Porcelain38 takes a look at the war that marks the end of the era for Superman.
Credits & Solicit Info:
Written by STERLING GATES and JAMES ROBINSON
Art by EDDY BARROWS and J.P. MAYER
Cover by EDDY BARROWS
1:25 Variant cover by ARRON LOPRESTI
32pg/ Color /$2.99/ US
Note: This is a review of the entire min-series. Seeing how the final issue came out this week I saw this as a chance to review the entire sha-bang!
Ah...the sweet bitterness of the status quo. You can't fight it. No matter whatever happens within the comic community everything comes back to the status quo. Sure you can take some toys out of the box and wreak havoc but at the end of the day, all the toys must go back inside the box. For the past five years Geoff Johns and James Robinson have taken over the Superman line of books and pushed it in a new bold direction. For the first time since his creation Superman wasn't alone, he was no longer the last son of Krypton, but instead one of a thousand Kryptonians on New Krypton. The War of The Supermen ( or The 100 Minute War) is the final act of John's and Robison's master plan and allowed fans to see Superman in an entirely new light.
The seeds for the "war" were planted long ago in Geoff Johns's first run on Action Comics with the "Last Son" story arc. Despite taking over nineteen months to complete "Last Son" felt like a truly epic story, something that most Superman stories had been missing for years. That story re-introduced General Zod, Ursa and Non back into the DCU proper as truly terrifying villains who created chaos simply because they could. "Last Son" also saw the creation of Christopher Kent (the son of Zod and Ursa) being taken under the care of Superman and Lois Lane. This handful of characters that were reintroduced would play larger parts to come in the following years.
Over the next three years Johns and Robison set the stage for the upcoming war. (WARNING: Prepare for a crash course of Superman comics from the past four years) The first step to war was reintroducing Brainiac and allowing the reemergence of the bottled city Kandor. With Kandor being enlarged and the death of Pa Kent , Superman decided to leave Earth with Kandor as the Kandorians decided to create their own sovereign planet, New Krypton. In his absence, heroes such as Mon-El, Steel, Superboy, Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen, The Guardian and the new duo of Nightwing (who was an older Chris Kent) and Flamebird were allowed to step up and shine. As they were busy protecting the Earth from General Sam Lane, Lex Luthor, Superwoman and Codename: Assassian, Kal-El was busy keeping tabs on General Zod, who was appointed the military advisor on New Krypton. With the anti-Earth mindset growing strongly on New Krypton, a second attack by Luthor and Brainiac was a strong enough push to put the Kryptonians over the edge and declare war on Earth. While the build up to the war was fun and crazy, it sadly had to come to an end.
To find out that the accumulation of over four years worth of story would end in only five issues was kind of a letdown, but it makes sense. When super-humans fight it is going to be quick, nasty and brutal so the 100 Minute War subtle works quite well for the mini. The fact that while the mini was being published all of the other Superman family books were put on a month long hiatus as to simply stress the importance of the mini was a great marketing move by DC (so was making issue #0 a free issue) , that left no room to debate what the correct order of mini and it's tie-ins should be in.
As for the mini itself....well, you know how when you were a kid and you would wait all of December for Christmas and your gifts, and then on December 26th you would feel empty? You finally got what you wanted but you miss the anticipation of receiving it. That's exactly how this mini played out. The major events in the mini (the destruction of New Krypton, the death of countless Kryptonians, Lex Luthor being an evil bastard) are all things you knew were going to happen. You may have not exactly worked out the process in which it happened, but you knew how the mini was going to end. While over half of the mini takes place in space, when the Kryptonian army finally reaches Earth and starts destroying things, the reader barely sees it. When it starts raining super human aliens you expect to see someone like the JLA , JSA or at least the Green Lantern Corps step up and attempt to fight them. Sure we get glimpses of that, it's a thing that's never really fleshed out. In the end Superman is able to put the genie back in the bottle by putting Zod and his army back into the Phantom Zone, Samuel Lane goes back to being dead, Luthor goes free and all is back to normal in the Superman universe. When you compare the 100 Minute War to something like Blackest Night, Siege, or even the X-Men's Messiah Complex it fails due to it's inability to change the status quo. Instead of leaving behind some plot thread that adds to the current books the readers are left back at square one.
Don't get me wrong, I loved the War of the Supermen min-series. It was a great way to cap off over four years of great story telling. Everything that was introduced over the past couple of year is wrapped up with no loose ends, and puts all the toys back into the box. While we now have some fantastic Superman stories in the past, what do we have to look forward in the future knowing that we're back at where we started?
( And yes, I do realize that JMS is taking over Superman, but still....let's be honest the last four years have been epic and the expectations are extremely high)
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