REVIEW: Superman #13

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Aliens are attacking… again! When a new primordial menace arrives and starts attacking Metropolis, it’s the Man of Steel to the rescue… again! This time, though, the monster comes from a very familiar alien planet, one that will shake the very foundations of the Superman family. More after the jump!

SUPERMAN #13
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics, Inc.
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Superman: Kal-el’s family history was once again delved into, showing a brilliant father and a mother who could definitely ninja her way out of a tough spot. As the family was embroiled in a Kryptonian conspiracy theory, Superman himself looked on thanks to some crazy time-travelling hijinks.

HOT MONOLOGUING ACTION

After an extreme bench-pressing exercise with Dr. Veritas, Clark Kent races home, proud of the fact that he, for once, broke a sweat. His gleeful mood is broken when he attempts to take on the news industry that is rapidly circling the drain in the ‘good reporting’ department. An alien dragon with dragon-headed toes attacks, forcing Clark to start Superman-ing it up. He then finds out that this particular beast has an even stranger origin than previously thought. With H’el looking on in the background, invisible to both Superman and Supergirl, the ending is enough to give the reader time to pause and go “Huh,” but it isn’t a mind-blowing twist.

What was really engaging was actually Clark Kent’s argument with Morgan Edge. His over-the-top opinion about the state of American media and what counts as ‘news’ today was interesting to hear from Superman in particular. The idea that he’s not particularly happy with how the news is degenerating into a cheap tabloid is a very poignant image. Here is a hero that stood, and still stands, for truth, justice and the American way (he even blurts it out). It’s something that is no longer being covered by the people who should be covering it and our star hero has some definitely important things to say about it.

Then there’s the monologuing. Scott Lobdell loves his monologuing and here it felt more obvious than other stuff he’s done in the past. While it definitely gives the book a kitschy retro-feel, it becomes distracting after awhile, pretty soon making it more annoying than endearing. It feels like he doesn’t trust the artwork to tell the story and instead needs to have Clark narrate the whole thing via speech balloon or have an omniscient narrator talk the reader through it instead.

DRAGON WITH DRAGON-HEADED TOES!

Kenneth Rocafort’s work is pretty much the same as his other work, but, because Superman is a very active hero with very active villains to fight, his art really works here. His art is very alive and feels like its in motion, instead of being stale and still. It is effective here and suits Superman and the Super-family. Plus, Sunny Gho’s usage of pale coloring for the issue fits the Superman series quite well. Superman isn’t a dark and gritty hero, at least not usually, and shouldn’t be colored as such. Gho is more than willing to accommodate and it’s nice to read a comic that a little lighter, visually, than some of the stuff I normally have on my pull list.

What was really lovely to look at in this book was Superman’s battle with the dragon-headed-toes dragon, later called a tripedal curosiananiun. There are a lot of interesting angles in this book. There’s a particular page where, in the background, the panel travels up the dragon’s neck. In the foreground, the panels travel down, showing Superman’s progression in how he manages to knock out the dragon’s main head.

Rocafort also really conveys the enormity of the beast itself by juxtaposing it next to Superman himself in scale. The beast is huge and it’s interesting to take a step back and really see the literal enormity of the foes Superman has to beat. It’s easy to forget just how tiny Superman is compared to some of the things out there in the universe and Rocafort manages to put that into perspective quite nicely.

(And thanks, Critical Hit. I now can’t say dragon without first saying, “Dargon.”)

BOTTOM LINE: INTERESTING, NOT AMAZING

While I personally enjoyed Clark’s diatribe about the state of the media, I’m not sure it was enough to totally carry this book. The art was amazing for battle scenes but Superman’s constant monologue, and then an omniscient narrator’s step-by-step analysis, were a bit long-winded and occasionally distracting. It’s a good introduction to the H’el on Earth story arc, providing Lobdell goes into why the dragon is here in the first place.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

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