Superman #686 Review

superman_686I picked this up on a whim last week and have only now forced myself to read it. I’m glad I did. I followed Superman for years after his Death in 1992-93, which brought me firmly into comics. Then I gave up on his books, only following his latest adventures in JLA or Superman/Batman. Then Geoff Johns did wonders with the character, specifically with his re-introduction of Braniac. Now Superman is leaving earth, and his own title. Or titles. As of this issue, Superman will not be appearing in his titular series, or in Action Comics. He’ll be replaced in the latter by the new crimefighting team of Flamebird and Nightwing, and in this issue we learn who’ll become the new “Superman.” Or Supermen. As was the case in the awesome World Without A Superman storyline that lasted almost a year after his death, DC proved just how strong his supporting cast is, and do so again here. As Supes makes a new home on New Krypton, he’s filled in by Mon-El, his similarly powered hero, and returning heroes The Guardian and Steel, who both played  a big part after Supes’ death. Supes appears in flashback cameos as he says his farewells and goes on his recruitment drive. Mon-El gets a secret identity, in Jonathan Kent, taking the name of Clark’s recently deceased father, and beats up on female baddie Rampage, while realising he’s got a lot to learn about superheroics. It’s awesome to see Steel and Guardian back, if purely for sentimental reasons. John Henry Irons is a great character and held his own series for years, but hasn’t been much of a player in the DCU lately.

Writer James Robinson knows these characters, though unfortunately Superman’s goodbyes to his long-time friends seem rushed. There is a lot to set up here however in this bold new direction. Renato Guedes’ art is as gorgeous as I’ve come to expect. The Mon-El/Rampage battling free-fall double page spread is rendered exquisitely and David Curiel’s washed out colours compliment the bright skies and cityscapes perfectly. 

I had my doubts that Superman’s absence could continue the strength of this title, but so far things are looking up. For newbies, this is the place to start. It’s a great new beginning for a trio of heroes, as well as readers who haven’t visited Metropolis in a while.

Killer Prayer Tips

Let it never be said that Christians don’t know how to laugh at themselves. This great mockumentary style video, by two guys called Johnny and Chachi is all about how to improve your prayer life. Look. Learn. Laugh.

The Flash: Rebirth #1

The Flash: Rebirth #1Like most readers, I felt disappointed after reading this issue. Sure, superheroes come back from the dead all the time, but Barry Allen, who for a generation of readers wasthe Flash, was dead for a long time. He gave his life to save the world, or worlds, from the Anti-Monitor in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. Virtually unseen since then, Barry’s mantle was taken over by his nephew Wally West. In my mind, Wally isthe Flash, and then when Bart Allen showed up as Impulse, and later Kid Flash, that was enough to fulfill my speedster requirements. So why bring Barry back? Good question.

 

And it’s one that goes unanswered here. Writer Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver are a great dynamic duo, and they brought Hal Jordan back to the land of the living in Green Lantern: Rebirth 5 years ago. That was a phenomenal, meaningful, action-packed series, and as much as I grew up enjoying Kyle Rayner as GL,it was great to see Hal return. That’s not the feeling I get here. There’s enough of a framework constructed for future issues to build upon, but I can’t really say I’m entirely interested. I’ll keep paying attention though, only because Johns is an expert story builder, and Van Sciver’s art is impressive here, as always, with it’s fluidity and extreme motion. At last year’s Comic-Con I sat in on the panel where Van Sciver explained his enthusiasm for this series and his interpretations of the Speed Force. I look forward to seeing that more than anything else in this series. 

This is an issue not for newbies, with it’s abundant guest stars (primarily the JSA) and the complicated relationships Barry has with other speedsters (exactly how did Bart get resurrected, and why his anger at Barry’s return?). I can only hope this series will become more focused in the future, and I am somewhat intrigued to see how the DCU adjusts to this latest development.

Not much happens here though. Basically Barry talks with Hal at the Flash Museum, and various other spandex wearers talk about Barry, filling in a few details about him along the way for perplexed readers. I was happy to see the return of Savitar, a villain I haven’t seen in years, and the surprises that the Speed Force holds are intriguing. THough the revelation about Barry’s father-not so much. The ads for this series have claimed that Barry is back and it’s the worst thing that could’ve happened to him. How that plays out will be mildly intriguing, but I guess after the spoils of GL: Rebirth, I was expecting more. This is a slow build rather than a shot out of the gate, but Johns can usually be trusted. I hope he knows what he’s doing.