be).
But right at that moment, I was kind of hoping for Superman to punch Diana in the face.
Sure, it's out of character for Superman, but then Superman doesn't actually seem to be in this book... it's just some cocky jock with all his powers. That'd probably fit right in with the characterization here, sadly.
Why I want to know is where the hell Busiek gets off putting those words in Diana's mouth. She knows far, far better than that and she would never, absolutely NEVER take sick junior-high level joy in making people squirm over gender inequalities!
Neither Superman or Batman call her on it, either, not that they should, because WONDER WOMAN would never say or do anything remotely like that... only this ridiculous shrew of a woman that is treated as if she's incompetent at every turn.
The fact that this page even exists in a comic that claims to take itself and its characters seriously is a travesty, the fact that it happens with Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman makes it double.
As far as I'm concerned, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are nowhere to be found in this book.
What the hell is going on over at DC? This book is a mockery of the characters it claims to revere.
I am literally sickened.
Lead Art - 3: More of the same mediocre stuff. Superman is still has a spiky box head and Wonder Woman still just looks... off, somehow, in the face, though I can't put my finger on it. Gets the job done, but it's not spectacular or something I'm going to remember a month from now.
Back-Up Story - 3: I still don't care about Rita. And having a character talk to herself, tell herself to stop talking to herself, and then keep talking to herself may be cute in some circles, but to me it's just the writer saying, "Yeah, she's talking to herself, and I'd rather she did that than actually give her someone to talk TO, so deal with it."
Also, I didn't think those three villains could get any worse after their "cliffhanger" appearance before. Then they went and named them and described their powers.
And I laughed and I laughed.
WHITEOUT? Clearly named back in the typewriter era. Way to connect with the youth of today! He ERASES things?
*tears hair out*
Back-Up Art - 3: See my comments about the main and backup art for the entire run of this series. It's funny seeing Gangbuster again, if only because I half think they found art of him from his appearances in the early '90s and photoshopped it into these panels.
Hopefully that makes my point about how dated all the art feels. It's literally like I'm seeing comics from 15 years ago. It's not nostalgic or reminiscent of that art, which I could appreciate, but it just IS that exact art to me, and for that reason it's kind of falling flat.
Cover Art - 3: What kind of pose is that?
No, seriously, what kind?
Like all the Trinity covers thus far, there's parts I really like. It's rare for artists to truly define Diana's muscles, and so I appreciate it when it's done and done well. Her arms and upper body are very nicely defined... strong and muscular without making her appear masculine.
And then... look at Diana's face. Just look! What the heck happened there? An unfortunate accident with a frying pan and forceps, perhaps? Could be.
Lead Story - 1: The nicest thing I can say about the lead story in this issue of "Trinity" is it's at the same quality level as the lead story in the last issue.
He was a two-eyed red haired non-flying purple people creature - with a Graak all his own. They were the Earth's three greatest super-heroes. Put them all together and what do you get? Uninspired.
The hero hitting the big bad monster in the big bad monster's giant lungs to get said monster to take a deep breath to breathe in a gas that will subdue him is an old trick done to death in comics. In 1980, when Batman pulled that trick against the Hulk in the DC/Marvel tabloid book "Batman vs. The Hulk", it was clever; 28 years later, not so much.
Finally, there's more pseudo-sexism being forcibly brought to bear in the story because Busiek is so desperately clawing at some base understanding of the Amazing Amazon - and he clearly has none. There's nothing sexist in Batman's and Superman's behavior and I don't believe Wonder Woman would think so. The dialogue about her injuries is forced and awkward and not in character at all.
Half-a**ed compliment of the week: This book excels... at s*cking.
Lead Art and Back-Up Art- 2: Not that the art's been anything beyond average, but this issue's art reaches a new low. It feels super-rushed, the lack of detail is truly a wonder, and if the art continues to deteriorate, it's going to drive me batty. And that goes for both the lead story and the back-up (Jerry Ordway should have drawn the first shot of Gangbuster in costume).
Back-Up Story - 2: This story reminds me of the failure of DC's first weekly experiment, "Action Comics Weekly". Not enough time to tell enough story in the limited number of pages. At this rate, it should be tomorrow in another 20 or 30 issues.
Cover Art - 3: Wonder Woman riding Konvikt like a bucking bronco? If Diana should be calling anyone to the carpet over treating her in a sexist manner, it's the cover artist. All Konvikt needs to do is turn his head to his left and he can have an up close and personal conversation with Diana - just not with her face.
Lead Story - 1: The entire JLA is taken out. Off-camera.
Superman has an ego trip about defeating the villain. Out of character.
Wonder Woman finally gets to take center-stage after last issue's abysmal series of dismissals... so that Superman can save the day.
