Written by Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens
Art by Dan Jurgens, Jesus Merino, Tanya, and Richard Horie
The short of it:
Superman saves the city from a robot of unknown origin while citizens of Metropolis seem more interested in getting pictures and autographs than their own safety. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world we find out that the robot was a scout for the Daemonite Lord known as Helspont, who found his freedom in Stormwatch a few months ago…and he wants Superman. Cut back to Clark at work as he winds up agreeing to things by accident in a nice bit of humor, but hey, Daemonites! Superman take the fight to the robot, but winds up teleported to Helspont! Helspont talks of dominion and power, and an enslaved Superman and…HELSPONT!
What I liked:
- There’s a scene showing how Superman changes from his civvies into his Superman gear, and I LOVED IT! He might be wearing armor, but he still unbuttons the shirt, takes off the glasses, and has a Superman shirt on under it all. Just now it expands into the new armor look. Very cool.
- The old school approach to both the writing and the art is really what sets this book apart. It did so when Perez was writing it, and nothing really has changed. It’s a very wordy story, between dialogue and the narration. By no means perfect, but it triggered all the rights kind of nostalgia in me. After all, I grew up with Dan Jurgens Superman.
- Helspont shows up and immediately feels intimidating. I was never worried about this, given the quality of the writers involved, but it’s still pretty nice to see the Daemonite big gun show up and not get slapped around instantly by Superman.
- Dan Jurgens pencils on Superman? Did I die and go to heaven? I think I may have. I feel like I’m ten again. Some things are just meant to be, and if I lose Dan drawing Booster, at least I get him drawing Superman!
- The scene with Clark talking to Lois and Jimmy at the same time and then Lois and Perry, and answering both at once and not realizing what he had agreed to was simple and hilarious in my eyes. I’ve totally been there.
What I didn’t like:
- The pacing isn’t perfect here, and while with my nostalgia and old school kick I’m cool with that, some readers will get annoyed. There’s a lot of exposition and explanation, and while some of it really helps, some of it comes across more like the writers trying to get the glove to fit.
- More on the pacing front, there were scenes that went on too long (the initial fight), and scenes that would have benefitted from an extra page or two (Clark time).
- If Kryptonians wind up having had an alliance with the Daemonites in ancient times I’m going to headbutt my desk.
- Honestly, I hated the people in the beginning that were more eager to get pictures and say “I’m looking at Superman!” then getting out of his way when he was pummeling a giant robot that he, at one point, threw through a building. Surely people have some form of survival instinct, right?
Old school, in my opinion is the best school for some things. Superman is one of them. Now, when I say old school for Superman, I mean that time period from around 1990 up until he got the crappy electric powers. When the Man of Steel was humanized with a strong inner narrative, and the supporting cast had a place. We saw so many positive signs to harken back to that era in this issue, and I’m really excited.
Dan Jurgens can sell many things to me, after all, he created my favorite character in comics (Booster Gold). The thing is, and not to knock my love of Booster, but the easiest sell ever for me is Dan Jurgens name on a Superman book. That’s how I got into comics, and I’m happy to say that even twenty years later I can go to the comic shop and get an issue of Superman with his name on it. Oh, and Keith Giffen isn’t too shabby either.
Helspont was treated with a lot of respect here. Really, while it would have been really easy to just feed him to Superman (and there’s a fair shot of that in next issue, admittedly), I was happy to see him stand so commanding. This was one of the most epic villains of Wildstorm, his name put fear in the hearts of characters so effectively that he never really had to show up. If the brass at DC are serious about putting Wildstorm over, making Helspont a big tier A list villain is the way to do it.
You know what’s weird? We’re getting Superman vs. Helspont in the New 52 before our first big Superman vs. Luthor encounter. Action Comics has had Lex, sure, but it hasn’t really been Superman against Lex yet. So hey, HELSPONT!
Clark being conflicted over being stuck on the Superman beat and being forced to sing his own praises is interesting. I can’t count how many heroes in that position would make themselves sound like the second coming, but this is Superman. The fact that he finds it horribly uncomfortable is what makes it intriguing.