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Cover date: January 2013
"Mission to Mars"
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Rags Morales
Inker: Mark Propst
"Star Light, Star Bright..."
Writer: Sholly Fisch
Penciller: Chris Sprouse
Inker: Karl Story
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
Superman answers a distress call from the human colony on Mars. The colony is under attack by aliens that are using the colony's resources to terraform the planet. Superman recognizes them as Metalek and explains what they are to the colonists before heading out to confront them. After the Man of Steel convinces Metalek to stop he reveals that the invaders are on the run from the Mulititude and that Earth is next on that race's list of planets to destroy. He goes on to explain that the only man to repel the Multitude was his father and that they are going to have to be just like him and figure out a way to prevent the Earth's destruction.
Time suddenly becomes short as the Multitude, looking like a hoard of angels, attacks. Superman can't fight them off and retreats back to the colony to figure out his next move. He theorizes that the Multitude is not a collection of entities but a single one with a million different points. If they can use the terraforming array to generate a Scallar Field into the Fifth Dimension they might be able to stop the Multitude. Using his own body as a conductor Superman and the researchers generate the field, which cause the "angels" to disappear.
While investigating the damaged area of the colony Superman finds what he thinks is a researcher, but it turns out to be Vyndktvx, the little man that has, for the past five years, making deals with some of the villains Superman has faced. Vyn is there to conclude his business with Superman and after attacking the colonists he turns into a giant red devil. This is the moment Vyn has been waiting for and after all of these years Superman is the ultimate loser.
Story - 3: I had a lot of problems with this one.
And I really don't like writing that either. This title continues to be a challenge to review because my enjoyment goes up and down with each issue and now that we're fourteen issues in that feeling is growing more and more annoying. I want to enjoy this book. I want to look forward to every issue. Instead I get the book, take a deep breath and wonder if this is going to be a fun ride or one that is ultimately disappointing.
This time out disappointment won out.
Most of that has to do with the art, but I'll get to that in the next section. The writing was far from terrible and to be honest I was pretty engaged at the beginning of the issue. Here we have Superman going off to rescue some colonists on Mars. Okay so far. We even have a fight with Metalek. Still doing good. The Multitude shows up and it turns out to be a bunch of angels or at least it is manifesting itself as a bunch of angels. Here is where my interest began to slip but I was at least still on board. Then came the ending where Vyn reveals himself and Superman recognizes him and there's all this weird Fifth Dimensional stuff leaving me to feel like I missed something really important.
I haven't. I know that, but because of how Morrison likes to structure his stories I am left with the feeling that I missed a payoff somewhere. Superman and Vyn act as if they have encountered each other before. I know that Clark and his landlord discussed the existence of Vyn and even Mxyzptlk but unless I am forgetting something the actual first meeting is missing. I am starting to feel cheated at this point. I want a straight ahead Superman story. You can throw as many fantastical elements as you want to but I would at least like the storytelling itself to be linear and Morrison is just not giving me that.
So which party is at fault? Me for not getting what Morrison is laying down? Morrison for using his writing the story he wants to write?
Frankly at this point I am placing the blame at the feet of DC Comics. There are two Superman titles being published right now or at least two mainstream Superman comics; ACTION and SUPERMAN. That is a finite amount of space per month to tell Superman stories so DC as a company does not have the luxury of allowing a writer like Grant Morrison to tell whatever story he wants to tell or to allow him to experiment with the medium. There's just not enough time for that. The editors knew what they were getting with Grant so instead of handing the keys to the new Superman over to a writer that will tell Superman stories that appeal to a wider audience they give it to a writer that has name recognition but hasn't really served the character. Bottom line; I just don't think Grant Morrison was the writer they should have given the task of revamping Superman for the New 52. At this point I am dreading the next few issues because I just don't know what I am going to get and I mean that in terms of whether or not I am going to like the book, not in terms of whether or not the writing is going to be good.
I hate to write this but I can't wait for Andy Diggle to come on to this title. I wish I felt differently but I don't.
Art - 2: The art was sloppy throughout this entire issue. I don't think Superman looked the same from one panel to the other. The action was unimpressive and the artistic tricks at the end with Vyn have just become annoying to me at this point. I really felt let down by Rags Morales on this one.
"Star Light, Star Bright..."
Superman and the Justice League fight off an inter-dimensional invasion. The Man of Steel wants to stay and help his teammates but they tell him that they have the situation in hand and to keep his appointment. He flies off to meet with astronomers at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Neil deGrasse Tyson joins the Man of Steel and informs him that telescopes all around the world are helping to examine the section of space they normally view to boost the resolution of the image. One of the astronomers is curious as to why they are viewing that particular section of space and it is explained they have found the exact location of Krypton, which is twenty-seven light years from the Earth. Superman is there because the light from Krypton's destruction is finally reaching his adopted world. That night the Man of Steel is able to see, in vivid detail, his home planet die.
Story - 4: As usual the back-up is the highlight of the issue. I feel like I write that in every review. The inclusion of Neil deGrasse Tyson was a nice touch to bring some real world feel to finding Krypton and I happen to like Tyson a great deal so this felt like a bonus. This will date the story to a certain extent for future readers but that's not a huge deal. The story was emotional but I think it went a bit over the top right there at the end. It wasn't a deal breaker but the last page felt kind of sappy. Tear jerkingly sappy but sappy nonetheless. I do think it is interesting that they went and gave Superman an actual age. This was unexpected but not unwelcome. So once again the back-up saves the issues from being a total loss.
Art - 4: The art on this one served the story well. Superman looked a bit off but I liked the detail that was put into Tyson's vest and the rest of the astronomers. The final page sold the overall emotional theme of the story and outside of the minor quibble about how Superman looked I have no problems with the art.
Cover Art - 3: This is an okay cover. There is nothing really spectacular about it and Superman looks a bit off but it gets the job down. Average is the best word I can use to describe it.
Variant Cover Art - 3: Usually I prefer the main cover or the variant and in this case I feel the same about both. It's not a terrible cover but it doesn't do a whole lot for me. Again, average.
Variant Cover Art - 3 (Black and White): And for the third time this month I am whelmed by a cover. The black and whiteness of the image emphasizes how wonky Superman looks.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2013.