Superman: Still a Broken Concept
Soooo... I picked this issue up because I just couldn't contain my curiosity about the He'l on Earth storyline. Sadly, I regret my lapse in judgement. Don't get me wrong, I think that Scott is a great writer and I have been vastly enjoying his Red Hood and Teen Titans titles! I think it just goes to show how hard it is to write for Superman because I still am not enjoying this character.
I like the characters written by Lobdell and I like the way they relate to one another and the way they all are facing some kind of internal struggle with each other. I actually like the whole Daily Planet angle, Clark quitting because of his personal morals, and being torn up over Lois while still thinking about WW. THAT kind of story I can get into.
The real trouble for me starts when he fights the kryptonian dino. The first problem I have is that every Superman writer expects me to believe that Supes is supposed to be both A) Scientist smart and B) Neanderthal stupid. They ask me to do this by telling me that Superman 1) Knows how a Pan-Dimensional Wormhole works and what the result would be is something went awry and 2) Zooming in enough to read the beasts DNA enough to determine that it's DNA is deteriorating; and even in previous issues Supes has performed speed reading of medical journals so that he could perform life-saving surgery on Lois Lane. Now before anyone says that those are just due to his special abilities and not necessarily proof of his super-brains, let me poignantly push my nerdy glasses farther up my brow and emphatically protest "YUH-HUH!" So yeah, wormholes suck matter into them so this one can kinda be believable, though the way Supes says it it feels like he understands it in much more than just Lehman's terms. Secondly, I don't consider myself a stupid person but you could show me all the pictures of DNA you want and my first thought is going to be "Oooh, look at the pretty colors!" and not "Oh my god! That DNA is deteriorating! And According to this DNA This thing isn't even alive!" He HAS to have a good deal of scientific knowledge on DNA to be able to make these conclusions. Which leads in to my last example that because reading, even speed reading and photographic memory, does not mean that you can successfully apply that knowledge. I could read the same books as Superman and even if I remembered ALL of the information, I wouldn't be able to apply it because each case of surgery is unique. The books would have told him the anatomy of the organs he was cutting up and what those organs needed to function, but he would still have to cut her open like an experienced doctor and be able to reference that knowledge in a competent way that most people get via experience.
Now my next point is something that has been criticized about Supes characters time and time again. The problem is not necessarily that I have trouble believing that Superman is out of this world smart, but that someone who is that smart and his first solution to a problem is PUNCH IT REALLY FRACKING HARD! So in order to end the monster's catastrophic rampage he punch's the things massive head into Metropolis causing MORE damage? Rather than oh....say, Grabbing the thing by it's huge tail and hauling it to a less populated area AT LEAST if not into space all together? We already established that Superman was at least strong enough to bench press the ENTIRE WEIGHT OF THE WORLD. And his next flash of brilliance is equivalent of an old MMO saying; KILL IT WITH FIRE! So now that we know the Dino's weakness because we conveniently know the inner workings of DNA, Supes' next move is to use his heat vision to drill into the Earth and ignite our preciously limited supply of fossil fuels to kill the thing rather than say... maybe just using his heat vision to kill the Dino directly? Sorry, I'm not buying this dual personality Superman.
And not only that, but the science in the book seems a bit wonky. Now I am not a scientist, as I have stated before, but I am pretty sure that's not how Thermal Updrafts work, because if they did it seems like we should be able to float around and fly on a pleasantly warm day? In fact, now that I have spent approximately 30 minutes reading the internet on my lunch break at work I KNOW that's not how it works. It takes LIFT for anything but Superman to fly, which is fine. I don't NEED science to explain to me how Superman flies. I have suspended my disbelief in his abilities just by picking up the title, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the science in the books doesn't need to be at least feasible. So Gravity is a pretty callous B!TCH and the only way on this planet we can create enough lift to let a regular non-meta fly without the aid of outside equipment is via a sky-diving tube where they take a huge ass fan and buffet the shit out of person until they are literally pushed off the ground, and even then the person has to be laying flat as any change in surface area will make you go higher or lower in the tube. So in order for Supes to create as much lift needed to lift those miners off the ground, he would have to super heat around them to cause the air to rise SO FAST THAT IT LITERALLY PUSHES THOSE GUYS OFF THE GROUND. But now you're talking heat and not sheer force created by a fan. Not only would that kind of heat violently geyser these guys into the air like an EXPLOSION, it would likely melt the skin from their frail human bodies. Gee Thanks Superman! This goes beyond a suspension in belief to the point that we would have to assume that in this alternate reality these men weigh as much as the comic book paper they are printed on. Not to mention that the ARCTIC Breath he produces directly after the HEAT vision should obviously cancel each other out. And though it is more of a minor issue, Scott Lobdell, there is no gentle roaring of solar flares in space because there is no sound in space, no matter how good your hearing is.
So I won't be reading the rest of He'l on Earth and I will refrain from reading anymore Super titles until Scott Snyder tries his luck with the character. I wish someone could really focus on Superman and get these kind of things sorted out. I think the only way Superman would appeal to everyone is if they really focus on the character. Make him powerful but fallible. Maybe he is super smart AND super reckless. Make it a character flaw that he LOSES his ability to think clearly when fighting so that when the dust clears he finds he has caused more damage than he has saved and then facing this decision every time his city is threatened. Maybe he DOES try to lift people using thermal updrafts and is rewarding by the agonizing screams of burning flesh. THAT would really torment the alien that only wants to help. Superman's greatest enemy should simple be Superman.