Friday, 30 November 2012

Superman #14 review

Intersecting with where Supergirl #14 left off last week, we see Kara arrive at Clark Kent's apartment by the front door, compromising his dual identity. Before we catch up to that, though, Lois Lane drops by Clark's place to ask him to reconsider last issue's sudden resignation from his Daily Planet job. The conversation soon shifts to Lois' moving in with boyfriend Jonathan Carroll, with Clark miffed that she hadn't told him her plans. She says that as her best friend, she knew he'd talk her out of it. Quickly changing the subject, Lois points out that she's noticed a daft grin on Clark's face of late, and wants to know 'who's the lucky girl?' - we see him remembering a kiss with Wonder Woman.

It's then that Kara shows up, insisting on a private chat with an unsurprisingly horrified Clark. Before he can come up with an excuse, Lois jumps to a conclusion - Kara is a cosplayer Clark's interviewing for his new, supposedly serious-minded, blog - and Clark goes with that, while speedily shooing an amused Lois out.

Clark is furious at Kara, who's extremely dismissive of his 'foolish alter ego', and whisks her into Metropolis's Centennial Park, where they're joined by the supposed Kryptonian, H'el. He lays out his claims to a link with the El family and dream of a reborn Krypton. Superman isn't impressed, doesn't believe Hel for a minute, and is appalled when - as in the aforementioned Supergirl #14 - he offers to kill the clone Superboy to prove sincerity.

Superman whacks H'el across the park, asking Kara to watch the unconscious Superboy as he goes off to take care of the cruel H'el. Kara's soon involved, though, as H'el impersonates Superman, insults her and knocks her out; when she awakes, who's she going to trust? H'el then assaults Superboy, prompting Superman to proclaim that the boy is under his protection - unlike H'el and Kara, he doesn't see the genetically created teen as less than human. More powerful than either Kryptonian cousin, H'el shoots off, declaring that with Kara's help, he will resurrect Krypton.

Phew, this is a busy issue, with plenty of action and some good character work on Superman and Lois from writer Scott Lobdell. Lois gets a splash page worth of Cliff Notes laying out how awesome she is, while Clark acknowledges to himself that spying on Lois' texts last time was wrong. It's telling that while noting Clark's recent snogs with Wonder Woman over in Justice League, here he's bonkers about Lois in a way that speaks of real, deep feelings; the sooner his schoolboy rebound over to Diana is over, the better. And while Lois insists to Clark - and herself - that best friends is all they'll ever be, there's a definite spark with Clark, who's standing before her in a tight pair of shorts. The dialogue doesn't quite match up to the cliffhanger in Supergirl, but the snippets we got there are close enough to the scene here, and my goodness, the civvies Lois and Clark are wearing in the linked books actually match - that never happens. It'll be interesting to see how Lois reacts when she sees Superman with the 'cosplayer', as she's bound to at any minute.

I like that Superman, who's been patient with Hurricane Kara in her own book, finally shows the annoyance one family member can feel for another here. Just as good, he quickly calms down, gently holding Kara's hand as he listens to her reasons for bursting in on him.

Kara, though, she's a tad off, with her dismissal of Clark's private life and talk of his 'precious humans' - we've seen in her own book that while she's not happy to be on Earth, she thinks the people are worth protecting. Of course, it could be down to the malign influence of H'el, who seems to have some mind powers. We shall see.

H'el himself, whom we learn was behind last issue's Kryptonian dragon, is certainly shaping up to be a good bad guy, not bothering to try to fool Superman for more than two minutes; he's confident he can force his plans through with Kara's help alone. He also has an imperious attitude that suits a villain.
Illustrator Kenneth Rocafort excels, giving us first a great Lois, then an insightful visual of Clark's souvenir-filled apartment and a terrific Kara, totally on-model with the work of her own mag's artist, Mahmud Asrar (click on image to enlarge). H'el looks like the scary fruitcake he sounds like, while the fight is well-choreographed, with Rocafort's peculiarly shaped panels helping the pace more than they distract. The pages are splendidly coloured by Sunny Gho - bright as a Superman book should be, but not without mood. Rocafort and Gho have brought a vitality, a freshness that's helping this comic stand out.

The new creative team is gelling, tightening up the verbal and visual characterisation while fitting into the H'el on Earth crossover. I can't wait to see what Lobdell, Rocafort and co can do when left to their own devices.

11 comments:

  1. Wow Mart. You liked this a ton more than I did. I thought Clark sound petulant with Lois and obnoxious with Kara.

    But most importantly, neither sounded how they did in Supergirl #14 which just preceded this.

    My review up tomorrow!

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  2. I'm excited now, Anj - it's rare we disagree to a great extent, so I cannot wait for your review. I lunch at 1pm GMT!

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  3. I struggled alot with this issue. I tend to think that Martin and Anj both made some good points. Martin, I have to agree with Ang that I think Clark's behavior here was really poor. I thought he was very unfair to Lois and his behavior came off immature. His comment about "his sheets" and the "booty call" made me particularly uncomfortable.

    Here is what I will say: The opening pages where we got a glimpse into Clark's heart for Lois were...heart breaking and beautiful and a myriad of emotions.

