Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Shit My Possibly Racist Time Traveling Mutant Grandpa Says

It's been a while since we checked in on the Unity Team, and I figure we're about due. My feeling on this title so far has been mixed. I admittedly have deeper ties as a reader to most of this lineup of characters than anything else I've written for the blog to date, but I've yet to feel more than okay about this book. Of course, compared to its previous two volumes, I can say I like it quite a lot, but on its own merits, it's only a solid "okay." Of course, at the end of last issue we saw the introduction of this team's sixth ranger, the man called Cable. Whether he proves to be this book's missing ingredient or a flavor that overpowers the rest of the team remains to be seen. Of course, naming the issue "Too Many Cooks" gives a good sense of where this is leading.

The cover is fairly straightforward. It's Cable. Holding a big freaking gun pointed in the reader's face. There really isn't much to elaborate on other than the fact that he has an Avengers insignia on his chest where he'd normally have an X badge. So, there's very little mystery whether or not he's joining the team. I do have to wonder why his body language has his legs spread so wide apart. I mean, he ends up in that pose a lot. Is it because those BFG's he carries around are so heavy that they lower his center of gravity or does he simply take manspreading to a new level?

The issue starts off with Brother Voodoo and Quicksilver. They're standing under a massive tree under the unearthly red skies of Boston. Pietro is bragging about how easily he took out the Shredded Man. If that doesn't sound at all the way things played out at the end of the last issue, then congratulations for paying attention.

Aw, Pietro's getting better at making friends...
Brother Voodoo is less than delicate in pointing out the discrepancy. As soon as he points out that Quicksilver didn't exactly survive that encounter, the next thing Quicksilver knows, he surrounded by the grasping hands of demons. Considering Marvel has long established that the appearance of hell / hell dimensions are subjective, and moments ago everything was honky dory for Quicky's afterlife experience, I'm just going to rule this sudden shift as being Brother Voodoo having a flair for the dramatic. In short order, Jericho pulls Pietro away from the throng of demons, pulls open the veil between this life and the next and they escape. Interestingly, as they flee, Voodoo tells Quicksilver not to look back. It feels very reminiscent of the story of Orpheus and makes me wonder whether Haitian mythology has a similar myth. Once they're gone, an ominous demonic voice says that Voodoo owes him a life and that he'll seem him/her soon.

As far as hellscapes go, this is underplayed, but effective. If you hadn't looked at the recap or read the previous issue immediately before this, the turn really can take you buy surprise and feels disturbing without feeling too graphic. It gives you just enough of a tease for the future story they're setting up here.
The afterlife are big believers in "take a penny, leave a penny."
Back in the land of the living, Deadpool is administering CPR to Quicksilver's body. Once revived,, I find it funny that Quicksilver is so used to the life of being a superhero that he doesn't even acknowledge Deadpool for his medically resuscitation, but thanks Brother Voodoo for his mystic mojo. He also asks what that  voice they heard as they left was. Voodoo's response is vague and portentous, and also avoids gender pronouns, which makes me think the creative team hadn't figured out who this was by the time the issue hit the printing press.

Deadpool's defining trait on a team book seems to be
solidarity with the boss.
Now that their teammate is out of mortal peril, they rejoin Synapse and Rogue, who is attempting to handle crowd control The citizens of Boston are scared and the team is trying to main a quarantine. Now, I love Rogue. She has many admirable qualities. She has an unorthodox leadership style and can do wonders under less than ideal circumstances, has some killer fashion sense, can really turn a phrase, and is hella sassy  However, being the public face of a team and reassuring the public are not really in her repertoire. Her words of reassurance are interrupted by someone pelting her with garbage and shouting "Go home, mutie!"

This splash page would feel earned if both this
issue's cover and last issue's final page
reveal hadn't done the exact same thing.
Deadpool goes on the defensive. He's been tangential to mutant narratives for so long that I'm sure he has a strong sense of mutant solidarity. Either that or he shows her the same amount of respect as team leader as he has shown Wolvie and Cap in the past. Rogue calls him off, though.

The crowd suddenly bolts, a pack of veggie hellhounds are headed for them. The team lines up to block them off at the pass when they are surprised by the arrival of (one of) the X-Men's own time traveling continuity snarl, Cable. Deadpool shouts out his name and it appears fully illustrated in big blocky bubble letters. Had you been reading this in a trade, that would have been the second time that happened in under 10 pages. Cable fires off his BFG with a widespread blast that neutralizes the oncoming devil dogs.

Cable is inches away from being your offensive grandpa.
There is a funny exchange in which Synapse fulfills her role as Ensign Newbie to perfection. Cable is unfamiliar with her and asks her what her shtick is. Upon description, Cable replies, "Okay, well... we can't all be winners." I know she's probably good at what she does, but it is funny to watch a grizzled old vet blow the wind out of her sails so off-hand like that.

Deadpool pals around with Cable while Cable attempts to strongarm the team, but Rogue isn't having it. She may not break the fourth wall like Deadpool or She-Hulk can, but she has a long history of leaning on it, being very genre savvy. She knows how superheroing works. She knows what's what. So, seeing Deadpool and Cable in a room together, she's not going to stand for this serviceable if dysfunctional team book to turn into an anti-hero shit show on her watch.
Rogue doesn't wink at the fourth wall. She rolls her eyes at it.
It's honestly odd how immediately adversarial Rogue and Cable are in this this scene, considering the last time the two ended up on a lineup together, Rogue handpicked Cable and he was pretty much her Number Two. Then again, Rogue has been frustrated with a team consistently fails to follow her leadership since the start of this volume, so Cable showing up and attempting to commandeer command is probably the straw breaking the camel's back. Still, considering the shared background of career X-characters, her accusing Cable of being reason for the mission's failure and throwing in that he's a suspected terrorist feels like one twist of the knife too many. Yes, I know. Rogue is one of my earliest comic book loves and perhaps I'm a little over-protective, but this honestly doesn't sound true to her voice.
"Being awful is my shtick, you two! Now play nice!"
Quicksilver steps in and taking his cue from Rogue also leans on the fourth wall a bit by commenting on how low things have gotten that he's the one that has to be the peacemaker. This isn't quite my ideal Quicksilver (weaponized snark/smarm/delight for the forces of [mostly] good), but I do appreciate that he references the fact that he's supposed to be the jerky one when attempting to de-escalate a confrontation.

Despite resolving to work together, there is still a bit of a dick waving undertone to Rogue and Cable's argument for another half a page before Deadpool runs out of patience and takes off his mask, exposing his gruesome visage for a mic drop. I like the idea, at least in the instance, that he kind of treats his mask as a clown face, something he can hide behind as he cracks wise, but when he wants to be taken seriously unequivocally, he removes the facade. Although, I think that could get tired real fast if he does that every time.

"Get this plot moving again or I'll make you look at this all day!"
Cable points out that the cellular structure of the animals he's been periodically shooting are closer to plants than animals. Cable's AI, Belle, chimes in that future intel cites them as what causes the contagion to spread. Deadpool is stricken by her and asks if Cable brought everyone Tamagotchis. Now, in case you don't recall from last time, Belle appears as an animated bombshell pin-up girl tattoo (or maybe fridge magnet, since she's on his metallic arm). A tamagotchi is a virtual pet with rudimentary animation built into a key chain fob. This causes me to question whether Deadpool has ever seen a Tamagotchi. Or even a Giga Pet.

Cable hands off an enzyme inhibitor (read: antidote) to Quicksilver, who rushes it off to MIT where the Human Torch has his newly recruited think tank working on the current crisis. Yeah, I almost forgot he was on this team, too. I get that he did have a good idea to enlist their aid, since this lineup is devoid of your typical Marvel big brains, but why is he still slumming with the grad students? His firepower would be pretty damn useful against plant life and there is someone else on the team who can shuttle from the battleground to the staging area in seconds. I'm convinced that in the wake of Secret Wars, with the Fantastic Four team effectively dissolved, Ben and Johnny were foisted onto other titles by editorial edict, and Duggan and Stegman just don't know what to do with him. His arc in this story was the realization that when in doubt, there's always another egghead. And that was treated like a glorious epiphany.

Quicksilver has barely sped off when the team is confronted by their foe The Shredded Man. Cable blasts a hole straight through his midsection, but he's apparently more plant than man at this point, so no harm, no foul. Rogue rushes upon him for some good old-fashioned fisticuffs, but is swatted away without any strain. He doesn't even stutter in his evil monologue. Brother Voodoo, whose magic might be effective in this scenario is more focused on Shredded Man's security-guard-turned-plant-zombie-henchman to be much use in the fight.
Brother Voodoo: "Supernatural Zombies? No prob.
Plant zombies? OMG WTF We're all gonna die!"
Correction: Cable is inches away from being your offensive racist grandpa.
Weary of smacking them down and delivering villain speeches, Shredded Man releases a green cloud of incredibly potent neurotoxins and psychoactive spores into the air and walks away, regretting that they didn't put up more of a fight. Deadpool, Brother Voodoo, and Rogue are K.O.'ed. Cable put on a rebreather before he could be effective and Synapse is immune. How convenient for her. Belle reports that Rogue is in critical condition (most likely, the M-Pox has a side effect of weakening her immune system) and ought to be the focus, provided Cable chooses not to pursue Shredded Man. Well, Cable is a gruff and a bit of a hard ass, but he isn't a total jerk, so he sends Synapse (while making a withering jab about her Inhuman heritage) after Shreddy while he administers doses of the formula he cooked up to the effected team members.

