Friday, May 10, 2013

Superman: Grounded Vol 1

The Baltimore County Public Library opened, a few weeks ago, a shiny new branch in Owings Mills that is the largest in the county.  It has a much larger selection of GNs, HCs, and trades than the Reisterstown branch, so I checked out a few things, such as this book that I would never buy.  I hadn't heard anything positive about this story line, particularly in Jim's posts at the time, but a free read in a collected form has some chance.

Not much, as it turns out.  JMS takes the Superman story from a point where the character has just concluded a large, cosmic story line involving the whole New Krypton fiasco and tries to bring the character back to Earth, literally and figuratively.

As most of you no doubt know, Superman decides to walk across the US to get himself better in touch with his people.  That sounds like Henry V making his way in congnito through the troops on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt, but it's not anywhere near as good as Shakespeare.  For one thing, this feels more like a royal marching openly through his populace to try to revive the good feelings his people once had for him but which have recently dimmed.

Where Shakespeare has Henry V get honest opinions from his soldiers because his identity is disguised, and has Henry V make arguments in suppport of his actions to those soldiers, JMS is just engaging in flagellation.  Superman takes his walk knowing that people are peeved at him.  He takes the occasional abuse or fear, but he doesn't make any arguments to the people about why he's a benefit and not a burden, or at least a benefit that outweighs the burden.  He doesn't get the honest views of the people that Henry V did, either.  Sure, our society doesn't have the restrictions about talking to the peerage that Henry's England did, but what Supes is getting is talk radio rants, not thoughtful discussion.

It's all very heavy handed, too.  There's a child and spousal abuse straight out of an after school special from 1981.  There's drug dealer intimidation.  There's a jumper Supes talks off the ledge rather than just sweeping off the edge.  Oh, and in case you didn't know, Detroit is in economic distress, and Supes can't fix it.

Lois has anxiety about her career and life path, which seems entirely out of character for this hard charging woman who has achieved her own success as a reporter and writer.  The whole bit about not being able to have children with Clark seems forced.  Adoption?  And considering this is a super-hero book where all kinds of sci-fi unreality goes on, I'm sure someone could, oh, I don't know, take her DNA and his to create a clone.  No one would ever think to create a human/Kryptonian hybrid clone, would they? (Yes, that's sarcasm about the Conner Kent character.)

Not much in the way of super heroics goes on.  There's germination of some plot by some stealthy force to make Supes appear even less appealing than he already is.  The seven issues this volume encompasses don't get very far with that.  On top of it all, JMS doesn't even write all of the issues.  A couple are fill-ins by G Willow Wilson.  Not that she does any worse, but, hell, we're just starting on this JMS run and he can't even get in 7 straight issues?

As far as the art, it didn't do anything for me.  It's all very pretty, but so much of it is the same body shape that reminds me of the old stencils that my brother had for fashion design when we were kids.  Very leggy.  Very chesty.  That's especially true in the issue Leandro Oliveira did, but Eddy Barrow, the primary artist in the book, has quite a bit of that, too.  I quickly tire of all the characters look like they came out of some fashion model book.  Even the throw away characters have that kind of look.  With the infinite variety of human forms in reality, a few would be nice in super hero books, too.

End result?  Reading this won't damage your brain or put you to sleep, but unless you're reading it for free like I did, skip it.

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