Superman : Strength Review


Part 2 of 3 : The Long Run
Writer : Scott McCloud
Pencils : Aluir Amancio
Inks : Terry Austin
Colours : Patricia Mulvihill
Letters : Todd Klein
Editor : Joey Cavilieri
Publisher : DC Comics

This prestige format mini-series continues as Superman attempts to deal with a new villain while trapped halfway through a dimensional doorway. Through flashbacks we also gain an insight into one of the earliest uses by little Clark Kent of his amazing powers.

I’m a little torn on this series. Many aspects of its presentation attempt to state that THIS is an ‘important’ Superman story that will resonate through the years. The title. The format (and price tag). The constant flashbacks that are trying to communicate the moral grounding which Clark Kent received as a youngster.

And yet…I keep wondering if there’s something wrong nowadays with a simple story, well told. This is an interesting story, but it has a tendency to be undermined by the writer’s obvious aim to tap into the ‘concept’ and ‘basis’ for the Superman myth.

I’m often bothered by the constant need to point to a particular event in the past of a hero that provided the ‘grounding’ the hero needed to be, well, heroic. I always liked the idea that Superman helped others because, well, that was what good people did. The artificial depiction of Pa Kent’s moral problems feels forced and out-of-place.

On a better note, an interesting dilemma is brought up when Superman gives his word to the villains to return ‘to captivity’ if he is temporarily released from his predicament to save various lives. He is released, and after saving the lives, returns. However, almost immediately he attempts to escape. The concept of the only limits of Superman’s powers being the ones he places on himself actually is fascinating, but deserves a more detailed examination than the one which is skated over here.

There is a real preachy tone to this story as well, with its mini-homilies on bigotry, stealing, gang warfare and so on. The villain who is actually the most interesting character in the whole story is getting short-changed in the deal as well.

However, steering away from these tangents, the story certainly has some merit, although that hefty price tag will certainly dampen the ardor of some buyers. The final splash page is a truly inventive moment, and promises an interesting conclusion.

The art is adequate, although there is a glossy sheen to some events that doesn’t match the story-line. The depiction of the gang members in particular is less-than-ideal.

Anyway, sign me up (with some reluctance) for the finale.