Review: H’el on Earth: Superman #14 by Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort

Review:  Superman #14

“Build a Parachute on Your Way Down”

Published by DC Comics

Written by Scott Lobdell

Art by Kenneth Rocafort

Coloured by Sunny Gho

The Plot

This issue begins shortly before where Supergirl #14 left off with Clark and Lois arguing about their current bff relationship and the changes that may be forthcoming.  Lois also notices the sudden change in Clark’s behaviour, which started when he kissed Wonder Woman back in Justice League.  Supergirl then interrupts the conversation, but thankfully for Clark Lois dismisses her as an imposter.    After Lois leaves Clark then berates Supergirl for disrespecting the life that he has worked so hard to create.  As Superman, he whisks her far away from his place and they once again debate the status of Krypton.  H’el suddenly shows up and explains his history (albeit briefly) to Superman and sees him as a brother.  However, Superman doesn’t buy his story, which draws the anger of H’el.  In order to prove his sincerity, H’el offers to snap Superboy’s neck (who he almost seems to produce out of thin air…even to Superman).  Superman then takes off his cape and proceeds to hang it on a pole like a flag in order to challenge H’el to a duel, which apparently is the custom on Krypton.  Yeah, that last sentence is not true, but Superman does throw down with H’el in order to save Superboy’s life.  Superman and Supergirl then get into another verbal disagreement about his recent actions as well as Superboy.  H’el then uses trickery to remove Supergirl from the equation and proceeds to savagely attack Superboy.  Superman tries to mount attack, but to no avail.  H’el flies away discussing his plans to bring Krypton back.

The Breakdown

I’m liking the new look to this book as it seems…fresh.  I have read this entire series (sometimes only because it was on my pull-list and I feel the need to show support for my LCS owner) and I don’t recall Clark and Lois’ relationship being defined as best friends.  I like it.  I’m not fooling myself and I do believe that they’ll end up together down the road.  However, I don’t mind being a part of the growth of their relationship as they were already an item back when I started reading comics.  Also, the best friend dynamic will provide some interesting storytelling opportunities.  Supergirl’s disdain for Clark’s life was annoying, but at the same time, I’ll also enjoy seeing her growth.  I reminded myself that she didn’t have the upbringing the Clark had and she does have that feeling of superiority as a result.  She’s immature and she should be because her own personal growth has been stunted by years of travel.  I enjoyed Clark’s reaction to her invasion of his privacy because it was such a human reaction.  It seemed natural and not at all forced.  There is a lot of mystique surrounding H’el and his buildup has been effective.  His backstory is still essentially unknown as well as his motivations and plans.  He’s a force to be reckoned with and was more than a match for Superman.  His facial appearance in this issue was also better than it was over in Supergirl.  I thought that Superman’s stance with Superboy was effective because it seems as though it will lead to a more familiar relationship between the two.  Rocafort and Gho have a good chemistry with one another as the colours really do complement the artwork.  There were some great layouts in this book during the fight scenes.  I enjoyed the first panel not only because it was well-drawn, but I also enjoy seeing people and places through Clark’s eyes.  By the end, I was like damn I’m looking forward to the next issue.

BUT…

I still don’t like the meaning of the name Kon-El.  I remembered it as being a true sign of respect on Superman’s part and unfortunately the value associated with that name seemed to be gone (for sure) with Superman’s reaction to hearing it.  Why does Clark wear flip flops when he’s at home? That combined with the short shorts wasn’t really a good look for him at all.  Supergirl arrived on Earth to find that her planet was gone, which would’ve been jarring for her to say the least.  However, she’s seen Argo City and after speaking to Superman about it she’s still at the same point of disbelief that she was initially.  I’m hoping this gets resolved by the end of this arc because while some of it is believable it’s getting old nonetheless.  If it was approached a bit differently it could continue to work as a plotline rather than just seeming stagnant.  Also, Supergirl has so much disdain for the planet Earth yet in flashbacks it was evident that Krypton was not a utopia either.  In addition, she has made a friendship that she values with Siobhan and her brother.  I don’t know, her outright disdain did seem a little forced.  The facial appearance between Clark and Superman was too similar.  Clark wears glasses, but the frame around the lenses was fairly transparent.  I’m not trying to nitpick, but I thought the point of wearing was to help disguise his appearance.  Also, his hairstyle was the same as both Clark and Superman.  I wasn’t looking for something to complain about, but when I was reading it I thought, “Wow, he looks exactly like Clark in the previous page just with a costume on.”

Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?

Buy It.  This book needed some revitalizing and it has received it.  I’m enjoying this title right now and I’m buying it because I want to now and not because I feel like I should.  More dynamics of Clark/Superman are being explored and I’m enjoying that a lot.  Once again, no disrespect to the pre-reboot version of Superman, but the sales supported the notion that it was getting stale.  DC has finally started to take advantage of the reboot with this title and I hope that more people start to read it.  There were plotlines and ideas opened up earlier in the series and they are now starting to get explored.  I’m really anticipating the rest of this arc now.

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