Superman #50 review

It's Superman's big 50th issue and we're getting the first meeting between New 52 Superman and pre-Flashpoint post-Crisis Superman!

Oh hang on, DC changed the story, they're putting that in an upcoming issue. Unless they change their corporate mind again...

OK, so let's just enjoy whatever this double size special has to offer. 

Last week, in Action Comics, Superman got his powers and costume back, ready to take down Vandal Savage. This issue could go anywhere, with a Superman revitalised in body and soul taking on a more powerful than ever Immortal Villain. So where does it go?

Downhill. After a brief tussle with Vandal, Superman finds himself tasting alternate lives courtesy of the Puzzler's tech. 
In one, Krypton lives because the comet that powers Vandal would have made a Kryptonian strong enough to stave off the planet's destruction. In the other, Superman is Vandal's warlord, leading the strong to protect, well, other strong people, as the weak have no place in a world shaped by Vandal Savage. 
This isn't For the Man Who Has Everything, though - Superman isn't immersed in a fantasy world, he knows who he is and that Vandal is trying to tempt him to the dark side. Which means there are no stakes. And after almost a year of Superman mostly acting like a Grade A jerk, would a single reader expect him to make the wrong choice at this stage?

I can't see it, and I'm disappointed that after some good issues writer Gene Luan Yang serves up this weak stew of a story. It's basically padding. Superman has already gotten thorough his dark night of the soul, he's beyond temptation so he's going to tread water. 

It's not a terrible tale, just rather, to quote Charles M Schulz, blah. There are a couple of good moments - Superman's hilarious ten-second reformation of the Puzzler, and his sweet reunion with Jimmy and Lois (firefighter Lee Lambert is no longer with them as she exists only in Action Comics). 
And there's a delightful Smallville flashback, mainly due to the cameo artwork of Superman veteran Jon Bogdanov. Would someone give that man an issue?

Also going some way towards making this book worthwhile are the other artists - regular Howard Porter, and visiting craftsmen Ardian Syaf and Patrick Zircher. Porter handles the 'real' world in his wonderfully quirky way, and brings a degree of grandeur to the climactic scene of, er, Superman pushing a comet around. 
Zircher brings us Krypton and Syaf the superbeings fight scene. Zircher's sequence is simply beautiful, his Jor-El and Lara breathtakingly gorgeous, his Krypton a Silver Age wonderland. And Syaf's rough energy is spot on for the scene of Superman leading good and bad guys alike into battle. 

There's a fourth artist on the book, as recent regular John Romita returns to give us... let's be kind and simply say his take on Superman with longtime inking partner Klaus Janson. 

This is the last hurrah for Yang, and maybe Porter, and I just wish they'd gone out on a more interesting, vaguely engaging note. If Truth had ended in last week's Action Comics, which it easily could have, Yang and Porter could have given us a fine epilogue, told us a Superman story unfettered by the demands of a poorly conceived crossover. I hope they team up again one day, and give us that book. 

As for Truth, I'd like to say it was all worthwhile in the end, but I'd be lying. Here and there we got glimmers of what the creators on the various books could do, but far too much of it was Superman as ill-tempered fool fighting fourth-rate nonentities for reasons that make sense only if you're drunk. One several-issue sequence, in Superman/Wonder Woman, gave us the two formerly shining superheroes as sociopathic bullies - a shameful scenario that should be burned from the DC library. 

Rebirth can't come soon enough.

Comments

  1. Wait. What? How in the worlds (see what I did there?) would a comet in our solar system have had any affect on a Kryptonian 27+ light years away?

    I always feel like bashing my had against a wall after reading (or reading about) an installment of "Truth." Because I know it'll feel soooo good when I stop. (The stupid, it burns!) Two more months until May…

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    1. Oh, it went to Krypton at some point long before Superman's birth and a non-Jor-El scientist knocked it towards Earth, blah-de-blah. You missed nothing!

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  2. Thanks for reviewing this so I didn't end up buying it!

