Superman #45 Review (Week of October 28)
The Adventures of Clark Kent continue as he investigates the whereabouts of Hordr_Root, the super-villain whose actions ultimately led Lois Lane to reveal Superman’s secret identity to the world. Unfortunately, this issue takes an inexplicably odd turn away from the premise that initially made this arc appealable in the first place. For some reason, writer Gene Luen Yang forces the narrative sideways into a scenario where Clark now finds himself fighting for cash amongst a bunch of long-forgotten ‘gods’ who must relentlessly engage in street fighting so that they are not forgotten, thus ensuring their survival. The appearance of Hordr_Root appears as almost an after-thought and the only scene that I was interested in seeing explored was a much needed conversation between Clark and Lois that never happened. Sadly, this entire issue feels like filler. Other than a tid-bit of information (provided in one panel) that Hordr_Root is actually capable of being anybody simply by switching his software to another human body, this comic does not move the central plot point forward. Readers want to know about Hordr-Root and see Clark explore the fall out and healing of his relationships to Lois Lane and his supporting cast. I am significantly less interested in meeting an entire new cast of characters that do nothing but distract me from an otherwise interesting story and justify nothing but a page count (and a $3.99 price tag).
Having said this, I acknowledge that some of the new characters are interesting, but the concept of gods (calling themselves ‘mythbrawlers’) fighting to be remembered is not original as it is reminiscent of the founding premise of Vertigo’s Fables and ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Frankly, it is hard to be impressed with alleged ‘gods’ whose raison d’etre is beating the crap out of each other so they are not forgotten. Apparently, if they are forgotten, they will literally cease to exist. (Full disclosure; if their existence depends on my remembrance of them, their lives will end the moment you’re finished reading this review).
Yang has committed one of my pet peeves; decompressing a storyline for no meaningful narrative purpose. If all Superman is going to be doing in the foreseeable future is hop, skip and jump from state to state as Hordr_Root reboots in new human identities (that he calls ‘hardware’), DC might as well slap numbered triangles on all Superman related comics and celebrate the 1990’s in full regalia. This issue epitomizes what I feared would happen under a new writer. I was hoping that Yang would define his own story and not be poisoned by the habits of the status quo of decompression and writing only for the trade. All is not lost, but I sincerely hope that this story gets back on track and focus on Clark and his traditional supporting cast because that is where the story lies; not in a bunch of third party characters that (as I predicted) I have already forgotten.
On a more positive note, artist Howard Porter does an admirable job illustrating Superman’s travels and the comics numerous fight sequences. Porter is far better than John Romita Jr. but since nothing is ever at stake for Clark in the story, not even his detailed art can cloak the reality that the narrative is devoid of gravitas.
I remain hopeful and award this issue a 6.7/10.