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The Return of Superman by Dan Jurgens
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The Return of Superman

by Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel (Contributor), Roger Stern (Contributor)

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Graphic novel. 16 parts in one volume.
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This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.leafmarks.com & Bookstooge's Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.
Title: The Return of Superman
Series: The Death and Return of Superman
Author/Artist: Dan Jurgens, et al.
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 480
Format: Paper Graphic Novel











Synopsis:
4 Supermen have appeared in Metropolis. One is a young clone with all the attitude and haircut of the 90's. One is a man encased in steel who makes no claim to be Superman. One is a violent vigilante who has Superman's powers but not his heart. Finally, one is a cyborg who claims to have been mysteriously rebuilt from kryptonian tech. One of these is a traitor bent on the destruction of Humanity. Can they figure out which one of them is the traitor and stop him? Only the real Superman can stop the destruction of the world [again]. My Thoughts: Spoilers Ahead Matey! A fitting conclusion to the whole story arc. The first thing that struck me when I pulled this book off my shelf yesterday was just how the garishly primary colors dominated everything. Nothing but Blue, Red and Yellow. That is one thing that makes comics stand apart from graphic novels. My second impression was just how fast things developed. Now given that I read this in one afternoon from one book definitely helped that along. But all the pretenders are revealed and while the world is still reeling from trying to figure out which, if any, are the real Superman, the Cyborg suddenly is about to turn the world into a new War World? Third, the utter ridiculousness of it all. The pure absurdity. However, that level is needed to pull something this big off. This story arc spanned multiple comics for months. It HAD to be over the top to keep the teens interested and wanting to spend their money. Fourth, I still enjoyed this. It was fun, it was explosive, it was garish, it was high octane. It was everything I expect a comic book to be in other words. I don't expect comic books to be on the same level as The Count of Monte Cristo. Reading this also brought me one step closer to reading Superman: Doomed which I bought back in January. I have not read that before. It is just as big and I think I'll be able to judge it more objectively than I did Return of Superman. In conclusion, this was just as big as I remembered while definitely belonging to my younger days. " ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Four individuals attempt to replace the Man of Steel, but we all know that there is only one Superman. This is epic! ( )
  Joel.G..Gomes | Apr 17, 2014 |
It turns out that Superman really isn't dead after all. Please, act surprised. This collection tells of his return to life in an absolutely huge book containing twenty-two individual issues. You can't get that for $19.99 anymore; these days DC would turn that into four (hardcover) trades at least. Of course, Superman doesn't do things by halves, he does them by quadruples-- if he comes back from the dead, he's going to do it four times.

The first half of the book or so focuses on each of the four Supermen in turn, trying to avoid a commitment to any one of them actually being the real Clark Kent. By far my favorite of these was John Henry Irons, who is the only one who doesn't try to pretend to be the "real" Superman. Irons is a man whose life was saved by Superman who build himself a suit of steel to fill the gap left when Superman died. Because, despite World Without a Superman going to great pains to show how Supergirl, Guardian, and Gangbuster were successfully filling that gap, no one at all is doing a thing about it here. Irons goes by the moniker "Man of Steel" and spends most of his time fighting some woman who I guess is supposed to be sexy but is in the issues penciled by Jon Bogdanove, so she just looks stupid. Like everyone he pencils. I say I like the Man of Steel the best, and of course I do-- he's being Superman for all the right reasons: it's the right thing to do. Except he's also trying to atone for his past as a weapons developer, now that his super-awesome weapons are being sold to Metropolis gangs. He feels a lot of guilt over this, because apparently street gangs just wouldn't commit crimes if they couldn't gain access to guns called "Toastmasters". He's pretty much an Iron Man rip-off now that I think about it, except that he's not rich, alcoholic, or Republican.

Of course, you pretty much have to like the Man of Steel the best, because the other Supermen aren't up to much. Next most sympathetic is Superboy, a clone of Superman created by Project Cadmus, despite the fact that in World Without a Superman they were stopped from creating a clone by Guardian and the Newsboy Legion. Really, just admit none of you read the stories each other write, guys. Anyway, Superboy is cloned with an earring, sunglasses, and a leather jacket, which tells you everything you need to know-- he's a self-centered 1990s teenager who is about as appealing as Superman as a dead rat. Fortunately, the book doesn't even try to convince you that he's the real deal; he just spends a lot of time flirting with a terminally stupid Asian reporter.

