Cover date: May 2012
"To Hel and Back"
Writer: Keith Giffen & Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Dan Jurgens
Inker: Jesus Merino
Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel
An armored creature with horns, a tail and wrist blasters is battling the Man of Steel. The two fight hard causing thousands of dollars of damage until Superman realizes the creature isn't truly alive. A blast of heat vision knocks the creature out and Superman warns the inquisitive to stay back. Overhearing another disturbance Superman takes to the air leaving the creature to undergo a battery of tests at STAR Labs.
In the Himalayas the evil Helspont elaborates a little on his evil master plan. He is determined to capture Superman and make him a servant of his evil.
At the Daily Planet, Lois, Jimmy and Perry are surprised that Clark is back to his old self. Perry annoyed that Clark isn't capitalizing on Superman enough to sell papers. Jimmy needs a place to crash while his place is fumigated and Lois needs Clark to pickup her sister Lucy as she flies into town. The sudden attention leaves Clark bewildered and struggling with writing about himself in costume.
Responding to its masters orders, the creature teleports out of STAR and into the Daily Planet. Clark spots the creature in the Newsroom and ducks into a closet. Tearing open his shirt to reveal his old Superman tee, he presses the shield and activates its tech powers to build his new armor.
He takes the fight out of the building to save his friends and pummels the creature in midair. Carefully disintegrating any falling debris, Superman's weakness to help the innocent is distraction enough for the creature to teleport again but this time taking Superman with it.
Superman enters Helspont's base and finds the villain on a throne. Helspont is welcoming and spends a long time filling Superman on his past and current plans. When he orders Superman to serve his whim, Clark flatly refuses, mocking the villain. The insolence sends Helspont into a rage and he turns on his prospective help.
While Superman reels from the attack, Lucy Lane arrives in town but Clark is nowhere to be seen...
To be Continued...
Story - 3: Superman out of character is no more. Now, like his cousin, he loves inner monologues. Character driven arcs have been overturned from the depth in the last arc in favor of stepping up the action. The loss of the Daily Planet team to be the comedy element was a shame as was the excessive chatter of the new villain. I get the villain needs to be set up but his hokey muhaha yapping put me off. He seemed like a gossip monger more than a deadly villain - get him to shut up and we'll see if he's a worthy nemesis.
Onto the costume change, it's nice to have a change, we could all go bonkers over the containment suit but it currently works for all of Power Pack, Iron Man, War Machine, Spider-man and previously for Supermen Red & Blue so the idea makes sense especially with the excessive design flaws of the new suit, (high collar, wrist supports, chunky boots and belt) I wish he could do it the classic way but realistically it had to be this way to work - I can swallow it.
Overall it was nice to see Superman being Super and Clark a tad less angst-focussed but aside from that it wasn't a strong enough reboot within a reboot within a reboot. I rate it 3 as there is promise for a fun story here now they've changed the pace from indepth serial to loud and fast, but so far both Giffen and Jurgens haven't turned in their best. Please cut back on expositional dialogue, inner monologuing and cheesy lines.
Art - 4: It's a nicely drawn issue, flawed with minor anatomical issues like a super long neck that I put down to Superman secretly being addicted to Gingold lol. Honestly? It was nice to have Jurgens back, overwhelming almost, perhaps more to do with Jurgens long history with Superman... I had hoped Jesus Merino would take a bigger role art-wise as his style was growing but here he seems to have taken a back seat.
Cover Art - 3: A nice but not incredible cover. It's odd because Jurgens has obviously worked at making this Superman softer jawed and more youthful inside but here it just looks like the pre-Flashpoint Superman in new clothes. Again not terrible but not spectacular perhaps because it was touted by DC for so long it's dulled the senses.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2012.