Up, Up and Away?Again.


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Superman is without a doubt DC Comics’ most famous character. More that just a piece of Americana, he’s become a worldwide icon. He is the Earth’s greatest hero, both in and out of comics.

The latter reality is what DC Comics is playing off of this week, as Superman begins his exile in space and DC’s Earth has to do without its greatest hero. DC wants this to be an exciting change to Superman’s status quo, but, really, the story is old hat by now.

That’s because the “World Without Superman” gimmick has been one that DC has returned to time and again during the last twenty years, and has really been overdone in the last several years.

The first, post-Crisis on Infinite Earths visit to this storyline happened throughout the Superman books in 1989. Superman was suffering from a nervous breakdown of sorts, and spent his nights dressed up as the vigilante called Gangbuster without his conscious knowledge.

Frightened by this lack of control over his hyperactive sub-conscious, Superman decided to exile himself in space. For the next five months, the Superman titles became a spacefaring sci-fi adventure, and introduced the Kryptonian artifact called Eradicator and the post-Crisis Mongul into continuity.

The most famous example of DC removing Supes from DC’s Earth was the “Death of Superman/Reign of Supermen” arc from 1993. Superman was presumed dead after a battle with the monstrous Doomsday. He was replaced by four other Supermen inspired characters who watched over the world in his absence. His death lasted a grand total of ten months before he came back.

This latest venture into separating Superman from his adopted home planet is the third such employment of the story idea in the last four years. 52 was a year-long examination of how the DC Universe would react without not only Superman, but Batman and Wonder Woman as well. And similar themes also apply to DC’s latest weekly, Trinity. Neither series played much into the continuity of the regular Superman books but still dealt with the overall theme of a missing Superman.

Superman: The World of New Krypton is the most recent employment of the absentee Superman and seems to draw aspects from “Exile in Space” and “Death of Superman.”

At the end of the “New Krypton” arc, a new planet joined our solar system, a planet consisting of the Kryptonians who were freed from Kandor. Superman realizes that he must stay on Krypton in order to keep the peace and keep Earth safe. However, while he’s away, Metropolis will be protected by a quartet of other heroes—Mon-El, Guardian, and Kryptonians Nightwing and Flamebird.

It’s not hard to understand why this theme is so popular. The vacuum created by Superman not being around is an interesting one to explore. You have the plot point of people trying to fill another person’s shoes. You have people dealing with a sense of abandonment and loss. You have people losing someone they relied on and trying to fend for themselves.

These are all interesting themes to write about, and many interesting stories can come from this kind of upheaval. And James Robinson, Greg Rucka and the rest are surely talented enough to find them. But there are other themes and stories that would be just as interesting. The “World Without Superman” concept has become kind of a crutch for DC. And that really isn’t a good thing.

Yes, you will probably have well written stories coming out of this storyline. However, you pretty much know what you are going to get. I just believe new directions should be new directions.

Also out this week:

War of Kings #1:

Black Bolt and the Inhumans have been slowly heading to all-out war with Vulcan and the Shi’Ar Empire. That war erupts right here, and right now. The combatants are powerful and there are bound to be losses on both sides. However, in a war this big, there will almost certainly be people caught in the middle. Can the cosmos ever survive the conflict?

These yearly, second tier crossovers are something I believe Marvel should get kudos for. I have always believed that there are no characters without potential and that any of them can shine in the hands of good creators. These mini-events are proof that I am right. The two Annihilation minis and, now, War of the Kings feature lesser known characters, yet have breathed new live into a lot of them. I hope Marvel keeps this up.

Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (W), Paul Pelletier (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Six-Issue Miniseries.

Batman: Cacophony #3:

Onomatopoeia’s hunt of the Dark Knight has finally borne fruit. He’s now got the Batman right in his sights, and that is just how the Caped Crusader planned it. Onomatopoeia’s reign of terror and murder that lead him to this moment might be at an end. But there is another player involved, and they don’t call the Joker a wild card for nothing. Onomatopoeia might just succeed in killing the Batman—if the Joker would let him.

Many thought the day this final issue arrived would never come, based on Kevin Smith’s propensity for lateness, and the series didn’t arrive strictly on schedule by any means. But it wasn’t later than other books by everyday comic book creators. This series might not be the best Batman story ever, but it was a tight and entertaining story nonetheless. I wouldn’t mind seeing Smith and Flanagan take another shot at the Dark Knight.

Kevin Smith (W), Walt J. Flanagan (A), DC Comics, $3.99. Final Issue.

Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk #3:

If it wasn’t for Daredevil/Bullseye: The Target (seven years and still waiting for the second issue), the title of poster boy for lateness in Hollywood carpetbaggers would have shifted from Kevin Smith to Damon Lindelof. There has been three years between issues of the Lost writer’s series, with issue #2 being released back in 2006.

But now, finally, it’s back on schedule. As a matter of fact, while it took three years for two issues to come out, the four remaining issues are scheduled to come out within three months time. Of course, the operative word there is “scheduled.” Yeah, this series could be over by July, but it also could be over by 2021, too. I’ll believe the former when I see it.

Damon Lindelof (W), Lenil Francis Yu  (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Six-Issue Miniseries.

