Neal Adams is going to go down as one of the greatest comic book artists of all time for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that he’s drawn so much! He’s still at it ( his X-O Manowar contribution is coming out in August), and so far his Supermen series has been a wild ride. It’s clunky, hard to follow and straight up odd, but at the same time its old school nature is endearing and hilarious (even if not intended). Question is how is issue #5? Is it good?
Superman: The Coming of the Supermen #5 (DC Comics)
Want to know what Adams thinks about his series? Neal Adams himself commented on our last review, so check that out. Outside of that, DC Comics’ summary reads:
Superman and the New Gods launch their plan to free the young boy and his dog from his Apokolips prison, but Darkseid’s ultimate prize is within sight, and the only person standing in his way is…Lex Luthor?!
Why does this book matter?
This series has everything in it, from the New Gods, to Apokolips, Lex Luthor, a sassy Lois Lane and even multiple Superman characters! Neal Adams is clearly throwing everything in when it comes to Supes and by doing so he’s creating a series that feels iconic on multiple levels. His art is a factor in making this feel iconic too. By throwing in tons of elements we’re basically seeing Neal figure out what sticks, which makes for a sometimes goofy and sometimes hilarious reading.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
If you’re still reading this series after four issues you’re pretty much in it for the long haul. If you’re like me, you’ve found the hokey dialogue endearing, the nearly constant plot changes goofy enough to enjoy and the bombastic art from Adams fun to look at. There’s simply nothing like this on comic book stands, making for a unique monthly read. I’ve stopped waiting for this series to make sense and have instead allowed it to do its thing, which makes for a silly sort of reading experience.
Adams certainly brings a different type of dialogue to the story that’s quite unique. I said this in my last review, but it’s like watching a car crash. You don’t know why it happened, or if everyone is okay, but you can’t look away because it’s so interesting. We have Lois Lane using the term “Bum Steer,” and Adams uses ellipses to change the flow of dialogue like in one instance when Superman says, “Like… that… ship… exploding?” It’s very different than other titles and at this point Adams has beaten me down to the point where I’ll just accept this for what it is.
You just can’t beat this art though. It continues to be in your face with characters practically reaching off the page out at you. Extreme closeups of Darkseid screaming, Metron screaming, and Superman screaming (damn there is a lot of screaming in this book) are very dramatic and fun. Like a blast from the past, Adams is bringing a style you just don’t see anymore and it’s quite fun to read.
It can’t be perfect can it?
That is if you don’t take it seriously. I’m not exactly sure what’s happening–again, I don’t think it matters anymore–with Darkseid working with Lex because reasons and Superman’s “Supermen” coming in and out of the story for no reason at all. Basically this series reads as if Adams is writing it panel by panel with actions and events having no relation to events in previous issues or even previous pages. Take for instance the odd winged goblin character introduced in the first issue who comes back in this issue, but why he’s back or what he’s been up to is completely left out. In fact, his appearance here serves no purpose at all! He pops in randomly, says these confusing statements: “It is as he says. The game is deep in! Daddy gotta go to war.” and then disappears completely again!
The oddly written dialogue continues to be confusing and weird, but so are the characters’ actions. Lex Luthor has a laughing fit at one point and I’m not sure why. To make matters worse he’s laughing at Darkseid which makes Darkseid seem frivolous and silly. One could argue it’s because he’s arrogant, but the laughing goes on and on, which leads to a rather dramatic turn of events that I won’t spoil here. I’m sure things will right themselves next issue and it will be revealed his laughing fit was some kind of plan, but when you read it here it’s just confusing and pointless. It also seems out of character for Lex. The problem appears to be that Adams has characters say and do things that make no sense simply to progress the plot towards an unidentifiable direction. That makes for frustrating reading.
Is It Good?
This issue lacks the laugh out loud moments of the last issue (intended or not) which leaves you with what’s left: confusing and melodramatic storytelling that’s more random than anything else. I want to like this series, but it’s just too hard to take seriously or follow. This issue lacks a lot of the pizazz of the previous issues, making it read like a rush to get to the end more than anything else.