Book Reviews - Stand-Alone/Solo Titles
Superman: Miracle MondayWriter: Elliot S! Maggin
Published by: Warner Books (1981)
In the days before Superboy's debut, Jonathan Kent has nightmares of his adopted son becoming a killer and a despot. Clark is shortly thereafter deeply affected by the accidental death of a dog, caused by his schoolbus. As a result, Clark swears to never take a life, lest he forsake his powers.
In the far future, Superman is quietly observed by a girl named Kristen Wells, and by a vile being known as C.W. Saturn.
In the present, Superman prevents a tidal wave from demolishing Metropolis by turning it into a blizzard. Taking advantage, Jimmy Olsen sneaks off from the news station with the assignment to cover a startling press conference... Lex Luthor, announcing his next prison break. Luthor has discovered a new form of energy, Gas-Wave Physics, which he intends to test by escaping from prison. It works. But it allows C.W. Saturn passage to Earth in the process.
Unknown to Lois Lane, Kristen Wells travels to the present and becomes her secretary. As Lois conspires to hook her and Jimmy up, Kristen happens to run in to Lena Luthor, just as the woman faints mysteriously. It soon becomes clear that something is desperately wrong with Kristen Wells, but that may be the least of Superman's troubles... Lex Luthor has made a LITERAL deal with the Devil, and a lock of hair could spell the end for everyone... If ever Metropolis needed a miracle, it's now.
Too bad C.W. Saturn's just revealed Superman's secret identity on national television. Might make things harder.
Story (Justin) - 5: Aaron: Hello. Welcome to a special joint book review at the Superman Homepage. Today, we'll be discussing the classic Superman novel "Miracle Monday". I'm Aaron Thall, novel reviewer.
Justin: And I'm Justin Adams, pre-Crisis comic book reviewer.
Aaron: I feel we should start by exploring the historical signifigance of this book. Since what I know of pre-Crisis DC could fit in a thimble, I turn the reins over to Justin.
Story (Aaron) - 3: Justin: This novel was written by the incomparable Elliot S! Maggin and originally marketed by Warner Brothers as a Superman II movie tie-in, even though the story had nothing to do with that movie. We can clearly see an image of the late Christopher Reeve on the cover, decked out in full Superman garb. This story is important for introducing Kristen Wells, who would eventually go on to appear in the Superman comics and become Superwoman.
Aaron: Who? I've never heard of Superwoman. Did Kara grow up?
Justin: Nope. Superwoman was Kristen Wells, time-traveler, who came to the past to actually find out who Superwoman was.
Justin: You may remember her from Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"
Aaron: Never read it. I'm DC illiterate.
Justin: It was the last pre-Crisis Superman story (even though it was an "imaginary story"). You can find it in TPB.
Aaron: Did she contribute anything of importance?
Justin: Yes and no. She was a supporting character but only had 3 appearances in the pre-Crisis DCU.
Aaron: So NOT significant?
Justin: She was significant due to the fact that she first appeared in a novel and was brought to the comics. It closely connected the books to Miracle Monday.
Aaron: Ah. A rarity, wouldn't you say? I always felt it was a pity that SAFE never left the Marvel novels
Justin: Yes, she was certainly rare. But an important figure nonetheless.
Aaron: Has she made any appearances post Crisis?
Justin: I believe she had some kind of cameo in The Kingdom but don't quote me on that.
Aaron: Hard not to. Joint review, remember?
Justin: It's also important to note that Kristen appeared in 1981, only a few years before DC rebooted.
Justin: We'll check that before we send this.
Aaron: She sure didn't see THAT coming. Some time traveler.
Justin: Superwoman's identity was unknown in the future, that was why she went back in time.
Aaron: And wound up becoming her? Oy
Justin: It was pointed out at the beginning of the story that Superwoman's abilities could be imitated by their technology.
Aaron: Why did she become a heroine?
Justin: Because she, like many people from the future, greatly respected Superman. Interesting side-note, she was Jimmy Olsen's ancestor.
Aaron: ...Jimmy got to breed? DARN YOU CHLOE SULLIVAN! ...Ancestor? She's from the FUTURE
Justin: Whoops. Descendant. You know, Jimmy has to be a few years younger than Chloe. I'm thinking at least three.
Aaron: ...(shudder) We should move on. What are you opinions on the plot?
Justin: I loved the plot of Miracle Monday. It was a very adult one compared to the Superman comics of the time. Superman's code against killing is examined and he faces a truly evil being with no redeeming qualities.
Aaron: Then they compare the villain to Mxy, killing the seriousness.
Justin: It makes perfect sense to compare this being to Mxy: both are magical and have tremendous power, only one is just out for fun and the other is pure evil.
Aaron: I wasn't impressed by the plot as much. It's no secret I'm not much of a Superman fan, but he seemed particularly omnipotent here. Made it boring. The villain's plot, while inspired, was also rather trite.
Justin: Superman was that powerful at the time, de-powering him in the novel would have been untrue to the character. Besides, the character is SUPPOSED to be powerful. Who wants to see Superman struggling to lift skyscraper? No one wants him to move planets, but he shouldn't struggle too much unless he's facing an equally powerful villain. As for Saturn, his plan was unique at the time. It was a precursor to the plans of villains like Manchester Black.
