It's So Hard to Say Goodbye
Written by: Peter J. Tomasi
Art by: Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox and Rob Leigh
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 25, 2016
I guess the title for this should be "The Final Day of Superman"...or should it?!? This two month long crossover is at an end and after a strong start, has gone downhill as far as I'm concerned. While Peter Tomasi has given us some pretty good character moments throughout, the actual story has been lackluster to say the least. It just hasn't gone anywhere and each chapter seems to only exist to remind us of what little has happened and to shuffle the main players in and out of the story. The worst thing, though, is the inconsistencies between chapters. It seemed like DC was trying to avoid just that by having Tomasi write every chapter, but low and behold, that monster has still reared it's ugly head. You know what, though? Everything can be wiped clean if the story can end on a positive note. I would be so happy to head into Rebirth with a smile on my face and hope in my heart that the Superman books are ending and then starting back up again on a good note. Will they be? Let's find out...
The issue opens right where we left off at the end of Superman/Wonder Woman..."Con-El" (my awesome name for the Solar Superman) has Superman in the air and he is yelling at him...yelling the same stuff that we've gotten from him since he first showed up on the scene. This is another huge flaw in this story. We hardly know anything about the villain besides what he's been yelling. I'm Superman...You're an imposter...Let me in the Justice League...yada, yada, yada. Without any real character development, I could care less about him and just look at him as more annoying than threatening.
This all continues for pages as Superman tries to reason with him, but when he gets a little too personal, Superman kryptonite visions Con-El's ass! That only gets him more angry and right as we get another "solar burst" from the villain, Supergirl shows up to save her cousin.
Now it's Supergirl versus Con-El and while I love any chance to see Kara, I wish that Tomasi would tell us what is or was wrong with her and what power level she is at. Last issue we saw her getting some sort of treatment from the DEO (the mysterious phase two was interrupted), but that doesn't come into play here at all.
It's not a big deal because out of nowhere, Batman and Wonder Woman come storming in and hit Con-El with the Batwing. It's a pretty awesome full page spread, but again, I was left a little confused. We left last issue with Wonder Woman knocked out and this is happening only moments afterwards. She appears fine and for some reason, seems like she was with Batman. I don't get it?!?!
All of this leads to a very pissed off and very about to explode Con-El who Superman scoops up and flies up, up and away with. The best thing about this scene is Superman saying he is "...done with talking". I'm with you, brother!!!
While we still have no idea what Superman is planning, I was hoping he would reach into his old bag of tricks and throw his imposter into the Sun. I never get what I want, though, and without a little help from his friend, Superman wouldn't have made it anywhere.
The friend I'm talking about is Pre-Flashpoint Superman who arrives just in time to help Superman. I guess "friend" is a loose term because even though they had a brief face-to-face a couple of issues ago (Action Comics #52), Superman doesn't seem to remember that meeting at all. No matter because Superman punches his older self in the face because he's got a plan. Really??? Care to let us in on it?!?
Tomasi does let us in on the plan and while I get the gist of it, he throws in some new information about Con-El that we should have known a long time ago and mixes in some weird science (ha!) and what comes out the other end is way more confusing than a major moment should be. I'll tell you this...it's a don't cross the streams type of moment that at least shows the best part of Superman...his selfless determination to keep others out of harm.
I don't want to spoil the rest of the issue for those who want to read it on their own, but if you don't care about such things, scroll over the text below
These really were the Last Days of Superman. He absorbed Con-El's solar blast and now has only moments to live. Of course, he is suddenly surrounded by everyone he cares about including Steel, Lana and Lois. Lois??? How the hell did she get there??? I know that everything I've said so far about this issue has been negative. Believe me, up to this point, I've been so pissed off I wanted to strangle someone! This ending almost makes up for everything! I mean EVERYTHING!!!
As Superman says goodbye to his friends and family, I teared up. Not once, but all three times I read it for this review. It's almost happening again as I write this! I can't help it, I love Superman. I realize now that no matter how bad his books have been for years, the love is still there. I will also step back and give Tomasi some credit as well. Sure, this story was wildly inconsistent, but he still gave readers a really good Superman...and then let him die. That's right...Superman is dead!
As far as Rebirth is concerned, Lois definitely got hit with solar energy as Superman expelled the solar energy and turned to dust...but so did Lana. I wonder what's going to come from that?!?
The issue ends with some reaction shots from around the world at it was nice to see that Tomasi didn't forget good, old Lee. However, seeing Dr. Omen only made me wonder what happened to the Chinese Superman and why we didn't see more of him.
As a whole, this Last Days of Superman story was okay at best. I couldn't help but get a nagging suspicion that things were changed around at the last second to accommodate Rebirth and once again, Tomasi was left scrambling to make things work. I mean, they changed the name of the crossover after two issues so something was going on. It ended up working, but in a patched together, things out of left field kind of way. As a single issue, however, it continued to infuriate me until the last six pages which were the best six pages of Superman that we got in the entire New 52. You only get one chance at a first impression, but final impressions can last a long time as well and Tomasi at least gave us a moment Superman fans can look back at with a tear and a smile. It almost made up for all the nonsense.
Mikel Janin is back after starting the crossover two months ago and while his art isn't as good here, that's because that first issue was the best of the bunch. This one is really good, but seemed to be a bit hogtied by the story itself. With so much to tie-up, Janin didn't get a lot of opportunity to dazzle us with big spread pages and interesting panel layouts. Instead, he gave readers clear and concise art that let the story do it's thing. That said, his art at the end really stressed the emotions of all involved and was another reason a grown man ended up crying!
Bits and Pieces:
The Final Days of Superman is over and while this finale didn't correct all of the problems I had with the entire arc, it ended in such an emotional way that I can almost overlook it all...almost. While I still think pieces of the puzzle were taken out of the equation, Tomasi did his best to tie it all together and stick the landing. I still have a ton of questions that I don't think will ever be answered (what happened to Jon's pets???), but I also have the feels and if anything, this issue and arc reminded me of how much I love Superman. You hear that DC?!?!? I love Superman!!! Don't mess things up again!