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
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Cover date: July 2009
"Welcome to Sundown Town" - Chapter 5: "Metathesiophobia"
Writter: Dwayne McDuffie
Penciller: Rags Morales
Inker: John Dell
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
Story - 5: I haven't handed out a five in quite some time but frankly this issue deserves it.
One of the aspects of the current comic book marketplace that I have had to make peace with, at least in my own head, is the fact that comics are not as densely written as they used to be. I have been reading through books from the late eighties and these things are wordy. That's not a bad thing...mostly. There are times when the expository dialogue is a little clunky but overall I like that style of comic book. It is what I grew up with and while I accept change that doesn't alter the way I feel.
This is a long winded way of saying Dwayne McDuffie wrote a truly old school comic book here while maintaining a current feel to the story.
This was a rather dense issue and I mean that in a very positive way. Every character that Dwayne has been building up had a moment to shine, though that comes off as am awful pun when as it pertains to Dr. Light, but the feeling still holds. Firestorm had a moment in the spotlight. Zatanna had a nice character moment with Paladin. There was a good call back to Vixen's association with Anansi, which led to the re-introduction of the previously mentioned Paladin, which was a nice way of having a Bruce Wayne in the story. Dwayne weaved in seemingly disseperate elements from his run flawlessly and a book that probably took about ten minutes or so to read felt like it took hours.
Again, I mean that in a good way. I long for the days when four comics would eat up an entire afternoon.
The character that I liked the most this month was Hardware. I really need to read more Milestone comics and thanks to the fact that DC is releasing or in some cases re-releasing trades from that era I will get my chance. The moment where I thought, "I really like this guy," was when he referred to Vixen as the future Mrs. Hardware. It was a throwaway line almost. A moment of levity during some intense action but it is what I took away from the story, which may be a little odd but it is what it is.
The jump in quality and excitement makes me very sad that Dwayne has been taken off the book. I felt that a few bumps in the road aside he was really turning this title around while making it something special. I was kind of hoping for Icon and Hardware to stick around to play in the Justice League sandbox but sadly this is not the case and that is unfortunate. Many of the problems that I had with the book were the result of DC using this book as there event dumping ground/back door pilot book, not with the writing.
Dwayne, I am going to miss you. I really am. I am looking forward to see how you wrap up this story.
Art - 4: I have few true problems with the art in this issue. Rags and John do an admirable job and the storytelling is very strong. There is an average of four panels a page and the expressions and body language give the characters more...well...character.
My only issue is Hardware. Hardware, while one of my favorite parts of the issue as a whole from a writing standpoint, just doesn't look right. Granted my main exposure to the character were his appearances in this title and the "Worlds Collide" storyline from fifteen years ago but he looked funky here. I have an image in my head of what the character looks like and it was off here. He looked cartoony almost.
Other than that Rags and John did a bang up job art wise.
Cover Art - 4: A nice cover but it has some problems. It is too bad we actually don't see this fight in the story itself. I am fairly sure it will probably be shown as a flashback next issue, but I don't like this sort of thing. For another, why is Superman on the cover? He isn't in the story at all. Shouldn't that have been Icon instead? Maybe it was a mix up or something but it still irks me. Despite those problems the art was solid, so I can't give it too low a rating.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.