By: Greg Pak (story), Scott Kolins & Vicente Cifuentes (art), Wil Quintana (colors)

The Story: If you can’t beat bad P.R., join it.

The Review: I wasn’t terribly impressed with Doomed, so I wasn’t exactly looking forward to seeing its aftermath, either. “Aftermath” is the time when you assess the damage of what you just went through, which can be a nightmare in itself, and it’s also the time when blame starts passing around. In this case, the blame was inevitably going to land on Superman; it always does. He saves the day and someone makes him feel bad about it. It is the single worst thing about being Superman.

Case in point: despite the fact that he saved roughly seven billion lives by defeating Brainiac, everyone gets hung up over the 13,612 he didn’t. [Spoiler alert!] While Lana has a right to be particularly anguished over the loss of both her parents, it strikes me as irrational to even suggest it’s Clark’s fault. And yet it’s Bruce, ostensibly one of the most rational people on the planet, who goes beyond suggestion, telling Clark bluntly, “The world went through a lot. And a lot of it seemed to come…from Superman.”

It’s disappointing that he, Lana, and even Clark himself subscribe to this argument that, as Lois points out impatiently, we’ve all heard before: “He’s a menace. An alien too powerful for the planet. Wherever he goes, monsters follow.” Lana takes this deeply flawed logic further by concluding that even Superman’s good acts are somehow detrimental. “Terrible things are going to come for us, again and again. And if you keep saving us, we’re going to get weak. And then we’re gonna get dead.” She conveniently forgets that the whole planet would’ve been cornholed if Clark hadn’t come back to help out. Clearly, it would’ve been better for Clark to stay hands-off and let the remaining 6,999,986,388 people die, too. That’s the only way they’ll get stronger!

Even worse, it looks like Clark will do as he usually does when anti-Superman sentiment is at its height: hole away until the next crisis that no one else can handle, so he can once again swoop in and rescue all those ingrates. Is this what the modern Superman has come down to? To inject angst into his life, he has to feel guilty if he doesn’t act and guiltier if he does?

At least all this acrimony offers an opportunity to pick out who the true believers are, and sadly, Lois may be the only one left. Perhaps feeling he’s allowed Lana to occupy too much focus on his run, Pak gives Lois a bit of star treatment as she tells off Clark for joining the “Who Needs Superman” bandwagon. Lois is at her best when she’s outraged, and it’s little wonder Clark is torn between dismay and desire when she calls his article “link-bait” and declares war against him.

Unfortunately, Lois’ rebuttal fails to make any of the above counterarguments and instead goes on an unexpected tangent: “Did you ever stop to think…about whether Superman needs us?” Her reasoning is as he draws inspiration from people as much as he inspires them—which is interesting and probably true, but which doesn’t quite respond to the concerns some have about Superman. If anything, it supports the notion that humanity doesn’t need him to show them the way; they know it already.

The aftermath of a disaster is also clean-up time, and this issue does some fairly awkward housekeeping. Clark’s Doomsday infection is suddenly no longer an issue, as Clark vaguely suggests that it was cleansed from his system by his time in the black hole. The other Doomed antagonists are likewise put away by ambiguous means, swept up into the Phantom Zone by unknown forces and circumstances. Mostly, it sounds like Pak couldn’t be bothered to tie up these loose ends properly, so he stuffed them in a tangle just so they’d be out of sight.

With few exceptions, I’ve not much of a Kolins fan, and I think he’s especially inappropriate to handle a bold, muscular title like this one. His characters tend to look frail and bedraggled, as if they all just got out of bed with a hangover. Quintana’s rich, mild colors help, but Kolins’ deficiencies are pretty obvious compared to the work of his co-artist, Cifuentes, who has a much more conventionally appealing style. Cifuentes also happens to be more dynamic in his storytelling, with the variations in POV and layout that make it both easy and interesting for the eye to follow the action.

Conclusion: Doomed is over, but its dulling effects linger. Pak retreads old ground and continues in the same direction.

Grade: C

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Lana and John are official. Here’s hoping it works out and doesn’t turn into a situation where Lana’s rebounding with Superman Lite.