As Synapse chases after the Shredded Man, for the first time since her debut, we get a look inside her head. It's a scant glimpse, but for the past few issues, she's been, if not a mystery, than certainly an unknown quantity. She certainly doesn't like that Cable has showed up and instantly started ordering her about, but more to the point, she recognizes the fact that a time traveler stepping in means that she failed and she really doesn't like that. Something tells me in her civilian life, she is some sort of student prodigy, or at the very least a perfectionist.
Synapse doesn't want to be here. Neither do the readers, full disclosure.

I think more telling than anything else though is the fact that she thinks, "he represents everything I've feared ever since Captain Rogers dragged me onto the team." That one sentence, even without going into further detail is just very packed with insight into her character. She's not confident about her place on the team and has had underlying worries about what could happen as a superhero. There's a strong implication that she was recruited either reluctantly or maybe even drafted against her will. She can see the bigger picture or at least recognizes symbolism. For a character whose powerset centers around the mind, the fact that she as a person can't tamp down the irrational side of her own mind that can recognize ill omens, and portents speaks very much to who she is: someone who is in way over her head.

I do like that we have this moment, considering we desperately need to make her feel like less of a cipher and more of a fully realized character in this lineup. However, this is the first and only time in the issue (though quite possibly significantly the second time in the arc) that we get to see some of our characters' internality.

Her thoughts are cut short when she meets up with her quarry, who seems to have been awaiting her. She engages in fisticuffs (the team newbie apparently thinks she has a better shot than Rogue, the team's seasoned brawler) while Shredded man effortlessly deflects he moves as he yammers on about how humanity's time is at an end, mutants are collateral damage, and how he is merely doing the will of the mists. This makes me wonder whether he genuinely has some innate understanding of the Terrigen Mist's purpose that nobody else does or following his Terrigenesis, is he in quasi-religious zealot territory?

Stegman's art goes from grade school to master class as soon as he doesn't have
to bother with realism. Why isn't he working on a monster/zombie title?!
Towards the end of this fight, she pulls off the gas mask he wears. Note that I said he only deflects Synapse's moves, he doesn't actively strike her. It turns out that was meaningful. Following removing his mask, she falls to the ground, staring up at him, shocked, disbelieving what she sees. We turn to a final reveal splash page to reveal (dun-dun-duuuuuun!) her grandfather. Oh. Kay. I bet that would be a better reveal if we knew enough about Synapse for this to feel significant. We only just started getting insight into her personality. We as readers need some sort of understanding into her background in order for this to feel significant. In the past three issues, even just a couple throw away lines here or there about a troubled or broken home since the Terrigen bomb would have set this up beautifully. Fitting in one mention in her date with Pietro and again when she heals the baby, both scenes where the subject of family is either directly mentioned or inferred would have been a great opportunity to set up a good three-beat that would have been paid off here. Instead, we have a reveal that goes out of its way to tell us it's significant without feeling significant.

The most the title has come to establishing this connection is the fact that they are the only two characters thus far who have been given inner monologue narration boxes. Admittedly, I grasping at straws because I want to believe the writer made some effort at being clever with his construction when it's honestly more likely a happy accident. This book can barely maintain its own straightforward narrative from issue to issue (and last time, it gave up halfway through), so I doubt it has the sense of subtle nuance required to form character parallels with its dramatic structure.

I will give this issue credit where it's due, though. As much as I've harped on Stegman's ability to render people (which he kind of fails to do, but he has a future in rendering dolls, action figures, mannequins, and androids), he makes up for it when tasked with rendering body horror (intentionally). That final page with a full beauty shot (meaning it's a close up, not that it's beautiful... although everything is someone's kink) of the Shredded Man is pretty freaking awesome. He's so, for lack of a better term inhuman in his appearance. His skin gone, his skull replaced by something the dried out bark of a dead tree. It's really difficult to make a botanical man look grotesque and not silly, but this one image sells it, even if it looks like it was made for a different, higher quality book. Yet you can still see just enough of the traces of the more human looking man we first met in the prologue of this arc to justify Synapse managing to recognize him.

For the past couple issues, I think I've been on the fence about this title. It's neither brilliant writing, nor is it utter dreck. And mostly I maintain that stance. However, I feel like the gap between good and the bad is widening, leaving a lot of meh betwixt the two extremes. On the one hand, the structure of this arc feels muddled. The pacing is off, almost as if the writer stopped the narrative dead in its tracks last issue to give Cable an excessively long introduction only to give him another such lengthy introduction this issue. Oh, wait. He did. Bad writer. No cookie for you. But on the other hand, the art of that final pages blows everything leading up to it clean out of the water. If only every page had that level of quality. That's ultimately the problem with the series is that the individual issues feel uneven without really achieving either a high or a low. They have their moments, but I kind of feel like I'm reading a title that's marking time instead of progressing in one direction of the other.

and bad in the title is growing more pronounced. The structure of this story feels off. I think it's fair to say stopping half-way through the previous issue's main story in order to provide Cable with an indulgently long introduction only to give him a second introduction in this issue really disrupts the story's pacing. The middle issues of an arc are never the easiest sell, but Duggan and Stegman

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Rita Repulsa Playbook

I think it's fair to say I wasn't exactly keen on the previous issue of DC's Crisis On Infinite Earths. It followed two very strong issues with an installment that was one half punchy kicky montage and another half being a collection of disparate plot threads. The overall whole was more successful as this event's greatest sin, cameo porn, than it was at telling a cohesive, focused chapter in a narrative. I wouldn't say it's the worst installment of the series thus far, but it was definitely a disappointment. However, it did something that Crisis has only done before: an honest to god(s) good, surprising cliffhanger ending. It's quite a change of pace from Wolfman & Perez's customary page-full of purple narration as characters stare solemnly at stuff. Join me as I see how well that cliffhanger pays off in Crisis on Infinite Earths #10.

I had to look at this cover twice. On first blush, it isn't all that impressive; two foes facing each other down in profile. It didn't seem like anything to write home about. Upon closer inspection however, I realized that all those figures that I thought were flying in the distant background are actually not. The Anti-Monitor and the Spectre are enormous. It creates the impression that the heroes and the villains of the DCU are fleas caught between a showdown of two titans. It helps turn a fairly standard "versus" cover with less than exciting body language and makes it feel more epic. Although, it looks like the DC heroes and villains were drawn in as an afterthought. They appear very much to be squeezed haphazardly. They mostly just appear to be floating around and the perspective even makes it appear like a couple of them are being stepped on.

Isn't this just a riveting start to a side-story?
Before I go into the issue proper, I ought to discuss "The Monitor Tapes." It's basically the length of maybe a 4-5 page backup story, but Wolfman and Perez opt to put one panel of the story on the bottom of each and every page of the comic. It's less of a story and more of a collection of anecdotes about how the Crisis has impacted characters that the creative team simply ran out of logical ways to incorporate into this sprawling narrative. Honestly, it would be interesting if it wasn't chopped up and wedged into the bottom of each page. As a result, it both breaks of the momentum of the story and the individual panels of "The Monitor Tapes" feel really disconnected in their own right, as well. I've seen this sort of thing done in other comics, and I've actually been okay with it. This isn't working for me because 1. these snippets don't end up tying into the present action of the issue (with one exception. kinda), and 2. it's a pretty transparent effort to jam puzzle pieces into places they don't fit because this series is contractually obligated to give everyone at least 1 cameo. I may recap it towards the end, but if something plot relevant is mentioned in them, I'll bring it up as we go.

Well, he got his gloating in while he could...
We start right where we left off last issue. Brainiac has just exploded, and Psimon is there gloating at having beaten Lex and Brainiac in his own game. Unfortunately, Psimon likes the sound of his own voice that he gloats for a little too long. From behind, a bolt of energy shoots Psimon in the cranium, shattering his glass-encase skull. His assailant was none other than... Brainiac?! But how...?! It turns out that Brainiac's ship is effectively Brainiac and it just made another body from spare parts. Wow. As a dramatist, that really takes away from the impact of last issue's cliffhanger. It's the equivalent of when your friend thinks he's dying, but it's just heartburn.

Meanwhile, the pink cloud that presumably is bad and reaching back through time has reached Anthro the First Boy. That same cloud seems to be on the now-toxic wasteland that is Earth-4, looking more like the face of planet Venus. Either that or it's a toxic radiation being emitted by Chemo as he looks out on the ocean he has poisoned. A black silhouetted figure is none too pleased with him and flies around him, wrapping him in the energy she flies with. We learn this figure trapping Chemo is Negative Woman of the Doom Patrol. Then Chemo explodes. I think? Down in the fathoms below, Aqualad is rushing the dying Aquagirl to... I don't know where. This isn't his native Earth, and apparently all of Earth-4's heroes (not even sure if Earth-4 had any aquatic heroes) migrated over to Earth-1 and Earth-2, so I don't know what help he expects to find. Over on on the mainland, in Earth-4 NYC analog, Kole of the Teen Titans turns Black Adam into crystal in order to save Dove (as in Hawk and Dove) and Not-Iron-Man Robotman.

Down in Lyla's notes, she introduces a retcon that in addition to the sole survivors of their respective realities, Pariah, Lady Quark, and Alexander Luthor, there is still one other: The Superboy of Earth-Prime. In the DC Multiverse, Earth-Prime is supposed to be the real world. As in here, where we live, where superheroes only appear in the funny books, where I sit here typing a blog post. So ignoring the fact that apparently, in the real world, Kryptonians exists, I gotta say the biggest concern I have about this revelation is that we're all fucked to hell and yet this kid (who will later become a nightmare on the blog) gets to live?
Sneaky way to slip him in under the radar. 

