The new DCYOU direction with the Superman franchise has been a total miss here at The Revolution. There is little to Dude Bro Superman’s character that is appealing. Then there is the fact that DC’s editorial staff has rolled out this new direction for Superman in an odd manner. DC rolls out sneak peeks of Action Comics and Superman that both take place after Superman #42. Then they deliver Action Comics #42 which also takes place well after Superman #42. Now, two months later, DC if finally giving us the issue where Superman actually loses his powers and has his secret identity exposed to the world. Thanks? I would have preferred these stories to have been delivered in a more logical order. At any rate, here we are at Superman #42 where we are going to get to see how Superman lost his powers and how his secret identity became exposed to the world. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.
Words: Gene Yang
Pencils: John Romita, Jr.
Inks: Klaus Janson
Colors: Dean White, Will Quintana and Tomeu Morey
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin Clark, Lois, Jimmy and Condesa outside of Metropolis. Condesa, who was a member of Hordr, explains the Hordr organization to our three main characters. Hordr trades in bits of information. They catalogue and document secrets on people across the globe. Hordr uses this information to blackmail people into working for them and doing their bidding.
Suddenly, some zombie ninjas appear on the scene. Clark takes them all down with his super strength. Condesa is impressed with Clark’s fighting abilities.
Lois? Not so much. She tells Clark how Superman has been getting slower and easier to track. That when Superman got injured Clark would show up to work injured. At first, Lois played it off as a coincidence. However, after triangulating all of the locations she came to realize that it was more than just coincidence. (Really? Couldn’t Lois have simply looked past the glasses and realized that Clark was Superman?)
And now Clark beats up all of the ninjas. Lois says that she knows Clark’s secret. Lois rips off Clark’s shirt and reveals his Superman costume underneath. (Yeah, pretty sure Clark wished Lois was ripping off his shirt under a much different set of circumstances.)
Superman asks for Lois to let him explain. Lois asks if Jimmy knows. Superman answers that Jimmy already knows. Superman attempts to explain that he was keeping his identity secret so he could have a normal-ish life and to protect the people around him. Lois, in full self-righteous indignation, makes Superman feel like a heel and calls him a liar and a fraud. (Uh, okay. Lois really comes off like a bitch.)
Superman says that Hordr_root is the leader of Hordr and he is the one that they need to take down. Our heroes head over to Toymaster’s store so that Toymaster can replicate Condesa’s Hordr mask so that they can all sneak into Hordr’s secret base.
We zip to Toymaster’s store. Toymaster takes Condesa’s mask and starts to make several copies. During this, Condesa engages in some racial humor with Jimmy which really is not funny at all. (Awkward white guy tripping all over his words trying not to sound stupid. Hilarious.)
Toymaster succeeds in making the replicas of Condesa’s mask. Condesa then uses her super coding powers to verbally code the masks with the proper software necessary for them to gain entry into Hordr’s base.
We cut to downtown Metropolis where Clark, Lois, Jimmy and Condesa get on what looks like a normal city bus. But, nope! It is a Hordr bus full of Hordr members. The bus then drives. It heads down a road and then runs right off the edge of the road and flies through the air.
Lois grabs Clark’s had out of shock that the bus suddenly began flying. Clark says that he would like to say thank you to Lois. That Lois and Jimmy were the first people to be a part of both sides of his life as Clark and as Superman. Clark says that Lois’ support has always meant a lot to him. Lois slips back into bitch mode and says that she used to think of Clark as a friend and a partner…until yesterday. (Ooooh, sick burn! You need mommie to put some aloe vera on that, Clark?)
The flying bus arrives at Hordr’s secret floating base in the sky. Our heroes step off the bus and marvel at Hordr’s base. A flying coffee cart greets them and Jimmy orders up a caramel latte. (Hordr: An evil organization for today’s hipster. We have artisans coffee and free wi-fi!)
A massive hologram of Hord_root appears in the sky. He says that they have been infiltrated by three people. Clark, Lois and Jimmy suddenly notice that Condesa is no longer with them. (Who didn’t see this coming?) The Hordr guards appear on the scene.
