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Author Topic: Superman (Rebirth) #15 & #16 review plus some thoughts on action scenes & stuff  (Read 377 times)

Upper_Krust

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Okay, picked up some issues of Superman yesterday, lets get into it.

Superman #15

Cover: Didn't do it for me, Superman is alone against an unseen threat that has likely defeated a bunch of other heroes as evidenced by the other objects on the ground. Superman holding the rabbit character so maybe it has some cutesy appeal, but overall its not a great cover from any viewpoint...camera is looking down on Superman inferring he's weaker than the threat (whatever it is).

Incidentally while I was in the comic store I looked at the two shelves side by side of Marvel's releases this week and those from DC and I have to say the Marvel covers are FAR stronger, simply as visual attractions.

Interior Art: Its got four artists and while the styles are similar I don't think this sort of thing helps the comic. It loses something of its own identity by doing this. The colouring is decent though so the whole thing doesn't get dragged down too much but as with Darkseid War its lacking in personality and exaggeration for the most part because there is no style to the art; its artists trying to mimic real life rather than create a comic book.

Jarring Art: Who or what is the Green Lantern leaning against on page #6? It's like he's leaning against an invisible wall.

Splash Pages:
- #6-7 Double Page Spread: Bunch of characters standing 'generically' (whoop-dee-doo), that I will sort of overlook because Aquawoman looks sexy in it (I'm as shallow as the next guy...pun intended) :p
- #10-11 Double Page Spread: Bunch of characters engaged in a (badly staged) fight.
- #19: Reveal of big bad guy Prophecy, not a great splash page, but I don't have a problem with a new villain getting a splash page reveal.
- #20: Superman close-up, terrible splash page, Superman's expression looks one of disinterest when it should have been gritty determination and really this is just a padding page at best.

Design:
- Punisher-Superman looks cool but the rest of the League of Shadows were very weak in terms of design.
- Aquawoman looks hot, I'll give her that - the rest of her 'League' were okay I suppose (Didn't like their Flash design and the alternate Batman's light-blue costume doesn't work and clashes too much with the blue most of the Supermen wear).
- Superdemon's mob I can barely make out (for a first time reader this book would be crap, it does a piss poor job of introducing who is who) I have a vague idea who most of the character's are meant to be (primarily because MOST are just alternate versions of Superman or the Justice League) but maybe they have different names or powers, if so I'd never know any of that from the comic.
- The Gatherer aliens look like generic 'scary' humanoids. Nothing particularly impressive and they are not drawn very clearly in the comic.
- The big villain "Prophecy" is revealed on a splash page on page #19 of 20. I don't know if this is the first time we see him in the comics (?) but it isn't a great splash page, we sort of see him from the side so we don't get a good look at his face, at this point we also don't understand how big he is (he's a giant) and the splash page doesn't make that clear. I kinda like his costume, but his head is pretty generic (its on fire) - he looks like a sloppily designed Dormammu knock-off but without any 'menace'.

Story: I like the story (someone is kidnapping the 'Supermen' within each of the 52 Universes) - its fresh enough to me and suggestive of a badass villain. I just really hate the way they told it though, plus with 63 panels you barely get any 'story'.

Pacing: The pacing is good for two reasons...
- Firstly there are two brief action scenes (both crap but I'll get to that in a bit).
- Secondly this book only has 63 panels. That is the LEAST amount I remember seeing in a comic book that didn't make a specific reason for having a low number (ie. Nextwaves Double Page spread issue or Walt's Thor vs. Midgard Serpent issue of all splash pages). 63 is a very low number of panels and really doesn't give readers much content.

Advertisements: This book has a metric shit-ton of ads for other books and they are jarringly placed where they ruin the flow of the story. I counted 11 ad-pages, plus two more on the inside front and back covers. Its really noticeable and from page #12 onward its virtually comic page - ad - comic page - ad - etc. For goodness sake put all the ads at the back of the book - especially for your own comics DC.

The Action Scenes: Utter shit, lets take a close look.