Dove: Great human being.
Stupid superhero.
With Black Adam stuck in crystal form, Robotman plans to smash him to bits, but Dove clearly embodies the "Good is Dumb" trope, but stopping him. My impression of Hawk and Dove is that they are two morally extreme personalities that would have gotten themselves killed if they didn't have each other to help form a functional brain between the two of them.

Over on Earth-S, where this world's super-villain contingent, including all the ice-themed villains, have combined forces to freeze over the entire planet and has the entire Marvel family bound and gagged in their civilian guises. I have to admit that in an era where most heroes were still doing the whole dual identity thing even among their fellow heroes, the fact that Captain Marvel's foes knew who each member of the Marvel clan was is impressive. Or woefully stupid, depending on whose perspective you're taking.

I know nothing about Platinum, but she seems like
she could cut a bitch. 
Phobia, who is one of many villians in this issue who feels inclined to work her name into conversation, keeps the Batson family further controlled by inflicting their greatest fears on them. Fortunately, Martian Manhunter density shifts into their ice fortress, declaring that he's tired of humans and their evil and their lust for power. Almost sounds like he's a little racist against humans. Sigh... Platinum of the Metal Men soon joins the fray and she looks eager to bust some heads. The Atom has been instructed to free Billy Batson, not understanding why. "Shazam!" Where did Billy Batson go? Captain Marvel? How long have you been here.

Over on Earth-X, aka Plant Apocalypse Land, Batman is leading his contingent and wiping the floor against the Penguin, Captain Cold, and assorted B-Listers with relative ease. Lex and Brainiac are less than pleased.

Finally, the fighting ends when The Spectre appears in the heavens across all five Earths, insisting that they stop because their true foe the Anti-Monitor still lives and it is only through their combined forces, as the Monitor had implemented them that they can hope to stop him. I don't know much about the Spectre. I know he's other worldly and is a bit of a spirit of retribution and something of a combat-capable Uatu the Watcher. A Battle Watcher, if you may. Truth be told, he appeared on the very final page of issue #8, but it felt so tacked on and took away from the emotional weight of Barry's death, so I didn't mention it. Was that passive aggressive of me? Maybe. Would it have resulted in better storytelling? Ye gods, yes.
"This is why we can't have nice things!!"
Since our heroes and villains clearly would have no way of figuring out the Anti-Monitor's latest scheme, it's up to the Spectre to spell it out. Those pink skies we've been seeing appearing progressively further back in time since last issue? Yeah, that's the Anti-Monitor making his way back to before the very dawn of time, before the great Oan oopsy-daisy caused the multiverse. From there, he'll change history, so that there will have never been anything but the Evil Anti-Matter Universe.

This portentous warning seems to be what it takes to stop the superhero/supervillain pissing contest. It's like when you're a kid  in the car on a long trip to Disney World, fighting with your sibling(s) in the back seat and your dad threatens to "shut the fuck up and behave yourselves or I'll turn this company-wide crossover event around and go home."

It does seem to be what it takes to get everyone on board. We see Brainiac and Luthor caucusing, agreeing to cooperate for the time being. I find it dubious that they have full command over the United Villain's Front in matters that aren't villainy, but three panels with them is more time efficient than two pages of cameos from 30 villains.

A well-deserved touching moment.
We move to Death Valley of Earth-1, where a two-front counter-offensive against the Anti-Monitor is being staged. Before we engage with that, however, we have a moment with Earth-2's Superman and Lois Lane-Kent. It's a tender, loving moment between the two of them. Considering we now know that Kryptonians are vulnerable to Anti-Matter, or at least in the Evil Anti-Matter Universe, every time he joins the fray, it must feel like he's going on a suicide mission. However, considering Earth-2 Superman is supposed to be the Superman readers first met way back in the day in Action Comics #1, and the version that has been allowed to (sort of) realistically age to the point where they appear as old and familiar as the DCU readers know, there is something special about this moment. As Superman assuages Lois of her fears, Lois says possibly the most defining thing that can be said about them as a set of characters. "You're the world's most relentless boy scout. And I know my problem, too. I wouldn't have it any other way."

A mildly creeper moment.
Unnoticed, Alexander Luthor, now back in his gold suit, watches this exchange at a distance.

With everything in readiness, we have our obligatory page of cameo porn. My favorite of course being Fearsome Five siblings, Shimmer and Mammoth commenting on how they don't like the new Dr. Light, whom we've established on multiple occasions as the best character in DC. I know it's probably because they don't like that she's appropriated the costumed identity of their ex teammate... whom they really didn't like either. I wish this had gone on just another panel longer so that Kimiyo could turn around, give them the stink eye, then turn back to whatever she was doing. However, as it stands, I do appreciate that she's depicted as close enough to hear them and clearly not giving a fuck.

Jay Garrick and Wally West are being fitted with big metal belts that act as power converters. I'm starting to notice a trend of DC's speedsters basically being as utilities. It makes me think that DC's speedsters could easily solve the energy crisis by running on treadmills for an hour in order to charge up electrical grids a few times a week.

They're all ready to get on with the show when we have a last minute addition to our bloated cast of characters in the form of Superboy Prime. Remember that character I mentioned was randomly included in Lyla's notes less than half an issue ago? Well, now he's here. Little did readers know that this would lead to Infinite Crisis...
Superboy-Prime has arrived. So much for cleaning up continuity
We have a panel where Captain Marvel observes Lady Quark and knows she's focused on her anger about her world's destruction and how she blames Pariah. Because that's where her interiority begins and ends, albeit understandably. I'd much have preferred her thoughts in this instance than Captain Marvel's, but it's interesting to note that she is so hyper-focused on Pariah's indirectly dooming her world that all her new peers can read her like a book.
"Good lord. She's at it again."
Uncle Sam is given the task of giving a St. Crispin's Day speech. Because America(?).

And so the plan is underway. The plan that the Spectre set in motion when he told the entire populace of five different Earth's to get their shit together and put on their big boy pants is that one team needs to travel back to the dawn of time to confront the Anti-Monitor. A second team must travel back in time to prevent the Oans from causing the problem in the first place. It occurs to me that if they had focused on stopping the Oans from causing the multiverse, the Anti-Monitor would never have existed and thus never need to be confronted at the dawn of time, but trying to suss out causal logic in a time travel narrative is like forgetting your safety word. It only results in more pain than you really want.

We have two time machines set up. Apparently, these have been out of commission, so they are Macguyvering it. Copper of the Metal men is acting as a conductor while all the assembled electric and magnetic powered characters charge him up. I'm guessing either the Speed Force is an essential ingredient in DC time travel or DC time machines need kinetic energy because Jay and Wally just start running circles around the site.

Superman-1 for some reason can time travel without the aid of a time machine (maybe that's what Jay and Wally are there for) and is taking Alexander Luthor along for the the ride. The two need to get there before everyone else so that Li'l Luthor can open up the way to the Evil Anti-Matter Universe... despite the fact that he hasn't been in possession of his anti-matter powers since his last "Cosmic Moses opening the Red Sea" moment. At this point in the event, the writers are praying your brain is on auto-pilot.

As the two contingents disappear into the timestream, Brainiac is alone in his spaceship, ruminating upon the numerical odds of his survival. It's kind of chilling to realize that the success of the mission has 0.000362% chances of success, he has a 0,00436% chance of survival, but his consciousness has a 0.043% change of survival electronically. I know it's splitting some incredibly thin hairs, but the fact that the entirety of existence might be snuffed out, a very singlemindedly malevolent presence might survive us all.

That middle panel, tho...
Far down below the depths of the oceans, Aqualad beseeches Queen Mera and Lori the mermaid, praying for an update on Tula's status, even though he already knows she's dead. He's grasping at straws, desperate for some way of saving her. It's a textbook example of the bargaining stage of grief. Chagrined, Lori tells him what he's asking is impossible. Despite all the many variously gifted heroes that populate their world, matters of life and death are insuperable. It is a genuinely hard to read moment from characters for whom I honestly have no frame of reference. Well done, Wolfman and Perez.

"Magic Wand! Make my monster
Meanwhile in the cosmic void that is the dawn of time, Team Anti-Anti-Monitor confront a skyscraper-sized Anti-Monitor. He has Pariah encased in a field of energy, which he presumably has been trapped in since he vanished from the UN Building last issue. Pariah attempts to ward away his allies. It turns out that Anti-Monitor had long been expecting them and this was all a part of his plan. I'm honestly wondering where this is going because for a while now, it seems like he's been throwing handfuls of spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. Really, the more I see of him, the more I think he's just a lousy antagonist. I don't think I'd notice it so much if he were a recurring villain who comes back every third story arc, but he is the villain. In the previous nine issues, either his plans have been circumvented or he has been physically rebuffed no fewer than five times. It takes the impact out of your villain if he does nothing but make braggart declarations about how mightily evil and powerful he is and how each thing he does was really his master plan all along, only see him thwarted every other issue. That's bordering on Rita and Zed territory.

See, Lady Quark? It was all a big misunderstanding.
In accordance with the official supervillain handbook, Anti-Monitor monologues, detailing how Pariah's actions didn't trigger his reign of terror, just opened an opportunity that he pounced upon after lying in wait. Both Pariah and Lady Quark get a sense of closure from knowing that this hasn't all been Pariah's fault.

