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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman: The Man of Steel #131

Superman: The Man of Steel #131

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 16, 2002

Cover date: December 2002

Writer: Mark Schultz
Penciller: Brandon Badeaux
Inker: Mark Morales

"Nightfall" (Ending Battle - Part 7 of 8)

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (baileyn@cc.wwu.edu)



Superman sees the villains he's downed in Metropolis, and before him stands an even greater threat, seemingly arranged by the Master Jailer. Bizarro, now with intellect, Silver Banshee, Mongul, and Master Jailer himself. Self-declared the Anti-Kryptonian Brigade, they launch into the Man of Steel full force.

Mongul and Bizarro batter Superman back and forth. Superman realizes he has to think his way out of the situation.

Manchester Black, in the Kent and Lane apartment, tortures Lois, getting into her mind and telling her that her life is worthless. He shows her images of her father beating her, when it is actually Manchester beating her.

Meanwhile, Bizarro knocks Superman into the atmosphere, where Superman purposefully does a flyby with the sun and recharges, taking the fight to the equator so he can remain charged up for the long haul of the fight.

Bizarro chases, and Mongul exchanges blows, but Superman dodges craftily.

Meanwhile, Steel is recovering from a neural synapse trashing, according to Nat. He staggers to his work, attempting to do something, anything to help Superman.

Lois is further assaulted by her father.

Superman rope-a-dopes Mongul, tiring him quickly. He pounds him across the water and out of the picture.

Banshee shrieks, and the cry is more piercing than ever, as she has been taught Kryptonian. Bizarro rises out of the water where Superman has knocked him, and they force him onto a nearby island, where Master Jailer traps Superman in Kryptonite infused super-dense sand.

Superman brings Neutron the Living Bomb down from orbit and nukes the island. He then gathers the cloud, having dissipated or "downed" his enemies, and hurls it towards the sun (this is not a typographical error, folks).

In Metropolis, Superman streaks towards his apartment as Steel informs him that Lois is missing. He bursts in to find Lois holding a knife and catatonic, having sliced herself up rather well. Black quips that he's late.

1Story - 1: Okay. I'm biased. I admit it. I love Neutron, the living bomb. I've had the pleasure of doing three reviews in the last month featuring one of my favorite Superman villains, Neutron, the living bomb. I'd buy the action figure, if they had it. I'd watch any cartoon with Neutron, even as the star. Neutron is The Man.

Superman, of course, is The Man as well. And one of the things that makes Superman The Man, I am willing to boldly state, is the fact that he doesn't kill.

What greets me in these pages, however?

SUPERMAN, NOBLE SUPERMAN, KILLS NEUTRON, THE LIVING BOMB! YOU SEE, WHEN YOU TAKE A HUMAN BEING MADE OUT OF ATOMIC MATERIAL, AND YOU DETONATE HIM, HE DIES IN A MOST GRISLY WAY!

What a good, noble, quick way to get rid of villains, Superman. Launch a nuclear weapon to Earth, kill a man, and then just swoop up the fallout (dead fish, dead microscopic life essential to any ecosystem, an entire island, anything else within a two or three mile radius) in a big cloud, pretending nothing happened. Saying, "Well, I'd better not do that too often." Ah hah. Ah hah hah. Aquaman is rolling over in his grave (that's IF he's still dead) and when he comes back, he's going to ram his harpoon up Superman's butt. And all this after Superman became so eco-aware just three years ago.

Not to mention the fact that Master Jailer is "downed" by the blast. No. Master Jailer would be NO MORE after such a blast. As far as we know, Banshee didn't "disappear" as Superman put it. She's probably dead.

THIS IS NOT THE SUPERMAN WE KNOW AND LOVE. I AM SICKENED BY THIS TERRIBLE OUT-OF-CHARACTER ACTION. I am seriously considering stopping reading Superman ever again if I see many more displays like this. I'm no Puritan, to be sure. See my books. But Superman is Superman. He's all that is noble and good. HE DOESN'T NUKE THINGS!

Especially my poor, beloved, dead Neutron.

