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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Superman: War of the Supermen #3 Superman: War of the Supermen #3

Superman: War of the Supermen #3

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 19, 2010

Cover date: July 2010

"The Battle For Earth"

Writer: Sterling Gates and James Robinson
Penciller: Eddy Barrows
Inker: J.P. Mayer
Standard Cover Art: Eddy Barrows
Variant Cover Art: Aaron Lopresti

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

Click to enlarge

General Lane, Lois, and Lucy (Superwoman) are all together watching the Kryptonians in outer space under a now red sun - Sol altered by Lex Luthor.

Superboy, Steel, Guardian, Nightwing and Flamebird, and Krypto the Superdog all converge on Project 7734 at Mount Rushmore. Steel's carrying Jimmy Olsen and Steel's niece Natasha Irons now rescued from Project 7734. Jimmy Olsen gets Natasha's story out over his newsgroup called the Newsboy Legion.

Nightwing and Flamebird realize Lex Luthor is using the fake god Rao to turn the sun red. Flamebird flies to the sun to save the Kryptonians and Nightwing follows. Chris tells Flamebird that he will do this with her but the Nightwing apparition takes him away leaving Flamebird to ignite and turn the sun back to yellow. Flamebird dies as Superman and Supergirl catch their now returned super breaths and watch as 73,000 Kryptonians die in space. Zod notes there are now only 7,000 Kryptonians left.

Zod, Non, and Ursa fly toward Earth to lead the attack by the survivors. All over the planet, the Kryptonians wreak havoc killing world leaders, destroying landmarks, and facing off against both super-heroes and Green Kryptonite robots. Ursa flies toward the White House seeking to kill the President - Supergirl arrives and they fight.

General Zod is leading his forces to Metropolis where Superman waits for them atop the Daily Planet building in flight.

Barry Freiman's Review:

4Story - 4: I'm really enjoying this story arc's simplicity. It isn't overthinking the material or delaying the story as World of New Krypton turned out to do for much of its 12 issues. Using very basic Superman lore concepts - the yellow sun vis a vis the red sun, Kryptonite, the now classic Zod, Non, Ursa showdown of "Superman II" - Robinson has weaved a fast and exciting Superman story, in summer blockbuster style. Superman may be contending with the near extinction of the last of his people but this isn't Superman in angst, it's Superman in action (small A, big action).

4Art - 4: Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, Krypto, Zod, and the rest all look as they should with hints of live action counterparts in some cases. We finally see a pissed off Man of Steel whose eyes aren't burning red for a nice change. Superman, about to face off against his own people, who some could argue are justifiably angry, is just as angry but, even in flight, he couldn't look more like a kid from the Mid-West. I'm generally a big fan of more realistic art so no big shock I'm happy with this.

4Cover Art - 4: Zod, Non, and Ursa - and 6,993 or so additional Kryptonians descend on Metropolis with only Superman standing between them and the people. Other than the coloring again a bit heavy with the pink hues it's a great cover.

2Cover Art (Variant Cover) - 2: Arbitrary and unexciting. Again.

Ralph Silver's Review:

2Story - 2: I have been a big fan of War of the Supermen; and absolutely loved the World of New Krypton and Last Stand of New Krypton series which preceded it. But this issue was a bit of a letdown for me. There were just too many unanswered questions; too much fuzzy logic, to keep me happy.

Much of this issue focused on the resolution of the cliffhanger from last issue; the sun turning red and Superman and Supergirl choking in space after losing their powers. The authors did manage to build suspense, by having General Lane's office get visuals at the last second so that Lois can watch her husband and his cousin on the big screen, dying before her eyes. This was pretty dramatic.

But I found the resolution to the crisis rather unsatisfactory. It is Flamebird to the rescue, except that I needed to read this section a couple of times to figure out what was really going on. You see, if the sun is red, then Thara Ak-Var and Chris Kent should lose their Kryptonian powers as well, and would be powerless to take corrective action.

After further thought, I realized that Thara was not using her Kryptonian powers, but rather was channeling the "real" Flamebird, the mythic "Flamebird" goddess, as she first did in Supergirl #46. And that left me a bit confused as to what her actual powers would be under a red sun. Obviously, she can generate flame and intense heat. Apparently, she has the power of flight as well. What other powers?

