Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Superman #75 Review

Previously: Doomsday, a teenager kept in timeout for too long, attempted to become Snow White and sing to various animals....but crushed them instead. After destroying a truck, the Justice League (clearly with nothing better to do) attacked him while Superman did a day-time interview. Supes and Doomsday started fighting in a suburban front lawn, but Doomsday would soon decide that he wanted to become a WWE superstar. Knowing that this teenage rebellion has gone on long enough, Superman confronts Doomsday one final time in Metropolis, singing Toto's "Hold the Line" as he does so. 

Well this is it, my friends. After six issues of watching a young man rise up and try to destroy the world, we've finally reached the end of Doomsday as the 90s and better part of comics would know him. At the time he was an anomaly. Nowadays? Well he's still an anomaly, but only because nobody at DC knows how to work the character well. 

I feel like I'm walking on thin ice here with this issue. After all, most comic books fans know exactly what this issue means for the history. If you don't then just take one more glance at the cover. But this is a comic that might have some major sentimental value for people, and while I do understand it and mean no disrespect (if Green Arrow were to go out in a blaze of glory like this I would be sentimental myself), I am going to make the occasional joke or two because 1) That's what I do/ what I've been doing throughout this series of reviews and 2) It keeps the mood up! 

Plus, this comic has the least substance out of all of the previous books. As you'll notice, each page is a splash page, meaning there is just the single large image. I failed to bring this up before, but if you pay close enough attention, you'll notice the panel number in each issue decreasing until what we have here today. I personally like that touch. It gives every moment its own weight, and works especially well in a major fight like this one. Superman gets beaten (to death) in this issue and when there are splash pages of just him taking hits it really feels like Doomsday is landing a solid blow. 

I don't want to waste any more time pandering, though, so let's just dive right into Superman #75. 

The cover is great, placing a lasting image from the issue itself in the forefront. It's very ominous, and even without the text that gives away the ending it would still ring clear that Superman would probably die in this issue. I also love that the Sun is setting in the background, and there are individual silhouettes standing around in the background, left to watch as their greatest hero has fallen. It's dark, man. 

Superman: The give of super-noogies
We open where we left off, with Superman and Doomsday punching each other really hard while Doomsday continues to lose more of his clothes. Must be pretty warm in Metropolis around this time of year. Although, I must admit, the caption boxes don't lead us off to a good start. First of all: did the battle really rage across America? In Superman: Man of Steel #18, all we saw Doomsday do was: kill a bird, kill a deer, blow up a truck. He then went on to fight the Justice League on that same highway, which then meandered into the suburbs when Superman showed up, which then moved to a small town, which is now in Metropolis.

Yet we're lead to believe it was really almost all the way across the country? I believe Doomsday appears somewhere in Ohio, but the problem is that Metropolis, like Gotham, Central City, or Star City, has no real location. Oh, sure, it's on the East Coast, but if they went from Ohio to, say, New York City, that is not the length of America. 

Second: "Earth's mightiest heroes" fought Doomsday? Darn. Well, if even they failed, then there truly is but one team that the Earth can now call upon to save humanity...

Agents of A.I.M., I mean Cadmus, continue to fire upon them with their mustard rays of electricity but it is no use, as the plot armor around their fighting is just too strong! 

For once, they have good aim. Too bad it's completely useless! 
And no kidding about that "it's useless" thing. You'd think that if just one blast could neutralize a tank then the two would've gone down after dozens of blasts hitting them directly. Superman and Doomsday are strong, yeah, but that doesn't mean their invulnerable. 

Also get used to that image of Superman being shoved head-first into the ground. I think Doomsday found his favorite combo to use against Supes. 

After Doomsday knocks Superman right into the chopper with Jimmy and Lois, which was flying dangerously low (but what else is new for the two of them?), the two immediately proceed to not only mention that they're getting amazing shots, but wonder if Superman is okay. 

Guys he has been fighting Doomsday for the better part of the day and the city is being turned upside down, I think something along the lines of "oh wow let's go help people" would be a much better line than "I like taking pictures!" Okay, to be fair Lois does suggest she get help, but Superman has to hold the line, darn it! 

And thus, with Doomsday wreaking havoc and Jimmy Olsen clearly having no idea where to stand in this shot, Clark Kent gives one final kiss to the love of his life, reminding him that he will always love her, and seals it with a kiss. 

Yeah, the kiss of death, blah blah blah. 

No not that one! 

Anyway, Superman charges into the battle once again, only this time he is quite raring to go, and Jimmy is shocked to see Superman so enraged like this! You could say he's quite...fired up. 

I love how I can tie together yesterday's discussion and today's review so well. 

With Superman back in the fight, we get to see that Cat Grant is also around in Metropolis trying to get coverage of this as well, and also that the Cadmus agents are no longer able to keep up with the speed and ferocity of the fight. So, what was their overall use in this story? 


Moving on, let's see how things are going with the fight. 


One of the things that's always bugged me about this comic is how skewed the fight is in relation to the ending. Doomsday has been hit by Superman, but as we'll soon see, Superman has yet to score a hit on him that makes a lasting impact. I'm reminded of Broly, from Dragon Ball Z

The Z-Warriors do land hits on him, but he manages to walk through them and just laugh them off. While it's clear that Doomsday isn't going to toy around with Clark as much--he clearly doesn't understand how the WWE works--he isn't taking much damage, either. The ending here almost makes less sense than the ending of the first Broly movie. In retrospect, that ending makes sense given what we know about how the Super Saiyan God thing works. Here? 

The two just punch each other a lot until they go down. Sure you can say that about a lot of major, epic fist-fights but at least in some others there's a strategy involved. In his video on this story arc, "The Death and Return of Superman," screenwriter Max Landis points out that this is basically like a frat-house fight, where the two just see how can punch the other hard enough to get a knock out. 

