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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman 80-Page Giant #1

Superman 80-Page Giant #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 17, 2010

Cover date: May 2010

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

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Writer: Mike Raicht
Artist: Charles Paul Wilson III

Pa Kent gets hot chocolate as Pete and Clark skate on a lake in the snow.

A bully attacks Pete. In retaliation Clark uses his heat vision on the bully's back without intending to. It surprises Clark, as this is evidently the first time he's used it. Pa sees and warns Clark, but Clark turns his eyes toward the ice, sending Pete plunging into the ice.

Clark dives after him and grabs him, punching through the ice in time to save him.

Later, Pa worries about the consequences. Who might have seen Clark's actions, etc. Ma tells him to talk to Clark and he does, trying to help him manage his powers. Clark wonders what it would be like to feel cold, thinking of Pete in the river. Pa pretends not to feel the cold, so Clark can feel better. Clark hugs him, and then they head inside.

5Story - 5: A neat examination of the first time that Clark used his heat vision in the new continuity. There's a lot to like here, given that the writer spends a lot of time working the characters, which is nice. I can't see a single page or scene I would cull here, even though it is odd structure to have the conflict resolved in the first few pages and then have multiple pages of essentially continuing denouement, but it's justified with a kind of second conflict, the idea of Clark's powers as a burden.

Either way, a lot of fun.

4Art - 4: There are a few places where the art leaps out at you and says "HEY! I'M ART!" like when Pete reacts to a bully shoving his friend with motion lines (a bit much), but other than that, this art is very poignant to the scenes involved and strong. I enjoyed it. I like the coloring in particular.

"Lois Lane and Clark Kent in Patience Centered Care"

Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Art: Tonci Zonjic

In the Daily Planet, Lois is sick. She refuses to go home, so Clark pleads with her to go. Eventually, she accedes, and continues to berate Clark while he tries to attend to her with tea and well wishes.

Outside during a quiet moment, a piano falls. Clark changes into Superman, catches the piano, and returns it to the house.

Perry calls, demanding a story about the falling household objects. Lois starts to write the story, asking Clark why their piano has moved.

2Story - 2: I waffled near three, given that the story twist here is an interesting one, the idea that Clark, when bored, would drop a piano out a window so he could stop being Clark and be Superman for a minute, but then I realized that the thought was predicated by the idea that Lois had been rotten and shrewish to the point of driving him to endanger innocents in order to escape her.

Lois in this story is not Lois as I enjoy her, she's the annoying shrew Lois that a lot of writers tend to fall back on for some reason. The Lois who is tough because she's annoying and demanding and an awful person to be around. I don't dig that Lois.

I also don't dig the Clark that's ridiculously timid while in the privacy of his own home, either. The character in this story was way off, no matter how unique the piano idea might have been.

4Art - 4: I dug the art quite a bit, though. The faces were a bit long, and Lois didn't necessarily look like Lois, but strange though it may sound, that didn't hurt the art. It was stylistically its own work, and admirable for that. I'd love to see this artist's work in another context.

"Got Bugs"

Writer: Ben McCool
Artist: Matt Camp

The Daily Planet is infested with bugs.

A talkative pest control guy takes Clark to the basement, where Clark is repeatedly set upon by swarms of bugs. They eventually take the pest control guy, calling themselves Krugak, a villain Clark had recently faced as Superman.

Clark destroys their source of power, their nest, and demands they return home. He takes them there, and the infestation is over.

4Story - 4: On the one hand, this is a simple one-off tale of Superman fighting a baddie who comes to town with a deus ex machina solution. I mean, the name is Krugak. Come on!

But on the other hand, this story is crafted with an interesting pacing, a good bit of a few things going on at once in coherent ways, and there is enough decent comedy to keep it fun. For what it is, it's good enough.

5Art - 5: The art is very strong and well detailed. I like the takes on all of the characters. The only thing that really threw me was a scene where Clark was super-speeding in the background in a way that wasn't really clear. I had to stop and look at the panel three times. It got better.

"Why Metropolis?"

Writer: Pat McCallum
Pencils: Mike Shoyket
Inks: Rich Perrotta

A group of bandits robbing a bank in Metropolis reflect on past failures. Losing to Green Arrow. Flash. Batman. We then realize the robbers are in a car being carried by Superman.

