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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #222

Superman #222

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 19, 2005

Cover date: December 2005

Writer: Mark Verheiden
Penciller: Ed Benes and Joe Prado
Inker: Mariah Benes, Alex Lei, Rob Lei, Joe Prado

"Safe Harbor"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Click to enlarge

Lois is typing on her computer yelling to her new visitor, when she realizes that its not who she thinks it is. Moving to the other room, Lois is attacked by an OMAC agent. Diving into the kitchen, she pulls a pulse rifle designed by John Henry Irons out of a concealed cavity and blasts the cyborg through a wall. The delay only lasts a moment though as the OMAC strikes back. Lois thinks that she sure picked a bad day to tell Superman she doesn't want to see him again.

A day earlier, Lois and another Daily Planet staffer, Kel, are walking down the street when Superman flies overhead. Lois follows him to a battle with the Weather Wizard. He narrowly saves Lois when the Wizard sends a blast of debris her way, and then takes off after the fleeing villain. A moment later Clark appears on the scene, embracing his wife. Lois whispers to him that she's glad he stayed and let Weather Wizard get away. She tells him about a lead on the OMACs, and an informant that she'll be meeting. Clark tells her she should back off on this one, but Lois snaps back that he can't tell her how to do her job.

Lois runs into the bathroom and triggers the controls for the panic room that Clark installed in the apartment. She rests for a moment before the steel walls start to dent under the OMAC's assault.

At the Daily Planet, Lois goes to Clark and tells him that they shouldn't go away mad. She just wants to know why he's so worried. He tells her it's nothing specific as he leaves. That night, Lois arrives at her meeting only to find Clark there first. The informant tells Clark that she helped create the OMACs. She was involved with vaccinations in the third world, when a mysterious benefactor provided a new vaccine and the money to spread it worldwide. Eventually, she heard the name Maxwell Lord. The sites of the vaccinations just happen to coincide with the areas of OMAC appearances. Lois barges in, furious at her husband for crossing the line, when suddenly three OMACs appear above them. Clark pushes the two women out of the room and confronts the robots as Superman. Superman knocks one away before another strikes him hard in the chest.

Lois searches the panic room for something to use against the OMAC, and finds it by blowing out the pilot light on the small water heater. Then she hides herself in a closet and hopes that the OMAC ignites the gas, and that she'll survive the explosion.

As the building collapses around Superman the three OMACs fly away. As Jimmy and Perry join Lois, Superman flies down to meet them. Except there is a hole in his chest, revealing his inner machinery. A Superman robot. The robot takes Lois away, and she demands to know how long he's been playing Clark. The robot tells her that Superman knew she wouldn't accept this, but she needed to be protected. Lois tells the robot to tell Clark that she's not sure the marriage is worth it.

As the OMAC that was once Lois' friend Kelly breaks through the door, a huge explosion rips through the apartment. Superman arrives instantly and searches until he finds his wife. He apologizes for the robot and tells her that he can't lose her. Lois kisses him amidst their burning apartment.

A caped figure flies towards the sun and obtains a chunk of black rock. As Bizarro heads back towards Earth, Luthor smiles. Human testing will begin immediately.

4Story - 4: Verheiden has been very hit or miss for me, and this one was definitely a hit. I know lots of people will complain about the use of a Superman robot, and I do realize just how ridiculous it is that Superman could build robots, but I really like them. It's a nice throwback to the campy Silver Age books where Superman made his robots talk with super-ventriloquism (note to DC, do NOT bring back super-ventriloquism). I also really liked the fortification of the Kent home. Here is something that makes perfect sense. The pulse rifle was great, but the panic room was even better. Of course, there is the question as to why it didn't trigger a signal to alert Superman, but I'll ignore that.

The one thing I didn't like about this issue, and the reason for the four, was the failure yet again to write their relationship in character. Lois needs to stop going nuts every time Clark tries to protect her. How many times has he saved her life? She's an intelligent woman; she should realize that bringing him along is a good idea. Especially after the presence of the Superman robot is the only thing that saved her. Of course you can argue that she was upset because she was lied to, which leads into Clark being out of character. Why would he lie? He loves and trusts Lois, and I fail to see why she wouldn't go along with: I need to be Superman; this robot will protect my identity. And of course, Lois being glad that "Clark" stayed while the Weather Wizard rampages through the city just adds to the lack of credibility.

This aside, this was just an enjoyable issue. We finally got to see the OMACs affect everyday people more (something I commented on last week in Infinite Crisis), and we even got a cameo by Luthor. A solid book.

4Art - 4: Benes' work in this book is a solid five. His Superman in the first few pages was just fantastic. The rest of the book, however, just isn't as good. It's never bad art, but Benes throughout would have been much better and switching between the two just detracts from the story. And why does a standard length issue need two pencillers and FOUR inkers? It's just annoying.

3Cover Art - 3: I suppose this scene directly happens in the book, so points for that, but there was so much more that could have been done with this. Lois fighting an OMAC would have been more eye-catching than this. The drab background doesn't help things either. The art itself is great (if you've never read Supergirl's Many Happy Returns with Benes's art, then you should) but this cover had much more potential than a back shot of Superman.

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

January 2005

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