SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
So, by now you’ve heard all the hub-bub about Superman #38 and the big changes in store for the Man of Steel. Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr.’s epic arc comes to a conclusion this issue, and here to discuss it with me is fellow whatchareading.com contributor and Superman mega-fan, Steven Biscotti.
Bob: Hey Steven, I’m assuming you cracked this issue open pretty quick huh? Whatchathinking?
Steven: I read the comic book almost immediately as I got home. It was the first time since issue #37 that I read a comic as fast! I was let down that this month’s issue was postponed after a solid few months of hype. But, let me say, this was the first mainstream comic that lived up to the expectations DC was preparing us for. The overall story and layout was just on point and reminded me of something Klaus Janson had said some time ago. Mr. Janson spoke on his storytelling style and how he prefers a clean, straightforward approach. Issue #38 was just as classic as you could get.
Bob:Well let’s begin with the two Kryptonian elephants on the room… new power…. new costume..Lets start with the power? Cool? Stupid?
Steven: New power? New costume?? …New Villains??? As Kevin Spacey’s Lex said “Bring it on!” I’m a huge supporter of when a creator decides to add an extra layer to a character, especially one in existence for 77 years. Superman has thrived on the individuals who have added to him such as the radio series and Fleischer cartoons. It’s only fitting that Geoff Johns and JRJR decided to give him this ability to create solar flares or as Batman said “super flares.” It’s a power that cements the Man of Steel as not only the strongest, but most dangerous of DC heavy hitters. And it certainly allows JRJR to flex his artist muscles and deliver more than seven gigantic panels of a visually stunning force of nature!
I am all for it and this is coming from someone who didn’t pay much attention to this aspect of the book that found itself at the heart of many fanboys discussion. I loved it and it happened to be one of several aspects that made this book such a great exclamation point to an outstanding run.
What were your thoughts on his new power? Was Superman’s ability to create a “super” solar flare to over the top? Did you like JRJR’s renderings of Superman’s new ability? Out of everything that was being touted, I felt that this overshadowed just about everything else, including the new costume! And that new costume! We have to talk about that!
Bob: I like the new power, although I wouldn’t technically call it new. We’ve seen Supes develop solar based or alternative powers before (Batman’s Red Kryptonite, when he first came back from the dead, Superman Red and Superman Blue to name a few). Those turned out to be temporary, and time will tell with his Super-Flare power. It makes sense based on his powers, and has precedence with Zor-El’s experiments on Kara giving here a similar, although under used, solar power and works within the super-science of the DCU.
He didn’t develop Superweaving, Super-Intuition or Super-Mathemetics (all real things folks, Golden Age and Silver age were weird times man) nor does he now fire Mini-Supermans out of the palms of his hands (yep that too), an it could easily fade out overtime, as the energy he absorbed from the explosive feedback loop from his battle with Ulyssess leaves his cellular structure. But my favorite part is the drawback!
When he uses the Solar-Flare, it drains him temporarily of power, rendering him helpless as a regular Joe.
Superman is now his own Kryptonite!
This was the cherry on the sundae for me, since it is a slippery slope to Silver Age “I can Super-Do-Anything-Man”, and giving it a consequence keeps it from being over used as well.
But I have to agree with you, I think this power was cherry picked for JrJr’s bombastic pencils! I mean really, look at all the stuff he’s done the past 6 issues! He was already drawing it!!! Couldn’t think of a better power to be rendered by Marvel’s former main man, look what he did with their Superman analog, Sentry. Perfect fit.
The costume didn’t offend me in the slightest. Then again, I wasn’t offended by the New 52 Armor either. As long as the right combination of primary colors are there (blue, a little red, and even less yellow) and the S-Diamond is on his chest, he’s Superman. Oh and no masks or headgear. And I couldn’t care less about the “hobo gloves”, but to be fair I wrote half this article wearing a pair, so I’m biased.
I think the costume change is a significant step in the “humanizing” of Kal-El. It was established in the New 52 that he was more alien, and distant from humans, hence his failed relationship with Lois, and his more terse attitude. Human’s change their clothes all the time. Why wouldn’t heroes?? Technically he doesn’t need a damn costume in the first place, the armor was more a ceremonial remembrance to Krypton than a functional set of armor! And before the purists go nuts… even long-standing institutions like Armies and Police change an update their uniforms occasionally, and get this… are still recognizable as Soldiers and Cops. This is Kal flexing his Clark muscles as headjusts to a new outlook on life among humans.No big deal.Just glad there’s no Undies-on-the-Outside.I think Kal has come to realize, through his time with the JLA, his relationship with Wonder Woman, and the Dark Mirror reflection of himself in Ulysess’ that being close to people is not that bad a thing, which leads right int that double whammy last page. Revealing his identity to Jimmy Olsen ( while seeing the new costume or the first time ) is a big deal, and a welcome surprise. It will definitely lead to a new dynamic, not just between them, but at the Daily Planet as a whole, and a certain Ms. Lois Lane in particular, plus it’s got that Superman’s Pal feel to it updated for the New 52.
