Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
We have one last chapter of setup before the main story begins. And since I need to pad out this intro let me say that I’m not pleased with all of the changes made post-Crisis. There were some that worked for me. Superboy (“the adventures of Superman when he was a boy”) was a fun idea but I don’t think it should of been canon, although that did give us Krypto. I do like that we met the Kents, and since they were popular thanks to Superboy it was good to keep them alive. I like that his powers had to slowly grow as he got older, although most Kryptonians since then seem to power up rather quickly after only a few days.
But I don’t like that the Supergirl we knew and loved was written out of continuity (making her death rather pointless, but at least she went out properly) and replaced with an otherwise cool shapeshifting artificial being because they didn’t want Superman to have other Kryptonians. (Except the Phantom Zone criminals apparently.) I preferred Lex Luthor as a criminal scientist out to prove his genius and yet wasn’t what we would consider a “mad scientist”. I don’t like that Krypton was re-imagined as this cold, all-about-science world because John Byrne thought it was better to have Krypton not be a loss. Krypton was fine before…actually I put more blame on Richard Donner’s vision, with all the crystal usage and a Fortress Of Solitude that lacked decent camouflage but that’s another discussion, but everyone seemed to gravitate to that for the longest time. It’s all personal preference. I’ll take it over Man Of Steel (cool as the “pin technology” was) because it still feels like Superman and there were some good stories. For example, we’re reading the novelization of one now.
Chapter 5: Doomsday part 5
Yes, I know the chapter and section part numbers are the same and that won’t change until chapter 11, which reaches the next story arc. I’m still doing it here for consistency.
The first scene introduces Jimmy but we really don’t learn anything about him. Even him talking about the part of Metropolis he lived in (one of the smaller “islands”…which makes Metropolis sound like Hawaii or Japan) says more about Metropolis than Jimmy. His discussion with Clark really just leads into a brief history of Superman’s first meeting with the original Justice League in this continuity (a team-up of Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and Flash Barry Allen) as he rescued them from a time-traveling criminal named Xotar. (Apparently in the future it’s not just celebrities who give their kids dumb names. At least in the DC universe.) Then it goes into the current membership: former Green Lantern Guy Gardner (who at this point wore Sinestro’s pre-Sinestro Corp yellow power ring), a hero named Bloodwynd I know nothing about, Maxima (whom you may know from Superman: The Animated Series or that one Armageddon 2001 story I reviewed), and of course Blue Beetle Ted Kord and Booster Gold. These are the current Justice League members and will be there when Doomsday makes his debut.
And that’s fine, but so far we’ve learned about all the characters at one point or another. We learn nothing about Jimmy’s backstory or his current standing in the DC Universe besides Clark and Lois knowing him long enough that they want him to be on a first name basis but he’s not used to it, and that he can’t afford to live in the big city but doesn’t live in Suicide Slum either. And that’s it. That’s disappointing.
And then we have the Newsboy Legion clones, or “we can have it both ways with superscience!”. I’m thinking Captain PSA needs to go over this at some point. If you remember from the previous chapter the Newsboy Legion were basically Guardian’s version of Sherlock Holmes’s Baker Streek Irregulars but rather than reboot them and the Guardian they were the same characters from the period. So the Newsboys grew up and were led down paths that led to their forming Cadmus. But apparently someone wanted to write stories with the street kids and keep them like something out of The Bowery Boys, so they cloned them. Then added in a black kid so they could pretend they were being all diverse now. Remember what I said about not liking everything post-Crisis? The junior clones here are on that list. They only exist so someone could keep writing them as kids but still have them grow up. My money’s on Grant Morrison. It just sounds like something he’d do, but I haven’t looked into it to confirm.
This segment, which has the clone kids stealing a vehicle in the hopes of getting some outside time, also introduces Dublex, one of a group of “DNAliens” created by Donovan (who isn’t dead and is name-dropped because he will play a part in this story). Dublex has various psychic powers, including telepathy. He will also play a part, as will Paul Westfield, the head of Project: Cadmus. (Wait, if the original Newsboy Legion started the project why is this guy in charge?) The kids also show up in a city that was grown like trees, but whether “the Habitat” plays a part or not I don’t know yet. And during this segment “the Creature” manages to break a big enough hole in his prison and break his bonds…and now he’s digging his way to the surface!
And with that all our players have been introduced. Superman. Supergirl. Guardian. Lois Lane. Project Cadimus and their happy clone friends. Bibbo. Dr. Hamilton. The Justice League. Lex Luthor “Junior”. John the construction worker. The Eradicator. And the Creature. The stage is set. In our next installment…the carnage begins!