Comic Book Review: Blackest Night: Superman #3

The Revolution continues to be less and less impressed with each Blackest Night tie-in issue as this big event continues to lumber along. The Blackest Night tie-in issues are all beginning to read the same. These Blackest Night tie-in issues are about as predictable and mechanical as you are going to get. Hopefully, Robinson has something unique and interesting in store for us with Blackest Night: Superman #3. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Blackest Night: Superman #3.

Creative Team
Writer: James Robinson
Pencils: Eddy Barrows and Alan Goldman
Inks: Ruy Jose and Eber Ferreira

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Krypto regaining consciousness outside of the Kent home. Krypto senses Martha in danger and streaks off into the air. We cut to New Krypton with Kara still brawling with Black Lantern Zor-El. We get more taunting from Zombie Zor-El.

We then cut to Smallville with Zombie Psycho Pirate still manipulating the emotions of the residents of Smallville. We then cut to Superman brawling with Zombie Kal-L and Conner, who has been possessed by Psycho Pirate.

Superman pleads with Conner to shake off the control of the Psycho Pirate. The brain-washed Conner rants about how he is not like Superman. That Conner is half human. That Conner is half Lex Luthor.

We cut to Zombie Lois Lane stalking Martha Kent in the cornfield. Black Lantern Lois taunts Martha with how Conner is going to leave just like Clark did and that Martha will be by herself and all alone.

Martha then lights the cornfield on fire and lights Zombie Lois on fire. Black Lantern Lois screams that fire will not kill her. That her black power ring will keep Zombie Lois whole and intact.

Krypto then arrives on the scene next to Martha’s side. Martha tells Krypto to get Black Lantern Lois’ power ring. Krypto streaks off and grabs Zombie Lois’ hand with the ring and rips it off. Zombie Lois chases Krypto and jumps on him.

Zombie Lois then takes her hand back from Krypto and re-attaches the hand onto her body. Krypto then roasts Zombie Lois with his heat vision. Zombie Lois crashes into the ground in defeat.

Martha tells Krypto that he is a good boy. Martha tells Krypto to go help “the boys” in their fight against Black Lanterns Kal-L and Psycho Pirate. Krypto takes off into the air.

We zip back to New Krypton where Allura is being informed by one of her scientists that they have created a shield that they can place around New Krypton that is specifically tuned to keep the Black Lanterns and their power rings from entering New Krypton. However, while the shield is on, nothing can pass in or out of New Krypton. This means that Kal-El will be trapped outside of New Krypton.

Allura responds that their duty to New Krypton comes first. Allura commands that the shield get readied for activation. Allura then flies over to assist Supergirl in battling Zombie Zor-El.

We then cut back to Smallville with Conner and Zombie Kal-L beating up Superman. Superman pleads for Conner to remember that they are brothers. We then see the emotional spectrum inside of Conner as he shifts from rage to hope and compassion. Conner breaks free from Psycho Pirate’s control.

Conner then shifts to rage, fear and hope. Conner attacks Black Lantern Kal-L with his tactile telekinesis which blows a hole in Zombie Kal-L’s chest.

Conner comments that he has not used his tactile telekinesis in a long time. That Conner is so obsessed with being like Superman that he only ever uses his powers that Superman also possesses. Superman chastises Conner and tells Conner that he should use all of his powers. That super villains would never hold back in a fight and neither should Conner.

Krypto arrives on the scene. Superman and Krypto then join together and attack Zombie Kal-L. Superboy flies off to go take down Black Lantern Psycho Pirate.

We see Psycho Pirate manipulating people’s emotions and then tearing out their hearts. Superboy arrives on the scene and uses his tactile telekinesis to shatter the ground and take down Zombie Psycho Pirate. Conner then grabs Psycho Pirate’s Medusa Mask and flies up in the air with it. Conner uses the Medusa Mask to fill the residents of Smallville full of hope and will.

