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Superman: Infinite City

Superman: Infinite City

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 29, 2005

Cover date: August 2005

Writer: Mike Kennedy
Penciller: Carlos Meglia
Inker: Carlos Meglia

"Infinite City"

Reviewed by: Jeffrey Bridges

Click to enlarge

The story opens with Jor-El on Krypton. He's working on two projects simultaneously, one of which we're all familiar with (the rocket to save baby Kal-El from Krypton's imminent destruction). The other project is also an attempt to save his brethren from their doomed fate, though the specifics of it are not mentioned.

We jump forward some thirty years to Metropolis, where a random goon is tearing up Metropolis with an odd ray gun. Big Blue saves the day, and in the process finds microscopic printing on the gun that mentions "Infinite City Industries" in "Infinite California" [sic].

Lois and Clark head out to the town in rural California, but all they find is a deserted diner. In the process of looking for the owner, Lois walks through a door that turns out to be a portal to a world populated with biplanes, pterodactyls and a scantily clad woman from a fantasy novel cover. She is immediately apprehended and placed into a quarantine chamber by Reggie, who introduces himself as her lawyer.

Clark goes in after her, and he is also apprehended by The Warden, the superpowered protector of Infinite City. Clark's powers seem out of control, though he eventually seems to reign them in after a hefty punch from The Warden. Clark asks if they can just talk as The Warden seems stunned by the S-symbol on Superman's chest.

We then get an interview with the villain, Jesden Thyme, who talks to one of his lackeys (Mr. Sharpe) about something going wrong with the delivery of an item to someone on the other side of a portal.

Back to Supes and The Warden as they walk through The Throne Room, (the center of Infinite City) where The Mayor lives. Supes introduces himself to people as Calvin Ellis, and gets more stunned reactions to the S-symbol.

Supes meets The Mayor, who is a robot that seems to know a lot about him. The Mayor explains that they must monitor traffic into and out of Infinite City (via the portals) very carefully, as the city exists outside of normal time in a sort of bubble that could be ruptured very easily. The Mayor then performs some tests on Clark, who is surprised to discover that with the different laws of physics in Infinite City, his skin can quite easily be punctured for their medical tests.

Lois is moved onto a Pterodactyl-bus where another detainee stares at her bum, and the bus is soon beset by a group calling themselves Black Zero, the leader of which is Mr. Sharpe's lackey. Supes and The Warden arrive to stop the attack, but after some action and some made up words like "Blarg" and "Florp," Black Zero gets away with Lois and the other detainee.

Ruth Ordaire, a reporter, shows up and wants the story, and Supes introduces himself as Superman and says he's just there looking for a friend. We cut back to Jesden, who is talking with the other detainee, Spooner, and one of his other lackeys, Tiffany Temprince. Jesden asked how their client liked the device (the ray gun), and Spooner lets him know that the device was intercepted before he could deliver it.

Jesden goes to meet with Lois, and tells her that the ray gun was merely an industrial tool, it's weapon-like qualities apparently a side-effect of the different laws of physics in the two worlds. He says The Mayor forbids them to study these differences, and Jesden wants Lois to try to convince leaders back on Earth that great things could be discovered if these differences were studied (such as a cure for cancer). Lois politely refuses as Jesden hits on her, making Tiffany jealous.

Back to Supes talking with The Mayor about Black Zero, which Supes says was the name of a terrorist organization on his homeworld. There's some talk of how Black Zero knew of Lois's transfer since quarantines are classified, and Reggie comments on how lovely he thought Lois was. The Warden leaves to try to find her, and Supes is not allowed to leave due to his powers causing so much damage since he can't control them.

Supes talks with The Mayor, who gives him a cup of tea that contains properties similar to a yellow sun which should allow Supes to once again have control over his powers. The Mayor says he's had an interest in Earth for a while, and asks Supes to tell him about their king. Supes explains that's not how things on Earth work with different countries and governing bodies, and The Mayor seems shocked. Years ago The Mayor sent his infant son to Earth, who he hoped would unite the planet as one, as its ruler. His son's name was Kal-El, and The Mayor reveals that he is, in fact, Jor-El.

