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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #694

Superman #694

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 25, 2009

Cover date: January 2010

"Man of Valor"

Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Javier Pina
Inker: Javier Pina

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

The Science Police fight Bizarro. Bizarro makes short work of them until Mon-El saves them in a surprise reappearance.

We cut back to him on the farm before the fight. He talks with Conner and Ma about trying to be human and who he wants to be.

As Mon-El fights Bizarro, Mitch goes to save a girl trapped in the car. He starts to eat the car, and reveals himself to be a Legion member.

Conner and Mon-El continue to talk. Martha makes a new outfit for Mon-El that incorporates his desire to do right by Superman and her assertion he should maintain who he is.

Bizarro and Mon-El's fight culminates with the arrival of the Parasite.

2Story - 2: There's a lot of potential good here, but it's just very, I don't want to say sloppy work, but work that isn't really reigned in. I can see a thread running through this comic, of individuality and what it means and why one should fight for it. That's a neat concept to explore. I'm not sure how it drives the plot (Bizarro and Mon-El beating the snot out of each other), and that's why as writing it's not incredibly strong.

There's also the usual, typical (so far) excess and lack of getting to the point. Extra fight pages where it's not necessary (and where the art doesn't justify it), scenes with ladies in control rooms that add nothing, etcetera. Mon-El spends a lot of time with Martha and Conner. The time with Martha is justified by the creation of the suit, but the time with Conner is just a reason for Mon-El to wax in front of a straw man, given that Conner's essential part of the conversation is to say, "Yes, Mon-El, you're great!" and not talk at all about anything he's been up to. It's the writing equivalent of having two villains talk about their plan but not use any specifics, reversed.

There's also just the clumsy, truly bad errors that make me cringe. Bizarro with heat vision (he has freeze vision) and freeze breath (he has heat breath), and Bizarro claiming that Metropolis is his home as if he's confused not what, two years after the Bizarro World story that establishes that he realizes he's not Superman?

Mitch being a member of the Legion could have been interesting, provided we had any clue at all which one or why. I suppose if you know who he is it's a BIG REVEAL, but knowing next to nothing about the Legion, it didn't hold any value for me, and won't until I understand what's going on. Good communication like that is the writer's job.

For instance, Jem. Had no idea who he was, but at the end of the last "World of New Krypton", I knew and enjoyed his character despite his relative obscurity. Here? Total fail.

And to be frank, there's something to be said for a writer trying to espouse obscure continuity characters as something to be interested in when you don't even know Bizarro has freeze vision and heat breath in current continuity.

I just don't know what it is, frankly.

And no, thought bubbles are not coming back. Sorry. And this is for a reason. It's even sloppy to use captions in that fashion, but at least with captions it looks like you've been reading comics for the last fifteen years.

To put a finer point on it, this story disregards story, continuity, and conciseness in favor of indulgence, and that's why it's the work, not the idea, which utterly fails me.

2Art - 2: Clunky at times, and outright odd at others, the art struggles to make things linear, and at times actually draws you out of the story. The fight was cumbersome to read, and many of what were supposed to be the stronger beats seemed like stock pictures.

Mostly it's Bizarro, though, whose odd poses and oddly disproportionate size doesn't come off as an interpretation, just awkward.

2Cover Art - 2: Look! It's Mon-El! And he's just, uh, sitting there.

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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