Happy Halloween! The Renegade Robins Club is stepping away from the Outlaws series for a moment to check out a number of Red Hood appearances in Superman stories! (The whole Superman: Doomed storyline is linked here for convenience, but we will focus on the crossover issues.) Discuss these issues in the comments below!
Very interesting choice – I vaguely remember some of this, but I don’t remember Jason in here at all. Despite how behind I am, I’m going to try and read the whole event.
What I will say, from what I remember of this, is that I think more than anything, what caused people to have problems with the Superman line of books at this time was the massive amount of crossovers it seemingly had.
To be honest I had a problem with how crossover heavy a lot of the books in the N52 were. Seems to me a lot of books would pick up steam only to have their stories derailed or at least interrupted by a crossover. Involvement in those crossovers was said to have been “voluntary” but I wonder if that was really the case sometimes.
I’ve just finished Superman 28 and 29 and while I certainly get the main story that’s going on here there are some points where I would like to have a little more context. (I haven’t gotten around to reading many Superman comics).
When did Lois get psionic powers?
Superman’s best pal is a billionaire?
Who is Clark dating at this point and why isn’t it Lois? Related question: who is Jon?
Yeah, that’s a major change introduced in the New 52.
Wonder Woman. And, well, Wonder Woman.
Jon is the son of pre-New 52 Clark and Lois, who are currently living under assumed names and trying their best not to interfere with the goings-on of this unfamiliar parallel universe they’ve stumbled into.
That clears some things up. Thank you. I thought that Superman and Wonder Woman might be together at this point, but I wasn’t sure. It looked sort of like Lois was dating Jon, I somehow didn’t piece together the son from a parallel universe thing (though now it seems odd that Jon is a blonde, shouldn’t he have dark hair?)
Oh, sorry. You meant the Jon from these issues! I mistook your questions as meaning, “Wait, why aren’t Lois and Clark together, and didn’t they have a kid?” Lois Lane’s boyfriend is Jonathan Carroll. He was introduced at the very start of George Perez’s New 52 Superman series.
Just finished reading the whole event. There was a lot going on. I thought it was a little out there, but in a fun sort of way. The Superdoom concept is pretty cool. I think I most liked the Superman Batman Annual with the tournament on War World. Red Hood’s team up with Supergirl was enjoyable, too. Hopefully it’s not the last time we see that.
I don’t like Superman and Wonder Woman as a couple. In part because it’s weird to me when Lois isn’t his love interest and Steve Trevor isn’t hers. Putting that aside, something about it still doesn’t work for me, it feels forced.
The first two issues were pretty good. Superman teaming up with Starfire is pretty interesting to see in how they’re so similar and yet so different. The only downside to the story is that it’s basically continued lead-up to some big Daemonite Invasion story that never came to be.
The art for the two issues by Brett Booth and Ed Benes were also pretty decent. The two tend to be maligned nowadays, but both had some cool, dynamic pages that worked for the story being told.
“Arena” is a solid Annual story. It gives a solid, one-and-done story that gives characters that don’t normally interact with each other a chance to shine. Red Hood being recruited by Batman was cool to see, as was his interaction with Supergirl. Only nag I have is that I wish Steel and Batgirl had a little more to do than just blow things up in the end.
Art wise…Jae Lee is one of those weird artists where I like his covers, his individual panels, and his layouts are often very interesting and creative. However, I don’t think he works really well as a sequential artist and storyteller. Nothing really moves, everything feels static and stiff. The climax of the story done by Phillip Tan was…okay, but I think the main problem was the coloring, which felt very muddy and messy. The art highlight of the issue for me was absolutely Kenneth Rocafort, who has some of that Jae Lee style, but I think he does the storytelling part better.
Pretty decent start to the whole thing – for me the best issue of this was easily Superman/Wonder Woman. While I agree that it’s definitely not my “endgame” pairing for either of them, I thought they worked pretty well together here and it was just really nice seeing the two actually get to let their hair down and have fun for at least a little while before things inevitably go to hell.
The Action issue was also pretty good – I think Greg Pak’s run on Action overall is really underrated. He may have had to deal with a lot of editorial/crossover stuff, but he did it in a way that always felt in relation to his stories and in a way that felt uniquely Superman. The only thing I’d say is a nagging issue is that Superman talks to Harrow about one of the ghost soldiers attacking Wonder Woman when that technically happens next issue in SM/WW.
The Superman story was…okay. That felt more like the most set-up for the upcoming story. The thing with Smallville going into a coma is interesting – I don’t remember if that has to do with Doomed or with that weird “Lois possessed by Brainiac” story that…that just never was going to work for me.