Jesden is now being interviewed and blathers on about how "real flesh" needs to be running the city, as we watch some robotic bugs tamper with one of the portals into the city. Later, Jesden has dinner with Lois (mm, worms). Tiffany enters and tells Jesden that the new microbots are ready, and Tiffany once again displays jealousy over Jesden's affection for Lois. He tells her she has nothing to be jealous of, and that he in fact has a very special task for her. Jesden goes to talk with a scientist working for him, who tells him that the new microbots have been programmed to reinforce portals instead of create new ones, and will alter the existing microbots to have the same programming. Jesden then asks him to make a mimic-suit.

Back to Supes and robo-daddy. Jor-El explains that Infinite City was his original plan to save Krypton, as he hoped to transplant the entire population there. But alas, the planet self-destructed too soon and so he went with Plan B - send Kal to Earth. Before Krypton exploded, he transferred his consciousness into a control unit and sent it to Infinite City to oversee construction. When Krypton was destroyed, his microbots were unable to complete construction of the gateway between dimensions. But instead of stopping, they just kept trying to build a gateway to Krypton over and over again. Each new attempt created a portal to another world and more and more people from all kinds of alien races kept falling into the city through these portals. But each new portal weakened the temporal bubble, and eventually so many portals are made that the city implodes and all organic life dies on both sides of the portals. Jor-El, being a robot, survived, but so did the microbots. Who started making more new portals, starting the cycle anew (and it's gone on this way for two complete cycles, the third currently in progress).

Jor-El then explains that he tried to clone his son from a strand of his hair, and the result was The Warden, who is different in appearance from Superman because he was born in Infinite City with all of its differing laws of physics (NOTE: The Warden has blonde hair). Supes asks Jor-El why he didn't just seal the portals, and Jor-El says he has lost all control over the microbots a long time ago and they seem to have some new agenda.

Cut to Ruth Ordaire, who says she's received a tip from a viewer that Lois Lane will be moved soon, and Reggie looks worried. The Warden says he's going after her, and Supes wants to go and The Warden refuses. Jor-El intervenes and gets The Warden to acquiesce.

Jesden is helping Lois into a car, and tells her it will take her to the Earth portal. He gives her a lapel pin in the shape of a flower and tells her it's very important that she only uses it as instructed.

Supes and The Warden fly to the rescue, eventually extracting Lois who seems very unnerved and shaken up by being in the middle of all the chaos. Supes outdoes The Warden, who had been ribbing him about not having control over his powers, and takes a little time for some tonsil hockey with Lois.

Kal takes Lois to meet Jor-El, who stares at her lapel pin with interest. Alone for a while, Lois whines and coos about wanting to go home that very night, and Kal apparently contemplates the idea of staying in Infinite City to be with his father.

We're back with Jesden again, and a slowly awakening Lois. He tells her he's sorry for everything, but it will all be worth it, as he'll make her happier than she's ever been.

Supes goes to talk to Jor-El about leaving to get Lois home, and Jor-El gets all down on Lois and thinks she might not be fit to be Kal's "queen". Jor-El explains he hoped Kal would lead them benevolently, but he needs a queen deserving of him and he's not sure Lois is it.

Jesden is now talking about what an excellent mayor he'll make soon, and he promises a depressed Warden that he will once again be the city's favorite son as soon as Jesden is in power.

Reggie goes to meet with Mr. Sharpe, worried about what Lois knows of their "operation". Ruth Ordaire gets it all on film, and zaps away before she can be caught. They bring Reggie in to talk to him, and instead of beating the information out of him Supes suggest letting Lois talk to him to use her reporter skills to get information out of him. Lois seems flustered and unsure of what to do, and then Superman removes the flower lapel pin from her dress and she shimmers to reveal Tiffany Temprince. Supes laments that he's been so preoccupied with Jor-El and that, with his powers all messed up, he couldn't even tell Lois wasn't really Lois, and then gets all up in Tiffany's face about the location of the real Lois.

Mr. Sharpe and Black Zero tamper with one of the portals.

Tiffany returns to Jesden, telling him that everyone is on to his plan, and Supes shows up outside Jesden's window. Jesden takes Supes to Lois, but then unleashes some hairy dragon beast.

The Warden and Jor-El show up to stop Mr. Sharpe and Black Zero, but The Warden refuses to stop them, believing that what they're doing by propping the portal open is right. Jor-El is confused.

The dragon takes Lois, and Supes tries to save her. Jesden becomes genuinely concerned for her welfare.