And just how will Clark achieve this? What secret method does Superman have up his sleeve? Has he found Doomsday's true weak point?! 

I...I just have to wonder what was going through the mind of Dan Jurgens when he wrote this? "Ah yeah this'll be epic! Superman is gonna pop outta the ground and punch Doomsday straight in the behind!" There so many better ways that Superman could have gone about this. He could've choked Doomsday out, or at least got him in a headlock. He could've taken out his legs, maybe broken an arm. Superman, clearly, has the element of surprise. Was that just the first thing he thought of? I mean I guess it worked long enough for Doomsday to be distracted and not notice Lois, but still. 

This scene is a bit of a derailment for the fight. It's intense to see Superman get thrown around all over the street--which, by the way, Superman is still holding the line--but something like this makes the fight seem silly. 

What I don't get is why Lois is suggesting that Superman can't be every bit as ferocious as Doomsday. Why not? Up until this point, we've never seen Superman have to go this far. I get that Lois and Clark know each other to an incredible degree, but this is a much different situation than they've ever seen before. Clark might just have to go the distance here, and understands that with an absolute beast like Doomsday, there is only one way to subdue him so that this level of destruction will never be seen again. 

Though it seems that Superman does manage to find Doomsday's weak points...one that should have been capitalized upon much earlier in their fight before Metropolis but whatever, I guess Superman's priorities were elsewhere on Doomsday's body. 

My bones! My extremely in-the-way and open weak point! 
Going back to my Broly thing: is it because Doomsday has finally felt pain that he's weakened enough for Superman to get the jump on him? If anything, pain would make Doomsday stronger, possibly even more menacing and ferocious. Whatever, the fight is about to wrap up anyway...though it is kind of awkward how it wraps up. 

After only, what we see anyway, one more hit from Superman, the two make one final blow against each other! 

This move always struck me as weird. I don't know, I feel like it would have been more epic if the two just punched each other square across the face, like they do two pages prior, like two boxers at the end of their bout, their final swing in. Though I suppose Superman, having leapt through the air, was able to get a little more power behind his attack. But again: it is only three punches that was able to do Doomsdsay in? I hate to say it, but Doomsday kind of goes down easy. The JLA was nothing more than flies to him and he really take little damage from Superman. 

Not that there's an anti-climax here or anything, I'm just saying that after watching Doomsday tear through so many powerful superheroes that he goes down easily? If there had been bigger hits by Superman in between that bone-crushing moment and this one, it would make a little more sense. 

However, I'm not so hard-pressed as to say that there is anything wrong with how the book does wrap up. It is, quite simply, beautiful and tragic. We see Jimmy and Lois, looking through the camera lens as Superman falls to the ground. Ma and Pa Kent watch on with tears in their eyes as their son's fight, both against Doomsday and the forces of evil, comes to a close. Bloodwynd and Ice arrive only just moments after, leaving the reader to wonder if their presence may have made a difference in the end. 

Lois cradles Superman one more time as he asks if Doomsday has been defeated, if he was able to save the day...

Before the impossible would occur. When a parent would see that their son has fulfilled his greatest quest, when teammates would watch their noble ally save their world, when a spouse would hold their love in their arms. And when the world would see their champion utter his final words. For this is not a day when good had done it's job, but at the ultimate sacrifice. This is a day not of celebration or of cheers, not a day when the world could sing praises for victory. This was a day that would long be remembered in not just the DCU, but in our world as well. 

For in Superman #75, we would see the day...

That Superman died. 

I started this series of reviews when I heard a rumor that Doomsday may appear in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. A mild spoiler if you haven't been following the trailers, but we've seen him in at least one of his base states appear, and that he will be an adversary for the Trinity (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman). I'm not entirely excited about it because when I think of Doomsday, it's this comic and this ending that comes to mind. 

Doomsday, for a good portion of time, killed Superman. The image of the torn cape from the cover is matched in iconography only by the image of Lois Lane crying over Superman's defeated body. In the history of comics, you will almost definitely find a spot for these. I don't think DC has yet earned the right to do this in its films. Doomsday is a simple villain, created basically as Superman's assassin, but the two have a personal history because of this. Think about it: Brainiac, Lex Luthor, and Darkseid all failed to kill Superman. This guy, this "Doomsday," manages to waltz in, eliminate the Justice League in just two issues, and then kill Superman. It's insanity. 

This comic, as I said, does lack substance, but has a lot of heart to it that any long-standing Superman fan would love. I find that statement redundant, as any Superman fan has already read this issue and knows the impact behind it for all the involved characters. For comic fans in general, this issue--no, this entire run--is a must read. 

At times this issue is silly. Just look at Superman's sneak attack on Doomsday for that. But in the end, it is one man's struggle to save his city, and it is as simple as that. There's no major context behind it, not philosophical struggles. It's a hero fighting a villain, something that comics have been leaning toward backing away from. 

I have admit once again that I'm quite sad this run has come to a close, it really does feel like a long chapter of this blog has come to a close. There were always these comics I could depend on to write if I was in a down mood. I haven't had more fun reviewing a comic book, and that includes my favorite miniseries Blackest Night or the awful Age of Ultron disaster from last year. I do know what miniseries I'll take a periodic look at next, and while I'll do my best to have fun with it, it won't nearly be as fun as getting to call Doomsday a neurotic teenager. And I hope you've had your fill of fun as well. If you don't get some of the jokes here, go back and see where this all begins in my Superman: Man of Steel #18 review

Next time, though, it's back to the Valiant universe to watch as the hero who started the revamp sets the stage for him to destroy it in X-O Manowar #15! 

See you then. 

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