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Superman #204

Posted: Monday, May 3, 2004
By: Michael Deeley



Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artists: Jim Lee (p), Scott Williams (i)

1 million people disappear from the face of the Earth, including Lois Lane. A year later, Superman comes to a priest to confess the sins he’s committed in trying to save the world.

Chuck Austen’s ‘Action’ gives us a fun Superman, Matt Wagner’s ‘Adventures’ gives us a protective Superman, and now we get Azzarello’s human Superman. Well, he’s sort of human.

This issue can be summed up in two panels on page eleven:

Superman: Do you know how many times I’ve flown over this church?
Priest: More than you can count?
Superman: No.

It’s a small reminder that there’s little Superman can’t do. Most of the issue is about how Superman can do incredible things, yet he still feels like a human being. His heart is broken. He’s made mistakes. And all he wants to do is help people.

Azzarello sets up a mystery to bring last through the next year. What was this vanishing? Can the people be brought back? What did Superman do that he regrets? One may compare this to Batman’s “Hush” story. I don’t think it’s valid. “Hush” was an elaborate plot to torture and/or kill Batman. This story, “For Tomorrow”, seems to focus on Superman as a character; his emotions, beliefs, choices, etc. Azzarello is setting up an introspective story. It makes a good counterbalance to the other Superman books.

Jim Lee, as usual, does a terrific job. He should never work without Scott Willaims again. (See ‘Coup D’Etat: Sleeper’ as proof.) Lee draws Superman as imposing, yet restrained. Just looking at the way he stands and gestures tells you there’s great power contained in his body; power that can be felt in his presence. The priest feels it, and shows it in almost every move he makes. Most of this issue is Superman and the priest talking. But their gestures, their faces, speak volumes about what they’re feeling and thinking. Lee and Williams give us a rare display of physical subtlety in comics.

I’m inclined to give this 5 bullets. I’m not for two reasons. One, as the first issue of a new creative team, I’m treating this as a #1 issue. And I only give those 5 bullets if it tells a complete story. This does not, hence my second reason. I know that future issues will have flashbacks about what happened to bring us to this point. It always bugged me a bit when stories start at the end and work backwards to the beginning. Sometimes it works (“Pulp Fiction”, “Memento”), but I just prefer a standard linear story.

This is the first new Superman comic I’ve bought in nearly 3 years. I think that says it all. There’ll probably a trade for the entire story next year, but don’t wait that long. Check it out as soon as you can.



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