This story introduces a very different take on Doomsday that I think in many ways is way more interesting than what we got when he was first created in the 90s. Though considering he was previously just a huge punching bag sent to solve editorial edicts, that probably isn’t saying much. The idea of Doomsday as almost a sickness, something that infects Superman and turns him into a horrific opposite of everything he stands for, is pretty interesting.
I think my favorite issue of this is, again, the Superman/Wonder Woman issue. It was neat seeing Diana interact more with some of the more local Superman supporting cast and there was some great, marked tension in Diana’s confrontation with Clark as the dark side of him was leaking out. It was interesting seeing how they use Azzarello not wanting Superman involved with his WW run as a plot point as some tension between the two lovers. I do find it funny that it took Diana so long to think of Clark’s own apartment.
That said, I will say that I while I think each issue has so far done a decent job of giving each chapter a unique hook, I could definitely see this event starting to show signs of bloat.
With that said, I’m still unsure if this was a short but necessary chapter in the story or more bloat. Especially since the last issue of this chapter seems to almost solve the problem, only for Superman to be brought back twice, once by the Red Lanterns, and another by a random super beam.
And here’s the main course of the crossover. Here we finally get some resolution to the whole Lois Lane-iac thing and while on the surface it sounds dumb, I do like how it’s resolved – it’s fitting that both Lois and Superman are having these battle for their souls with these interconnected villains.
And speaking of interconnected, I like the idea of having these two Annuals basically tell the same story but from different perspectives…even if I’m not quite sure how well it connects together, since Superman does two different things in each story.
I also really appreciate how this part and really the whole story in general has been able to utilize all the characters around Superman, key players being Lana Lane (sorry, Electrical Engineer Lana Lang) and Steel.
Oh, and since this is still a Red Hood reading club, I thought they worked okay as incidental players trying to do their best with this invasion. I like how in the face of these big events, everyone bands together and all the past conflicts get moved aside.
The climax of the story and wow they REALLY upped the stakes here. It went from a personal story with big stakes with Superman trying to keep his humanity to Superman having to re-turn into a monster to stop Brainiac from recreating the universe for his own purpose. That was pretty interesting – I liked how Brainiac tried to mess with Superman’s mind and give him what he wants to keep him at bay.
But it was really cool to see just all the stops these characters go through to save the day, from Steel extending his suit around Lana to protect her, Lois putting all of Brainiac’s power into Clark, and Wonder Woman using Warworld against Brainiac.
Only thing I’ll say that’s a little negative is that I think of all the issues, the Supergirl one felt the most unnecessary. Like, it was nice to see a bit of a breather, but it kind of felt a little…obligatory. Also, her and this kid Michael becoming a couple was…super sudden. I like the idea of the two in theory, but they REALLY jumped the gun on that.
In terms of RR stuff, while it’s kind of cool that they chose them of all these characters to be sort of Batman’s team in this, it’s sad that they basically get taken out early. I mean, I get it, but still a little sad.
Okay…I feel like I’m missing something here. So Superman saves the universe by throwing Brainiac into a black hole and taking him outside the universe (and putting him in place for Convergence, now that I think of it), and then…he just comes back? There isn’t an issue of him getting home, just him telling people “oh, I had to fly through some black holes.”
On one hand, I appreciate them kind of not playing us for suckers – we all knew that Superman wouldn’t die at the end of this. I just wish it was explained a little better – especially since it’s rather nebulous how much time has taken place.
Anyway, outside of that, some pretty good stuff. Action was great – it was interesting to see them handle a lot of the fallout from the event and deal with the concept of just how much of this was Clark’s fault. It also has a good lead in to what I think is one of Pak’s best arcs in what’s already an amazing run of Action Comics.
Superman/Wonder Woman was also well done – it being Charles Soule’s last issue, I liked how it brought back a few elements from the early issues to round it out. Dealing with a mutated version of the Kryptonite flower was fun not just because it was a good low(er) stakes issue after what happened in Doomed, it made for some fun human moments between the two with what I think is their first real argument. Plus, anything that brings in Swamp Thing is always cool.
Finally, Supergirl – most disconnected from the Doomed story, but has the most Red Hood content. Figures! Previous stuff mentioned with Michael the sudden boyfriend aside, it was a nice little team up between the two. I liked how they teased what was going on with Jason, as a clever way to get fans to go over and try it out.
So the event overall…it’s a big one, to be sure. Probably too big. It’s basically if you took Death of Superman with Panic in the Sky, put it in a blender and hit frappe. It’s a little unwieldy for it’s own good, but…I dunno, there’s still stuff I liked about it. The reinterpretation of Doomsday is compelling, there’s some excellent art, and outside of an issue or two I don’t think it felt like it spun it’s wheels or anything. I wouldn’t say it’s a classic Superman story that should be read, but I don’t think I would dissuade anyone from reading it either.