What am I talking about this time: DC Comics, Superman #2, “The Unity Saga part 2”
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Joe Prado, Ivan Reis
Cover by: Joe Prado, Ivan Reis
Variant cover by: David Mack, Adam Hughes
Overall Review: 3.5 out of 5 Nuclear Mens
Is it worth $3.99? Yesssssssssssssssss, but not in the way you’d expect… or want.
Spoiler Free Review:
Lenny Bruce was one of those comedians who hit what I like to call, “A weird Patch”. A lot of talent does from time to time- they do things that aren’t exactly great, but have kernels of greatness in them. Shadows of genius mixed with cotton candy madness that corrupts and supports the host at the same time.
Welcome to Bendis meltdown. This comic reads like a gleefully maniacal storyteller testing the waters before he jumps head first into a kiddy-pool. I can honestly tell you I have no clue where this story is going and I’m gonna have a hell of time trying to explain where it just was.
The art is solid and keeps pace with the story, although on a level all it’s own. Backgrounds hearken back to older times for DC, as do some of the main coloring, but there are elements of a modern comedy and aggressive styling’s that stand out in ways that don’t seem to meld as well as I’d hoped.
Did I mention this comic makes no sense from both a story and a story-telling stand point?
Sometimes it’s good to break the rules of writing. And sometimes it’s good to follow them… Gonna have to go with the later for this issue because just about NOTHING makes sense here… Not just from an in-story plot, but also from a basic storytelling 101 standpoint.
Let’s get into this.
Back in the day the Tamaranean people were at war with the Thanagarians. The Tamaraneans were all riled up and ready to fight… till they saw that Rogol Zaar was fighting for Thanagar and their leader pretty much shits himself. Were they scared of how fearsome a warrior Rogol Zaar is, or were they just afraid of his terrible his name is and shallow his development is, so they wanted to distance themselves form him as a character. In any case, that battle begins with lots of people dying and explosions… but Rogol doesn’t actually seem to be doing much… so I guess he’s that much of a bad-ass that you don’t need to show him be a bad-ass.
This first couple pages are a microcosm for this comic as a whole, an impressive set-up that leaves you questioning what little pay-off there was.
Buckle In, we’re gonna get weird.
Next, we’re back were we left off from the previous issue, the whole planet Earth is now in the Phantom Zone. Without a sun or orbit shit is going bananas, so Supes calls in the justice league. Plastic man makes a couple flat jokes, but we ignore that or any action as we cut to Rogol Zaar floating through the Phantom Zone where we left him at the end of Bendis’ Man of Steel arc.
A shadowy figure approaches Rogol (that name sucks so bad), it’s THE NUCLEAR MAN FROM SUPERMAN 4: A QUEST FOR PEACE!!!!!!! For some reason, he’s wearing Superman’s cape!! But don’t worry, that won’t pay off at all. They do battle and, shit you not, less than a couple pages later, Rogol double pounds Nukey’s head causing him to explode in a mushroom cloud and die.
And so begins and ends The Nuclear Man’s run in DC Comics.
OK, let’s pause from this gripping plot(?) for a moment and examine this momentous occasion that exists for no other reason than to give nerds like me an mini-orgasm. I’m not faulting Bendis for this, in fact, I thank him. I loved the battle; this was fun tomfoolery, Easter egg silliness that is what make comics great. Some people may think this a cop out, or just too short of a battle, but I think it’s cool. A cool idea that is… because what does makes this cameo a fail is as a story function, it serves no purpose. None at all.
When a bad guy kills a minion or battles someone other than the hero, it’s usually to show how powerful or evil they are. This gives the audience a peak into what a threat they are to our hero and the world at large. If Nuclear Man’s purpose was to show how tough Rogol Zaar is, than we also need to know how bad-ass the Nuclear Man is by comparison so when Rogol beats him we can see how hard this will be for Superman.
But we don’t show jack-squat about the Nuclear Man other than he glows and needs to cut his nails. Maybe Bendis is just relying on our pristine memory of the Nuclean Man from the 1987 movie so he doens’t need a set-up? But if that’s the case, NM should be powerless, Superman clearly says there is no sun, and without sun, the Nuclear Man goes comatose in the film. If that’s not his power set, than what is? Other than his short-lived punch fest with Rogol Zaar, we don’t get any sense of his Super strength or endurance. Hell, he could have all the powers of Yakov, that weird Russian dad at Back-To-School nights who laughed at innocuous things, and always wanted to talk about the Lakers, no matter how many times you told him you didn’t know anything about sports. And as of right now, you know more about Yakov than then you do about the Nuclear Man.
Back to the “story”. After defeating the Nuclear Man, Rogol holds the cape in his hands and has a staring contest with Superman, who I guess was watching him this whole time?! Then superman flies off cause without the sun he’s losing power.
Superman flies to the new Fortress of Solitude and has an insane conversation with the Flash that might be funny if you read it high or something, but it comes off as weird.
First he tells the Flash he didn’t have to be there, and the Flash replies “but you told me to come”. IS that a joke or just bad writing? Then batman makes a poop joke(?) over the coms and faints and the Flash quickly follows… fainting, not making poop jokes.
That’s where the comic ends, people.
Like I said, this comic is so out there it’s actually entertaining in it’s weirdness, but not in the way you want it to be. Maybe next week we’ll get some… some… reason?!
I need a drink.