With this book, we’ve finally completed the first full circle of the H’el on Earth storyline. We had a prelude back in Superman #13, followed by part 1 in Superboy #14, then a full introduction of H’el in Supergirl #14, and now we come to the first meeting of the entire Super-family in the pages of Superman #14.
This issue starts just a few minutes before the end of Supergirl #14. Lois arrives at Clark’s apartment to talk, and Clark realizes that she is the woman for him. The problem: Clark is just the best friend. Lois has shown up to Clark’s apartment to get him to apologize for his actions which cost him his job at the Daily Planet. He indicates that he has his dignity and he was right to do what he did, but then the elephant in the room makes an appearance: Clark confronts Lois with the knowledge that he knows she is moving in with her boyfriend, and she turns it right back on him mentioning that she is aware of the sappy love-struck smile that’s been on his face. So who is this mystery woman? Well, DC fans know exactly who it is if they even peered at the cover of Justice League #12. However, in the case of really bad timing, Supergirl now enters the room at the most inappropriate time making Lois think that she is the woman Clark has fallen for.
But then writes her appearance off as Clark’s interest not as Supergirl but as a good-looking cosplayer. Lois sneaks away with a smirk on her face, thinking she knows what’s going on, but little does she know that this is really Kara Zor-El. Clark, however, is not happy in having the conversation at his place so after a quick costume change he spirits Kara away to a local Metropolis park. After a brief discussion between the cousins, H’el reveals himself to Clark. He relates his story again, giving Clark the knowledge that he believes in the House of El. Clark, however, finds this ridiculous and turns his back on H’el to ask Kara how she could believe such a thing. Kara takes offense, and in order to prove that he is, indeed, a Kryptonian, H’el produces Superboy from virtually nowhere and indicates his intent to kill him.
How does Clark respond? By knocking H’el the hell away from Superboy (pun intended). Clark leaves Superboy in Kara’s care, telling her that no harm is to come to him. She acquiesces temporarily and he strives to push for no end to her protecting him just as H’el returns. As you can expect, this is a classic Kryptonian-vs-Kryptonian scene, with lots of explosions (due to the cars being thrown at one another – at least it’s not a random in-the-air explosion!). Both Clark and H’el vanish into one of the explosions, causing Kara to abandon Superboy and come to both of their aid.
Clark walks out of the explosion and blames Kara for all of the problems that just occurred. He grabs her by the neck, surprising the young girl, and deprives her of enough oxygen to knock her out. Not only was this the result of the oxygen deprivation but of the fact that her younger cousin could be so cruel. It turns out, though, that this was not Clark but was H’el, impersonating Clark, to make Kara turn against her cousin. With Kara unconscious, Clark and H’el go at it again, this time with Superboy stepping in to take his turn. He has been injured, however, and doesn’t manage to do much but get himself further into trouble, and ends up battered and broken. H’el takes his leave of the trio, indicating that he will resurrect Krypton with Kara’s help and without Clark, leaving Superman kneeling in the dust and Superboy broken and battered nearby.
I said it before and I’ll say it again: if you let him do what he wants, Scott Lobdell can do amazing things with characters. For one, he made me like Superman again. And, after how the character was upon the title’s resurrection, that says a lot. I was not happy with it, and even the name of George Perez attached to it only lasted for so long. It was too fragmented, but it looks like Lobdell is bringing a lot of the stories to bear and turning this into a constant book. Or maybe it’s just the crossover – regardless, I am considering picking it up again.
Kenneth Rocafort’s art, though, is amazing. It’s detailed, and the coloring done to support the art by Sunny Gho puts a depth to the work that, although not on the level of Stjepan Sejic is getting damn close – and that says a lot. It’s detailed without being too overboard, and has that painted feel to it, although I am unsure of Gho has used paints or some other technique for the art. Regardless, it really works.
I have to praise this book for bringing Superman back as a viable character to me. I was turned off at the start of the New 52 to the character, by both this title and Action Comics, but this is making me look again. Which is definitely a good thing. And since it’s 2 issues in a row, now, having me take a glance that means more than a simple one-off.