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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman Secret Files and Origins 2005

Superman: Secret Files & Origins 2005

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 7, 2005

Cover date: January 2006

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

2Cover Art - 2: Superman looks like he's got a flashlight hand and his eyes are spurting blood. It's distracting, and he looks more like Cyclops than he should... all in all, it's really a pose that leaves you wondering what the heck he's doing as opposed to "Man, that's cool!".

"Superman is Weak!"

Writer: Devin K. Grayson
Art: Ariel Olivetti

Dennis, a student who doesn't like Superman but loves Batman, challenges a kid who loves Superman about his beliefs. He jumps onto the other boy and attacks him. They turn into the real Superman and Batman (imagining) and fight, until the bell rings.

Inside, it's Superman Appreciation Day. Dennis gives his speech, where he belittles Superman, saying that Superman is good, but Batman is better.

The boys fight again, and the teacher pulls them off each other. In their imaginations, they've turned back into the heroes, and the teacher is Wonder Woman.

The class thinks that Superheroes all fight as opposed to using their brain, so the teacher tries to explain the circumstances to them.

Clark Kent arrives to observe. He finds out the students think heroes hit each other, so he brings a girl to the front of the class, and tries to have the students come up with a solution.

They try talking. It only makes the girl pretending to be a monster angrier. Dennis suggests that Batman come in with gadgets and subdue the creature.

A student explains that Superman would instead protect the innocent, then sweep in and take the monster away from people.

Another student speaks about what he likes about Superman, talking about how he comes from a land far away, and probably misses his home, but nonetheless is happy to be where he is, to do good.

Finally, the girl that separated the boys in the beginning comes up and says that what she likes about Superman is that he can fly. Clark Kent slips out, and soon, Superman swoops in from the sky in a flyby, to the children's joy.

3Story - 3: This story taps into something that I have a lot of sympathy with: What makes Superman great. No post-modern, "I hate being Superman" crap that litters a lot of the comics we see. It's just Superman, talking about why he's a good influence, and showing kids their potential to get along and be strong.

Problem is, there's nothing really unique about it. The kids are stereotypes, cut-out and pretty much arbitrary, and their interaction is obviously just to forward the ideas in the story. Now, granted, I can understand that. That's, by and large, an approach I take in my novels. The idea is more important than character, though characterization is vital. Still, in this case, it's a FULL comic book sized story that is just, well, kids hanging out and debating Superman. I do that all day at the comic shop. Unless there's some special hook, this story REALLY has been done to death. And there is no real special hook. It's kids, yeah. And it's got imagination thrown in there, where they become Superman and Batman, with a neat Wonder Woman trick, but it's just very archetypical. I won't remember much of this story in a week. That's important.

Yes. I love the idea that Superman is a positive, loving, humanizing force, and any story that forwards that motion is a good thing.

But stereotypically, it just doesn't shine.

3Art - 3: The art is also average. There are some good characterizations, but to counter that, there are also a lot of panels with blank backgrounds. There are many with great backgrounds, but then, there are also times when characterization falls flat. Nothing really sticks out, but no real major specialty is shown in this art...

All profile pages are written by Christine Boyland

"Superman" (Profile page)

Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Marc Campos

1Profile - 1: Really didn't go above and beyond what someone who hasn't read a comic in ten years doesn't already know, and sheds no light as to how Birthright changes anything, even though the Birthright origin change is noted in the top.

4Art - 4: A pretty compelling re-imagining of the already classic pose with Superman breaking chains. Not bad at all.

"Lois and the Big One!"

Writer: Jami Bernard
Art: Renato Guedes

Just after Superman comes to Metropolis, Lois Lane complains about not being able to secure an interview with Superman, to all around her at the Daily Planet, including Clark. Clark sees a young boy falling out a window and goes to save him as Superman, stopping at the end to speak to Lois.

1Story - 1: Seriously, what I wrote above is what happened. It's a three page story. It tries to characterize Lois, but the problem is, there's no time, so she just comes off as a complaining shrew, which she's done far too much of late. This story needed more pages, so it's hard to fault the author. I find it abominable that this story, which has potential, got bumped, when the artificial, stereotypical story got 22 pages. That doesn't make much sense.