Very cheesy thought page on 5. It reminded me of the eighties. I'll quote:

In thought: Ouch. I AM drained, and now I'm in the middle of a ping-pong match between two of the strongest miscreants I've ever faced. Guess I'll have toOOF! THINK my way out of this." Caps substitute for bold. Sound like an old Batman episode to you? It did to me. Schultz usually pleases me more than this. At least Superman acknowledges, though I don't think this was conscious on the part of the writer, that he needs to stop acting in violent blind rage and start using his brain. A typical Superman trait we haven't seen in seven issues, now. Who knows, maybe he might actually apprehend some of these villains by the end of this series!

Torture a loved one of Superman. Good plot. I liked it better the first time I saw it, when Luthor did it to Lana. Black, no matter how much of an adversary he may turn out to be, is no Luthor. I'm still burned that Luthor is not behind this, though he easily could have been without reprisal.

Righteo-man. It's good that Bizarro has intelligence. That's exactly what we need, taking a character that already has a place like Doomsday, and turning it into something it was never meant to be, a duplicate of General Zod or a Joker villain. The whole point of Bizarro is that he's a fool. And ignore this blasphemy...sure. I'll take it that Bizarro is getting intelligence. But why didn't Manchester give the beast intelligence BEFORE, last issue, when he first attacked Superman? Whups. And I guess he just went back to normal, Superman said. But see, why would Manchester Black suddenly STOP making Bizarro smart? Whups again.

All right. I understand that the last couple of issues might very well have taken place over the last twenty minutes, real time, but what about the people of Metropolis that Superman is sworn to protect, shown two parts ago with apparatus covering their breathing holes? Whups.

Another thing occurs to me. While the Elite are villains in the Superman sense, didn't they originally stand for bringing criminals to justice, albeit for profit and through murder? Why release a whole bunch of villains if it is counter to their original motive and a complete change in character. To get Supes, to be sure, but it stands out a bit as drastic and out of character to me.

Thousands, maybe millions of Metropolitans are dead, dying, or otherwise in danger, and Superman takes the fight to the Equator. I guess that's moving the source of the danger, but it's another case of the plot moving faster than the resolution, like the aforementioned apprehension of criminals.

The Steel interlude: I'm no brain surgeon, but if your neural synapses are fried, you don't speak, you don't breathe, you don't do anything of note, much less help Superman, right? I could be wrong on this, but I thought neural synapses were important in the big scheme of things, and if you lose them, you're a vegetable. Email me with angry words if I'm wrong, because I'll deserve it.

And let's see, I'm a ten year-old, and I pick up a comic book, and I see Superman's girlfriend Lois Lane being mind-raped, beaten by her father and a sadistic murderer, and cutting herself. I see Superman detonate a nuclear warhead to stop a fight (Hello, cough cough, BUSH IN THE NEAR FUTURE, PERHAPS, cough cough), and then NOT apprehend any criminals of justice, save the fair city of Metropolis, or really act in any fashion save blind rage for most of the last six issues.

I would never read Superman again.

It broke my heart when I heard they were canceling one of the Superman titles. I said, I wrote, I talked, I pointed out that if the creators disregarded the continuity, forgot the core of what made Superman so great, and if they ignored the lesson of CRISIS, things would fall off, and we'd have a situation with a bunch of interesting scenes but nothing of any real content. So I am sad, but I understand completely.

We are having a revamp, folks. It's official. They're killing this title, they're bringing in the World's Finest (some hope), and they're going to "re-imagine" the Man of Steel.

Issues and years like this are why.

2Art - 2: Lois doesn't look like Lois, for the most part. I mean, she has purple eyes in this issue. Seriously. Check it out. Purple eyes. Lots of things in the Lois scenes looked odd. The same eyes for the whole issue? Just plain strange.

The super-speed effect they tried to pull off looked neat, but it was hard to follow who was doing what, and it ultimately failed rather miserably.

The characters were contorted, too dark for Superman, save in the tropics, and even then the contortion overrode any of the comic quality provided.

1Cover Art - 1: Aaaaaaaaaaaaand here's the checklist:

Cover doesn't depict something happening in the book? Check. Superman never stood in seeming cohorts with Banshee and Master Jailer attacking Mongul. In fact, he didn't even use his heat vision save to murder Neutron.

No background, to speak of, save a solid color? Check.

Horrible logos? Check.

Odd looking pose like Superman is passing gas or taking a yoga class? Check. Nice codpiece.

Angry Superman as opposed to idealistic Superman? Check.

Lack of triangles? Check.



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Mild Mannered Reviews

2002

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