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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Adventure Comics #4 Adventure Comics #4

Adventure Comics #4

[Original Numbering: #507]

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 18, 2009

Cover date: January 2010

"He Primed Me" - Part One: "Spoiler Alert"

Writer: Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates
Penciller: Jerry Ordway
Inker: Bob Wiacek

"Long Live the Legion" - Part Four: "Star Crossed"

Writer: Geoff Johns and Michael Shoemaker
Artist: Clayton Henry

Review by: Anthony-L with Barry Freiman

Click to enlarge

"He Primed Me" - Part One: "Spoiler Alert"

We interrupt our regularly scheduled story for this meta-textual self-referential story set predominantly on Earth-Prime sometime during the Blackest Night crossover. Super (literally) fanboy Superboy-Prime discovers he's part of the very comic we're reading and is clearly unhappy with the end of the back-up story (the art clearly shows he's on the final page of the book. Then again, maybe Earth Prime doesn't have a back-up feature.) Art aside, Prime is upset with the ending of the main story: "Superboy-Prime dies next issue." Black Lantern Alexander Luthor is the bearer of that message.

Prime's parents are frightened into driving him to the comic store so he can find out what happens next! Along the way we learn that despite being a homocidal lunatic, Prime loves his mommy - see he's not all bad! At the comic shop, Prime rages searching for spoilers for the next issue when BL Alex Luthor shows up and somehow senses that this "box" (aka a computer hooked into the internet) is a conduit of rage (I'm more annoyed that BL Alex doesn't seem to know it's a computer - he's supposed to have the memories of the body the ring is wearing). In his weakened state, Prime's rage isn't strong enough so BL Alex powers him back up. Prime saves his parents from getting blasted by BL Alex and then several of the people that Prime killed are back as Black Lanterns and they want him dead! The issue ends more or less where it began with BL Alex saying "Spoiler alert - Superboy-Prime dies next issue." We also get a one-page glimpse of the Earth-Prime Legion (the Mark Waid/Barry Kitson version).

"Long Live The Legion" - Part Four: "Star Crossed"

The first panel of this story is on the coming attractions page of Adventure Comics #1 [aka Adventure Comics #504]: Brainiac 5 tells Blok (shown in shadow only) that his wounds have healed but there was a complication. Blok responds that he has to get to Sorcerer's World where we last saw Mysa, the Black Witch (nee White Witch).

This issue opens up with Blok breaking out of Brainy's lab with Phantom Girl chasing after him only to stop when Brainy calls a pair of Legionnaires who can relate to Blok's heartache: Dawnstar and Wildfire. Brainy explains that Mordru started some kind of biological alteration within Blok before Mysa apparently destroyed Mordru. While it's not clear exactly what's happening to Blok, at the very least, his outer shell is breaking apart. Knowing they can't beat him, Dawnstar and Wildfire join Blok on his journey to the Sorcerer's World.

Upon landing, they notice that under Mysa's new management, the place is actually looking pretty good (nice touch with the statues (memorials?) of Evillo and Glorith). The Legionnaires make it into the castle where they meet Mysa on her throne where it looks like Alan Scott, Raven, Zatanna, Blue Devil, Kid Devil (?) and maybe the Green Lantern Spectre are trapped in stone in the walls behind her. Blok collapses while talking with Mysa who tells the team that it's taking all her strength to contain Mordru's power and convert it into good.

Mysa touches Blok, appears to turn into the White Witch and says she will save her rock. Blok is healed but Mysa says that if she can stay the Black Witch, she and Blok can stay together. They kiss and Dawnstar reaches for and holds Wildfire's hand. Mysa painfully changes back into the Black Witch and Blok vows to stay by her side always.

The story ends with Dawnstar and Wildfire reflecting on their own never-to-be consummated relationship with just a few words that tell it all.