As Anti-Monitor declares (yet again) that he will destroy them all, Earth-1 Superman gives the command for them to attack, The energy projectors start blasting him while all the super-strong characters start smacking his hard candy shell. Over on the sidelines, all the badass normals and non combat-powered characters are being a bunch of looky-loos. Robin asks what they can do to help and Batman says "We can give them hope." Oh. Hope. Thanks, Bats. I would have at least tried the Care Bear Cousins Call, but let's go with hope.
Batman has read The Secret and knows the value of positive thinking.
Meanwhile, all of the villains have been deployed to Oa, where they attempt to stop the scientist Krona's experiment before he breaks the universe and thus creates the multiverse. Oan lives are expendable, so clearly despite cooperating, they're not exactly playing nice. Ancient Oans, however, are telepaths and Team Stop The Oans are quickly outclassed by a psychic whammy. The few that make it through the psi-assault burst through the wall of Krona's lab like the Kool-Aid Man. It's all for naught, though as a well-placed explosion lays them low.
I wonder if their psi abilities are the true origin of the
GLC's power source?
Back in dawn of time, all the characters shooting energy at the Anti-Monitor has served to only make him more powerful. Oops. Well, since that strategy isn't working, let's try something else. The Spectre levels up, growing to the same gargantuan size as Anti-Monitor. In order to support this form, he taps into all the mystically empowered characters to act as a power supply, linking arms as they channel their energies into him.
The Spectre drank all his milk, ate all his veggies, and a bowl of Wheaties...
And it is only at this point that I realize what I am reading is effectively a precursor to a Power Rangers Megazord battle. Maybe I was onto something with comparing Anti-Monitor to Rita and Zed. He spends much of the first half of the series watching the heroes fight his shadow warriors like an army of Putties from the security of a view screen, both Supergirl and the Flash significantly ruin his "Plan A" stratagems. The only thing left for him to do is grow to enormous strength only to be defeated by an equally large manifestation of the team's gestalt efforts.
"By your powers combined, I am... still the Spectre."
It really looks like the heroes have a fighting chance when a window of purple energy appears in the sky. It is Krona of the Oans, his experiment underway. This is what Anti-Monitor has been waiting for. Spectre thinks there is still a chance he just needs more power but as he says this, the world begins to crack and shatter into shards as the issue draws to an end. The narration makes it explicit that this is the end of all that was.
Who was the wiseass who hid the final page of the issue
behind all this crap?

It's not the first time the series has trolled us with this sort of ominous cliffhanger ending and we still have two issues to go, so I won't exactly cry into my diary over this now. It's a page I had to look at a few time because it is so filled with Kirby dots and cosmic energies, that it took me a few passes to figure out what was happening, let alone who was talking. Like I said, last issue's ending while not being cosmically epic the way most of these issues ends worked better because it was clear what was happening and who was in danger. This issue's final page falls back to the series' trend of coupling cosmic, somewhat abstract visuals and foreboding purple narration. Crisis has played this sort of ending within an inch of its life and loses its impact the more Wolfman and Perez return to that well. By the conclusion of this series, I don't want to be mentally on autopilot the way these issue endings mostly have been.

As a whole, I really oughtn't complain too much about this issue. Sure, the first third is dedicated to finishing up the "Villains Assemble" arc, which in and of itself was pointless filler. But even so, this issue has has a lot of forward momentum and knows when it needs a few minutes to breathe. It gets the book back on track both in terms of the overall thrust of the series itself as well as getting back to the more focused attention to its characters that we we saw toward the middle of the series. Although, it doesn't reach what it was. Too much of the creative team's attention is devoted to getting everyone in the DCU back on the same page to have time to really zero in on a couple focal characters. But that's an acceptable cost for getting this story back on track. Reassembling the collected heroes and villains into a unified corps for a common goal doesn't quite have the grandeur and excitement it had the first time they were all assembled, but I think that's for the best since we are spending far less time with inessential interactions.

I didn't talk a lot about "The Monitor Tapes." I was initially planning to just insert a quick blurb about each panel of it we see at the tail end of each paragraph, but other than being nonsequitur and distracting, it also would have divided scene recaps in half. For the most part, though, they are interesting if you like getting some insight into the greater cosmology of the DCU, but ultimately, I don't think it's necessary. I don't think it needed to be spliced up and inserted into each page of the issue (if you're reading on the Comixology app, panel-by-panel, it really upsets the flow of the reading experience), nor do I think it even warranted being presented at the back of the issue because it isn't a story in its own right. It's literally just a series of wide panels in grayscale accompanied with texts from Lyla's notes. It's an illustrated debrief. My guess is either the creative team had more story in mind than they could fit or more scene tableaux ready than they could fit in the story organically and by god(s), they were going to fit it in, come hell or high water. It's an oddity. Interesting? Certainly. Integral to the narrative? Nope.

Next week, we're switching back to Marvel and see how things go for the Avengers Unity Squad in their efforts against The Shredded Man now that we've thrown a Cable into the pot in Uncanny Avengers (vol 3) #3.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Superman vs Glam

Full Disclosure: I've had a lot on my mind lately, as I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off in preparation for moving. Perhaps that is why I have been exhibiting some odd behaviors, such as stress eating, getting nostalgic about old movie stubs, or selecting the subject of today's blog entry would be a good idea. Spoilers: it was not.

Now, I am fully aware that reviewing Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is a common  fool's errand, that I'm hardly the first fool to walk this path. It's a carcass whose bones have been picked clean for decades at this point. However, at least before I sat down to watch the film as an adult, I had been living in a world of rose tinted glasses where this film was concerned. When I was little (that should have been the first sign, come to think of it), I remember watching this fondly. After all, this was the most over the top "comic book come to life" entry in the franchise." It's a movie where Superman was literally chasing a foe across the globe and saving people along the way. I thought it was really cool. I did mention I was a real littl'un when I first saw this film?

"How bad can it be," I remember asking my boyfriend? I remember a moment of him staring me down, as if waiting for me to blink and say, "just kidding." If only... if only...

Our film starts us off on the wrong foot. I know I took a lot of pot shots at Superman III's opening credit sequence on account of it being just incredibly silly and not the right tone setter for a super heroic adventure story. But as odd and slapstick as it was creative and demonstrated more than a modicum of effort. Quest for Peace is cheaply done and is on autopilot. It's so cheap that www.movie-screencaps.com didn't bother to include more than the main titles. Yeah, I outsourced my screen grabs this time because I couldn't fathom the thought of watching this film yet again.

I know this will sound petty in the grand scheme of things, but it's the only film without a preamble. The original one had that simple but effective use of a small child in 1939 reading Action Comics #1 and setting up the tone and spirit of the film beautifully. The second installment established Zod and his followers for those who hadn't seen the first film. Even the third film took a moment to establish it's stunt casting sympathetic antagonist, Richard Pryor. Not Quest, though. This film cuts so many corners that the final product is a sphere.

The title sequence itself is basically copies the original the way an 8-year-old copies the Mona Lisa. The same basic concept of titles and names flying in space is implemented, but whereas the original was masterful, and really gave the sense of soaring through space as the names stretch across the screen, the titles in this installment look like some was playing with WordArt. The orchestration isn't exactly a two kazoos and a jew's harp, but it doesn't quite feel like it captures the same sense of grandeur and scope of John Williams' original version. It's also a bit more allegro, making it feel quick and punchy, as opposed to the dignified, triumphant adagio of earlier films.

As the credits draw to a close, we find ourselves in space, where a cosmonaut is serenading us with a Russian rendition of Paul Anka's My Way as he does some sort of technical work on the exterior of their shuttle, and his fellow cosmonauts jokes over the intercom about his singing and call him Sinatra. I know this is a small thing, but I do enjoy that the flight crew isn't portrayed as all-male, which I think would have been tempting for an American audience, considering the first female American astronaut had only been a few years before this film's release.

Well, as one is wont to do in a Superman film, things go awry when space debris hits the shuttle, causing it to tumble uncontrollably and our Soviet Sinatra is sent hurtling through space. The John Williams theme we heard mere minutes ago plays as who should appear but our protagonist, Superman.

Get used to that shot of him flying. It gets reused a lot. I suspect that the special effects department only rented the flight harness and green screen for half an hour and they had to make do. They also don't do a very good job of incorporating him into the green screen environment. Whoever filmed this section didn't know about lighting filters (color gels) which professional cameras most assuredly had in 1987. It's embarrassingly unpolished. In today's parlance, it's like posting a selfie without picking an instagram filter.
Good thing they left the airlock open that whole time. 
Anyway, Superman sets the shuttle aright and rescues the plummeting crew member, he gives his patented corny farewell, but in Russian, and flies off. I actually like this scene for the way it sets up the Russians the same way the film's target American/Western audience would view itself. Just plain folk in need of saving. Considering the driving pulse of this film, ostensibly, is Cold War anxiety, establishing the frailty and humanity of the people on the other side of the Iron Curtain was a good way to illustrate that the Russians are just like the Americans without having to hammer us over the head with it.

Clark Kent arrives in his home town of Smallville, which in my review of Superman III, I concluded was a pocket dimension that can only be accessed by way of a wormhole in Metropolis. Clark looks melancholy and with good reason. His Martha Kent has apparently been dead for some time and he's looking after the family farm, which has a large "for sale" sign on it.

