By: Bryan Q. Miller (story), Pere Perez (art), Chris Beckett (colors)
The Story: Lois’ dad grills her boyfriend—with machine gunnery.
The Review: Ever since comic book writers got the idea of bringing “relevant” topics to their work, they’ve gotten into the habit of placing their protagonists into moral quandaries no amount of superpowers can solve. The one which continues to plague capes to this day goes something like this: if you have the power to accomplish almost anything good thing you can think of, which ones do you choose? More importantly, what makes one choice worthier than the other?
I could be wrong, but I’d guess no superhero has had to confront these questions more often than Superman. In fact, every year or so there’s one story arc where Superman has to deal with the guilt over not being able to save everyone. Let me start off by promising I won’t go all dirtbag legal-eagle and say, “Well, legally, no one has an actual duty to rescue-blah-de-blah-de-blah…” While that’s a practical sentiment which I understand, I really think it’s a crummy way to see things. It’d be almost criminal to have the power to save so many lives and not use it.
On the other hand, it’d be cruel and unreasonable to expect Superman to do nothing all day but go around looking for situations where he can step in, and it’d be worse to blame him for failure, since he is, at the end of the day, just one person with limits. That’s why as pitiable as Mrs. Henshaw’s grief over her fallen husband is, her scapegoating Superman makes her seem shrewish and ungrateful. I’m not sure I want Miller to dig into this plotline too much, since on every level, Superman’s blameless in what happens to Hank Henshaw, especially later.
That’s also the reason why the military’s targeting of the man formerly known as the Blur seems just as unjust. To suspect Superman just because he happened to show up at each orbital crisis is a little like alleging a firefighter committed arson because he’s always around when a fire pops up. General Lane and “the brass” seem even more boneheaded in their decision to attack Superman not only since they know they can’t really touch him, but also since it’s always idiotic to threaten and fire upon a suspect first, then get all self-righteous when he defends himself.
The issue’s not all heavy. Miller injects plenty of lightness to balance things out—maybe even too much. Much as I love Miller’s sense of humor (particularly in the increasingly unfunny marketplace of mainstream comics), he occasionally goes out of control in his quippy banter. No two humans can make wisecracks to each other so consistently for so long, not even smart-alecks Oliver Queen and Chloe Sullivan themselves. In one scene, Oliver expresses his concern over possible outer space threats. Chloe points out, “John Jones and Clark have, with infrequent exception, been delightful.”
“They aren’t the kind of E.T. that’s got little green panties in a bunch. What if we find some crazy Kryptonian out here?”
“Don’t count your murderous space chickens before they hatch.”
“Was wondering how long that was going to take.”
“Finding the ship?”
I’m just saying, amusing as each one of these silly remarks are, collectively they toe the line of sheer obnoxiousness. I much prefer Lois and Clark’s romantic comedy; not that they’re any less prone to dry observations, but at least they’re not so gosh-darned aware about it. It’s a lot sweeter when their jokes come in between moments of sincere affection and warmth.
Perez has finally, I think, found the right balance of tribute to the live-action show and his own style in drawing the characters. Off-putting inconsistencies are nearly all gone, and everyone looks pretty much like themselves whether in close-up or distance shot, whether in action or scenes of quiet tension.
Conclusion: We’re treading some classic Superman themes here, which isn’t a bad thing, given Miller’s convincing takes on them. Still, not yet quite the breakthrough series it could potentially be.
- Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: - Letterer Saida Temofonte, I’ll spare you from citing examples, but the number of spelling errors in this issue merits a little more care in future ones.
Filed under: DC Comics, Reviews Tagged: | Bryan Q. Miller, Chloe Sullivan, Chris Beckett, Clark Kent, DC, DC Comics, Emil Hamilton, General Lane, Green Arrow, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Oliver Queen, Pere Perez, Smallville, Smallville #3, Smallville #3 review, Superman, Tess Mercer