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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #661

Superman #661

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 4, 2007

Cover date: April 2007

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Penciller: Richard Howell
Inker: Eduardo Barreto

"Dangerous Lady"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Wonder Woman tears cars apart at a charity show for women's shelters. Lois and Clark attend.

A woman named Khyrana smashes a display case at the museum during the second part of the charity occasion. She takes a bracelet she claims to be hers. Clark tries to stop her, so she blasts him, removing all of his non-Superman clothes in full view of the public (no joke here, seriously, folks - Neal).

Superman is drained and weakened, as is Wonder Woman. Khyrana takes Superman and leaves.

When she recovers, Diana explains Khyrana to Lois. Khyrana was a woman who is so famous for turning down men's sexual advances that she got Zeus' attention, who, in revenge for her turning him down, turned her into a sex-crazed harlot who needs the attention of men constantly. And when I say attention, I mean implied sex.

Wonder Woman follows Khyrana to her penthouse and finds Superman, dazed. Khyrana attacks Wonder Woman, and drains her.

The magic of Wonder Woman interferes with Superman's power in Khyrana, and she weakens. Superman and Wonder Woman punch her out and she's taken away.

Lois brings them home, where they collapse on the couch and fall asleep together. Lois turns to the reader and assures us that it's a good thing she's a trusting woman.

1Story - 1: Good God, that was awful.

I mean, I've seen lots of Superman awful, but this one is pretty close to taking the cake. I am baffled by Busiek, honestly I am. He started out with some truly awful issues, the Subjekt-17 stuff, and then segued into some really awesome character work with potential, with the future tale. Now he's gone back to one-off, crap, awful stories that don't have any real statement about the characters involved and narcissistically indulge in one-note, awful new villain characters.

Villain comes to town, Superman defeats him. That's the modus, I know, but the game is making it new and interesting, not telling the same story we've heard eighteen hundred times, only making it that much worse.

Here, the inconsistencies abound. They're easy to pick at, obvious, and ridiculous. Wonder Woman, for instance, appearing at a charity affair despite being hunted like a dog for killing Max Lord in another book. Clark's secret identity blatantly exposed to the world, and laughing it off like "Oh, was he the guy with the beard, or the glasses?"

Here you can argue that, given the new continuity, Clark is not a well known novelist and journalist. But then, given that not a SINGLE editor will step forth and tell us what we're working from, all we can assume is what we already know, and I know a Clark Kent that has three novels out in popular print and is known internationally as a public figure.

Other crap that bothers include the fact that a woman who has been around for over a thousand years has no idea who TWO of the big three superheroes of her current era are. Yeah, I buy that. And this is for the "Forsooth! Hello stranger! Unhand me, ye brigand!" dialogue, and also to justify that this insatiable person for some reason has never been able to decide to hunt Superman. Which is garbage.

To say NOTHING about the fact that you're trying, here, as I read it, to create a tragic figure who has been encroached upon by the patriarchy in order to make a statement about how women are constantly victimized by men, IN A MAGAZINE THAT IS EXPLOITING HER "INSATIABLE" SEXUAL DESIRE ON THE COVER AND IN THE MAG TO SELL IT.

Up to and including indicating that yeah, she goofs around with chicks. That's so hot.

A woman so insatiable sexually that when Clark touches her, she beats him senseless, and oh, yeah, she can wait two or three years before she siphons off a guy.

Awful dilemma resolution, too. Get this. I take Superman and Wonder Woman's powers. Get me? They're now mine. They don't want to work with each other, because Superman's powers and magic don't get along, right? So where are we?

I'm a superpowerful woman next to two de-powered mere mortals.

In other words, when Superman and Wonder Woman punch her, she can't retaliate, but Wonder Woman and Superman have two broken hands and pass out. I can't punch Superman when he's confused and not break my hand, nor can Superman, when he has no powers, punch someone with his powers and come out happy.

There's also the "Smallville" dilemma. Whereby Khyrana is insatiable for sex, and thusly kidnaps the alpha male, Clark, and takes him off to take advantage of him. Then, instead of busting a cap in him, Dr. Evil decides to just sit and wait and believe everything is going according to plan until Wonder Woman arrives. Yeah. Sure.

And then, in the end, they break the fourth wall and have Lois wink to the camera. Cute. Really cute.

You know, stuff like this just infuriates me. This is SUPERMAN. Fill-in, regular book, it doesn't matter. This stuff should be MOVING people. AND books. And this kind of story will NOT move books.

And it certainly didn't move me.

The ONLY thing good that can be said about this book is that the character of Khyrana's origin is fairly in line with ancient Greek style stories, which only I and a few other classical literature geeks dig. Might have been great in a Wonder Woman book. In fact, this whole issue felt like a half-@$$#d Wonder Woman book from the mid-nineties.

Your problem being, this is a Superman book.

2Art - 2: It's not awful, but it's sloppy and very old style. I would understand it if they were trying to evoke an older era, but it doesn't come off that way. It comes off like a 1988 Byrne issue. Which would have been great back then, but now it falls flat, because art, and especially comic art, has come very far forward of that era.

The coloring is dry, the characters are stiff, and it made it very, very hard to go from panel to panel.

1Cover Art - 1: What are we, five? I KNOW that they know that these kind of covers look dated, old, and ridiculous. Seriously. READ this thing.

It's obvious, given the artificial cover folds, that they're trying to do what the pulp cover for 52 did and emulate nostalgia, only here it fails miserably, because even WAY back then, the concepts were compelling on the cover, not archetypical crap that's already been done a thousand times.

Wondy looks like she's trying to cop a feel. The scene didn't happen in the issue.

The sad thing is, the level of detail on this cover is pretty good, but the dialogue pulls you so far out of it that it's impossible to enjoy the situation (absurd) or the image (decent).

What happened to the last two issues worth of GOOD, solid stories? Why did things suddenly turn around here? Come on, guys.

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

January 2007

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