Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman: War of the Supermen #0

Superman: War of the Supermen #0

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 1, 2010

Cover date: June 2010


Writer: James Robinson and Sterling Gates
Penciller: Eddy Barrows
Inker: J.P. Mayer

"Filling in the Blanks"

Writer: Sterling Gates
Artists: Julian Lopez, BIT, Aaron Lopresti, David Finch, Joe Weems, Gary Frank, CAFU, Ethan Van Sciver, Diogenes Neves, and Vicente Cifuentes

Reviewed by: Ralph Silver with Neal Bailey, Adam Dechanel, and Barry Freiman

Click to enlarge


Superman is furious that Zod is moving forward with his plans to make war with Earth. He punches his way into Zod's underground military installation and confronts Zod.

Superman declares his intent to shut down Zod and his war machine. He punctuates his remarks by landing a hard right fist to Zod's jaw.

Rather than retaliate personally, Zod has his minions, Ursa and Non, do his dirty work. Ursa attacks Superman with a Kryptonite knife, which draws blood. Superman damages the knife with his heat vision, but does not completely destroy it. Then Non attacks from above, descending feet first and landing hard on Superman. Non and Ursa gang up on Superman, using the broken kryptonite knife to restrain him while Zod gloats. Superman manages to break free and lunge at Zod, but Ursa and Non again provide interference.

The entire time, Superman and Zod are engaged in dialogue; rehashing the events of the past year while Zod gloats and threatens to destroy the Earthlings and Superman expresses his determination to prevent this.

On the final two-page spread, we see countless Kryptonians speeding towards Earth to attack.

Ralph Silver's Review:

4Story - 4: This in not a typical comic book. It has a different purpose. As issue #0, and as a free giveaway on Free Comic Book Day, this book is not really designed to advance the plot forward. Rather, its goal is to summarize recent events in World of New Krypton and Last Stand of New Krypton, to "set the table" for the upcoming 4-part "War of the Supermen" series, to pique your interest, and to provide a good jumping-in point for new readers.

So I need to use different criteria for this review. It gets a good grade if it succeeds in providing a clear and concise summary of what came before; and if it is intriguing enough to entice readers to pay actual money for the next installment.

If you have been reading WONK and LSONK all along, there is almost nothing new here. This story rehashes everything we already know, and does it succinctly and clearly. It does provide some insight into the motivations of the main characters. (e.g. It answers the question "Why did Zod make Kal-El a commander in his army?") But most of that is stuff that a reader who was paying close attention would have figured out anyway.

If you are brand new to the Superman books, or have skipped WONK and LSONK, this story provides a very nice summary of everything you need to know in order to read and understand the next four issues of "War of the Supermen".

So I think that issue #0 did its job.

I have one major objection. Ursa should not be able to wield a Kryptonite knife so easily. Holding it should cause her to be nauseous, weakened, in great pain, and barely conscious. At one point, she licks the blood off of it. This act alone would be utterly impossible.

The only possible explanation is that the knife is actually made of an alloy that contains only a very small amount of kryptonite. But in that case, the knife would not be able to have such a profound effect on Superman. So either way, this really is a major gaffe!

One comment that Zod made really haunted me; when he threatened to find the person who Superman loves the most and rip that person apart while Superman watches helplessly. This conjured up a very disturbing image. We all know who Superman loves the most.

4Art - 4: I like the Barrows/Mayer artwork. He does an excellent job of conveying rage on the faces of Superman and Zod.

I love the final two-page splash showing the Kryptonians speeding towards Earth so that they can begin to annihilate or imprison the population. It is a chilling image, effectively drawn.

Neal Bailey's Review:

3Story - 3: On the one hand, this is a superbly executed bit of banter between Superman and Zod, culminating the year's work with a fight that is enjoyable, and justified in ways.

On the other hand, this almost completely disregards the year of setting up Zod's motivations, and turns him straight back into a villain going "I'm evil because, NYAH!" which kind of insults the reader's intelligence.

The brainless part of me that enjoys fanservice enjoys seeing Zod being Zod. The part of me that reads novels resents and laments the loss of character development. I'm kind of torn, honestly.

2Art - 2: Really just can't get into Barrows. On every page there's some weird torso twist and/or Liefield style failure that pulls me right out. There's a lot of good, even great detail in the backgrounds, but the human element is just stretchy and discombobulated.

Adam Dechanel's Review:

4Story - 4: Just a quick thing - I actually feel the two stories shouldn't have been separated and I really think "Filling in the Blanks" should have been the primary feature - both have great climaxes but "Prologue" was a far more powerful one that should have ended the book... now, onwards...

THIS is the reaction Superman would really have had way back BEFORE World of New Krypton and all its spin offs.

The last time Clark saw Zod in that case was when he tried to decimate Metropolis and trick Clark into taking in Lor/Chris.

I appreciate what the writing team tried to do with the whole event but it was so overlong it killed off 20,000 existing Superman fans in the process - FACT.

