Tag Archives: J. Jonah Jameson

A Superman #44 Review – Talking Truth

Superman #44 cover, John Romita Jr. TITLE: Superman #33
AUTHOR: Gene Luen Yang
PENCILLER: John Romita Jr.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: September 30, 2015

***Missed last issue? BOOM. We’ve got you covered.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Superman #44 is an okay issue which would have been much more compelling had it been released three or four months ago.

Before we get into the issue, let’s talk about this the Truth storyline as a whole. Readers of the Superman books know it’s run through not only this title, but Action Comics, Superman/Wonder Woman and Batman/Superman. It’s been touched on in other books, but those are the main four. Beginning in June, DC opted to use Superman to tell us how and why a de-powered Clark Kent’s identity was revealed to the world. All the while, stories of the de-powered, t-shirt wearing, “Tough Guy Superman” were already being told in the other three titles. As such, we saw this new Superman heavily effected by events we hadn’t seen yet. We could sympathize with what Clark was going through, and the stories were entertaining and compelling in their own right. But they lacked a certain depth because we couldn’t see the whole picture yet (We still can’t.).

Superman #44, alternate coverAt this point, it’s pretty safe to say this release strategy was a mistake, and it watered down something that could have been much more interesting otherwise. This is actually one of the few times I would have preferred a mass crossover. This issue marks the end of the Before Truth story, which has lasted four issues. As such it would have been simple to use all four Superman books to tell this story during the month of June. That way, the story has four straight weeks to build to a crescendo. In addition, not only do you have Gene Luen Yang and John Romita Jr. lending their talents to this pivotal story, but you have Peter Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, Ardian Syaf, and everyone else currently under the Man of Steel’s creative umbrella.

What a wasted opportunity…

With all that in mind, let’s get into Superman #44. Clark’s identity is public, and he’s not the only one in jeopardy. When The Daily Planet is targeted by supervillains, the Man of Steel must use what power he has left to defend his friends and colleagues. It’s a great premise, but the execution is surprisingly stupid.

Surprisingly, our hero starts this issue looking pretty stupid. Lois Lane has revealed to the world that Clark Kent and Superman are the same person. Yet when we open the issue, we see him strolling down the street as Clark, as if this were just an ordinary day. The Royal Flush Gang is able to identify and ambush him on sight! It’s not like Clark is incapable of being stealthy. He can fly and run at super-speed! At the very least, you’d think he’d pick a new disguise! But nope. Our main character, ladies and gentlemen. He’s sticking with an alter-ego that’s been discredited in front of the world.

Superman #44, Killer Croc, John Romita Jr.The villains who attack The Daily Planet are an odd assortment: Livewire, Atomic Skull, Killer Frost, Shockwave, and for no particular reason, Killer Croc. The choice to put Croc in there is a puzzling one. The question of why a Batman villain is put into such an important Superman story seemingly at random actually distracts from the scene. Furthermore, he’s rather redundant. He’s just another slab of muscle and mass for Superman to kick around.

About halfway through the issue, something interesting and mildly sensible finally happens: Clark finds out that a former Planet acquaintance of has taken Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and some of his other colleagues hostage. Due to the destruction caused by one of Superman’s enemies, this impromptu villain lost his wife and his livelihood. Now that Clark’s identity is exposed, he’s taking the fight to him. Now this is an interesting idea, and really should have taken up the first half of the issue. The stuff with the Royal Flush Gang, Killer Croc and the others feels like it’s there because they felt the need to fill a supervillain quota. But in the end, simply putting there so Clark can punch them comes off clumsy and forced.

During the fight, Perry White takes a bullet, and we subsequently get to hear his side of things. Understandable, he’s rather perturbed. This scene only lasts a page, making it yet another lost opportunity in the Truth saga. This scene actually reminded me of something Marvel released in the wake of Spider-Man revealing his identity in Civil War. It was an editorial by J. Jonah Jameson, who’s called Spider-Man a menace for years, only to discover that he’s been on the Daily Bugle staff the whole time. Jameson apologizes to his readers, and vows to win back their trust. Perry obviously never had that kind of contempt for Clark. But this revelation makes Perry, and everyone at the Planet look like oblivious fools. There’s a real argument to be made that the paper’s credibility has been compromised. It’d be fascinating to see that angle explored. So naturally, I assume it’ll be left untouched…

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #6Toward the end of the issue, there’s an incredibly stupid moment where Clark cuts his hair with a diamond. You know, because he’s Superman and he’s got really strong tissue. This isn’t a new idea (as you’ll see on the left), but I’ve always rejected it, and others along the same line.

