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Superman #14 - H'el on Earth: Build a Parachute on Your Way Down Review3
by Sara 'Babs' Lima on
H'el comes to Earth, and he's set his sights on Superboy.
The story of H'el -- or at least, the story the character describes as his own in the most recent issue of SUPERMAN -- changes things about the way Superman made it to Earth. The decision to place Superman and Supergirl into a pod to get them to safety wasn't something taken lightly, and according to this new character (also from Krypton), he claims to have been the test subject used by Kal-El's father to test whether the pod could make it safely to Earth. H'el's character claims to be from Krypton as well, and claims to have known Jor-El, Superman's father and worked directly with him. One of the things I liked about this issue is the way Lobdell provides readers with little hints and small pieces of information. For example, in H'el's speech about his trip to Earth, the character claims that the ship took him "too close to Black Stars" which might explain why he seems to be kind of crazy and his powers seem to be very different from Superman's (he has telekinesis and is able to manipulate people). I think that the character is interesting and the story that is evolving is interesting, too. The decision to create a character that has a similar lineage (is from Krypton) to be the adversary that would bring Superman, Supergirl and Superboy together in a crossover story is a good one.
I liked the art, I think Rocafort always does a great job and I find that one of his greatest skills is his ability to be consistent. He doesn't always work on his panel backgrounds and that does sometimes take away from setting the scene in this issue, but I can appreciate how pretty everyone looks.
I like Superman, I really do, and I even like reading a Superman that feels something for Lois Lane, but playing the part of weird/creepy jealous friend-who-she-never-dated is not something I want to see Superman doing. There is a scene at the start of the issue where Clark is visited by Lois Lane and reveals to the reader in his internal dialogue that he has looked through Lois' phone. Clark then confronts Lois as if she were a cheating girlfriend and complains about the fact that she plans on moving in with her significant other. What the heck? In the previous issues Superman was shown to have some backbone and integrity by not sticking around at the Daily Planet. Where has that backbone gone? Where is the integrity? It's a scene that really paints the character in a negative light. It's one thing for Clark to be a sensitive character, but jealousy does not look very pretty on him and I am so not a fan of whiny Superman. Bottom line is, Superman is better than this whiny, melodramatic, jealous "friend" to Lois Lane.
One of the best qualities about the character is that he is really smart. Intelligence is an integral part of Clark's character and is something commonly overlooked by writers. Writing a character who is super-powered and super-smart might not be easy, but it should be expected. When Superman meets Supergirl in this issue it takes him a relatively long amount of time to realize that she is able to communicate with Clark in English. I feel like this is something Superman would have noticed immediately since he's always had to speak to Kara in Kryptonian. Clark manages to change and fly with Kara to a park and insult her intelligence before even thinking to question her about how she is able to communicate with him in English.
This is a pretty issue. Rocafort delivers making all the characters in this book look really pretty, but he does fail in giving these characters a setting by not adding much to the backgrounds. There is a lot of empty space surrounding the panels and it feels like he doesn't make very good use of the pages.
I think the premise for this story and this crossover is interesting. I think having a character that is connected to all three -- Superman, Supergirl and Superboy -- through lineage is a good idea and it will be interesting to see how this story unfolds. And while I think the premise is interesting and the story is well structured and well organized, I did have some issues with the portrayals of certain characters and the dialogue in this comic. I think it reflected poorly on characters like Superman and I did expect more from him than what we saw here. Overall, if you are looking to jump into this cross-over, then this is definitely an issue you will want to pick up.