Superman #18 review

In which Superman is questioned by the US Senate, Cat Grant lays out her plans for her blog with Clark Kent, and Orion enters the picture.

It's Orion who opens the issue, letting off steam while saving a planet of 'cowards' from rampaging monsters, as he answers a summons from his father, Highfather. Then we see Superman refuse politicians' demands to inspect the newly revealed Arctic Fortress of Solitude, and learn that Lois Lane has packed in TV producing for reporting. And at a Metropolis nightclub, Cat shows fellow Daily Planet walkout Clark her idea for their new online paper, Clarkcatropolis (giggle).

Their rendezvous at the rooftop venue is interrupted by screams as dancers begin throwing themselves to Earth. With Cat looking away, Clark can become Superman to save the day, but he's left with a mystery - who caused the sonic signal that ordered the punters to jump? As for the people he rescued, many of them assume Superman, whom they hear has 'some ice dungeon', was behind their weird behaviour.

Two epilogues then show us Orion being told by Highfather that Superman is a threat to the Cosmos, and the nemesis of a Justice League colleague waking from a coma state.

So, the good of Scott Lobdell's script - the sequences with Orion and Highfather are excellent, showing us their power and mystery while setting the former up for a battle with Superman (and making a mockery of the upcoming not-WTF? cover 'surprising' us with the revelation that the two heroes are fighting). The Senate's summoning of Superman makes perfect sense in the aftermath of the H'el on Earth business. I'm delighted to have Lois back in the field and Cat is a delight.

And the bad - almost everything Superman or Clark Kent thinks or says.
  • He flat out refuses to assuage the Senate's worries, claiming the Fortress is too dangerous for inspectors, rather than finding a way to give them a reassuring tour without revealing his secrets. And I get that the path Superman takes is perhaps more honest than my very Silver Age suggestion, but surely a white lie is better than making ordinary people more nervous than they already are?
  • He assumes Cat is making a pass at him when she's simply being a pal.
  • He ridicules Cat's blog idea as Clark, and snubs her as Superman.
  • The omniscient narrator tells us that it's only recently that Clark has come to understand why Metropolitans like to hit nightclubs. He believes they yearn for contact because Metropolis is such a dangerous place. Which it is, but maybe they simply like to dance and drink, as many people do? His conclusion is very much that of the outsider. Yet this is a man raised on US soil by ordinary parents, a man who puts on a costume to play the hero; he's known about his alien heritage for only a small part of his life - but boy, has he embraced it. Orion, by contrast, the son of a dark god raised by a benevolent deity, a man who's spent his entire life in outer space, thinks about how much he likes humans, after very little exposure to them. The only time Superman warms up this issue is when he bumps into 'Miss Lane' - which is great, but still ... 
If Lobdell tweaks Superman's personality, I'll likely be very happy with his run. I very much like the aforementioned narrative style, for example, and this issue's division into prologue, two chapters and an epilogue makes for a meaty-feeling 20 pages. I'm happy that we're getting some development on the Cat and Clark front, several months after the blog was announced. I like the inclusion of Jimmy, Perry and Edge. I like the linking of the death of Krypton with the New Gods via a prophecy (even though the New Gods supposedly come from some extra-dimensional system rather than existing in Superman's reality). And I love that there's nary a mention of the forced 'romance' with Wonder Woman.
There's plenty to praise in the art too. Regular guy Kenneth Rocafort supplies the attractive cover, while the interiors are the work of three illustrators. Aaron Kuder handles the Orion sequences and Mystery Villain (well, I'm not telling, anyway) epilogue. Tyler Kirkham is at the Senate hearing. And Robson Rocha gives us the Metropolis scenes. The individual artists' styles sit well alongside one another, and maintain the feel of Rocafort; my only qualm is that Superman looks like Mon'El of the Legion of Super-Heroes, but that's DC's New 52 - everyone's a preppie. Kuder and Kirkham ink their own pencils, while Jaime Mendoza supports Rocha to good effect. There's not a bad-looking page in the book, with the standout being Kuder's Orion splash (above, click to enlarge) - a clever composition, beautifully executed.

So, H'el on Earth is behind us and this comic is telling Superman's story once more. It's pretty much on the right track, with my reservations being matters that could quickly be tweaked away if the editorial will is there. Please let that be the case.


  1. He DOES look just like Mon-El; that was very distracting.

    1. Give him some Big Yellow Fasteners and we're there!

  2. This version of Cat Grant seems actually likeable--a big step up from the pre-52 version. I certainly like her a lot better than reboot Lois.

    1. She is a good egg, it seems. I did like the depth of the Nineties Cat, around the time she was hit by tragedy.

  3. I liked this issue a lot, a miracle considering how little interest I;ve had in Superman in years and how big a turn off I found Morrison's Action Comics, and I think Lobdell is perfect for the New 52 version of the character. If you want the status quo to be one where the world fears and mistrusts one of its greatest champions, who better than one of the top five writers to ever have shepherded the X-Men?

  4. How depressingly accurate, Steve. Dear oh dear, I do hope Lobdell is inspired by the Sholly Fisch/Chris Sprouse story in Action Cmics #18.

  5. As usual Mart, we are on the same page on so many things.

    In particular, I found the Clark/Superman interaction with Cat boorish. She might be an entertainment reporter but she doesn't seem vapid and clearly has a good heart.

    The 'feared by everyone' theme is completely wrong in my book.


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