Action Scene #1: Pages #1-5; Alternate Earth where the League of Shadows (think Punisher versions of the Justice League) are battling some badly drawn, sketchy red, sharp teeth alien enemies. Paneling is all done with jagged lines for some reason...maybe to suggest the chaotic nature of the assault who knows...?

I didn't like this scene for several reasons.

1. The Geography of the action scene is badly established because the heroes and the villains almost NEVER interact within the same panel (it only happens in one panel and even here the 'camera' pulls out so far that the aliens are tiny blips coloured almost identically to the background - for maximum obfuscation). Heroes shoot in various directions and its all a bit of a mess.
2. There is no drama to the scene. They kill off their version of Batman (killed in one blast from an alien - even though they couldn't hit any of the 'heroes' before when their were possibly hundred of aliens and the heroes don't seem to be dodging) and the reaction is nothing.
3. The aliens ARE a threat (to the alternate Batman at least) but we don't know that until the end when they are all dead (the last Alien blasts Batman as it dies). The comic doesn't do a good job establishing the aliens as a threat and doesn't do a good job establishing the heroes as competent and it doesn't do a good job establishing that the heroes are in trouble.
4. Ultimately the scene turns out to be a set-up for a total squash for the unseen BOSS villain who kills all the remaining heroes (except Punisher-Superman) from off-panel with one blast.

Action Scene #2: Pages #10-13; Alternate Earth League (with Superdemon) vs. Various other alternate League characters including 'our' Superman. Starts with a double page spread. Only Superman, Superdemon and Ragman are relevant in the fight though.

Again its terrible:

1. Starts with a clumsy Double Page Spread 'fight' scene (in which NO ONE gets hit). Half the characters we can't properly see and even if we could see them the comic hasn't established who they are or what they can do. This is of course a common tactic of modern comics - rather than create an action scene where characters actually 'DO' stuff, lets just show a large splash of characters about to do stuff and let readers imagine it was a good fight. Of course this means there is no drama because there is no risk/reward because no one is in danger. Aquawoman is leaping in to stab someone with her trident even though the plan here is to simply make the other League 'see sense'.
2. The fight gets a little better on the next page when Ragman & Superdemon team up to wrap up our Superman and set him on fire.
3. The fight/battle ends on the fourth page with 'our' Superman EASILY beating up (and knocking out) Super-demon in ONE PANEL. Totally destroying any tension and utterly killing any credibility for Superdemon.

So lets examine who gets 'hurt' in the action scenes:

1. Alternate Batman killed in ONE attack by a Gatherer.
2. Alternate League (all but Punisher-Superman) killed in ONE attack (from off panel) by Prophecy.
3. Superman seemingly in pain from Superdemon's fire, but we can't see his face so there is no emotion in the scene.
4. Superdemon knocked out in ONE panel by Superman.

By the numbers modern 'fast food format' action scenes. Only a single instance of a character getting hurt and even then we cannot see their face.

Verdict: The issue wasn't great but just about gets a pass because it throws SO many different elements at the reader in the presumption that some of it sticks. The action scenes are a mess but at least it HAS action scenes. The story is interesting but . The designs are a mixed bag and most of the characters are not explained or named. The pacing is fast but the whole comic smacks of decompression with only 63 panels.

A generous 3/10.

+ Story...interesting
+ Pacing...and simply having some action scenes at all

+/- Art (and only not a negative because of Punisher-Superman and Aquawoman).
+/- Design (mixed bag)

- Cover...weak
- Action Scenes...badly done
- Decompression...serious lack of panels
- Adverts...annoying

What did anyone else think about this issue?

I'll get to the following issue later.
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Upper_Krust

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Okay so onto the next issue...

Superman #16

Cover: Its more exciting than the previous one and arguably a bit of a nod to COIE. I sometimes think they belabour the whole multiple versions of Superman thing. The more Supermen their are, the less special 'Superman' becomes. But overall its a decent cover.

Plus weirdly of the 16 Supermen on the cover, FOUR of them are classic Superman copies yet in the story so far as I've seen they are all slightly different either in appearance or costume.

Interior Art: Disappointing, again no style, no exaggeration, just 'by the numbers'. For want of a better term the art is 'boring'. I mean that's a bit harsh, because really I think the artist is good BUT the art direction (the layouts and moments he is choosing to capture etc.) totally sucks. The way the various Supermen are drawn they look pretty feeble.

