WARNING: (VERY MILD) SPOILERS
Ulysses, the new superhero on the block, has an emotional reunion with his parents. Later, Superman teams up with him to discover who’s been attacking Metropolis (this week).
You know that moment in a war or action movie where everything seems to be going a little too well? Like the sun is shining, the protagonists are smiling, the bad guys are nowhere to be seen, and you just know something horrible is going to happen? It’s the sensation of being set up for a fall.
That’s what it’s like to read the first half of “SUPERMAN #34”. Things almost seem to be too happy. Geoff Johns sets up the perfect moments for angst, and then veers away from them every time. Even if we were still in the Post-Crisis DC and not the grim New 52, I’d be waiting for the pin to drop. I almost read this by peeking out from between my fingers. Not that I’m complaining. The scenes between Ulysses, his parents and Superman are the most touching and heartfelt I’ve read in a comic for some time. Even if everything between them does go to hell, it’ll be electrifying for this great issue of building emotional investment.
Also, I know I’ve made fun of John Romita Jr.’s artwork before, but I should clarify that I don’t hate it. (I just mock it because on the occasions he does screw up, it’s more noticeable than most other artists.) I’m actually getting more and more fond of it as I go along. It’s a much different from the undeniably impressive but still depressingly uniform style most DC artists use. His Superman looks great in action. Plus I love the Machinist’s look. (I think it’s the comfortable leather that does it for me. Such a relief from the endless spandex.)
Speaking of the Machinist, the motive Johns gives him is fairly clever; he’s not sending endless robots to Metropolis to conquer it. He’s giving his weapon-building skills free advertising by fighting Superman. If one of his creations can last ten minutes against Superman, imagine what they could do agianst anyone else?
I’m not sure about Ulysses’s decision to attempt to kill the Machinist. It doesn’t seem like something a person raised in a universe without hate or violence would do.
I also have two small nitpicks: 1) Why does Superman need to sleep when Supergirl doesn’t? 2) The line of “I am the Machinist. This is the Factory. These are my merchandise.” grated for how bland it was. “The Machinist” is a fine supervillain name, but does he have to call his hideout “the Factory”? Add that to the staccato rhythm and repetitive nature of the those three sentences and you’ve got yourself some awkward writing.
“SUPERMAN #34” is a great issue in a promising series.