Superman grabs Jimmy and Lois and makes a quick getaway using his super speed. The three end up stumbling across the main room in Hordr’s secret base. The room is full of video screens replaying the most secret and embarrassing moments of Superman’s life. This is where all the information, from bank account statements to health records to family histories, that Hordr collects is catalogued and stored.
Suddenly, Hordr_root and his guards enter the room. Hordr_root says that the future belongs to those who control information. Hordr_root says that he has been testing Superman and that Superman will make an excellent member of Hordr.
Superman says that there is no way he would ever join Hordr. Hordr_root says that if Superman refuses to join them then Hordr_root will release Superman’s secret to the public. That this will lead to Superman’s friends and family getting hurt or killed.
Superman then gets mad and locks horns with the Hordr security guards. Superman says that it is time to take this place down. Superman tells Jimmy and Lois to get somewhere safe. Jimmy tells Lois that Superman is about to Solar Flare. Superman says that Jimmy and Lois have 10 minutes to prevent Hordr_root from escaping and then also warning the Hordr members to evacuate the base.
We cut to Jimmy running into Condesa in a hallway. Condesa apologizes for screwing Jimmy, Lois and Clark but that Hordr has secrets on her to so she had no choice. (Who didn’t see that coming, either?) Jimmy says that Condesa now has a chance to make it up.
We shift to Lois sucker punching Hordr_root by sneaking up on him and hitting him in the back of the head with a pole of some type. Hordr_root’s mask falls off. Lois is stunned that Hordr_root is just a kid. Hordr_root says that this body is just a node. One of many. And that this node has served its purpose. The body then disintegrates.
We then cut to Jimmy appearing in the sky over the Hordr base. Condesa helped Jimmy access Hordr_root’s communication system. Jimmy tells the Hordr employees to evacuate the base.
We zip back to Superman going Solar Flare. A shadowy figure comes up behind Superman. The shadowy figure says “Superman.” Superman says “Who are you?” The figure grabs Superman while Superman is in full Solar Flare mode. Superman then collapses and utters “What did you do to me…? The figure walks off.
Lois, Jimmy and Condesa then come across Superman’s unconscious body. They pick him up and carry him away from the scene. They carry Superman onto one of the flying buses. Condesa then uses her powers to activate the flying bus.
They then take off. Horde’s base then explodes. Lois looks at Clark and says “Be okay Clark…please be okay…” End of issue.
The Good: Superman #42 is not an awful read. Nor is it a good read. It is just…there. Having said that there are several nice aspects to this issue. Yang does get the issue moving at a cracking pace. This issue is neither slow nor meandering. I always appreciate that. Yang gets this issue moving quickly and it drives forward with a clear purpose and direction in mind.
The plotting is basic as there is nothing complex to this issue. However, Yang moves along his basic plot line surround Hordr_root in a logical manner. The story has a nice flow and all of the scene transitions are done well. There are no moments where the reader is pulled out of the story due to any odd transitions or a lack of internal logic. Yang also does a nice job ending the issue with a crescendo with the appearance of the mysterious person who saps Superman of his powers.
I will admit that almost everything surrounding the new DCYOU direction for the Superman franchise has been a complete and total miss with me. However, I am curious about the mysterious person who robs Superman of his powers.
John Romita, Jr.’s art shines the most during the action scenes. The action scenes panels are quite dynamic. Romita’s artwork always has great energy and movement.
The Bad: Superman #42 is a comic that is quickly consumed, makes little impression on the reader and is quickly forgotten once finished. This issue is the comic book equivalent of a mayonnaise sandwich on white bread. There is little in this issue that actually excites the reader. Superman #42 has little original to offer and is easily lost in this market crowded full of other super hero titles.
This issue presents a shallow story. This is a superficial read that offers little in complexity or substance. The thin nature of this issue prevents the reader from truly becoming enveloped into the story. This story is also predictable. The reader can anticipate every single story beat in this issue. This leads Superman #42 to being a rather boring reading experience.
Now, I am not saying that every single comic book must be packed full of constant surprises that stun and surprise the reader. If a story has a compelling premise, strong dialogue and captivating character work then a reader can still enjoy the issue even if the plot beats are predictable. Unfortunately, those necessary elements are missing in Superman #42.
