Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI & CHRIS ROBERSON
Art by EDDY BARROWS & J.P. MAYER
Cover by JOHN CASSADAY
|For the record: I suspect The Flash is quite a bit faster than Superman|
- Superman Vs. The Flash
- Any and all Showcase Presents: The Flash collections
- And just the same for the Showcase Presents: Superman collections
I'd love to see a new Superman Family book like we had back in the day, including the B-listers, supporting casts and to give creators a chance to work on characters like the aforementioned "Super-Chief" (and I find the idea that Green Bay has a super-hero pretty awesome/ hilarious). Why DC hasn't launched anthology books for the Super and Bat-books is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery...
But if Roberson is wondering - yes, I'd pay money to see more of Super-Chief (but will not pay to see Supertramp).
Superman enters Boulder, Colorado where the world around him begins changing to a replica of Krypton. Squinting, Superman's supervision detects that its Barry Allen/ Flash working at super-super-speed to construct costumes and replicas of Krypton's past so quickly, the full scale changes are happening in the blink of an eye, while Barry recites Kryptonian history at super-super-speed.
I'm not really interested in spoilers or rehashing the plot, but there is a bit of a Flash/ Superman race in the story, and that is a good thing.
I've commented before how Roberson's stories seem to harken back to the Elliot S! Maggin and Cary Bates stories I've only really become familiar with in the last four years or so (thanks, back-issue bins!), and the splash on page 4 of this issue just screams "Bronze Age" to me. And that is a good thing.
As I grew older, had a job, etc... something I liked about the line of DC characters was that: where Marvel's books (especially X-Men) maintained the feeling of getting jammed together like high schoolers, DC's characters had an interesting collegiality about them, especially when Morrison and Waid were handling the JLA title. Sitting at the JLA conference table with coffee while talking about how to deal with a crisis actually made complete sense to me, and seeing them call one another by their first name was always a reminder that these characters knew and trusted one another, but that they could be honest with each other (how many other people get to call Batman "Bruce" when he's in the mask? There's something to that.).
A civil conversation between Flash and Superman is a welcome moment in the story, just old friends having a bite - even if its at superspeed. Even if I felt that Marvel's characters were a bit high-school-ish, Marvel always understood that unless you have those character moments, the stories don't matter. DC definitely tilts toward plot-driven tales, but if we can't see who Superman and The Flash are... why would anyone care? And isn't it easier to speak in the broad terms found on message boards and comment sections if you can't point to the specifics found in these sorts of scenes?
Its refreshing to see Flash just be up-front with Superman about his recent trauma, and how he's not surprised if Clark is a bit off. As much as the JLA can be about bringing together a strategically superior fighting force (which... okay, that's every team book) it can also be a place to acknowledge the similarities and differences of these icons as characters.* This was something Brad Meltzer was about to do with his JLA re-launch, but, man... did people not get what he was up to.
The issue also gets bonus points for references to Barry's awakening to his own powers (the first use of his superspeed was catching a falling tray of food in a diner), but will likely be best known for the already-famous insertion of the internet meme "Lex Luthor took 40 cakes" directly into the story. And that is terribly awesome.
Also, this issue may go down in history as being the one who's preview featuring a Superman/ Flash race got so heated in the comment section that DC finally killed the comments on their own blog. Slow clap, comics fans.
Roberson does what he's done remarkably well since taking over the title: he's repurposed the Grounded storyline and actually played off the weaknesses in JMS's original plan, addressing where JMS went wrong "in story" and made it part of the narrative.
I suspect that this issue, which drops a few hints at the "and something is very wrong with Superman" is the breather en route to the conclusion of Grounded. We don't have all that many issues left to go, and one would suspect that with the Doomsday storyline happening in Action and other titles, we're due for a big conclusion here.
I mentioned in a previous column (not a Superman review) that I had written DC a letter asking that they consider keeping Chris Roberson on the Superman title after the conclusion of Grounded. I'd reiterate that sentiment here. Roberson gets the character of Superman as well as any I've seen handed the keys to the kingdom, and it would be a shame to see DC pull the plug on he and Paul Cornell in Action Comics when those books are as strong as they've been in decades.
*which is one of my primary reasons for believing JLA should always feature a team that includes a minimum of 4 of the original 7. Otherwise its a band touring as The Beach Boys, but without a single founding member.