What does Truth, Justice and the American Way mean?
This review is one I should have done a long time ago. This is where Grounded started, where the budding story showed true potential before losing its way. For this I blame JMS not Chris Roberson. He was left with a terrible mess to sort out when JMS focused on a sequel to Superman: Earth One. Anyway, let’s get on with this review!
Superman begins his walk across America where he begins to combat the everyday problems average people face like the car not starting, drug dealers and suicide.
· The issue starts off in a pleasantly funny way as Superman turns his x-ray vision towards a car fault. Not only is it amusing, it reminds the reader that Superman’s powers have their practical uses in everyday life.
· JMS nails the dynamic between Superman and the reporters as they question him about what he is doing on this walk. The fact that they’re asking questions about a secret mission and red kryptonite demonstrates how the act of the most powerful man on the earth simply walking about is enough to confuse the general populace. Also JMS amusingly slots in a new way in which Superman reacts to people who call him liars and then try to call his bluff. A hilarious scene to say the least.
· Also, JMS establishes Superman’s position in walking about but allows him to be used in other places through this statement, “If there is a crisis, I’ll deal with it and come back, pick up where I left off”. This is great writing by JMS as it allows Superman to be present at other major events whilst he is still walking in the Grounded storyline.
· Although it lasts for 2 pages, the diner scene is golden. It reveals where Superman keeps his cash, which by the way is in a cape pocket as well as showing that Superman always helps out even when it comes to small problems like cleaning a cupboard and that shows Superman as a character who is not just limited to major dilemmas.
· After this, JMS gives the reader another pro to this issue. Now drugs has come up a great deal in comic book history such as in The Amazing Spider-Man, the New Teen Titans and of course Green Lantern and Green Arrow. Now when it comes to Superman dealing with this real life problem he doesn’t hand out physical punishment to these brazen drug dealers when they start insulting him and make claims about their rights. Instead, he sets their stashes on fire. This illustrates that Superman is always willing to make the right choices in situations where a grave injustice is being committed. It reminds readers that even when given a choice between two given two impossible choices, Superman will always find the solution as to him there is always another way.
· The major part of the book and the undoubted highlight of this issue is the suicide scene. Here JMS presents Superman with a more daunting challenge than facing down any one of his greatest villains which is to persuade a girl not to commit suicide. Immediately from the get go, Superman is sworn not to save her if she decides to jump after hearing what he has to say. After this, Felicity, the girl’s name and Superman talk about what has happened to her, how she lost her mum, her job and the fact she hasn’t really achieved much in this life so she doesn’t see the point of it anymore. Then, Superman talks about how trying is a part of life and that if there is still one happy thing in your life then it’s worth living. Also JMS adds a personal touch with a story about how one of Superman or Clark Kent’s close friends took her life and although he didn’t approve of it, he understood why. This is powerful, emotional stuff dealing with the hard facts of life and Superman is portrayed in a way that is seldom seen; vulnerable, emotionally of course and unable to stop someone from taking her life. Which is why the fact she doesn’t take her life in the end is what shows the triumph of the human spirit over insurmountable issues.
· Eddy Barrows and JP Mayer make an unbeatable art combo. Barrows draws slick, realistic faces and picturesque backgrounds and along with JP Mayer’s inking gives the pencils vivid colours that spring from the pages of the comic. Truly they are an excellent art team for this book.
· The cover’s nice as well if you look at it from a symbolic viewpoint. The ‘S’ in the background with the people in it and Superman walking away from it represents how Superman has lost touch with the people he is trying to protect and now he is trying to rekindle that connection.
· However, there are some glaring flaws. For example, Superman tells a boy that he will come back every week to deal with the drug dealers. The boy then responds that they’ll just move somewhere else. How can Superman have overlooked that fact? He should be scaring them then trying to get them to give up dealing drugs and failing that, hand them over to the police. By ridding them from one area, Superman has inflicted their presence on another which seems sorely out of character.
· Also, Superman tells a guy that his heart is beating erratically but instead of taking him to the hospital, he simply tells him to go see a doctor. Why wouldn’t Superman take the guy to a hospital? What happens if he dies on the way to see the doctor because he didn’t get there in time? This is poor, unsound judgement from Superman as he is in a position to get the man to a doctor fast so why he would not do so, I have no idea.
Glaring faults aside, this first issue of Grounded really showed some great potential for future stories being this good. However, whilst that wasn’t the case in the future, this issue is standalone brilliant. Arguably the best issue storywise despite its major flaws.