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Cover date: Early January 2009
"Maelstrom" - Part 1
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Penciller: Phil Noto
Inker: Phil Noto
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
Story - 4: So far I really don't have any issues with this story.
Is it perfect? No, but there are few "perfect" stories out there. I was prepared to hate this story with the fire of a thousand suns (red or yellow, it is your choice) because I am not the biggest fan of Palmiotti and Gray as a writing team, but I could not "bring the bile" for this review because in all honesty it was a fairly decent comic.
The main problem that I had with the story is that we have recently gone through a major overhaul over in the pages of SUPERGIRL where for the first time since Jeph Loeb handled the character I am actually looking forward to buying her book. The Supergirl presented in these pages is a step back from that new characterization. The thing is that despite this being the main problem I had with the story it is also a "problem" that I have to overlook and that to a large extent I wanted to overlook. It would be extremely unfair to judge the story based on how a character is treated when it is pretty obvious that it is not meant to be set around the same time.
The minor problem I had with this story is the fact that it is utilizing the Fourth World universe that Jack Kirby created and I think these concepts have been overused as of late. Between FINAL CRISIS, the supposed COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS, SUPERMAN/BATMAN, DEATH OF THE NEWS GODS and sundry other appearances the Kirby characters have been all over the place. Overexposure can, at times, be just as bad as treating the characters badly, to me at any rate. I'm just kind of sick of writers going back to the Kirby well again and again and again. That is not to say that something interesting can't be done with them nor is it to say that a creator shouldn't pay homage to a past creator that they obviously have a lot of affection and respect for, but come on, people. There hasn't been a year to go by without someone going back to Kirby in one way or another since at least 1986.
My third and final problem is a common one among certain people that write Superman. Every time it happens I get taken right out of the story.
Can we please stop having Superman say things like, "I heard you screaming my name as I passed Saturn,"?
Seriously. I know Superman is a fantastical character. I know he does things that are physically impossible. He can fly. He can fly through space even without popping like a balloon. I can accept those, but hearing someone speaking on Earth while flying through space breaks my willing suspension of disbelief. The main criticism thrown at Superman is that he's too powerful and it is hard to argue that point when a writer has him hearing something on Earth through the vacuum of space or speaking with his cousin on the Moon. Interesting? Maybe. Cool? Probably? A little much? You better believe it.
Beyond all that I enjoyed this introductory chapter. The set-up was solid as was the emotional foundation. Supergirl may be treated a bit unfairly in this story and I have to wonder just how powerful Maelstrom is to knock her around like that but I think the scenes between Kara and Superman were strong. I liked the fact that someone is finally dealing with the fact that Superman needs to step in and not so much train Kara but at least show her the ropes. I think other writers were pretty quick to paint her either as brash and independent or treating Superman as if he is the overbearing parent. Here we have a nice scene where the two just talk, ending with Superman telling her that they need to spend a little quality time together. So as far as treating these characters as people and having them stay in character this issue was a success.
I will admit that I don't care for Maelstrom all that much, though her motivation was fairly strong as well. She has a goal and tried (and I assume is going to continue to try) to achieve it. Again, I'm not sure what her power level is supposed to be that she could smack a Kryptonian around with relative ease, but still.
This was not the horrendous hunk of crud I thought it was going to be. It didn't make me take back a lot of the things I have said about Palmiotti and Gray, but it is definitely one of their stronger endeavors.
Art - 4: The art in this issue was not my cup of tea but I can see where some people would dig it. Noto has a good sense of design and story and the action scenes had the appropriate amount of oomph. My only real quibble here is how they drew Superman. He looks like a middle aged guy in a Superman costume. You know, someone you would see at a convention that has a decent enough costume but doesn't quite look the part.
So yeah, other than that the art was fine, just not anything I can get all excited about.
Cover Art - 4: This is a likable enough cover. There is a lot of dramatic tension in it, though I am not sure if that comes from Superman coming to save his cousin, the look of, "I really have to use the can," that Maelstrom has on her face or the fact that Noto obviously tried really hard not to give us an up skirt shot of Kara.
In any case this cover had some definite "grab me" appeal, at least enough to convince someone to give the story a shot.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.