Thursday, September 28, 2017

Superman (vol.2) #201 (2004)

Superman (vol.2) #201 (March, 2004)
"Strange New Visitor, Part Three"
Writers - Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Artist - Karl Kerschl
Colorists - Tanya & Richard Horie
Letterer - Nick J. Leighpez
Associate Editor - Tom Palmer, Jr.
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.25

Whatever Happened to the City of Tomorrow?

Let's find out...


We open with a bit of history for Mr. Majestic (Lord Majestros if you're nasty)... and, whoa... is that Grifter?  And a Wildcats mention?  Wow, wasn't expecting that.  Not sure why I wasn't... considering our guest-star, but still!  Back in the present, Majestic is cleaning house... seems he was rather peeved to have been exiled to the Phantom Zone.  Kitty Faulkner runs in to try and keep the peace, and winds up going into full-on Rampage mode!

She bee-lines it to Majestic... and with a single left hook, is put down.  John Henry and Lois are off to the side arguing... John's irritated that she let him out, however, she is still steadfast in her position that he is here to help.  Majestic tells the former-Steel that the Emboitement bomb will actually embolden the Time Storm and trigger the collapse of Metropolis.  Sooo, I guess it didn't go off last issue?  Could'a fooled me!  Anyhoo... he heads off to stop the Eradicator.

It isn't long before Majestic catches up.  Natasha Irons attempts to stop him, and catches a bellyful of eye-beams before plummeting to the ground.  Superboy has to chose whether or not he will stay and fight, or catch Steel before she goes splat.  Majestic continues on and catches up with Eradicator, who has just released the C.V.E. bomb into the Time Storm's vortex.

Majestic attempts to head it off before it goes boom, but the Eradicator catches him in a headlock.  After a brief skirmish, Majestic breaks free... and fires an eye-beam at the C.V.E. causing it to blow before reaching its intended target.

Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, John and the white-coats are frantic.  Their only hope of survival has just been yanked away.  A guilt-striken (and oddly chubby-cheeked) Lois runs outside, just in time to see a giant explosion.  Her City, Metropolis, has gone boom... and it's all because she let Mr. Majestic do his thing.

We bounce around Metropolis and see how the explosion has rocked the Daily Planet, Jimmy and Lena, and also Lana Lang.  Lois, in tears, drops to her knees... the last thing she says is "Clark, I love you..."

Just then she is swept up by... Mr. Majestic!

He takes her high into the sky to show her... Metropolis?!  Like, the old Metropolis... before the B-13 Virus stuff.

Ya see, Majestic was right all along!  He realized that the Time Storm, though violent, just needed to pass.  The B-13 Virus was a temporal anomaly... the technology wasn't for this world/time, and was being purged.  The people of Metropolis celebrate the fact that, ya know, they're still alive... though the Eradicator still smells a rat.  Majestic drops Lois off atop a building and gives her the old Superman speech of "If you ever need me, just look up" before abandoning her on some random building.

We close out the story with an epilogue... revealing that Mr. Majestic wasn't the only being that popped through from the WildStorm Universe...


Well, there we have it... after about four-years (our time), Metropolis is no longer a literal "City of Tomorrow".  While I definitely enjoyed the futuristic aesthetic, and sorta miss having it in the background, it was was probably about time for it to go.

This issue really illustrated the use of "inaction" as a means of getting something done.  I think that so often in superhero comics, the characters are preoccupied with "being the change" that they sometimes lose sight of the potentially detrimental result of their actions.  Bringing in an outsider like Mr. Majestic is a really good way of playing with that notion.

An outsider who nobody can truly vouch for suggests the heroes do... nothing... while a horrendous Time Storm rages above the city.  You can see how "off" that sounds.  Would it make any sense to simply trust Mr. Majestic and take him at his word?  Probably not.  Just because he sorta sounds like Superman, doesn't mean that he's got the same moral code.  Hell, he doesn't even really explain his theory either... not in any fleshed-out kinda way, anyway.

It's hard to imagine the white-coats at S.T.A.R. just standing back and letting this "happen".  It's like, streets, overpasses, buildings, and tram stations are just vanishing... how much sense does it make to just let this go down?  That's probably the key strength of this arc.  Nobody is "wrong" in their position... except maybe Lois, who is basing Mr. Majestic's "goodness" on a severe bout of projection.  Luckily it all works out... but, consider this... it just as easily might not have.  What if Majestic was a terrible villain?  What if he was a messenger from the WildStorm Universe with designs on/orders to destroying the DC Universe?

I know we have him acting heroically when we meet him... but it could be argued (or at least posited) that, at that point, Majestic didn't realize he was on an alternate Earth.  It isn't until he notices the "smell" of the air halfway through the story that he realizes he's not "home" anymore.  All's I'm saying is... this could've gone badly, and all because he reminded Lois of her husband.

At our conclusion, I thought it was pretty cool that Majestic would be remaining in the "real" DC Universe for a spell.  I pictured him joining up with a team or something... but it really wasn't to be.  This came out in 2004, not too far before Infinite Crisis which reestablished the Multiverse, where WildStorm would be designated as Earth-50.  By then, Majestic would have already had his miniseries and had made his return "home".

The art here is still kind of a mixed bag.  I really don't like the way many of the characters look... like, especially Lois... however, I will say that as far as backgrounds and architecture are concerned, they knocked it out of the park!  We get several one-and-two page spreads here, however unlike Part One, they actually felt necessary here... and they were great!

Overall, this was a really good little three-parter, and a fun month of Superman comics (which don't actually feature Superman!).  Well worth a read, especially if you were turned off by the "City of Tomorrow" era of Metropolis and wanted to know how and when that all went away!


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