Superman Birthday Party Pack
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Cover date: December 2009
Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey
Sam Lane isolates Mon-El, and then attempts to persuade him that he belongs in 4437, given the impending Kryptonian threat. Mon-El doesn't fall for it, so Lane takes him on a tour, showing him some of the defenses he's set up, introducing him to Nat in disguise as Blake and Major Force.
He then introduces Mon-El to his core team of Metallo, Atlas, Parasite and Mirabai. When Mon-El continues to hesitate, Lane threatens Mon-El with the lab of Dr. Calomar, an ape scientist. Mon-El flatly refuses, so Lane sicks Atlas on Mon-El, and Mon-El wakes up below Calomar.
Mon-El is beaten for two weeks, then given a respite. Parasite comes to him and reveals that he too is a prisoner, and asks Mon-El if he will help the pair escape. Mon-El agrees, if Parasite doesn't kill anyone.
They fight their way to a teleporter and escape the magical land, only to find an area decimated in the Luthor/Brainiac escape depicted in Adventure Comics #2. Sam Lane lets Mon-El escape, pointing out that he's ruined Superman's reputation.
Guardian and his troops come out to stop Bizarro, who is descending upon Metropolis.
Story - 4: Despite a few meandering places and repetition of things that didn't need to be repeated, for the most part this was a straight-forward story instead of a parade of characters and odd situations that are seemingly random.
Mon-El's temptation and torture is played very well, and it shows Sam Lane slightly more humanized, if utterly insane.
It also ties in well the fact that Luthor and Brainiac are gone, and it shows that not all of the people working under Lane are, in fact, willing. It's also good to character the way that Mon-El reacts.
There is a little wasted space, as I have mentioned. Introducing everyone looking at Mon-El had already been done, and there was a lot of long exposition to explain what was going on that could have been done in short form (IE magical inhibitors). There was also that extra beating page that didn't need to have four blank panels (I get the attempt at style, but come on, one would have done).
Still and all, this is probably the first Robinson run that told a straightforward story, involved character without dallying too much, and that I enjoyed. I hope this trend continues.
The only downside is the seeming random introduction of Bizarro. But then, I don't know where it's going, so I'll reserve judgment.
Art - 4: Nothing really stood out as fantastic, but there was some solid work done on panels that spread across two pages, and all of the action was depicted in a way that didn't confuse me. I was hoping for more distinction, and thus no five, but it still did the job of telling the story, and well. Little I see to complain about here.
Cover Art - 3: Neat concept, but nothing here that really leaps out at you. It's not that the image is a bad one, it's actually a really neat concept, it's more that it's a neat concept with a so-so image. Still, not terrible. Just not great.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.