Graak, the teaser at the end of last issue (OOOH! He's gonna get Batman!) is tied up without any of the hows or whys told.
Graak's dialogue? Clunky, awful. Extrapolation through dialogue that bleeds into other characters.
Another villains watching and monologuing scene, I think the fourth.
You wonder why Konvikt is not immune to simple gasses if his readings are "OFF THE CHARTS!" and if he's bio-engineered and can one-punch Superman. And then you think, oh, he's gone, thank Christ. Until you look at the cover next week, which still has him on it.
A gorilla that prophesizes future events, despite being a "covert agent." Yeah, boss, I'll sneak in there and be super-quiet and hit the gal with that dot that does something! But oh, no! They caught me! So I'll just spill about what the boss is up to in a gloating way until I'm killed. Makes the dart that hit Zam in Episode 2 look like MacBeth.
Batman secured Graak with batarangs alone, but didn't render him unconscious?
My comic book guy told me that my criticism of Wonder Woman's treatment as second to Superman was "answered" in a comedic way in this issue. This answering was Wonder Woman, in a panel that gives her a belligerent, blatant butt shot, asking, "Who's going to tell me I need medical attention?" followed by Superman and Batman looking like idiots, because they're so, I dunno, I guess in awe of her feminine awesomeness that they suddenly turn into jerkbag dolts.
CLUE FOR GUY WRITERS: Two guys looking like idiots in the face of a capable girl is not feminism. It's sexism. It's making a girl arbitrarily better than a guy, when they're EQUALS. Feminism, at least good feminism, seeks EQUALITY, not SUPERIORITY.
I think the ASSUMPTION that Wonder Woman would even address the issue of whether or not the guys would ask if she'd seek medical attention because she's a girl doesn't befit Wonder Woman. It makes her look crass and ignorant. Of course her damned friends would ask her to go and seek medical attention, and neither Batman nor Superman would do it because she's a girl. If they would, they wouldn't be Batman and Superman.
And hey, put this on a page with the BUTT SHOT, and you're really on the high ground.
The best part of this? It's played for larfs. Har-de-har-har. But the thing is, even obliquely, it's not funny, it's just awkward.
Madre de dios! Que Pasa! What cliché dialogue for a Spanish-speaking character! Ay carumba!
All about the crap train.
Lead Art - 4: I'm losing a full point on this issue for Bagley agreeing to do the Wonder Woman butt shot on the page that addresses her as a woman equal.
Beyond that, however, the art continues to be great, in my opinion, despite the horrid design on Konvikt. All of the characters and scenes are very well put together, particularly given the speed required.
Back-Up Story - 2: This story starts okay, as an interesting character divergence with both Jose and Rita, but then, after Rita goes back to work, suddenly devolves into crazy, odd, one-note villain crap. Three nobodies show up, which derails Jose's train of going from reluctant to be a hero to being a hero with a rationale again. Instead of some catalyst that makes him decide to become Gangbuster again, or any real revelation of why he's stopped, three nobodies show and he has to take them out. Predictable, also unintriguing.
The lessons on the Tarot cards are actually semi-interesting.
A dude who erases people, a guy who speeds up kinetic energy, and, god, I just read this and I can't remember what the third guy does. That's sad. Three ridiculous, stupid villains. How about a threat that evolves from the plot? Or the characters involved?
Gangbuster has GANG and BUST on his knuckles. That's good, in that it's hilarious and gave me enjoyment, but bad in that it's just retarded. It's like SUPE and RMAN. Heh. Anyone want to draw that for the next review?
So, let me get this straight, and maybe I've forgotten my history of the character, but GANGbuster, emphasis mine, fights gun-toting street gangs with a MACHINE GUN? Isn't that, I don't know, hypocritical? Beyond that, why bring back GANGbuster to have him face three nobodies instead of, I dunno, a GANG? You can argue that the three are a gang. I will then point out that the gangs referenced in Gangbuster's creation were likely not three white dudes working for the mafia, but rather street gangs.
Ultimately, two pages of character coupled with the rest, which is pointless crap.
Back-Up Art - 2: It's hard to judge this art, because all of the scenes are dutifully rendered, and well, but there's just no excitement or enjoyment I can draw from those three nobodies in the context of the fight. They're just ridiculous looking, and it takes away from the art. I mean, you can't draw Mickey Mouse with a machine gun and expect it not to grate.
So I'll say that the art is technically proficient, and well done, but I didn't enjoy it, but I doubt that's the artist's fault, if that makes sense.
Cover Art - 1: Wonder Woman, how are you gonna stop that guy!
"Well, I'm gonna CROTCH HUG HIM OUT!"
Why is Batman prominent on your cover?
"I DON'T KNOW!"
Well, at least you have good cleavage, right?
"There is that!"
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2008.