And then there's the other two: the Last Son of Krypton and the Man of Tomorrow (a.k.a. the Cyborg Superman). Perhaps the book's biggest failing is that it never really tries to convince the reader that these two might be the real deal. The Last Son has some good sleights-of-hand to show how he could be the real Superman in practical/plot terms, but there's not enough character work to support that. An attitude more like Superman's, or some moment of connections with his "old" life would go a long way. Guy Gardener likes him, which isn't exactly a vote of support either. And despite the excellent "Prove it" chapter where the Cyborg Superman saves Bill Clinton from an improbable assassination attempt, you never really believe in him either.

But perhaps that's the point. Three of these characters have the Superman powers and logo and modus operandi, but they don't have the Superman essence. And this book is about what makes Superman who he is. He doesn't believe in power above all, he doesn't believe in self-aggrandizement, he doesn't believe in unnecessary lethal force. He believes in doing the right thing. And that's why Steel is the closest any of the characters come to being the "real" Superman, even though he doesn't have the powers in any way, shape, or form. And as the story goes on, the Last Son of Krypton (revealed to be a guy named "the Eradicator" that you and I have never heard of in a humongous and clumsy backstory dump) learns this and begins changing his ways, ameliorating his actions so that he's more like the real Last Son.

(Oh, and Bibbo Bibbowski shows up again, goddamnit. He doesn't say "Sooperman" at least, but we're still treated to "you were my fav'rit!" I'd take even Superboy over this guy.)

Of course, the Cyborg Superman knocks himself out of the running by turning out to be Secretly Evil. He's another guy you and I have never heard of, an astronaut or something who hates Superman for reasons none of the main characters are ever told; there's just an entire issue given over to two comedy aliens telling each other convoluted backstory. Oh, awesome. And he's working with Mongul, an intergalactic criminal whose power is being a lame version of Darkseid. Despite this not-quite-winning villain combination, the second half of the book, where the Cyborg and Mongul unleash their plan and destroy Coast City (poor Green Lantern, his hometown wiped out in someone else's comic), is very good.

The real Superman makes his way back to Metropolis, low on power, but determined. He's Superman, you know? He's not going to stop, even if he doesn't have the powers all the other characters do. Of course, he's got long hair and wears black now, but I guess you can't have everything. His return leads to my three favorite moments of the book: the first is when Superboy, inspired by the real deal (I am getting tired of this phrase) diverts a missile headed for Metropolis, apparently at the cost of his own life. Even though he obviously lives through it, it's a powerful moment, as Superboy struggles and struggles to do what has to be done.

The other highlight is when Superman and Steel battle their ways through Engine City. I dig two-men-with-virtually-nothing-against-all-odds stories, and they're even better when the two men are as awesome as Clark Kent and John Henry Irons. (Supergirl's there too, slowly de-laming herself, but who really cares about her?) And then the Eradicator shows up again and--

I like the idea of the ending-- the Eradicator understanding the "true" meaning of Superman's legacy and gifting Superman with power once more-- but its execution is a little clumsy, I have to admit, as not even the characters have a good reason for why Superman's powers came back. And then the way Superman disposes of the Cyborg is kind of lame. But then, there's the third favorite moment: the double-page spread where Superman really, truly, actually is back. Oh yes!

The art is typical superhero comic fare, usually fine except when Bogdanove is drawing. I wish there was a consistent feature to Maggie Sawyer between artists aside from "lesbian haircut", though.

Like all the best Superman stories, this book is about what it is to be Superman. And with some well-crafted character moments (Lois especially shines in this book) and some strong heroic ones, this book stands as the crowning jewel of the death/rebirth trilogy. Not everything's perfect here, but the book works more often than it doesn't, the second half especially.
1 vote Stevil2001 | Apr 6, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dan Jurgensprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kesel, KarlContributormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Stern, RogerContributormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bogdanove, JonIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Breeding, BrettIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bright, M. D.Illustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grummett, TomIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guice, JacksonIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hazlewood, DougIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Janke, DennisIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jones, GerardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rodier, DenisIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Simonson, LouiseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tanghal, RomeoIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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