Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Superman #15

"Because I'm a Scorpion"

Scott Lobdell • Writer
Kenneth Rocafort • Artist
Sunny Gho • Colorist
Rob Leigh • Letterer
Darren Shan • Assistant Editor
Eddie Berganza • Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

The cover is by Rocafort and Gho, and I absolutely love it. All though I do have to point out that Superman was technically not wearing that armor in this issue, it still is a striking image that perfectly conveys the attitude of Lex Luthor. Even though he's in chains, he's still in complete control of the situation. This cover also hides something of a spoiler inside —the scar on Luthor's face. But once you know it's there, you'll see it. The black-and-white version is also great — it really shows off Rocaforts precise and detailed pencil work.

So yeah, I'm finally back to the chronological adventures of the Flash. While he was battling Grodd and the gorilla invasion, the Justice League was battling the invasion of Atlantis. Now that that's over, Superman has called in the League to help with a little problem of his own, and this time, the Flash is free to help. Now, Superman #15 is not the best jumping-on point for the H'el on Earth storyline, but luckily this issue immediately gave us an editor's note referring to a couple of previous issues. Nine times out of ten, I'll heed the counsel of the editor and go buy those issues, which is exactly what I did here. Since the Flash didn't appear in either one of these, I won't give them full-fledged reviews, but I will provide a brief recap, since it'll help with the story going forward.

The first recommended issue was Superman #14. In there, Supergirl introduces Superman to H'el, who claims to be an astronaut from Krypton, who left that planet before Kal-El, but arrived on Earth 27 years later. H'el also claims he can bring Krypton back, and while Supergirl believes him, Superman does not. They get into a fight, and H'el causes Superboy to appear right in front of him. Since he's a clone, H'el views him as an abomination and almost kills him. He also plays some tricks on Supergirl to turn her against Superman.

In Superboy #15, Superman takes the dying boy to the Fortress of Solitude and he enlists the help of Cyborg and Dr. Veritas (I have no idea who she is, but apparently she's a scientist-ally of Superman's, much like Dr. Elias was for the Flash, was being the key word). Cyborg and Veritas discover that Superboy's genetic makeup comprises human DNA, Kryptonian DNA, and a third, unidentified strand. Apparently H'el started to rip Superboy apart on a cellular level, so Superman gives him his armor, which acts like a cast for his DNA. H'el then teleports into the Fortress and uses his telekinetic powers to show Superman and Superboy out.

And so that brings us to Superman #15. We start with Lex Luthor building a scale model of the Fortress of Solitude. He's then alerted to a couple of approaching visitors, who are, of course, Superman and Superboy.

Superman has decided he needs to visit Luthor, who is currently in a super-secret, heavily guarded prison built just for him (Superman tricked Luthor into designing it himself). Superman and Superboy have to fight past a lot of armed guards and even more booby traps inside before they finally get to Luthor. Superman is surprised that Luthor has somehow been able to keep track of everything that's been happening, and Luthor says he's been watching H'el watch Superman for some time now.

Superman asks Luthor if H'el's time travel plan could work and at what potential cost. Luthor explains that since H'el is in the Fortress, he now has access to technology that could make his plan work, but he would require vast amounts of energy, which he could only acquire by causing the solar system to collapse on itself. The two heroes then leave the villain, and Superboy offers to call in the Teen Titans to help. Superman's not too keen on the idea of unsupervised super-powered teenagers, so he calls in his friends instead.

Batman and Cyborg are surprised to find such a large prison neither one of them knew about, and Superboy is surprised to see a "Man Flash." "What? Who would ever call himself 'Man Flash'?" "Well, I know this kid ..." All joking aside, this is the first time Superman has ever called in the Justice League, so they know this has to be something pretty big. Superman explains the situation perfectly: "We're going up against a foe of incredible power. H'el has barricaded himself into my Fortress of Solitude — and is very likely about half an hour away from destroying Earth's entire solar system. Any questions?"

The Good:

The art. Kenneth Rocafort suddenly became one of my favorite artists with this issue. He's no Francis Manapul, but his unique style is a refreshing change of pace from the usual Jim Lee style we see everywhere. Rocafort's use of the hundreds of little sharp, angular boxes is also very different. I've never seen that before, but it's kind of fun to see a different approach to comic book art and presentation. Maybe I would eventually grow tired of that technique, but for now, I'm quite fine with it.

The story. This is the beginning of an epic crossover event — the first in the Superman family in the New 52. And what really makes it great is the inclusion of the Justice League. If something's really going to be a big deal, then the biggest and the best characters need to be involved. But even pushing all that aside, this is a great issue by itself. I loved the implied history with Luthor and his massive, intricate prison. I didn't go into all the traps in it, but they were all pretty fun. Most of all, though, I loved the interaction between Superman and Superboy. You never forgot that Superboy was a teenager who was way in over his head. At one point he even hid behind Superman's cape. Rocafort's art also helped by making Superboy actually look younger than Superman. He wasn't just shorter, but he was skinnier and less developed. A little attention to detail goes a long way.

The Bad:

Well, we only got two panels of the Flash here, but I loved the "Man Flash" line so much I'll let it pass. This was a very good comic book, and while some things may have been confusing, there were plenty of editor's notes telling you where you could find more information. So yes, this is a comic book I would recommend picking up, even if you only cared about the Flash.

Final score: 7 out of 10

Next time: Superboy #16

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