Superman #19: "Deja New-52"

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As we continue coverage of the SUPERMAN: REBORN storyline that has been occuring in the pages of SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS, the story heats up in the third act by resurrecting a lost hero.

SUPERMAN #19 takes us back to the first few moments when Jonathan was taken by Mxyzptlk. It's sort of what you'd see on a CW show where they give an intro such as 'previously on (insert show title here)'. While this is sort of irritating for those of us who HAVE been following along, this helps readers who are jumping in understand what's happening. However, when panel real estate is so limited in comic books these days...there's nothing more frustrating that having that space wasted on story you've already read.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Jumping to the 4th page, where we finally further the story along, Mxyzptlk pops back in when Superman suggests that a game is being played. Intrigued by the idea that Superman wants to play a game with him like they used to do. In probably the creepiest looking image of Mxyzptlk I've seen in a long time, he reminds Superman that they USED to play games. But not anymore.

With a snap of his fingers, Mxy teleports himself, Lois and Superman to a place he calls 'out between the in-between. Next door to infinity's backyard.' Where normal rules like gravity, physics and reality don't exist. Superman is surrounded by a strange blue aura, which Mxy describes as the 'inner essence' that makes Superman who he is.

When he attempts to get rid of Lois, Superman objects. Mxy then delivers a crushing blow to shippers of the Superman/Wonder Woman power couple by saying: "Lois and Clark, Clark and Lois. No matter what, when or where it's always you two. Even in fractured quantum space-time you manage to find each other". Essentially Mxy explains that, no matter what ,Lois and Clark will always be together, suggesting that they are cosmically linked to one another across all space and time.

Unless you're looking for merchandise, because then DC Comics is all about pairing Superman and Wonder Woman together. But that's another topic for another day. I digress...

Mxy explains that he's still hurt by being forgotten about. Even when there were two Supermen wandering about, neither one of them bothered to save him from his interdimensional prison. When the New 52 Superman exploded into 'red energy', Mxy wasn't upset at all. It is here that Lois discovers the origin of Superwoman's powers. Mxy cuts her off and introduces them to "The Infinite Planet".

Once again reminding Superman that he was forgotten about, Mxy tells him that in order to retrieve Jonathan, he must get to the top. To the Planet's globe. Superman tries to fly but his aura pins him to the ground. That's when Mxy strikes a deal. If you thought it would be as easy as Superman flying up and snatching Jonathan, you haven't been paying attention. Mxy's deal is a win or lose proposition. If Superman wins, Mxy goes far far away. If Superman loses: Jonathan remains in the fifth dimension forever and Superman and Lois are forgotten about.

Superman signs Mxy's contract.

Meanwhile Jonathan is trapped in his prison, hoping his parents will hear his voice. When two red flares appear, he hears them talking to him. An image appears, displaying the New 52 Superman and Lois Lane, and Jonathan immediately assumes it's his parents. He's corrected though, as everyone knows the New 52 Superman was in love with Wonder Woman. His relationship with Lois was strictly professional. That wasn't explained in the book, though, as DC continues to work hard to eliminate that from people's memories. Anyways, Jonathan tells the red flares that he wants to be reunited with his family.

Color is such an important piece of this story, as red represents characters from the New 52 and blue represents pre-Flashpoint.

Jonathan suggests that if the red flares found him, then maybe they could help find his parents. As the red flares begin to merge with Jonathan's blue aura, his aura turns red near his fingertips where the flares entered.

We are then transported to a gameboard, showing images of Superman and Lois' adventures as Mxy sings a song of forgetting who they are. Lois finally has something to do in this story, as Superman's memories begin to fade and Lois does a lot of yelling to get him to re-focus and stay with her. Superman regains his senses and shouts Jonathan's name; Jon hears him and shouts back.

Angered that Superman must have cheated somehow, Mxy gets in the way and blocks him and Lois from reaching the Planet's globe. Jonathan pleads with the red flares to help him save his parents as Superman and Lois' memories continue to fade. They are forgetting all about Jonathan and the game Mxy is playing. With red energy flowing through him, Jonathan shouts with great power: "My name's Jonathan Samuel Kent! I'm your SON!"

The globe explodes in a ball of red fire, as the two red flares exit Jonathan's body and Mxy scrambles for his life. When the dust clears, New 52 Superman hovers above Mxyzptlk holding Lois and Jonathan.

While I can appreciate the symbolism throughout this issue, so far this was the weakest chapter, in my opinion. In an attempt to bring back New 52 Superman, returning to the days of Superman 'Red' and Superman 'Blue', the issue does what it's supposed to do. But in the end it's a lot of style and very little substance to make it happen. It didn't feel like a full issue with wasted space at the beginning for an episode re-cap. I never liked the paragraph long recap page until I realized the alternative was using up panels that could be used to further the story along.

Don't forget to check out the re-caps for SUPERMAN #18 and ACTION COMICS #975. The story concludes today in ACTION COMICS #976!

 

Written by:

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

Art by:

Gleason, Gray and Kalisz

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0