T. Kyle King’s published work ranges from newspaper columns to film reviews and from short stories to law review articles. Most notably, he served as a site manager and staff writer at DawgSports.com, a daily weblog devoted to University of Georgia athletics, from 2006 to 2013, and he is the author of a book about the history of the college football rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers published by Clemson University Digital Press in 2013. Kyle is a lifelong comic book fan whose thoughts on comic books previously have appeared at ComicsVerse, Progressive Boink, and the Superman Homepage. Kyle is a Superman guy.
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Superman #13 wrapped up the Super-Monster story arc last Wednesday. Storytellers Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason once again were joined by penciller Doug Mahnke for an adventure pairing the Action Ace and Lois Lane with S.H.A.D.E. agent Frankenstein and his former wife, the bounty-hunting Bride. ComiConverse’s Krypton correspondent, T. Kyle King, offers his thoughts on the latest installment.
(Warning: Spoilers follow!)
Superman #13 Review:
An unwelcome alien interloper has been apprehended by the undead agent of S.H.A.D.E., but can Frankenstein keep his quarry after his ex-wife arrives to claim the detainee as her prize? What will Superman and Lois have to do to protect their bucolic community from law enforcement monsters and sinister offworlders?
Superman #13 Synopsis:
Frankenstein reveals that apparent Hamilton Horn publisher Candice actually is interplanetary war criminal Kroog in disguise. Lois demands to know where her friend really is, but, before the S.H.A.D.E. enforcer can depart with his prisoner, the Bride shows up to take Kroog into custody herself. The monsters’ ensuing battle with one another allows the alien antagonist to escape.
After asking about the breakdown between the Bride and her former husband, Lois heads off to release the kidnapped Candice. Superman and the monsters team up to pursue the fugitive, finally finding Kroog as the creature attempts to flee Earth in a hidden spaceship. Once the villain is recaptured, Frankenstein’s attempt to reconcile with the Bride is rebuffed, and the agent of S.H.A.D.E. allows the bounty hunter to take charge of Kroog.
Superman #13 Analysis:
The artwork of Super-Monster — Part Two is fairly typical for an issue pencilled by Mahnke and colored by Wil Quintana, both in its strengths and in its weaknesses. On the plus side, the layouts are solid, the movement is fluid, the action is explosive, and the tints are luminous. Even though a trio of inkers contributed to the finished graphics, the overall unity of imagery in Superman #13 does not suffer as a result. On the minus side, though, the general visual tenor of this issue is evocative of a provocative Rob Liefeld Renaissance, as nearly every panel showcases either biceps and breasts or grimaces and gore. Revisiting characters and storylines from the ‘90s has been a strength of Rebirth, but any hint of reviving the look and tone of the Dark Age is an unwelcome development.
Likewise, the story of Superman #13 had both notable highlights and distinct difficulties. The action is steady and rapid, and Super-Monster — Part Two features some genuinely amusing (albeit often dark) humor. The contrast between the conclusions for both couples is emotionally compelling. Unfortunately, though, the story hit more than a few speed bumps along the way, including a weird gender-ambiguity to the inconsistent pronouns used when referring to Kroog. The fundamental trouble, though, has to do with timing, starting with the fact that — although Lois’s resourcefulness makes her ideally suited to star in a certain sort of Christmas story — Frankenstein seems more seasonally appropriate for Halloween, doesn’t he?
Worse still, Superman #13 simply moved too quickly, necessitating that the writers assume too much reader familiarity with the guest stars’ unrelated backstory and requiring reliance on such plot contrivances as Lois taking Frankenstein’s bike to town (rather than letting the Man of Tomorrow fly her there) in order to force the Last Son of Krypton to remain with the monsters while the S.H.A.D.E. agent hitches a ride with his estranged ex-wife. Finally, and most distressingly, as soon as Kroog was unmasked, Superman and Lois Lane both ceased engaging in critical thinking and jumped to conclusions without letting the purple-skinned alien state his or her case.
Lois, who has no way of knowing whether Candice has been the alien’s front all along, angrily punches the constrained Kroog before barking at Frankenstein to “get this vile creature out of my sight!” The Big Blue Boy Scout isn’t interested in hearing the captive’s protests that the charges are false and political prisoners have rights; he accepts S.H.A.D.E.’s version of events at face value and expresses pleasure that Kroog was “finally brought to justice.” Superman usually looks for the good in others, and Lois typically searches beneath the surface for the truth, but, in Super-Monster — Part Two, the lead characters’ reactions are embarrassing and irrational, detracting substantially from what should have been a better issue.
Were you similarly unimpressed with the undead adventure in Superman #13?
ComiConverse with us in the comments and let us know your thoughts on the most recent issue!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
This issue was a mixed bag of solid action and good humor marred by forced plot developments and inconsistent characterization.