To Thank With a Gift
Written by: Peter J. Tomasi
Art by: Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, Wil Quintana and Rob Leigh
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 13, 2016
If you were to ask me what I thought was the biggest mistake of the DC You, I would tell you without hesitation that it was the whole Superman Truth debacle. At first, I felt like I was alone on an island because I actually thought that Superman losing his identity and powers sounded intriguing. Most people who don't like Superman usually complain that he is too overpowered and argue that it's easy to be "super" when you can just punch all your problems away. I thought the Truth would show everyone that underneath the cape and muscles, Superman's real power was being a great guy who always tried to do the right thing and put everyone ahead of himself. Boy, was I wrong. He ended up being a selfish jerk who ditched his friends, broke up with his girlfriend and almost killed himself TWICE just to get his powers back, mainly because he was mad his super friends were suddenly stronger than him. I know that is a bit of a generalization, but it's still the real Truth. The whole story line is a big reason why we are getting a Rebirth in June and why I loved the first issue of "Super League" so much. Superman #51 started the healing process by giving fans back the Superman they have been crying for since June. Sure, he's dying which sucks, but he is back being a great guy and the kind of hero that we can all fall in love with all over again. This issue is part two of the story and I couldn't wait to see if Peter Tomasi continues the road to recovery. Well, did he? Let's find out...
The issue opens with Superman heading to Gotham to see his best bud and while it's just another night's work for Batman, seeing them together made me smile. Superman makes quick work of Batman's quarry and while there is a real continuity snafu in the scene (did you spot it?), it didn't matter one bit. While this scene sets up this issue to be way darker than the first part of the crossover, I loved seeing Batman getting pissed off at how easily Superman dealt with Gotham's problems. Whether it was intentional or not, it reminded me of a similar scene that started Tom Taylor's excellent mini run that just ended in this book last month.
The story continue in the Batcave where Clark tells Bruce that he is indeed dying. I do love how Bruce reacts, but it's odd that he only brings up Damian's death and rebirth and not the fact that he himself was pretty much dead after that. Maybe he's keeping a tight grip on some spare Dionysium he has lying around? Just saying...
The best part of all of this is that Superman is not there for sympathy or a cure, he is there to get his affairs in order. In Superman #51 we saw him go to Lana and Lois for the same type of thing and it was the highlight of the issue. Here he wants Batman to find someone who has gone missing and is very near and dear to him. I won't spoil who it is, but it is another stepping stone towards rebirth and one of my all-time favorite characters. Oh, screw it! If you really want to know, it's SUPERGIRL!
After a very emotional goodbye to Alfred, Superman flies off and we finally see Bruce's real reaction to his best friend's revelation and in one silent panel, Tomasi gave me more feels than I've felt in a long time. He does have a knack for that (see Batman and Robin #18, but bring plenty of tissues).
While everything up to this point is really all I needed, Tomasi has a story to push forward and there were a bunch of mysteries set up last issue that need some attention. He starts off with a little bait and switch as we see Superman save some people from a burning building in Metropolis and I'll give Jimmy Olsen some props here because he realized things weren't exactly what they appeared to be way before I did. Once I got my head on straight, I realized that we were dealing with that Shawshank piece of shit that won the lottery last issue and got himself some super powers. Tomasi continues the mystery by showing us that this new found power has set up a bit of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation that proves that being Superman is way more than just leaping tall buildings at a single bound. Yes, I prefer to use the classic "at" there as well as "race a speeding bullet to it's target", but hey, that's just me.
The issue ends with Superman joining Bruce on a lead in the "missing person" case that has some nice ties to the New 52 as well as my television set, that is put on hold (until the cliffhanger) when the two are attacked by the some cool looking monsters whose origins and dialogue suggest that they are connected to the Chinese experiment from last issue. When the scene ended, I was left wondering if this was an attack at all, in the traditional sense. I guess I'll have to wait on that, but after the cliffhanger, I don't know if I can because I want the next issue of this crossover RIGHT NOW!!!
You don't have to be super sleuth Jimmy Olsen to figure out that I really enjoyed this issue. Seeing Batman and Superman interact was pure gold and while it's not the best of circumstances, I've been waiting for it for almost a year. After all of that, Tomasi continues the mysteries he set up last issue of this crossover and the little we got was enough to make me hungry for more. Then there is the big setup and cliffhanger that has me giddy.
The art team of Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza and Wil Quintana immediately gave this issue a much darker tone and it fit the story just fine. There was a bit of inconsistency with Superman's face and the final battle looked cool, but was a little more confusing than it needed to be, but the rest of the issue looked good. Good, but not great.
Bits and Pieces:
Peter Tomasi keeps giving fans the Superman they've been begging for even as he sets up his grim future. I know we are only two issues in, but Super League is already one of my favorite Superman stories since the New 52 started and that isn't a back handed compliment! At this point in the crossover, Tomasi is still dealing out questions, but the issue ends with a cliffhanger that will have a lot of fans super happy. However, the thing I still like best of all is having "my" ("our"?) Superman back the way I (we?) love him.