He finds himself drawn to the barn, which the careful observer of various Superman adaptations can tell you is where there is a never-ending supply of plot-relevant Kryptonian artifacts hidden. In this instance, there is a single glowing green crystal, which speaks to him in his birth-mother's voice... because they couldn't afford Marlon Brando. Mommy-crystal basically tells him that she has the power to restore him to his full power, but can be used only once. She is Chekhov's space crystals.
Subterfuge worthy of one who uses glasses as a disguise.
He is pulled away from the barn, quickly (poorly) hiding the crystal in an old coat, by the arrival of an old family friend who is also Clark's estate agent, hoping to sell the farm quickly to a developer. Clark refuses. For some reason they play baseball, and of course Clark fakes not being able to play well while realtor is horrible to him. Then as soon as he's out of sight, he hits a ball into the outer stratosphere. God, does this scene serve absolutely no purpose. We could have cut directly from the crystal, as forcibly wedged into the film as it is, and headed directly to the next scene in Metropolis and lost exactly nothing. We never follow up on Clark losing the last of his family or even the fate of the family farm. It's the most sacky of plot cul-de-sacs.
Why have the Kents held onto this for so long and in the yard of all places?
We turn our attention now to our antagonist. Lex Luthor seems to have been living his incarceration working in a rock quarry, where all the inmates are arrayed in the striped "Hamburglar" prison suits that I'm fairly certain the US Department of Corrections hasn't implemented in decades. Here, we find Lex picking the most artificial-looking posies possible and tucking it into his ascot... because of course, he does... while whistling the theme to Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, much to the chagrin of his fellow inmates, to whom Lex shows only contempt.
One does want a hint of color...
Just then, the day to day rigor of prison life is interrupted by... Duckie from Pretty In Pink. No, apparently, John Cryer is playing Lenny Luthor, but he's just as irritating as Duckie. Lenny looks like a 50's greaser by way of 80's punk/80s ambient gay.
Auditions for the Grease touring company are down the street.
I have to question the level of security this prison implements. Apparently, it's lax enough that a teenager can just drive on into the rock quarry without the slightest obstruction. Keep in mind, this prison is housing Lex Luthor, the frequently self-proclaimed "world's greatest criminal mastermind." I know that prisons exist in this sort of movie to get broken out of, but part of why it's fun to see a villain like Lex break out is because it's fun to see him outwitting the guards. And, yes, he does outwit them, but these guards are a special kind of inept. As they both (yes, apparently this high security facility only schedules two guards for this entire work site) rush at Lenny, instead of taking him to task, they are instantly enthralled with his tricked out convertible.

Honestly, I'm scratching my head over it. First of all, he has a decal of his name that runs the full length of the sides. "LENNY." He paid money for that. 'Kay... Secondly, there's his sound system. My boyfriend laughed at what Lenny refers to as a "Sensurround 100," better known as the precursor to the modern woofer. To me, writing in 2016, it just looks like he has a bunch of naval air horns strapped to the outside of his car and twisted inward, which makes me wonder how he uses it when the convertible and/or the windows are up. Said sound system is blasting and he has on a set of headphones. Lenny might be an idiot.

Your tax dollars at work. 
It doesn't take much encouragement for Lenny to convince these two woefully stupid prison guards (who, btw, started off this scene rushing up to Lex and yelling at him for not working hard enough) to climb into this sketchy Lennymobile. That's when Lenny whips out a remote control that had been disguised as a Walkman (kids, ask your parents) and takes control of the car at a distance, with Lex narrating each phase of the car stratagem. Despite the fact that these two trained guards clearly can tell that something is amiss, they seem too incompetent to do anything as the windows and the convertible top go up, and the seats go back, trapping them inside as they scream their heads off. Then Lenny drives the RC Lennymobile flying off a pit and into a ravine, resulting in a mushroom cloud of smoke. Those two bozos were all that stood between Lex and his latest prison break. But don't worry, the filmmakers put in a shot of them crawling out of the pit, just in case we were worried about these two guys for whom we had absolutely no emotional investment. Yeah, they're gonna be okay, so no nightmares tonight, guys.

As Lex and Lenny make their pretty casual escape, Lex compares his nephew to Dutch Elm Disease when a simple thank you probably would have been more appropriate. Lenny asks Lex whether he's going to get out of the country while he can. Instead, Lex replies that he has had only one thing in mind since he's been incarcerated. And Lenny chimes in so they can both say in unison, "Destroy Superman." It makes me just wonder how many holiday family dinners Lex attends where all he does is turn every conversation around to how much he hates Superman. At Thanksgiving Dinner, when all the other Luthors are going around the table saying what they're most thankful for, Lex just says, "I'm thankful no-one has destroyed Superman before I get an opportunity to."
They're not even pretending NYC is Metropolis
Back in the Lower Manhattan district of Metropolis, I'm starting to worry whether either anything in this city works properly or if Lois Lane is a shit magnet. She's walking toward the subway while brushing up on her French, and boards a car just in time for the doors to close on her loyal puppy of a co-worker, Clark. Of course, the daily commute goes awry when the car conductor apparently has a heart attack or maybe a seizure, and starts plowing past stops. Lois shouts and despite 6 years, Margot Kidder still hasn't lost that throaty two-packs of cigarettes a day timbre as she shouts for help. Clark has to jump into a phone booth (which by the late 80s were already becomeing rare, let alone in a subway), Supes up and flies down the subway tunnel to save the day.

You really have to wonder about what life is like for ace reporter Lois Lane. Once the subway car is safely stopped, she doesn't even seem to contemplate the danger or even seem thankful for her survival. Instead, she seems a little miffed that the Man from Krypton didn't stop for some chitchat after he rescued her. I guess we all have our crosses to bare, Lois.

Clark arrives at work where we find that The Daily Planet is now the subject of a hostile takeover. Their new boss, Mr. David Warfield, is a lot like Ross Webster, the head villain from the previous entry in the franchise. As he disparagingly reads through previous installments of the Planet, Perry White asks Warfield if he's only reading the headlines. Warfield's answer: he only reads the ledger. He's here to cut corners (including Lois' trip to France) and turn the paper into whatever it needs to be to start turning a profit. That's right, guys. The evil corporate bad guy from the last film was repackaged and sold to this one's screenwriters as a minor antagonist for Lois and a bit of a nuisance for Clark as well. DC does have a history of evil spin doctors in the news/entertainment industry, but G. Gordon Godfrey he ain't. He's just a tabloid peddler.

However, like Ross Webster, he does come with a mini-entourage in the form of his daughter, Lacy, who reasserts her father's yuppie greed philosophy while wearing the biggest glasses and shiniest jacket the 80's could provide in an office setting.
Like Superman, Valley Girl uses glasses to hide her secret identity.
Lacy's kind of horrible, but Clark catches her eye, so there's hope (?). After the meeting adjourns, she talks with Lois about Clark. Lois tries to ward him off with all the subtext of trying to keep her "Plan B" guy single and would also deeply insulting Lacy in the process, if Lacy had the slightest acquaintance with wit. She declares that Clark is goodhearted, loyal, and a gentleman, and Lacy isn't his type. Lacy's response either shows the screenwriters' absolute lack or or presence of self-awareness, I'm not sure which. "Don't be silly. All men like me, I'm very, very rich." Where else is there to go with a characterization like that but up?
The line between self-involvement and self-awareness
has been trampled over by this film.
It's also worth pointing out that Lacy seems to always be followed by a light romantic theme. Right now, it's flutes, but later on it progresses to saxophones as she pursues Clark more aggressively. Flutes: the sound of romance. Saxophones: the sound of predation.

As all our mains are gathered in Perry's Warfield's office hashing out expenses, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen comes in and switches on a broadcast from the president. Clark is worried what it might be about, but Warfield says an international crisis would be good for sales. Because Warfield is a asshat and the movie wants you to remember this every time he speaks. The broadcast plays and totally not Reagan declares that due to the failure of the summit (I'm guessing it a peace summit and not a poetry summit), the US will need to take measures to be "second to none in the nuclear arms race."
The school year just won't end and now she's desperate.
From there we cut to a middle American high school. You get the sense that it is late May and this teacher is running out of ideas. After all, they're watching news broadcasts in school. She probably has Baileys in her coffee mug and she's coming up with anything she can think of to keep these kids occupied for 7 hours a day. It's clearly a chemistry class room, but she has an assignment "write 200 words on the Statue of Liberty" written on the board. Ye gods, is she itching for Summer break. Even her idea in the face of nuclear arms manufacture wreaks of end of the school year "brain on autopilot" thinking: they're going to write their congressman. Not that communicating with elected officials isn't a valid thing to do, but it is such a Hail Mary pass as far as classroom activities go. God(s), this is dumb. Oh, but then the one space case in the back of the class chimes in and says the key to international diplomacy is Superman. And now I'm hitting my head on the desk with laughter.
Jeremy: The Bad Idea Bear of this movie.
Okay, here's the thing about Superman that Alan Moore got incredibly spot on with Dr. Manhattan in The Watchmen. When entering the realm of international politics. Superman isn't the key to international peace. He's the deterrent to war. That's why in the comics, Superman functions in a highly apolitical way. He's not there to use his gifts to force politicians to do what is right. He's here to save the day when things get too far out of hand for the common man to save himself... and also getting cats out of trees. One of the key factors of Superman is despite all his strengths, he does not function by a philosophy of might makes right. Instead, much like Captain America, it comes down to being moral, true of heart, and compassionate that usually makes him worth rooting for.