The character work is utterly absent. Jimmy and Condesa are nothing more than caricatures. Lois? She is reduced to being nothing more than a bitch. There is no nuance to her reaction to Clark keeping the fact that he is Superman a secret from Lois. Lois’ moment of realization that Clark is indeed Superman is fodder for what could be some incredibly compelling scenes. However, Yang failed to capitalize on this potential. Instead, Yang delivers a superficial take on Lois’ discovery of Clark’s secret identity. Lois reacts with a basic bitch attitude and comes off unlikable to the reader.
I believe that what Yang may have wanted to achieve was to show that Lois was hurt that Clark would keep a secret like this from her. That Lois trusted him. That Lois loved him. That Lois believed in him. And that these strong emotions lead her to being hurt. Nobody enjoys being lied to even when it is for their own good. However, Yang fails to mine any of this wonderful character building moments and instead has Lois act like a bitch with little depth or multi-textured take on her character.
Clark is equally devoid of any character development. Clark is as vanilla as characters come. I like a campy Clark Kent that has plenty of Silver Age goofiness to his character. That is the essential and endearing quality of Clark Kent’s character. However, all Yang gives us is a bland bowl of cold oatmeal with his take on Clark’s character. There is little to nothing about Clark that would interest the reader or captivate their attention.
And Clark’s interaction with Lois in this issue? As shallow and undeveloped as Lois’ character. Poor Clark comes across like a chump. He takes Lois’ abuse like an abused puppy. A little more passion from Clark while he defends his decision to keep his secret identity from Lois would have made the scene between them much more compelling. Clark has sound logical reasons to not tell Lois his secret. It would have been nice to see Clark doing a better job of rightfully defending his decision.
What also makes Superman #42 an unexciting read is that the dialogue is generic. None of the characters have much in the way of a unique external voice. The dialogue feels stiff. There is no pleasant flow to the dialogue that helps to pull the reader into the story.
The lack of character work and dull dialogue lead to zero chemistry between any of the characters. And that is an absolute shame when you are dealing with characters like Lois and Clark. Those two characters have massive potential together. And when dealing with such a big topic like Lois learning that Clark is Superman? The chemistry between Lois and Clark should have crackled off the pages of this issue.
Of course, DC’s editorial staff did Yang absolutely no favors with the way they handled the roll out of the new DCYOU direction for the Superman franchise. Seriously. The Action Comics sneak peek was released May, 13, 2015. The Superman sneak peek came out May 27, 2015. Action Comics #42 came out July 1, 2015. DC’s editorial staff’s decision to show the readers what Superman has been doing since he lost many of his powers hamstrung Yang with Superman #42.
Readers have been reading about Superman’s adventures post Superman #42 for two months now. And the basic events of Superman #42 were revealed two months ago. We already knew that Superman’s secret identity was leaked to the public. We already knew that Superman had many of his powers taken from him. We already knew that Lois was angry with Clark. The fact that the reader already knew everything robs the impact of Superman #42. The reader would have been more excited with the events in this issue if everything had not already been spoiled.
Also, the nice hook ending that Yang delivered was rendered impotent. Why does the reader feel the need to come back for the next issue? We already know what happens to Superman after this issue. The absolutely bizarre rollout of the DCYOU direction for the Superman franchise continues to boggle the mind. It appears that DC’s editorial staff continue to haphazardly plan new directions with little forethought or planning for the long-term.
Romita’s artwork is always a hot button topic. People usually love it or hate it. Me? I am not much of a fan of Romita’s artwork. It looks too sloppy and rushed. The details are sparse as most of the panels are delivered in a rough sketch format. I also dislike that there is next to zero background detailing in the panels.
Overall: Superman #42 was an average read. Since this issue offers little in the way of new plot development readers can easily skip this issue and not miss much. The super hero comic market is a tough and brutal market. There are so many great options before the reader these days. Issues like Superman #42 that offer a middle of the road read are easy to pass over. With an expensive $4.00 cover price, Superman #42 has to deliver more of an interesting and creative story in order to justify such a price tag. Unfortunately, it does not.