Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #4 Review and **SPOILERS**

In Some Parts of the World, Roast Dog is Considered a Delicacy

Written By: Neal Adams
Art By: Neal Adams, Buzz and Josh Adams, Tony Aviña
Lettered By: Cardinal Rae
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: May 4, 2016


The scientific method consists of four steps: observation, forming a hypothesis, testing that hypothesis, and then establishing a theory. And I think that now, at the fourth issue of this comic book riff on the Tibetan Book of the Dead meets Horsefeathers, I think that I could render said theory. Not because I have “usurped the master” or figured out what brand of varnish Neal Adams sniffed before he came up with this story, but because this issue provides answers to a whole lot of lingering questions that have been trailing along in this miniseries. Considering we’re in the home stretch of this run, it’s about time—but were enough questions answered to keep the story interesting? I dunno, read this review and find out!

Explain It!

The last issue ended with Superman taking a break from pounding the crap out of Kalibak to heed Orion's claim that he could reunite Supes with some kid he just met, and who was kidnapped to Apokolips. Well, in some delicious Silver Age-style storytelling, we begin this issue on the same scene, dialogue slightly altered to make sure you're paying attention. Orion dispenses with his sorta brother Kalibak with a mighty head butt, his helmet ringing out a very loud CHONG! that you can almost hear reverberating off the page. Then it's off to find that irascible scamp Rafi, though Orion gives Superman the option of saving this kid or witnessing "the launch." Seems like a couple of panels got shuffled around here, since we see Orion looking all beastly until he puts on his handsome face with the help of some Apokoliptan technology--then we see him looking beastly and downright Igor-esque again as he explains that he knows shit because he's Darkseid's son, and then they take off as Superman asks about this "launch." Looks like a gaffe, or it's just more of that mind-bending dialogue that keeps the reader off-kilter. Orion and Superman make it just in time to see the launch of the red sun mote that Lex Luthor gave to Darkseid last issue, and Orion explains that it's being sent into our shared yellow sun (and you know it's got Sol) to turn the sun red and make everything look like a cool Japanese discotheque from the 1970s. Oh, and also rob Superman and any lingering Kryptonians of their super powers. So of course, it's up to Superman to stop this from happening because it's not like Green Arrow is going to pick up the slack.

Perhaps you are an appreciator and fan of Neal Adams. Perhaps you place him among a pantheon of comic book greats that might include Jack Kirby and Will Eisner. But you may be of the belief that Neal Adams is a "street level" artist, that he does not or cannot render otherworldly scenes and detailed space ships in their element. Well this comic book will prove you absolutely wrong about that contention, as Superman flies after and then through the launched ship, destroying it with a series of explosions that would be right at home on the set of a Rambo movie. Then Superman flies through a sort of inverted Boom Tube to chase the red sun mote into our own sun, in a scene that is just something to behold, and needs to be seen to be believed. He's able to wreck the mote, but is he in time? While we ponder that, we switch back to Apokolips, where Rafi and his pet dog Rusty are being babysat by Darkseid's own Granny Goodness. I don't think she's his actual grandmother, mind you, but she is part of his inner circle. She offers Rafi some cookies and looks to be all smiles, but quickly turns into the freakish Bette Midler-looking demon-lady who threatens to eat Rusty and torture Rafi. This is just like my babysitter from when I was a kid! Back at the sun, Orion is literally towing Superman's battered body away and back to New Krypton/Apokolips, where he's given painful electro-shock therapy to get his powers juiced up again. That's all it takes, kids! Stick your tongue in an electrical socket and become Superman! You read it here first!

We take a little break to witness Darkseid and Lex Luthor hanging out on Earth at LexCorp, taunting each other. The back-and-forth between these two is so funny, it's like Abbot and Costello, with neither being able to agree who is playing which role. We learn that the red sun mote that was intended to turn our sun red and dampen the Supermen's powers merely put an orange blotch on the face of it, and seems to have no effect on the Kandoorians from New Krypton that are hanging out on Earth to stop the forces of Darkseid (specifically Steppenwolf, in this case.) Darkseid is pretty pissed off by this because he paid good money to see a red sun, but Luthor has already discerned that Superman must have screwed up the plan somehow. There's some blustery blowhardiness between Luthor and Darkseid, then Luthor...oh god, I can't even explain this...Luthor reminds Darkseid that his lethal weapon is his mind, and then uses it to encase Darkseid in green lucite? Beams shoot forth from Luthor's head as he does this, like he's a Ditto-era Dr. Strange fighting another magician. Back on New Krypton, Superman is ready to find Rafi but gets distracted by another incursion by the forces of Darkseid. We then cut to a woman in a green cloak running through the streets below the high-flying action, who looks suspiciously like Lois Lane. She fends off a harasser with the help of a magic staff, then takes off after the winged alien-demon that has figured so prominently into the story up to now. The demon surreptitiously leads her to the roof of some wacky building that looks like a bunch of Legion of Doom headquarters stacked on top of each other, then peers through a skylight to see Rafi, being tortured by Granny Goodness, in a contraption that looks suspiciously like the same tangle of wires Superman used to zap his powers back after stopping the full brunt of the red sun mote. Cheer up, Rafi! You're just gonna be electrocuted and then you'll get your super powers!

And lo, on the fourth day, I did find myself blessed to receive the word and picture of Superman: The Coming of the Supermen, and it did reveal to me many pressing nuggets of knowledge that, verily, did happen about damned time. This whole issue checked off two-thirds from the growing list of questions surrounding this series, with such efficiency and flair that it stung like a slap from Neal Adams himself. (Imagine if this were done by Jim Steranko!) This is the same art and lettering team from the last issue, so it looks much the same, which is to say it is dynamic and crisp and the best that the title has looked thus far. Though frankly, I’m so embroiled in this miniseries, it could be drawn by a fully-blind four year-old and I’d be there for the next issue.

Bits and Pieces:

Buddy, if you've read up to this issue, I don't want to hear any complaints about how "confusing" and "crazy" the book can be. It takes two to tango, and by issue four, you're wearing a groove into the dance floor. If you've enjoyed what these comics have wrought thus far: crazy situations and hijinks, wild dialogue and character interactions, awesome art that threatens to break through the page and into our world, then I don't see why you'd dislike it. On those merits, this is the best issue yet. And now we've whittled the series down to a two-parter!



  1. Just a few bits and pieces from yours truly. I am guessing you are starting to realize how much fun I am having with Jack Kirby's characters, and the life Jack breathed into them.

    2. The Dialog. I am a little bit tired of everybody quipping like Spider-man in current comics today, so giving people their own voice is intentional, though maybe not perfect.

    3. That confusion about Orion. That was a double page spread, so you read across the top tier first. If I didn't make that clear, my bad.

    4. I've always respected the reader, and you can bet I have gotten more surprises in the last two issues. I am reluctant to say "You ain't seen nuthin' yet". But...

    5. You probably realize by now that my alterier motive in all this, is to get DC and Warners to explore Jack Kirby's "New Gods" in their upcoming films. I don't think I can take one more appearance of Zod. [Maybe as an evil "DEADMAN" from Krypton

    Neal Adams

    1. Ah! The double-page spread--this is what I get for reading my comics digitally!

      If we could see these "fun" New Gods in upcoming Warner Bros. films, I would be tickled silly. You want your movies "dark?" Well it doesn't get much darker than Apokolips and Granny Goodness! (Who, truth be told, freaks me out way more than Darkseid. And Glorious Godfrey is the stuff of nightmares!)

      Frankly, if you want to keep this series going past six issues, I wouldn't mind one bit. Thanks for checking out my review!