Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - Superman Specials

Superman Beyond#0 Superman Beyond#0

Superman Beyond#0

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 24, 2011

Cover date: October 2011

"Home is the Hero!"

Writer: Tom DeFalco & Ron Frenz
Artist: Ron Frenz & Sal Buscema
Cover: Dustin Nguyen

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel

Click to enlarge

PLEASE NOTE: This issue takes place a year after Superman/Batman Annual #4.

Superman has realized being Superman is not something he can run away from, his powers may not be at their optimum level as he's aged but he's still more than capable of stopping alien invasions single handedly. Homesickness is also something hard to shake and after a long time off-world he decides he wants to be back on Earth.

The Justice League of Warhawk, Barda, Aquagirl, Micron and Green Lantern are asking yet again for Batman to help. Since Mayor Lex was taken down and Superman was away Metropolis has sunk to much the same level as Gotham. Again Terry refuses and Bruce warns Terry that the Justice League always think they take priority, indeed it's the case as Aquagirl and Micron decide to head to Neo Gotham to plead with Terry in person.

In Hobbs Bay Detentional Facility, Mangler Marco Macarro is hoping to see his daughter Mina at the visitation. Instead his wife Teresa is there to announce that Mina will no longer be visiting her father. Marco is devastated. Mangler had been a model prisoner even volunteering for the most mundane jobs so he could lessen his sentence, all so he could be with his daughter. Despite the taunts from the guards, Marco stays silent.

Clark is back on Earth and visiting the grave of Jonathan & Martha, the question on his mind: Does the world still need a Superman?

There is little time for Marco to wallow in self pity as he and other prisoners are ordered to clean up in a Lex Lab waiting to be redecorated on loan for community service. Accidentally Marco activates a hidden panel and reveals a cache of green cylinders. The guards immediately accuse Marco of deliberately uncovering the cache in order to steal it. During a fight one of the canisters is shattered and Marco is boiled alive. As the other prisoners are escorted back and medivacs are called Macarro miraculously stands up but he isn't himself any longer. Instead he is now a rocky thing.

Clark is having dinner with his old friend Jimmy Olsen and is surprised to find that Jimmy is now a media mogul and creator of the O Phone. When he was let go from the Daily Planet Jimmy invested wisely and made a success of his life. The O Phone is shaped like a watch and gathers RSS, proudly Jimmy presents one to Clark complete with his old signal watch Zeee Zeee ringtone. Jimmy is so happy to see his friend he even offers him a job as a reporter.

Warhawk and Barda are bitterly disappointed to be called to Lex Labs for a clean up operation, but things get serious when they realize it has escalated to an attack. Macarro is able to become soft as clay or hard as stone and absorbs all the remaining canisters of green goop before smashing out of the lab and into the streets. Macarro is quick to take down the Justice League in a rage.

Superman is wallowing in misery, mourning the loss of his wife, amplified by the fact he has moved back into their old apartment. His tearful mood is interrupted when an RSS feed updates through his new watch mentioning Lex Luthor.

Marco claims he is invincible and his new powers are put to the test when he battles Green Lantern. A fight that lasts mere seconds and in Marco's favor but Superman arrives just in time. Marco, self christening himself Armageddon, mocks this Superman who is clearly in his sixties or seventies. Superman gives as good as he gets but realizes this strange new 'clayface' may be infused with Kryptonite as his chemical origin hailed from Lex Labs.

Rechristening Marco Armorgeddon as he watches the villain absorb a heavy armored tank into a new skin for himself, Superman weakens and lets Marco pass. He overhears Marco mumble about being reunited with his daughter and pursues Armorgeddon into what was once Suicide Slum.

Superman watches as Marco climbs a tower and peers into a window he sees a sobbing Mina who misses her father and is crushed when she screams in fear. The Man of Steel offers sympathy and support but Armorgeddon is in a fit of rage. Superman is supposed to protect innocents like Mina from monsters so he demands Superman destroy him.

Superman takes a beating from Marco but still offers his support. He knows the villain is not so and that he is in pain, lost, alone. Marco is still adamant that he is just born of rage so Superman uses his speed to create a vacuum. With Macarro using his abilities of absorption to augment himself, being pulled into space offers him nothing to sustain his power.

With a last burst of rage Marco stabs Superman through the chest hoping they will both die. Clark regrets he was not one for meticulous plans like Bruce but swears with his dying breath that he will make sure Marco lives.

Crashing to Earth into the path of the Justice League, Marco, now human, can't begin to fathom why Superman went to such lengths to help him. Superman heals quickly now the Kryptonite is far away and steadies himself in the arms of Warhawk, Green Lantern and Barda.

With Superman back Green Lantern requests that Superman return to the Justice League roster. If Batman won't be part of it at least one founding member will still be there. Happily he accepts, at least for a few years.

Later, at Lois Lane's graveside Clark and Bruce reunite, share fond memories of Lois and Bruce questions Clark's return to a secret identity and super heroics. Clark points out he is and always will be Clark and will be able to continue as Superman for a long time to come.

Though he won't truly say it, Bruce is glad to have his best friend back.

4Story - 4: Despite the groan factor of 'Armorgeddon' the 'O Phone' and the tired "Must there be a Superman" theme the people at DC Comics have been obsessed with, we get a fairly decent pilot project here. We knew from Batman Beyond that Lois had died, but nothing much else about Superman and his life in the future. It seems you can go home again as Clark is reinstated as a reporter and moved back into his old apartment. Not much has really changed save for the locale and Jimmy owning the Olsen Corp.

There are several touching moments and the drama throughout was genuinely heartfelt. DeFalco and Frenz, whom I have enjoyed as a creative team when they helmed Thor and Spider-Girl, delivered a brilliant solo adventure that I had fully expected when this was first announced. I wish they would have made Armorgeddon officially a futuristic Clayface as that would have been pretty cool to have a 'bat' villain switch to a 'super' one. I could have done without the Justice League and Batman input but I suppose they were necessary to tie it into the DCUA and to bring him back after he was written out in Annual #4.

A very good read that deserves to be expanded upon. I hope if they don't decide to give Superman a Beyond series he gets the odd miniseries or even a back up feature in Adam Beechen's Batman Beyond when it restarts. Honestly though? I would love to see this go on to be a fully fledged series so we can see more! As a reader it has left me hungry!

5Art - 5: When you get legends like Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema handling the art chores you know you are in for a visual feast and Superman Beyond is no exception - just take a look at page 15! The nods to Superman's history don't go unnoticed, pages 1, 2, 13 and 27 will strike a cord with both the casual and hard core fans alike. They also weave in far more of the animated style than the Batman Beyond title does.

4Cover Art - 4: I love the standard cover. It is just breathtaking and a stunning crystalline Neo Metropolis as opposed to Neo Gotham. Reminiscent of Superman's sunstone Fortress. I think perhaps it would have been a bit better if Superman's arms weren't outstretched but on his hips. He certainly looks like he means business.

5Cover Art (Variant Cover) - 5: A superb image that again links back to Superman's history with a twist on a classic scene. A lot of care and attention has been put into this. They have not disappointed!

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2011

February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2011.