And initially, Superman agrees with his canon modus operandi, which I appreciate after having sat through two different Superman movies where he's dark and brooding, and wildly out of character because Goyer hates superheroes and Snyder is an 11-year-old. At first, he refuses because he cannot make the decisions that will shape humanity as a whole on such a grand scale.
Lex is lucky Superhair didn't break his shears.
Meanwhile, Lenny and Lex are at a museum where a strand of Superman's hair is on display, holding up an incredibly heavy weight just to show how strong he is. Just like at the prison quarry, the Luthors gain access to the hair with minimal effort. Security in the cinematic DCU is the utmost worst. Lex, a wanted criminal who has put the security of the entire world in peril *twice* has been wandering around the entire museum with nary an eyebrow raised. Not only that, but he's been carrying around a pair of large pruning shears. Superman's hair is strong enough to maintain a 1,000lb suspended in air indefinitely as an exhibit, but fell prey to gardening tools.
Back at The Daily Planet, walks into his office to find Lacy laying across his desk, propositioning him... for a "late night" column (I mentioned the saxophones, right?). It's as flimsy excuse as any to ask him out on a date, but she is in it to win it and is not taking no for an answer. Lois walks in with a letter for Superman and seems quite pleased to be cockblocking Lacy. Why would she bring it to Clark if Lois doesn't know Clark is Superman? Silly readers. Do you think the movie thought that hard? You'll learn. Hell, Lois even gracefully sidesteps why the Planet gets Superman's letters in the first place.
Lois to Lacy: "Good God, girl, get a grip."
As I mentioned earlier, Superman refuses the boy's suggestion outright and Clark says just as much to Lois and Lacy. Lacy, however, is the living embodiment of a bad idea bear in this part of the film and sees an angle for a story. In short order Lacy and Papa Warfield have the little boy in front of news cameras and papers are in news stands painting Supes as some jerk who refuses the wishes of America's youth. WON'T SOMEBODY *PLEASE* THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?
J. Jonah Jameson wouldn't print this horseshit.
Perry White is through with Warfield treating his paper like a tabloid and walks off the movie. Don't worry, he'll wander back by the denouement.

Superman travels to the Fortress of Solitude and seeks out the wisdom of his people. They advise such things as giving Earth the old heave-ho and relocating to a more civilized ball of dirt to live on. Even more hilariously is an elder who says that any planet who puts the task of one man to save them will inevitably be betrayed. And he keeps saying betrayed. No, this isn't an echo, nor was there any attempt to make it feel like something resounding in Clark's head. The guy just stands there repeating the word like he's having neural-cognitive issues on the set. Betrayed! Betrayed! Betrayed! Repent, Ebeneezer! Repent! Repent!
He gets paid by the "doomed."
While still mulling this over in his apartment, he is visited by Lois, who asks why he isn't in a tux yet because they're due at the Summit. The same one that failed? How often do you have summits in this city? Clark says he needs some air. Lois walks him out and Clark leads them off a ledge, Lois is falling to her death probably for the third time that month when she is greeted by Superman, still with Clark's glasses, which she quickly tucks into the belt of her gown as they fly off for a cheaply made shot by shot re-enactment of their original flight scene in the first movie. Oh, movie... The one thing you don't want to do in your crappy, crappy film is remind your audience of the better film they could be watching right now.

Remember how the romantic flight in the first film Clark let go of her hand but still braced her by the waist to give her a sense of what it feels like to fly? Well here, he just shoves her, laughing as gravity does what it does. Gods, this would be so less painful if it wasn't trying so transparently to copy one of the best scenes in the entire superhero genre.
The face of a woman whose beloved just tried to kill her.
They return to Clark's balcony and we get the hint that Lois remembers everything from the events of the second film. Of course, appearing to her with your Clark glasses on was probably a dead giveaway. At the very least, it jogged her memory. They talk a little about the important decision he faces, and she says she's behind him no matter what. That's enough Then using his Kryptonian physiology he kisses her so hard he drains enough oxygen from her brain to make her forget the past five minutes of screen time. But that's okay, considering she seems to sorta kinda know about the Clark/Kal-El connection on a subconscious level throughout the film, even if she doesn't openly acknowledge it. Having changed back into a tuxedoed Clark, Lois is a little out of it, but recovers nicely enough. They banter their way out the door and Lois says "you should always go with your gut." Which is pretty good advice.

Actually, it's interesting to note how similarly and how differently she advises both Superman and Clark. Superman gets words of unconditional support, regardless of his decision, Clark gets an off the cuff suggestion to trust himself. They're both told very differently, but impart the same message. Clark/Kal-El should always trust in himself to do what is right. Too bad, Clark confuses his gut instinct with pressures from the media in this film...

Next stop: United Nations Building. Lacy and Lois have carpooled for Superman's big day because Daddy Warfield is a cheapskate. They park illegally right in front of the UN building and Lacy is concerned that the ticket is going to be through the roof. Lois tells her to relax, that it's only money. Okay, I get that at this point in the film we're not supposed to be too sympathetic toward Lacy just yet, and the film is firmly against corporate greed (or miserliness, in this instance), but the lady has a point, especially with her unscrupulous father cooking the books. Also, for a film that promotes a pretty black and white morality, having our female leads knowingly commit a parking infraction seems off.

The Last Son of Smallville arrives and the entire UN assembly are drinking the Kool-Aid. Clearly, they all know what he's there to discuss. That alone confuses me. This suggests that all the countries of the world are game for this. Really, movie? The entire UN is okay with their respective nations' defense systems being dismantled forcibly by an alien being without any national allegiance, and who is powerful enough to conquer the world single-handedly. Not one person is wary about this? The chairperson declares that in order to have the floor and every hand in the room reaches for the sky. Seriously, movie? I know this is speculative fiction, but my disbelief has been suspended so far is cracked under the strain.

Also, another sign of 1. how the 80s were really a different time and 2. this movie had zero budget is the fact that about half UN members are dressed in traditional garments from their respective nations. Just about all those who are happen to be non-white. There is certainly a range from subdued to utterly silly, but I drew the line at what looks like a stereotyped "Arab Costume" you'd find at a Halloween Adventure. Yes, some delegates may wear traditional adornments along with their professional attire such as headwear, but this is the UN, not "It's A Small World After All."

Up in the mezzanine, Lois, Lacy, the kid who wrote the letter, and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olson are seated, waiting with fervent anticipation.. well, Lacy seems underwhelmed, though she plays along. She's kind of like an inversion of 1st movie Lois in that she is wild about Clark but only begrudgingly accepts Superman. Meanwhile, that kid is sitting in Lois' lap. Aside from the fact that Lois as I like to envision her is crap with kids, why wasn't this kid provided seating? He's probably a VIP with the press? More importantly, where is this kid's parents? Stranger danger! Stranger danger!
Seriously, kid, where are your parents?!
So, Superman's speech basically gets the plot rolling... a full 30 minutes into a 90-odd minute film. He effectively declares himself a citizen of the Earth by promising to relieve the world's nations of their nuclear armaments. This is met with a standing ovation. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to live in a world where we don't have to worry that Trump might possibly have access to the nuclear codes next November, but this doesn't even resembling a plausible reality.

What ensues is a sequence in which the world's nuclear powered nations shooting their atomic payload into space, where Superman catches them all and gathers them in a gigantic net that I have to assume he cobbled together out of steel.  He spins around (I wonder how he finds a point on which to pivot in zero gravity) and shotputs all the missiles into the sun. Sure, I'll buy it. This is the comic book logic I paid good money for.
I'm imagining a very different movie where Superman used
his new A-Bomb collection to hold the world hostage.
Elsewhere, Lex has arranged a meeting with three notorious arms dealers in the international community. He greets them in his quite opulent villain's lair (Lex really failed the laying low section of villainy) with two girls with rhyming names on each arm and proceeds to monologue his way through a quick summary of each one, but honestly it isn't necessary. They are a collective unit of unimportant underlings in the grand scheme. Speaking of underling, Lenny is in the background, where he has a set of drums and several arcade cabinets. Because, kids. Amirite?

Being that he's talking to arms dealers, i.e. businessmen, you wouldn't think Lex's hyperfocused "let's destroy Superman" sales pitch would work. However, Superman did put them out of the business. Well, according to the logic of this film he did. I suspect in the real world, they would be flush with cash from all the governments trying to restock their armories on the sly after the obvious PR stunt. Somehow, this involves the sun, which he refers to as a huge nuclear bomb and a bowl of protoplasmic goop that he concocted from Superman's genetics.

Um... how? How did he afford the lab equipment? How did he afford this lavish lair? Shouldn't his assets have been frozen when he was arrested? Either time? Or at the very least when he escaped? Either time? The cinematic DCU was once a very stupid place. Now it's just a very emo one and I'm not sure if that's better or worse.

Anyway, his proposition is that if they put Luthor's Easy Bake Kryptonian batter on a missile for a trip to the sun, it will create a nuclear powered man who will both be a match for Superman but also will frighten the world's governments into buying nukes like hotcakes. And all Lex wants in return is a small commission. Right...
Laundry Day... See you there...
Underclothes... Tumbling....
In their mad scientist lab coats, Lex and Lenny prep the package for their abomination, consisting of the protoplasm, some dirt (reasons unknown), and some black and gold fabric. Ye gods, their creature is going to be a Steelers fan...
Their creature could have been rocking a banana hammock.
Lenny is excited because he and Lex are going to be parents. I wish there had been a tie-in book for young readers: "Nuclear Man Has Two Daddies."

Lex along with one his cronies make in onto an army base and ensure that their little science project is on board for the day's nuclear purge. Has this become a daily occurrence? It must be something that keeps happening in drips and drabs at this point because Superman shows up to throw this missile into the sun all by its lonesome. It hurtles into the sun and an embryo flies out of it, then soon evolves into the real menace of our film: Nuclear Man.
Glam Rock: Not quite the Misfits, but whatevs. 

