The Comic Book Club: Superman #700 and Bart Simpson #54

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This is what happens when Techland goes to the comic book store: we end up talking about what we picked up. This week, Douglas Wolk, Mike Williams, Evan Narcisse and Graeme McMillan discuss Superman #700 and Bart Simpson #54, spoilerishly.

DOUGLAS: Superman #700: not a good comic. The James Robinson/Bernard Chang story is eight pages of obligatory “Superman and Lois missed each other” wrap-up plus a fight scene tacked onto the front of it; the Dan Jurgens story reads like an inventory piece that could’ve been published any time in the past 25 years. And then there’s that Straczynski/Barrows piece, which… let me note a couple of things that don’t work about it on a plot level:

1) The idea seems to be to mirror the Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 thing where somebody challenges the hero for being too out-of-touch with human concerns and he responds by deciding that he’s going to travel across the country to understand those human concerns better. But Superman already has something that’s pretty well established as doing exactly that: he is a newspaper reporter.

2) Not only could the nameless woman who slapped Superman have easily been answered with “yes, and if he hadn’t been off in space, your husband would still be dead, and you would be too,” but I think we’ve seen more than a few “Superman can’t save everyone, and he feels bad about it, but that’s how it’s gotta be” stories over the years. (I recommend Hitman #34, for starters.)

(More on Techland: Beach Reading! Techland’s Summer Comics Preview)

That said, the preview of Paul Cornell and Pete Woods’ Action does look pretty promising. Perhaps by #900 it’ll even have Superman in it again!

And the best part is that when I downloaded Straczynski’s story on the comiXology app (after the DC app kept crashing), it asked me if I was interested in Irredeemable. In Mark Waid’s words, “you will believe a man can walk.”

MIKE: Meh. Superman loves Lois Lane and Earth. Also, he loves helping Robin do his homework. If I were Superman, I would have gone to New Krypton and never come back. I’m assuming that Kryptonian architecture designed by yellow-sun-influenced engineers would be free of things like roads and mass transit. The landscape would be made for a race of people that were invulnerable and could fly at hypersonic speeds.

I would have made it about a week as Clark Kent, walking through the Planet’s hokey revolving doors. Walking! But I suppose that’s the point they are beating us over the head with here. Superman needs to walk amongst his adopted people. He needs to feel the crumbling infrastructure beneath his feet and really get a whiff of that homeless guy over there. That’s the good stuff.

Now we readers can call DC and ask that one of the towns that Supes visit be our real-life home town? And what, I must ask, is Kal going to do in any one of thousands of suburban towns? How is he going to solve over crowded schools or underfunded hospitals? What is Superman going to do with a local court system backlogged with domestic violence cases and petty drug charges?

(More on Techland: Reading the Tea Leaves: DC Goes Digital)

GRAEME: My problem with Superman #700 is that it makes Clark — yes, we’re on first name terms — look like a dick. In the Robinson/Chang story at the start of the issue, Lois is all “I missed you, promise me you’re not going away again for a long time,” and at the end of the JMS/Barrows story, he’s like “Well, time to leave Lois again, this time to find America!” Either story, taken individually, wouldn’t have been that offensive to me — well, I am constantly disturbed by Barrows’ very gummy smiles — but when smooshed together with only a “Robin, guest-starring Superman” story in between (and, yes, I agree, Douglas — it felt very like an inventory story, and not necessarily one done for a Superman book, either), it underlined that Superman hasn’t really been allowed any status quo for quite some time. I get that DC and JMS want to get Superman reconnected with America, and I don’t even think that’s necessarily a bad idea, but this feels too much, too soon, after the last, what, two years of New Krypton stories.

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