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Monday, August 31, 2015 

Sugarcoated take on Superman's Ulysses tale

Here's a fluff-coated mishmash on Arcamax about Geoff Johns's rotten story in Superman featuring a character called Ulysses:
For a lot of people, Superman is one of those characters that they know is important, but they aren't all that interested in reading about him. The Chief Creative Officer of DC Comics, Geoff Johns, is trying to change that.
If he's in charge, then the only change made is a bad one. His name alone is reason enough to pass.
Johns took over "Superman" almost a year ago and immediately set about re-establishing the Clark Kent we know, emphasizing his relationships with Perry White, Jimmy Olsen and -- although not his girlfriend these days -- Lois Lane. It felt pretty natural, and all the changes of recent years by other authors to freshen up the mild-mannered reporter felt less intrusive.
I don't see how an editorial mandate dictating that Clark and Lois can no longer be paramours feels "natural". It only feels stilted, and takes away a serious amount of creative freedom.
On the Superman side, Johns presented the Last Son of Krypton with someone entirely new: The Last Son of Earth! Stumbling onto our planet from "dimension 4" was Ulysses, a character who may be as powerful as the Man of Steel, and who has an eerily similar origin. His scientist parents, it seems, thought the world was ending 25 years ago, and rocketed baby Ulysses to another dimension where they hoped he'd gain super powers and come to be its champion.

Could this possibly be true? Could this strange visitor really be what he appears to be? It seems so implausible, and yet these "Men of Tomorrow" do discover Ulysses' parents, who survived the calamity he remembered. And he does seem rather heroic. It takes him a while to understand this whole "secret identity" thing, but he proves to be very useful in Superman's mission.
Under Johns' penning, however, the story will prove useless to the audience. A story that smells of trivializing commie-style beliefs isn't something I'd consider worthwhile.
To draw this story, DC Comics tapped John Romita Jr., a popular artist they lured away from Marvel Comics, where Romita's father is something of a legend (he was the second artist to take on "Amazing Spider-Man," and served for years as art director). Romita's big-screen, in-your-face, kinetic style was a perfect match for this story, which relies as much on action as mystery.

And now the story has reached its climax, and been collected. "Superman Vol. 6: The Men of Tomorrow" ($24.99) includes Johns' entire run on "Superman" -- eight issues -- which presumably sets the stage for a Super-renaissance.

Which only works if "Men of Tomorrow" gets us all interested in reading "Superman" again. Will it? There's only one way to find out (and it's not by getting rocketed to another planet).
No, it's by avoiding the book altogether. There's no point picking up a book written by such an awful writer, and 25 dollars is quite a lot for just 8 issues. DC must be following in Marvel's footsteps, charging too much for too little. If this were 10 or 12 issues, I could accept 25 as a fitting price, but not a mere 8. As for Romita Jr, as I'd said before, he was once as fine an artist as Romita Sr, but over the past decade slipped into mediocrity. His character design for the Man of Steel and co-stars doesn't work well.

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I'm not as critical of Johns as you are, Avi, but his arc was much ado about nothing. It was a convulated excuse to have Clark return to the daily planet, and an excuse to
have Jimmy Olsen in on Clark's secret. Ulysses was a piss-poor two dimensional character who predictably went unstable. The notion of Clark bonding to this guy out of loneliness was outright pitiful. Batman has been his best friend since the reboot and he's dating Wonder Woman. Enough of Superman's pity party. And Lois Lane was no more visible in Johns' run than she was in Lobdell's or previous new 52 runs, so the author's line about Johns emphasizing relationship with Lois is a lie.
Plus the reveal of the new solar flare power was pathetic. I genuinely expected better from Johns but his short run was lackluster to say the least. But a dull and lame as Johns writing was, Romita's art was far worse. I'd say you're being polite by calling it mediocre.
In the end, the market didn't care for Johns story either. You can check the monthly sales charts and see how each successive issue sold worse than the previous one. Even the insanely hyped issue #38 that introduced the super flare power sold less than issue #37. Heck, I don't think #38 even sold 50k. "Men of Tomorrow" made Lobdell's "H'el on Earth" seem like a masterpiece. 8 issues of the Man of Sulk.

...how can things like this be propaganda if it doesn't invigorate you and makes you think about what the piece of propaganda is trying to tell you?

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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