AND. HE. IS. FABULOUS!! I mean, look at this guy. You have that perfect male farrah hair that was so big in 80s teen movies... usually in the preppy antagonists... those stylish leather cuffs. Those perfectly manicured nails... The cape is so much more impressive than Superman's, the suit looks more latex and shinier than Superman's. This guy looks like he would be the prettiest leatherboy at Folsom Street Fair. Fun Fact: the actor was a former Chippendales Dancer.

He crackles with nuclear power as he shoots like a rocket to Earth. How does he know that's where he's supposed to go? He isn't even five minutes old yet. He should be working on his object permanence first.

Back on Earth, Lacy and Clark are at the gym. And even by 80s standards, Clark is in the dorkiest looking sweat suit available... with Adidas product placement.  Insult to injury, his pants are tucked into his tube socks. He also has his towel tucked into his collar, which I couldn't understand why other than to make him look goofier. The better to hide his superbod was my logic. However, my boyfriend, being older and wiser and all of 12 when the 80s ended, assures me that it was totally a real thing people did in the 80s, since not all gyms had air conditioning.
There is a third wheel here, but I have no idea who it is.
The pair of them soon catch the eye of one of the trainers. He has on a skintight running singlet, a lifting belt, and the tiniest pair of men's shorts you ever did see unless you've been to a Pride March... with Adidas product placement. Lacy is less than pleased to see him in a way that screams, "ex boyfriend." Brad (one of the three tried and true jerk names in 80s movies) leads Clark over to another part of the gym, calling him Clarky. Again, with the ambient gayness. Is Brad flirting with him or teasing him?

He then pretty transparently tosses a weight that the ostensibly weak Clark couldn't handle and Clark falls on his ass. Brad says, "No pain, no gain," as he walks away. As someone who has had experience with trainers bothering him when he's trying to work out, let me just point out how unrealistic it is for a trainer to walk off after you mess up. That's not how you get hired on by repeat clients.
That's not how you get repeat clients (and/or fuck buddies), Brad.
Brad's pretty transparently a jerk, but what he does accomplishes nothing. It's bullying in its most superfluous form. Although, it teaches Lacy that she needs to have more Clarks and fewer Brads in her life. I guess that was worth Clark's humiliation? Once again, saxophones play while she has her epiphany at Clark's expense. Lacy suggests that the two of them have a double date with Lois and Superman. Even though Lois technically has an interview and not a date. Also, it's odd that she doesn't think to ask Lois first.
Brad's body language: "Hey Clarky, I want your D---!"
Lacy heads to exit as she tells Clark to come early for the romantic view while there is an ADR'ed line from Brad asking Clark to hand him the weights. After he just humiliated Clark for no good reason. Man, Brad is bad at this human interaction thing. Lacy leaves and we cut back to Clark, with Brad semi reclined on a bench press, looking like he's about to proposition Clark for some sticky entanglements. Clark thoughtlessly lifts up the heaviest weight on the floor and tosses it at Brad, knocking him off the bench onto the floor flat on your back. Was Clark being petty or careless? You be the judge.
Back in LuthorLand, Lex is dancing with a Madame Pompadour cosplayer when his eldritch abomination comes home to roost at the . Lex marvels at his creation, impressed even when it speaks with his own voice (did I miss a line? was part of Lex's genetics used, too?). He is less than impressed when Nuclear Man expresses his own agency (subtext: Lex is a horrible father) and Lenny chimes in calling him, "just an experiment, freak-o." Nuclear Man uses powers that can't be explained either with solar energy, nuclear power, or Kryptonian genetics to levitate Lenny around until he apologizes. Lex's new baby is kind of an asshole. Lex manages to accidentally get things back on track by saying, "I made you. I can destroy you." Nuclear's takeaway: "Destroy Superman now!" Like father, like son, I guess...
Viggo The Carpathian!
Both Nuclear Man and and Lex are happy to find common ground and walk away from the window and into the shade... and suddenly he powers down, curling into a ball like an armadillo. Looks like Lex's ultimate weapon against Superman might have a wee bit of a design flaw. No, seriously, the guy doesn't just lose his power in the shade, he shuts down. It makes sense if you think about how crappy the solar powered calculators we used in elementary school were.

The double date scene is every tired "two dates scheduled for the same night" scenario you've ever seen. Most of the stuff he does to facilitate this are innocuous as things go, but I got really ticked off when he uses his heat vision to burn Lois' dinner just to create a distraction. She worked long and hard on that meal, you ingrate! Not cool, Superman. The less said of this the better. NEXT!
Lex  Cup O Noodles
Just as I my being tired of the double date scene was lumbering into its umpteenth hour, Lex employs the same dogwhistle "nobody can hear me but you" trick he used in the first film, singing "Hello Dolly, because why not, and projecting himself onto the big digital display. I suspect he got a good rate on the screen time, considering this was before Guiliani cleaned up New York Metropolis.

Of course Superman goes. Dealing with a supervillain is much more preferable that being wedged into a screwball comedy trope. Introductions to the twisted fruit of Lex's genetic tampering goes about as well as you would expect. Apparently, even with the influence of solar and nuclear energies in Nuclear Man's creation, Supes can still recognize his own DNA when he looks hard at his genetic code.
Superman: saving white people around the world. 
We have a few more minutes of haughty villain/moral superiority hero dialogue before Lex finally unleashed Nuclear Man on Superman. Ye gods, as a writer I have never been happier for characters to stop talking. Nuke rams at Superman, knocking them both off the balcony. They tussle in mid-air in a manner I swear looks nothing like two guys having wrestling in bed green screened against a cityscape  until they both remember they can fly. They start pinballing around the globe. First stop China where Nukey uses his powers to smash sections of the Great Wall. Our hero saves white people from falling to their deaths. Because who else are you going to save in China? Then uses his hitherto unmentioned wall building vision to rewind the footage of the destruction footage. Just... just go with it. We only have 1/3 of the movie left.
Oh no! He turned Superman into a matte painting!
They fly off into space for some more mid-air grappling, Nuclear Man somehow blows on Superman and that causes him to get encases in a giant crystal. Unencumbered, Nuke makes his way over to Italy and drills himself down into Mount Vesuvius, causing it to erupt. Because that's how volcanoes work now. For some reason, it experiences a Hawaiian eruption instead of a Plinian eruption, which just completely took me out of the film.
Double Nope!
Superman of course frees himself, stops the disaster from occurring by slicing the top off another mountain and using it to stopper Vesuvius (because Superman has never used a pressure cooker before), and rescues most stereotypical Italian paesani this side of the Godfather Part II and resumes pursuing his quarry.
We thought this was the casting call for the Godfather Pt III.
Back in space, because these two love fighting on wires on a green screen, Nuclear Man displays some Wolverine action as his nails pop further out of their nail beds. Superman manages to repel him, so Nuke Man flies back to Metropolis, lifts the Statue of Liberty off her pedestal flies further inland with it and throws it at the people of Manhattan Metropolis. Superman manages to swoop in and catch it in time, but that proves to be his weakness. Even meat-headed villains like this guy know that the people are a hero's weakness... unless your name is Zach Snyer, in which case fuck the civilians.
Look out Superman! There's a gogo boy with
press-on nails on your tail! 
As Superman is flying Lady Liberty back to her proper place, he is defenseless as Nuclear Man scratches him across the neck, like a little kid does fighting in the schoolyard. The scars glow red in the most PG way possible as Superman falters, barely managing to get the statue back into position before collapsing to the ground. Nuclear Man punts him like a football, sending him flying into the air and knocking off his cape, which falls on the torch of the Statue as the scene changes.

Back at The Daily Planet, Mr. Warfield surprises Lacy by showing her to her new office, where she will hold the position of publisher. Yeah, it seems Perry White got canned off-screen. Not only does this surprise her, but finding Superman's cape on her brand new desk is quite a shocker as well. Before she has time to react, Lois runs in furious over a headline declaring Superman dead. The careful viewer will also note that the banner says "The Warfield Journal." She declares that she's quitting, and upon seeing Lacy holding Superman's cape, she snatches it away, declaring that she doesn't have the right to it.
Lacy, the divorce clearly says that I get our son on Superman days!"
Warfield tells Lacy to fire Clark too, since he hasn't been showing up to work and refers to the staff as "the help." Lacy tells her father off, or tells him to stuff it. I think as a first act of defiance, that's the equivalent of telling someone off, then she heads over to Lois' desk where she is packing and apologizes for her father's actions and commiserate over both their men being absentee.
This is how you journalist.
Back at Clark's apartment, and yeesh, I didn't notice what a dump it is. Clark looks sickly and won't answer the door. Lois, being Lois, knows how to force the lock. Lois gives him a motivational speech of things she wishes she could tell Superman that furthers my suspicion that she knows his dual identity and she's just keeping up the ruse for his sake. And the coup de grace? She leaves Superman's cape with him, in case he sees him. Yeah. She knows. Incontrovertible proof.
"Here, just in case you run into Superman... not that you've ever
been in the same room with him at the same time or anything..."

Flush with cash, Lex fires his business partners, using Nuclear Man as the necessary incentive for them to get the hell out of dodge.

In my boyfriend's defense, it does look awfully phallic.
Back at Clark's humble abode, he's gone from looking fluish to looking aged and emaciated, ravaged from the effects of Nuclear Man's nuclear love tap. It actually eerily reminds me of how Christopher Reeve looked in his final years. Hey, remember that talking green crystal he found in the first act? The one that told him that it's a one time only do-over pass? Yeah. That's happening. My boyfriend strongly argued that it was a suppository. He's classy like that.