Splash Pages:
- Page #2: Prophecy holding a semi-conscious Superman up by his cape. Its not great.
- Page #11: Not exactly a splash page as it only covers 2/3rds of the page but worthy of mention. Obama-Superman cradling his deceased 'Flash' in a pose straight outta COIE...itself borrowed from X-Men of course. I mean its okay albeit Obama-Superman is totally emotionless.
- Page #12: Prophecy 'discards' a Superman. Nice use of perspective on this panel BUT reinforces the fact that Prophecy is simply not menacing in appearance - and to be fair maybe he's not meant to be, given he's trying to save his universe (even though he's trying to kill these Supermen and has murdered others). I dunno though, I just don't like his design.
- Pages #14-15: Cross page single splash (covering the top halves of both pages). By the numbers stuff again, I'm starting to think that the artists here are simply drawing these pages actual size rather than +50% (and then shrinking them down). The level of detail on the faces in particular is very weak.
- Page #16: Punisher-Superman & Captain Carrot in perhaps the best panel of the comic - but its still flawed with weak composition; foreground aliens mostly silhouetted (for brevity) and Captain Carrot is flying too close to Punisher-Superman. Also where did Punisher-Superman get the gun and armour for goodness sake - he never used guns before and Prophecy disintegrated his armour.
- Page #20: Prophecy incarcerated by some Unknown Villain (Mister Oz?), again the art here is not great its like the penciller did a 2 minute sketch and then the colourist coloured it in 10 minutes. I'm not much of an artist but I'm thinking I could layout, design, pencil, ink and colour better than this panel.

Design: Not much new design from the previous page. We get to see Mr Oz (I think) from the back and he looks like a guy in a hooded dark robe. The 'lightning' design at the bottom of his robes 'could' be something cool - but its barely noticeable. Will admit they have me curious as to the significance of his staff's design. Also are those tattoos on his wrist...?

The de-powered Supermen have their powers placed within these sort of cube-prisons. The artist never gives us a full depiction of it so we don't know the scale of it but it sure looks like there are more than 52 cubicles - which begs the question why since he's only trying to steal the power from each Superman of each Universe?

Nor do we ever get a good establishing shot of the location - its basically 'generic rocky terrain'.

Story: Its a continuation from the previous issue BUT this one has some plot elements that confused me and didn't help the story. Firstly HOW THE HELL do the captured and drained Supermen get their bloody powers back!? Is this because of the rebuilt Ultima Thule that the alternate Flash builds? It just gives them back their powers even after Prophecy defeated them and stole it. I means its a total fucking lazy ass deus ex machina and a badly (non) explained one at that.

Why does Prophecy want to execute the Supermen - he only needs their powers? In fact why is he even staying around. Why are they digging a big grave (symbolism?)? If he was always planning to execute them then why doesn't he just execute them right after he drains them? Once he drains their power it supposedly goes to his 'flaming hand' which the Supermen turn against him (lame) BUT if they already had their power returned to them (in order to fight him) then the idea that his hand contains their stolen power is nonsensical. How does Punisher-Superman get his armour and a gun? There's a lot of contrived bullshit in this issue.

Also Superman says "No mercy until he's down!" Is he okay with murder now? No mercy! I mean seriously!?

Pacing: Again, its okay, lot of exposition dump for the first 3/4s of the book then the 'big' action/rescue scene. Less decompressed than the previous issue (77 panels this time instead of 63 last ish) despite having a similar number of splash pages.

Advertisements: They seem to have learned their lessons from the previous issue and the vast majority of the ads are at the back. So this issue doesn't suffer as much as the last.

Action Scene: Even worse than last issue, its totally shit.

The 'action' is roughly 4 1/2 pages. Of those, the first 3 pages are simply characters posing - I shit you not. The first two pages consist of 5 panels with different 'gangs' of Superman simply flying towards Prophecy. This is what constitutes an action scene in modern comics and its why modern comic action scenes are generally boring crap.

