Review: Superman #16

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

Writers: Peter J. Tomasi  & Patrick Gleason
Art
: Tony S. Daniel, Clay Mann,  Sandu Florea, & Seth Mann

Summary
Last issue, just as the villain prophecy was about to attack the Justice League Incarnate’s ship, the Ultima Thule, Superman had teleported the League back to their headquarters to face Prophecy alone. At the start of this story, Superman has been defeated and captured by Prophecy, who drains his powers.

Prophecy is confused by Superman, who clearly has the appearance and powers of a Superman, but does not appear on his Master Lyst, a list of all the Supermen and Superwomen across the Multiverse. However, he drains Clark’s power anyway.

Prophecy explains that he is stealing all the power of the Multiverse’s Supermen to gain the power to save his own world from a looming threat to the entire Multiverse. When Superman asks about all the other worlds, Prophecy says he will only consider saving them after his own world is safe.

Prophecy scans the Ultima Thule, and finds that it doesn’t contain anything that would threaten him, so he forbears from destroying it, despite finding the music that emanates from it to be annoying.

Now that he is done with Superman, Prophecy tosses him into the Grave of Supermen with the other drained Supermen and Superwomen. This is a pit that is being dug by the drained Superbeings intended to literally be their grave.

Meanwhile, the Justice League Incarnate arrive back at the Orrery, to the surprise of Red Racer, who is essentially the Flash of Earth 36, who had been left behind to man the station.

As they discuss what their next action should be, they hear the music from the Ultima Thule. The music is a homing signal, so that the Justice League Incarnate can find Superman and the other previously captured Supermen.

Unfortunately, they don’t have a way to get there, as the Ultima Thule was their only vehicle capable of travelling between universes. They have the plans to build another, but it would take a thousand years to build it.

Red Racer instructs the others to gather building materials, and he uses his super powers to compress the thousand years and build a new ship in minutes. However, this costs him his life, as he ages a millennium over those minutes.

As Red Racer builds the ship, Kenan Kong (from New Super-Man) is tossed into the pit. Superman explains his plan to him and the other Supermen. Prophecy orders his servants to execute the Supermen and bury them in the pit.

Just then, the Justice League Incarnate arrives to attack Prophecy. Once he is distracted, the Supermen and Superwomen fell their powers returning, and join the fight.

Prophecy still has power he drained from them, which he shoots from his hand. The Supermen turn this power against him, then amputate the hand, disabling his ability to use his remaining power against them.

But no sooner than they have defeated him, he vanishes. The Supermen cannot tell where he went, but are hopeful that he is no longer a threat to them. Also, they hope that the threat Prophecy was preparing to face was only a figment of his imagination.

With Prophecy dealt with, the Justice League Incarnate sets out to return each Superman and Superwoman to their own Earths, starting with New Earth – home to Clark and Kong Kenan.

Back on Earth, Clark spends a bit of time in China bonding with Kong Kenan, offering to answer any questions the new Super-Man has.

Elsewhere, we find out where Prophecy disappeared to. Like Tim Drake and Doomsday, he has been abducted by the mysterious Mr. Oz. Mr. Oz is impressed with his prisoner’s willingness to fight against an unbeatable foe, but is less impressed with his plan for doing so.

Positives
There’s definitely a connection between the events of this story arc and the Rebirth storyline. Mr. Oz once again abducts a character, but his motivation for abducting Prophecy isn’t made clear. Is he removing Prophecy to keep him from influencing events, as he claimed was his motivation for Tim Drake’s abduction? Or does he have a plan that will make use of Prophecy?

Also curious is the question why Superman isn’t on Prophecy’s Master Lyst. My take on it is that the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe, isn’t a separate alternate universe from the New 52 Earth (New Earth), but rather the same universe that has been altered by the Flashpoint event and the mysterious being hinted at in DC Universe: Rebirth #1. Thus, Superman is something different that just an alternate Earth’s version of the New 52 Superman.

Also, it was good to see that Clark was welcoming of Kong Kenan’s using the name Super-Man. Clark is not jealous of the role of Superman and is willing to share it with anyone that lives up to the ideals it is based on.

Also, this story implies that Captain Carrot is the “Superman” of Earth-C/Earth 26. This makes senses, as his powers are similar, and he is the most prominent super-being of his Earth. I doubt this detail will have any impact on the DC Multiverse, but it’s a nice nod to have the character recognized as his world’s Superman.

Negatives
Nothing negative, other than the continued absence of Lois and Jon. But now that Clark’s adventure in the Multiverse is over and he’s back in the main DCU, I’m sure they will be back for next issue.

Verdict
This was a great romp with tons of alternate Earth Supermen along for the ride, and a bit of foreshadowing about the Rebirth storyline. This was another astounding issue in what is one of DC’s foremost series.

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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.