Friday, March 17, 2006

The Return of the Kryptonite Monkey

I absolutely loved the "One Year Later" issue of Superman by Busiek and Johns that came out this week.

Clark as a outstanding reporter / really nice guy. Lois, spunky but likeable. Jimmy, the loveable screw-up. Irascible but supportive Perry White. Lex Luthor, scot-free but not squeaky clean. It wasn't until I starting writing this post that I realized I had enjoyed a great issue of Superman without Superman being in it!

I enjoy that the issue (like most of the OYL I've seen so far) raises at least as many questions as it answers, especially, how did Clark, Lex, and Jimmy arrive at their new status quos? Oh, and "the Avenue of Tomorrow" is nothing short of a brilliant addition to Metropolis. Metropolis has long need more character of its own, and this is a huge leap in that direction. "Science gone awry" is right up Superman's alley, and it's nice to put that alley in the middle of Metropolis!

I very much appreciate the efficiency which the story unfolded, without seeming rushed. Finally, DC editors (or, at least, writers Busiek and Johns) have realized that, as a general rule, "decompressed" storytelling is "inflated" storytelling. That's why people still read Poe, but not so much Dickens.

As also appreciate the return to a setting and supporting cast for Superman that, while renewed, feels familiar. It's my theory that myths (like those about superheroes) are more about revolving than evolving. The borders of myth don't continue to expand in all directions; they're fractal, exploring similar patterns at different levels in different combinations, so they can always be interesting, always be changing, without losing their recognizable overall shape.

Plus! The issue worked in the re-creation of a Classic Superman Villain. What I really want Busiek and Johns to tell us, however, the above scene inspired by the original story, which we've discussed here before?

PLEASE tell me it is. If so, forget Infinite Crisis; The Return of The Kryptonite Monkey is THE story of 2006.


naladahc said...

Of course, that means Beppo can't be far behind!

Marc Burkhardt said...

Best issue of Superman that I read in a long time. I also liked the "Clark Kent, Supergirl's Best Friend" bit with the signal watch...

Can't wait for the return of Titano, the ultimate kryptonite ape!

Tegan O'Neil said...

Yeah, I figured that monkey would get turned into a new Titano as well.

David C said...

I liked this issue a lot. At first, I was a little annoyed by what seemed to be a return to the old "Lex Luthor, powerful and untouchable CEO," but turns out things aren't quite that cut and dried, are they?

And so many questions, having fun with the One Year Later setup! BTW, you heard it here first, based on revelations from DC insiders that I'm making up: Jimmy Olsen's acting a little frazzled because he's preparing to become the new Wonder Woman!

"decompressed" storytelling is "inflated" storytelling.

Could you elaborate on this a bit? I think you're probably making a really good point here, but I'm not quite sure I understand it.

Scipio said...

Concise is good. Drawn out is bad.

Comics shouldn't ape the timing of television or cinema, which uses pauses and silences to dramatic effect. It doesn't go over well in comics, which are a silent medium in which the reader was control over how fast they take the story in.

And, NO, I'm not talking about Titano, gang! I'm talking about the original Kryptonite monkey (check the link in the post).

Anonymous said...

I loved Superman.

My worst fear was that they were going to revert Lex to roaming evil scientist and throw the other stuff out. But they didn't and I'm so reading next issue.

Plus there has to be love for kryptonite powered primates. Both Human and Monkey.

Jeff R. said...

My worst fear was/is that Lex is going to end up with Highly Selective Amnesia and, as a result of something in the gap, no longer know Superman's secret ID. (But Zatanna doesn't do that any more, honest...)

I was fairly sure that they had done just that on first reading, but after the second, I'm not so sure.

(Also thought that the Newspaper headlines were a much better means of 52-foreshadowing [anteshadowing?] than the '3 months/6 months/9 months/12 months' conversation in Detective)

Anonymous said...

Kryptonite Man having a red "V" across the chest, which a whole lot of characters with names beginning with V like Vigilante and Vitaman (and thus more reason to wear a giant V) already have, makes me frown.

Anonymous said...

First off, my local comic book store was sold out of Superman. My local comic book store has never been sold out of anything, especially not Superman!

So, good job, Kurt (and Geoff and Pete, if you're reading), but I will have to wait to comment.

"My worst fear was/is that Lex is going to end up with Highly Selective Amnesia and, as a result of something in the gap, no longer know Superman's secret ID. (But Zatanna doesn't do that any more, honest...)"

Lex, um, doesn't know Superman's identity anymore. Hasn't since 2002. Manchester Black mind-wiped him of that as a parting gift to Supes, but that was okay because Black was the one who "told" Lex in the first place.

No, I didn't like it either, because, like the whole Lex Presidency, it was a GREAT idea that was left totally unexploited before being written away.

If, and again I haven't read it yet so I don't know, if the new issue suggest Luthor DOES know something, that would be a 52 development, and I welcome the change.

Scipio said...

It isn't a "V". It's a visual echo of the "grapehugger" costume of the original Kryptonite Man, as is the scientist's pronounced widow's peak.

Have you ever seen a picture of the Kryptonite Man? Google for an image and you'll understand once you've seen it.

Anonymous said...

Best in-continuity issue of a Superman comic I have read in a long, long, time. I've been digging the OYL stuff more that I thought I would, and so far Superman has been the crown jewel.

As it should be.

Jeff R. said...

Eh? I thought that during the whole Ruin business Supes' main theory was that Ruin knew who his friends were through Lex, even after the whole Black thing was already done.

Like Lex doesn't keep biometrically encrypted notes of important things like that for himself just in case Zee does start coming round again...

Anyhow, his actions make a good deal more sense at this point if he does know. But we'll see; it's only 1 issue in.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to nitpick, but the bright green poll on the side is hurting my eyes. Do you think you could change it to something a little less neon?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Superman's theory was wrong, though because a) Superman didn't know about the mind wipe, and still thought that Luthor knew he's Clark and b) Ruin was working for the Society Luthor, who turned out to be ALEXANDER LUTHOR, who knows everything anyway.

"Like Lex doesn't keep biometrically encrypted notes of important things like that for himself just in case Zee does start coming round again..."

That's possibly true, but if so it hasn't been revealed yet. Last time it was mentioned, Luthor was highly pissed off because he definitely didn't know, but was left with the memory that at one point he did know, because Black wanted to torture him.

Benhatt said...

Yes! Go Kryptonite monkey. I see glowing green monkey shirts, dolls, bandaids, maybe a flashlight, or some sort of vest you coudl wear so as not to get lost in a snow storm or his by a car while jogging. With such a vivid color the possibilities are endless

That said, the real strength of the comic is that it let us know that we are a year later without going "Hey, we're a year later and by the way THERE IS SOMEONE NEW ON OUR TEAM". I love the twist, that single drop of blood and the glass jaw comment but it didn't feel like the whole story was written just for that moment. Definitely the best OYL later title so far.

Dave said...

While I was laughing at this post, my wife asked me what was so funny, and I realized there was no way to explain without recapping the last fifty years of comics.

I left it as "Oh, nothing."

Rowland said...

This will not have effect in fact, that's exactly what I suppose.
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