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.
Here we are, the penultimate chapter of this book. That means this should be the final battle between the real Superman and his cybernetic fake. I wish more writers understood what made this special beyond the superficial “it’s where Superman died and it was a big deal”, but it was just another point where they diverted from good storytelling because they didn’t understand why this storyline worked. And that’s really a shame for comics.
But that’s something I’ll discuss in greater detail once we’re done with the novelization. So let’s get back into it and see if this story continues on the positive trend it’s had thus far.
Chapter 28: Reign Of The Supermen part 10
Fighting was of course the majority of the chapter. Superman and Supergirl’s fight with Mongul, Steel’s fight with one of Henshaw’s spare bot bodies, the Eradictor stepping in. I’m pretty sure Mongul showed up again after this story. In fact I know he did because he later challenged Kyle Rayner. I also did a quick check and saw something the book didn’t add. According to the DC wiki anyway Hal Jordan does show up and he defeats Mongul. In the novelization however, Eradicator shows up and kills Mongul (or seems to). That’s a rather big change and it makes me question what else the novelization got wrong from the original comics. Did Stern think Mongul’s death and Eradictor’s ultimate sacrifice to restore Superman to full power make for a better story?
If so we should have had a better fight. Steel damages the engine, Supergirl and Eradicator deal with the Kryptonite power source, Supergirl does more damage to Henshaw than Superman does, and restoring Superman to full strength seems a moot point by the time he and the crazed Henshaw finally fight the cyborg is already so beat down that the fight ends easily. Supergirl also uses her shape-changing powers to transform Superman’s costume into the more familiar one as Superman wonders if he can clear the bad memories that were done in his name out of it. If her powers can actually do that it’s not something the book expressed and it doesn’t match my research either. So we have an anti-climatic final battle where Superman barely defeats anyone, and Superman’s worry that he may not be able to clean up the name “Superman” taken care of so quickly we might not have bothered. We do get some good showings from Steel and the matrix Supergirl, plus a final act of redemption by the Eradicator, but I wanted to see Superman actually do something after he was brought back to full strength. So hurray for the other heroes, but Superman’s return was a bit of a weak showing in the end.
But at least we have Superman back. But what about Clark Kent? What happened to Superboy? How do they wrap up these three sections and will it at least offer the satisfaction that was missing here? Next week, the final chapter and the epilogue to Reign Of The Supermen and the entire Death & Return story arc.
Next Time: Reign Of The Supermen finale