Sunday, August 11, 2002

Superman: Our Worlds at War Book One - Since I wasn't paying attention to comics last summer I missed this big crossover event which normally isn't something to regret. But reading about the repercussions of this made it sound like something of possible interest. Oops, wrong. This tpb collects ten issues focusing on Superman and it's an opaque, haphazard mess. Much of the narrative is twisted simpy to put Superman into fighting situtations which is annoying enough but the writers generally don't even bother to make clear what's happening in the overall story. Maybe long time readers already know who Imperiex is (four syllables, sounds like Galactus) but there just seems to be a lot of punching and explosions for no real reason. (& it's oddly squeamish: Topeka is "nuked" but the aftermath mostly looks like just a really rough riot.) At one instance, the entire JLA just appears seemingly from nowhere. The artwork even contributes to the confusion: Aquaman's "death" turns out to be nothing of the sort; he simply vanishes from his armor though the art obscures this fact just as surely as the writers did about who Aquaman was fighting and why.

But it gets worse. Two entire issues thread their stories with the texts from the Gettysburg Address and Roosevelt's speech to Congress on Pearl Harbor. It's hard to know whether to be amused by the desperation of the creators grasping at anything that could make their third-rate tales seem exciting or to be appalled at the hubris revealed. Apparently the writers felt their lives lacked enough ridicule and humiliation.

But then in the final pages you get hints that the story might be pulling together into an exploration of Superman facing some kind of real moral choices. But somehow I doubt that.