Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Superman #40


John Romita Jr.: Writer & Penciller
Klaus Janson: Inker
Dean White: Colorist
Travis Lanham: Letterer
Cover by Romita Jr. & Janson w/White
Jeremy Bent and Andrew Marino: Assistant Editors
Eddie Berganza: Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

Our cover shows Superman demonstrating his new, solar flare power for the Justice League. Naturally, this power was never mentioned in the main Justice League series because Geoff Johns doesn't pay attention to the other books, but that's a different matter altogether. I think this is a pretty good cover that gives us a good idea of what happens inside the issue. I'm not a fan of Romita Jr.'s style, but I kind of prefer to have something unique and stylized over the generic house style we usually see.

Our story begins in the Khentii Mountain, in outer Mongolia, elevation 9,200 feet. What appears to be a volcano erupting is actually Superman testing out his new power, which leaves him exhausted and naked. Before too long, Batman shows up in his Batplane, and actually jokes about picking up naked hitchhikers.

Twenty-four hours later, Superman is fully recharged and is holding a meeting on the Justice League Watchtower. Superman talks about how he's coming to enjoy the sensation of being human after he uses his flare, especially having to eat food like everyone else. But ultimately, he wants the League to help him figure out his new power and learn to control it. Wonder Woman is worried whether this flare is dangerous to Superman, and Aquaman asks if his powers return completely. Flash agrees that these are good questions, and becomes concerned by Superman's uncertainty.

So Cyborg says a test is in order — a test which he has stupidly dubbed JL 1-1A. Exactly 45 minutes later, the League meets in the recreational center of the satellite, where Batman and Cyborg take great pleasure in blasting Superman with rocket launchers at point-blank range. Wonder Woman delivers a mighty blow to her boyfriend's face, and reports that his head is as hard as Themysciran reinforced concrete. Flash is happy to see Superman's back to his invulnerable old self, but now he wants to test his reflexes. Flash pushes a button, which causes a massive weight to instantly slam down over Superman. But the Man of Steel is able to dodge the weight fast enough, and he jokes they should rename the "rec" room the "wreck" room.

Cyborg then says they need to test and measure Superman's solar flare. He's spent the past day preparing the satellite's jet exhaust tunnels to handle the blast, and has reinforced the area with four feet of titanium to protect the Watchtower. Cyborg jokes that maybe Superman's demonstration will solve the energy needs of the entire planet — a joke the Flash calls "hysterical." So Superman strips down to his underwear and enters the tunnels to perform the solar flare once more.

Cyborg's protections mostly hold, although Superman did cause quite a bit of damage. Flash asks where the broom and dustpan are, and Aquaman playfully shields Wonder Woman's eyes from the naked Superman. Although Superman feels like he's gaining better control of the trigger of this new power, he still has a lot of questions. But Batman has the most important question right now: Are you hungry?

Six hours later, the Justice League (in their civilian identities) meet at a tavern on the corner of Grand Avenue and 18th Street in Metropolis. Flash proposes a toast to the world's first controlled and monitored super flatus (a burp or fart), which makes everyone laugh. Cyborg, who has not joined the party, calls up Bruce on his cellphone to report he thinks he's found a way to harness the energy from Superman's flares, although it would be costly. But Bruce tells Vic he'll have to call back later, because Clark is having his first beer and becoming a pretty funny drunk.

Clark makes plans to head to an Italian restaurant after this, then loudly boasts of how he can use his new power to take down "super cosmic baddies." When he realizes he's talking too loud, Clark excitedly whispers about how his power will eventually lead to world peace, while Barry teases him for having the tolerance of a flea.

And that's the end of the Flash's role in this issue. Clark wakes up hungover the next morning, and rushes off into a minor battle as Superman, forgetting his powers haven't returned yet. He eventually does save the day, but he takes a big cut to his head, which is captured by civilians' cellphones and soon shown around the world. And when Clark shows up to work with a bandage over the same spot as Superman's wound, Lois Lane takes notice and becomes suspicious.

The Good:

This was an unusually light and funny issue — a rarity in the New 52. Issues like these were so rare, in fact, that once DC dropped the New 52 tag, they brought in a bunch of out-of-continuity titles with a very goofy and comical tone. Perhaps DC wouldn't have need to do that had the New 52 included more issues like this. Moments with the Justice League just hanging out, playing video games, teasing each other, and going to bars. You don't have to be 100 percent serious all the time, nor do you have to be 100 percent goofy all the time. And I think this issue does a pretty good job of having fun in the beginning and ending on a rather serious note.

The Bad:

This issue reminds me of a stupid '90s issue of the electric blue Superman insisting on putting his new powers to the test against the Justice League. As cheesy as I thought that issue was, I think it did a better job of using the JLA's powers against Superman — for instance, he actually raced the Flash around the world. In this issue, Batman wielded a bazooka, Wonder Woman threw one punch, and Flash pushed a button. And as usual, Aquaman did nothing. Kind of a missed opportunity.

Final score: 5 out of 10

Next time, we'll jump ahead to the far future of ... five years from now ... in the Futures End event. But before we do that, I think it'll be beneficial to examine all the various timelines the Flash has been involved in.

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