Back in Luthor Land, Nuclear Man sees a news paper with new publisher Lacy Warfield as the paper's headline. Because Lacy may be growing as a person, but she's still just an eensy teensy bit completely self-absorbed. Obviously, Nuke adheres to supervillain protocol and is instantly involved with the nearest plot relevant female. It's honestly pretty weak. Firstly, the fact that this would not be a front page full spread story, especially not at this stage of Lacy's arc where she's had some character growth. Secondly, the fact that Nuclear Man sees her picture once and is suddenly obsessed with one particular woman seems like the writers weren't even trying all that hard to justify keeping Lacy in the plot.
So powerful, he can use community theater Peter Pan effects.
Somehow the newly restored Superman knew who Nuclear Man was after and is standing guard at Lacy's hotel when Nuclear Man arrives, who also mysteriously knows where she lives despite being a monosyllabic illiterate. Fighting ensues. Collateral damages happens. Cars are set on fire and/or blown up. Civilians are put at risk, left suspended in mid-air with visible wires. Superman puts the civilians' lives first... because even schlock like this has more moral wherewithal behind it than Man of Steel, and lures Nuclear Man inside, promising to take him to her.
"Me no like elevators! Me like ceiling tiles!

Superman heads towards the elevator, but Nuclear Man is having none of that and just flies through the ceiling closest to the windows. Up in the penthouse suite, Superman does manage to trick him into the elevator this time. Sealed in, Nuclear Man powers down and Superman pulls the elevator car completely out of the high rise. I sure hope after saving the good people of Metropolis from Nuclear Man's assault, ripping an elevator out of the building and causing rubble to crash down from twenty stories up manages to keep them safe. So much for civilian lives...
"Nuclear Man SMASH puny blue man!"

What to do with his cargo? Next stop: the moon. Man, space really is our own private junk yard, sometimes. No wonder real world extra terrestrials refuse to talk to us. Superman drops off the car, but just then, the sun rises on the moon and light seeps through the elevator car, re-energizing our villain. Ye gods, movie. End, already! They fight again and for the time being Nuclear Man is victorious, hammering Superman into the moon's surface like a railroad spike. It's something straight out of a Loony Toons short. He makes a point of knocking over the Apollo 11 flag because it will mean something to an American audience, even though I quite suspect that the concept of national pride is beyond him.  Then he flies off for whatever it was he wanted? Oh, right. Lacy.

Lacy Meanwhile is trying to convince her father to turn to the ways of responsible journalism. Just then, Nuclear Man bursts through the ceiling and kidnaps her. It's very Fay Wray and King Kong.
Because symbolism!
Superman, in the meanwhile has freed himself from his moonrocky prison, resets the moonlanding flag and goes off to save the day. He shoves the moon into the path of the sun, powering down Nuclear Man, allowing him an opportunity to rescue Lacy, who manages not to implode when Nuclear Man flies out into the cold of space with her. Then he takes his helpless foe, fly him down to a nuclear energy plant, drop him into a silo and he falls seamlessly into an open hatch on a reactor, hyper-charging power for the entire city. Mission Accomplished.
Remember to dispose of your nuclear waste of a character
Back at The Daily Planet, Perry White is back and the company's original masthead is being restored.  I know, this was the subplot we were all sitting on the edge of our seats over, right? Perry has bought all the miscellaneous shares of the company and forced out Warfield. Thus ends the subplot that nobody wanted, needed, or cared about. No mention is made of Lacy. She fell off the movie. Next thing's next, our intrepid reporters are present outside the Planet for a press conference with Superman, who apologizes for facilitating this stupid plot and manages to telegraph the obvious theme in case anyone's brains shut down as a method of safeguarding themselves for most of the film.

For some reason, despite his press conference effectively being this film's thesis statement and would have actually been a nice place to end the feature, the film decides to follow up on Lex and Lenny. Lenny bafflingly gets dropped off at a Boys Town orphanage, where he is taken in sight unseen by priest who is either an anachronistic and formally dressed Catholic or possibly Byzantine/Eastern Orthodox (which I also doubt due to the severe lack of a kickass beard), based on the attire. Superman neither checks to see if Lenny has parents nor drops him off at a juvenile detention facility, which probably been choice number one. Of course, considering the actor was upwards of 21 at the time of filming, maybe just plain old jail with his Uncle Lex should have also been up for consideration.
"Fresh meat? We'll take him."
Speaking of which, when Lex is dropped off at prison (an increasingly repetitive and anticlimactic way of wrapping up a Lex story in these films), his fellow inmates are whistling Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. If you wrack your brains for important things from the first ten minutes of the film, which is three agonizing eternities ago at this point, you might remember that this was set up as a call back. But honestly, does anyone care at this point?
Surprisingly a good shot. I'd make it my wallpaper for a week.
Superman flies over the Earth as the Sun crests past the planet as the credits roll. The End.

I'm not going to lie. This was rough. For the purposes of the blog, I had to sit through this film a solid 4 times and it was a slog every time. I almost want to judge my parents for letting me watch this at a young age because it should have come with a surgeon general's warning. Much like cigarettes, I'm fairly certain this movie took 10 years off my life. I mainly focus on cohesiveness of story and characterization. Had I focused on special effects, this could have gone on a lot longer. Possibly indefinitely. This movie had no budget and it showed.

The sad thing was that this was a labor of love that was doomed before production even started. Christopher Reeve was deeply invested in restoring Superman to the former glory of the Donner era and had a strong hand in the development of the story. You'll notice that you have a less than subtle hand weaving in the themes that dominate the narrative, which were Reeve's contribution, such as Cold War anxiety, nuclear arms race fear, and the evils of the corporate media. Yes, it was a bit of a passion project that might have skewed a bit too leftist for a character who is supposed to be just ever so slightly left of center, but I'll give it props for its passion.

The script on its own does have its problems. Even when Lacy works within the film (which I'll generously say is about 40-60% of her screen time, she feels incredibly extraneous to the plot. I honestly think she would have worked better as a character in a more serialized format. She does grow and change through her relations with Clark and Lois, but she's at best tangential to the Superman narrative. Nuclear Man could have kidnapped a mannequin for all it mattered. More to the point, she comes at the expense of screen time with Lois. There's still a spark of chemistry between Lois and Superman, and Lois and Clark too, even if Lois swears to the contrary. But with Lacy getting the rounded out emotional arc, Lois basically has two things to do in this film: firstly, engage in corporate office politics that the viewer doesn't care about, and secondly to sit in state as the high priestess of the church of Superman. She is all about being his cheerleader in this movie and there are at least 3 instances where her devotion takes on beatific undertones. Meanwhile, the Luthors are silly but don't really do much to affect the narrative after their creation overtakes their role as antagonists. And sadly, he has all the personality and charm of a cylinder block.

However, the script issues honestly would have been admissible (the Donnerverse Superman movies are all pretty corny by today's standards), if not for the production troubles. Like I said this was doomed before the word "go" because the producers of the first three films, the Salkinds, sold the rights to Superman to Golan-Globus' Cannon Group, Inc. Don't know who they are? I think you'd recognize them on-site. They were infamous producers of schlock renowned for producing low-to-medium-budget films. Perhaps you've seen one of their incredibly inexpensive live-action adaptations of various Grimm's Fairy Tales. The ones that managed to get 1 good actor (either through calling in favors or blackmail) to round out a cast full of crap. That was Cannon. Perhaps you are familiar with camp classics such as Masters of the Universe or The Apple. Also these guys. The one bonafide success in their filmography as far as I'm aware is Highlander.
But that was an achievement in which the production's reach didn't exceed its grasp and had a budget relative to the scope of the production.

In contrast, every department of production was severely slashed from what it once had in the prior installments, but what was expected to meet the same quality. Based on interviews, Reeve went on record as saying that the film was treated no differently than the nearly 30 other productions going on at that time. Thirty productions at various stages of production. Concurrently. It certain explains why the film didn't give it the attention it required despite the successful franchise being a major "get." It's also surprising because the acquisition of Superman was supposedly meant to herald a new era of major budget productions for the film studio, but unfortunately the studio was unable to put their money where their mouth is. If you're interested, I suggest checking out Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films, which you can currently find streaming on Netflix.

Another interesting bit of apocrypha that my boyfriend insists that I share with you all is an absolute gem that hit the cutting room floor. Aside from Lacy and Letter Writing Boy actually having character arc conclusions in the cut scenes, there is also possibly my favorite thing ever: the first Nuclear Man. Yeah, it looks like  Played by Clive Mantle, he was supposed to resemble Bizarro, but he comes across as Ozzy Osbourne in heavy goth makeup. And everything about these scenes are pure comic gold. The music in the scenes leaves no doubt that you are watching a comedic routine and I find it purely, delightfully batshit fun. I don't think it would have necessarily improved the film, but it could have been kept in the film instead of such useless padding at the double date, the Smallville scene, etc.

I feel like the next time I revisit the world of moving pictures, I will still be working my way through a Superman backlog. But what to do? There is still Superman Returns, and the Snyder abominations if I want to stick to the theme of bad Superman films. Or I could do something different. Something that could be more easily digestible in 42 minute increments. Possibly with either Allison Mack or a Desperate Housewife... Hm...

Next week, however, I know this will come as a bit of a shock, but I'll be recapping yet another issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths... Ye gods, who thought this story needed 12 issues?!