Jor-El tries to stop the reprogrammed microbots himself, but becomes overwhelmed by them. Seeing his father near death, The Warden has a change of heart and tries to save him, but it's too late.

Mr. Sharpe is revealed to be some sort of Eradicator program, who also has a change of heart and stops trying to prop the portal open, as The Warden holds Jor-El's dead head in his hands.

Supes stops the hairy dragon beastie with some of Lois's perfume, which Jesden's scientist discovered had become some behavior-altering pheromone in Infinite City. More tonsil hockey ensues, this time with the real Lois.

Jor-El, it turns out, didn't die. His consciousness transferred into the microbots, and with Superman's help they are able to undo the damage to the portal. Supes and The Warden reconcile their differences and call each other brothers.

Lois and Clark return to Earth, and Clark removes the door that led to Infinite City and says he's taking it back to the Fortress of Solitude to prevent anyone else from falling into it, and so that he can maybe use it to keep in touch with dear old dad.

And the last scene reveals that Eradicator Sharpe has taken over Jesden's company, and the client Jesden had been working on the ray gun for was none other than Lex Luthor, who is now mildly interested in Sharpe's new project... perfume.

2Story - 2: Wow, there's a lot here. What a first review to get. I think I'll start off with translations of all the Kryptonian text, for anyone interested.

Page 3: Programming complete You are a genius Jor-El And a modest one

Page 15: Stop right there!

Page 16: (Panel 1) The gates are off limits! Failure to recognize this is punishable by law!

(Panel 2) By Rao... did she come through the gate? Yessir...

(Panel 3) Get her in quarantine! Seal off the platform! And notify the Throne Room we have another one!

(Panel 4) Breach alert! Quarantine status! All core staff to your stations! Yeep!

Page 17: Keep moving...

Page 20: (Panel 1) What is this, a parade? Don't move, stranger!

(Panel 2) How many more are with you? No one...

The devil. What is it about the devil? Ah yes, he's in the details. And that is where this comic falls apart.

First of all, there is absolutely no explanation given for why Lois goes to investigate Infinite City with Clark. What interest in it could she possibly have? Perhaps she was interested in doing a story on it, you say, and I could buy that. If it was mentioned.

But it wasn't.

And so she had no reason to be there. There are also inconsistencies galore, some of which are so simple that it boggles my mind how they could be screwed up.

The biggest one I noticed was that when Supes sees the tiny writing on the ray gun, it says the gun was made in "Infinite California". Later he's looking it up on a map, and it says "Infinite City". If the author can't even get the name of the town right, what hope do we readers have?

It's also never explained why or how this city that consists of virtually nothing other than a diner is sitting abandoned in California (with cold ice cream on the counter, no less, which is never explained even though the writer makes a point to let us all know that it's still cold) with a door AS PART OF THE BUILDING STRUCTURE which just happens to lead to the *real* Infinite City in its little pocket dimension outside of time. Why are they named the same? How can a town consist of nothing but a diner with cold ice cream on the counter in a population of zero?

Apparently we don't need to know these things. But then, if we didn't need to know them, why did the writer bother to mention them?

It just doesn't jive.

There are also other things that make no sense. Jor-El says that the people of Infinite City are from all over the universe, from many different species. And he was the only Kryptonian who made it there. So then why would someone from another species be saying "Great Rao," when Rao is a Kryptonian god? It just makes no sense.

Oh, and let's not forget Reggie, who when he makes his first appearance tells Lois that he'll be her ATTORNEY for the remainder of her stay in Infinite City. Attorney? For what? She never went to any courts or tribunals. She was never accused of any crimes. She never needed an attorney, and Reggie never actually acted as one.

So why on earth did the writer waste space telling us that he was an attorney?

My friends, I wish I had the answer for you.

The book also touts Infinite City as being a place "where futuristic technology and magic coexist". What a load of hooey. There's no real magic in the book at all. It does get mentioned twice, though... once when Reggie says that a "simple spell" (that we never saw anyone actually perform) has allowed Lois to understand and speak Kryptonian, and once when Jor-El asks Supes if his powers are magical (since he already knows the answer to that, who knows why he would even ask). That's it, there's nothing else. But there's computers and wires and flying cars everywhere.

Oh, and Pterodactyls. Don't forget the Pterodactyls. The converted-into-mass-transit-busses Pterodactyls.

