Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Graphic Novels - Superman: Exile

In the time of decent music, bad hair-dos and bad business,
There was a man...a superman
who came from another world with extraordinary powers.
He used those powers for the good of mankind and he lived by a strict moral code: Never kill.
One day, he broke that code and fell apart because of it. 
In time, it became so bad, he felt that he had leave his adopted world to protect it from himself.
This is his story... (Cue Conan Music)
And here it is. I don't know why I held this off for the last few months. It's probably because I did not know how I would format it. Throw grad school, a PS3, and a needed break into the mix as well. Would it be the detailed format or the short (quick synopsis, opinion, highlights) format? Well, I've decided to do the latter, but it's because this GN is DENSE. So much goes on in these issues, which is why I am referring ya'll to From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast if you want a more detailed and probably better look at this event.

The creative team for this event involves names like Jerry Ordway, Roger Stern, Kerry Gamill, Dan Jurgens, Curt Swan, and George Perez. So, with all of that out of the way, it's time to get this done.

We start out with Superman in space as we see what has gotten him to make this decision to leave Earth. Armed with an air belt and an Omega Men teleporter (as well as a cassette of  Ghost in the Machine), Superman leaves the solar system. On Earth, we get a lot of different subplots involving the supporting cast. Ma and Pa Kent are dealing with Clark's decision as well as trying to cover for him and take care of Matrix (the Supergirl from the pocket universe), Lex Luthor is still being a class-A D-bag, a woman named Amanda McCoy is trying to expose Clark's identity (and is doing a horrible job at it), and a whole lot of other stuff is happening during Superman's disappearance.

Meanwhile, Superman is having an adventure of some sorts. While mulling over his problems, he has saved people and faced a space entity. The stuff really hits the fan when he goes up against an old villain by the name of Hruufff.....Herferrru.......I'm just going to call the guy Squidward. Just look at the guy! Anyway, he faces this dude and his mind-blowing Collective of brains....yeah....weird. Somehow, he's able to overcome Squidward and leaves to do some more mulling.
Squidward: Now where is my clarinet?

He comes to find a planet that is much like Earth but uninhabited. He decides to make it a home and even does some farming. Unfortunately, the planet's environment makes it impossible for him to live there. Peeved, Superman leaves and somehow he starts to leak air from his belt. Eventually, he passes out in space. During this, he has what is one of the weirdest acid trips in existence, but I'll get to it later.

He is luckily saved by a slave ship that is heading towards Warworld. Superman puts up a fight and he is entered into contest to see who is the best fighter. Superman is forced to fight combatants (and in classic Gladiator fashion no less) and he beats them all. He's supposed to kill them but he refuses because that goes against his code. This ticks off the Mongul,  the leader of Warworld. The two eventually go at it and fight with Superman unfortunately losing. During all of this action, another character is introduced called the Cleric. To make a long story short, he has close ties to Krypton's past and when he finds out that there is a Kryptonian out there, he tries to meet up with Superman. Meanwhile, on Earth....Matrix turns into Clark and heads to Metropolis...Yeah, that. Plus hilarity ensues.
Man, I wish I had a protoplasmic entity that could turn into me so I could travel the world with my honeybun...Oh Well!

Back on Warworld, Mongul has Superman captured and is about to kill one of the gladiator slaves when Clark gets his second breath and "WHOOPS" the crap out of Mongul. Clark's then teleported to the Cleric, where they finally discuss things. On Warworld, Draaga, one of the gladiators Superman spared, is taking it to Mongul. On an asteroid, Superman and the Cleric do some soul-searching with a Kryptonian artifact called the Eradicator. Superman feels so much guilt over what he did in the Pocket Universe, but he ultimately feels that it was all he could do at the time.
I really wish he kept the beard...

 The Cleric tells Superman to return to Earth because Superman left them without its greatest champion. The Cleric soon dies of old age and passes on the Eradicator to Superman. Now recharged, shaven, and wearing the finest of all superhero suits, Superman returns to Earth just in time to save the city from a rampaging robot.

Dang, that was too quick. I skipped over so much plot and subplot, but it happens. This just means you have to go read it yourself. So what do I think of this story?
I like it. I'll admit that it's not one of my favorite Superman stories, but it is still a good one. I guess I'll start off with the good stuff first. The writing is well done. Superman is shown here in all sorts of facets. Yes, he does kinda run away from his problem, but he still is the hero when lives need saving. The supporting characters also get some time during this event. Probably the biggest development is what happens to Matrix...that was weird. It was also cool seeing a part of Krypton's history, and Superman's time with the Cleric was good. The Cleric's back story was cool as well as tragic. We also get something that will play a major role in Superman's life, and that thing is called the Eradicator. Is there a moral to the story? I have no clue. Maybe it's that one should always face their problems head on, I don't know.

 The art was good as usual. One thing I liked was how it was pretty consistent throughout the whole storyline. With five artists around, that's hard to do. It was cool seeing some of Dan Jurgens' early work with the character. If you don't know who he is, just wait until he  _____ __________.   The only complaint I have about the trade overall is that it sometimes feels too dense at times. I guess that happens when you compile about 11 issues together.  Plus, other than Superman being more firmly grounded in not killing, nothing else happens to him character-wise. Other than those small things, it's a good read and I recommend it.

This book does have a few highlights within it. Not too many, but enough that will make you want to read this over and over.

1. The Dream
One of the issues takes place primarily in Superman's head. Basically, he dreams of the Phantom Zone villains coming back from the dead and attacking him. Suddenly, the Non and Ursa (I can't remember their actual names) wanna-bes turn into the era's Lex Luthor and Brainiac (who looked frickin' ridiculous!). After they taunt Superman more, this happens:, lay off those space mushrooms! Next you'll be asking questions like "What did the five fingers say to the face?"

2. Luthor's Embarrassment
Early on in the book, we get a subplot that involves Jose Delgado a.k.a. Gangbuster. He's being forced to kill Dr. Emil Hamilton. Luckily, Emil is able to free Jose from Luthor's control and even gets the bald butthead back in an awesome way.

3. Kal-El the Barbarian
"CROM!" This is the ultimate highlight of the book. Seeing Superman take down some gladiators and then Mongul is pretty sweet.
"....and I AM A MAN...OF STEEL!!!!" (punch)

4. The Return
When Superman returns to Earth, he returns in a big way by giving Jimmy a big hug (as well as "the Skivis!") and saving Lois from an Intergang robot.
Apparently, Superman never heard of having good hygiene. Why? See what happens to Jimmy after this.
Well, I have finally done this thing. Check it out.  Next time, I'll get to something a little different and grounded....and it involves a guy running around in a batsuit in Metropolis.


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