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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman #700

Superman #700

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 23, 2010

Cover date: August 2010

"The Comeback"

Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Bernard Chang


Writer/Layouts: Dan Jurgens
Finishes: Norm Rapmund

"Grounded" Prologue: "The Slap Heard Round the World"

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciller: Eddy Barrows
Inker: J.P. Mayer

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

"The Comeback"

One day after the Hundred Minute War, Lois flees the Parasite. The Parasite is attacking her at the behest of Prankster, because Lois has uncovered a Modoran terrorist weapons deal.

Lois wishes she could be spending time with Superman. Superman appears.

Parasite drains a nearby man after punching Superman. Superman knocks him through some walls and into unconsciousness.

Lois and Superman kiss.

Later, they talk briefly about what happened, have (implied) sex. They talk briefly about Chris, then go for a flight.

1Story - 1: Pretty much a summation of the entire Robinson run here. Many pages wasted on action that isn't really thought out, a few pages of lip service to dilemmas instead of actually dealing with them in any way, some random stuff that has no real point, and finally, multiple splash pages instead of story (four in a sixteen page story, note).

The Parasite goes for a dude on the ground instead of Superman when he needs power. I'm no genius, and neither is the Parasite, but the conceit, the ENTIRE conceit of the character, is that Superman has trouble fighting him because the Parasite can drain Superman's power and adopt it as his own. If you're just going to have him there as muscle, why use the Parasite? Bad fan-service story choice. But then, I live in a world where elements of a story I enjoy appear because they have a relevance to the plot.

The splash pages are arguable. That Lois is being chased is interesting enough. Lois and Clark reuniting after a year with a kiss is maybe worth a splash. Is Superman appearing (sans any action) worth it? I don't think so. Should the same beat be repeated as a splash (Lois and Clark kissing over the city)? I don't think so.

But then, I still fail to see the point of the Prankster in this story, or even of the entire action piece, to be honest. The point of this story (which is squandered in two to three panels dreadfully) is the fact that Lois and Clark have just been through some extraordinary ordeals (with loose ends) and no real effort is made to resolve them.

Point of fact, and I mentioned this when I was reviewing the Hundred Minute War (and cannot emphasize it more), LOIS JUST WATCHED HER FATHER SHOOT HIMSELF. You know, that's kind of a big deal. Instead, this is passed off. "Oh, God, I don't want to talk about it. And hey, you had a hard time too, dude!"

Superman: "Shore did! Okay, let's boink!"

Which makes Superman look like an utter b@st@rd and at the same time diminishes Lois' very real, palpable catharsis. But that's okay, because the favor is shortly repaid with a little fourth wall logic. Superman: "Wait a minute! We left our SON in the Phantom Zone!"

Lois: "It'll be okay, Clark! We're in a comic, so we're sure to see him again! Let's ignore our problems and go flying!" (paraphrased slightly with sarcasm, but actually, sadly very close to what actually happened).

Here's the problem I have with any of that, to make it clearer:

Lois: "My dad died. I don't want to talk about it."

Superman: "Your dad died. We HAVE to talk about it."

Superman: "Our son is in the Phantom Zone."

Lois: "You just jumped into the Phantom Zone on the off chance you could keep an eye on Zod. GET YOUR BUTT IN THERE AND SAVE OUR SON!"

Superman: "But the risks, the potential for-"

Lois: "CALL BRAINIAC 5! CALL BATMAN. Heck. What am I waiting for? I'll go. I'm calling Steel."

Superman: "But we were going to have s-".

3Art - 3: Doesn't do much for me, especially the faces, but there was nothing horrible I could single out and declare as awful, and it told the story without failure.


Note: This takes place earlier in Superman's career.

Two villains caught by Superman sit on the police steps awaiting their arrest next to a boat. They indicate that since they failed, a shipment will move somewhere else, per the plan.

Bruce Wayne, meanwhile, is detained for a mandatory dinner. Dick (still a young man, and Robin) protests, and offers to go out and take care of an important case as Robin. Bruce tells him to stay home and finish his homework.

Robin practices in the Batcave for a while, then notices that a shipment of supplies is coming through (the ones mentioned earlier by the criminals). Alfred forbids him to leave, but Robin sneaks out anyway.

He starts to take out the thugs, but then they overcome him, tie him up, and toss him into the water at the pier. Superman saves Robin, and makes short work of the villains, indicating he heard about the meet from the initial two criminals with his super-hearing.

Superman rushes Robin home just in time for Bruce to return, with Dick's homework still unfinished. Superman does it at superspeed and Robin is saved. The next day, Clark Kent receives a letter from Batman telling him not to do Robin's homework, and noting that they left Robin's cycle at the scene.

