Superman # 28 review

The Kent family conclude their Independence Day trip around US heritage sites, giving and learning lessons and, finally, attempting to help a very patriotic family. 

Specifically, they're in Washington DC, starting with a trip to the Capitol Building, where the value of protests is noted. 
Then it's a visit to the Second World War Memorial, for a big old hunk of history. 
It's unnamed, but I think it's the Korean War Veterans' Memorial where Lois tells Jon about his great-uncle. 
A high-flying visit to the Lincoln Memorial is another chance to recite. And finally, the Kents talk ghosts in Gettysburg National Military Park. 
Afterwards, they get lost, but soon make some new friends. 
The Dowds are remembering an ancestor killed in the Civil War. 
Sadly, the body of Thomas Dowd was never found...

... you may guess what happens by story's end - let's just say 'closure' and 'creepy' and leave it at that, as I don't wish to spoil the whole issue. It is good, though, that Superman does something other than recite, or hear, history. 

Last issue, I enjoyed the history lesson. I know it was a tad on the nose for some people, with its focus on the past and patriotism, but it was different and I'm all for younger readers getting the occasional lesson in civics, and us oldies a reminder. 

This though, was a rough read for me. Actually, I stopped reading during the longer recitations, I wanted to be entertained with my lunch and it was just too darn dry. And I can't imagine many kids making it through those passages. Is Jon really awake when he's sticking that flag in the ground?

I do try not to be backseat editor, but after last issue's talkiness, the last thing we needed was more, much more, of the same. We'd had the tell, it was time to show. We're talking Superman here, a guy who's been known to travel through time; why not take a vacation in the past and make things really come alive for Jon? Or maybe have Lois meet her Uncle Kurt? There are so many ways this story could have gone that would have been more engaging than page after page of Lois and Clark reading out loud which, frankly, makes them seem weird, like it's their actual hobby. 

And there's one big loose end. See that panel in which Clark and Lois introduce themselves? By story's end Superman has done something that only a fool, and a dead one at that, wouldn't link back to Clark. All any of them has to do is find the surname of a Clark married to a Lois Lane and it's bye bye secret ID. 

Maybe writers Peter J Tomasi and Patrick Gleason built this 'problem' in as a plot point for a future story - this is comics, with a family that size, one has to be a supervillain. 

The craft of the story is as fine as ever - the non-quoted dialogue is great, I cherish the obvious love among the Kents. And the Dowds are convincing. I appreciate that while this story is undoubtedly a tribute to the military, it's not glorifying armed conflict; it's pointing out that people die and discussion is better. The art by illustrator Scott Godlewski and colourist Gabe Eltaeb is a treat, dynamic and open in composition, convincing in the emotional detail of facial and body language. I especially like the flashback treatment, and that 'wall of words' spread is pretty gorgeous. Rob Leigh deserves a bonus for all the lettering he had to do. 
And both covers, the regular by Ryan Sook, and the variant by Jorge Jimenez and colourist Alejandro Sanchez, are stunning, and bound to show up in coffee table books decades from now. 

This is a decent comic, I applaud the creators' intentions; I simply wish they'd presented the information in the hugely entertaining way I know they could have. 


  1. This was a painfully quick read for me. I skipped every single lecture...

    1. I'm really not surprised. On the one hand it feels disrespectful to the creators for me to skip. On the other, I buy comics mainly for entertainment; in the spirit of the BBC, I like a bit of education with my entertainment, but not entire screeds of quotations.

  2. After months/years of "let's turn Jon into a monster cuz DC hates when heroes have kids", stuff like this that's sincere & sweet is a welcome refresher. I guess I'm in the minority, since we're all supposed to be cynical now (judging from the responses these two issues have gotten from too many readers). If you want cynicism, read the first two years of this book or wait till October where they're doing the "Jon turns evil" plots AGAIN. Let us enjoy a bit of history & sincerity in DC Comics FOR ONCE.

    Oh, and that's the Vietnam Memorial that Lois visits. One of the few times I saw my dad cry was looking up old shipmates' names on there.

    1. I've read every issue of this book, reviewed pretty much all of them, and praised it to the heavens. That includes the first part of this story. You'd be hard-pressed to find any evidence I want cynicism - I just want more than an illustrated lecture.

      Thanks for the Korean War memorial info... I didn't even notice the scene had changed with the page turn, they needed to be clearer.

  3. Like you, I liked the first part of this journey better than the (super-wordy) second part. I would have liked to hear Lois and Clark talk about the wars from their own knowledge & perspectives; having them read placards gives us very little about the characters themselves (other than they're inveterate placard-readers).

    The bit honoring Lois's uncle Kurt was a nice touch. Presumably named for Kurt Shaffenburger?

    I wonder if these two issues weren't commissioned by the National Parks Service, or something like that. I could see them being collected into a special issue and sold at the Gettysburg book shop and on the Washington Mall.

    1. I cannot believe I didn't catch who Kurt 'was'. Smart man!

      This really does shriek 'public service announcement', doesnt it - we need the secret origin!

    2. It took me a moment, too. At first I was thinking, "They spelled Curt wrong," thinking of Swan. And then I realized, OH. Wrong Kurt!

  4. Kurt being a nod to Schaffenberger is a brill idea and I hope it is true.

    I thought this issue was a bit too talky for me. The dialogue by Clark and Lois sounded more like a history teacher than a parent mentor. And some of the facts and numbers that roll out of them seem esoteric for a casual history buff.

    I love the sentiment. The execution here is what was off.

    And that ending with the skeleton on the porch. Brrrrrr ....

    1. When DC next do a Hallowe'en scary tales digest...


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