Superman_Vol_3-17_CoverSUPERMAN 17
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Kenneth Rockafort
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

H’el wins, earth is decimated powering his time travel device back to Krypton, and starting next month we will all get #1 issues of the New New 52 including: Legion of Rao, Green L’elantern and Trognorman (the closest Kryptonian species to a bat). Happy?

We all know SUPERMAN will save the day and frankly I’m tired of this debate. As much as I enjoyed the “The Dark Age” of comics and love a good destruction, frankly, the shock value is gone. These “losses” on the moral scale have also been watered down by what I know will be an inevitable ret-con if a writer goes too far from a character’s base. Plus, there are still some times that I like to know the good guys will win in the end – it’s a comfort and solace. It’s not about will they win, it boils down to how. Fine, if you need to be surprised on the outcome of all stories, then I think it’s plainly clear by now in-continuity SUPERMAN, especially this new inception, just isn’t for you.

Now, for all the other Pollyanna’s still with me, H’EL ON EARTH has provided not only the best SUPERMAN story to date, but also the best SUPERGIRL, SUPERBOY and second best JUSTICE LEAGUE story as well.

I know in a universe three arc deeps this might not be the grandest compliment, but one has to start somewhere. And if we collective provide our approval, DC then gets a barometer on how to please us moving forward.

Time travel, a villain trying to achieve good through nefarious means, and an honest-to-God voice for SUPERMAN and his Supelings are all gifts bestowed upon us in the SUPERMAN titles’ first cross-over. I know cross-overs are more dreaded than a Kriss Kross reunion tour, but when well-executed they can carry the scope and magnitude originally intended. The whole DC crew played this one right. H’EL ON EARTH didn’t force me to buy all the books because of story skimping per issue, but it made me want to read them all.  It rewarded me with cohesion from my primary title (Superman), through expertly shifting the POV of similar events.

I’ always leery of things, except this series. SUPERMAN proper was in such a sad state of affairs the only place to go was up. Despite the “controversy” with RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS, I’ve loved the book since day one, so I had zero reservations about LobRocsters ability to if not save SUPERMAN at least redeem the title.

Moment after moment LobRocster succeeded. Clark Kent actually now has a personality. SUPERMAN with H’El as a nemesis finally gained a focus from the mutant of the week phenomenon. And we finally got the hell out of the politics of the newsroom. A little of that is fine, but issue after issue had grown quite tedious and wearisome.

At first I did feel the series was a little too narrative heavy, until I realized different does not mean bad – just different. It’s not for everyone, but as the series went on I found myself more entrenched in the thought bubbles as the external danger continued to build. Patience is a virtue more comic collectors need to remember. Rocafort does no wrong in my opinion: original panel layouts, unique takes on character visages and the ability to keep heavy narration moving all keep me looking for chinks in the armor to no avail.

So, SUPERMAN does save the day ultimately, with help from SUPERGIRL, BOY and the JUSTICE LEAGUE. And in the process, everyone (except maybe the JUSTICE LEAGUE) learned something to carry forward into further arcs.  SUPERMAN learned there are still mysteries of his origin to uncover (some of the flashbacks to Jor and Lar were among my favorite moments). We got insight into the fact SUPERMAN has the deadliest weapons cache in the galaxy sitting inside the fortress of solitude. We learned the JUSTICE  LEAGUE can actually behave like a big kid superhero team sans bickering. We saw SUPERBOY uncover his own merit and potential outside of his cobbled genome. And we finallys aw an emotional tether grow  between SUPERMAN and his “big” cousin once she uncovers H’El’s lie about the true after effects of his little experiment. The fact that she delivers the final Judas kiss was appropriate, fantastic and actually set a nice little tear in the space-time continuum for future H’El fodder.

Honestly, the only that confused me was the introduction of this ORACLE character – I mean where are the wheels and the glasses? Oh different Oracle you say, you mean the guy that looks like Nimrod from the X-men and has the same soul charter as THE WATCHER? OK, that explains it then. Seriously, what was the point? Someone please enlighten me.

Great story, arc, art and editorial execution. This wasn’t just what a crossover should be, it’s the embodiment of true serialized entertainment.