Superman: That Healing Touch

Reading a comic that is clearly a continuation of a previous storyline, when you haven’t read said storyline, can be quite confusing. Alas, that’s the boat I found myself in when I picked up Superman: That Healing Touch.  There’s a lot of scenes featuring Ruin, The Parasites, and even everyone’s favorite imp, Mxy.  I had no background on Ruin, but luckily it was easy enough to deduce what had happened in previous Superman issues to catch on to the story pretty easily: Ruin is determined to destroy Superman, and seems to have an inordinate amount of knowledge to do so.  Ruin hides behind a mask, and as Superman tries to learn his true identity, he comes to realize that Luthor must be involved somehow, since no one else knows so much about him.

Throughout this comic there are numerous side-stories,  primarily focusing on Superman’s childhood friend Pete Ross and his marriage troubles with Lana Lang, Lois recovering from a gunshot wound, and even a bizarre ending which shows Lois explaining that she and Clark ought to have a baby.  With so many details, the main point of the comic felt a bit muddled. Was I supposed to focus on The Parasite Twins? On Ruin?  Is Pete Ross going to be playing a larger part down the road, so his out-of-place inclusions here might serve a purpose?  With so much going on, it was difficult to figure out exactly why this story existed.

About halfway through, the comic takes a sharp right turn and presents us with a lengthy and revealing conversation between Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Seeking out his friends’ help in bringing down Ruin, the conversation quickly strays into much deeper territory, as we learn surprising and previously unknown facts about Superman’s involvement in the events of Identity Crisis.  Specifically, we learn that he was fully aware of what was done to Dr. Light.

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It’s incredibly surprising to learn that not only did Superman know about this, but that he chose to say nothing to the rest of the League.  It also sheds additional light on the moral ambiguity of dealing with such heinous crimes; if Superman, a pillar of justice, can be swayed, who’s to say what’s right and what’ wrong?

Even more surprising is the way in which Diana responds, apparently believing there was a third option.

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Wonder Woman is once again shown as fierce and unyielding, actually going so far as to support murder.  This comic continues the sentiment Diana expressed in The Flash Omnibus by Geoff Johns: Vol 3, in which she revealed that she supports the death penalty.  It’s surprising and a bit unnerving to read about a pro-death Wonder Woman, and it doesn’t quite sit right with me.  I suppose Diana could certainly grow and change due to the events of her life, but it still feels like a big jump from her original stance of supporting peace and understanding.

I’m not sure what it says about this comic that I found a speech by Wonder Woman to be the most memorable and significant to the larger picture.  The Superman story was just a little too all over the place for my liking.  There was a lot going on, and yet nothing much was really resolved within the pages.  There were a handful of appearances by Mxy, yet they felt out of place and completely disjointed from the rest of the narrative.  That being said, I did enjoy one brief two-page spread in which Mxy presents an idea of how Clark/Lois’s possible future daughter might behave.

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Can I have Lobo?  This part, I admit, was too stinking cute.  I’d actually be perfectly happy reading an elseworlds tale in which a young child of Superman and Lois Lane, complete with powers, has to navigate the world. I actually think I’d prefer that comic to this one.

Superman: That Healing Touch just felt too disjointed and incomplete to be a truly great comic.  Nothing really stood out from the overall narrative, and there were too many side stories and subplots to keep track of.  This left the comic feeling splotchy and uneven, and left me happy to be done with it.  I’m still curious, as always, to see where the story goes, but I just hope the narrative is tightened up a bit so that a single story is allowed to shine, rather than having numerous stories vying for attention, and becoming muddled and confusing.

-Jess

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