Superman #48 review

Can we stop now?

How's that for a pithy review? OK,  it's pretty rubbish, but honestly, I read this issue, enjoyed the odd moment, but had to force myself to get through it. This comic has been on an upswing of late, with writer Gene Yang and artist Howard Porter showing chemistry in the Mythbrawl sequence. This issue, though, is another round of Superman as desperate man, thinking of little beyond getting back his stolen super-powers.   

The story opens at a political convention, with Superman helping ARGUS agent Steve Trevor take down would-be assassin Kingslayer. He's sought out Trevor because he wants access to the government agency's hoard of green Kryptonite. 
Stupid boy. Rather than take up Steve's offer to let the super-scientists of ARGUS examine him, he wants to kiss their glowing rocks. Expose himself to as much of the element that can kill him as he can find, on the off-chance he'll regain his ability to absorb solar radiation. He wants to be powered, like, now because the JLA has been captured by Vandal Savage as part of his ultimate plan to ... er, pass. 

About ten months into the Truth storyline which has infected the Superman books, we still don't know what the Immortal Villain's endgame us. We know he wants to power himself up via a comet that tickles Earth occasionally, we've seen him use sundry weapons - including his own children - but still don't know what his masterplan is. 

This issue, an updated version of Golden Age nuisance The Puzzler invades ARGUS in a new, robotic body provided by current day dullard Hordr_root. Or something. To be honest, I can't work out this page at all. 
Is the Puzzler's mind split into two before he's killed? I don't know, and care only in so far as I like to know what's going on. It is a puzzlement. 

What the Puzzlebot wants is to stop Superman's plan on behalf of Savage, but not if Steve has anything to say about it. Damn fine chap, that Trevor. Look at how understanding he is about Diana preferring Superman to him. 
Damn fine. 
Well, when he's not torturing villains. This is something of which Superman profoundly disapproves, having completely forgotten the several issues of Superman/Wonder Woman he's just spent kicking Parasite's teeth in with his monkey boots. Hypocrite. Ah well, maybe this means that horrible S/WW storyline, which saw me drop the book, has been instantly Mopeed out of continuity. This version of Steve needs to go too - Steve Trevor is a good man, not the type to happily torment a bound opponent. 

Realising he may well die, Superman has just one request of Steve. No, it's not that he tell him where he got that Steve Rogers tribute suit...
He's talking about Lois, I tell you!

My favourite part of this issue is the first few pages. A nod to another Golden Age type, J Wilbur Wolfingham, con man extraordinaire, is fun. 
The Kingslayer is enjoyably goofy. And I like that Superman calls for calm at one point.  

Other than that, it's just all tiresome, page-filling until the book hits #50 and Superman gets his power back. Writer Gene Yang has fun where he can - I like that Central City has an auditorium named for Forties Flash artist Harry Lampert - but it's as if he's been reined in, strangled by an overarching storyline that simply isn't working. What would have been nice was a cutaway to show Wonder Woman's efforts to rescue the League, or to see what Savage is up to - something to give this issue some context, make it seem like a necessary part of the big story rather than simple page filling. 

Ongoing artist - 'regular' is a risky term to use in relation to DC these days - Howard Porter doesn't draw the whole issue, sharing the workload with Ardian Syaf. While I like the reliable craftsmanship of Syaf - his opening sequence is very nicely done - I love Porter's quirkier work, so it's disappointing not to have him do the whole book. Look at that page above, for example, in which the floor layout stretches out to become panel borders. Wonderful. 

Also contributing  to the art are sturdy inkers Don Ho and Jerome K Moore...

... blimey, Jerome K Moore. I liked Moore's work a lot when he was a DC regular in the Eighties, on the likes of Green Arrow and Star Trek. It seems he's been working away from comics for awhile; I hope this marks a return to the medium. 

Hi-Fi's colours are smart and attractive throughout, as are Rob Leigh's letters. Both get a chance to shine on the powerful final page - Leigh has been doing some standout title lettering lately, while Hi-Fi gives great green. 

This is a pretty average issue, and it doesn't have to be - the creative team members are talented individuals, but they're fettered by the editorially driven direction (that should probably be 'meandering') of the Superman books. With Superman #50 coming, and a mysterious revamp of the DC Universe after that, let's hope Yang, Porter and co are allowed to fly free, like Superman. 


  1. BRAVO! Great review Martin. Yes. Can this stop? Please? What is this rebirth business DC is teasing? I hope it means this will all be retconned out of existence. When I say "all", I mean everything post Flashpoint in both the Superman and Wonder Woman worlds.

    One thing I am glad for? They brought back Steve as a potential love interest for Diana, how they handled him post crisis always bugged me.

    The panel where he tells Steve to tell "her" she was in his last thoughts seemed like a "hey, put something in there to muddy the water, we don't know if this break up is permanent or not" note from the editors.

    I'm just so tired of this never ending arc.

    1. I'm also delighted to have regular sightings of Steve, he's been great up to now, in the likes of Sterling Gates' Argus mini series.

      And a reboot would be smashing.

  2. A very fine review. Now, riddle me this: How does Kryptonite affect Superman, when he was made mortal by the Olympians gods? Isn't he human now? If not, what do they mean by "mortal"? Oh wait, you wisely dropped S/WW. I shall have to struggle with this one on my own. Ugh.

    1. And a very fine, and fair question. I don't actually know how green K works in this continuity, I suppose we have to take it that it's still super-dangerous to a Kryptonian. How I miss the good old Silver and Bronze Ages of Rules Made and Restated Regularly.

    2. I have to say, the K not affecting unpowered Kryptonians never made much sense to me (and DC even had to create yet another green K variety to affect pre-explosion Krypton and Argo City). I can grok it, just didn't make sense to me other than a story cheat that became canon. :)

  3. Rao, but some of that art is horrible. Look at the Puzzler freaking out. Where'd his jaw go? That was a train wreck of a page, I couldn't stop looking at it for the longest time.

    This was bloody awful. Why does Superman talk about Diana like he's auditioning for the latest CW teen emotefest drama? That stupid "Tell her my last thoughts were of her" seems intended to do two things - piss off everyone who hates the WW relationship and be an oh-too-clever-for-words potential "but he meant Lois!" retcon, as you alluded to in your joke. Steve's comments were completely out of line even if he and Superman were close buddies.

    Yes, one large radioactive overdose is EXACTLY how chemotherapy works. This isn't dramatic, it's stupid. However, the thing that confused you is one thing I liked about the story - Hordr made a copy of Puzzler's brain (the data) and loaded it into the robot. As far as the robot is concerned, he is the Puzzler. As far as the original puzzler is concerned, well, it's like the old Star Trek transporter controversy - when a person beams somewhere is it the original person or a copy, with the original killed in the process? (I lean toward copy, myself.)

    Superdudebro pouts when Steve calls him by name, which helps keep the thread of unsecret ID floating out there, but again, still no Lois, even though such a big deal was made about her revealing it and being a major part of this storyline - only to be dropped half way through, along with most appearances of his regular cast.

    Why am I bashing my head against this brick wall? Because it feels so good when I stop.

    Rebirth, take me away!

    1. Oh gah, now I can't unsee that distended, Xenomorph-like jaw.

      Thanks so much for the explanation of the brain-swap page - that could have been a lot clearer. Or even clear.

      Lois... Lois... no, that's not ringing any bells, sorry. Should I know her?

    2. Hmm. That's so strange. I don't even remember typing that. Who is Lois? Must have made sense at the time but I can't recall now.


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