We see Superman battling Zombie Kal-L while Conner and the residents of Smallville stand there motionless and soaking in the emotions of love, compassion, hope and will. Conner then streaks toward Zombie Psycho Pirate.

We cut to New Krypton’s atmosphere, where Supergirl and Allura have pulled Black Lantern Zor-El. Supergirl and Allura throw Zombie Zor-El from them and quickly get into New Krypton’s atmosphere just as the shield is activated. Black Lantern Zor-El bangs at the shield and realizes that he cannot re-enter New Krypton.

We shift back to Smallville. Conner gets in front of Zombie Kal-L and then puts on the Medusa Mask. Conner says “Feel” and suddenly Zombie Kal-L feels the entire emotional spectrum. This causes Zombie Kal-L’s black power ring to fly off Kal-L’s finger and smash into the Medusa Mask. The Medusa Mask shatters and the black power ring may have as well. (It is kind of hard to tell.)

Without the black power ring, Kal-L is just a corpse and he falls to the ground. Conner says that somehow the Medusa Mask switched off all the black power rings in the area including Psycho Pirate and Lois Lane.

Superman tells Conner that they need to see what is going on in the rest of the world. That this attack must have something to do with the Guardians and that they need to find a Green Lantern quickly. But, first, they have to help the people of Smallville recover from the attack of the Black Lanterns. Superman says then the real work begins.

Superman says “If I had not returned from New Krypton, we might have spared everyone. I feel partially to blame for this. And I want answers!” End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Blackest Night: Superman #3 was an average read. We simply got more of what we have gotten on Blackest Night itself and just about every other Blackest Night tie-in issue. Having said that, there were several bright spots to Blackest Night: Superman #3. The pacing on this issue was brisk as the story moved quickly.

Robinson was able to hide the fact that this issue lacks much content and also distracts the reader from how decompressed the issue was by employing numerous quick scene cuts, often several in just one page, in order to create the illusion that a lot was happening in this issue. The result was that while there was not getting much content in this issue, at least the story was a quick read. This issue never felt that it drug along nearly as much as this decompressed story truly did.

Robinson treats the reader to plenty of brawling. If you still have not gotten your fill of zombie brawling that we have gotten in all the other Blackest Night issues, then you are sure to enjoy Blackest Night: Superman #3. We get plenty of solid action scenes as all the members of the Superman family get to whip up on some Black Lanterns.

Personally, my favorite aspect of Blackest Night: Superman #3 was how Robinson used Krypto in this issue. I love dogs so naturally I have always been a big fan of Krypto.

I like that Robinson has made a point of working Krypto into his Superman stories. I know this will sound weird, but Robinson has a good feel for Krypto’s personality. I know many people are rolling their eyes and thinking “It is a dog! He has no character or personality to develop.” I disagree.

There is a huge difference between writing a generic dog that has super powers and is seen as nothing but a cheap gimmick character and actually taking the time to write Krypto as having a personality and exhibiting thought and emotion on a canine level. Robinson pulls that latter part off in fine fashion. It is obvious that Robinson has or has had dogs since Krypto displays the personality quirks that many dogs possess. In the end, Krypto is a good dog and there is something highly entertaining about seeing a super powered dog kick ass on bad guys.

I particularly enjoyed Robinson’s use of Conner’s tactical telekinesis. Not only does Robinson add a little variety to Superboy’s power set by having him use this rarely displayed ability; Robinson also is able to translate this moment during the fight scene into some nice character work on Conner.

I dig that Conner’s reason for not using his tactile telekinesis is that he only wants to use his powers that Superman also possesses. This re-enforces Conner’s desire to follow in Superman’s footsteps and to reject the half of him that spawns from Lex Luthor.

Superman’s urging Conner to use any and all of his powers and to never hold back in a fight was a nice way of Superman encouraging Conner to employ his own style in battling crime. Superman loves Conner, but does not need to have Conner mimic Superman to a fault. This moment helps to further Conner down the road of developing his own unique personal identity independent from Superman.

