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"Relic" (Part 2)
Writer: JT Krul
Penciller: Howard Porter
Inker: John Livesay
Reviewed by: Shawn Morrissey
Over at the Port of Metropolis, Superman admires the abilities of the freshly tech-armored Metropolis Police Department as they clean up a group of drug traffickers. While the police force has a handle on taking out goons, they are less adept at protecting the innocent, a vice Superman laments. In the end, the police and Superman bust up the drug ring, trade niceties, and go their separate ways.
Superman visits Lois's grave, vainly seeking her advice: with such a well-oiled, high powered police force, where does he fit in? Since most of the people Clark Kent ever loved have died, why should he remain on Earth? What is the purpose of Superman? What's his reason for living?
Meanwhile, somewhere in the city, Lucinda makes her way to an abandoned skyscraper, using the key card for access. Seemingly empty, Lucinda is startled by an ethereal holographic image. Calling her by name, the image tells Lucinda he is her father, and that he is none other than Lex Luthor.
Story - 4: This issue does a bang up job carrying forward the core of this story: Who is Superman in this future setting? Superman admitting that he feels irrelevant and lonely in front of Lois's grave is gripping. What makes it flow so nicely is the dialogue. The way Superman speaks to the headstone feels genuine to the point that you'd be forgiven for anticipating it to respond. Then the reality of Lois's death comes with a brief yet surging, and at the same time sadly sweet couple of lines: "Nothing, huh? Some help you are." The follow-up only accentuates the gloom: "God, I miss you."
Krul is doing a top notch job of writing a Superman who truly feels alone, and while it isn't necessarily a fresh idea, it's done so well that the reader is able to get inside Superman's head and feel his grief and confusion. As far as characterization goes, it's nothing short of excellent.
The secondary story featuring Lucinda is shaping up, as well. There's an initial sense of pity for her when we consider that she was cheated out of her mother's estate, but the water in this pot is starting to show the first signs of boiling. Lex Luthor is supposedly her father, and we can only imagine what that means for Big Blue... er, ah, I mean Big Black & White...
We're only two issues in but "Relic" is a story I'm thoroughly intrigued by, and I'm thrilled that it's a weekly digital title. I like digital (dodges shoe with "Down With Digital!" written on it), and not only is this digital done well, it's a story done well, and not having to wait a month for the next installment is the tastiest kind of bonus. Compared with the other current Superman titles, I dig Superman Beyond as much as I do Action Comics (dodges "New 52 Sucks!" shoe) and hope the other titles soon pick up their game.
Art - 2: Egads! What happened here? I really enjoyed the art in issue #1 but the asymmetric charm of that issue's art has been mostly replaced with melting bodies and sock puppets. It's inconsistently terrible, though. When characters are drawn from even a slight distance, they look horrible (see page 4, panel 3), but close ups seem to have been given much more care. Honestly, much of this art seems rushed, as if Porter had to absolutely get this issue out the door an hour after he was told to do it. The saving grace is the cemetery scene. I like how Porter draws this aged Superman, and his Supes looks particularly good with the crisp and dreary graveyard as a backdrop. It accentuates the mood of the scene exceptionally.
Cover Art: It seems DC isn't going to provide its exclusive-digitals with different covers for each issue. They aren't doing it for Smallville: Season 11, and I suppose they aren't going to do it here. I imagine the covers will change with each new arc. That's a point of complaint, to be sure.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2012.