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.
You know, I’m just not in the mood to discuss death and mourning like I have been. Death is a part of life. It’s unavoidable, whether we die of natural or unnatural causes. (Or in the DC universe possibly supernatural.) Mourning is also important. It helps us to accept that death has happened, that someone we love and care about is no longer with us and our lives have to go on. And yet at some point we do have to go on. This may be an opening better served in the third arc, but you can focus too much on death that you never really live.
Take Batman for example. Actually, first take Spider-Man. Peter Parker became Spider-Man due to an accident but didn’t really become a hero until his uncle died. He also lost his fiance, which sent him into an emotional spiral for a while, but he ended up finding someone else, marrying (though Marvel wants to forget that–TOO BAD!), and living his life. Bruce Wayne on the other hand never really did. He had Alfred and later the various Robins and Batgirls to pull him from the edge (although some writers want to keep pushing him towards that edge), but the “millionaire playboy” persona is just an act, a way to help Gotham in ways a costumed vigilante can’t and to fund said costumed vigilante’s activities. But even in his purest incarnations, not too far over the edge that he’s dangerous to himself as well as others but not so far over that his adventures are downright silly (well, maybe a little silly on occasion to break up the tension) Batman is the “real” identity, an obsession of a boy who couldn’t save his parents to try to keep other children from suffering the same tragedy. Crimes that mirror his own victimhood tend to bother him more than any other because it’s more personal. He never can find love except with someone just as obsessed as he is or at least willing to accept that part of him. Really I don’t see this upcoming marriage to Selina going well. I could be wrong, since it worked in an alternate reality or two.
But right now this book is still in the grieving chapter, as characters come together to deal with their loss. The body is buried but the man who used to inhabit it was already gone. So….what now?
Chapter 14: Funeral For A Friend part 4
Folks who know of one particular superhero created from this storyline may find this one interesting. With Superman gone and a mall being created to benefit one particular area of Suicide Slum destroyed in the battle with Doomsday the gangs come out and have a war. One group has a new kind of gun called a Toastmaster, which roasts the other gang. The “winning” gang leaves before the police show up but right in this spot they meet “ironworker Henry Johnson” (yes, how he’s introduced is important), who dug himself out of the rubble with a sledgehammer. Not only is this foreshadowing a particular hero but teasing his backstory. It’s actually pretty well done. His reveal is a little fast for me but it might have paced better in the comic when we learn he used to be a weapons designer…John Henry Irons. (See what I mean about how important the line was?) He left the weapons manufacturer he worked for (Colonel Weston and Hazard from this morning, although it’s spelled Westin here) but he still had one of the guns he designed, which he’s sure was the model for the Toastmasters the gang has. Superman told him to have his life mean something and he plans to. He also has prototype body armor and boot jets he design. I think it would have been more interesting for him to take the guns and turn them into the boots and at least part of the armor, having to create the rest, but I guess it explains how a construction worker can create an Iron Man style suit of armor in his basement.
Then we meet Mitch again. You know, the little brat whose house was wrecked when Doomsday tossed Superman through it back in Ohio. We see he may not be the same punk he was. Sure he came to Metropolis to hear a woman claiming to be Superman’s secret wife (one of many kooks trying to cash in on Superman’s passing) but he left a note and thought about when he wouldn’t have even done that for his mom. But he had to come here to meet someone who knew Superman. Lucky for him he found someone who actually is…Jimmy. It must have been tough on Lois having to hear this woman’s garbage and saying “she’s no more Mrs. Superman than…than I am”. Jimmy and Bibbo have a talk with him as he deals with not only the guilt of how he treated his mother but believing Superman might have stopped him sooner and lived had he not come back to help Mitch and his family when he called him. This is a good conclusion to Mitch’s arc, and he realizes how good Superman is and how horrible he had been but plans to change. You know I love a good redemption story.
From there we see her meet with Clark’s parents and yes, Lana is there too. The “inner circle quartet” if you will of the people who knew Superman’s secret. There’s a comment from Jonathan I really like: “Sharing multiplies joy and divides grief.” That’s why we gather to celebrate the happiest times and come together in the lowest of times. It’s why the marriage vows include “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health”. They agree to keep Clark’s secret for as long as they can but some snooper wanting to make a name for him or herself might try to find Superman’s family. The four plan to stand together and I really like this moment. Then we get some heroics as Supergirl. That’s what I really like about this chapter. It’s very heroic as everyone tries to move on.
Except for Westfield, as the chapter ends with him and his team stealing Superman’s body. No respect for the dead at all. I think I hate this guy. NO, I don’t care what good can come from studying Kryptonian DNA. I’m sure Supergirl can go to the Fortress and find that information along with Kryptonian heritage and anything else that they could use but this is not an option. What a jerk. It really ends the chapter on a low note. Here you have Mitch’s redemption arc concluding while John’s begins, good heroics by Supergirl, Jimmy, and Bibbo (giving Mitch the money to go home while Jimmy looks out for the kid), the “inner circle” coming together….and this jackass! It’s kind of a downer to a good chapter, although I suppose it can be seen as a cliffhanger to the next chapter.
Next time: Funeral For A Friend part 5