    I think what this issue soldified for me as a reader is that no matter what happens in the DCU I miss Lois and Clark together. The spark that the two characters have together---even when the writer makes some mistakes---stings harder than anything else. It stings harder than any beautiful picture of Wonder Woman and Superman kissing. It hits on a human and raw level in a deeper way. I knew I missed Lois and Clark together. But I'm not sure I realized how much I missed them and now it's hit me like a ton of bricks. I want them back together. I want them in each other's arms again.


    Not sure if you were a fan of Buffy but I saw another Superman fan talking about this earlier today in regards to this issue. There is a famous quote from Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

    "You'll never be friends. You'll be in love till it kills you both. You'll fight and you'll shag and you'll hate each other until it makes yuo quiver but you'll never just be friends. Love isn't brains children...it's blood. Blood screaming inside of you to work it's will."

    Someone on one of the reviews on tumblr basically said that that above quote? That's Lois and Clark. They can never realy be friends. Whereas, Clark and Diana....I think they can. I think they are. Love isn't brains. It's blood. So we'll see what happens. I had issues with the book. But it did remind me the urgency of passion that Lois and Clark inspire in a Superman story.

    Cheers---Audrey

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  4. Hello Audrey, thanks for the feedback. I really miss Clark and Lois being together too, even though I was originally against the marriage. And it's not as if they were even given much attention as a married couple (Kurt Busiek had my favourite take in his too-short Superman run). But we know that sooner or later, they'll get back together, and that's a day I look forward to. Until then, if we have to see them with other people fine - Sally Selwyn is about 30 years overdue for an update - but it'd be nice if there's good humour on both sides.

    And I certainly did enjoy Buffy (when I wasn't cringing at Spike and Dru's 'British' accents).

    Did you see Anj's review of this issue, over at Supergirl's Comic Box Commentary?

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  5. I agree more with you than with Anj about this issue. I thought that this was pretty good and that Superman's behavior wasn't as out of character as other people say. His behavior towards Lois may have been uncalled for, but his anger at Kara was something that any other superhero would have felt.

    Also, I thought that Superman's reaction to H'el death threat towards Superboy was less brash and more "Papa Wolfish", especially when he told H'el that Superboy was under his protection. I liked that because it showed that Superman's relationship with Superboy is gonna come to a better start than it did in the pre-New 52 comics and on the "Young Justice" TV show. There is the thing that Superman had known about Superboy's existence and hadn't approach him, but I would attribute that to the same reason why Superman had avoided Superboy on "Young Justice": because he was uncomfortable with the idea that he had been cloned. But either way, this issue showed that Superman sees Superboy as a person instead of an abomination and hopefully, very soon, he'll start to see Kon as family. And that'll be good for the Boy of Steel because then Superman will be the first person that he has met who hasn't tried to hurt him or manipulate him.

    Overall, this issue wasn't as bad as half the readers are saying and it's got me excited for Superboy #15.

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    1. Hi PRgirl, cheers for the feedback. I'd not heard of the Papa Wolf TV trope, though its work-outable in context. I do like that Superman doesn't have to think twice about Superboy's 'value', and once Supergirl's acting like herself again we'll have our basic Superman Family again. Until then, I have the wonderful Superman Family Adventures!

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  6. Hmm, don't think I agree with Lois/Clark assessment. When he is around her he is not a guy I like. I see a whiny needy guy and she has done little in my opinion to earn the place as destiny or doing anything to make the character better if you know what I mean. The fact she was married to him in old continuity should not a factor here because it is two different versions of Clark. And Clark seems a bit of a jerk because I as far as I see WW never demanded anything of him so why pursue her if he is so in love with Lois? Seems to me we don't have any sort of consistensy in JL or SM.And the guy in JL shines better than this guy in this book in terms of how he deals with his emotions. Th smart fiesty Superman of #13 was let down by the bitching over Jonathan and mooning over Lois.Shame.

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    1. Lois has been an icon for 75 years and has more than earned the place she has in the story. People identify with her because she is flawed and human and when written as she deserves highlights the dual identity of Superman in a way only he can.

      I don't agree with Clark's actions here but at least his emotions are honest here. He is connecting with his humanity.

      In Justice League, he is lying to himself. He is acting out of fear because being honest with Lois is too "complicated"----except it's not. He's turning his back on what he truly feels because it's more "simple" and easy. That's not actually mature or positive.

      Real love is messy. It's not simple nor always easy. It needs courage and risks. Superman is not mature in JL...he's a coward.

      Clark made mistakes here. But he is being more emotionally honest with himself. As for Lois...she does not have to earn anything. She was created to be Superman's counterpoint and compliment and she continues to be beloved by many for her humanity and inner strength.

      --Audrey

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    2. Anonymous, thanks for giving another perspective on the issue - it's a fair reading.

      Hi again Audrey, I agree that Lois is 'worthy' of Superman because she was created to be his equal, but I love it when her merits are demonstrated ... and when we don't get that, I'll settle for them laid out in the narration. I can't wait to see her get more on-page action, though.

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  7. This version of Superman is just awful. He sounds and looks like Peter Parker. Since when is Supes a hipster? Slapping a red cape on a a totally new characterization does not make him Superman, and this just ... isn't.

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    1. Clark and Peter could form a support group for lost marriages ...

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