Written by: Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder
Art by: Aaron Kuder, David Messina, Javi Fernandez, Bruno Redondo, Vicente Cifuentes, Gaetano , Juan Albarran, Tomeu Morey, Arif Prianto and Wil Quintana
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: March 9, 2016
I mentioned it on our podcast when talking about Green Lantern #50, but I'll repeat it here...DC (and Dan Didio in particular) made a big deal about what these #50 issues would represent. Back to the meat and potatoes...the return to classic continuity...kick ass double issues...all that and a bag of chips. Well, that last one might be a bit of a stretch, but I'm not lying when I say that they really had me pumped to get to these issues and see what they were all about. Unfortunately, after Green Lantern, my excitement waned a bit and I was really laying a lot on the shoulders of the next big issue I read. Yes, that's this issue. Since it's a long issue, I'm going to jump right into it and let you know if my faith has been restored or shattered in a million pieces.
The issue opens with what I thought was Vandal Savage breaking one of my rules for villains who don't suck. He's monologuing all about his plans, but when I saw he was gloating to all the captured heroes, I actually didn't mind it as much. It's just Vandal being Vandal and it also gets everybody up to speed before we move forward. After he's done taking off his shirt and patting himself on the back, Superman cuts in to tell the readers the secret weapon against such a powerful and bare chested villain...the power of friends.
I'm not joking, that's the secret. After thousands of years of planning and scheming, the one thing that Vandal Savage doesn't have or understand is friendship. We get a pretty awesome roll call of the people who have stuck with Superman through thick and thin and I'm glad that included John Corben who gave the ultimate sacrifice to power Superman up. We also see Lee Lambert, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Baka and Ukar. Remember Ukar? Of course you do! All of them are a big reason that Superman does what he does and that is never giving up no matter the odds.
It's funny that Vandal actually looks at that as a weakness, but he doesn't have a lot of time to debate the matter as more of Superman's friends show up. Jim Gordon, Wonder Woman and Mr. Terrific are in the house and kicking ass. Boy, that Mr. Terrific sure gets around! After a pretty funny exchange between Vandal and Salvaxe that would have been perfect if Vandal just yelled, "You'll get nothing and like it!" in his best Ted Knight impersonation, Vandal heads off to face Superman all by his lonesome.
Actually, he's got other plans and as Superman tires to get to the Justice League, Vandal acts and it really feels a bit too desperate for Vandal Savage. There is enough time for Superman to free the captured heroes and while they go off to save the regular people like you and me, Superman ends up face-to-face with Vandal on top of a rocket ship. I'll admit it, that's pretty damn cool. That's when we learn the end game of Vandal's big plan. It actually lays to rest one of my biggest complaints of the entire arc when we see that Vandal is in it for himself. The scene ends with Superman taking a toxin bullet that leaves him completely powerless...not the shifting powers of the Truth, completely powerless.
What happened next was exactly what I thought would happen in this issue and yet, I was confused by the lack of explanation and even a little angry at how forced it was. I won't spoil it which would be harder than normal because I really am confused at what went on here. The issue ended with Team Superman ready to battle Team Savage and even that felt a little off after what Vandal told us a couple pages before.
Greg Pak uses this issue to push the whole "what makes Superman, Superman" concept and while I loved seeing his friends step up to the plate, there was a bit of force feeding going on here. That's more of a nitpick because I liked almost everything that we got here...except the most important part of the issue. The part that this whole crossover lead up to ended up being confusing to the point that it was almost an afterthought. It actually felt tacked on and that's a shame after dealing with this story for over eight months now.
There was an army of artists on this issue and my gut feeling after reading it was they did a bang up job. Yes, there were some transition issues and there wasn't any really good reason for that many artists except the size of the issue, but nothing threw me out of the story and that means a lot to me.
Bits and Pieces:
We have waited over eight months for a couple of things to happen in this massive crossover story arc and yes, the big one happens here. While I am so happy it did, I hated the way it actually went down. Actually, I'm not even sure how it happened and that is not a good thing. It's a shame because the rest of the issue was good and even with a ton of artists, looked good as well. I wish I could say I loved this issue, but I'll have to settle for liking it.