It's a new day for the Man of Steel, and all is well with
the world. He has the menace of the scientific cabal Intergang
on the run, and Metropolis under his protection stands throughout
the world as a shining example of a modern-day Camelot. But
even as he travels to Kazakhstan to confront a mysterious
and frightening new enemy, Subjekt 17, he receives a grave
warning from an ancient sorcerer. Camelot is destined to fall
- and somehow, it's all Superman's fault. With this terrible
vision revealed to him, will the Man of Steel have the strength
to stop it from coming true, even if it means going against
everything that he stands for...?
in this graphic novel (which compiles material originally
published in Superman issues 654-658), the Man of Steel
visits a real-life Eastern Bloc country. No phoney nations
like Boravia or Qurac this time. However, I did find it hard
to get Sacha Baron Cohen's Kazakhstani character Borat out
of my head whenever I saw the country's name on the page.
Perhaps this volume could have been called Superman: Cultural
Learnings of Krypton for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of America!
However, the Man of Steel's confrontations with Intergang
and Subjekt 17 (a super-powered alien who fell to Earth not
in Kansas but in a Soviet experiment camp) are mere prologues
to the real threat - a threat that has only just been defined
as this volume comes to an end. Be warned: this is, in fact,
only the first part of an ongoing story. I think the cover
should have made this clearer to unsuspecting readers. As
it is, there is only a small "1" on the spine to alert us
to the fact.
Nevertheless, this book is blessed with beautiful and detailed
artwork by penciller Carlos Pacheco and inker Jesús Merino,
though Superman does occasionally look Oriental or Hispanic
rather than his usual Caucasian appearance. This might have
something to do with Pacheco's Spanish origins - though come
to think of it, why should Kal-El look Caucasian anyway? He's
from another planet, after all, even though he crash-landed
and was raised in Smallville.
Writer Kurt Busiek continues to build upon the Man of Steel's
developing and increasingly sophisticated super-powers. Now
he can read faster than ever, possesses an eidetic memory
(a throwback to his Silver Age gift of total recall) and is
able to concentrate on several things at once, such as fighting
a hand-to-hand battle with a powerful enemy while listening
in on a distant conversation. The writer also suggests a reason
why the DC Universe has faced so many Earth-shattering catastrophes
in recent decades - and the implications of this revelation
are not good for the future of Superman...
I strongly believe that this volume should have been more
clearly labelled as the first in a continuing saga, but that
aside, this is an exciting and enjoyable adventure.