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: The Coming of the Supermen #6 hit the stands this week, bringing to a close Neal Adams’s limited series paying homage to Jack Kirby’s additions to the legacy of the Man of Steel. ComiConverse’s Action Ace archivist, T. Kyle King, brings you his thoughts on the finale.
After five baffling issues in the inscrutable epic, Adams was left with just 22 pages to tie together all the dangling plot threads and make sense of the numerous characters’ machinations. The last issue is entitled Answers! — but can the iconic writer/artist make good on that promise?
After ostensibly incinerating his antagonist at the end of the previous installment, an outraged Darkseid is subjected to the further mockery of an hysterically laughing Lex Luthor. In his fury, the Lord of Apokolips lets slip the revelation that Earth gave birth to the grandeur of his domain. Darkseid and Luthor reveal the ways they have doubled-crossed each other in the course of their short-lived alliance.
The dragon-like prophet reappears, offering insights Darkseid understands but Superman does not. The true identities of Rafi and his dog are revealed just in time for the New Gods and the Kryptonians to turn back an assault by the forces of Apokolips. Once Superman destroys Darkseid’s Boom Tube, the characters offer the hero brief words of explanation — all except Luthor, who keeps a shocking realization to himself.
Analysis (WITH SPOILERS!):
If comic book story titles were subject to truth-in-advertising laws, Neal Adams would be facing a fine for the deceptively mislabeled Answers! In reality, after the cliffhanger ending of the first issue set the stage for a big finish, Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #6 failed satisfactorily to conclude any of the storylines the series’ creator set into motion.
The fifth issue indicated pretty unmistakably that Darkseid had reduced Luthor to cinders, but the bald mad scientist is back at the beginning of the final installment, giggling like a ninny and dodging further furious salvos without explanation. Incensed, the evil New God exclaims that Earth “birthed the greatness that is Apokolips,” which presumably has something to do with the Egyptian flashback at the outset of the series, although neither Darkseid’s revelation nor that earlier exposition ever receives further clarification.
Whereas the foregoing plot points were merely ignored, the rest were largely undone. Luthor’s red sun mote will wear off. The series’ titular trio is largely ancillary to the action of Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #6, but the costumed Kandorians show up to say that “Metron’s underground railroad led back to New Krypton, and then… back to Earth.” The overrated indestructibility of the Boom Tube, after being overemphasized ad infinitum, allows Kal-El to turn the technology inside-out, making Nibiru suddenly safe both for New Krypton and New Genesis. Darkseid loses, shuts up mid-rant, and wordlessly walks away. It is all very pat — and equally incoherent.
Everything else about Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #6 is sheer nonsense. Darkseid and the demonic messenger share a cryptic exchange that illuminates nothing. Orion punches the Man of Steel for no real reason, providing the rationalization that he planted a previous plan into Darkseid’s mind “to play for time.” Rafi turns out to be the Highfather’s grandson, and Izaya the Inheritor insists he assumed the form of the puppy to protect him — which, apparently, didn’t include rescuing him from Granny Goodness, but it gave Adams an easy way to get the kid out of the picture.
Throughout it all, Superman is both amused and bemused, musing that he is “going to remember every second of this day”, yet reflecting ultimately that he has “no real answers at all.” Yeah, you and me both, Clark. Adams deepens the confusion by having the bat-winged angel acknowledge that he was there to “keep a journal” recording “all of your… progress.” Luthor gets the last word in Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #6, thinking to himself that the Kandorian blood samples he collected earlier prove “that you are all human!” Answers! thus provides the most maddening series finale since Twin Peaks.
Although the issue features several nice bits of banter that offer quick-hit insights into the majesty of the Man of Steel, their impact is blunted by the jumbled muddle of the story. Likewise, although a handful of panels serve as reminders of Adams’s artistic prowess, the graphics too often appear as hurried and unfinished as the script. All these factors, plus a few disordered word balloons, produce the inevitable assessment that Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #6 is Batman: Odyssey without the Keurig coffee.
Answers! offered only questions, to which you should feel free to respond in the comments. ComiConverse with us by sharing your thoughts on Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #6!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Every aspect of this series declined in quality between the first issue and this one, which was a ridiculous meaningless mess.