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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Adventures of Superman #638

Adventures of Superman #638

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 16, 2005

Cover date: May 2005

Writer: Greg Rucka
Penciller: Matthew Clark
Inker: Andy Lanning

"The Road to Ruin" - Narrative Interruptus Tertiarius

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Lois reiterates what she has just told Clark, that she thinks that they should have a baby.

They debate the issue... what about the physiology? What about the risk of Ruin? Clark tells Lois that he couldn't bear to not be able to save a child, much like he could not save Lois when she was shot.

Lois reassures him, telling him that they live in hope.

They hear a crying in the background, and they go to the bedroom to find Mxyzptlk sitting over a baby, trying to keep it quiet. Lois and Clark's baby.

The baby screams, blowing Mxy's face back. Mxyzptlk hands the baby over to Lois, explaining that the baby girl is hers. Mxy changes into a stork and tells them that his work is done.

Lois asks how the baby got there, and Mxy cuts to a film on how to make Superbabies, which Clark cuts off before it gets to its obvious conclusion.

As Clark leans over Mxy and berates him for the reproduction movie, Lois becomes enamored of the little girl, Lara Lane-Kent, who squishes her nose with uncanny strength.

We then (kid you not, folks) cut to a scene straight out of Sin City, with the bar and everything, switching narrative to the curt and noir style Frank Miller employs in Sin City.

We then cut to your traditional Sin City scene with the girl in the bar, only it's Dinah standing in for the cowgirl ("Dinah. Lethal little Dinah", that's where I wet myself with laughter, those of you paying attention), and Mxy squeaks a glass in the background. ("They name her Lara after his mom. His real one. Sentimental. I am, too. I bring the cigars.")

We then cut to a Calvin and Hobbes parody called "Lara and Mxy", which shows little Lara pestering her mother for an elephant per Calvin, and she repeatedly tells her no until she goes to talk to her imaginary "Hobbes", Mxy, who is aghast at having to put back all the things Lara wants, the Super-Horse, Wonder Woman, a Star Wars speeder, Lobo, and a Sattelite.

Mxy shows Lara's sixteenth birthday, and we see her opening her present at super speed to reveal a suit, a Supergirl suit, which she then tries on.

Lois complains that the costume is too tight, and when Lara asks Clark what he thinks, he changes into his uniform and takes her flying.

They go out, and Lara is having the time of her life when a green beam from above comes down, striking Superman from the sky. It's Luthor, only the Luthor of the future, which is a cobbled amalgamation of all kinds of body parts, from Doomsday, the Lexor suit, Brainiac's tendrils, Gog's staff, Xlim's leg, Ruin's cables, Metallo's arm, and with Starro on the back. There's even a little of what appears to be Plasmus and Elastic lad in there. The head looks really familiar, but I'm not sure where it comes from. I know I lose geek points for that, but trust me, it's a really cool amalgamate.

Lara battles Luthor, but Luthor gains the upper hand, until Superman returns with a vengeance. His daugher offers to put in the final blow, and Superman lets her blast Lex into the distance, advising her to use an uppercut next time.

Mxy shows Superman this future, and reminds him not to second guess the future, that children are our hope. He then takes the baby, telling Lois "Not yet."

Clark asks Mxy why he showed them the future, and Mxy, dressed as Tuvok from Star Trek indicates that it's a possible future.

Mxy indicates that they have tough times ahead, and tells them that hope is the only way to get through them, to have faith in the future... that everything that is going to happen happens because of the two of them, Lois and Clark.

Mxy reminds them of what Lois said, "We live in hope.", and then disappears into the nether.

5Story - 5: It's official, this is now the best continuing Mxy story I've ever read. Rucka's king.

He's so far utilized this character, which, if you talk about him, is mostly a joke to a lot of the fanboys who are so cynical of Superman (not I, I remind you, but most people, people who think that Superman is dumb, etcetera) and he's created a story that no sane person can read and not be in awe of the character. If from sheer characterization alone, not counting the dialogue, the references, the humor, heck, most everything. Add in the promise of a big storyline that keeps getting dangled in front of us, and I'm actually excited for an event again, and the last time that really happened was "Our Worlds At War", which was half and half.

