When Gog, a mysterious villain of enormous power, attacks
the Teen Titans, the Man of Steel is there to help in an instant,
but Gog injects him with a liquidised form of kryptonite.
Can a severely weakened Superman cope with the threats he
faces from within and without, with his civilian life as Clark
Kent also under fire from hostile colleagues, and Lois absent
covering a war in the Middle East...?
of the Superman comics might be forgiven for not being
enthralled by the recurring "will they/won't they?" theme
of Clark Kent's relationship with Lana Lang in the television
After all, we all know that Clark will end up getting married
to a reporter called Lois Lane, right?
this graphic novel, which collects material from issues 812-819
of Action Comics, changes all that, by introducing
seeds of doubt into the stability of Clark and Lois' marriage.
Lana, having separated from her own husband Pete Ross, still
carries a torch for Clark, and here she states her belief
that Lois isn't the right woman for him.
is all part of an ongoing retcon of Superman's mythology,
which steers away slightly from John Byrne's pivotal Man
of Steel reinvention in the late 1980s and
brings the comic-book series more into line with Smallville.
No longer is the embryonic Kal-El "born" on Earth: now he's
back to having travelled from Krypton as a baby, just as in
the pre-Byrne mythology. Clark's parents look several years
younger than they used to (though of course still older than
they are in Smallville) and Jonathan is slimmer these
days, like the character that John Schneider plays on screen.
At least the executives at DC Comics have steered clear of
changing Lana's hair colour from its traditional red.
One change that I definitely don't approve of is the one in
Clark's character. Former X-Men and JLA writer
Chuck Austen makes Superman far cockier than I think he ought
to be. For me, the whole idea of Superman is that he is an
immensely powerful being, yet his might is tempered by the
morality that was instilled in him by his honest and humble
upbringing. Austen's Superman threatens to give an armed felon's
gun "a guided tour of [his] intestines". He later tells the
super-villain Steppenwolf: "It's in the name. Superman. Get
it? 'Super,' as in 'I am better than you are.'" The Man of
Steel was never this conceited before.
there's the absent Lois. Austen, through Lana, argues that
Lois only ever wanted Superman, but settled for Clark Kent,
and does not care enough to come to his aid when Gog's kryptonite
weapon saps his powers. However, this is in blatant contradiction
to previous instances when Superman has lost his abilities
over the last ten years or so, such as immediately after his
death and rebirth, when Clark was entirely without superpowers
and Lois rescued him for a change.
Superman's essential selflessness shines through. Even facing
the prospect of his own death, he continually devotes himself
to ensuring the safety of others. And the Clark/Lana/Lois
love triangle idea is an interesting and provocative one.
its title, this graphic novel is more to do with Clark's -
and, to an extent, Lana's - personal journey than it is about
Gog, who only really appears in two of the issues collected
here. Before and after Gog's arrival, Superman engages in
(seemingly endless) fights with other super-villains, including
Darkseid's forces, the Weapons Master, and Sodom and Gomorrah.
work of penciller Ivan Reis and inker Marc Campos is richly
detailed and dynamic throughout, with some nifty depth-of-field
effects. However, I got more enjoyment out of this book's
moments of genuine poignancy than I did from the frequent
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