I was debating Abhi about Thor #289 yesterday and in that issue there is a 2 page fight between Thor and the Destroyer that is better drawn, has more drama and is more exciting than anything in these two issues delivered.

Page 3 (of the action scene) has Punisher-Superman firing a gun and Captain Carrot continuing the flying towards Prophecy theme of the past two pages.

Page 4 (of the fight scene) SOME ACTUAL FIGHTING (whoop-dee-doo) but its rubbish. A bunch of Supermen use heat vision on Propecy, he retaliates by shooting a blast from his flaming hand (hitting no one), four Supermen heat vision Prophecy's hand back towards his face and (like a moron) he keeps firing and blasts himself in the face.

Page 5 (of the 'fight') Some of the Supermen just fly through Prophecy's wrist and sever his hand. Prophecy then seems to get teleported away.

Its garbage, there's no drama, none of the Supermen are hit nevermind injured, big bad Prophecy gets taken out so easily he loses all his 'heat' (no pun intended vis-a-vis his flaming hand) and its a complete joke of an action scene.

Verdict: Worse than last issue and a total let down of a denouement.

A disappointing 2/10.

+/- Cover...its decent
+/- Ads...didn't distract this time
+/- Design...not much new
+/- Decompression...half decent pacing and 77 panels of content this time feels like more content

- Art...boring
- Story...too many plot holes and unexplained stuff
- Action Scene...total piss, a complete let down

Anyone else have any thoughts on this issue?

I'll maybe give it a few more issues (since the opening issues of Superman Rebirth were good) in case the (Multiversity) story was forced on the writer BUT these two issues have been very poor. If it continues this badly I'll stop buying it.

By the way, slightly unrelated I picked up Saga Volume 1 when I got these Superman issues, only got to read it last night - totally fucking brilliant, I see what all the fuss is about. I'll definitely be picking up the rest of the volumes in due course, one of the best comics I have ever read. Utterly destroys these two Superman issues in every conceivable way: art, design, characters, layout, ideas, dialogue, action, surprises, cliffhangers, ingenuity etc.
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Gree

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Didn't like them
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INDRA THUNDERER

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Didn't like them
ditto...the lead up to these issues were good,but this was a real let down
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Upper_Krust

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I might keep these reviews going - its somewhat cathartic and I like to study and learn from these things.

One thing I only just realised about issues #15 and #16 is that none of the Supermen had any distinct personality, in fact you could argue none of them had ANY personality.

None of them argue - so there is no friction in the dialogue between these characters.

(Our) Superman says of Prophecy "show no mercy!" So any opportunity you had to show either Assassin-Superman or Nazi-Superman as having a bit more of a taste for violence goes right out the window.

None of them had any quirks or individuality. I mean he could have given Obama-Superman the propensity for pausing mid-sentence.

So both the art and dialogue had little to no personality.
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Gree

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Yea I always love the idea of alternate reality versions of favorite characters but all of these felt flat
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Upper_Krust

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Okay got Issue #17 today. I'm still on the fence about it (leaning towards good) but lets get on with the review.

Superman #17

Cover: Reflects the story within, its a little spooky but any 'spooky' aspect sits at odds with the bright yellow background. Composition is okay I guess.

Interior Art: Not bad, again reflecting the story so its heavier on shadows and silhouettes, nothing really blowing me away, but generally positive. Colouring could be better I think. Choice of angles could have been more disorientating - fitting with the mild horror theme. Ironically in an issue where the artist is trying to disorient the reader - that's the time they choose to have rectangular and square panels throughout - missed opportunity (at odds with the previous issues where they did have wonky panels for no reason - here it would have actually made sense).

Splash Pages:

Page #2: Jonathan opening the door to Kathy. Underwhelming to say the least. I guess it sets the tone for whats to come - its a spooky Jonathan + Kathy in the woods at night tale where strange things start to happen. But there is nothing great about this page.

There are several 2/3rds-page panels later in the comic that are better and more interesting.

I guess I was just happy there were so few Splash Pages for a change.

Design: Not much design work in this issue. Its a fairly 'down to Earth' bogeyman story. The shadowy 'bogeyman' figure is a tad generic, but looked cool enough in the roof-ripping panel.

