Superman (vol.2) #165 (2001)

Superman (vol.2) #165 (February, 2001)
Writer – Jeph Loeb
Pencillers – Ed McGuinness, Humberto Ramos, Rob Liefeld, Mike Wieringo, Art Adams, Ian Churchill, & Joe Madureira
Inkers – Cam Smith, Wayne Faucher, Norm Rapmund, & Tim Townsend
Letterer – Richard Starkings
Colorists – Tanya & Richard Horie
Editors – Tom Palmer, Jr. & Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.25

This is one of those issues that I would have bought even if I didn’t care a whit about Superman… I mean, that cover is just too much!  My tree needs those ornaments on it this Christmas!

I hope folks are enjoying this Christmas on Infinite Earths… in July week.  I’ve humbled by and grateful for the positive feedback I’ve received thus far!  I’m having a great time sharing these books… I even broke into the wife’s candle stash and lit one of the three-wick Fresh Balsam ones to really get into the holiday spirit!  Take that, 110 degree Arizona Sun!

We open with the Linear Men as they find that Pluto (the planet… yeah, I still call it that!) has been transformed into Warworld.  I’d almost forgotten that DC did away with Pluto around the turn of the century.  I remember that getting a bit of play in Wizard Magazine.  One of the rare times they said anything positive about DC… 

We shift scenes to the JLA Watchtower.  Superman, Martian Manhunter, and Plastic Man are engaging in some relaxation exercises.  We learn that Superman is still fretting over the new President-Elect, Lex Luthor.  

He and J’onn discuss how they have the unique distinction of being aliens… and the levels at which they choose to assimilate into Earth/American culture.  J’onn continues, by stating that as soon as Luthor breaks his first law, Superman can count on him to help take him down.

Plastic Man tries to interject a touch of levity by telling a very “Plas” joke… which garners a smirk.  Superman gives his pals their Christmas gifts, and takes his leave.  Plastic Man gets rubber bands, while J’onn gets himself a box of Chocos.  Boy, Supes… hope ya didn’t break the bank here!

Next stop, the North Atlantic… where Superman meets up with an incredibly angry looking Aquaman.  This is the Rob Liefeld section, so I’m not sure if Arthur’s meant to be angry or not.  Superman solicits Aquaman’s opinion on the Luthor situation, to which, Arthur offers that Lex Luthor is the first Head of State to publicly declare their support for Atlantis.

Superman suggests it was just an empty promise from a politician looking for favors.  Arthur grimaces (again, Liefeld…) and replies that it better not have been.  Superman heads out, but not before giving Aquaman his Christmas gift… a Metropolis snowglobe.  Yeesh… Arthur looks about as impressed as you’d imagine.

Later, in space… Superman meets up with Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner.  They are cleaning up space-waste, and engaging in political discussion.  Clark asks if Kyle votes, to which he replies that he does.  When asked why, the only reason Kyle can muster is the word “hope”.  He doesn’t say who he voted for, but I’d figure it wasn’t Luthor.  Superman gives Kyle his Christmas gift… a small tub of jewelry polish.  Laaaaame….

Next up, Wally.  Superman and the Flash are going on a casual run, from Keystone City to San Francisco… for chocolate (Ghirardelli, perhaps?) .  They too discuss the results of the recent election, and whether or not Wally votes.  “Early and Often” is Wally’s reply.  As they continue along, Wally tells Clark that if he wants to drag Luthor out of the Oval Office, just say the word.  Clark thanks him, but says they’re going to wait it out.  Wally’s gift is… tube socks.  Wonk wonnnnk…

Later in Antarctica, Superman and Wonder Woman are wrestling.  The first thing I notice here is Wonder Woman’s hair… yeesh, imagine trying to drag a comb through that!  Painful.  Anyhoo, Superman’s mind is elsewhere, resulting in Diana pinning him twice in a row.  Yeah, they’re really wrestling here.

Clark and Diana wrap up their match, and discuss the events of the year prior.  Diana suggests that Clark should take some time away… time to just be with Lois.  Before leaving, Clark hands over her Christmas gift… a mjolnir.  A trinket to remember the 1,000 years they’d spent together earlier that year.

Last stop, Gotham City.  Batman and Superman are together on a rooftop… in complete silence.  Finally, Batman speaks… repeats something Clark had told him about putting trust in the American people to ultimately do the right thing.  Superman gives Batman his Christmas gift… a magnifying glass… and claims that it’s from Lois.

Batman thanks “Lois” for the gift… and before he leaves, turns to Clark are reassures him that they’ll take Luthor down… when the time is right.

We close out the issue with Superman and Lois on a getaway… to the Bottle City of Kandor.

Boy, Superman is a cheapskate.  Talk about some crummy gifts!  All kidding aside, this issue holds a very special place for me as it’s among the books that got me reacquainted with the DC Universe after some time away.  I’m not sure I mentioned it here, but there was a time during the late-90’s that I kind of fell out of full-time comic collecting.  I never quit cold-turkey or anything, but dropped plenty of books that I could either no longer afford, or those that weren’t holding my interest.  Many of my DC books fell into the former.  Superman was going strong, however, with the never-ending battle “triangle numbering” format, it was quite difficult for me to keep up financially.  It just got so overwhelming to try and stay on top of things… and I have kind of an “all or nothing” mentality… where it’s easier for me just to drop everything rather than picking and choosing what I’ll still pick up.

The turn of the century got me dipping my toe back into the DC Universe… and I quite liked what I was reading.  The Bat-books were going great guns with No Man’s Land, JLA was the book… and I found myself wrapped up in Superman once again.  This particular issue afforded me/us the opportunity to just “hang out” with these larger than life characters.  There’s no urgent threats, no fighting or squabbling… it’s just people, acting like people.  I love it!

I usually don’t cotton to “jam” books… that is to say, I generally like it better when there’s only one artist in a given book.  Here, however, I appreciate the various takes.  It gives the book a feeling of grandeur (rather than “dreaded deadline doom”)… it almost feels as though the disparate segments were plucked from different books.  I think this works really well given the narrative and occasion… and what a mix of artists they’ve got.  Joe Mad, Mike Wieringo, Art-frickin-Adams… great stuff!  Even Liefeld and Churchill (who seems like he’s cribbing a lot of Liefeld here) help set the tone for their particular segments.

The story is also great.  This is only a minor detour from the overarching narrative woven throughout the Superman titles of the vintage… but it’s Christmas… life kinda stops for a lot of folks around that time of year… I know it does for me.  The Luthor as President storyline is still addressed and discussed by all members of the Justice League.  We get some great insight here from each member, and find out their opinions on the situation.  You get the impression that Superman’s not entirely sure what he wants them to say… as he gets a wide array of replies.  Wally’s gung-ho about dragging Lex out, while J’onn is waiting for Luthor to slip up.  Aquaman is playing his cards close to the vest, as he has a special interest in some of Luthor’s campaign promises.  This is all very compelling, Superman serves as a sounding board here… and, I’m guessing now he’s even more confused and conflicted than he was prior!

All told, I really enjoyed this issue.  From the excellent cover, to everything between… this was a lot of fun.  Definitely keep an eye out for it, if you are so inclined.

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