Superman #703 - The jakob187 Review
While J. Michael Straczynski's run for Superman is only three issues (and some change) deep at the moment, it has raised some considerable ire amongst fans of the series. Many have seen his take on the Man of Steel as uncharacteristic, going against the grain of what we know from Superman. It's in that frame of mind that makes #703 such a crucial issue, as it really delves into what this first story arc from JMS is trying to drive home. All the while, a bigger picture is coming out of James Robinson's run, and it creates what could be a very interesting new landscape for Superman.
In past issues, we've seen Superman pulling a Forrest Gump, just walking the Earth and getting down to helping the average guy on the streets. It's funny that I had just finished reading the first few trades of Irredeemable by Mark Waid (who is best known for his work with Superman), as JMS' stuff in the last few issues of this book seem to resemble what Waid has been doing with The Plutonian in some ways over there. There's an exploration of why superheroes are what they are, why they do what they do, and the life they have to sacrifice in order to ensure that our lives can continue onward. In the beginning of this issue, you find Superman in a COMPLETELY uncharacteristic moment, something that threw me back in my seat. Hanging a man from the sky for upwards of an hour to virtually beat a lesson into his head? For someone as relatively squeaky as Supes, that's just shocking as all hell.
What makes the last few issues really mean more than what we gave them credit for is the interaction with Dick Grayson that we find in these pages. It's a pretty intense battle of words between the two, and it really got the gears working in my head. Initially, I was alright with Supes coming back and just taking it a little easy, trying to get back in touch with people on the ground level, but Dick's argument and later events in the book really start to put more into perspective. Will superheroes ever get to know what it's like to just be an average guy, and what do they have to sacrifice in order to do that?
If anything, I think Superman #703 resonates a lot of what we take for granted in a very mature way. It's a bit odd to see Superman being the one getting picked on so much, bullied around and potentially emotionally beaten. It's another thing entirely to see the way the world looks at him after his return from new Krypton.
I should also say that the cover for this issue was something that struck me. There is a crowd of people around him: one holds a sign proclaiming a love for Superman, one holds a sign that looks like it's saying "hell yeah, Superman II was a great movie", and the third is shouting for Superman to get out of Dodge. It's a great way of putting the thought back into our heads that not everyone in the world loves Superman.
I don't know. Some of you will find this issue to be appalling against the character of Superman, while others will say that there are so many uncharacteristic moments for Supes that it's just poisoning the character. Personally, I think that JMS' run so far is really bold in trying to put Superman in line with the same mature storytelling that we've seen happen with Morrison's run of Batman or Yost and Nicieza's runs on Red Robin, even a lot of the work that Judd Winnick has done with Red Hood: Lost Days and such. He's making us ask questions about a character that we rarely ask these questions about. I appreciate that he's not treating the reader like a dumbie. I just hope that more people warm up to it.