Story: I actually liked it. although I don't know exactly what audience they were going for - its a teen rated book so is 'spooky' (rather than horror) appropriate? Story was enjoyable though and well paced.

Also notable that the story has 93 panels, more than the previous issues - and it felt like there was more story 'bang' for your buck.

Pacing: Two good aspects here: Firstly the story pacing is good, it starts slow then gathers momentum which mimics whats happening when the kids are running for their lives. Secondly, the story itself was a change of pace from all the multiversal shenanigans of the past few issues - it was literally a nice 'change of pace'.

Advertisements: Back to being annoying as fuck and interrupting the story. Fuck sake DC. Put the ads for your own comics at the back of the book! ELEVEN ads in the book really annoying when almost every page turn is met by an ad...for one of DCs other titles.

Action Scenes: There's no specific action scene but once the pace picks up the back half of the book is like one big action scene where the kids seem to be running for their lives and being attacked by giant animals, haunted mansions, giant bogeymen and general weirdness. The whole thing spiraling into some Hitchcockian nightmare scene.

Verdict: A nice little self-contained story. Would have been a good Hallowe'en issue, as it stands it was a decent issue, but does little to sell me the next Superman comic.

5.5/10

Good
+ Pacing

Okay
+/- Story
+/- Cover
+/- Action Scenes
+/- Art
+/- Design

Bad
- Advertisments

N.B. I added a +0.5 for them trying something different.

What did anyone else think of this issue? Its not your typical Superman fare I suppose.
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Clownprince23

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I was looking forward to the Multiversity stories, but it did fall flat. I thought there would be more to the fact he came from a universe that predated their multiverse.

One of my favorite things about Superman is that in the end, he ends up just being awesome in a way that inspires and drops jaws. Like you said, the lack of character with the other Supermen, and the Temporal Justice League left a lot of it flat. It's cool seeing different versions, but there just wasn't as much substance to it.

The spooky issue was pretty meh. Just some filler piece between stories it felt like.
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Upper_Krust

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I was looking forward to the Multiversity stories, but it did fall flat. I thought there would be more to the fact he came from a universe that predated their multiverse.

One of my favorite things about Superman is that in the end, he ends up just being awesome in a way that inspires and drops jaws. Like you said, the lack of character with the other Supermen, and the Temporal Justice League left a lot of it flat. It's cool seeing different versions, but there just wasn't as much substance to it.

The Multiversity issues were terrible. Yet I saw some numbskulls giving them 9 or 10 out of 10 online. If people keep swallowing this shit and pretending it tastes good DC will keep feeding it to them.

I know DC are beating Marvel in the sales at the moment, BUT I am slowly coming to the realization that the only difference between DC and Marvel right now is how much Left-wing Politics and Feminist Agenda Marvel shoehorn into comics. DC are not making good comics (IMO), simply that Marvel are doing the same with extra feminist Agenda Preaching.

Politics aside, DC Comics are NOT making better comics than Marvel right now. Both companies seem to have forgotten how to make actual 'good' comics. I purchased three 40 year old Avenger's comics last week (the Nefaria story) and to say that story SHITS on modern DC and Marvel is the understatement of the year.

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The spooky issue was pretty meh. Just some filler piece between stories it felt like.

Agreed, my biggest problem with it is its a filler issue that does nothing to sell readers on a Superman comic.

All that said, I still want to give the writer a chance, I want to give him a full story (about Superman) that was not forced upon him by editorial (like the Multiversity one). So I am teetering on stopping purchase but I'll give Superman one more storyline to impress me.
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Upper_Krust

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I have the latest issue...its the worst so far, *puff of the cheeks* lets get to it.

Superman #18

Cover: Really poor cover, 'dialled in' by the artist. Virtually no background, Superman, Lois & Jon with Krypto. Does nothing to excite anyone and its not especially well drawn either - that said it does reflect what happens in the story...which is almost nothing. Pink background hints at idyllic (non-threatening) storyline, somewhat at odds with what happens.

Interior Art: Hovers between 'weak to okay' BUT I do like that (for the most part) it LOOKS like a comic book.

