By: Paul Cornell (writer), Kenneth Rocafort & Axel Giménez (artists), Brad Anderson (colorist)
The Story: And I was like Doomsday, Doomsday, Doomsday, no… Stop singing? Okay.
The Review: One thing you’ll notice with a lot of movies nowadays is that they’ll pile on the action to keep you from noticing how little story there is to begin with. After the last explosion has flared from the screen and you come blinking out of the theater, you’ll suddenly think, What the heck was all that about? That trend has definitely infected the decompressed story arc in comics, though some writers manage to disguise it better than others.
But even a writer as clever as Cornell can only do so much to cover for a largely nonsensical storyline, though he uses every trick in the book to do it. Actually, the whole thing reads like a hysterically spliced mashup of every action film trope ever made: rampaging clones, time-traveling killers, giant objects from space hurtling towards Earth, massive tidal waves, and ensuing global hysteria. With all that, you can’t actually say nothing happens in the issue.
And yet nothing does happen in this issue. To begin with, you have a very hard time following the premise of the story: someone (you don’t know who) has cloned a number of Doomsdays, who obviously threaten to destroy the Earth, so the Super-family intervenes, only to have their brawl interrupted by an intelligent Doomsday from a parallel universe who to wishes destroy the cloned Doomsdays, but when he’s prevent from doing so, he unleashes them to destroy Earth. Got it? Good—now explain it to me, because frankly, I can’t make head or tail of it.
In a complete turnaround to the complex character development Cornell brought to the title when it still starred Lex Luthor, subtlety flies out the window here. Doomslayer gets the broadest moments by far (“The essential anger of what I am makes me do these things! But all that ends today! Do you understand?!”), but Superman’s thought bubble sequence definitely takes the cake in leaving nothing to the imagination: “Lois. I could get there first. Fly her away. Then to Ma’s—NO. You don’t get to choose one life over another. Never mind one over millions.” I’m usually a sucker for pure-hearted virtue, but this just reeked of fishing for respect.
Speaking of Lois, how is it possible for the real thing to have less wit and liveliness than the automaton version of her? Granted, the human Lois stands in the face of Armageddon, but her constant professions of faith in Superman comes off hopelessly smarmy (“Come back to me, sweetheart. Come back to us.”), and then tops off with a strangely flippant wink and smirk when he finally comes crawling out of the sea after saving the planet yet again.
Both Rocafort and Giménez offer sketchy art which skimps the details needed to give weight to the sci-fi aspects of this issue, which undermines how seriously you can take the story’s dramatic events. To draw a massive space station’s impact into the sea, Giménez merely draws a curved, fiery streak in the sky that does nothing to convey its hurtling terror. For his part, Rocafort adds all kinds of distracting flourishes to the art, including making every character’s face as shiny as possible, though Anderson’s coloring is also partly to blame.
Conclusion: My jaw is to the floor—not in a good way. It’s just appalling how this title, in the same hands that brought it such terrific storytelling for over a year, has suddenly turned almost hackish. I can’t bring myself to take any more of this; consider this Dropped.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Since this seems to be the last time for me to talk about this title before it relaunches in September, I’m just gonna put it out there that the original numbering will be back before long. With now less than 100 issues from #1000, you think anyone’s going to let that triumph slip away?