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Mild Mannered Reviews - Superman Family Adventures Comics

Superman Family Adventures #10

Superman Family Adventures #10

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 6, 2013

Cover date: April 2013

"It's Zod!"

Writer: Art Baltazar and Franco
Artist: Art Baltazar

Reviewed by: Marc Pritchard

Click to enlarge

A Brainiac robot approaches the Super Satellite near Earth and disguises itself as a Western Cowboy. (Hold that thought indefinitely.) At the Fortress of Solitude, Superman uses the crystal technology to reunite Lara with Jor-El - at first via the usual projection and then using the red chamber to manifest Jor-El physically and in his prime but only for 24 hours. Then, moments after the Els have all flown off, a hand reaches out of a dimensional opening in space, adjusts the crystals in the command console and suddenly Zod, Ursa, Non and Lor-Zod are free of the Phantom Zone and standing in the Fortress. They have plans to rule Planet Houston (also known as Earth) but this time not by force or fear but by love.

Later, these new Kryptonians have gone into the hotdog vending business, selling "Zod Dogs" on the Metropolis street corner. Ursa and Lor-Zod are skeptical of this strategy, both before and after their first customer, to whom Zod provides excellent customer service right up until asking the customer to tell his friends to "KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!"

Meanwhile, Clark is having dinner with Ma and Pa Kent and trying to avoid the subject of Lois Lane until she appears on the TV news with the stories of not only the new Superman (Jor-El) and Superwoman (Lara) but also the growing popularity of Zod Dogs. Until now, Superman did not know about Zod and company's escape from the Zone and hastily takes his leave from his Earth parents for the inevitable confrontation.

That confrontation is delayed as Superman, who eats a Zod Dog and says it's "not bad," gives Zod the benefit of the doubt that he really is "just a simple man trying to make his way in this universe." He leaves the group to it, and Zod proceeds to enact the second phase of his plan, which features a red Kryptonite food enhancement powder that he uses to effect the monstrous enlargement of some of the Zod Dogs, which proceed to wreak havoc on Metropolis school children and their bus.

Superman and Krypto intervene but the giant Zod Dog's Hot Sauce Vision momentarily delays Superman, a delay that Zod uses to drop the faade of beneficence. But, just then, resurrected Jor-El and Lara arrive, a reunion that proves to be a slight distraction for Zod, Non and Jor-El (they all fight) and a total diversion for Ursa and Lara, evidently BFFs back in the Phantom Zone and eager to get caught up.

Soon, Jor-El's 24 hours come to an end, and he dissipates before Lara's very eyes. Next thing you know, Zod turns out to be a coward after all and tries to escape. Krypto fetches him handily. As for the monster Zod Dogs, Superman brings them to the Kents for supper.

Back at the Fortress of Solitude, a struggling captured Zod manages to sprinkle his red Kryptonite enlarger powder on the bottled city of Kandor, which promptly crashes in all its full-sized splendor up through the ceiling of the Fortress.

Releasing Brainiac, who, Superman tells Zod, will enslave them all...

4Story - 4: I had an unusual number of problems with this issue, which I'm going to note but not before first noting that I'm chalking these problems up to the suddenness of the title's cancellation and Baltazar's and Franco's stated need to have to cram a lot of stuff planned for a longer series into these final three or four issues. By and large, they do seem to be problems that normal editing and/or planning would have caught beforehand. Accordingly, I'm only taking one point off the score, but I will be paying extra attention on issues #11 and #12 and won't be as forgiving if the problems persist. Also, I'm assuming the disguised Brainiac robot from the opening sequence will return in the next issue or, well, two.

Anyway, overall the issue was fun. Let's just number the "problems" for the sake of easy reading:

  1. Opening panel, narration: It just makes no sense that "in the far reaches of space" a Brainiac robot would launch itself "from" Earth. Either we would have to be in the "Earth reaches" of space or the robot launched itself toward Earth. This, I'd say, is a problem of editing, not of writing.

  2. Zod declares they shall soon rule Planet Houston and gets a one-second snicker out of me but the joke is wasted when in the very next panel Ursa refers to the "Earthlings" and on the next page Zod is quoting an "old Earth saying." Some metafictional Zod mockery over this would have salvaged the reference, in my eyes. Editing issue.

  3. Even though he is right there holding hands with her, Jor-El wishes for a way to hug Lara one more time. That's a tag-team writing/editing problem that could have been avoided if the big panel showing their hands together made it clear that they aren't actually touching.

  4. The powers-for-24-hours shtick. This is a trope I just find to be tired, and nothing about its use here did anything to invigorate or otherwise revitalize it. Not for me, anyway, and Forrester just didn't follow it at all (of course, he's still not yet four and hasn't exactly had to confront much mortality yet, you know what I mean?). Also, while temporary resurrection is one thing (and I'm not opposed to it on principle), the daylong time limit just seems more characteristic of magic than of science, which doesn't fit for Kryptonian stuff like this.

  5. If Zod can reach out of the Phantom Zone to activate the Fortress's crystal console, how exactly is he trapped in the Zone to begin with? If he can do this, couldn't he just grab a rope (or anything, really) and pull himself out? This is a writing more than an editing problem, and a surprisingly serious one for Baltazar and Franco, (very) minor laugh factor aside. Under normal circumstances, I would justify an entire point off the score for this alone. But, again, knowing they had to change everything at the last minute buys them some grace.

  6. The implication that Lara and Ursa were best pals in the Phantom Zone (Ursa says fighting is the last thing on her mind now that she has been "reunited" with Lara) only serves to justify their reunion's stereotypically domestic dialogue, which, broadly speaking, reduces the women in this particular story to chatty house frau for whom the latest gossip and the children's height is of more pressing concern than matters of war and/or peace. This is a writing problem, and one that I get the feeling would have been included regardless of the cancellation matter.

Beyond these issues, which are mostly minor but nevertheless stand out because of how rare this kind of stuff has been throughout the series, "It's Zod!" lives up to the high standards we've otherwise come to expect from the title.

Speaking of which, only two issues to go and I still haven't broken the news to my young reading companion, which I think I'm getting away with only because he's still too young to appreciate serialization - he doesn't distinguish between TV shows and movies, for instance: everything is a "movie." Lucky me, huh (with condolences to those of you whose kids' are old enough to get it, and to them as well).

5Art - 5: No change in my view from every single month:

"This work is exactly what it's supposed to be - iconic, expressive and simple. And all of those things consistently.©"

5Cover Art - 5: Perfect again just like I said last month: "no hiding what's in the book but no giving it all away or contradicting it, either." Reviewing this book has been one of the most straight-forward projects I've ever undertaken.

Forrester's Final Word(s): "Daddy! Daddy!? DADDY!!! Listen to me: I want a Zod Dog!"

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2013

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