Friday, July 19, 2013

Superman #16

"A Fistful of Sticks!"

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

I really like this cover by Rocafort and Gho. Yes, it only has three characters, but they all look great and the cover doesn't feel crowded at all. I'm also happy that they're depicting an action scene that actually happens in the book, and they didn't rely on using Batman.

The story begins with H'el and Supergirl making their final preparations on the Star Chamber. While they work, H'el tells her of how he was Krypton's first astronaut in centuries and was a student and friend of Jor-El's.

H'el said that thousands of people came out to see him embark on his mission to save their doomed planet. Kara, though, has no memories of such a public event. H'el theorizes that she sustained some memory loss on her trip to Earth, then they share a romantic (if slightly creepy) kiss as they prepare to return to Krypton. Their moment is ruined by the arrival of the Justice League, and Supergirl still can't figure out why they want to stop them. H'el briefly recounts the League's efforts (mainly for the readers who hadn't read everything).

The Flash is still on the Watchtower after H'el teleported him there, so I'm going to be pretty brief with the rest of the action. Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg and Superboy continue to fight their way past a bunch of alien monsters and get closer and closer to H'el. H'el eventually decides he's had enough, and he teleports the whole Fortress of Solitude away from the heroes and activates the Star Chamber.

A massive green blast of light erupts from the Chamber, and it is seen by Dr. Veritas, Lex Luthor, and the big red-orange alien, the Herald. The Herald (at least that's what I'm calling him) blows his horn for the second time in the history of this planet to summon his master. He prays the world will survive the experience of the Oracle among them. In the far reaches of space, the Oracle awakens and unintentionally destroys an innocent ship that happened to be investigating it. The Oracle then prepares to fulfill its sacred trust of bearing witness to the end of a world.

The Good:

The art. I just love how Rocafort draws all these characters. Superboy looks like a boy; Superman looks like a man; Wonder Woman is beautiful and powerful; and this is probably my favorite look for Cyborg — he's a collection of machines and equipment stacked on top of itself. Even the minor characters like the dinosaur aliens at the end looked great. And Rocafort's unique page-layout and panel design is still fun and fresh for me. Whenever I hear people complain that all the art in DC comics is the same and generic, I wonder if they've given Rocafort's work a good look (as well as Francis Manapul's and Brian Buccellato's).

The story. Everything is coming together nicely for the finale. I liked how we got an extended origin story for H'el, but then that story immediately fell under a lot of doubt. And while Supergirl is still steadfastly following H'el, she is beginning to develop a few doubts of her own. The Oracle is extremely vague, yet still intriguing, and this issue builds a lot of anticipation for the final chapter.

The Bad:

No Flash. Again, just a quick one-panel flashback for him. I know he had that great fight with Supergirl, and I loved it, but I just wish Flash could have been doing a little bit more in this H'el on Earth story.

Final score: 6 out of 10

Next time: Superboy #17

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