By: Greg Pak (story), Aaron Kuder (art), Wil Quintana (colors)
The Story: As if Doomsday isn’t enough of a problem, now there’s mass narcolepsy going on.
Last time we visited this storyline, I said that I was on the verge of giving it up, a proposition I was only half-joking about. I just couldn’t bear the idea of buying three comics a month for however long this arc lasted, knowing I wouldn’t really enjoy them. At least with Transformers, I only kind of knew I wouldn’t like it. But after dropping Batman/Superman, economic considerations aren’t as pressing anymore, and admittedly, Pak’s starting to take the story in an interesting direction.
Don’t get me wrong; the Doomsday Superman stuff is incurably dull. There’s little psychological gold to mine from Clark’s mental war with his Doomsday conscience; it’s your typical angel-devil set-up, but with superheroes. You also doubt that Clark will ever fully succumb to his destructive urges because once he does that, even involuntarily or by accident, it’s over for Superman—either that, or everyone, including Clark, will need to have a short memory. You might as well flip the page every time you see a craggy-faced Clark.
To his credit, Pak tries to find a different way of approaching the Doomsday problem. Supergirl, acting quite a bit more fiendishly here than she did in Superman/Wonder Woman #9, calls him “magnificent” and encourages him to use his power in service of the same mission he’s always had: protecting innocents. Indeed, he manages to just that by using his death mists to obliterate a wave of exploding rock that threatens an evacuating species.
Still, it should be noted that it’s his Doomsday persona who convinces him to use his new powers in such a manner. This inevitably leads to Clark’s loss of control and subsequent mangling of Harak, an insipid antagonist who threatens, in Galactus-fashion, to consume a colony world to sustain himself. And that’s about all you know about him before Clark takes him down, even though his dismay over the colonists’ plight suggests more dimension to his character than he actually demonstrates.
So as you can see, the basic premise of Doomed remains a thin affair, but it’s enhanced significantly by the participation of Lana, who has the far more intriguing plotline to pursue. By deciding to chase the brain signals of the Smallville comatose into space (and enlisting Steel to help her), she’s the first person to make headway in the story: she encounters the return signals, discovers Lois’ possession, and witnesses the arrival of Cyborg-Superman, accompanied by what appears to be a school of giant, techno-biological sperm with demon eyes and walrus tusks. For my part, I’m waiting for the moment when these threads intersect with the revelations uncovered in Batman/Superman #11. Then, and only then, will we have a story that might possibly be worth the use of Doomsday.
At least with Kuder on art duties, it all looks pretty good, although even Kuder can’t make the transformed Clark look much different from a stony gorilla in a Superman outfit, which is silly rather than terrifying. But Kuder makes the most of the non-Doomsday pages, making the havoc unleashed on Metropolis look like the stuff of summer disaster films. Skewing the orientation of the panel to emphasize the chaotic nature of what’s going on, we see a city falling to ruin, with surrounding panels of its denizens helplessly asleep and collapsed all over town. It’s like getting all the clips of a montage at once, which is a fantastic way to leverage the medium.
Conclusion: If you can ignore the parts where Doomsday is involved, the story’s not half-bad, and Kuder’s art is always worth looking at.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – I’m guessing that Pak is anti-drones.
– Lois sure seems to be popular as an instrument for other people’s plans. At some point, you’d think maybe she’s in the wrong biz.