Soul of steel


  • Books
  • Friday, 13 Aug 2010

Superman #700 (DC/US$4.99)

Writers: J. Michael Straczynski, James Robinson and Dan Jurgens

Artists: Eddy Barrow, Cliff Chiang and Dan Jurgens

I OFTEN wonder whether within each of our heroes’ holier than thou personalities exist a conscience that is equal in size. They fight tooth-and-nail to save the world but seldom do we see them during the aftermath cleaning up the very trail of destruction that they caused.

The House of Ideas did address this issue in the late 1980s with the creation of Damage Control Inc , clean-up specialists whose credentials include following up on the rummages left by Galactus, the Hulk and the X-Men. However, if it takes BP months and billions to clean up an oil spill, imagine what it would take a clean-up crew to cover the visit of a Skrull Empire!

As for the Man of Steel, his role as Metropolis’ and Earth’s protector has seen him preventing a traffic accident to stopping an intergalactic war. His good deeds run wide.

These are acts expected of DC’s No.1 icon and any feat lesser make him an anti-hero.

This Superman #700 milestone issue is filled with emotional turmoil for the Man of Steel.

Having faced Darkseid’s omega blasts, Luthor’s kryptonite ring and Doomsday’s crippling blows, Superman succumbs to the most unlikeliest of threats – words laced with emotions!

In case you thought that the Purple Man has shifted to the DC Universe, which is not the case, the lowdown here involves a grieving wife’s complaint against Superman for not being around to save her husband who died of a brain tumor.

The woman had high hopes that a “simple act of borrowing” the use of Superman’s heat ray vision would have ensured that her husband survived. Here is also where Straczynski’s plot puzzles me most – if the intention was to portray the human-side of our Kryptonian-born hero, methinks having the Man of Steel emotionally ruffled by just one non-cataclysmic incident is certainly a bit too far fetched.

Anyway to inject a bit more realism into the Man of Steel’s decision to stay “Grounded” (which also happens to be the title of this tale) and to get closer to the grass roots, our hero consults Batman and the Flash on what it takes to focus as a true superhero.

Obviously, with uncountable eventstaking place simultaneously around the world, it is impossible for even the Watchtower’s monitoring platform to pinpoint every miniscule misdeed that occurs. Alas, here is where Superman begs to differ as he embarks on his most trying adventure (to date) on Earth.

In the mould of the recent Wonder Woman 600th milestone anniversary, this issue also comes equipped with two other stand alone tales. Serving as preludes to Grounded are The Comeback and Geometry tales, which focus on the different roles the Man of Steel assumes when it comes to Lois and the Dynamic Duo.

The Comeback is one of those long awaited tales that sentimentalists yearn for as it beautifully captures the romance between Lois and Superman (and not Clark Kent). While the couple are legally married as the Kents, the fact remains that Lois also has to share her husband with the world (and other intergalactic visitors), more so taking into consideration recent New Krypton events.

To most women, Lois’ role as “Mrs Superman” certainly requires a lot of understanding. This tale convincingly displays her resilience.

As for Geometry, it is one of those untold tales set during the Man of Steel and the Dynamic Duo’s crime fighting escapades. With Dick Grayson assuming the role of an over-eager Robin, a chance encounter has him pairing up with Superman and learning the hard way that there’s some truth to the Dark Knight’s over-zealous methods and instructions.

Overall, this milestone anniversary lived up to expectations and with Straczynski setting the tempo for Superman’s “down to Earth” trip, the next 12 months offer a very differentsetting for the Man of Steel. Fingers-crossed, it would be along the same lines as to what Straczynski did for Hyperion in Supreme Power.

Reborn and repackaged

Steve Roger – Super Soldier #1 (Marvel/US$3.99)

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Dale Eaglesham

ROGERS. Steve Rogers.” While the sound of that comes nowhere close to the impact created by “Bond. James Bond”, the fact is that Marvel needs a new image and status for its (once) living legend and Star-Spangled Avenger. Having spend a good two years “dead”, Rogers recently returned to the land of the living (via Captain America Reborn) and played an instrumental role during Siege in maintaining law and order in the Marvel Universe.

However, with his successor (Bucky Barnes) bringing a new dimension to the Captain America mantle, Rogers is left without an “identity” and surely even the hot seat at S.H.I.E.L.D. is not large enough to keep his super soldier serum-laced hormones at bay.

Under this new international man of mystery persona, Rogers is free to expand his skills beyond US boundaries (not that it has stopped him in the past), without having to carry the burden of being American.Fortunately, this is not some wishy-washy Nomad-esque revival as they have Brubaker on board to interestingly steer things. The pilot tale has some ghosts of Rogers’ past returning to haunt him as the super soldier serum re-emerges along with a new packaging.

Good start and certainly a lot better than the regular Captain America series, which is wasting paper with its unnecessary tales on the Heroes Reborn Nomad.

Comics courtesy of Earth 638 (Lot 2.13J, 2nd Floor, Atria Shopping Centre, Jalan SS22/23, Damansara Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Selangor). Hotline: 03-7729 6380. E-mail: (earth638@streamyx.com)

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