Superman is locked up in the same prison he had designed for Lex Luthor (a nice callback). Batman, Cyborg, Dr. Veritas and Lex Luthor are studying him, hoping to contain the Doomsday virus. Lois Lane arrives for an interview with Superman, angering Lex. But none of them know that Lois is under the control of Brainiac, who gives Superman the hypnotic suggestion to break out of prison and help the Teen Titans. The Titans are battling a rogue suit of armor named Detritus. Superman smashes the monstrosity easily, frightening the teenage superheroes. The issue ends with both Superman and the Titans realizing there is something seriously wrong with the Big Blue Boyscout (again).
I liked this issue much more than I was expecting. I’ve found the quality of Scott Lobdell’s work to wildly vary in the past. He writes a meaner and leaner Superman than Greg Pak, which I don’t much care for. I was not looking forward to seeing his Superman in a story designed to be even darker and “edgier” than usual. But it turns out Lobdell’s characterization works much better in a storyline about Superman turning evil. Lobdell’s punchier style also keeps this book from feeling dull in an issue where nothing much in the way of plot development happens.
It was also great to see so many people concerned about Superman. We see Superman being cared for by Batman and Dr Ray Palmer (who teamed up with Supes in Batman/Superman #10). Wonder Woman and Lois Lane both express worry about Superman (even if Lois is under the control of Brainiac) and comfort each other instead of getting into a predictable catfight. Even Dr. Veritas, foreshadowed as a villain many times, is agitated by her inability to help.
Superscientist Dr. Veritas is described by Superman as having a “quantum intellect”. Given that one of the few definitions of “quantum” is “smallest possible” I don’t think that’s what the Boy Scout in Blue was going for. I really hate it when writers throw around scientific terms they don’t understand. Don’t get me wrong, I love techno-babble but I’d like writers to have at least some they were talking about when it comes to real, actual science.
The Doomsday spikes. They come and go at random. I know Superman gained a small measure of control over the virus but it’s still very distracting to see him look different from one panel to the next. What’s even worse are the Doomsday spikes on his chin. In some panels they look like the world’s most annoying hipster beard.
The Teen Titans’ horrified reaction to Superman smashing “Detritus” the rogue body armor seems completely unwarranted. The comic goes out of its way to tell us that Detritus isn’t alive or sentient, so what’s the problem with him being turned into scrap metal? No one else got hurt in the blast, not even the Titans standing right next to it. Were they scared of how quickly Superman finished the job? He’s Superman! He’s supposed to be inhumanly fast and strong! They could have been terrified of Superman’s slightly altered appearance, but a good half of their members look even stranger.
Although on second thoughts, it might have just been a reaction to the Doomsday beard. Yeah, that’s probably it.
Lois Lane as Brainiac’s drone looks too much like She-Hulk. The bright green skin, the toned muscles, the torn clothing…it’s all too distracting.
SUPERMAN #30 is fairly enjoyable, although it is possible to skip.