So Steven, do you have visions of signal watches bzzzzzing in your head, or are you mad he didn’t pick you?
Steven: I’m not going to lie, I do wish he picked me as his confidant. You mean to tell me they couldn’t have had one of those contest ploys where you could be chosen for a comic book appearance? You remember those kinds of ads in the 90’s? Hasn’t Mark Millar been doing that with his past few books (Kick-Ass, MPH)? But, I thought it was a great moment when Clark reveals that he’s Superman to his “pal” Jimmy Olsen. The build up, if you look back to issue #32, was there all along. I’ve always liked Jimmy Olsen and I’ve enjoyed how he’s been presented within The New 52.
Johns’ usage of Superman inspiring the world to look “here for answers, for help, for hope” to then inspire Jimmy to use his billions of dollars that his parents left him to help all those that sought after Ulysses perfect world, to then in turn inspire Clark toreveal himself – poignant. I can’t think of a better word to describe it and that was the kind of writing we expect from Geoff Johns. It’s exactly that kind of set up that shows us Superman fans that we may finally have that flagship title we all have waited for!
I also thought it was a smart move of them to have Jimmy in on the secret as it takes a bit of the “Lois knows” conceit from “Man of Steel.” I think it’s important for someone other than Batman to know and as we’ve been presented with an alternate spin on characters that we’ve followed for several years, I think it’s refreshing that Jimmy is in on the secret whereas Lois is not.
The costume has a nice appeal to it. For me, it’s a way of servicing both the old fans and the new ones. I know several artists and critics had issues with the piping on the suit so it’s interesting that JRJR streamlined everything. I’ve also seen several people point out that the suit now bears a closer resemblance to the new costume Henry Cavill wears in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and it makes sense. DC was able to get people familiar with with an undie-less Superman almost two years before “Man of Steel.” So it only makes sense for DC to seek a more cohesive approach to their storytelling and visuals that share a similar DNA to their cinematic medium. People get confused easily so one year with a new costume before March 2016 should work out just fine.
I’m intrigued to see how this new development continues into the rest of the DC Universe, along with the new costume. I know continuity is always being discussed so it’ll be interesting to see when Action Comics, Batman Superman, Superman Wonder Woman, and Justice League adapt to the changes. How long do you think it’ll be before this Superman is featured in the titles I just mentioned? Post convergence?
Bob: Yeah, I think the two month break with Convergence will give all the DC titles a chance to sync up, and I’m sure we’ll see both the costume and the power become more prevalent throughout the DCU, much to the chagrin of those few folks who actually think the Old 52 is coming back.
Any last words on Superman #38 or are you off to build your own signal watch?
“The New 52? I didn’t like The Old 52.” You have to love those comments.
Well, Since “The Men of Tomorrow” has wrapped, what did you think of Ulysses? Is he here to stay? Will one day people dig through their long boxes to find a copy of Superman #32 for reasons we all know too well? Or is he just going to be another character that came and went? Like Wraith of Unchained?
Bob: I’m sure we’ll see Ulysses again in the future. One way or another. Same with Wraith. There is a woefully low amount of folk out their who can go toe to toe with the Man of Steel, and I’ll bet you other writers are already churning ideas over in there brains on how to bring those bad boys back in a threatening way. There are no one hit wonders in comics man, just untapped potential!!! Squirrel Girl has ongoing series and Hawkman doesnt, it’s a Topsy Turvy world and we’re just a long for the ride.
Steven: Superman #38 was the exact kind of issue I had hoped Superman would have since Geoff Johns and JRJR were announced. It was filled with Zack Snyder-ish action and Dick Donner pathos! It has left me with the sudden sense of urgency to take out issues 32 to 37 and re-read the story arc again. I think that’s when you could tell if a book is a success or not. Do you want to re-read? Are you just going to let them sit in a long box? I’m looking forward to seeing these gentlemen at one of the next con’s and telling them how much their work on this first arc meant to me as a fan!
And, now I have to really start tinkering with that watch!
Bob: Good luck with that watch, and I already have them on my nightstand …… hey why do hear a persistent buzzing???….. Steeeevennn!!!