3Lead Story - 3: Superboy-Prime Returns. So who asked? No really I mean it - which of you asked? Because I wanna talk to you. Someone with a penchant for whiny teenage despots? Perhaps someone out there who liked Episodes I-III of "Star Wars"? Because that's who Prime is - Anakin growing into Darth Vader. And, while I agree with Geoff Johns, who said in an interview a few months back that, of course, Prime, like Skywalker Senior, would be a whiner, it doesn't mean I need to see it over and over again. I mean, if he's here on Earth-Prime, and I wanted to see him, I'd just go and see him.

His story is unending and it's the same thing over and over and over - whine, whine, whine. There's a reason I don't read the message boards or participate in that no-win forum. It's because it's full of Superboy-Primes who think they know what the DCU should look like better than DC. But that is me and only one person's opinion.

Still, as I remarked at the end of Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, there's something snarky about Johns (and Sterling Gates, co-writer on this story), a fanboy turned creator, using such an annoying character to represent a large segment of the online comic book reading community. Is he using Prime to slam fans who use the message boards to convey their feelings on characters like Prime and creators like Johns and Gates? Is this a wink at the audience? Who knows? It's unclear. What isn't unclear is that, the busier Johns gets, the more his clarity of voice suffers - even with, or perhaps because of, a co-writer.

This book is in need of a voice and this "very special episode" (i.e., yet another DCU-wide crossover) which preempts a Superboy story already in progress reminds me of when "South Park" was going to reveal who Cartman's mother was and instead they gave us an episode of Terence and Philip, the Canadian mischief makers, farting for 22 minutes. And for those keeping count at home, in my almost decade of writing for the Superman Homepage, this is the first time I have used the word "farting", appropriate for a smelly Prime story.

Finally, a word of thanks to my co-reviewer who was the only reviewer on the last several issues because I had other commitments - thanks Anthony, your reviews have been top drawer.

4Lead Story Art - 4: Jerry Ordway is Mr. Multiverse. I see Ordway's art and I immediately think Earth-2 and the All-Star Squadron. There's something a little old-fashioned about Ordway's art which works well in a Multiverse-set story.

4Back-Up Story - 4: This 11-page backup felt longer. The writing seems to be coming into its own as the story reads like a complete piece not "part four." It's a welcome change. This has been the strongest story so far. Does this fit into Starman's "Beware the Black Witch" warning he cried out in "part one?" I find that it doesn't matter, I liked this story for what it was: a tragic love story. The question remains: will it be tragic for both couples or just for one of them?

3Back-Up Art - 3: Perez made a big deal of hiding Blok's injuries in Legion of Three Worlds and even in the coming attractions Blok's face was hidden (we only saw it from behind). This implies that he's really changed physically, even if his wounds have healed. What did we see here? It looked like Blok with more cracks in his skin. When Mysa heals him, I actually had to look again as it's not a big change. It almost read like the story was altered to show the outer shell breaking apart and Blok doubling over in pain to make up for the art not being able to show an injured or radically changed Blok. Very disappointing. The faces for Dawnstar and Phantom Girl are pretty similar and looking back at previous issues, the male faces are pretty similar too. It's perfectly good art, it's just not great art and if DC is serious about bringing the Legion back to prominence, then great or distinct art is needed. I do have to say though, that I really liked the panels where Dawnstar reaches for and then holds Wildfire's hand and the final two panels were excellent. These panels are actually very good and I wish there were more like them.

3Cover Art - 3: An average cover for an average lead story. Haven't we seen this image before? Prime bursting forward as if he's flying right out of the comic is nothing new. But nothing new is the theme of the issue, it seems.

4Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 4: Another excellent cover. Each character looks distinct and I really liked the central image of Prime reading under the covers with a flashlight. I think the Dawnstar image was beautiful and if I could have seen more of the Brainy image, I would have probably liked it more. DC: if you're going to keep this cover format around, figure out where to place everything so that panels aren't mostly covered by UPC codes. I'm sure without the "Blackest Night" dress on top, this would have been better but they should be able to plan for this in editorial.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2010

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