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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #197

Superman #197

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 24, 2003

Cover date: November 2003

Writer: Steven T. Seagle
Penciller: Scott McDaniel
Inker: Andy Owens

"Air Borne"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman (

Two fighter jets close in on a commercial jet, ready to shoot it down if they don't start responding to radio calls. Suddenly one of the fighters drifts too close and hits the wing of the jet. The huge airliner tilts forward and the dives toward the earth. In a second Superman is there. He hoists the jet on his shoulders and prepares to bring it in for a landing when he suddenly goes shooting through the fuselage and up through the top of the plane in a burst of super strength. Panicking he dives back underneath the jet and catches it again just in time for his flight to fail him. He does everything he can to cushion the landing as he plows into the runway. The plan skids to a halt as rescue crews arrive on the scene.

On the outskirts of Metropolis two police officers study the crashed alien craft buried in the road. One officer is afraid to touch it but the other says that they can't always rely on superheroes. Touching the craft he is struck with a blast of something to the face.

As people are evacuated from the plane workers dig around the nose and help Superman up from under the plane. Superman says that he tried to help, but a fireman reassures him that he did all he could, and he saved everyone on board the plane and that's nothing short of a success. Superman thanks the man for his confidence and then prepares to take to the skies. To his surprise his feet stay firmly planted on the ground. Superman decides to walk.

At the North Pole the Futuresmiths show Supergirl her father's Fortress of Solitude. They tell her it is her birthright as they push her into the Fortress. As she vanishes, the Futuresmiths say that the final sequence has begun and their future is made. Inside Cir-el looks around to see the splendor inside the Fortress. A growl suddenly brings her head around, but in an instant Krypto is bounding on to her and liking her face. She is thrown back into a crystal array and one of the crystal spires breaks off. Outside the Futuresmiths grin and comment that it is done. Petting Krypto Cir-el tells him how happy she is to meet him. Then picking up the crystal shard she hopes that she won't get in trouble for breaking it.

Walking down the highway Superman is offered a lift by his wife. Getting in he tells her that he is still deaf and now he can't fly either. He says that he needs to get over to the precinct so no one starts to wonder about his absence, but Lois says they are going to STAR Labs to get him checked out. SuddenlyClark goes flying through the roof of the car. As Lois swerves towards a wall Superman soars back down and grabs the car before it crashes. Pulling the door off of the car Superman helps his wife from the car and holds her. Lois looks up at him and tells him that he is crushing her.

The two officers drive by, the one officer sweating and feeling horrible. He tells the other to pull over and when he gets out of the car he falls to his knees, a strange substance coming from his nose and mouth.

Cir-el tries to replace the crystal when suddenly she is hurled backwards and knocked unconscious as a portal appears. Krypto growls as an armored form steps out of the portal, telling someone named Bruce that they will be back with help.

At the precinctClark looks through walls until he sees one of the officers investigating the space craft talking to the police chief. He draws a symbol of a bird on the board, and Clark recognizes it as Kryptonian. As he rushes out he realizes that he can't control his x-ray vision anymore.

Outside the chief talks to the wounded officer, telling him that he should go to a doctor. Clark rushes up and asks the healthy officer about it. He says that while his partner is sick he didn't catch anything. With that he sneezes abruptly all over Clark. Suddenly sweating profusely Clark staggers away into an alley and then soaring into the sky moaning. Crashing near the Fortress he staggers inside to find Supergirl still unconscious with Krypto sitting by her side. He tells her that he is sorry he wasn't a better father before he died....

2Story - 2: This story wasn't actually that bad, and I am actually moderately intrigued by what will happen next issue. This storyline that has been dragging for almost 10 issues now is finally picking up and going somewhere. The idea of the Futuresmiths creating their own future actually gives them some purpose. I want to know who it was that came through the portal in the Fortress and see what help they want to bring. However, if this has anything to with a machine turning humans into robots in the future of Metropolis I'm going to be very disappointed. Then there is the bad of this issue. First of we see a suspected Terrorist plane almost be shot down but it is never mentioned why they weren't in radio contact. That was sloppy. Also, how can Supergirl just be shoved into the Fortress. I'm pretty sure that when John Henry and Superman build the Fortress it was built as a giant lock that needs to be moved around to be unlocked. So much for consistency there. Then when Superman is helped from the ground the Fireman calls him son and reassures him. The reassuring I'm fine with, but "son"? Last I checked people idolized Superman. They look up to him. He is not a "son". I miss the big inspiring Superman (Jurgens' work comes to mind). Seagle's Superman is a weak rookie who doesn't know what he is doing. Superman is supposed to be a proud and brave hero, not a cautious weakling like he is written in this story. The power problems has been done before, most notably back in 1994 when he went out of control after getting too much power from the Eradicator. It's been done. Overall this story finally takes the plot in some direction and I like that, but Superman just didn't feel like Superman.

2Art - 2: This is the same stuff that we always get. McDaniel's art really does nothing for me. There isn't enough detail at all, and a lot of the faces just look ugly. Superman isn't muscular enough and sometimes he just looks completely ridiculous. Check out page...what the heck? This issue doesn't have page numbers! That's only a little annoying. Anyway, look at the scene after the plane crash when Superman tries to fly. That's right, our hero has breasts, not to mention a really, really stupid look on his face. In small defense of McDaniel, the Fortress shot (I'd tell you the page number, but...yeah) looks fantastic. One panel doesn't make up for an issue though. There isn't much else I can say about that except I can't wait until Lee takes over.

3Cover Art - 3: The cover is kind of nice compared to the others of late. It represents the interior reasonably well (although he didn't become diseased until the last 3 pages of the books), and the art is pretty good. I also like the heat vision effect around the eyes. Apart from this though there is no background, the cover is plain and it has "Diseased" written in a 1970's New God's-esque font that just doesn't fit with the rest of the cover. Overall, it is better than a lot of the ones we've seen recently, but it's still not great.

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