In the aftermath of the Infinite Crisis, Superman is mysteriously
without his powers. Now it's up to Clark Kent to keep an eye
on Metropolis, with the help of a few super-powered allies.
But with Lex Luthor acquitted of his past crimes and ready
to reclaim Metropolis as his own, it'll take more than friends
in the right places to keep the city safe. Lex has obtained
a powerful and ancient Kryptonian artefact and, armed with
an almost limitless supply of Kryptonite, he plans to use
this doomsday weapon to destroy his archenemy once and for
all. Without his powers, how will Superman save his city and
those he loves...?
clean and crisp art by Pete Woods and Renato Guedes, and a
truly epic storyline by Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns, this
graphic novel, which collects issues 650-653 of Superman
and 837-840 of Action Comics is very enjoyable indeed.
is the first story since DC's latest clutter-clearing "crossover
Crisis, and it is billed as being "reader friendly",
meaning free from confusing continuity that might otherwise
put off casual readers - such as those who have recently seen
the movie Superman Returns and who are eager to give
the comic-strip Man of Steel a go. There are still numerous
references to the past, though.
of these are jocular allusions to other media. For example,
when Clark and Lois watch a televised retrospective on Superman,
Lois comments on the relative youth of the actress playing
his adoptive mother - a reference to the casting of Annette
O'Toole in the TV series Smallville. For the first
time outside of Smallville, we see a human being given
super-powers as a result of exposure to Kryptonite. As in
the new movie, the symbol on Superman's chest is raised in
relief. As in the movie and the classic 1963 strip The
Showdown Between Luthor and Superman (recently reprinted
The Greatest Stories Ever Told), Lex Luthor
gets a chance to fight his unpowered opponent man-to-man.
And when Clark's powers begin to return, he is unable to fly
but is able to leap over tall buildings, just like his original
Other references, though, come across as mere repetition.
This is not the first time, for instance, that Clark has lost
his powers for an extended period of time. The same thing
happened following his death and resurrection in the mid-1990s.
(However, Busiek and Johns ensure that we get to see the Man
of Steel in every chapter, thanks to various flashbacks and
impersonators.) As in the new movie, Lex has recently become
a free man following his trial (though in this instance he
didn't serve any time in prison). He steps out into a world
without a Superman, but it's not long before his archenemy
is back to challenge his evil schemes. Indeed, this volume
could easily have been called Superman Returns! Most
glaring of all, Luthor's use of Kryptonian crystal technology
seems like a straight rip-off of the movie plot, even down
to his fusion of regular crystals with Kryptonite. It's possible
that this storyline was put in place before the plot of Superman
Returns became known, but given DC's access to the movie,
it seems unlikely.
is more refreshing is the depiction of Lex. Having lost control
of his business empire during the scandal that surrounded
his trial, he is now a vengeful madman who has been driven
underground, both figuratively and literally. In other words,
he is closer to the Luthor of the comics and movies of old,
before John Byrne reinvented the character in 1986.
If it weren't for the repetition and rehashing, I would probably
have given this book a 9 or a 10. Even so, it's still a beautifully
written and illustrated tale.