That does not a world "where futuristic technology and magic coexist" make.

There's also the random moment when Clark first arrives in Infinite City and introduces himself as... Calvin Ellis. Cal El. Get it? Ha-ha, the writer is a clever fellow!

Except that Clark has no reason to say that whatsoever. He mentions he didn't want to say his name was "Kal-El" because they spoke Kryptonian and he wasn't sure that would be wise. Well Superman is a trusting man, people, so I don't know if I buy that, but at least it was addressed. He also says he didn't want to say "Clark Kent" because of the portal back to Earth... like he was afraid some nutso from Infinite City would go through the portal and look him up some day. Ooookay, I'm not sure I buy that either, but again, at least it was addressed.

But why didn't he just say Superman? In fact, he later introduces himself as such to IC's equivalent of a television reporter, thus telling the entire population that he is "Superman". So why, when a guard asks who he is, would he make up "Calvin Ellis"? There's no reason whatsoever, I tell ya, and that's a problem.

And what's up with the villain name, "Jesden Thyme"? Sounds more like a lame Bond-villain name than anything else. Oh, and while I'm on the subject of names... why were names like "Ruth" and "Tiffany" commonplace in Infinite City, when there were no other humans there? I find it hard to believe people from other planets all across the universe would still be naming their children "Jim" and "Sarah". It's not a major problem, but just another one of those little things that scraped away at my overall impression.

It also has a distinct lack of women. There are only three females in the entire 96-page book. Lois is portrayed as not all that intelligent and simply the object of every man's desire (pheromone-perfume or no, she should never be relegated to such a role as her *only* role), the woman who is jealous of the manly attention that Lois gets, and a nosy reporter who is a one-dimensional plot device. And you're telling me that although Jor-El could save his son, and even save himself after a fashion, he could (or is that *would*?) do nothing at all to save his wife Lara, who was conspicuously absent from this story? Not really a ringing endorsement of the other gender, is it, Mr. Kennedy?

And let's face it, when the last panel on page 17 has Lois freaking out about being in quarantine and trying (in the dumbest way possible) to escape and her breasts smack Reggie in the face for comic relief... perhaps something's not quite right with this comic.

And now we have Jor-El alive in this pocket city outside of normal time, and as near as I can tell this book is in actual continuity. I'm not sure that's such a good thing, because before you know it he'll have a body of his own and suddenly Earth will be crawling with Kryptonians, ala pre-Crisis. It's a slippery slope, my friends.

Nothing in the book is worth the incredibly steep $25 cover price individually, not even the swanky, thick glossy paper.

I suggest you save your money, because this book is really not deserving of it.

3Art - 3: I'm not a big fan of Meglia, but it's nothing personal. His style is a little too cartoonish for my taste (which is odd, considering I love Ed McGuinness). If you enjoyed the issues of "Adventures of Superman" that he did you'll probably love what's in "Infinite City" as it's more of the same only on a grander scale and with bright, vibrant coloring.

My main problem with the art is that in some panels I can't tell what's going on. I'll look at it several times and just not be able to tell what I'm looking at exactly, and in such a visual medium I find that to be a huge detraction.

I'm also not sure why some choices were made, like the color of Lois's dress changing from white (on Earth) to red (in IC). Different physics, I hear you saying! Yes, but Clark's shirt was also white on earth, and yet, when he went to IC, it was suddenly changed to... white. So why did Lois's dress color change? It doesn't make sense.

I also don't get why Lois's dress looked like something from the '60s designed to look like something from the year 2000, if you get my drift. It was actually very similar to the clothing worn by everyone in IC (especially Jesden).

And some of the art literally looks like a simple cartoon cell placed over an incredibly detailed, almost photo-realistic background and it felt very disjointed and really pulled me out of the story.

Overall, I wasn't very impressed.

2Cover Art - 2: To me, this is just a bit of a jumbled mess. And of all the characters in the book, the only ones to make it to the cover are Superman (understandable) and... Mr. Sharpe? I'm not even sure that's actually him in the lower right-hand corner, but I think it is. And he played such a small role, I'm completely baffled why he'd be included in this mess of "cool technology" they decided to flood the cover with.

Oh, and a Pterodactyl. Don't forget the Pterodactyl.

The *converted-into-a-mass-transit-buss* Pterodactyl.

Hoo boy.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2005

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