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DC Universe: Last Sons

DC Universe: Trail of Time

Writer: Jeff Mariotte
Cover design: Don Puckey
Cover illustration: James Jean
Book design: Stratford Publishing Services

Published by: Warner Books (March 2007)

Reviewed by: Aaron Thall

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In the days of Camelot, Vandal Savage, Felix Faust, and Mordru discuss the future and devise a plan to bend it to their liking. Their solution is the creation of a nine pointed star that creates a second Earth.

In the old west, several western heroes, including Jonah Hex and Bat Lash, find themselves drawn towards Apache territory. But when the sun starts turning red and odd occurances begin to pop up, it becomes obvious that something strange is going on.

Clark Kent is living in an oppressive world under a red sun, unaware of his life as Superman until the Phantom Stranger and Jason Blood come to recruit him for a deadly mission. Unfortunately, while they attempt to recruit Clark, Lois Lane is brutally murdered.

Phantom Stranger explains that the world Clark lives in is not the real world, but a mystic creation that will replace the true earth unless he helps them. Reluctantly, he agrees, and a journey to Hell reunites him with his heroic counterpart from the real world.

Whole again, Superman, Stranger, and Blood embark on a trip through time to try and stop the three villains from achieving their goals, because time is rapidly running out for the real Earth. Too bad that the forging of the nine point star has granted Vandal Savage the ability to control Etrigan...

And unknown to anyone, events from the alternate Earth are beginning to replay in the real world for Lois Lane...

3Story - 3: There's a lot to be said for a miniature Crisis. Red skies, crazy magic... But the downside is that it can get very metaphysical. Phantom Stranger has Superman participate in the destruction of an entire alternate planet. True, they were never supposed to exist, but it's still life, and last I checked, outside of Smallville, Superman doesn't kill except as a last resort, and never innocents.

When it was revealed that the Clark of the first few chapters was essentially a magical duplicate, I thought it was an interesting twist. A Superman story where, technically, Superman never appears. Alas, it was not to be, and when the merging occurs, it's suddenly the real one with trace memories of the alternate Clark.

It felt like a lost opportunity. Imagine Superman, suddenly without Lois, unsure of how to use his powers... fighting magic. THAT would have been exciting. Instead, the best we get is a little lip service to him not being as confident as usual.

In addition, the inclusion of the western heroes felt tacked on... Page filler. They ultimately add basically nothing to the story. Any generic hero would have done.

Once the day is saved, I found myself disappointed that Savage and his partners would even consider a direct confrontation. It felt like pointless filler, and they all went down way too easy. After all that buildup, the battle should have been epic.

That's not to say that the book doesn't have some great moments. Superman's tongue in cheek fixation on trying to see the Stranger's eyes. Lois' situation mirroring that of her ill-fated counterpart. Every action sequence, save the last one, is superb.

But the problems bring down the novel to only an average rating. It could have been so much more.

4Cover Art - 4: A clever cover with the sun going red like it did in the old west, Savage and Jonah in profile, the Demon forging the nine pointed star, and Superman and Lois facing oncoming doom, apparently powerless. I dock it a point only for not finding room for Phantom Stranger.

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