April 24, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Comic Review: Superman Volume 1

A lab accident sends the entire Earth into the Phantom Zone.

I found this interesting four-parter on DC Infinite, written by Steve Gerber in a pre-Crisis setting where the Phantom Zone criminals got loose, sent Superman there, and then started to build a larger Phantom Zone projector to send the whole Earth there.  They fail, obviously, but this trade here by Brian Michael Bendis actually has the Earth in the Phantom Zone.

I have some thoughts.

This trade, subtitled The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth, follows up some of Bendis’s changes to the Superman mythos, most notably Rogol Zaar, this alien bruiser who claims Krypton was responsible for the destruction of his own home planet, and was as such responsible (maybe) for the destruction of Krypton while also out to remove the last Kryptonians from the universe as well as any planet they call home because Zaar is a huge dick,

So, there’s a lot of stuff here, the fact it was a S.T.A.R. Labs accident that knocked the Earth into the Phantom Zone, that Superman ends up teaming up with one of his deadliest foes who isn’t Lex Luthor to battle Zaar, that there’s even what looks like a cameo from Superman IV: The Quest for Peace‘s Nuclear Man, and that the side effects of simply being in the Phantom Zone essentially knocking out a number of Superman’s allies (starting with Batman) to keep them from helping, and that’s all good.  I even somewhat liked a reoccurring joke where Adam Strange, just back from Rann, is floating in the spot Earth should be in looking for anybody and being generally baffled by what happened.

Then there’s the stuff I don’t like, and it’s basically why I long ago got tired of Bendis’s writing style:  his dialogue just isn’t working here.  There’s this one-page splash panel of Superman, floating over the Earth as he starts to figure out what to do and what happened, while narration boxes fill in his internal monologue.  That’s standard, Ivan Reis is a good artist for this sort of thing, so what’s the problem?  Well, the whole monologue is how he can’t just say “This sucks.”

Uh huh.

See, Superman’s whole point here is that, as prize winning reporter Clark Kent, he should be able to express what happened in a better way than to simply say this scenario sucks.  I can agree with that, but my other thought is, “Actually, Superman probably shouldn’t just say something sucks.”  For one thing, it’s awfully dismissive.  For another, it seems far too out-of-character for Superman to just make such a witless comment.  Combine this with the Flash’s complaining that he has to pee at one point, and I wondered why the Justice League all sound like Ultimate Spider-Man.

Yeah, I don’t know what the rest of this “Unity Saga” is all about, but I think I’ll skip it.

7.5 out of 10 helpful shrinking geniuses.