Thursday, January 31, 2008

Superman Confidential #11

Finally, after a five issue break, during which we got the second arc, we now get the concluding issue of the Superman Confidential's first arc. I know that some readers will want to speak out now and say I shouldn't bring the story's publishing history into my review - and I do think I can divorce my critique of the story from my feelings about the delays - but I would counter that its too much to expect me to say nothing at all. After several delays in the scheduling of this, nominally, monthly title, DC took the unprecedented step of dropping the story altogether and went ahead with the next arc. Its a decision that works in this case, given the nature of Confidential titles, but it was a disappointment to me.

This issue starts with a prologue (a strange move for a final issue, though it probably reflects the long delay). The story proper picks up where the last issue left off. We are in Vincent Gallo's office. Superman lies unconscious on the floor, beneath a large kryptonite meteor, while Luthor and his thugs hold Lois and Jimmy at gun point, preventing them from aiding their friend. Gallo himself is strapped into his chair and is also unconscious. While his body lies helpless, Superman and an alien, the narrator trapped inside the meteor, are touring a "sensory recreation" of Krypton's last days. The alien had been monitoring events and, through a process I'll let you read for yourself, became entrapped in a fragment of the planet as it was destroyed. Here Superman learns the story of his parents' deaths and how he came to be launched to earth.

It's familiar ground, but Cooke does a good job of instilling some life into it. Horrified at the idea of seeing his parents die, Superman wonders 'to watch your parents die... who can say what effect that would have.' It's a nice contrast with Batman, though, of course, Superman has the advantage of seeing it as an adult - and an adult from a a stable and loving home. It's also the first time Superman, and Luthor, learn of the effects kryptonite has on the Man of Steel, something Cooke uses to good effect. It's a fairly simple story, and it is a decent enough retelling, but it probably could have been trimmed an issue or two.

Sale's work, of course, has been wonderful throughout.

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