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Mild Mannered Reviews - "Superman" Comics

Superman #4

Superman #4

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 28, 2011

Cover date: February 2012

"Mind For The Taking"

Writer: George Pérez
Penciller: Jesús Merino
Inker: Jesús Merino
Cover:George Pérez & Brian Buccellato

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel

Click to enlarge

Police interviews aren't going well for Miko Oawa, Jimmy Olsen or Superman. The three of them all have corroborating stories and video footage but despite this Heather Kelley is still missing after yet another alien attack tied to Superman. The mystery resolves itself when Officer Farrington barges into the interrogation room with news that Heather is alive and well being interviewed on The Real McCoy show!

Commissioner Corporon also barges in and demands under orders from Mayor Morrisroe that Superman be released. Superman exchanges pleasantries with his new ally and soars away from the waiting paparazzi, including a frustrated Ron Troupe. Superman races to PGN to see Heather dashing into a waiting limo with McCoy who announced the truth of the mystery will be revealed on his show tonight.

Shedding his battle armor in a nearby alley and switching to a hoodie and khaki pants, Clark calls PGN to speak to Lois.

Lois wastes no time in confrontation and demands Clark reveal why he lied that he was in Metropolis when she knows he was in Smallville at the time of the big freeze. Clark blunders his way out admitting he was at the cemetery and on his way back by plane when he was frozen like everyone else upon arrival in Metropolis. Clark cuts off telling Lois he needs to apologize to Heather in person at the TV station.

As Clark races to meet his old flame, he fails to notice the security guard and tramp skulking in the shadows, nor how they are now able to read his thoughts. At PGN Lois, Jimmy and Miko all have mixed feelings. Miko is smug that her ingenuity uncovered Clark's lie. Jimmy is worried for his friend, Clark has never lied to them before, and never about mourning his family. Lois is a tempest of emotion, first she is angry that PGN resources were used to track Clark's cellphone GPS then concerned for Clark and his odd behavior, then when she logs onto her computer she sees a snapshot of Superman leaving the Smallville Cemetery minutes before the attack in Metropolis. Were both Superman and Clark lying to her now? If so why?

At The Real McCoy show recording McCoy probes and tries his hardest to spin what Miko, Jimmy and Heather tell him on air. Clark stage left, hears Heather shoulder the blame for the story and cover for Clark. In the editing suite Lois arrives and bumps into Perry, who admits he's struggling with his new 'shadow' Izzy and is doing his best to hide from her. The two also hear Heather's confession and knowing that the 'heart' story was most definitely Clark's idea and style, they too are bewildered as to the statement made by Heather.

Back at Clark's old apartment block the tramp and guard break into the rubble much to the annoyance of two police officers who realize too late that another alien attack has begun.

Back at the studio it's a commercial break and Billy is seething with rage that his big story has become a cold fish line on air. He rages at Clark who uses Lois' earlier phone confrontation to his advantage admitting he was in Smallville. Heather intervenes and backs Clark up leading him out of the studio. Once out of sight Heather confronts Clark and he has another memory segue. He realizes his mind has been in and out of flux since his return to Metropolis, almost like his thoughts were out of alignment and he was losing parts - he'd forgotten how he'd arrived in Smallville, he'd been experiencing sensory fluxes with his powers...and suddenly he was in his old apartment in his armor confronted by his three foes with no idea how he got from the studio to this location.

The creatures reveal they had been trying to communicate with him but their linguistic programming was broken and so they had to resort to a psychic interface to link their four minds together. This interface was shaky too and in constant need of re-calibration leading Superman to realize they were in some way mechanical.

In the studio canteen Lois and Perry have a heart to heart. Perry expresses his pride with Lois' new career direction, while Lois admits she feels an awful lot like Clark at the moment - lost. Perry jokes that perhaps Clark slinked off to 'kiss and make up' with Heather but the two are interrupted by a fresh attack on TV. Superman fights the trio using their faltering programming to his advantage vaporizing them with a combination of brute force and heat vision.

The creatures reform into a swarm of roaches, maggots and worms initiating a 'purge'.

This time Superman is overwhelmed by the insects but not before the three opponents reveal that Superman himself created them!

To Be Continued...

5Story - 5: This is turning out to be a fantastic arc. You might not agree, but just like bad horror films so many of the current books use cliche 'cheap tricks' in the stories - Justice League being the prime example. (Sorry to swipe at it but it is prominently guilty - some folks love that). Superman is packed full of story so much so, I'm finding I have to go back to issues 1-3 to keep pace. The supporting cast is blossoming, which is an absolute joy, so many writers lose sight that Superman is a book NOT about Superman battling non-stop, instead, the city of Metropolis, its citizens and more importantly, Lois Lane & Clark Kent. I like that Miko only just got her full name, that we now know Izzy is a nickname for Belinda, that Ron Troupe has a teeny cameo, that Superman (and a few readers) was oblivious to his memory drops till Lois caught him out on a lie. I like that Heather and Clark have a 'history', that the police aren't worshippers of Superman. It's all so much stuff that's rich material to devour as a reader. I like that Superman was caught out by his GPS - THAT was clever, something about the scene in the cemetery never felt right and one of those 'what if' scenarios was answered.

I'm sad that the arc is almost over and that we'll be losing Pérez soon, I can only hope that the momentum is continued and that Superman continues to deliver great stories.

4Art - 4: A blessing and a curse for the book being so full of story is that some of the characters get swamped in the art. Some of the characters are hard to recognize and to put a name to simply because there are too many of them and that nobody has a distinct look. I don't want them in the same clothes all the time to recognize them like in a cartoon show but perhaps a little more attention to facial expressions. That's just a personal niggle and in no way a trashing of the art which continues to impress. I do have a question though... Clark is now in armor - not a costume or is the armor cloth based? I ask because I'm wondering where he hides the suit when he leaves the alley?

4Cover Art - 4: A triple threat! I can see a terrified Superman but the bad guys don't seem very menacing. The top half of the book seems needlessly text heavy, making the bottom half feel vacant. Maybe if there were a claw or clenched fist?

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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