When Chris Kent chose to follow her, then I really struggled to explain how he could do that under a red sun. How does he fly? Is he using his tactile telekinesis to facilitate flight? If so, than that certainly should have been explained. It is far from obvious. And if that is not what is happening, then he should NOT be able to fly. Did Robinson and Gates, two strong writers, both miss this? That is hard to believe. I was left scratching my head.

And where exactly does Flamebird go? And what does she do to fix the problem? I was doing a lot of guessing here; much more than I should have to. It appeared that she was headed for the sun. Many of the panels really suggest that; such as the bottom of page 5, or the top of page 6, where General Lane is looking at the "two streaks" on his monitor. But then, at the top of page 7, Thara shows up in what looks like a room of some kind with electronic switches or computer monitors or something else. What is this place? It is not Luthor's control room; because we saw that last issue, and this looks nothing like it. Where is she?

So what does she do next. It looks like she is generating tremendous heat energy. And this turns the sun yellow? How? What? Why? What is going on?!? I am usually pretty good at coming up with logical guesses, but this scene really threw me. An explanation would have been very nice.

So as the sun is turning yellow again, Thara should be getting her powers back. Instead she fries! Either from the heat of the sun; or else from her own exertion. I just am not sure.

If any of this was obvious to anybody else, please enlighten me.

There were some nice scenes after this; but by this time, I have been pulled so far out of the story, it is a little hard to get my head back in.

In space, Superman regains his powers, and gently holds Supergirl's jaw and moves her head towards him so that he can look into her eyes and make sure she is OK. This was a very tender and touching scene. It was, in fact, my favorite moment in the book.

On the next page, we have a very emotional scene, as Superman discovers the death by asphyxiation of Lieutenant Nar, his second in command in his military unit, the Red Shard. This was very sad. Nar was an extremely loyal friend to Kal-El through some tough times on New Krypton. She was one of the few very decent people in his inner circle. I was sad to see her end this way. Such is the nature of war.

There was another scene that left me wondering. On page 3, Jimmy Olsen is downloading digital data from Natasha Iron's brain, in order to build a case against General Lane. Let me repeat that. He does not ask her questions. He downloads data directly from her brain! Does this make sense to anybody?!?

The scenes with the Kryptonians causing destruction and genocide on Earth were grizzly and effective. And the final page gives me hope for a tremendous finale next issue.

I really wanted to love this issue, like I have the others. But this time, I struggled to find the silver lining.

4Art - 4: There were some memorable images, like Big Ben in flames, or the White House in shambles. And you cannot be a Superman fan and not love the final splash showing Superman, hovering in front of the Daily Planet globe, looking serious and determined, as he prepares to defend Metropolis in the final battle.

4Cover Art - 4: Superman, in downtown Metropolis, looks "up in the sky" to see Zod and a horde of Kryptonians heading towards him with menace in their eyes. A chilling and effective cover.

4Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 4: This is the third in a series of alternate covers featuring a portrait of one of the main characters in the center, with two additional images inset. Although I am not sure why we have Superboy fighting Atlas, the other images, of Thara and Ursa, are appropriate for this story and well drawn.

Neal Bailey's Review:

1Story - 1: There's a reason I don't like the Transformers movies, at all, and it's the same reason I didn't like this comic. Random, arbitrary explosions absent most any characterization (or lame characterization) sucks.

Fridging Flamebird is not characterization. Not to me. I have had many long, ongoing debates with people about the perils and consequences of killing a gal character in a comic in a way that appears to be motivating the guy to go on (and in this case they don't even turn that screw even a little), and they've all ended in hate mail, and it's not a hill I want to die on. But I will say that randomly having her die to save existence from an arbitrary reuse of a plot element in a way that seems it was never intended to be used irks me all to hell.

Rao as a god walking the earth as an adversary for Flamebird and Nightwing really worked for me, as did the anthropomorphic examination of creation/destruction deities stuff. I can't, for the life of me, see the jump from that to "RAO CHANGED THE SUN RED BECAUSE LEX SAID SO! BOOM!" Nor, for that matter, why Flamebird expending all of her energy into a GIANT BALL THAT SUSTAINS ENERGY makes any sense.

Above all I'm mad they killed a character I liked for a random plot device.

Your sun is red! Boom! Your sun is yellow! Boom! And yet here we are three issues into a book called "War of the Supermen" where Supermen have yet to really war. Point of fact, it takes until halfway through this issue to get the Supermen to Earth, and when they arrive, there's nothing made of it, it's five arbitrary, random, fanservice pages of destruction.

