Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Superman #686

Overall- So, this is the first non-Superman, Superman issue, if that makes any sense. Actually, that doesn't make any sense... Allow me to try to clarify that. Superman is leaving Metropolis to go spend some time(12 issues)on New Krypton, basically to watch the New Kryptonians and make sure they behave themselves. Before Superman leaves Earth, he meets with several folks in order to make sure Metropolis is protected from its many threats. To that end, Supes asks Mon-El, who was recently released from the Phantom Zone and cured of his lead poisoning, to take up his role as protector of Metropolis. Mon is surprised, but accepts.

Next, Supes meets with Jimmy Olson, who is as usual whining about something. Superman tells Jimmy not to worry, and the next day, Mon meets up with Jimmy and gives him a signal watch that will alert Mon if Jimmy is in any danger... Jeez, with how inconceivably dumb Jimmy Olson is, saving Jimmy is going to become Mon's full time job! Supes heads to the Iron Works building and asks John Henry Irons if he could keep an eye on Mon, since Mon is still relatively new to the whole super-hero thing. John agrees and even says that he'll pull the old Steel suit out of mothballs when necessary. Finally, Supes meets with the Science Police(whoever they are)and their field commander, Guardian. Supes asks if Guardian and his superiors could give Mon a secret identity, and Guardian agrees to place Mon on the Science Police.

With that, Superman officially leaves Earth, and leaves Metropolis in the hands of Mon-El and company. Mon's first day as a super-hero starts out with him battling the super-strong and super-ugly Rampage. Mon gets roughed up a bit by Rampage(she actually pulls his hair!), before Mon decides to grab Rampage, fly way up high and throw her into the streets below, knocking her out. Guardian and Steel arrive on the scene and they both admonish Mon's strategy of just throwing Rampage at the street, because, #1, the fall might have killed her, and #2, she might have landed on top of somebody and killed them!

Since Rampage IS still alive, and nobody was killed, Guardian tells Mon to consider the experience a lesson learned. With that, Guardian takes Mon with him so they can work on his secret identity. At a meeting with the Science Police, Guardian introduces Mon in his civilian guise as Jonathan Kent, an English prodigy from Interpol looking for a fresh start in America. One of the Science Police heckle Mon's hair, which makes him think back to the battle with Rampage, where she was pulling his hair.

Later, Mon meets up with a friendly female SP member named Billi Harper, who is great-niece of the original Guardian(who the current Guardian was cloned from). Billi tells Mon that she hasn't told Guardian of their family relationship, and Mon agrees to keep it their little secret. We end the issue with Guardian ordering the SP to suit up to face Chemo, who is wreaking havoc downtown. Mon walks into the picture, dressed in his SP duds, with a new, shorter haircut, telling Guardian he's now ready for anything.

I've stated before that James Robinson is possibly the best comic book writer alive today when it comes to character development. Most of this issue was used to show Superman's departure, while having Mon slowly step in to replace him. I really liked the way James placed Mon in the starring role of this comic book. Instead of dropping Mon on every page, and basically hammering the readers with the fact that this was now Mon's book, James slowly moved Mon to the forefront. James didn't throw Supes out of this comic and throw Mon in, he gradually moved the characters into the positions he wanted them to take over, which is a VERY smart writing move. A lot of lesser comic book writers would have just dropped Mon in the starring role and had him battle some kind of super-villain, just to show that Mon was now in charge here. Usually when a writer does that, the fans of that particular comic book tend to resent the new guy and begin to demand the return of the guy who was replaced. I think that by gradually easing Mon into Supes role, as opposed to having Mon just take over immediately, some of that fan backlash should be tempered.

I liked this comic a lot, which is no surprise, considering it was written by James. If James Robinson wrote the phone book, I would gladly pay $2.99 to read it! My one complaint, and I'm sure James already has this figured out, is that putting Mon on the Science Police doesn't really make too much sense... If "Jonathan Kent" is fighting super-villains as a member of the SP, how exactly is Mon-El supposed to help out? Shouldn't Mon's #1 priority be to stop super-crime in Metropolis as Mon-El, not be a member of the SP? But, I consider James to be a genius, so I'm sure he's already worked out the details concerning that situation. For a score, I'm going to give this issue a 8 1/2 out of 10. Most of this issue dealt with Supes leaving and Mon slowly meeting his various allies. As James moves forward, I fully expect this series to become one of the best comic books on the market very, very soon.

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