Written by James Robinson (The Comeback), Dan Jurgens (Geometry) and J. Michael Straczynski (The Slap Heard ‘Round the World)
Art by Bernard Chang (The Comeback), Dan Jurgens (Geometry) and Eddy Barrows (The Slap Heard ‘Round the World)
In celebration of reaching the big 700 mark, Superman writers from the past, present and future all contribute to this three-story anthology issue.
A 700th issue is a momentous occasion, even for someone who already hit that landmark (Superman in Action Comics #700, 1994). This issue also bridges the transition between creative teams, with James Robinson starting the book with the last story of his run and J. Michael Straczynski wrapping it up with the beginning of his.
Robinson’s “The Comeback” serves as an epilogue to his whole New Krypton saga, romantically reuniting Superman with Lois Lane after their time apart. Aside from a fairly one-sided fight, it’s all about the dramatic mushy alone time between Mr. and Mrs. Kent. Some throwaway lines about events at the end of War of the Supermen might throw people off who didn’t read it, but that’s negligible.
Straczynski’s prologue to his upcoming Grounded arc, titled “The Slap Heard ‘Round the World,” features a detached Superman wandering around the world after the titular slap by a random woman. After trying to gain some perspectives from a couple of colleagues, he starts on his walk around the country that the story arc follows. This story in itself is pretty uneventful and even kind of a downer, with Superman being mopey the whole time. However, it serves as a good launching board for Straczynski’s story of Superman trying to get back to his roots and reinvigorate himself.
The middle story “Geometry” – by Dan “I killed Superman” Jurgens – is really more of a Robin story. Dick Grayson Robin, that is, taking place years ago. It’s a fine story on its own, but it seems out of place. It has nothing to do with the recent Superman stories, and with its Robin focus, it seems more at home in a Superman/Batman anniversary issue than this one.
All together – from the forward-facing potential of “The Slap Heard ‘Round the World,” the mushy mediocre “The Comeback,” and the decent Robin story co-starring Superman “Geometry” – these do a bit better than average, but not by much.
All the stories are done by different artists. Bernard Chang draws “The Comeback.” I think there’s a bit too much manga-esque influence for my taste in a Superman book. The eyes are oddly big, particularly as wide as mouths in some panels. The facial features and hairlines occasionally seem off with the head shape and direction too. Otherwise it’s well detailed, sharply inked and colored nicely.
Jurgens pulls double duty with layouts while Norm Rapmund helps finish the drawing. Jurgens brings his same good level of art from his current work on Booster Gold over, to the point that I kept an eye out for any Booster Gold cameos (he’s a time traveler, after all). Sadly, no such luck.
Eddy Barrows shows us what he’ll be doing when he joins Straczynski on the title. He really likes the sunset, using darker tones, shading and an orangish light. The only thing is that Superman looks like he’s about to cry in half of his panels. It’s a bit awkward. Otherwise, I think he’ll do ok on the title.
Despite the stories and art, this issue has one crucial flaw. It’s a “Giant-Sized Anniversary Issue” (according to the cover anyway). Where’s the celebration? Where’s the tribute to the character and the history he has made?
These three short stories are fine on their own, but they’re a pretty lackluster way to bring in the 700s. “Geometry” is hardly about Superman anyway, and the other stories would have happened regardless as the epilogue and prologue to their respective arcs. The only extras this book has area look ahead with descriptions of upcoming stories within the Superfamily titles and the same freaking Action Comics #890 preview that’s in every DC comic for the past month.
A certain level of gravitas is missing from this issue, and the stories themselves aren’t strong or important enough to make up for it.
Overall (Not an Average) 4/10