The opening page is totally rubbish - basically squiggles and colours - waste of a page (although this whole issue is so decompressed its practically a waste of an issue). The artist(s) involved should look at some classic Kirby to see how to draw an interesting space scene because this was the opposite of an interesting space scene.

Not very keen on the artist doing the prologue, but the interior art for the main story is well drawn, albeit the content itself is flimsy.

Splash Pages:

Page 4-5 DPS: Presumably the prison cell of the person who broke out of Mr Oz's prison. We don't know who that is but he seems to be obsessed by Superman with all the graffiti on the walls. Half the illustration is in complete shadow (again cutting corners) and I couldn't glean any hints from the graffiti.

Page 9: Almost a full splash page of the other Superman (mostly silhouetted by the moon) talking to Krypto. I quite like this image, its striking even though its very basic. Makes that Superman seem sinister.

Page 15: Splash Page of Jonathan in the house which is seemingly on fire with white flame. Composition is pretty good and the angle makes it seem spooky. I like this on an artistic level but I don't think what's happening merits a splash page.

Design: We see Mr Oz's prison but most of it isn't very clearly drawn or designed to get a good look at anything. The Geography is badly established, scale is badly established and no reason is given to why one building (the damaged one) is much bigger than the rest. Does each building house multiple inmates, does each house one inmate...nothing is established.

Story: Its all about the setup here - in more ways than one.

Firstly, the Prologue; where we see 'someone' has escaped Mr. Oz's prison, IS the most interesting part of the book (and even then its poorly staged). I think the writer knew the teaser was the only interesting part and that's why the previews for this issue all made a big deal about it - of course none of this is explored in the rest of the book, so basically what we have is a 5 page teaser for something happening in a future issue.

Secondly, the rest of the story, in a nutshell: the other Superman leaves the Kent's an anniversary present (a photo album of the family history) and it (SPOILER WARNING) seemingly erases Superman's son Jonathan from reality. This is dragged out to an unbelievable degree.

I don't know whats to blame here, whether its the two issue per month schedule; a lack of space for the writer to tell a tale or something else but I am four issues in and I am MASSIVELY disappointed; worst of all its boring.

Pacing: I counted 63 panels, it feels more like 33. Decompressed would be an understatement. 15 pages from the Kent's sitting at home until Jonathan disappears (from reality).

Advertisements: Again with the fucking ads for DCs other titles interrupting the story. Really starting to annoy me now. Image titles don't suffer like this - they put their ads at the back...and you know what because of that I would actually look at the ads. But here its just annoying.

Action Scenes: There are none.  ::)

Verdict: Shite

-1/10

Yes you read right, that's a MINUS ONE out of TEN! I'm through mollycoddling this Rebirth stuff.

+/- Interior Art...some decent panels and it looks like a comic book.

- Cover...weak, lazy and does nothing to sell me on the comic.
- Design...the prison prologue design looked weak.
- Story...all set-up that could have been handled inside 5 pages rather than a full issue.
- Pacing...horribly decompressed and with only 63 panels
- Action...there is none.
- Advertisements...annoying as per usual.

...I'm giving TOMASI two more issues to turn me around or I am done with Superman. If he can't impress me with even one issue in six then I'm wasting my time and money no longer. I'm interested in this Mr. Oz 'angle' but everything else is poor and it seems they are going to drag this out for months.
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Clownprince23

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I liked this issue. Anytime there's a story where someone's child is in danger like that, it gets to me, especially if it's a son. The scene where he says, Don't let me go daddy, was good. You want to do nothing more then keep your kid safe, but there's nothing you can do, and the look in your child's eyes as he's basically asking you to save him is killer.
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Upper_Krust

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I liked this issue. Anytime there's a story where someone's child is in danger like that, it gets to me, especially if it's a son. The scene where he says, Don't let me go daddy, was good. You want to do nothing more then keep your kid safe, but there's nothing you can do, and the look in your child's eyes as he's basically asking you to save him is killer.

The problem for me is...THAT'S the entire issue! Its very, very decompressed. Aside from the prologue its basically that one scene.
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