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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

Camelot Falls: The Weight of the World (Hardback)


Author: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Carlos Pacheco and Jesús Merino
Titan Books
RRP: £12.99, US $19.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 651 1
ISBN-10: 1 84576 651 2
Available 21 March 2008

From out of the past comes a vision of the immortal Arion, once the Lord High Mage of Atlantis, with a simple yet horrifying warning for Superman: “For mankind to live, you must let civilisation fall!” The human race has become increasingly reliant on alien heroes like the Man of Steel, forcing even old friends like Perry White to wonder if that dependence is, in the end, robbing the human spirit of something vital. Yet even as Superman debates with himself and his friends as to whether he should heed Arion’s warning and allow the world to fall into anarchy in order to save it, he must also contend with visits from the Young Gods of New Genesis, the Justice League’s concern over his state of mind, and the menace of Subjekt-17. The future may take many paths - leaving Superman caught between the dire warnings of a mighty sorcerer and his every instinct to keep fighting, never to surrender, no matter how hopeless the battle...

We’ve had to wait for almost a year since the publication of the previous Camelot Falls graphic novel for this second and final volume, which presents material originally published in Superman #662-664, 667 and Superman annual #13. Apparently, some of the monthly issues in this collection were severely delayed, due to hold-ups in the art department.

In the meantime, there has been a significant change in Superman’s life, with the addition of Chris Kent, a Kryptonian boy born in the Phantom Zone, who has been adopted by Lois and Clark. Chris’s origin is quickly explained on the “PREVIOUSLY...” page at the beginning of the book, though his fleeting presence here still comes as something of a shock to the system. The “story so far” recap also reintroduces us to the pivotal characters from the previous volume - Arion, Subjekt-17, Khyber and Sirocco - which is handy, as I might otherwise have had difficulty remembering how all of these people fit in.

So here at last is the conclusion to the saga, but was it worth the wait? Well, a story of this nature and a threat of this kind (destruction awaiting us in the distant future) are tough things to bring to a satisfactory conclusion, and writer Kurt Busiek doesn’t quite carry it off. Even after all the preamble and build-up in the first volume, The Weight of the World takes its time before it moves in any decisive direction. Superman spends three chapters being distracted by relatively trivial troubles caused by the Prankster and mischievous super-powered youngsters from New Genesis. And, without giving too much away, even following the (rather exciting) confrontation between Arion and the Man of Steel, the potential future threat to humanity remains, and all that we and Superman can do is hope and strive for a better tomorrow. Khyber is still out there, as is Subjekt-17, who puts in just a couple of disappointingly brief appearances.

The art is still nice, though there’s no longer a clear distinction between who’s fulfilling the pencilling chores (in the first volume it was Carlos Pacheco) and who’s doing the inking (in the first volume it was Jesús Merino). The artists have rather too much fun detailing Zatanna’s costume - or lack thereof. In several panels, her boobs threaten to bust out of her tiny magician’s outfit... but that’s nothing compared to an earlier scene in which she wears underwear (a corset, string briefs and fishnet stockings) while Superman is visiting her. Put some clothes on, woman! In contrast, Lana Lang, the new administrator of LexCorps, comes across rather better: beautifully rendered, but still businesslike.

All in all, the second volume of Camelot Falls falls short of the expectations set up by the previous one.


Richard McGinlay

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