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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #216

Superman #216

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 4, 2005

Cover date: June 2005

Writer: Judd Winick
Penciller: Ian Churchill
Inker: Norm Rapmund

"Lightning Strikes Twice" - Part Three

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

It is discussed in caption how there are two forces in the universe, one extremely good, the other extremely evil, the Spectre and Eclipso. Both bound to human hosts... except the Spectre, just recently. And now Eclipso has Superman.

Eclipso, as Superman, punches Captain Marvel from California to Hawaii. The impact shatters windows.

Eclipso slams Marvel into a mountain and tells him of his goal, to take Marvel's body. Marvel swears it won't happen, so Eclipso lifts a navy vessel and throws it, reassuring Marvel that he will indeed give Eclipso his body, or he'll fill the Grand Canyon with bodies.

Marvel takes the fight to an icy area with no civilization, and transforms back and forth from Billy to Marvel, each time smashing Eclipso with the lightning in order to make him let Superman go.

Superman takes control back for a moment, and tells Marvel to kill him. Marvel refuses, and Eclipso takes over again. Eclipso head butts Marvel in the nose. Marvel changes back to Billy, hitting Eclipso with lightning, and before he can say Shazam again, Eclipso grabs him by the neck and chokes him.

The wizard Shazam appears, interfering, smashing Eclipso with lightning.

Eclipso keeps attacking, and Shazam and Billy realize that Eclipso will keep coming until they kill Superman.

Shazam calls upon the Spectre to banish Eclipso, violating a number of covenants and rules. Spectre banishes Eclipso.

Afterwards, Spectre tells Shazam that his actions will cause the dark spirit of vengeance to rain war upon him. Shazam reassures the Spectre that there were no other options. The world's greatest hero was at stake.

Eclipso, meanwhile, finds a new host, Jean Loring, in Arkham.

5Story - 5: Someone finally figured out what we want as fans. A simple, fun, intelligent story. Bingo!

Of course, it wasn't very brainy. I mean, it was a smash-em-up. But it was a smash-em-up with a reason, a smash-em-up that didn't last too long, and there was a point to it.

EVERY book I am reading is setting up for Identity Crisis, and every book I am reading from the DCU has my full attention, for the first time in a long while. This one is no exception. From the tie to Jean Loring, to the prelude to Day of Vengeance, this is just a great, crossing story. It feels like one of those great big crossovers from the 90s, or maybe Our Worlds At War, had OWAW actually had writer cohesion and built itself up for a time.

The story is great. That's fine by me. I enjoyed it a great deal. It was brainless, but there was a rational story behind it, and the fight was INCREDIBLY cool. Smacking someone to Hawaii is always fun, no matter who's doing it, sonic booms, Shazam, all of these are classic and a blast.

I'm curious why Eclipso didn't just snap Billy's neck. I mean, without Marvel, who would threaten Eclipso in Superman's body? No one, really.

BUT, that said, this story speaks to a longer arc, and there are some things in those ramifications that I'm having trouble wrapping my head around. Maybe I'm nutty, but it's there. It doesn't reflect on this story, necessarily, but the others, so it doesn't change the rating, but it does belong in this review box.

Firstly, my concern is with the Spectre going nutty. If you read Day of Vengeance, it doesn't follow after this issue. It appears that Spectre is hunting down and killing the magic community. ALL of the magic community. I'm guessing because of what they did to Superman, but it still doesn't make much sense. What about Eclipso?

Further, why make Jean Loring Eclipso? I know it ties up Identity Crisis, but, I mean, what does a psycho lady offer a being who can take over Superman? Maybe this will be explained, but it's still weird.

But other than that, it was a solid story, all around. Very enjoyable. I love Winick's work, both on Batman, and now, Superman.

FINALLY, someone takes Ian and gives him a great story worth drawing that knocks it right out. Now do it with Lee, dangit! None of this whiny Superman crap! We have this title BACK! Let's use it!

5Art - 5: Can't beat Ian. He's just great. But special recognition for the coloring in this issue. It's just incredible, and has been for the whole series. Beth Sotelo... I have no idea who you are, but please, stick around.

The smash to California, the background shot of the guy with his window exploding, all incredible. The Waid homage, Shazam the wizard, all rendered in high style. Ian rules.

5Cover Art - 5: What? What's this? It happens in the issue? It's got a great pose that fills the whole page? It CAN'T be! But it is! Incredible. What a pose, and what a cover. The only thing that I don't like about it is the words, but I can forgive them, with a cover like that.

Awesome work.

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

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