Adventures Of Superman #16
DC Comics (October, 2014)“Strange Visitor” WRITER: Joe Keatinge ARTISTS:Ming Doyle, Brent Shoonover, David Williams & Al Gordon, Tula Lotay, and Jason Shawn Alexander COLORISTS: Jordie Bellaire, Nick Filardi, Jason Wright, Tula Lotay, and Lee Loughridge COVER ART: Jon Bogdanove (artist) & Madpencil Studio (colors) LETTERER: Wes Abbott EDITOR: Alex Antone
This is not going to be a typical review, folks. I heard a lot of praise for this comic, both from the people who bought the digital version (which they can’t download) to the people who bought this issue. So I was looking forward to this finale. And then I read it, and I was quite disappointed really. Somehow this didn’t quite feel like what I was hoping for and frankly it didn’t replace that with anything that great. As fair warning, I’m not going to be afraid to spoil the daylights out of this comic because I really want to get into what bothers me about this issue.
The framing device has Kamandi telling a story of Superman to Rathotis as they escape an Earth about to explode because it’s too old. Not that it matters because I don’t think he really finished the story or convince the boy king of anything. The important story jumps ahead in time, giving artists a chance to draw Superman at different stages of his comic life, but the story continuing the same timeline, meaning we don’t get a story depiction of the different eras of Superman, which is what I hoped for. Like I said, I’d deal with it if what we got didn’t have one huge flaw, which I’ll get to in a moment.
Superman’s story involved a rocket being launched in 1939…after Batman and Superman fights some monsters alongside Dracula. Yeah, I don’t get that part, either. Keatinge has to write Batman as being against Superman’s optimism. as a “rookie mistake”. Not a fan of that considering when the comic takes place. The aforementioned rocket is powered by Red Kryptonite, often unstable when Superman is exposed to it, but here it appears to vaporize the rocket. Superman, however, is sure something else happened to the rocket because there is no debris. Kamandi tries to tell Rathotis that this was Superman’s first defeat and the “first time he knew what it was like to fail”, but throughout the story, as the years pass, Superman is proven to be right and the Red K fuel (which by the way also powers Kamandi and Rathotis’ ship as they head to a new universe while this one dies–that old “heat death of the universe” that seems to be popping up in sci-fi lately) warped them out of space/time and at the end Superman finds it and leads them to presumably the same universe Kamandi’s people are headed for. More on that in a moment.
They try again in 2013. Superman hasn’t aged a day. (I guess at some point Kryptonians either stop aging or at least they do under a yellow sun. Pay attention because where this fails for me begins with this comment.) Lois, however, is as old as you’d expect between 1939 and 2013. At some point she learned Clark was Superman, as did the President back in 1939, which leads to one of my gripes: no Clark Kent, except for young Clark testing his powers pre-flying by jumping from the roof of the house to the roof of the barn and just barely making it, freaking out his mom. When she scolds him an unseen dad goes “listen to your mother”. I guess we know how little Keatinge thought of Jonathan Kent. Clark isn’t just part of who Superman is, he’s the “man” of “Superman” and I felt his absence, especially at the climax of the story.
Anyway, senior citizen Lois plants a huge one on Superman as everyone is out to see the new rocket launch, even people of New Genesis. Lois goes on about Superman inspiring all of these people (not sure how the New Gods factor into that, mind you, and other aliens as well. This would suggest that they’ve already BEEN to outer space so why does anyone care? Not that it matters because Mxyzptlk melts Lois using the Superman statue to fire heat vision at her. Superman…and this is when it goes wrong for me…shoves the statue into space, talks with Mxyzptlk for a while and then says his superhero name backwards (not his real name, and I would have accepted tneK kralC or lE=laK) to go into the fifth dimension. I remember when that was a joke that anyone other than our favorite 5th dimensional imp would do that. Lois, by the way, is never referenced again so was that a fake Lois? We did see Mxy turn into a hot girl in last week’s Thundercats crossover.
In the fifth dimension, Superman sees the rocket from the 30s but can’t reach it. Oddly, Superman and Mxyzptlk are chatting like old pals around this point. I don’t understand it. Superman is of course still convinced he can save it. I know this story is about Superman’s optimism and never giving up, which is fine. But then the tale goes on and on about how he gives everyone hope but I don’t really see that because the only interaction we’ve seen with Superman in this story is alongside Batman and Dracula where Batman complains about how hopeful Superman is and a possibly fake Lois going on about how great it is that he gives everyone hope. I’m seeing less of actual Superman giving hope than I did Man Of Steel. This series had different writers demonstrating the good Superman does and how he inspires people and it worked to varying degrees but here it doesn’t work at all.
After that quick flashback to 1926 I mentioned earlier (the one scene I really liked) we see the end of the universe. The last god, Anu, dies and…explain this to me people. Superman apparently split himself into various versions of himself, which now come together and as the universe dies he finally is able to make contact with that rocket and leads the astronauts to the new universe. In other words, Superman is the only thing that survives the Universe and he can wish his old god friend goodbye before he dies. Superman is now the last god standing and that’s when I decided I hate this story! Why?
Superman is NOT a god!
He is a man with “powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men” but he is not a god, he is not Jesus! He is a man with superhuman powers, a never-say-die attitude, a strong moral base, and a loving heart, even for his enemies. Superman is the ideal we need to live up to as humans not because of his powers but because of who he is. This comic does a terrible job of showcasing this. Instead he’s an inspiration because of his powers and optimism, going by this story. Whatever Keatinge was trying to tell, that what it looked like to me. This is not Superman. He is not a god, he does not walk with gods except when they come to Earth, like when Hercules drops by. (Which doesn’t happen as often as in the Marvel Universe, but they’ve met.) Having Superman “bury” the last god and essentially become a god feels wrong. Superman’s powers are biological, a fact of his birth. Kryptonians process yellow sunlight differently, giving them powers unusual even to their own people living under a red sun. He also came from a plane with different gravity, giving him other natural abilities. Are you telling me that under a yellow sun all Kryptonians would become gods? I find that doubtful.
I love Superman. He’s my favorite DC hero and probably my favorite superhero. That said, this comic puts Superman on too high a pedestal instead of honoring the many years and versions of Superman and Clark Kent over the years and as the intended finale I was just not in tune with this story. Maybe some of you will enjoy the story but as a Superman tale it just loses me and I can’t recommend it at all. This is not a good ending for this series.