By: Charles Soule (story), Barry Kitson (art), Paulo Siqueira & Eddy Barrows (pencils), Eber Ferreira (inks), Hi-Fi (colors)

The Story: Clark and Diana go clubbing like it’s Doomsday.

The Review: Kudos to any writer who wants to give you more bang for your buck, but doing so can run the risk of trying to do too much in too little space, which ends up short-changing you instead. Here, Soule has to deal with the fallout his heroes released last issue, start setting things up for the upcoming Superman crossover, and somehow work in all the usual character/plot/world development. Not an impossible task, but it requires a lot more finesse than what Soule ultimately delivers here.

As you can see by the cover, not even Superman can get caught in the center of a nuclear explosion and emerge unscathed. This might have been a good opportunity to gauge how far Clark’s recuperative abilities go, but with his second round with Doomsday coming up, Soule has to get him back in fighting (and dancing) shape by the end of the issue. It’s hard to take our couple’s peril seriously when it only takes the Fortress of Solitude’s medical tech and a Purple Ray crystal to patch them up in no time.

To speed up their recovery even further, Soule makes sure to eliminate any leftover enemies that would pose a serious threat to our heroes in their most vulnerable moment. We never see that the nuclear explosion succeeded in sealing the Phantom Zone with Zod and Faora in it, by the way. Superman just says as much, which is a pretty lame way to wrap up what was nearly a massive alien invasion. And I don’t even know why Soule bothered to bring in those ghost soldiers Clark referred to in Action Comics #30. After getting one good blast off at Diana, the soldiers get their guns pulverized, shrug, then just leave, making them quite possibly the least committed antagonists I’ve seen yet.

Meanwhile, there’s the distraction of Doomsday poking itself where it’s not wanted. Without question, every single page with Doomsday on it is a waste of a page. If you have even the most glancing familiarity with the monster, you know almost nothing poses a real threat to Doomsday—certainly not a giant shark or one of Tower Control’s gargantuan subs. The very idea of anybody trying to be “gentle” with Doomsday is so patently ridiculous that when it inevitably backfires, instead of making Doomsday seem more impressive, it just makes the would-be captors look extremely stupid.

The issue would have been greatly improved had Soule abandoned any material having to do with Doomsday (and, while he was at it, considered dropping this Doomed arc altogether) and focused on Clark and Diana. There’s been undeniably a lot of talk about their coupling, but you don’t sell people on a relationship by chatting about it. You have to see it in action, and two pages of them getting their club on doesn’t quite cut it. For us to really appreciate what’s so special about their dynamic, we need to see more of them doing the things actual couples actually do: eating out/in, engaging in mutual/personal hobbies, hanging with their friends, traveling, squabbling over who has to go to whose boring work function. But with Doomed about to take over where Zod and Faora left off, it doesn’t look like we’ll have time for any of that fun stuff anytime soon.

It’s a bit remarkable that you can have three artists working on one issue and not one of them manages to impress, but that’s what happens when the artists in question fall so deeply in DC’s typical house art. To be fair, Kitson, Siqueira, and Barrows’ various styles do play nicely together, although they don’t seem to be on the same page where the content is concerned. Siqueira sees Clark practically on death’s door, muscles atrophied, skin taut and gray, nose and lips incinerated; Barrows sees Clark as pretty much normal, but with some superficial burns. The contrast is pretty noticeable and it doesn’t help to take Clark’s condition any more seriously.

Conclusion: More of the same, which is not enough, and riddled through with pacing problems and unfortunate story choices.

Grade: C

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I like to think that the band playing in Diana’s favorite club is Foreign Born and the song she and Clark are rocking out to is “Into Your Dream”.