Killer of Demons #1:

Demons. They infiltrate our everyday lives and try to influence us to do evil deeds. How? Well, by being annoying. They super-size our orders without asking. They turn without using their directional signals. They try to sell us service plans that we really don’t want and won’t take no for an answer.

Or, at least that is how Dave Sloan sees them. He has been given the gift of seeing these demons among us and also given the duty to eradicate them from the face of the Earth. Armed with an angel as a wingman and a big axe for the lopping off of heads, he has excelled at this sacred mission. Of course, this is if Dave is actually seeing demons and not gone completely insane.

Christopher Yost (W), Scott Wegener (A), Image Comics, $3.99. Three-Issue Miniseries.

The Goon #32:

Ten years is a long time for anything to last. Many classic TV series don’t last that long, let alone any comic book series. But that is the very special anniversary The Goon is experiencing this week. The character has been appearing in comics at one company or another since 1999.

Such a special event deserves a special celebration. And that is just what The Goon is getting. He’s getting a special, giant-sized anniversary issue. The issue not only features 32 pages of story, it also contains special pinups by comic legends such as Jeff Smith, Bernie Wrightson, Mike Mignola, Kevin Nowlan and many more. This issue acts as a special treat for longtime Goon fans and a perfect jumping on point for new readers looking to celebrate the character’s next decade.

Eric Powell (W/A), Dark Horse Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Aspen Seasons: Winter 2009 #1:

Regular readers of this column must be sick of me talking about how much I love the anthology. But, really, I do. In one issue, you get two or more stories, usually new characters or new creators, so you can try them all on for size. It’s like a box of chocolates, it the best possible sense of the word.

Aspen is going the anthology route this week, with a special featuring three tales from the Aspen universe—two starring characters from their Soulfire mythology, and one from the Fathom line of books. If you have ever been curious about Aspen’s output, this issue will give you an excellent sampling of their wares. Pick this one up if you want to find out more about the fantasy characters that made the company famous. 

Various (W), Various (A), Aspen Comics, $2.99. Special.

New Avengers: Reunion #1:

Hawkeye and Mockingbird’s relationship has been tumultuous to say the least. A whirlwind romance led to a quickie wedding. But the marriage survived a series of up and downs and seems like it could be one that would withstand the test of time.

However, when Mockingbird died, it seemed like one of Marvel’s greatest romances was at an end. But recent events have shown us that the Mockingbird that died was just a Skrull imposter, and the real Mockingbird was alive and being held captive by the Skrulls. When the Marvel heroes fended off the Skrull’s secret invasion, the two lovebirds were reunited.

Both have changed quite a bit since they last saw each other, so picking up right where they left off is out of the question. Their love has stood up to many difficulties in the past, but this time, there might be too much to overcome.

Jim McCann (W), David Lopez (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Four-Issue Miniseries.

M.I.L.F. Magnet #1:

When you think of Moonstone, you typically think of a pure and wholesome publisher. You think of a purveyor of licensed titles like Phantom, Captain Action, and Buckaroo Banzai. But the company’s latest offering takes a turn for the risqué, and really kinda seems out of place.

A magical accident causes a superhero by the name of Taser to develop a brand new, superpower—the power to be found sexually attractive by older women. Yes, Taser is the M.I.L.F. (an anagram for Mothers I’d Like to…well, fill in the blank yourself) Magnet in question and all the unwarranted attention is hampering his ability to be a hero.

The premise seems more in line with wacky comedy than outright porn, but still. Compared to the other books Moonstone puts out, it stands in a pretty glaring contrast.    

Tony Lee (W), Daniel Sampere (A), Moonstone Comics, $4.50. One-Shot.

Solomon Grundy #1:

There have been a lot of interesting inspirations for comic book characters. There have been heroes and villains inspired by mythological gods, historical figures, literary protagonists, and film icons. But one of DC’s most enduring villains was inspired by a nursery rhyme—Solomon Grundy.

Grundy has been a bad guy in the pages of DC Comics for almost 65 years and, recently, has been getting a big push. Brad Meltzer made him a main villain in Justice League of America, which led to him getting his own “Faces of Evil” special. That, in turn, leads to this new seven-issue miniseries—one issue for every day of the nursery rhyme. This series will answer a lot of questions about his history and his future—and how it plays into the forthcoming “The Blackest Night” event.

Scott Kolins (W/A), DC Comics, $2.99. Seven-Issue Miniseries.

Deadpool #8:

Norman Osborn was a man with a lot of enemies, even before he became more powerful after his actions during the Secret Invasion. To say that there would be a lot of people who would want to see him dead would be an understatement. One of those people is Deadpool. But who is the “Merc With a Mouth” working for? Is it some shadowy supervillain? Or is he willing to fight his way through the Thunderbolts to get to Osborn just for the fun of it?

This issue starts a four-issue crossover with Thunderbolts and ties, naturally, into the Dark Reign storyline. This kind of cross pollination usually is done for sales purposes, so that readers of the Dark Reign event, Thunderbolts, or Deadpool might pick up a book they don’t normally read. But, will these new readers stick around after the crossover ends? Maybe, maybe not.

Daniel Way(W), Paco Medina (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.


William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY and is expecting his first child with his wife Jennifer. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com

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