Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tales From the Trade! - Superman: For Tomorrow

Next up on the list of stories I want to look at is this one. This was one I was always curious about mostly because it’s not exactly well-liked by most. I kind of remember seeing this out on stands whenever I’d go to a book store like Waldenbooks. The covers to the issues looked cool but that was all I really saw of it. I’ve seen the artwork just about everywhere online. I mean, it’s some good Jim Lee artwork. Recently, I finally decided to check it out by getting the two trades that contains the story.

“For Tomorrow” was a storyline that took place in Superman #204-#215. Jim Lee was the big artist for this one. He was fresh off from his time on Batman. I guess he decided he wanted to tackle DC’s other big hero. The inks are mostly handled by Lee’s regular inker, Scott Williams. More did come on though as the arc went along.  Along for the ride is writer Brian Azzarello. I mostly know for his later work like Wonder Woman and some other stuff. I know he was on a Vertigo book called 100 Bullets at the time and I’ve heard it’s not bad. So, sit back as I try to synopsize this story where Superman gets philosophical.

Superman: For Tomorrow
Writer: Brian Azzarrello
Pencils: Jim Lee
Inks: Scott Williams and others
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh and Nick J. Napolitano

While Superman is off in space on a mission, something made 1 million people disappear from the Earth. Lois Lane, Clark’s wife, was unfortunately one of them. When Superman returns just minutes later, he realizes what happened. A year passes and Superman is still searching for answers. He decides to stop by a church and speak to a Catholic priest named Father Leone. Father Leone is suffering from cancer and it is terminal. Superman decides to confide in Leone and tell him about some of the things he’s learned about the Vanishing. The two also wax poetically about humanity, emotions, and all sorts of other stuff.
This was funny.

During his conversations, Superman tells Leone about who caused the Vanishing. It turns out a Middle Eastern dictator got ahold of a powerful device and used it in his country. The dictator was then involved in a coup which left a general named Nox in charge of said country (it didn’t get a name). Superman gets involved especially when a super-powered… thing named Eqqus is involved with Nox. Eventually, Nox finds out about the device while Superman is listening in on him. Another fight breaks out between Superman and Eqqus and that led Eqqus to use the Vanishing device. As he disappeared, 300,000 more people disappeared.
Cool image.

Superman takes the device for safe keeping but is contacted by some bozo named Mr. Orr. His organization (who also was behind Eqqus) wants the device but Superman won’t budge and leaves. The Justice League of America and the public find out about Superman’s actions and are a bit peeved with him. Also, some immortal woman sends manifestations of Earth’s elements to fight Superman. Because of this, Wonder Woman gets involved with the woman who’s known as Halycon. Eventually, Mr. Orr gets in on the conversation since it involves Superman and Vanishing device. Eventually, it’s revealed that Superman plans to use the device in order to find the missing people.
Now if you excuse me, I gotta go turn on a light on the roof for the other guy with a cape.

 Elsewhere, Superman talks to Batman and basically tells him to keep strong. He asks Father Leone if he wants to accompany him to the Fortress of Solitude. He takes him to the Antarctic and shows him around. He also tells Leone that he’s been working on the Vanishing device to see why it does what it does. Suddenly, Wonder Woman shows up and tells Superman to give over the device. He refuses and a fight breaks out in Fortress. Orr is also in the area since he’s been tracking Leone. He found out about Superman’s and Leone’s meetings and basically said he could cure Leone’s cancer. Superman had set the Fortress to self destruct if it was attacked, so he tells Wonder Woman to save Orr and Leone. She does that and Superman uses the Vanishing device to transport somewhere.
While his blood can't cure all disease, it definitely can make a dent in your car.

The device transports Superman to a paradise. There, he finds the survivors, Lois, his parents (the Birthright versions) and Clark Kent. Ultimately, all is revealed. The Vanishing device was created by Superman in case Earth ended up meeting Krypton’s fate. The device transports people to the Phantom Zone where Superman has created this paradise. He created robotic versions of his birth parents and himself to safeguard the place. He left the device there and forced himself to forget about it since he thought it wouldn’t be a good idea.

Unfortunately, the main city, Metropia, is under siege by a group of folk who didn’t like the paradise. Things are made worse now that Eqqus is here and they are being led by General Zod. It turns out Zod found the device and figured out how to use it. He sent it to Earth and that was how everything involving the Vanishing got set into motion. They now have the device which was left in the care of one of the robots. Back on Earth, Leone was subjected to experimentation by Orr’s organization. They end up turning him a being that similar to Eqqus, their other creation.
Symbolism!!! Also, I don't know, Azzarello. You tell me!

