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Superman: Strength #2

Superman: Strength #2

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 2, 2005

Cover date: April 2005

Writer: Scott McCloud
Penciller: Aluir Amancio
Inker: Terry Austin

"Part Two: The Long Run"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Pa Kent continues the story of young Clark and his burst of power, and continues the tale right where he left off, with Clark running at a high rate of speed.

Clark eventually stops in a city, and realizes that he has powers beyond those of a normal man, speed, invulnerability, far sight and x-ray vision.

He stops some thugs from picking on a boy, but when the boy escapes, the thugs reveal they were chasing him for being a murderer. Clark helps him find the boy again, but the boy indicates that the thugs are murderers too. The two sects are gang members, and they throw blame back and forth. Clark tries to stop them, but they end up shooting each other in the end.

Clark calls Pa, who tells him that he's all the way in Chicago.

Back home, Clark lapses into a long sleep and forgets most of his adventure. Pa goes with Clark to the shop and admits his wrongdoing, and Clark sees the repercussions for lying.

At this point, the phone rings in the present. It's someone calling Lois to LexCorp. She goes with Pa, and when she arrives, she finds Superman's body, trapped the way it was in the last issue. She learns about the gloves.

Fido and company taunt Superman, who admonishes them for their actions. Fido tells him that he wouldn't know why they're having such fun, having grown up in affluence.

Fido tells Trudy about his dream, where his father is beating Superman again, and he tells his father he's proud of him, but his father just starts beating him again.

On the radio, emergencies abound. Superman tells Fido that he can save those people, and that if he lets him go save them, he will return to captivity. He gives Fido his word. Fido, not wanting blood on his hands, agrees.

Superman saves a school full of children, then he saves people endangered by a flood. All the while, he considers his first real flight, with his father, on the way home from Chicago. In the end, he considers the weight of a promise and returns to Fido as promised. He also speaks to the Golden Rule, and its importance in making the world a better place.

Fido goes to Lex Luthor, and offers him Superman's head on a platter and infinite wealth in exchange for his experience, a partnership, and a return of the patent to the gloves.

Lex tells him that he has no partners, ever, and that he's a legitimate businessman. Also, that he has another set of gloves already (which he pulls out).

Fido ups the stakes, showing a device that is a scale model of Metropolis. But when he puts something into the model, it appears in real life. He drops a penny, and the penny becomes HUGE in Metropolis, taking out a boat.

Lex's bodyguards and Fido's crew battle, and in the struggle, Fido is struck, and the things he was going to drop into the model, change, pens, batteries, and etcetera, all go flying in. Lex releases Superman, who goes to stop the falling items, which are now legion above the city.

4Story - 4: In the up-coming Identity Crisis retrospective, I comment as to the reason that this story is a 4 as opposed to a 5, in depth. The basic gist is that this is a passable story. It is even well written. It is your usual comic book fare, and it even has moments that really draw out the fan in me.

For instance, who DOESN'T like seeing Lex Luthor school someone, be that Clark Kent, Superman, or some punk who's bitten off more than he can chew?

Who doesn't love a wholesome story of Clark as a kid, showing how he learned his moral and value system (I mean, take a clue from this, Smallville, PLEASE).

There's also a lot to be said for unerring creativity, and in a framework where you can suspend disbelief. Like that miniature model, and the portable hole gloves. Even the characters scoff at how implausible it is, but the writing, the situation, and its application are all so lovingly put, you buy it.

And who doesn't like seeing Superman save people from earthquakes and floods?

Generally, I like this story, and the direction it's going.

Conversely, how many times have we SEEN Superman saving people from earthquakes and floods?

Here's the rub, and here's the lost point, and here's the future of comics, in a tiny package (Yes and LO, isn't it amazing that some little smart butt on the Internet knows it all? Bear with me. It's my theory, that's all.).

With the advent of stories like Identity Crisis, the realization is that kids simply aren't reading any more. These are stories for adults. And as a story for an adult, this is fanciful, hard to take seriously, and very preachy and moralistic. It's also been done before. It's also stepping backwards in continuity.

It's great as a story, on its own (like Birthright) but when taken in context, and when put with the rest of the stories out there (like Birthright) it fails, because there are just so many more adult stories that are more to my style and age group, my level of maturity. This is a good story for kids. Heck. Never mind that, it's a GREAT story. But it's a story we've seen. It's every Superman story. He learns a moral, he stops the bad guy, and no one ever gets hurt, there's no ramifications, it's self-contained... to me that just smacks of the Silver Age.

Identity Crisis has proven that fans and adults demand more, and this book, in some ways (it delivers in many others) fails that litmus test.

Still, you notice the four, and I stand by that four, because this story is still above average for kids and adults. I find myself starting to give a care about Fido, the Luthor moments do pay off, and there is a lot of attention to details between stories. It's well written, although the plot is not all to my liking.

Not worth the prestige format and the extra money. That's another big beef. Release it for two dollars. MORE people will buy it. Know your economics, DC! Lowering price increases demand.

3Art - 3: The art declined in this issue a bit, and I noticed a lot of similarity in all of the characters, less distinction. There were also a number of times where I noticed that the heads were just REALLY disproportionate to the bodies. A good example is Clark and the hood, when they're standing next to each other. Clark and the goon have the same sized head despite Clark being a kid, and both heads are obscenely large for the body.

The women are still astonishingly beautiful, and well drawn, but there is a sense of big head folk wandering all around. And the thing is, sometimes the heads are on, sometimes they're too big. It gets bothersome.

The colors are vivid, the plot goes from A to B, it's just something feels a little off this issue. Luthor's a bit fat, too. That's the Byrne Luthor, and I get the feeling this was written without a care to the plots moving through the books.

4Cover Art - 4: A bit red, and the logo overlays the image this time a bit much, unlike last time. The red hits you over the head too much, so much so I thought that Superman's back was the arch of the cape. But once you sit back and look at it, and realize the image, and don't let the red get to you, it's quite compelling and well done. I don't know why the logo had to be that big. The art supports a 12 point font title. This cover would sell the book in most cases, I don't know why they hid a lot of it.

At any rate, still great, but not as cool as last month's. Let the color down a bit, perhaps.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2005

February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005

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