Review: Superman #8

[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]

Writers: Peter J. Tomasi  & Patrick Gleason
Penciller
: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Jaime Mendoza

Summary
This issue opens with Superman and his son, Superboy ,in the Fortress of Solitude, working on Jon’s science project for school. The project is meant to be a flying saucer, based on a design that came to Jon in a dream. Once the saucer is built, it takes off without having even been programmed and attempts to assimilate some of the Fortress’ Kryptonian crystals before it is stopped by Krypto the dog.

In attempting to take the device away from Krypto, it is broken and a sudden burst of energy transports Jon, Clark, Krypto, and the device to an unknown island.

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The device takes off, and they follow after it. They encounter a giant prehistoric fish that swallows Superman. Luckily, Clark is able to escape without killing the creature. They return to the island to try to figure out what’s going on, finding the wrecks of a World War II era American tank and Japanese airplane along with the remains of their crews. Attempting to leave the island for the nearest mainland, they find themselves trapped by a fog that makes it impossible to find their way away from the island. They also run into a flock of pterodactyls, which they have to fight off.

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Back on the island, they find that the pterodactyls are afraid of something in the area, causing them to back off and leave the Super-Family alone. Investigating further, they find the skeleton whose dog tags identify as John Cloud. They also find more graves and the remains of a dog.  They then find a message that confirms what longtime DC readers may have already figured out from the ample amount of clues, that these unfortunate soldiers are the original Losers: Capt. Storm, Johnny Cloud, Gunner and Sarge, and Pooch (a.k.a. Fighting Devil Dog). Also, the title confirms that the island is longtime DC staple Dinosaur Island (or “the Island That Time Forgot”).

Positives
Part of DC’s Rebirth agenda is revisiting obscure pre-Flashpoint (or pre-Crisis) corners of the DC Universe, cementing their place in the New 52 reality. This issue, we learn the final fate of the Losers. Also, Dinosaur Island has popped up now and again in the DC Universe, from stories set in WWII up to the present.

Also, I am happy that Jon continues to be a central part of the book. Being that Superman is the title character, I was worried that once the story line focusing on Jon ended, that he might retreat into being a supporting character. Hopefully both Jon and Lois remain at the center of the title along with Superman.

I also like that even in the thick of the action, the book retains a sense of playful humour. One amusing example comes after Krypto is swallowed by a pterodactyl, causing Jon to later ask him, “What is it with you and getting eaten all the time?”

Negatives
Lois was nowhere to be seen this issue, but that’s a minor quibble. But her temporary absence is acceptable, and likely to happen once in a while, considering that she doesn’t have powers and won’t be able to follow the rest of her family into action. I trust that the creative team will find ways to keep her central to the title despite not being a superheroine herself.

Also, a minor quibble is that Jon’s science project seems quite complex for something designed by a grade schooler. I understand that some outside force seems to have planted the design in his head, but I think Clark should have been able to see that something that complex seems beyond the capabilities of a wholly human child’s abilities. I would have expected Clark to try to convince Jon to scale the complexity back to something a normal preteen would create. On the other hand, technology in the DC Universe is generally well advanced beyond that in real life, so maybe I’m reading a bit too much into this.

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Verdict
Once again, this is my favourite book of the current crop. It perfectly reflects DC’s Rebirth ethos by taking us for a walk down memory lane while adding to the mythos of Superman and the new Superboy – an amalgamation of the old and the new.

4outof5

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Derek McNeil

I have been an avid reader of DC Comics since the early 70s. My earliest exposure was to Batman and Superman comics, Batman (Adam West) reruns, and watching the Super-Friends every Saturday morning.