2Story - 2: Empty characters thrown together for a bit, which would be semi-interesting if it were more unique. This is essentially "Almost Got 'im" from the Batman Animated Series with a light twist, but nothing unique.

5Art - 5: The art, however, is rather bold and fun. Given that two page splashes are most of the story format, the art is loose, large, and interesting to look at.

"Superman is My Co-Pilot"

Writer: Jason Hall
Pencils: Julian Lopez
Inks: Bit

A young man experiences agoraphobia in his small apartment until an encounter with Superman saving him from a robot makes him want to leave his apartment. Later, he almost falls from a roof, but a gust of wind saves him just as Superman goes by.

He begins to think he has Superman watching him, and gets out into the world more. Then he missteps on a jump across two buildings, and Superman saves him. Superman reveals he didn't intentionally save him, it was just luck, and advises the man to help himself.

The man agrees, and finally asks out the girl next door.

3Story - 3: There are a lot of television tropes here, coupled with a character I could have sympathy with if he were more fleshed out. Tripping and falling off buildings, bad guys falling through walls right when you're thinking your life is too much, it's a bit too apropos, for me.

Also having Superman's appearance be mostly him sitting and talking philosophy is kind of, I dunno, post-Modern? I don't mind it in theory, but here it's trying to convince a stock character of stock errors. We can't see this as a culmination because this is a very short story.

Still, I like the idea of someone seeing Superman as an example, and a few of the turns of dialogue were artful. I'd lean 2.5 on this, so I'm gonna round up.

5Art - 5: Stan is very well realized here, but even more so is Superman. The characters in this story were put together better than the other stories, at least so far, and I want to see this guy on a main title, because he seems to have a lot of humanity to his work.

"Five Minutes"

Writer: Rik Hoskin
Pencils: RB Silva
Inks: Alexandre Palamaro

While Clark waits for Lois to get to dinner in her cab, he helps a bike messenger, pulls a kitten out of a tree, unblocks traffic, then saves two girls from a fire.

When Lois arrives five minutes later, she has to take a call. Clark indicates he can keep busy.

2Story - 2: Very, very by the numbers. I mean, it even has Superman pulling a cat out of a tree. I understand that it's a Superman convention, but if you're going to do that, there should at least be some new twist to it. The idea that Superman is a busy guy, and that he's constantly all over the place, it doesn't really offer much new to the character, the scene, or the comic.

I can't complain about the pacing or the writing. This is just a story I've read about eight hundred thousand times, so it's boring to me.

4Art - 4: There's something funky about Superman's face, but other than that, I dig the shield placing, the pacing, the art, and all in all, not bad.

"On Break"

Writer: Sean Ryan
Artist: Clayton Henry

Construction workers talk about what Superman did in his fight with Bizarro, leading to a worried call to a relative, who talks about where the fight went, leading to Superman and Bizarro, fighting in a desert. Following a "pull back" motif, the story pulls back to planet Earth and ends abruptly.

4Story - 4: Arg! And yay. So, reading this whole thing, I've been hoping for a story to leap out against the tropes and tell a story through pictures, and do something new.

This is the only story that did, and for that, I have great respect for the writer. We have a recurring pull back motif, and it humanizes what's going on. It extrapolates in a subtle way. It shows the way everyone in the world reacts to the consequences of Superman, segueing nicely into the battle, and then the battle starts, and then... the pull back motif again.

I can see a subtlety there, maybe saying "we pull back on Superman just like everyone else," because he's just one of us, etc. But that's not stated, it has to be inferred by me, the reader, and so to my mind, it isn't necessarily there. It's just an abrupt, odd end.

I also don't know if I dig the impression that Supes is just like us. Because he's not.

Nonetheless, the pacing and work in this story is evident, if only it didn't adhere to the Grant Morrison "because I make it look deep, it IS deep" school of thought. I still dig it, given that it's the only story in this lot that evoked a real, passionate response.

5Art - 5: No complaints. Decent action, great characters, strong execution of the concept involved.

2Cover Art - 2: I suppose nothing says "Superman 80-Page Giant" like Superman holding the words up above his head, but there doesn't appear to be anything else going on here. I can't fault the image for any reason, but I can't praise it, either, as Superman isn't really doing anything.

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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