5Story - 5: It's more of a Robin story than a Superman story, but it's a good one. A short, simple, exciting fun story that shows a lot of heart and character, coupled with an interesting narrative device, the idea of Robin and Superman working together.

It's not War and Peace, but it is a good, solid story that has a number of great moments and takes the time to think itself through before plunging right in.

I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't mention the wasted splash, though, after I just tore into Robinson for it. Ultimately, however, the one opening tone page is more than justified by the rad story.

5Art - 5: Jurgens is right up there in my top five to be doing Superman. Has been since I first started reading, probably always will be. He's just got it down.

"Grounded" Prologue: "The Slap Heard Round the World"

Superman returns from a meeting with Congress about the situation with New Krypton. As he's answering questions from reporters, a woman slaps him. She berates him for spending time on New Krypton, because in the time Superman was gone, her husband died of a brain tumor. She tried to reach him, but Superman was off doing something "important."

Superman looks at the man's picture, and others tell the woman that Superman can't be everywhere at once. Superman flies off without answering any more questions.

Superman and Batman look down on Earth from a satellite, where Batman indicates they can now see through cloud cover. Superman ponders this, and leaves suddenly.

Superman stands under a tree as the Flash goes by. He asks Flash what it's like to see the world around him at superspeed, and Flash indicates that it's a blur unless he slows down to look.

Superman goes into space and examines the photograph of the man he couldn't save. He recalls Pa Kent telling him that crops have to be rotated, and that you have to do things differently to bring things back to where they belong.

Superman lands next to a game of baseball being played by kids, picks up some dirt, examines it, and starts to walk.

4Story - 4: Like a fanboy facing any new Superman story, I'm apprehensive at the sight of what appears to be something that seems a little off or odd. I have to admit, after a year of Superman out of uniform or facing a lack of his own uniqueness in ways, I find it an odd choice to have him become pedestrian again and examine who he is and what he means. That idea has been done and old since the Azarello/Lee run, and it almost always ends badly.

However, that said, I have to admit that I'm impressed by what I saw here, with one raw exception, which I'll get to. Superman feels like Superman in his element, and the fantastic is present, as is what character can be fit into the pages of this story. A thoughtful, careful Superman, a Superman that wants to help people even when he's not at fault for their malady and couldn't have helped, is a Superman I endorse and love seeing.

I like the idea of a Superman that casually and continually interacts with people, as this story goes into, and I like the idea of a Superman that is not feared and loathed for his power.

My one objection is the logic that sends Superman on a tear. I don't think that, by this point, he'd still be overwhelmed with sadness at the idea that someone he couldn't possibly have helped had died. He would feel sad for them, and would do what he can, but the logical leap from "I wasn't there for someone" to "I am out of touch with the common people" is a big leap for me. However, I'm willing to give the writer a few issues to get that going and make it sensical.

3Art - 3: I am no fan of Eddy Barrows, at least, what I've seen thus far. However, it seems that when he's not drawing people in action scenes, there's a good bit of detail that comes out and makes things more palatable. There's still a lot of weird stuff I can't dig, but when there is character afoot, it's more tolerable.

There's still that awful, awful slap. Look at it. Which direction did it come from? Anyone have any clue? I mean, I was prepared to four this thing, and they had to go in and in the one moment of action throw in that incomprehensible weirdness.

3Cover Art - 3: For some reason, whenever an anniversary issue rolls around, they have Superman in a stock pose doing something iconic. Now, I understand why. This is Superman, and it's a milestone. At the same time, you wonder why the heck they're repeating themselves. The other cover is much more guilty, but when you retread something, or do something just to be iconic, I can't enjoy it as much unless there's a reason or unless it adds something. I understand that's not the point here, but still. There's nothing in this cover that makes me wonder what's inside. There's nothing on this that intrigues me. No matter how well you draw this (and it is drawn well), it is average as a cover for that.

2Cover Art (Alternate Cover) - 2: As much as I love Superman, enough with the breaking chains. Really. We get it. Superman can bend metal, and break chains. You know what I want to see? Superman doing something interesting. It's an homage, yes. And it's been around for a long time, yes (see Steve's astonishing article for that). But this is not interesting to me and more as a long term Superman fan, so a kid's gonna look at this and you're gonna have to pay him to throw it away for you. And this is supposed to be the exclusive variant?

Have Superman folding an armored car into a ball. Have Superman playing baseball with a tree. Have Superman juggling three mack trucks. Have Superman clapping his hands and annihilating a hurricane. Chains are done. Done, I say!

This is a man who could core a planet by spinning and thinking himself into a straight line, and you give him chains!

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

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