"Up, Up, and Away! Finale: The Adventures of Superman"
Writers: Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek
Artist: Pete Woods
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: Superman and Lex Luthor, now on even ground after Superman temporarily found himself without his powers, duke it out on the shores of Metropolis. Superman gains the upper hand and after briefly passing out, awakes to find his powers have returned. After spending some time at the Daily Planet and fighting Dr. Virus and Kryptococcus, he takes the crystal that Jimmy had found to the arctic. The crystal builds a new Fortress of Solitude though Superman decides to keep the second one in the Amazon.
Commentary: Now THAT was a Superman story.
No doubt about it: both Busiek and Johns have put Superman back on the right course. While it may seem like everything is back to the way it was before, it really isn't. Superman has definitely gone through some changes over this story-arc, both physical and mental, and while things have gone back to certain equilibrium, this is definitely a new beginning.
The fight between Lex and Superman was great. It put the two on an equal footing and allowed Johns and Busiek to show why Superman and Lex are enemies. I really like the fact that the writers melded the Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Lex with the Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Lex and made it work so well. He feels that Metropolis was his before Superman came along, which is the Wolfman/Byrne Lex, but he also has the blind hatred over a perceived slight that the Silver/Bronze Age Luthor had. Just switch out "You made me bald!" with "You took my city!," and you're there. His escape at the end was inevitable and had a certain old school feel to it. Superman's reaction was great; the never-ending battle continues.
Superman was left in a good place as well. Johns and Busiek not only re-established Superman but also validated Clark Kent as a character. Sure, Lois had to stick up for him, which was a bit emasculating, but he's still one of the best reporters on the Planet and will continue to be so despite the fact that his powers have returned. This issue literally had it all when it comes to Superman. Clark got some time to shine. Superman helped out in the re-building from the recent destruction. There was a fight with Lex Luthor and a fight with a low-level Silver-Age throwback in the form of Dr. Virus. He also had a nice moment with Jimmy where he gave him the signal watch, which as a fan I appreciated. I also got a kick out of him telling Hot Topic girl that he doesn't sign body parts. That was funny.
My favorite moment on a personal level was the return of the Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic. I'm going to go ahead and guess that bringing back the Richard Donner version of the Fortress was Geoff's idea considering his rather public devotion to the original 1978 movie. Maybe it was Kurt's idea, but the fact that Johns worked with Donner back in the day leads me to believe that Geoff came up with that. Either way, it works. I hated the Amazonian Fortress mostly because I feel that if you are going to have a Fortress of Solitude that it should be literally the middle of nowhere. The Amazon is remote, but you still have tribes of people living there along with all of the exploration that still goes on. It is more likely that someone would stumble upon the Amazonian Fortress than one at the North Pole. The idea of him having a bunch of different Fortresses across the globe was an interesting idea, and I am curious to see if this is something future writers will deal with.
In The End: Along with the writing, Pete Woods' art made for a satisfying conclusion. His versions of both Superman and the Fortress of Solitude were great. This was the very best Superman story that has been published in years, and I almost don't want it to end. Superman, however, is in the best possible place he could be, and Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns have proven that they can write a great Superman story. The future is pretty bright for the Man of Steel, and with the way things are going it would take some effort to mess it up now.
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