Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Comic Book Review: Superman #703

Literary & Artistic Credits
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciller: Eddy Barrows
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: John J. Hill
Cover Art: John Cassidy & David Baron
Editor: Matt Idelson

Superman Created By Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Last review I stated that, as good as this story arc is, JMS will really need to focus it into something different and new every month if it’s to last and be successful enough for the reviews.  Being the culprit of the subscription service, my Superman books come to me anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks after they hit the comic book stores.  I’ve read the reviews and the reactions have been less than stellar.  So, naturally I was a bit worried as I waited for my Superman #703 to be placed gently and elegantly into my mail slot.  As I tore away the packaging and opened up to the first page, I found myself in bewilderment because I actually enjoyed this issue where as the rest of geekdom seem unfavorable towards the “Grounded” arc.

The story starts off with Superman staring at us dead in the face with a death glare that would give Batman a run for his money.  We quickly learn though that this was, in fact, a Dark Knight tactic in scaring the sexual predator out of an innocent bystander.  The only difference?  Superman can dangle villains MILES above solid ground, and in mid-air. 

After the deed is done, Batman wanders onto the scene either wondering if he was out of a job or if Superman was beginning to see the light.  Either way, Batman’s concern for our Man of Steel comes into play, begging Superman to rethink his walk across America due to the fact that his very presence among civilians puts their lives in danger at an exceptionally high rate.  With stuff to think about, Superman continues his walk and runs into a possessed drunkard who temporarily received powers that equaled Superman’s.  The fight destroyed an entire block and it’s now causing people to wonder if Superman “among them” is actually a safe thing or not.

How many of us want to see Superman dubbed the bad guy?  I’d be safe in assuming hardly anyone wouldn’t I?  People expect batman to play the bad guy; his dark and menacing persona helps to personify that and we accept it, typically in a favorably way.  But Superman is our golden boy, why would we want to see him deemed a villain?  This is where the “grounded” story arc’s potential will lie.  After this issue, Superman’s fan base will be splintered off into two groups; those who love him, and those who think him a menace.  JMS may have found his nitch, now he’ll have to stick with it and create an amazing storyline filled with angst, drama, and conflicting questions that both the characters and the readers will have to answer before this arc is over.

JMS really does force us to ask a serious question, can someone famous truly be apart of the regular crowd?  Superman is a savior, but can he actually live among the people AS Superman without drawing attention to himself and those around him?  With his walk across America, will his enemies use this tactile advantage to strike knowing full well that Superman has a weakness for helping the helpless?

But even more prevalent is how much the destruction of New Krypton seems to weigh on the minds of the people.  Two worlds have been destroyed of which Superman would have gladly called home.  Will Earth see the same fate simply because Superman is a part of it?  We all know the answer to that question is no, but the rhetoric of fear will always outweigh logic within the minds humans.  What’s crazy for me, however, is the fact that Superman recently won back the hearts of his fellow Earth dwellers after the whole fiasco with New Krypton.  Now he’s on the verge of loosing them again, but not due to his connection to any alien race, but because of what could be called the “Superman Curse,” where Superman is always followed by death.

There’s nothing I can say that I haven’t said about Eddy Barrow’s work.  He did a fantastic job on War of the Supermen, and an even better job on Blackest Night.  Nothing Barrows attempts is poorly done, always utilizing the appropriate amounts of shading and light in order to create a certain emotional effect.  Gary Frank will always be THE iconic Superman artist for me, but barrows comes a very close second.

My Majestically Climactic Conclusion
This arc seems to be an all or nothing deal for fans according to reviews.  They either like it or hate it, and it seems people are becoming more and more prone to hate this arc.  For me, I’m loving it; it’s a fantastic new approach for Superman and much needed if the “700’s” are to signify a new dawn for the Man of Steel.  You still get your punching and heat vision action, but this is a much slower paced Superman story so I would suggest giving it time and let it grow on you before you toss it out the window as garbage.

Rating: 10 out of 10
Writing: 10
Art: 10
Themes: 10

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