I enjoyed the artwork that we got from Eddy Barrows, Alan Goldman, Ruy Jose and Eber Ferreira. Multiple artists does not often lead to a pleasant looking issue. Credit these four artists for blending their styles so that Blackest Night: Superman #3 had a consistent and attractive look. Barrows continues to impress me with his work. Barrows simply gets better and better with each issue I see from him. It is obvious that Barrows is working to perfect his craft.

The Bad: Blackest Night: Superman #3 was an incredibly thin read. There is very little substance to this story at all. This issue was mostly just a mindless brawlfest. The lack of any real depth to the story makes this issue feel that Robinson loaded it up with too much filler in order to stretch this story over three issues. The pacing was also a problem as very little actually happened over the course of three issues. From start to finish, this mini-series seemed to take place over the course of an hour at the most.

Blackest Night: Superman #3 was decompression at its extreme. There was simply not enough actual content in this story to warrant three issues. Blackest Night: Superman would have been a much tighter, entertaining and compelling read if it had been a one-shot double sized issue rather than a fluffed up three issue mini-series.

Robinson’s dialogue was quite average. The Black Lanterns are typically one-dimensional. That is not Robinson’s fault. That is the unfortunate and unavoidable result of the nature of the Black Lantern’s characters. Superman and Conner’s voices were also relatively vanilla and generic. At times it seemed as if Robinson was simply going through the motions as the dialogue often seemed perfunctory.

The biggest defect of Blackest Night: Superman #3 was that it was incredibly repetitive and predictable. To be sure, this is not really Robinson’s fault at all. All Robinson can do is work with the general framework of Blackest Night that he is given by DC. Unfortunately, at this point, Blackest Night has been nothing more than a simply one note story. Johns has failed to cultivate Blackest Night into something more complex and unpredictable. At least at this point he has failed to do so.

Blackest Night: Superman #3 gives us more of the same that we have gotten over and over again in Blackest Night itself and all of the other Blackest Night tie-in issues. The reader gets treated to more talk about the emotional spectrum and a fair amount of panel time devoted to the Black Lanterns seeing the various emotional colors inside of the different heroes and residents of Smallville. Again, this was a neat trick the first time it was unveiled. However, it is a simple concept and has been completely run into the ground at this point.

The reader also gets more of the same “Oh no! My loved one and/or friend is a zombie. But, no! They aren’t really my loved one and/or my friend. They are just undead mockeries of them!” dialogue and storyline during the fight scenes in this issue. Again, we have seen this dialogue and storyline in every other Blackest Night related issue. And the fight scenes with the Black Lanterns in Blackest Night: Superman #3 present the reader with the same tired themes that the Black Lanterns cannot be destroyed, that they can regenerate and that they feed on emotion. It is all becoming so dull, predictable and rote.

At this point, Blackest Night has become so repetitious and formulaic that I am quickly beginning to lose any interest in these Blackest Night tie-in issues. Because of the lack of depth and the monotonous format of Blackest Night it already feels like this big event has been going on for a year.

In reality, we have only gotten three out of eight issues so far from Blackest Night. We are not even at the halfway point. Hopefully, Blackest Night will evolve into something more interesting, complex and nuanced. I do not know if I can take five more months of these same type of Blackest Night tie-in issues that we have gotten up to this point.

I did not like how Robinson chose to resolve Blackest Night: Superman #3. I found this ending too vague and sloppy. The use of the Medusa Mask as a deus ex machina to quickly dispose of the Black Lanterns attacking Smallville was way too convenient and easy of a resolution to this story. Robinson also did not do enough to explain how this deus ex machina defeated all of the Black Lanterns outside of Conner’s half-hearted and vague one sentence explanation.

And speaking of vague, I found Krypto’s fight with Zombie Lois too jumbled. Zombie Lois makes a point of telling Martha that fire cannot kill her and that her black ring will always regenerate her body from any damage. Then Robinson has Krypto use his heat vision to defeat Lois and she simply falls into the ground and is not seen from again.

