Cover date: June 2009
"Power and Weakness"
Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Renato Guedes
Inker: Jose Wilson Magalhaes
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
After the battle, Guardian and Mon-El discuss the Kent secret identity, and Mon-El indicates he's vibrating his face so that people can't see him distinctly. As he flies back to headquarters, Parasite watches from an alley.
In Project 7734, Sam Lane sees Mon-El and wants to know more about him once he learns that he's not Kryptonian.
Black Lightning dispatches a group of toughs calling themselves the Untouchables, a cadre of folk who seem intangible until fried with lightning.
The Prankster watches Lightning from a computer console via a rat with video eyes.
Atlas visits with John in the sewers of Metropolis, and invites him for a tour. John is still unaware that it's Atlas.
Jimmy Olsen interacts with Zatara, trying to find out what the mysterious beam that hit Krypto and Supergirl was. Zatara agrees to help, begrudgingly. As they discuss things, Parasite happens upon them and considers the idea of magic as a solution to his unnamed problem.
Jim Harper dresses down and introduces the members of his staff, calling them all worthy members. He explains the protoplasmic entity he spoke to with his mind, and suggests that they seek it out now that they're the Science Police, given that Harper was told the Science Police would find the creature.
Mon-El flies off after stopping another villain, thinking to himself that he's done well so far. As he gets higher into the air, his powers disappear.
Story - 3: So confused! Heh. But in a kind of good way. I think Robinson is finding his feet. The problem is, he's become so obsessed with the tertiary characters in his world that he's forgotten to tell a story here. Maybe in the longform it'll read better, but for now, it reads like "11 situations at two pages apiece!" The good thing is, most of them are at least interesting. But some aren't. This reads kind of like a weaker 52, to a degree, where a whole bunch of things that would take a long time to unravel are being introduced. Problem? This book has twelve issues a year, and for the last three we've been meeting the situation instead of seeing it in motion.
There were also many things in this script that were just flat irrelevant, if cute at times. The scene with Black Lightning. The scene with John Henry and Atlas (their relationship is pretty much already established). The second Mon-El capture. The second introduction of all of the Science Police members.
Zatara served an end, at least, and I'm intrigued at the possibility of Parasite absorbing magic. Sam Lane's scene and his encountering Daxamites intrigued me, though one would assume that by now the government might have heard of them. I don't get the Prankster angle, but maybe that's just because it's repeating the theme of camera viewing. Too many similar things in the script bog it down.
Then, there is the list of characters that appear in 22 pages: Shrapnel. The Untouchables. Harper. The Science Police. Jimmy. John Henry. Parasite. Zatara. Atlas. Sam Lane. Prankster. Black Lightning. Protoplasm guy. It's hard to argue that anything palpable can be said about that many characters in that little space, and to my mind, nothing was, even if intriguing plots were started in motion.
And the ending, like many of Robinson's so far, seems to come out of left field and be rather strangely arbitrary, unrelated to the plot. I like a finish that's a culmination of the comic at hand, and while the dilemma here is a decent one, it's also led into with thought bubbles. Ugh on that. What's the real difference between a caption thought and a bubble? Not much. But one has become (rightly or wrongly) an anachronism that draws you out of the comic. Sorry Kurt. Sorry James. Sorry Bendis. It takes a heck of a justification to bring them back for me. This didn't seem like a good reason. It could have been structured much differently.
The opening scene was brilliant. I dug the fight. It made Shrapnel seem like an actual threat, and shows what the Science Police can mean. I'm still not sure why they're the Science Police and not the SCU, though. Are the SCU still around?
Generally enjoyable as a read, but when you start to look at it, it begs the trade. It's closer to 3.5 than three, in my opinion.
Art - 5: Awesome in most respects. Great fights, distinct characters. I'm really liking the Parasite, and Harper is really starting to become a presence for me.
Cover Art - 4: A little cartoonish, but in that Bogdanove kind of way, which I like. Why his eyes are glowing, I don't know, and why it covers characters (Steel) that don't appear in this issue are another, but that's been a fairly consistent problem on this book of late. There's even an air of Eric Powell in there to a degree. Not too bad, actually, even if it doesn't say anything symbolically.
Still loving that triangle.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.