Saturday, June 25, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: Superman 712

Superman 712
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Penciller: Rick Leonardi
Inker: Jonathan Sibal
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Lettering: Comicraft
Associate Editor: Nachie Castro
Editor: Matt Idleson

We've already covered the surprising switcheroo that was implemented by DC at the 11th hour regarding the content of this issue.  In short:  it was to be a continuation of the Chris Roberson penned "Grounded" storyline, and and, instead, it was replaced by an issue of Superman by Kurt Busiek that I'd wanted to read about four years ago that never saw print.

Its not exactly a wash as I'd like to see both, but it is what it is.

Without the noise created by Infinite Crisis still ringing in our ears, this story loses some punch.  There's simply been so much time passed, a lot of water under the bridge and we've seen the conflict on this one resolved some time ago, but it doesn't mean Busiek doesn't have all his powers about him with this one.

During the events of Infinite Crisis, Conner Kent - aka: Superboy - was killed during a pitched battle with Superboy Prime.  In this issue, Superman and Superboy's dog, Krypto, is living on the Kent farm, wondering what has become of his two favorite people (Clark Kent went without powers for an entire year during 52 and I think we can assume that meant he couldn't bolt back to the farm any time he chose).

Busiek writes with a minimum of dialog, letting artist Rick Leonardi pantomime the story in several places.  Lord knows comics with their exposition boxes and thought bubbles have always overexplained, but the hushed tone of the issue suits the material well.  Dogs do not live in a world without language, but its not largely how they express themselves.  Instead, they simply "do".  Nor is the period around death a time when words are what convey what we think and feel, again...  its a time of action over words.  And so its both a soft eulogy for Kon-El and what is left behind when you're taken - something superhero comics never really learned how to deal with as they were making the leap to an older fanbase.  And telling the story of what's missing from a dog's perspective, from someone who doesn't understand?

I am reminded of the story of Hachiko, the story of a dog who would meet his master each day at the train station.  One day, while at work, the master passed.  Nonetheless, Hachiko would return each day to the train station to meet his master.  For nine years.  You can imagine how this plays in Japan, where a statue has been erected in Hachiko's honor.

But it also reminds me of the trying days and weeks after we lost good 'ol Melbotis (saints praise his name) and poor Lucy wandered around the house looking for him and occasionally acting out.  And, of course, the very sad trip to the dog park where she kept running up to different Golden Retrievers and would then be disappointed it wasn't our man.

Dogs mourn.  And they miss us.  And I think its a pretty good story Mr. Busiek and Mr. Leonardi put together.

So I don't know how objective I am about this story, as it worked so very well for me, even with so much time between Infinite Crisis and now.  And it makes me wonder...  even if I have enjoyed some of the Superboy work that has come about since the return of Conner Kent, for every "return of" story, isn't there a story worth telling and preserving that can always resonate with the readers when a character passes?  Isn't that part of the point, too?

Our boy, Melbotis, all dressed and ready to fight crime


Fantomenos said...

Bought it on the strength of your recommendation.

It was pretty good, and I liked the art.

Thought your post was better, though...

The League said...

Ah, I try not to oversell. I realize I'm a sentimental fool when it comes to dog stories.

I think had this come out when it was scheduled, the impact would have been much, much greater. Now it feels like a bit of a time capsule, and timing doesn't help the story.

Mostly, I was impressed with the interplay of Leonardi's work (a guy who I've never really warmed to in 25 years of reading comics) and Busiek's story. I always like to see comics push themselves and use the medium.

Fantomenos said...

You and me both, sir.

Seriously, good comic, just no We3, amirite?

And Mrs. Menos and I are always happy to see Mel mentioned in a post.

The League said...

I'd have to agree there, but We3 is simply in a class of its own.

And I am truly touched that Mel's memory lives on thanks to this little community we've got going here. That'd make him a happy boy.