Comic Book Review: Superman #660

The Revolution didn’t even bother to post a review for Superman #659. It was unbelievably uninteresting. I’ve really been stunned at how boring and exceedingly average Superman has been ever since Superman #656. I really dig Kurt Busiek, but he just hasn’t been able to generate much excitement on this title. I honestly don’t have high hopes for Superman #660. This appears to be yet another filler issue. Plus, we get guest artists and that is rarely a good thing. Let’s go on and review Superman #660.

Creative Team
Writers: Kurt Busiek
Penciler: Mike Manley
Inker: Bret Blevins

Art Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 2.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a thug patronizing Uncle Oley’s Sure Fire Joke Shop in Metropolis. The thug is greeted by the Prankster. The thug tells The Prankster that his boss, Nitro G wants to do business with the Prankster. The thug leads the Prankster to the alley outside the shop where Nitro G is waiting. Nitro G is your stereotypical ghetto “thug” criminal. Nitro G also has the ability to manifest nitroglycerin and then throw it.

Nitro G tells Prankster that he wants to pay Prankster to create a disturbance for fifteen minutes to occupy Superman while Nitro G and his men rob a bank. The Prankster accepts the job.

We cut to the Prankster in his secret headquarters under his joke shop. The Prankster formulates his plan.

We shift to the next day where the Prankster creates a diversion by dumping tons of banana peels in the middle of a marathon in downtown Metropolis. The Prankster watches it all in his flying plastic bubble. The police arrive and suddenly, large flowers come out of the Prankster’s bubble and spray the police with a liquid.

Superman then arrives on the scene and punches the bubble. Superman is shocked by a huge blast of electricity from the Prankster’s bubble. Superman gathers himself to attack once again when the Prankster tells Superman to look at the police. The liquid the Prankster sprayed on them was actually glue. Superman acts quickly to free the policeman so they don’t suffocate in the quick drying glue. The Prankster uses that diversion to make his escape. This entire scene was enough for Nitro G to successfully pull off his bank robbery.

The Prankster is then woken up in the middle of the night by one of Nitro G’s thugs at the joke shop’s entrance. The thug tells Prankster that Nitro G wants to meet him outside. The Prankster goes outside to meet Nitro G. Nitro G says that he wants to pay the Prankster for another prank.

Nitro G wants the Prankster to outfit his men with the Prankster’s glue guns that he used against the police. The Prankster declines saying that he is a performer not an armorer. That the Prankster is an artist and he uses his gadgetry in his act. He doesn’t sell it. Nitro G then threatens to blast Prankster if he doesn’t do what Nitro G wants. The Prankster agrees to help Nitro G.

We cut to the Prankster planning his next act for Nitro G. We cut to the next day. The Prankster drops a bunch of fake money across downtown Metropolis in order to cause a commotion. Lois and Clark notice the fake money. Clark decides to investigate.

We shift to Nitro G robbing another bank. Nitro G’s men are all armed with the Prankster’s glue guns. Suddenly, two coo-coo clocks appear and giant fists pop out and punch out two of Nitro G’s thugs. A large penny then rolls across the front of the bank and blocks Nitro G into the bank. The Prankster then makes his grand entrance. Nitro G’s thugs then fire their glue guns at the Prankster except no glue comes out. Instead flames come out and form the words “You’ve been pranked.”

The Prankster tells Nitro G that he has no style and is very rude and needs a lesson in manners. Nitro G then powers up his nitroglycerin blast and the Prankster pulls out an umbrella. The bank’s sprinkler system is set off by Nitro G’s powers. However, the Prankster replaced the water in the sprinkler system with a mixture of diatomaceous earth and sodium carbonate that soaks up nitroglycerin. It hardens and encases Nitro G’s body. The Prankster places a stick on dynamite on Nitro G.

Suddenly, Superman streaks onto the scene and grabs Nitro G. Superman pulls the stick of dynamite off Nitro G and then frees Nitro G from the mixture that had hardened on him. Superman lands with a naked Nitro G in his hands. The crowd outside the banks laughs at Nitro G. Nitro G is embarrassed and begs Superman to tale him to jail immediately. The Prankster uses all the commotion to make his escape from the scene.

We cut to the Prankster back at his secret headquarters. His assistants all compliment him on his excellent prank on Nitro G. Superman is on the news talking about the Prankster’s grand and complex prank that he pulled on Nitro G. The Prankster says that a true showman understands the value of free advertising and is pleased with the news report about his prank. End of issue.

The Good: Uggh. Superman #660 was a wretched read. But, The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity mandates that I say something positive about Superman #660. Well, I’ll give Busiek credit for taking a character in the Prankster that I have always found to be rather lame and give the reader some nice insight into the Prankster’s personality. Busiek shows the reader what makes the Prankster tick as well as the Prankster’s own code of ethics that he follows.

Busiek certainly gives us an interest contrast and comparison with a stereotypical silver age villain in the Prankster and your stereotypical modern age ghetto villain in Nitro G. I have to say that Prankster certainly has style and a true artistic flare while Nitro G is devoid of anything that could be confused with style.

The Bad: Superman #660 was a truly awful read. I mean just abysmal. This issue was a waste of paper, a waste of my time and certainly a waste of my money. It is amazing how poor this title has been over the past couple of issues. It is like Busiek just isn’t even trying. And that is what I’m so surprised about. Busiek is a very talented writer capable of cranking out some excellent reads. I’m stunned how poor the past couple of issues have been on this title.

As a matter of fact, ever since Johns and Busiek’s “Up, Up and Away” story arc, Superman has been a rather pedestrian read. Superman #655 was the last issue that I thought was an interesting read. Issues #656 to #658 covering the end of the Subjekt-17 story arc and the entire Khyber story arc were rather ordinary. And Superman #659 and #660 have been abysmal. Busiek has definitely been trending in the wrong direction.

At this point, I have absolutely no idea where Busiek is going with this title. Superman seems to be a title without any purpose or direction. And the massive success of Donner and Johns over on Action Comics just makes Superman looks like even more of a mess. While Action Comics is white hot, Superman is a meandering boring read.

Superman #660 most definitely has a silver age feel to it. Unfortunately, it isn’t the silver age feel that a title like All Star Superman has. All Star Superman has managed to take silver age styles and themes and place a modern age twist to them which creates a wonderful blend and a very enjoyable read.

On the other hand, you have Superman #660 that embodies all the negative aspects of the Silver Age. This issue is corny, goofy and rather shallow. All Star Superman represents all the aspects of the Silver Age that I enjoyed. Superman #660 represents all the aspects of the Silver Age that I disliked.

Busiek gives the reader an incredibly boring read that is nothing more than pure filler. Superman #660 is the kind of issue that is the exact reason why prior to the One Year Later storyline, I never bothered to read any Superman title. Busiek gives us a flat and one-dimensional Superman with the personality of a cardboard cut-out.

Busiek writes a version of Superman that is so dry and boring. Busiek’s version of Superman is the exact version of Superman that turned me off of this character for most of my life. Superman can be written interestingly. Just looks at the complex and nicely textured Superman that Donner and Johns are giving us over in Action Comics.

Manley and Blevins turned in artwork that was drab and dull. The uninteresting style of art only further magnified the unexciting writing.

Overall: Superman #660 officially lands this title on The Revolution’s probation list. Busiek has three issue to show me that he has something interesting planned for this title or it gets the dreaded axe that has most recently fallen on the All New Atom and Wonder Woman.