Superman #15 review

Here's a H'el on Earth tie-in without an appearance by the titular antagonist. No, this issue focuses on Lex Luthor as Superman searches for insight that may help him beat the supposed Kryptonian. Along for the ride is Superboy, and the clone proves an object of fascination for Luthor after fighting his way into the criminal's bespoke prison alongside his 'big brother'.

We learn that Lex spends a lot of time trying to figure out a way into Superman's Fortress of Solitude; that he suffered a badly scarred head in a fight with Superman; that he does his own ironing.

That last one is a shocker - who knew Lex's convict clothing even required a regular press? More seriously, what sane prison system would allow the brightest brain on the planet access to anything he might use to escape? We also see that he's allowed to shave himself.

As it turns out, there's no problem - Superman reveals to Superboy that he tricked Luthor into designing 'a prison so elaborate even he couldn't break out of it'.

Which sounds clever. But honestly, does he really believe Lex wouldn't see through such a scam? Or that he'd come up with a design lacking his very own 'get out of jail free' card. Truly, it seems as if Superman and Luthor just enjoy playing head games, with their back and forth conversation just one more chance to score points off one another. I will give writer Scott Lobdell credit for an intimidating Luthor ... often authors give us a scientist so impressed with himself that he barely needs Superman to trip him up. This version, though, is Hannibal Lector creepy, sniffing Superboy and declaring him 'a piece of art' and displaying knowledge he shouldn't have (click on image to enlarge).

Superman puts on his game face, but is clearly rattled. He's also annoying in his own right, indicating to Superboy that he's taking him along to see Lex not because he's trusted, but because while the younger hero is borrowing the super-armour, he's 'a person of interest'. Nice.

Later, when Superboy suggests calling in his Teen Titans colleagues, Superman gets incredibly sniffy about the 'unsupervised superhumans', before calling in that shining example of metahuman maturity, the Justice League. It's as if Lobdell is trying to get an entry on the Superdickery site.

Then there's Lex's implication that his scars are the result of Superman trying to kill him, but losing his nerve. The sooner that incident is out in the open, and rebutted, the better.

I also don't like yet another reminder that the New 52 Superman isn't trusted by most of the world. Oi DC, he's Superman - he should be trusted. Move on.

The arrival of the League sees Lobdell's third-person narration get awfully soppy as regards the current fling between Superman and Wonder Woman. It's tonally out of keeping with the rest of the issue, but mercifully brief.

I do like that Lobdell puts Lex front and centre as Superman's greatest foe; this run has been sorely lacking in credible threats, so why not bring out the classic? And it's good that Superboy is allowed to be likable for a whole story, with no moments of pouty anger or mind control. Plus, there's a lovely scene as Superboy meets Flash for the first time. But the presentation of.Superman really takes the shine off this issue.

The art is consistently impressive though, with the leads all looking great, and Kenneth Rocafort's Justice League bodes well for next issue, as they try to grab the Fortress back from H'el. And the design of Luthor's prison is excellent. The colours of Sunny Gho clarify and add class.

Not a perfect issue, then, but the Lobdell/Rocafort Superman is certain an interesting beast. I'm looking forward to the close of the current crossover, to see where the creators will go when not having to serve a linewide storyline.


  1. In a time when a frighteningly high number of Americans refuse to believe that their president is actually a U.S. citizen, I can see there being some refusal to accept an acknowledged alien being as a trustworthy hero.

    But then again, I think a good comics story should refute that zeitgeist, not embrace it as an ethos. Sigh...

    1. That's a great point, Snell - there really are some dumb people out there.

  2. I don't understand why Clark is being written as such a jerk. I don't understand why Clark's gentle nature and his natural personality is like poison to these DC writers with few exceptions. Morrison has managed to channel it in a few issues. Action #0 comes to mind. But more often than not, Superman is just not right in this new 52. It's nice to see Lex but I have to agree with your commentary. Something just feels off.

    This comic also lost me when it had Wonder Woman refer to Superman as her "beloved." Seriously? First off, when did that even happen? They've been on two dates. Not only is that horribly OOC but it doesn't fit at all with anything else happening in the books. Just one issue ago we had that whole long monologue where Clark is detailing how incredible Lois is and how she's the most amazing woman he's ever met. Now, we get this incredibly OOC moment for Wonder Woman and this forced editorial fling. It's really hard to not feel as though both Lois and Diana are just pawns here for DC editorial and that makes me frustrated and sad.


    1. The Superman/Wonder Woman bit had me laughing. I couldn't take it seriously.

      As for the rest of the issue, I read it without any great expectations...only happy moment was Luthor and seeing the Bat

      -lorkylork(I am having a hard time logging in to LJ)

  3. I'm not reading this -- blame the crossover and a general lack of funds -- but your review and the page you posted certainly make me want to give it a shot once this is through. Lobdell certainly writes an intriguing Luthor.

  4. "...indicating to Superboy that he's taking him along to see Lex not because he's trusted, but because while the younger hero is borrowing the super-armour, he's 'a person of interest'."

    I actually think that Superman was saying that Superboy was wearing the armor because he was a person of interest, not the other way around, in order to refute SB's claim that he was Superman's prisoner. It's his way of saying that he's bringing the kid along in order to protect him. I wish that Superman would just tell the kid how they're related so that Superboy can understand just how much this situation involves him.

    Anyways, about how Luthor stated H'el's plans, it may not have helped Superman the way he wanted, but I'm sure that it helped Superboy, and the readers, understand exactly how H'el's plans are a threat to their Earth and why they need to be stopped, which was what I was wondering. It makes the story that much more intense.

    Also, the part where Superboy mentions the Teen Titans to Superman and the part where he almost mentions Kid Flash to the Flash were pretty cool. I hope that Superboy gets to fully explain the Teen Titans to the whole Justice League 'cause as I said, it would make way for a Justice League/Teen Titans crossover.

    Overall, this issue wasn't as good as I expected, mostly because of Supergirl's absence despite the solicits indicating that she would be part of the story, but it was still very good and I'm looking forward to the rest of the crossover.

    1. Aha, thanks for the new perspective on Superman, Superboy and the Super-Armour, PRgirl. You may well be right - but boy, does old Kal-El look grumpy. And a supposed wordsmith like Clark should phrase things better, in a more friendly way.

  5. i'm just weirded out that luthor is trapped in a prison he built, wonder what he did to get sentenced to the luthor memorial prison

    1. maybe andy diggle will answer that, he is slated to take over action comics in issue 18, that issue will revealhow lex got scarred

  6. Hi Audrey, yep, that 'beloved' bit is ridiculous. Hey, maybe if the League defeats H'el they can celebrate with a wedding.

  7. As usual Mart we picked up on a lot of the same points.

    I thought this was Lobdell's strongest issue. Certainly his Luthor is a great read. I also think this issue was helped out because three of the elements which I think Lobdell gets horribly wrong (Clark, Lois, and Kara) weren't in the issue.

    But the military hating on Superman, the overdone Wonder Woman/Superman love captions, the hinting at wanting to kill Luthor ... all that was wrong.

    1. Thanks Anj.

      And if anyone hasn't seen Anj's view's on the issue, here goes:


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