And, folks, that's how Michael Bay does it. "Oooh! Look! Mt. Rushmore just blew up! Wow! The White House is annihilated! Look! Girl fight!"

Where's the character, I ask? Why the hell are we seeing scenes of Frankenstein chopping off some dude's head when SUPERGIRL'S MOTHER JUST DIED IN FRONT OF HER?

I suppose that's Superman grimly closing the eye of the dead soldier who was only moments ago trying to kill him, sitting around and mourning while Zod and his crew destroy the Earth, huh?

There are so many things that rankle me here. You lose your powers in space, you explosively decompress. And yet somehow, all of these Kryptonians die, but Superman and Kara are spared. What? Why?

The Newsboy Legion is now us, the internet hordes. Grand. Will all the copy they produce have typos and threaten to kill me when I disagree with them?

I think this series suffers from a forest for the trees problem. There are a lot of neat things to potentially be explored here, but instead they lean on the plot so heavily that all things fall by the wayside. And don't get me wrong, there are ways to lean on plot and have it be cool, to do things that are utterly shocking and coast on them for a while, but this issue focuses on the opposite of those things. Destroying Rushmore and the White House have an extraordinary emotional resonance with Americans, and yet here they're treated as footnotes. Choking to death in space has a visceral reaction, but here it's couched in implausible circumstances. Flying into the sun to sacrifice yourself is a classic comic trope, but here it's just obviously a way to get rid of a character that didn't need to go.

These things add up and make a cumulative suckage that takes a nearly foolproof concept set up well over a year (ten thousand warring Kryptonians) and squanders it. We now have one issue to give us any kind of summation, culmination, character, or cool factor. My money's on it not happening, given this issue.

3Art - 3: The art tells the story accurately, but nothing stands out as especially astounding. There are a few places where it comes close to having a lot of strength, but for the most part, for some reason, I feel it should be bigger, and instead it feels dry and by the numbers.

3Cover Art - 3: Very awkward posturing and poses, and yet there's something unique about the angle. It feels like the lens flare is covering a lot of the picture, and yet that's kind of the bit here, so I can't complain about that. It still doesn't do incredibly much for me, but I can appreciate the attempt.

3Cover Art (Variant Cover) - 3: There's nothing wrong with the image, and the colors make it somewhat intriguing, but it has that "just a few panels" quality the other alternate covers have had, with the added issue of featuring Atlas, who has yet to show his face.

Adam Dechanel's Review:

3Story - 3: Lots of positives and negatives this week pacing and story-wise it was the best so far.


Thara and Chris finally do something right.

Thara dies.

Chris doesn't (I honestly thought he'd go too).

The Newsboy Legion is acknowledged.

The red sun is changed back.

Kryptonite Metal Men.

Zod, Ursa and Non are active in combat.

The world outside America is shown.

Lots of the loose storyline threads are resolved (stupidly and at breakneck speed but resolved nonetheless!)

Supergirl gets ready to kick butt.

Superman gets ready to kick butt.


Thara dies after two years of trying to convince Chris they were destined to be together.

The 'Rag Tags' rescue is not shown at all.

The Rag Tags download all the evidence of Project 7734's evildoing from Natasha's head.

Kryptonians die - EASILY.

Kryptonian Metal Men appear in one panel.

The actual 'War' is five pages long... no really just five pages.

That's my list - you can pick and choose yours and list them in the comments section - I really want to hear what you guys think!

5Art - 5: The art is a joy this week - superb compositions and though there is a lot of skimming done that's more a fault of the editor/writing team forcing the artist's hand to deliver it thick and fast - to that effect I think CAFU & BIT did a brilliant job. Art wise this was the best chapter so far. Not sure what I can say to sing its praises even more!

2Cover Art - 2: Strike another pose! That's all they seem to do - pose. No actual hits connecting - just lots of growling.

Somebody help Supes fix his broken neck - I'm getting flashes of Death Becomes Her!

By the way the perspectives and composition of ALL concerned on the cover is completely wrong.

At a quick glance it's not something to be too concerned about but if you have to really look, all it has is attitude - the undertaking is what's not right.

5Cover Art (Variant Cover) - 5: Okay, this one also shows no hits connecting but it has far more power behind it compared to the direct edition.

You just want Clark to get a second wind and beat the snot out of Zod right 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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