Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: Aaron Kuder
Variant Cover: Neal Adams
Review by: cloisismyfairytale
October is here, and we are almost done with the Doomed arc. It was brought around nicely at the end of Doomed 2, with Superman saving the day. But (I’m sure we’ve all seen it by now) we had a nice little moment at the end, where we were shown this shattered pieces of the Multiverse being controlled or kept by a big bad Brainiac.
So I asked myself, what could Doomed really have been for Superman? I think it’s really in the crux of the story. Superman was sick. His sales. His New 52 concept. Everything about him was covered in darkness. Now he’s beaten that darkness. This was represented by the Doomsday virus and Brainiac. The sickness and getting rid of the old (Brainiac was one of the first villains he faced). This is now the healing process. After all of us being sick and tired of this, we’ve purged away the darkness. Like a detox. What comes after? Let’s look at the clues…
Superman has returned to Earth after 60 days. He’s greeted by a shot of Kryptonite from a WayneTech satellite (Hi Bruce, nice to see ya too). This of course weakens him and he’s saved by a sight for sore eyes: Kara! I love Greg Pak’s characterization of Kara. No longer are these two cousins fighting but helping each other. She’s happy he’s alive. She’s shown to truly care for him. She comforts him. Almost like the brother/sister relationship that I’ve come to expect from them. She has even taken up his mantle and helped people while Superman was gone. 10/10 to Greg Pak for his Kara.
Kara takes her cousin to the Fortress of Solitude. It is in ruins. His zoo animals and the bottle city of Kandor are sucked into the Phantom Zone, and everything is shut down. But Clark steps up to the controls and resets the systems (Clark says reboot, but we don’t like that word so let’s us reset). After war comes the rebuilding process. Let’s look at all of this for a moment. Kara and Clark are no longer angry and fighting, a clear different direction from the inception of the New 52. Then Clark’s resetting the Fortress’ systems. Could this mean Superman is being reset? The Fortress is made up of living crystals, and “She needs to heal” like Superman. After this battle, this war with Doomsday and Brainiac, we all need a break to heal our systems from this Superman. Could this mean a metaphorical reset too? (I mean on the reset page, there is a Superman with a spit-curl! Not very New 52)
When we need to get better, when we need to find ourselves again, there is one place we go to. Home. And I’m so glad that for Clark his home is still Smallville. Home is where the heart is. I’m hoping that by the time these systems reset, Superman, Clark, will have heart in the story again. I love him remembering The Kent’s. Remembering his father’s words “Gift not a curse” because that is what Superman is. He will never be a curse on humanity. Ever. His powers are a great gift and he should feel that way always, because when he believes in himself, when he believes in his purpose, he is a better Superman.
Speaking of curses we are met by Clark Kent’s best friend from childhood, Lana Lang. At first she is happy Clark is back, but then, she shows a truly selfish and spiteful streak. Clark knows lives were lost. Thousands of lives were lost. He feels responsible for that. He is carrying that weight on his shoulders and he will always carry it with him. He’s Clark. He felt remorse and begged forgiveness for killing plant and animal life. He feels all life is precious. Lana dumps to this heavy weight by adding her parents’ lives. She cuts him deep by saying he shouldn’t have missed saving them.
I don’t care what anyone says, that was downright mean! As a best friend, to say that to your clearly hurt friend, and then let it purposely just hang in the air, to make him feel worse… She should be dropped off of Team Superman. I hated it! I disliked Lana in these panels! She of all the people around him should know exactly what he went through to save the world. She was in his head! She saw what he was fighting. She made him feel guilty. She offered no support. It broke my heart. He’s a man, not a God. He couldn’t have saved everyone.
We see Lana and John Henry Irons (Steel) are dating, and worse more, Clark isn’t needed in Smallville. He’s made to feel like an outsider in his own home.
He then visits Bruce, where Bruce explains that he built the satellite as a precaution in case Clark was still infected by the Doomsday virus. Bruce then echoes a message from Lana: Superman isn’t needed. Clark should lay low.
We’re now in Metropolis and Clark sits in the dark of his apartment (apparently it’s okay after he trashed it). Clark has time to ponder over this and throws himself a pity party by writing an article for his blog, “Who needs Superman, anyway?”
Who do you call to slap some sense into a moody mopey Clark? Lois Lane. In true Lois fashion, she near almost bangs down his front door and charges in. She sets Clark truly and firmly right in one line. “Then you don’t understand Superman at all.” And she’s right. Lois is 100% right. Clark moping around wondering if the world needs Superman, he doesn’t know a thing about Superman. But more to it, I think this is a direct line to DC Comics. They don’t understand Superman, at all. He isn’t about battles and cosmic-epic-dark-grittiness. He’s about heart, soul and goodness. 10/10 Greg Pak.
Lois then goes on to snap back with a powerful article.
“You call him an alien, but this is where he belongs.”
THIS! This is why Clark/Superman needs Lois Lane! She is the one true pure believer. She is the one to accept him, faults and all.
“But that’s not just about him inspiring us. That’s about us showing him the way.”
For so long we’ve asked, why New 52 Superman cares about us humans if he is so alienated. Here it is.
Because he loves us. He loves humanity. We are his inspiration, as much as he is ours. He sees our potential to be better, and this drives him to be our hero. And when we see him fighting the good fight, in him we see our potential to be better. This is why he puts on the cape, and fights every day for humanity’s chance to live, and why he will never stop fighting. Does the world need Superman? Yes. Yes we so desperately do.
“I don’t know where Superman is. But he better get his butt back home. Because he needs to see this.”
Lois Lane, thank you.
Yes. Superman does need to see this. While his friends basically tell him that he’s useless, Lois pleads for Superman’s return, because she knows that if the world didn’t have a Superman, we would still have been attacked by Brainiac, collected, that was never his fault, but we also wouldn’t have had the opportunity to say “What would Superman do?” and draw on that strength and light, and be better.
Here Greg Pak gets the importance of Lois Lane to the Superman Mythology. It’s about time someone did.
Clark thinks that she has lost all memories of his secret identity. I don’t think she has. One reason is the fact that she’s written a story about everything that’s happened. Can’t have it one way and not the other. The other reason is the article she writes to Superman. I think she’s keeping his secret, waiting for him to tell her when he is ready. I think that after she read his article she knew that she was the only one who could snap back the hero in him. Why? Because she is a true believer in Superman. It took me back to the Doomed story “True Believers”. In the story it seems everyone listed as a true believer is a Faux Believer and has turned on Superman. Wonder Woman tried to cut his head off. Bruce has a Kryptonite pulse shooting satellite built. Lana just basically told him to go away. Lois, who was not listed, when the chips are down is the true believer of Superman.
We are left with a scene back in Smallville with Lana whispering to Clark, that Lois is wrong, that we’re better off without him, because he makes us weak and then we die. Lana honey, I know this is tough to hear, but we all die. Some through tragedy or some after a long life lived. It’s just the way things are and it was your parents’ time. Grow up and stop bringing down Clark. I know you’re hurting, but this is not the way to heal. You don’t bring people down you always lift them up, especially family and friends.
In the end we see a scene rip and ready for Halloween: Zombie Lang’s popping out of their graves!