Review: Superman #689

Superman

I don’t envy James Robinson or Greg Rucka – placed on two of DC’s premier titles, Superman and Action Comics, the titles were stripped of Superman and left with C-listers like The Guardian, Mon-El, Nightwing and Flamebird.  That couldn’t be an easy sell to audiences, and not every change has worked across the board… but Superman #689 continues to maintain the relatively high standard of Robinson’s recent issues.

The bulk of the issue follows Mon-El as he travels around the world.  In it, he meets a wide range of heroes and villains, and we get a page on each of his world-spanning adventure as he teams up with the Rocket Reds to defend Moscow on one page before helping Dr. Light (Kimiyo Hoshi) fight Robo-Octo-Ape in Tokyo.  We meet a dozen or more characters briefly and Robinson leaves plenty of fascinating fodder for future issues while building a character and a history for the slowly-dying Mon-El.

It isn’t hard to imagine a 6 issue or more arc detailing these adventures, especially in today’s writing climate.  But there’s something charming about hearing simple snippets of Mon-El’s adventures.  That’s not to mention how successfully it keeps the story moving along at a brisk pace without reflecting too heavily on Mon-El’s slow death.  We finally find out more about the mysterious man with whom John Henry Irons is speaking, Jim Harper speaks out publicly in Mon-El’s favor, we learn a little more about the alien freed in the last issue, and even more.

All this is accompanied by stellar art from Renato Guedes, whose style is clear and recognizable and oh-so-lovely.  He isn’t a flashy artist, but this issue does a great job of highlighting his talents as he gets to illustrate a ton of new characters in a number of interesting locales.  Guedes is just a great overall fit for this book.

Robinson isn’t trying to rewrite all the rules with Superman.  What he is doing, however, is introducing a bevy of interesting supporting characters in loosely connected situations that seem to be hovering on the edge of explosion.  And I can’t wait for more.  Superman can take his time coming back to Earth.

Grade: A-

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Review: Action Comics #877

Action

Rucka’s run on Action Comics began with a simple premise – with the Kryptonians leaving Earth for their own planet, what if Zod installed a series of Kryptonian ‘sleepers’ on Earth, meant to stir up anti-Kryptonian sentiment and start the war Zod badly wants.  It was an idea that offered both action and espionage, that would allow us to see the new Nightwing and Flamebird as both clever and powerful.  Unfortunately, after a great first issue, the arc has almost completely forgotten its premise, instead becoming muddled down in the pasts of Christ Kent and Thara Ak-Var.

Even more unfortunately is the vehicle Rucka chose to reintroduce these angsts – Ursa, a companion of Zod.  Ursa is written here as a complete psycho, which is almost always comics shorthand for ‘bad villain’.  The conflict between Ursa and the Kryptonian duo may one day become compelling once it is given room to breathe and grow, but right now it feels forced into the middle of a more interesting story.  Three issues into the ‘Sleeper’ arc, and we’ve had precisely one issue dealing with the ‘Sleeper’ arc.

New artist Sidney Teles replaces Barrows, though the change is barely noticeable, having a similarly bland-but-efficient style, and so while Teles does fine work, he does little to save the issue itself.  Once again, Action Comics does little to speak to the positives of a book without Superman, something the Superman title seems to be having little issue with.  Though the issue isn’t necessarily bad, offering plenty of setup for the conclusion of this arc and for future threats, there are more missteps than I’ve come to expect from Rucka in this purely mediocre offering.

Grade: C-