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Cover date: June 2012
"Superman Meets The Collector of Worlds"
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Rags Morales and Brad Walker
Inker: Rick Bryant and Bob McLeod
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
Metal-Zero lends Superman a hand as Brainiac demands to know what city Superman has chosen to save. Superman ignores him, reaches into Metropolis and grabs the truck housing his rocket cradle. He gives Brainiac a choice; return the cities to their proper homes and sizes or Superman will deprogram him with his bare hands. Brainiac refuses and Superman launches the ship at the alien like a bullet. The sunstone technology erupts inside Brainiac and encases him in crystal. Superman manages to gain control of Brainiac's machines and enlarge Metropolis but keeps the alien's spacecraft in orbit.
Back in Metropolis people are reunited with their loved ones and the clean-up begins. Later Clark has a heart to heart with his editor, who nudges Clark to take the Daily Planet job. Clark heads back to his apartment and after talking with his mysterious source known as Icarus (secretly Lex Luthor) he talks with his landlord, who promises to keep his secret. Sometime later Superman receives the key to the city. Afterwards he visits his parents' graves and then flies to his new Fortress of Solitude in orbit over Earth.
Elsewhere a man named Zarov is hunting a dinosaur. His companion mentions the fact that there is a bullet proof man out there. Nimrod scoffs at the idea that anything could be bulletproof as he puts the dinosaur down.
Story - 4: Overall I liked this issue. It was a satisfactory end to Morrison's first big arc on this series and did a solid job of establishing this new Superman. All of the elements of a classic Superman story were there with a distinctive Morrison flavor to them, though I was thankful that it was more of a JLA style Morrison story than a FINAL CRISIS sort of story. The high-concept science fiction elements were present but they weren't too weird or meta-textual for my tastes. It was as straight ahead in terms of super-hero action as Morrison produces and because of that I think I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
The newish take on Brainiac was solid even if I didn't like the look of the character. Morrison took the spirit of the character (alien that steals cities for his own reasons) and gave it an ugly makeover. I liked that he was a credible threat to Superman and there was a lot going on with the psychology of the character. He wasn't a cold, emotionless machine but he was very single minded in his pursuits which made for a nice balance. The fact that he was instrumental in creating the new Metallo (or Metal-0 if you prefer) was also neat even if Corben's motivation was a bit one dimensional. Everything Corben did was to impress Lois Lane and if he couldn't do so by killing Superman he would do that by helping to save the world. The thing is Corben didn't have to be a multi-layered character. In fact I think some of Superman's bad guys work better with little in the way of motivation. Not all villains need to have a complex backstory where some traumatic event in their life led them down a dark path. Sometimes people are just naturally damaged and it doesn't take much to push them into being a villain.
Lex was somewhat redeemed in this issue though I feel like it was a bit of a cop-out. At the beginning of the story he was the confident, "I'm better than everyone," Lex that Morrison wrote in ALL-STAR SUPERMAN and then in the middle he ran like a coward when the stuff hit the fan. To suddenly come up at the end and say, "I was trying to save you all from the beginning," doesn't quite jibe with what we had been shown. I did like the idea that Superman's emergence from social crusader to world saver was a game changer for Lex and I get the feeling that he is going underground for a bit to figure out what his next move is. I also dug the fact that it was Lex that was Clark's inside source from the first issue. It made sense in the context of the overall story and the world Morrison has created.
The best part of the issue was seeing Superman make that final transition from "Golden Age" to "Silver Age" Man of Steel. They are two very different takes on the idea of Superman. There is a difference between hoisting a fat cat over a ledge and defeating an alien bent on stealing cities full of people and aliens. Both are important but have a different weight to them. It was neat to see Clark became the hero Superman needed to be.
As important as the world-saving scenes were the vignettes at the end were just as important. I wrote in earlier reviews that Morrison's attitude towards the Kents seemed a little...hostile. It was almost like he thought Clark was better off without them. I guess I was wrong about this because not only did we have that neat little scene with George Taylor and Clark where the Kents were mentioned but also we saw Clark visiting his parents' graves. These were two powerful scenes for me and drove home the point that Clark is who he is because of the Kents. I was also fond of the short scene with Clark and his landlord. It set up a support system for him, almost like the Kents were in the Post Crisis era.
There were other bits of business that I liked. Superman being uncomfortable while being given the key to the city. Jimmy's new signal watch. Lois acting like Lois, albeit briefly. The whole thing with Glenmorgan and the devil. John Henry and Jimmy's brief exchange. All of these either added layers to the story or served as updates to old concepts and I dug all of them.
So the final chapter is wrapped up and the new Superman is established. I like the fact that the story started small and ended in a very cosmic way. In all honesty I would like to see it turned into one of the direct-to-DVD animated films. I will admit that the whole Nimrod thing at the end didn't do a whole lot for me but I will wait and see how that story goes. For the moment we have a very solid take on Superman. I may not like the more science-fictiony elements that Morrison is exploring (such as the new Fortress) but at least the story was enjoyable.
Art - 4: Morales really nailed this issue. His art was a bit off in the first few pages but as the story went on it got better and better. I like his take on the "armor" costume and the action was intense and exciting. I will admit that it was a bit jarring to have Brad Walker suddenly jump in to close the issue out but I like his take on Superman and it was great to have Bob McLeod ink the character again.
Cover Art - 4: This is a very solid cover. You can't see Brainiac clearly, so there is a sense of mystery here. The action is also dynamic and makes for a striking image. It might not be poster worthy but it gets the job done.
Variant Cover Art - 4: This is a very striking cover. It has nothing to do with the story but I like Frank's take on the new costume. The image itself is a classic one; Superman saving the day. This cover would make a great poster.
Variant Cover Art - 4 (Black and White): I hate to sound like a broken record but the black and white covers continue to impress me. The backgrounds just pop on these variants and the artists' talent can truly be seen.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2012.