A massive fight breaks out in Metropia and ultimately destroys it. The robots Superman created are destroyed. Superman is able to get the device and sends it to Leone who is finished with his procedure. Leone sends it back along with himself to the Phantom Zone. Superman ultimately uses the device to send all of the missing people back to Earth. Zod is left in the Phantom Zone. Superman finds Leone in his new state but Eqqus chimes in and Leone sacrifices himself to save Superman. In the end, everything more or less goes back to normal and Superman creates a new Fortress of Solitude in the Amazon.

So, what did I think of the overall story? I’d say “Hold on to your butts” if it was pretty horrid but alas, I can’t. While it has some promise in areas, it’s not really good. I wonder how the heck this storyline got an Absolute Edition made of it. It’s kind of baffling even though the art is good. It had some nice ideas, but it really didn’t stick to the landing. The beginning and the whole mystery behind the Vanishing was interesting. I also think the idea of Superman taking on Jor-El’s role in trying to save humanity is an interesting idea.
Leone: Our Father, Who art in... uh, hi!

The conversations between Superman and Father Leone were also a highlight. I guess Superman wanted the opinion of someone who was connected to a higher power or something. Azzarello tried to get deep with Superman and he may had gotten a little too deep. Father Leone himself was a nice character. Too bad… well, I’ll get to that later. I also liked seeing the JLA show up here. 1 million people have just up and disappeared, so that seems like a situation for the JLA to say something about.

Easily the biggest highlight to the story is the artwork. Lee does his best to do an iconic Superman. That image of Superman standing on an eagle gazing at Metropolis is still pretty epic. The action scenes looked cool from beginning to end. Superman always looks pretty good and the rest of the JLA, Father Leone (pre-transformation), and a few other characters looked well. His Lois… well, I see another reason why Clark got smitten with her.  While Eqqus and Zod don’t look too good, the artwork is so good that it helps move along a pretty sub-par story.
Aww... also it looks like Superman's sporting a mullet there.

Now that I’ve thrown some praise on this thing, here are the things that hurt this storyline. In fact, it’s the story itself that hurts it. As the story moves along, more and more things happen that don't work for me. I didn’t get why this had to take place a year later post-Vanishing. I highly doubt it would have taken Superman and the other heroes that long to figure out the problem. I didn’t like Mr. Orr and found him mostly to be annoying. I did think it was funny that he looked like a buffer, younger Commissioner Gordon. I also didn’t like what happened to Father Leone. Did he really need to be turned into whatever that thing was?

I also thought it was weird that we didn’t get any of Superman’s other supporting characters. We don’t get any of the Daily Planet. We even don’t get the Kents who were still alive in this era. Since Lois was possibly dead, you’d think Clark would have visited them at one point the story. In fact, we don’t even get Clark Kent in general. It’s just Superman and that did get dull especially when he’s getting philosophical. He just needed a beanie and a goatee. I liked that someone was trying to put Superman under the spotlight, but that’s all Azzarello more or less does with Clark… wait, Kal-El, I mean. What was up with that anyway?

Superman’s attitude was also weird. I understood that he’d be depressed and pretty downbeat since Lois may be dead, but he still felt off. He was questioning everything about himself in his monologues and it got to be a bit much towards the end. As I said before, Azzarello may have went too deep with the character. I also though his interactions with Batman and Wonder Woman were pretty weird. He acted like a jerk especially with them. I felt there needed to be more there for Superman to be at odds with those two and the JLA.
Wow. Also, Superman better get some Visine for those eyes of his.

Then, there’s the big twist. I did like the twist in that Superman created the device. I did think it was weird he made the paradise out of the Phantom Zone, but it was an interesting idea. Unfortunately, nothing’s really done to explore it. The interest goes out of the window when Zod (who did look ridiculous in that armor) and his forces show up to wreck the place. I also wondered why he put the Vanishing device in the Phantom Zone in the first place. Since he knew about the PZ, he had to have known that Zod or other criminals were in it and could probably use the device for some bad stuff. Also, he purposely forgot about it. That’s up there with super-ventriloquism, gay-pride beams, super-hypnotism, and those wall-building powers from Superman: The Quest for Peace!
Uh... huh. Well, if someone need ridiculous armor, it must be Zod.

I think I’ll stop there with the complaints. Overall, this had some promise, but it felt like a jumbled mess in the end. The artwork does save the storyline, but the story itself doesn’t work especially in the second half. Should you check it out? I don’t know. Maybe you’ll get more enjoyment from it that I did. Well, that’s all I got for “For Tomorrow.” Next time, I’ll be returning to something special. Peace, God Bless, and don’t leave your reality-altering devices laying around. A balding guy in some crappy armor may find it.


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