Extant’s Comics Pull List

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s new comics day here in the U.S., with new books available in comic shops and online.

This month, DC Comics continues to wrap up storylines in advance of next month’s Convergence event and June’s mini-relaunch, while Marvel continues its March towards Battleworld.

My pull (and I’m admittedly a DC fanboy, so you won’t see too much Marvel on my lists) this week includes the three DC Comics weeklies – Future’s End, Earth 2: World’s End and Batman Eternal – along with the new issues of Action Comics, Constantine and Coffin Hill, a fun book from Vertigo that in my opinion needs some more love.

Other notable stuff coming out this week: new issues of Star Wars, Walking Dead, Spider-Gwen and Astro City, along with Bill & Ted’s Most Triumphant Return.

What does your pull list look like?

In other news, Powers debuted yesterday on PlayStation Plus and Flash and Arrow come back to TV next week.

Anyone else watch the first three episodes of Powers?

Waiting for the Trade – Superman

Waiting for the Trade

By Bill Miller

 

Superman: Reign of
Doomsday

By Paul Cornell

Collects Action Comics
900-904

 

Why I Bought This: I
had read the previous trade (Return of
Doomsday
) in which Doomsday returned to take on all of the Reign of the
Superman characters and that one had ended on a cliffhanger with Doomsday
victorious. While that trade was only okay, I was still likely to pick up the
conclusion once the price dropped online sooner or later.

The Plot: the
Reign of Superman heroes awaken on a space station containing a pocket universe
and Doomsday. Supes goes to mount a rescue mission of the Reign characters only
to be waylaid by a newly omnipotent Lex Luthor.

Chapter 1 – Supes finds out about Doomsday defeating Steel
and heads off to find him. The Reign heroes wake up on a space station that
Steel’s scanners reveal is infinite in size with no escape because it loops in
on itself spatially. Doomsday arrives and attacks the heroes with Cyborg
deciding to work against the other four heroes. In space Luthor has obtained
infinite power and uses it teleport Superman to him. Lex obtained his power
from the Phantom Zone where a heretofore unknown entity has been suffering for
years because it is empathic and the Kryptonian criminals stored there only
have negative emotions. It was on its way to our universe to destroy the source
of negative emotions when Lex found and forcibly merged with it. He tries to
give Superman pain by forcing human emotions on him, which is just an excuse to
have a bunch of flashbacks to key events in the Superman mythos since this
chapter was originally Action Comics 900.
Lex doesn’t understand why his plan isn’t working as he refuses to believe
Superman already has human emotion until he mind-probes him and learns he’s
Clark Kent. Lex doesn’t take the news well, ranting about his own poor
childhood and how Supes being Clark makes a
fool out of him. He tries to kill Supes but the entity begins to exert
influence and holds back the power he needs to do the job. Back on the space
station Doomsday is mimicking Eradicator’s power when the heroes drop down into
a bottomless pit but he just reappears seconds later using Superboy’s powers.
Back with Lex and he merges with the entity more fully to gain access to its
full power and this causes him to unleash a wave of universal bliss. While Lex
is happy now and has plans to use this power to right all of the wrongs in the
universe, the catch is if he uses the power for a single negative act he will
lose it, which in his words means not only can he not kill Superman but
Superman gets to live out his life blissfully happy. Lex finds he can’t abide
that choice and attacks Supes. He immediately begins to power down but the
power lasts long enough for him to trade punches with Supes for a few pages.
Once all the power leaves him, Lex of course has instant amnesia and then gets
sucked into a black hole but not before mentioning that he’s behind the
Doomsday attacks on the Reign characters and letting Supes know where the space
station is. Supes arrives and sees the way in as a one-way event horizon but
dives in anyway to help his friends. Together they find Doomsday’s dead body in
a lab, where Lex has been performing experiments on him. The result of the
experiments is he has in fact cloned Doomsday into four separate entities, each
one mimicking the powers of one specific Reign character.

Chapter 2 – With three Doomsday’s attacking (the fourth is
still falling in the bottomless pit), Supes rips out Cyborg’s heart so they
concentrate on the main threat, which is not as hardcore as it sounds since
Cyborg will come back to life as soon as the heart is put back in his chest. The
heroes run away with the original Doomsday’s body, while a mystery villain
watches the proceedings and begins to pilot the space station. The heroes try
to come up with a plan, while Steel notes that detached from Luthor’s machines
the original Doomsday is beginning to resurrect. The three Doomsday clones
arrive and attack and generally have the heroes on the defensive. The space station
is on a collision course with Earth that if successful will destroy the planet,
and is just 10-minutes away to impact. The heroes become aware of the impending
collision and go looking for a control panel but instead the mystery villain—a
new character by the name of Doomslayer, who looks like Doomsday only with
bigger claws and a metal breastplate. Doomslayer then kills the Eradicator with
ease.

Chapter 3 – Doomslayer reveals he’s an evolved Doomsday with
intelligence and awareness of what his origins are. He says Doomsday has killed
millions and must be stopped. His plan therefore is to not only kill Doomsday
but also any world that has ever encountered him so as to erase all knowledge
of him from the universe. Steel hacks the door open and the supermen work on
stopping the space station. Their strength decelerates it enough so the threat
changes from planet-wide to continent-wide to city-wide (and of course it’s
heading for Metropolis), at which point Superman has the others clear out and
flies it into the ocean. It creates a massive tidal wave but the other three
stop that from hitting Metropolis. Doomslayer then unleashes plan B and sets
the Doomsday clones on the Earth.

