Before beginning my next batch of comics from “the shelf”, Mistah J warned me that if I wasn’t thrilled with the previous Man of Steel collections that I wouldn’t be too excited for the next few comics, as there was a handful more of these collections.
I hesitantly opened this next Superman trade, worried that the disconnected storylines would drag out and be difficult to get through. Somehow, these Superman collections go against my common belief that I dislike standalone stories. There really isn’t a major storyline presented in these comics, and yet the individual issues are more than enjoyable to read.
This change of opinion may have had something to do with the fact that this collection featured some pretty awesome guest appearances. From the first issue, we’re greeted by a familiar foe, though one Superman hasn’t had the task of facing previously: Joker. Planning an elaborate ruse, Joker believes his plan to be airtight, far too elaborate for Superman to figure out.
Superman subverts Joker’s expectations though, proving that he has brains as well as brawn. At the end of the issue, Superman asks Joker why he went to all this trouble. Joker’s response fits his character perfectly:
Aaaaand thanks for the nightmares. This version of Joker is absolutely terrifying. I don’t know why, but whenever The Joker is shown with large or pointed teeth, it freaks me out. It’s just so much smiling.
My other favorite guest star in this trade was the ever-entertaining Big Barda, who keeps popping up in the weirdest places.
Superman says it all when he first sees Barda in full battle garb: Wow.
Barda is absolutely awesome and should definitely have her own comic. Please tell me that happens at some point. She’s far too amazing to be relegated to a supporting role all the time.
What I especially loved about this collection was that it seemed the writers were finally finding their footing, and weren’t taking the comic too seriously anymore. They allowed Superman his moment or two of comedy.
Somehow I don’t think “Up, up and…*faceplant*” will ever catch on.
It was so unexpected to see this type of humor in a Superman trade that I actually laughed out loud when I read it. I can only hope that these moments of lightheartedness continue to pop up in future trades. It really makes the stories more enjoyable, and it helps break up all of the “oh no, the city’s under attack!” mania.
There are at least two more of these Man of Steel trades on “the shelf”, possibly more, and I can honestly say I’m looking forward to reading them. While they’re missing the elaborate storylines I love, they still serve a purpose. We get to see Superman interact with a variety of different characters, we learn more about his abilities and powers, and most importantly, they’re fun to read. After all, isn’t that what’s most important?