The first thing I posted on Read/Rant was a pretty long rambling essay where I tangentially related some of JMS’ ideas for his upcoming run on Superman with my general anxiety about the trajectory DC comics were taking. So I thought that the first thing I should tackle returning from my hiatus was the first couple issues that JMS has produced thus far.
These last 2 and a half issues of Superman can be succinctly summarized as someone deciding to make this U2 song into a Superman arch. I am actually hessitant to even catergorize this as an “arch.” Grounded is just a series of losely stringed together viginettes in which Straczynski utilizes Superman as a mouth piece for his pseudo-existentialist musings. Here are some laughable gems:
And finally, although it doesn’t have the ridiculous ham-fisted soliloquies (as well as ancient references. Manson? JFK? Lennon? Thoreau? Gee, grandpa when are you going to tell me stories about Wild Bill and Calamity Jane?), the most ridiculous moment, by far, of issue 702:
After reading JMS’s Superman I can say my fears where quite well grounded. Well almost. After actually reading JMS superman I realized I made quite a huge mistake in placing him the same trajectory as Geoff Johns (i.e. silver age fanboys). Regardless of all that I find wrong in these issues, I can confidently say that, unlike Johns, there is no hint of cynicism. JMS’ nostalgia for a Superman that is both deeply human but unmistakeably godlike is authentic. None-the-less it is not one that resonates with me. For instance, his portrayal of human activity in light of Superman’s presence is one-dimensional and caricaturish. I don’t know how many more pages of human’s going bug-eyed at his mere sight I can take.
Ultimately, I just don’t buy the central premise of this book. Namely: Superman has lost touched with the slowness of “real” human life. Neither does it ring true for me that he could possibly regain that knowledge through some messianic sojourn, a “walks among them’ scenario. Like I previously stated, the character’s appeal for me is the gap between man and Superman. What JMS conceives as Superman losing touch, becoming ungrounded, is how I understand Superman’s central characterization. JMS’ instead of expanding Superman’s mythos wants to regress him to a time I doubt’s really ever existed. For all the failures of New Krypton, and it was a complete and utter failure, I can say it dreamed big. This Superman hardly dreams at all.
P.S. In the IGN review for Superman 701 they wrote:
What concerns me the most about this setup is the potentially simplistic way Superman can be placed upon a soapbox. Due to the random nature of his trek across America, he can easily be written into any situation JMS requires in order to produce his next monologue. If JMS wants to address poverty, then a random homeless person can come up to Superman on the street and strike up a conversation.
Interesting enough, that is actually one of the central plot beats of the next issue 702.