5Art - 5: For what little art there is, however, it's beautiful. Particularly Superman's appearance at the end. A great reveal, and really well colored.

"Daily Planet Staff" (profile)

Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Mariah Benes

5Profile - 5: A neat little explanation of the mains in the Daily Planet, which even helped me. And I watch pretty closely. It's kind of sad that from this little profile I learned more about Josef Schuman than I did for the entire Action Comics run where he was introduced, thusfar. It dodges Birthright, but then, that's a good thing for continuity, as far as I'm concerned.

4Art - 4: Pretty typical situation with all involved, but the cubicle perspective is neat, and elevates the picture.

"Ruin" (profile)

Art: Karl Kerschl

1Profile - 1: Don't get me wrong. I love Ruin. That's why this profile gets such a low rating. And hey, don't even pin this one on the writer. Pin this one on the fact that because this book is three weeks late, this whole write-up has no suspense, resolution, or poignancy.

Oh, who will Ruin be, it laments...when we found out last week.

5Art - 5: AWESOME shot of Ruin. Makes him look a bit Darth-Maul-y, but then, with the menace that emanates from both the lighting and the framing of the panel, it works really well.

"Bizarro: Birthwrong"

Writer: Christine Boyland
Pencils: Carlos Ferreira
Inks: Drew Geraci

A very brief summary of Bizarro's new origin, from Emperor Joker (with Mxy sitting on watching as Joker creates Bizarro) to his current whereabouts, working for Luthor.

4Story - 4: Decent little exploratory origin, like the old school pages in the Super-Friend action figure carrier. There is an inaccuracy... Mxy wasn't complicit with Joker in Emperor Joker after Joker took over, but mostly, a great little story.

5Art - 5: Well colored, well framed given the plotting, and about as well put together as you can get in two pages.

"Blackrock" (profile)

Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Mariah Benes

5Profile - 5: This brings me up to speed with a lot of stuff that the months made murky even in the comic, and clarifies a few questions I had. Not bad at all.

5Art - 5: Compelling, malevolent picture of the new Blackrock. The picture and the profile, more than the story itself, ironically, has me more jazzed for her as a character.

"Lex Luthor" (profile)

Art: Rags Morales

3Profile - 3: Generally pretty accurate and a good read, but SO flawed because of Birthright. It states that Luthor hired an actor to play his father, "Lionel", and lived in Smallville for a time. Which is, of course, impossible, given that in the comics Lex has been a contemporary of Perry White... another Birthright flaw that they have failed to address or fix.

It also doesn't really explain why the heck Lex would want to hire a man he didn't like to be his father and move to Smallville. Uh, why?

But then, it addresses the two Luthors, and summarizes pretty well, so not a total loss.

5Art - 5: GREAT picture of Luthor, both in the suit and the suit, if you get me.

"Fortress of Solitude" (profile)

Art: Joe Prado

5Profile - 5: This three page examination of the Fortress of Solitude explains where it is right now, and brings us up to speed on some of the rooms. Well written, and nicely paced.

5Art - 5: Stunning rendition of the home. It even made me hold my grimace for the "new" Jor-El and Lara, they were so well framed, and the art was so beautifully drawn.

"Lois Lane" (profile)

Art: Frank Quietly

4Profile - 4: Generally pretty accurate and well-put. It reflects the Birthright method of naming Superman (Lexcorp industrial accident as opposed to a shuttle crash), which sucks, but otherwise, it accurately summarizes Lois and her current position well.

3Art - 3: I'm not as impressed with Quietly's Lois, nor with his art of yet. I read Morrison and Quietly's entire run of New X-Men, and while I loved the writing, I was never fond of his art. The headshots of Lois looks like Quietly trying to make his mark on Lois instead of the other way around, and that, in art, always distracts me.

3Overall - 3: The profiles are neat, as are the few short stories, but the long, unnecessary opening story was a drag. Also, where is the story that's relevant to current continuity, beyond, say Bizarro, which was two pages? Usually, like with the last one, there's a "Mxy's back to normal!" kind of story that sets up forthcoming art. I missed that.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2006

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