Chapter 4 – The Reign heroes are making one-on-one stands
across the world while Supes takes the original Doomsday to Star-Labs. Doomsday
wakes up, but with Eradicator’s intelligence is in control of him. Doomslayer
is working on sending his pocket universe into the Earth’s Core as a plan C of
destruction. Meanwhile the Reign heroes have been joined by various Justice
League groupings to face the Doomsday clones while Superman takes the fight to
Doomslayer. We get big brawl of a fight scene and Eradicator kills one of the
Doomsdays but notes the original will soon reassert its intelligence. Superman
meanwhile has made way to the core of the space ship when Doomslayer powers it
up in hopes of killing him.

Chapter 5 – The second Doomsday clone is defeated in the
opening panel, leaving just one more to go. Meanwhile Supes learns the spaceship
is alive: it’s not happy about having been used by Lex and Doomslayer but Supes
gives a rah rah speech and it agrees to help him save the world. Supes now
takes on Doomslayer physically as the ship begins to depart. The JLA’s heavy
hitters put down the last Doomsday and the clones are disposed of in a space
warp by GL. Doomslayer is about to kill Supes when Eradicator arrives (still in
the original Doomsday’s body). Together their combined strength is too much for
Doomslayer. With his last though Eradicator tosses Superman from the space
station, which then seals up and self-destructs to end the threat of Doomsday
and Doomslayer. Afterwards Clark and Lois have dinner and reflect on what
Superman means to America.

Bonus Chapters – A story of how Jor-El sent Clark to Earth. Superman meets a Buddha Hippo Alien and
they compare notes on what it means to be human. Lois and Superman throw a
dinner party for the Legion of Super Heroes in four pages. Superman helps out
protestors in the Mid-East and almost creates an international incident. Plus
pin-ups and a partially illustrated script of Supes racing a former football
player wearing Iron Man style flight suit.

 

Critical Thoughts: I
have a mixed reaction to this. It’s not that it’s a bad story, it’s just not
the story I wanted. I bought this hoping for a slice of 90’s nostalgia; not
unreasonable when you consider it is playing off the history and characters of
the most famous story of the 90s. Whereas this story, for reasons I completely
understand, is also trying to be much bigger than that with the penultimate
Superman vs. Luthor fight and trying to give Superman and Lois some closure.
Again this is a logical creative choice since this trade encompasses both the
landmark 900th issue of Action Comics and I believe is the last
Superman story before the New 52 reboot; but the result is a jarring a mix of
things that don’t seem to fit together easily. There absolutely should be a
last Superman story focused on Luthor and Lois, but I don’t think that needs to
be in the same story with Doomsday and the Reign characters. As someone who
rarely reads Superman and picked this up because of the prior trade (which was
a crossover in a bunch of spinoff titles and not the main Superman titles) for
this to open with omnipotent Luthor is a really jarring beginning vs. what the
cover promises. That Luthor chapter feels like it needs to be the last chapter
of some other chapter and not the first chapter of this one.

As far as the Luthor stuff goes, I liked Luthor’s choice that
he can create or universal peace or try to kill Superman and being a villain he
gives up the former for the chance of the latter. I will say this is the first
comic I’ve ever read where the hero is okay with universal alteration as
Superman encourages Luthor to let the universal peace wave ride out. Usually
superheroes are a lot more concerned with free will or the integrity of the
timeline or not playing God or whatever. I always think of Zero Hour where the heroes insist Hal Jordan shouldn’t be allowed to
alter time even though his goal was to save millions of people who died in
Coast City and a help a few heroes who came to bad ends like Batgirl as a poor
example of that cliché where they against universal change on the basic
principal rather than the end goal.

I’m also not sure why Luthor is so pissed off when he learns
Superman is Clark Kent
unless the Smallville continuity is
in effect. Since from what I’ve seen of their adult personas Lex seems to be
barely know Clark, when he deals with the
Planet it always seems to be through Lois. That’s my biggest problem with DC.
They change their continuity so often it’s hard to keep track of which one is
in effect at any given moment/story.

As for the actual Doomsday story I bought this for, it’s
okay. I would have liked to have seen Cyborg have a bigger part since he really
is the ultimate big bad of that era. Doomslayer is pretty lame character with
overblown motivations, but in that sense he does fit the 90s nostalgia kick
perfectly: He’s just like Doomsday only bigger and with more metal and a
cheesier name. If he had an over-sized gun he’d hit the 90’s cliché trifecta.
There is a nice sense of action in the last two chapters, but overall the story
just feels like its missing something.

Also for someone who hasn’t seen Steel in decades when did
his tech get so good? In the Reign titles (and the Shaq movie) he had some low
level armor with construction-themed weapons like a sledge hammer and rivet
gun. Now he can instantly scan a universe sized spaceship in seconds, and
reprogram alien technology? I know all comic characters have a tendency to
enjoy power level creep over time but he seems to have gone from street level
to cosmic over the years.

 

Grade: D+. It’s
not terrible, but it still doesn’t feel coherent. It feels like two stories
crammed together because of an editorial deadline so that ultimately neither
story works as well as it should. I think as much as I bought this for the
Doomsday story, it’s actually the Lex story which suffers more as that some big
ideas that it doesn’t have the time to flesh out; and then the Doomsday stuff
can’t properly follow it.