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The ’00s Revisited: Superman #164

superman_0164Tales From the Bizarro World

Writer: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Ed McGuinness, Carlo Barberi
Inks: Cam Smith, Juan Vlasco
Jimmy Olsen’s Pal: Joe Casey
Letters: Richard Starkings
Color: Tanya + Richard Horie
Assistant Editor: Tom Palmer Jr.
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: January 2001
Cover Price: $2.25

This issue opens with Jimmy Olsen getting into some trouble, requiring rescue by…well, Superman would be great, but he’s saved by Bizarro #1 instead! While Jimmy deals with the wackiness that his life quickly becomes with Bizarro’s presence, we see Superman and Lois met by Batman, who confirms that there’s no way for them to prove Luthor’s not who and what he claims to be…they can’t throw any last-second interruptions into Luthor’s bid for the presidency. Later, we find Superman watching numerous news reports of the unfolding election night, and J’onn offers a moment of levity against Superman’s rising stress. Meanwhile, Jimmy again finds himself in need of rescuing…this time, an unfamiliar Supergirl shows up. Though the two share a bit of a connection, that’s quickly interrupted by Bizarro. A slugfest ensues, ultimately stopped by Superman…whose presence is a bit unsettling to Jimmy. Finally, we end with the question: is Lex Luthor about to be the President-Elect?

I certainly never appreciated this issue when it came out, back in November of 2000. And I actually recall feeling like I missed an issue somewhere, between this and the one that came the following week. Now, of course, it feels quite appropriate, and I dug it out for a re-read specifically for the timing here…November 2016.

The art is solid enough, though a bit cartooney…as is McGuinness‘ style. I didn’t care for it much back then, and don’t find it entirely appropriate here…but it works, and the art has certainly grown on me…if only for the nostalgia-effect. This issue came out sixteen years ago, and I remember this issue and this period of Superman comics when I was getting the issues brand-new each week.

The story works quite well for me here, and I rather appreciate the glimpse into Jimmy’s side of things. It also gives the reader an entry-point that made this work pretty well as an isolated read, recalling solely that Luthor was running for president, and that this takes place within a couple issues of the Emperor Joker stuff. Which of course explains the new-ness of Bizarro to Jimmy; and this also seems to take place around a major change in the then-current Supergirl title…a lot of changes coming together in one issue.

It’s eerie how appropriate the story is at present, given the nature of the 2016 US Presidential Election. And I think it’s safe to guess that pretty much everyone sees "a Luthor" in the race.

Given all he knows about Luthor, Superman still trusts "the people" and "the system" to see that Luthor can’t possibly actually be elected President. And despite the obvious in terms of relating to someone of his position and powers and all that (to say nothing simply of being a fictional character!)…I find it quite relatable seeing Superman’s reactions in this issue. Then there’s knowing how it all goes, and even ultimately turns out in issues succeeding this one.

This worked far better than I would have expected as an isolated one-off. It’s by no means a jumping-on point in an ongoing sense…but I would say is one of the better issues to just sit and read. You have Superman himself as well as primary supporting characters, and this draws on subplots that’ve built up and also sets things for issues to come. Common as the comparison’s become…it’s like watching an episode of an old tv series one remembers, and enjoying the episode as itself, recalling enough to get by but not necessarily being fully immersed in the ongoing story anymore.

If you’d find this in a bargain bin, it’s well worth getting, particularly 25 to 50 cents. Above $1 I’d avoid it for casual readers…fans of Superman in general, McGuinness‘ visuals or this period of the character might be more interested.

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Age of X: Alpha #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
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Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Deadpool #19 [Review]

Writer: Daniel Way
Penciler: Carlo Barberi
Inkers: Juan Vlasco, Sandu Florea
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Cover: Jason Pearson
Assistant Editor: Jody Leheup
Editor: Axel Alonso
Published by: Marvel Comics

For the most part, I’ve been looking forward to this issue since the Deadpool issue of Amazing Spider-Man several months back. This issue picks up on Peter Parker being the typical version of the character. After a near run-in with Deadpool, he hopes trouble’s not following…but soon finds trouble when a murder is discovered that seems to have Deadpool’s “fingerprints” all over it. Parker tracks Deadpool and beats the guy mercilessly before finally realizing perhaps he’s not the culprit…and Deadpool provides some new information as to who the culprit most likely is–as well as some background on this “Hitman Monkey” character.

This is the best Spider-Man I’ve read in a long time. In fact, it’s the only Spider-Man I’ve read in a long time…and so this story is all the more enjoyable for getting to read a character I like again–the Deadpool issue being the sole issue of Amazing Spider-Man I’ve been able to bring myself to buy since One More Day (and it read like an issue of Deadpool more than it did Spider-Man). Way captures a good part of the character–keeping him recognizable and believable, while leaving out details that date the character. Deadpool seems to be his usual self, which considering Way‘s still the writer, is a good thing. What I don’t care for is this Hit-man Monkey…from what I understand, this is a character created for some sort of webcomic on Marvel’s site, and he’s now being pulled into this title. Were he simply a random character being introduced here for the first time, it would seem far more fitting, and I wouldn’t feel like I’m missing out on some in-joke.

The art is quite good, and I really like the way the characters are depicted throughout the issue. Though I’d enjoyed the Deadpool story in Amazing Spider-Man, I recall the art being a complete turn-off…here, Spidey looks normal, if not very good as a whole…certainly significantly better than the last time I’d seen him. Additionally, this version of Deadpool has a certain visual “feel” that adds to me liking this book.

Story, art…this is a very good issue of Deadpool, and as the start of a new story–one involving Spider-Man–seems a decent point for new readers to jump in and check things out. Of the various Deadpool books, this (for the moment at least) is my favorite…perhaps for being rooted in actual ongoing main Marvel continuity rather than playing in its own sandbox off to the side or with what are–while good stories–still fairly inconsequential done-in-ones.

Highly recommended!

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

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