It would seem that Zombie Lois’ ring would have immediately healed her and she would have resumed her attack. This was more sloppy writing. Or the artist simply failed to properly convey what Robinson was trying to get across in his script.

I found the final page way too cheesy. Superman’s dialogue was just stereotypical comic book hand handed dialogue. The lack of a satisfying ending gave the reader the impression that this title was just a three issue excuse to bilk the reader of money and not really provide a story that had much point or purpose outside of mindless action.

Overall: Blackest Night: Superman #3 was simply not worth the cover price. I would recommend passing on this issue. I would only recommend getting this issue if you are a huge Superboy fan. After all, your boy gets to strut his stuff in this issue. However, outside of die-hard Superboy and Superman fans, I just do not see who else this issue would appeal to at all.
____________________________________________________________
Rokk

3 Comments

  1. I've given up on all the Blackest Night crossovers (except Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, which I get regularly).

    I s'pose I'll finish out the main Blackest Night series just to see how it ends (my guess: the Black Lanterns get defeated and things go back to the way they were), but that's really more inertia than caring about the story.

  2. Great Review as always.
    I thought it was a good issue, but as always you make valid arguments.

    I agree with the confusion over what happened in the battle between Krypto and BL Lois Lane. At
    first its clear that after Krypto rips off Lois's arm that has her BL ring that her body is destroyed by the fire Martha set.
    It would have made more sense that as the ring was regenerating Lois' body, Krypto (like any other dog), buried it before Lois could fully recover, that would make her disappearance in this issue and her predicted return in "Blackest Night: JSA" more sensible than Krypto roasting her, then disappearing.

    Also, I think you made a valid point about the "Blackest Night" tie-ins' lack of depth. I blame this on the fact that these mini-series are taking place in the opening half of "Blackest Night," which is all about non-stop zombie fighting, and there aren't many explantions.

    Now, "Blackest Night: Batman#3" was a great issue due to the fact that it embraced the point of these mini-series (besides making money), the emotional confrontation between the heroes and their dead loved ones. The
    focus was on Dick and Tim dealing with the reenactment's of their parents' murders. However, the issue failed to address some key points such as why Black Hand likes to carry "Bruce's" skull around or what Deadman's BL body up to, and its relationship to the real Deadman. But we really didn't mind because of the great story.

    "Blackest Night: Superman" instead tried to go with the endless fighting between the BLs and heroes. Personally, while I loved this mini-series, I think it would have been much more intense if they had rised Pa Kent as a Black Lantern, rather than have BL Kal-L threaten to do so. Why they did not I hope will be addressed in the main series. However this mini-series does have the benefit of explaining why New Krypton and its 100,000 super-powered inhabitants will not play a role in the main series.

    We will have to wait and see how "Blackest Night: Titans turns out, but I don't execpt much other a strong issue with maybe an explantion, or atleast a hint on why the Doves are immune to the Black rings.

    P.S. I interpeted the use of the Medusa Mask in this issue as by
    making the Black Lanterns feel emotions, it has the same effect as the exposing a Black Lantern ring to the light of a Green Lantern combined with another Lantern color.

  3. I enjoyed this mini a great deal, but the Krypto/Zombie Lois fight was confusing. And no matter how it ended, unless Krypto hauled the Lois pieces far away from Smallville (where was that canyon she fell into supposed to be?) she should be popping back up pretty soon. Maybe Conner taking out Zombie Kal-L for the time being will be her reason for not coming back and killing Ma Kent.

    When I read the whole thing again, I'm going to watch how long it takes Clark to stop talking to Zombie Kal-L as though it is the real guy, as opposed to how quickly Kara sees that Zombie Zor-El is not really her father. Intentional contrast?

    And I really wonder if something was planned for Live Lois, who is driving up and should be here any minute, that got dropped.

    I will say that this issue makes me feel much better about the probability of Conner showing up in the triangled Superbooks in the coming months.

Comments are closed.