This is what fans had wanted from day one - WONK to be a six issue mini and finished with so we could get back to Superman stories. THIS is the turn for the better it was everything that New Krypton wasn't. What was sad was I felt connected to Zod as he voiced what fans had been thinking for months. Done in THIRTEEN pages. Zod's master plan was exactly what we all thought it was from day one - no surprises which I thought as a big reveal was a bit lame... and I have an issue with power levels and the use of kryptonite. One minute a blink of red kryptonite radiation switches of kryptonian powers for 30 seconds - then next not. A sliver of green kryptonite the size of a lip balm can kill a kryptonian or bring him/her to their knees, but the next an entire blade can't kill - better still you can LICK it... Maybe an editor can get the writing team together and set out a character and story bible? (It would have been a solid 5 - sorry!)

Aside from the moaning - I DO hope the rest of War of the Supermen is as fast paced and evenly told. I'm eager to be proud of Superman again not cringe when I'm describing the WONK story to non fans. We can only hope that DC bury this storyline for good and move on.

4Art - 4: Lots of growls/roars/scowls/smirks/grinding teeth and heavy inking but it didn't feel out of character or place because it fit the tone. Clark finally looked like like he was taking Zod and his plot seriously. I hope it doesn't stay this dark forever, but it was a nice change from the WONK style.

Barry Freiman's Review:

3Story - 3: That's what this all leads up to? Another knock-down-drag-out between Superman and the "Superman II" bad guys? The guy who brought Opal City to vivid life should be more clever than this. Superman's adventures should be more clever than this.

2Art - 2: The art seems to be straddling a line between the abstract style of a Keith Giffen and the slop of a really rushed comic.

"Filling in the Blanks"

Lois sits at her computer and types in a detailed and protracted explanation of everything that happened in the Super books this past year, and more. Jimmy Olsen arrives and prepares to provide even more information.

Ralph Silver's Review:

4Story - 4: As I said in my comments to the first story, the purpose of any issue #0 is to summarize where we've been and where we currently are; thus setting the table for what comes next.

Lois does a good thorough job here.

So thorough that she briefly recaps the origins of Superman and Supergirl. But if you do not know that stuff, you probably should go read something other than War of the Supermen. You are in way over your head. :)

4Art - 4: We are treated to a potpourri of different artists and styles. All of it is good. Everybody carries his weight.

3Cover Art - 3: This is a very bland, average cover. Superman is flying along, looking determined to stop the coming war. This image is neither inspiring enough for a 4 or 5; nor flawed in any way to justify a 1 or 2. It is quite average; which equates to a 3.

Neal Bailey's Review:

3Story - 3: There's nothing wrong with the story, it's just a retelling, so as such isn't very useful to those who have been reading all the way through thusfar. It's still a neat summary for new readers, so I can't pan it. It just is what it is. Jimmy returning is interesting, but also kind of a foregone conclusion, so there's no tension or distaste to it.

3Art - 3: A mishmash of a bunch of artists, some of which work well, others of which are odd. Jimmy looks like a man in his late thirties, for example, but the splashes are nice.

2Cover Art - 2: I swear, if I see one more cover of Superman just flying, or Superman just standing there... what's a cover for, if not to pull you in?

Adam Dechanel's Review:

5Story - 5: A perfect jumping on point for folk that had jumped off or never taken the time. It completely condenses the whole turbulent year into an overview that also shows Lois being a writer. Nice to see a Kent earning their huge Monica Geller sized apartment. What smarts a little is that it could be condensed - and you begin to wonder what acid trip DC were on to allow the story to go on for so long. Jimmy's arrival back from the dead was a brilliant cliffhanger. I love it when a finale begins to take shape!

3Art - 3: Damn it, there is always something isn't there?

Why couldn't they stick to just one artist for the story? The fluctuations make it really difficult to escape into the story.

4Cover Art - 4: Superman back on the cover!

Odd intense face... but he's BACK! And on the cover of his own book! REJOICE!

Barry Freiman's Review:

2Story - 2: We're years into Superman's new status quo and we still know so little about him. Clark Kent has dropped the ball on virtually every relationship of the past year. His employer the Daily Planet, continues to pay him as a foreign correspondent, but they're hardly getting Clark's best reporting when his time and efforts are spent off-planet. Jimmy Olsen disappeared and virtually nobody noticed or cared, something that wouldn't have happened if Clark were around. Lois is emotionally as cold as she's ever been. Ma Kent mourned Pa Kent without her son.

The story sums up everything that's led to the free comic book story. It is a decent synopsis but falls totally flat emotionally when Jimmy Olsen resurfaces. Lois doesn't get up out of her chair and hug him? This is everything that's wrong with the current comics. Superman's emotional circle is totally emotionless. I guess you get what you pay for.

3Art - 3: I like the back-up art a little better. The penciling on Lois Lane specifically sticks out. But the inking feels heavy-handed through much of the story.

2Cover Art - 2: With a zero placed prominently on the cover, I'm resisting the impulse to give the cover a zero rating. It's a decent shot of Superman flying toward the 'camera' but it doesn't reflect at all what's happening inside.

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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