There’s still some potential left in the Superman: Truth story as a whole. But it’s been so mismanaged that at this point that it’s inescapably tarnished. At this point, those of us who are sticking around can only hope for better things ahead now that the backstory of Superman’s “outing” has been revealed.

Image 2 from weirdsciencedccomicsblog.blogspot.com. Image 3 from comicbookresources.com.

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A Superior Spider-Man: No Escape Review – A Sinister Spidey

The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 3: No EscapeTITLE: The Superior Spider-Man, Vol. 3: No Escape

AUTHORS: Dan Slott, Christos Gage
PENCILLERS: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Humberto Ramos
COLLECTS: The Superior Spider-Man #11-16
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASED: November 20, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This book has the wrong title. Instead of No Escape, it should really be No Rules. At this point, with the Superior Spider-Man (who, remember, is Otto Octavius’ mind in Peter Parker’s body) totally free of influence from Peter Parker’s consciousness, he’s free to do things his way. And as we find out in this book, that means most traditional superhero rules are out the window.

When we open No Escape, Alistair Smythe, a.k.a. the Spider-Slayer, and the man who killed Mayor J. Jonah Jameson’s wife, is scheduled to be executed at the Raft maximum security prison. Jameson brings in Spider-Man to ensure Smythe’s sentence is carried out. But of course, as Jameson himself says, “…madmen like Smythe always have some kind of escape plan.” And indeed, he does. It involves the Vulture, Scorpion, Boomerang, and a fight to the death. Later, Spidey takes the fight to both the Kingpin and the Hobgoblin in a manner most definitely not Spidey-like. In effect, it’s villain vs. villain.

Superior Spider-Man #14What I really enjoyed about No Escape is the way Otto, for better or worse, makes the Spider-Man identity his own. In issue #14, the costume changes to incorporate MUCH more black. Also, in a change befitting Doctor Octopus, Spidey now wears a back pack with four retractable arms. To add to his legion of Spider-Bots, our anti-hero has now constructed the much larger Arachnaughts, and has recruited an army of “Spiderlings” to carry out his bidding (“Minions, attend me!”). He marches his new forces straight up to Shadowland, the Kingpin’s fortress in the middle of New York City, and friggin’ tears the damn thing down with the intent to murder the crime boss. Granted, he keeps all the civilians safe via force field. But even so, attempting to murder a supervillain via the destruction of an occupied building is hardly heroic, is it? Nor is the way the Superior Spidey deals with Phil Urich, a.k.a. the Hobgoblin, by “outing” him via a broadcast to all of New York City, creating a hell of a hazard in the offices of The Daily Bugle. Heck, we even see him blackmail Jameson to get him under his thumb! Not to mention what ends up happening to Smythe…

Superior Spider-Man, to the deathObviously, Slott is using Otto to feed some of our innate desires to give supervillains what they really deserve. Superior Spidey is doing things to them that they’d have no problem doing to innocent people. Thus, a darker brand of justice is served. I suspect we’ll eventually get to see all of this come back to bite Spidey, however, whether it’s Peter Parker or Otto Octavius under the mask. This would, of course, illustrate that despite the short-term satisfaction gained from Otto’s methods, they’ve ultimately only created larger problems.

We also see a bit more of Anna Maria Marconi, Peter/Otto’s little person love interest, in this book. Slott continues to endear her to us, and quite frankly, she’s become the Ahsoka Tano of the Spider-Man universe. We know something bad is going to happen to her. Either she’s going to have her heart broken when Peter eventually returns to his rightful role as Spider-Man, or Otto’s going to do something dastardly and she’ll be swept up in it. Either way, the more her relationship with Peter/Otto grows, the greater the impact will be when that other shoe finally falls. So kudos to Slott and the creative team for making me care about this character. But man, talk about backing the wrong horse…

No Escape had a tough act to follow. It’s predecessor, A Troubled Mind, gave us a truly epic confrontation between Peter Parker and Otto Octavius. This book doesn’t have anything like that. But make no mistake about it, the magic is still there. From a quality standpoint, The Superior Spider-Man is still one of Marvel’s top books. Call me a blasphemer if you must, but I feel no great need to give Peter Parker his body back any time soon.

RATING: 8/10

Image 1 from twilitdreams.wordpress.com. Image 2 from followingthenerd.com.