    I had been all set to get it with the initial solicit, and I even considered it when they switched it, but there's nothing here that would make me want to get it. While I'm all for dream sequences and "Imaginary Stories," it is just so "blah". Plus, another New 52 cover of Superman angry with glowing red eyes does nothing for me.

    I sincerely hope that Rebirth is a better not-reboot than New 52 or DC You for Superman. I inadvertently read a review of Anj's for the "H'el on Earth" Prelude last night with his reservations on how he felt DC was mishandling the character as well as Supergirl. Here we are years later and the editorial mess and lack of insight into the character have only worsened.

    Granted Editorial have never been without fault, (broken record that I am, I still think that the likes of Schwartz and Bridwell would never have allowed things to be so out of control. DC Comics have done a lot of crappy things to customers/ fans throughout the years, but I don't think it's ever brought up so much resentment, disillusionment, and disappointment as it does now. It's become so unprofessional that it commands utter ridicule. Or, perhaps I just see that because I'm looking for the negative too much, as I've not been a fan of their handling of characters and continuity since 2011.

    I really do wonder what they're planning on doing - if they even have a plan. They didn't seem to have one when New 52 launched but maybe they've learned something since DC You fell. I really don't know why I'm excited for Rebirth because I keep getting disappointed with what the NEW DC offers but maybe it just means it can't get any worse than it is now! Hmm, perhaps there's a new slogan in there for DC. :P

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    1. Hey, you should read more H'el on Earth reviews, I think I did dozens. I never did regain my sanity.

      Thanks so much for the comments, I can't say there's anything with which I disagree. I'm excited for Rebirth because I'm a stupid ruddy optimist. I can't wait until the creative teams are announced, very soon now.

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    2. I probably did read the reviews but have tried to suppress the fact I did. :P

      I'm not sure if I'm an optimist but I'm definitely stupid! :P

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  3. Oh yeah, when a company changes a solicit as much as they did with this issue, how does this affect sales, if at all?

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    1. I'm not sure, though I believe the books become returnable so shops don't lose out when disgruntled decide not to buy the changed books. I hope the companies do take a big hit, it seems to be the main pressure that makes them think again.

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    2. Yes, sadly, so do I. It's too bad it takes so much for some accountability with the companies.

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  4. When did superman gets his old haircut becuase last weeks action comics ended with him still spotting his buzz cut and and this was a direct continuation

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    1. Indeed, Chisanga. Looking at this week's Superman/Wonder Woman he seems to have intermediate hair. Old guys like me will remember an instant hairdo machine used by Shadow Lass of the Legion of Super-Heroes ... perhaps the Fortress AI Kelex has just invented it!

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    2. It's obvious the result of that comet and the years passing in those fantasy sequences. Duh.

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  5. I am severely disappointed with this issue. There was so much hype for New 52 Superman to meet pre-boot Superman (my favorite) and we got nothing.

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    1. I know how you feel, let's hope, at least, that it actually happens in the upcoming Peter Tomasi story. And that he doesn't have Superman kicking the teeth out of any super-villains...

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  6. I really wish we could get a heroic Superman for a change. He used to be a favorite of mine ... Still hoping ... At least the costume is back ...

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    1. I'm so with you, if it wasn't for the odd digital Adventures of Superman over the last few years we'd have had no classic Superman at all.

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  7. A few are commenting that this brings us The New 52 all over again: http://www.bleedingcool.com/2016/03/17/dc-comics-rebirth-bi-weekly-comics-to-have-up-to-three-art-teams/

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  8. The only thing I liked from the new run was 1. the wrestling community of the old gods (a neat idea imo to have old gods/legends that need to have their stories retold do so in the setting of 'pro wrestling' events, and neat to add Superman's 'story' to that 2. Hodr_root, I liked the character visually and conceptually (as a kind of personification of privacy concerns re the digital world creating a problem Superman can't simply punch)

    Other than that, not much to like

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    1. The wrestling gods were great, certainly the highlight. I might like Hordr_root more without the awful name. How is it said? Why do I have to type it? Bah.

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