Friday, September 10, 2010

Review: Superman/Doomsday

This could be considered book 3 (or book 4 depending on how you view it) of the “Death of Superman” storyline. First you’ve got the “Death” story, where Doomsday and Superman fight each other to their mutual deaths. Then comes the “Funeral for a Friend” (which could just be a part of the “Death” story, or separated out on it’s own) where the other DC heroes deal with the aftermath of Superman’s death, and send Doomsday’s body off into space. Next comes the “Reign of the Supermen” or “The Return of Superman” story where four new Supermen come on the scene all claiming his mantle in some way. One of them turns out to be one of the best Superman villains to be introduced in a very long time, and the culmination of this entire event is the return of the one true Superman to his rightful place. Except, there was still this open ended question about Doomsday – the creature that had ended Clark’s life in the first place. That’s what this next chapter intends to answer, starting with Hunter/Prey – where we learn that Superman wasn’t the only one to survive their fight to the death, and we’ll also discover why Doomsday wants to kill Clark in the first place – because of what the Kyptonian people did to Doomsday (also providing us with his origin tale). I read this story in its original comic form (before picking up this oversized TPB) and remembered not being all that impressed, but I was ready to try again. Unfortunately, my memory was pretty good – the story has a few faults that just are worsened with nearly every follow up tale that comes after it. First we have Doomsday’s power – he cannot be killed. If he is “defeated” his body will eventually revive and he can never be beaten in that same way again. While I admire that the writers were trying to come up with a new villain more powerful than Superman, whom he could never defeat the same way more than once – because Superman had only just barely beaten him the first time, they also set up a creature so powerful Superman can’t EVER defeat it. Then there’s the problem of the final solution he comes up with for Doomsday – send him to the literal end of time (when the universe destroys itself) – which Doomsday can’t survive. So, let me get this straight, you’ve now created a character so powerful you can’t defeat him without ending the universe? Oh and also, it took 150 pages (and multiple fights) for him to determine this final solution – something that maybe should have occurred to him from the get-go and saved us all some time. At least Superman got a new scifi suit to fight Doomsday with, he visits Apokolips and Darkseid – which was a good side-trip – and there is a return of the Cyborg Superman within these pages as well, a much better villain than Doomsday anyway, and at least this shows us how he can continue to come back (in a much more plausible way than Doomsday). After that, we get more of the “Aftermath”, with some tales of Doomsday’s wanderings prior to his battle with Clark (but after escaping from his Kryptonian creators), in a series of completely forgettable tales that include the Green Lantern corps (even as a fan of Green Lantern nowadays, I still couldn’t get excited over this tale). It then moves on to a large story featuring Brainiac who uses cloned Doomsday tissue to create a new body for his own intellect to inhabit. Of course, Superman (along with the Justice League) finds a way to keep that from happening, but in all it’s a pretty well told story and probably the one I got the most enjoyment out of in the entire volume (and it most obviously sets up how Doomsday can be used again and again in the future – by cloning him). The last few stories unfortunately are near complete rubbish – not only because it’s nearly unnecessary, but because without the context of a number of other issues around these stories, they make very little sense. The government, now run by Lex Luthor, decides to bring Doomsday back (from the last place Superman trapped him) so it can be used to defeat an alien race threatening the Earth – only Doomsday then turns on the Earth, and Clark has to defeat it again (only now it’s learned to talk and think – at least until the next time). This isn’t a terrible book, it just doesn’t come anywhere close to living up to the “Death/Rebirth” storyline that spawned it. As you’ll see in my next comic review (in two weeks), it’s a somewhat necessary “missing link” between that story and ones that will come in the future – explaining how Doomsday and the Cyborg Superman return and will continue to do so again and again in the future, but it’s by no stretch required reading. Only fans who really love Superman need look here, otherwise there are far better Superman stories to be found out there.

7 comments:

Jim Haley said...

I know these past few weeks I've done a lot of reviews alternating back and forth between graphic novels (comic tpbs) and audiobooks. This (now past) summer I thought I'd get a lot more reading done - and instead, I found my reading often limited to these comics that I could often pick up and read in one sitting (or audiobooks that I could listen to in the car while commuting to work).

But, I've already started back in on my book reading and things should get back on track with a book review alternating every other week with a comic TPB review. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

SQT said...

~Jim-- I like the comics. It's nice to feature something different and I know a lot of people like the reviews.

Budd said...

I just find the Character of Superman boring. They really need to depower him in some way.

I originally read the Death and Live of Superman in the novelization. I remember liking it, but superman was barely in it.

BStearns said...

Good review. Not at all a Superman fan, it's Batman all the way or Marvel for me. Doomsday does sound like a lame villain though. Sure, it may be cool to have a villain who can't be defeated, there needs to eventually be some payoff. I'm also not a big fan of how no one ever stays dead in the comic universe.

Jim Haley said...

@SQT - thanks, I hope that by featuring these reviews it gives some folks ideas of what different kinds of comics are out there and how it might appeal to scifi and fantasy fans.

@Budd - I understand. I like the idea of Superman, and enjoyed the movies as a kid. I also felt like the "Death" story could have been used as an opportunity to introduce a new Superboy (it did, but not my version) - a child of Clark and Lois who (I had this idea years before Superman Returns the movie) who would be less powerful. That said, I often find myself most drawn to his more scifi/cosmic adventures - when he's out in space battling Darkseid or dealing with a Crisis of some kind.

@BSterns - I'm a much bigger Marvel fan than I've ever been of DC. When minor characters make appearances in a Marvel book, I know them - no so with DC. Superman probably would have been my "favorite" among the DC characters, but nowadays I'm much more of a Green Lantern fan. You'll be seeing some reviews moving all over the place (in terms of comics) upcoming from me - some more DC, some CrossGen (which is now owned by Disney and may find a resurgence at Marvel) and Transformers. I'm a Fables fan as well as a follower of the Dark Tower comics from Marvel too - so all of those are bound to be covered here eventually.

Thanks everybody for reading and responding.

SQT said...

~Jim-- The Friday reviews are great. Fridays have always been a slow day on the blog and there has been a definite up-tick in traffic since you started posting. People don't always comment-- but they are coming for the reviews.

Charles Gramlich said...

I know there's a Doomsday featured in the Smallville series. Someday I'll read this superman arc.