Writers: Kurt Busiek, Fabian Nicieza (co-plotter)
Artists: Peter Vale, Jesus Merino
Publisher: DC Comics
Story: As Superman ponders Arion's ominous suggestion from last issue in the Fortress of Solitude, he thinks back over a specific incident early in his career.
Commentary: I rarely come across too many books which I can classify as a perfect comic, but I think that Busiek, Nicieza and company almost manage to pull it off in this stand alone issue of the Man of Steel. While comics which are imbued with social commentary aren't new, the creators manage to make the story unfolding within these pages seem fresh and relevant to today's urban landscape and somehow also manage to capture all the characteristics which have made the protagonist so successful all these years.
Yet this comic does this and so much more. Maybe I am just an idealist or a sentimental fool, but my eyes actually welled up a tad upon reaching the satisfying conclusion. This is a tribute not only to the strong writing, but to a well crafted effort throughout which results in a nice blend of art and storytelling. Whether it's on page two with an iconic visual of Superman sweeping over the city or the humorous panel later in the story where the writing team comes up with a fun new twist to explain Clark's co-workers' acceptance of his frequent vanishing acts during a crisis, the creative team fire on all cylinders throughout the book while all the while piecing together a great story with a memorable supporting character.
Barbara Johnson embodies the spirit of an entire neighborhood and her story allows us to catch a glimpse of what the world would be like if real people actually interacted with powerful heroes such as Superman and the JLA. Sometimes these type of stories make as compelling a narrative and as much fun a read as any story featuring a slugfest with Doomsday, Braniac or the super villain du jour. Everything works well, from the inclusion of Superman's logo when he makes a dramatic rescue, to the lingering question which Arion posed last issue serving both as a cliffhanger of sorts and a bookend to this self contained story.
Final Word: This comic manages to accomplish everything a well written monthly book is supposed to do: entertain the reader while at the same time using all the strengths of a visual medium to say something meaningful about our world without falling into the usual trappings of cliched narratives. Kudos to the creative team for a strong effort.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!