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Mild Mannered Reviews - Superman Confidential

Superman Confidential #12

Superman Confidential #12

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 20, 2008

Cover date: April 2008

"Signal to Noise"

Writer: B. Clay Moore
Penciller: Phil Hester
Inker: Ande Parks

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Superman stops a boat full of smugglers, and in the process, Jimmy Olsen, who he admonishes to keep his nose clean.

Winslow Schott is told by his boss at the toy company that he's fired.

Jimmy regales the Daily Planet staff with his adventures.

Clark builds Jimmy a signal watch.

Toyman murders a bum with (presumably) a giant toy.

Superman saves Jimmy from several wrestlers who Jimmy is investigating, again chastising him for putting himself in danger, seeing as Jimmy recovered no evidence and broke the law.

Giant toys appear and attack Metropolis. Jimmy uses his signal watch, and Superman goes to the rescue.

2Story - 2: This book isn't awful, the problem is there just isn't much point to it. It also pushes too far to the character extreme at the expense of story.

I always complain about the lack of character in a story. And to be honest, this book tries to turn up the character, with endearing scenes between Clark, Supes, Jimmy, Lois, Perry, and perhaps even Schott. The problem is, the conflict doesn't escalate or change as the story goes along. The dilemmas and problems are all so unrelatable that the character isn't forwarded, it's just spinning its wheels. For instance, twice Superman saves Jimmy from a silly, small situation in deus ex machina style, and there are several scenes that would forward character... if only the characters were talking of something of import as opposed to the obvious (Jimmy bragging over his exploits, Clark and Lois talking glibly about him, Clark and his landlady).

The only real escalation of conflict is Schott going from killing one bum to attacking Metropolis wholesale, but even this isn't really that big of a jump in terms of Schott compared to Superman. Thought obviously went into making each character part of the story, but the problem in essence turned out to be that in the process, decompression overshadowed any real plot.

So to put it bluntly, I'm a sucker for character at the expense of plot, but this story went too far to the other pole, forgetting that character is an offspring of a plot that is crafted to test the characters, as opposed to what this book does, creating a conflict that doesn't test the characters while spending time doting on them.

Beyond that, I'm still unsold or unsure what the point of this book is. Early adventures of Superman? Okay. But in what continuity? And if it's its own continuity, why are so many elements archetypical and boring? Why not experiment? Why explore a new continuity if its status quo is to just move every character back. Winslow Schott has evolved. The Schott in this book has devolved.

Is it because fanboys would love to see a story they've already seen re-imagined? I'm sure this must be the logic, but that seems antithetical to what I would desire, a good story with meaningful consequence in a context I can comprehend.

This is a story that was just done in the main books, Jimmy and Superman's relationship in the early days.

This is a story that repeats a tale that has been repeated many times already.

It's a story that goes through the paces without adding anything new and novel.

There is no real threat to Superman in this story.

Why examine early continuity, if the novelty is going to either confuse or rehash?

I just don't understand the fundamental point of this book, on most any level.

4Art - 4: I like Hester's work. There's some rough hewn aspects to this story, but it generally works pretty well. It's dark, and a bit cartoonish, but every character is distinctive, at least. At times, it's too loose, and at times, the inking is odd, but generally it conveys the action and scene rather well, slightly better than an average book. It doesn't blow you off your feet, but it is above action.

1Cover Art - 1: This is just like the bug lady on the last issue of Superman. Hokey, and exactly what makes people think Superman is ridiculous and shouldn't be taken seriously.

Boy, oh, boy. Superman is fighting Mexican wrestling stars. Yeah. That sells.

Beyond that, didn't happen in the issue, is largely irrelevant, and really distracts from the fact that this book has a potentially cool villain inside, Toyman. How about that last page for the cover?

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2008

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