Aaron: But Manchester was INTERESTING.
Justin: (BTW, Kristen Wells did appear in Planet Krypton #1). Yes, he was interesting and so was Saturn. He was certainly much better than other demonic villains like Lord Satanus and Blaze.
Aaron: I thought Saturn was a Sailor Scout. I can't see THIS guy in a short skirt.
Justin: Well, I wouldn't put it past him...
Aaron: ...Oh yeah... It's no secret that Superman was stripped of Clark Kent in this novel. I thought it was fascinating to see how people reacted to Clark Kent once the truth was out. He lost everything except his ideals.
Justin: Agreed. Clark Kent was effectively killed and Superman was the only thing left. This novel closely examines how Superman sees himself and how others see him (and his alter ego).
Aaron: I thought it was fascinating that Clark once considered telling Luthor his secret, in hopes of reforming Lex.
Justin: Indeed. Superman was genuinely remorseful that Luthor turned out the way he did because of a mistake he made as Superboy.
Justin: Lex was one of the only people he could talk to as an equal.
Aaron: It's interesting that in the novel, Lex goes out of his way to SAVE Superman from Saturn. Do you think it's because he didn't hate Superman that much, or because he wanted Superman for himself?
Justin: I'd say that it's a little of both. Lex did seem more interested (at least Maggin's Luthor) in humiliating and surpassing Superman than destroying him. Although, I'm not sure Luthor would spare his enemy if given the chance. Perhaps Luthor just didn't want Earth to be dominated by a being like Saturn?
Aaron: Possible. Given that the Crisis came shortly afterwards, what do you make of Kristen's declaration that Clark and Lex would be friends again someday? A well meaning lie, or did she see Smallville coming?
Justin: It could be either. But, given her nature, I'd say that it was the truth. There was later a glimpse into the future in the comics where Superman was still alive and Lex had reformed and started LexCorp (yes, Maggin created LexCorp).
Justin: This was shortly before the reboot.
Aaron: I can't help but feel that the pace of the novel was off. The latter half moves quickly, but they spend FIVE CHAPTERS just on Lex escaping. Insane.
Justin: I think that was because Maggin wanted to set everything up before the plot got moving.
Aaron: The narrator needed to shut up. He never stopped talking.
Justin: I didn't really have a problem with the narrator, but I could see why other people would.
Aaron: Okay, the characters. Superman was, of course, perfect, as was the style of the time.
Justin: He was perfect in comparison with "normal" people, but you would expect a being from an advanced civilization to be.
Justin: Not that he didn't have flaws as well.
Aaron: Jimmy stealing an assignment? Lucky he didn't turn into a moon baby
Justin: It's a cut-throat business.
Justin: A servant of Samael (one of the names for Lucifer). Almost like a demonic messenger.
Aaron: So NOT a Japanese schoolgirl?
Justin: Nope. But that's not to say he's never appeared as one...
Aaron: ...Ew. Lois?
Justin: I liked Lois in the novel. She was independent and feisty, but not unlikable. She certainly had a more constant characterization than she does nowadays. Some writers seem to make her too unlikable.
Aaron: Her talk with a revealed Superman? The truest talk they've had... ever. At least pre-Crisis.
Justin: I'd agree with that, one of my favorite parts of the entire novel. Very mature and true. I especially liked Lois saying that a woman who dared to love a superman wouldn't be satisfied with anything less.
Aaron: I know this is a loaded question with Neal nearby... Lana?
Justin: Maybe he won't read this... just kidding. Lana was pretty much the same as she was in the comics. She's always seemed to be more relatable than Lois in my view. She's known both Clark and Superboy much longer, and I think she actually would've married Clark if Superboy never appeared. I'm not sure the same is true for Lois.
Justin: Lois would've wanted more than Clark if Superman never appeared.
Aaron: Okay. What did you think when you read the killer Superboy dream sequence the first time?
Aaron: I didn't realize it was a dream at first. I thought Maggin was just a fool.
Justin: Oh man, that was great. It's a reminder that power, especially absolute power, can corrupt. Superman has to always be careful that he never forgets this saying. If he doesn't, the people of Earth could suffer greatly. He can't let anger get to him the way average people do.
Aaron: Okay, let's wrap this up. Your overall opinion?
Justin: Great novel, especially for the time. When Superman is treated as a mature character, you get work like this. I give this story my highest rating--five out of five.
Aaron: I can't give it more than three. The plodding nature of the first half drags it down terribly.
Cover (Justin) - 3: Aaron: The cover?
Justin: Average. The movie had nothing to do with the novel. I give it a 3.
Aaron: 2. No connect AND words on the cover. So, where can people find this novel?
Justin: They can read it online or order it on Amazon.com.
Aaron: What's the address for the online version?
Cover (Aaron) - 2: Aaron: Well, that's all we have time for. Many thanks to Justin for helping me understand this fershuggner thing.
Justin: Thanks to Aaron and Steve for agreeing to this and thanks to all of you for reading.
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- The Further Adventures of Superman
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