I have no doubt that Rucka will lead us well through this second Crisis, and I'm glad he's one of the guys at the helm.

He restores my faith in Superman in a time when it's less cool to like Superman to your average fan and more cool to like the Punisher type characters.

What we have here is a simply told tale of hope and the future. This is, to wit, what a lot of people yearn for. The imaginary tale of the past (what if Superman had a kid?) put in a modern context and told in a way that doesn't make you blanch and say, "CORN!" It offers an awesome peek at a potential Luthor, some space for the artist to really stretch his wings out (and Matthew, to wit, does).

It is hard, incredibly hard, to take a comic book story, stop it in mid stream, and not tick off the audience. A good example of how to do this badly is Brian Azzarello. He did it eleven times this year.

But in all seriousness, Rucka is known for being slow-paced, but unlike slow-paced writers who take forever and go nowhere, he's among that rare class that I can read for months on end and not demand immediacy, because immediacy is delivered even in the nuance. A lot like Morrison in some ways, he takes his time, he has cool stuff along the way, and then Rucka ties it all together. Check out Wonder Woman for a similar pace and great story.

And what makes this distinctive is the little attentions to details. Superman in the Steel armor. Lex Luthor of the future. The SIN CITY page.

I'm just plowing through Sin City for the first time, and seeing him emulate and capture that amazing read, now especially given the movie, was incredible.

And don't get me started on Calvin and Hobbes. I'm an old school Calvin and Hobbes/Bloom County/Saturday morning sarcasm and imagination fan. Pairing it with Mxy was brilliant.

The "sex" explanation scene, handled by most others, would have been out of place, but Rucka takes it and turns it Rocky and Bullwinkle. The adults get the joke and laugh, the kids understand what's going on and laugh without being shown something that would make parents yell.

And above all, Superman is shown why he should be HAPPY to be Superman, and he and Lois leave the issue with HOPE, and we have a cool and damned interesting adventure that culminates in a resolution to the question folks have asked since they got married... when and why with the kids already?

And don't even mention the Casey Superbaby story, or I will smack you about the mouth. That doesn't count.

If I had to search my soul and find a complaint, I'd have to joke that we now have ANOTHER Supergirl to deal with, but he even sidesteps that by never calling her such.

I think what I like most about Rucka's run is that he does what I want to do if I were to write Superman, and seeing as I can't, it's great to live that vicariously. A great villain (I believe Superman is defined by his villains more than even his own personality), Luthor, confronting large issues the fans would be curious about (what would happen if Lois nearly died, what would happen if there were a super kid, etc), and he wants to STAY and IMPACT the title, not just visit, say, "Heya! I'm Greg Rucka, and I'm writing SUPERMAN! Now give me any title I demand!". You really get the feel that he loves what he's doing, he's driven to please, and he KNOWS HIS WORK.

DC, you'd better keep this guy, that's all I've gotta say. Pay him more money.

5Art - 5: How can you not love such a perfect imitation of Sin City, the emotion of the characters shown in this story, the Luthor... that drawing is iconic, man. It's imaginative, crazy cool, and it's one of those "moments" you embed in your brain and never forget.

I'm really sad to see Clark going. I like Kerschl, I really do, but I also like Clark. I almost wish for alternating issues, you know? It's like choosing between McG and Rags. How the heck do you do that?

I've never seen a guy who gets the "Clark plays the schlub" when he's Clark more than Matthew. Look at the way he makes Clark slump, the differing hair, the attitude and pose... even when Lois is around, he's just IN character.

2Cover Art - 2: This was the one whacked out part of this issue. My comic guy showed me this, handing it over, and I said to myself, "What the -----?" Where ----- is something that would definitely get me shot by soccer moms.

I then turned and was beguiled to see someone standing behind me (ever been in that situation, where you curse with people who are your friends and know you, and then you realize that someone you don't know is behind you?) and lo and behold, this guy behind me, he looks at me funny, then he leans in, sees the cover, and says, "Yeah, man. What the -----?"

I rest my case.

It's interesting, I guess, and it's got a good Mxy, but Superman and Lois look like the purple pod people and the background is all wonky. Seriously, Supes looks like the article I did a while back that showed Igor as Superman.

And the baby...someone shoot me, the baby on this cover looks like the Superbaby from the Casey era!



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