Superman: Man of Tomorrow #2
Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 27, 2020
Cover date: April 2020
“Against the Odds”
Writer: Robert Venditti
Penciller: Paul Pelletier
Inker: Drew Hennessy
Reviewed by: Craig Boehmer
The issue opens with Clark, Lois, and Jimmy attending an anti-casino rally. They then enter a city council meeting to debate the legalization of casinos within city limits. Clark asks councilman Davidson about the link between casinos and organized crime. Davidson says those links are false and Clark leaves, its revealed Clark asked the question because Lois wrote a scathing article about Davidson and he wont talk to her anymore. Clark overhears a police scanner reporting a jewelry store robbery, he leaves to intervene. The robbers are debating what to steal to pay off a debt they owe the Gambler when Superman arrives. The robbers pull out their guns, but Superman notes that they are not loaded prompting one robber to swing his shotgun like a bat at Superman’s chest while yelling “Tell my wife and kids, I’m sorry.” Superman returns the jewels and flies the two men away. Three men, one called Mr. Sharpe, remark that Superman is the “safest bet there is.” Next, we see Clark discussing the event with Perry White, who is fighting with a vending machine. Clark states that the robbers were heavily in debt but had no criminal records and that the police have noticed a trend of many first-time criminals with money troubles. Perry tells Clark to focus on the casino story with Lois instead of pursuing this one. Clark reveals his displeasure with Lois.
The issue then shows the Gambler in a room full of screens taking bets on major disasters and crimes that are occurring. He sends a woman with a bag over her head to light a building on fire to cover her debts to him. He is also revealed to be behind the new casino. The girl is in front of the burning building with a woman in an upstairs window calling for help. Superman rescues the woman from the fire and notices the arsonist sobbing on the curb, he sets up a meeting between the arsonist and Clark. After the meeting Clark is sitting in his apartment drinking pop frustrated with how people are gambling on him. Lois enters and the two talk, she lifts his spirits and they make brinner for supper. While preparing supper Lois reveals a clue from the earlier arrest about a warehouse on the port which sends Superman racing away. Superman crashes into the warehouse and confronts the Gambler who calls on his thugs to attack him. Superman easily wades through the henchman and we get a really good page showing two beefy guys wearing brass knuckles heading towards Superman. Superman flicks them both and they are unconscious. The Gambler reveals that someone in City Hall was demanding bribes to support the casino bill. Police show up at City Hall and arrest Councilman Davidson.
Story – 5: This issue can be summarized rather quickly. A man calling himself the Gambler is taking bets on what Superman does. He has rigged the bets so that the house always wins which has caused many people to go heavily in to debt to him. The Gambler takes these indebted people and gets them to commit crimes so that he can continue to win. Superman learns about this through his and Lois’ investigative work and discovers that it runs all the way to City Hall. The story as a whole is pretty simple but allows us to see Superman deal with very real political corruption and gambling addictions. The story does not spend much time discussing the gambling addiction, just to say that the victims are desperate people.
As simple as the plot is its entertaining, but the real the strength of this comic is in the characterization of Clark/Superman and Lois. Clark is not the mythic god that is shown in other stories, he is a regular guy with amazing abilities that is trying to do the right thing. He breaks up the robbery to help the jewelry store owner, but his desire to do the right thing motivates him to investigate who the robbers were, which leads him to the underground gambling ring of Metropolis. After the fire he notices a woman in turmoil, so he approaches her. True to his character, he does not approach the lady for any other reason but to provide comfort to her. Clark and Superman are both good people, something this story highlights and plays with. The whole story about Superman and the homeless man gets right to his core of goodness. Clark tells Lois that he found a homeless man wearing his suit, that he had discarded earlier, instead of asking for it back, he gave the man the last twenty dollars in his wallet and left. This is a Superman that inspires hope and just reading about him makes me smile and want to go help someone, which is kind of the point. Even when confronted by thugs, Superman does not let his rage take over or use unnecessary violence, resulting in a hilarious panel where he flicks the thugs away.
Lois is also bang on with her characterization. She sends Clark to confront the councilman because she is unwilling to let a story… and maybe an injustice… go. When Clark goes, she sends Jimmy to continue asking her questions. She is as committed to her job as a reporter as she is to Clark, and that is so refreshing to read. This commitment is evident when Clark is at home drinking pop, yes pop. She lifts his spirits by reminding him of the good he does, regardless of how people respond to him. Her ability to comfort him feels real because of the time Venditti has put into showcasing their marriage. She is also the key to uncovering the mystery, revealing that she spent time investigating the Gambler because she knew it was important to Clark. Her investigation uncovers the secret hideout allowing Superman to save the day.
Art – 4: Pelletier does exceptionally well in this issue. The Gambler and his Thugs look like regular people with certain light embellishments that help the reader identify them as “bad guys”. There are a few faces that look awkward in closeups, but other than that it is a beautifully drawn issue. Page 4 has an amazing sequence starting with a closeup of Superman’s partially opened shirt emphasizing the Superman symbol. The next panel is a closeup on the eyes of Superman, beautifully highlighting the steely determination Superman exhibits. Finally, there is a full body shot of Superman as he takes off in flight magnificently portraying the power and glory of Superman with a glistening Metropolis extending into the background. This image is trademark Superman bursting into the sky on his way to stop a crime from occurring. It is the first image of Superman in this issue and immediately gets you excited to see him in action. Pelletier’s Metropolis is a sparkling example of the ideal city, the streets are clean, and the city exudes prosperity and hope. The next page has a really cool scene where the robbers are arguing about what to take while Superman’s cape flutters briefly over their heads before he is shown. The next panel is from an angle that places the robbers looking up to Superman, this really allows the reader to feel the grandeur of Superman compared to the smallness of these robbers.
Colorist Adriano Lucas does a fantastic job, again. The colors throughout the issue are warm and bright, highlighting the all ages nature of this story and the hopeful tone of Superman. The scene in the burning building is so brilliant. The colors really bring the fire to life while Superman searches for the victim and then carries her to safety. Especially notable is page 15, where Superman bursts through a wall while the fire rages around. In his arm is the trapped woman partially draped in his cape. The colours of the fire that rages around them is fantastic contrasts so nicely with his costume. The result is a fantastic image of Superman rescuing this girl that I would love to put on my wall.
Cover Art – 5: This cover is cool! It is exciting and captures your attention and imagination. Superman uses his back to shield a young girl from falling debris. This scene does not really have anything to do with the issue, but it captures the spirit of Superman and immediately draws your attention. The speed lines around his head seems to show that this was a last-minute rescue, and he has such a serene look on his face as if he is trying to calm the screaming child while simultaneously saving her. The blue of his costume pops against the greys and oranges of the debris and background.
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