Superman (vol.4) #23 (2017)

Superman (vol.4) #23 (July, 2017)
“Black Dawn, Chapter 4”
Story – Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Pencils – Doug Mahnke
Inkers – Jaime Mendoza, Doug Mahnke & Keith Champagne
Colorists – Wil Quintana & Hi-Fi
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor – Andrew Marino
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99

For our 499th daily post, I figure we’ll look at something on the newer side of things.  A nice palate cleanser from our old-tyme comedy weekend.

Picking up where we left off last issue, Lois is standing before our creepy dairyman, Mr. Cobb.  She asks what he’s done with Clark and Jon… to which, Cobb calmly replies that he has no intention of hurting them… he’s just trying to prepare them.  At the same time, we also rejoin Superman as he investigates the organic pods he had stumbled across underground.  Frustrated, Lois blasts Cobb with her Bat-Gauntlet… and it only knocks his glasses off.  He responds by using Jedi-like powers to crush her hand!

She screams in pain, loud enough for Superman to hear.  He busts his way through the Earth and delivers one hell of an uppercut to the baddie.  An uppercut that Cobb simply shakes off!  He even delivers one of them smarmy “Hello Superman… or should I say Clark?” type’a lines.  This doesn’t really impress our man… though perhaps Cobb’s use of telekinetics might…

Elsewhere, Superboy is hooked up to some machines and tubing… he is being forced to watch all of the strange goings on in town via an over-sized monitor.  He is being taunted by an off-panel voice, saying he is being given a look at the failure of Superman.  This angers Jon, causing him to use his heat vision… which, surprisingly, ricochets all over the room… which we now know is covered in black mirrors.  Hmm…

Outside, Cobb and Superman continue their discussion… and a few punches are thrown.  Clark demands to know what Cobb’s done with Jon… and again, Cobb says he’s not going to hurt him… he’s only protecting him.  Even goes as far as to say that he loves Jon as his own Son… which, I dunno, is a strange thing to say.

There’s an explosion in the distance… and so, Superman wraps Cobb up in some scrap metal… then gives him a flick to the forehead to knock him out.  He delivers Lois to safety before heading over to see what’s up.  What he finds is… a giant lobster?  Or maybe that’s a crayfish… or crawdad… maybe they’re all the same thing, I don’t do seafood.  Anyhoo, Superman rescues some workers from the beastie, and when he returns to “deal with it”, he finds that he’d been beaten to the punch by a strange glowing figure.

The figure is revealed to be a super-powered Mayor McWhatshisface… and he absolutely slaughters the monster.  This vexes Superman somewhat.  Nearby, a giant bat-creature arrives… and the same thing happens.  This time the beaters-to-the-punch are the super-powered Dr. Brooks and Officer Haggart.  They reveal themselves to be part of something called the… Super Elite.  Oh boy… black mirrors, use of lethal force, a team with “Elite” in the title.  I think I know where this is headed… could’a sworn he was a Teen Titans villain now.

At this point, it would appear that things are about to get real… it’s also the point where something extremely un-real occurs.  Lois is on the periphery snapping some pics with her camera phone when… a chunk of debris from the tussle strikes her… severing her leg at the knee!

Superman rushes to her side and… cauterizes the wound?!  Hmm, can’t see something like this sticking.  I ought to mention that we’re seeing this bit from Jon’s point of view via the video monitor… so, I can’t say for sure this actually did occur.  He tries to turn away… but his captor steps forward to keep his head fixed on the screens.  He then goes all “Mr. A” on the boy… black is black, white is white… you know the drill.

If only it was Mr. A lurking in these shadows… one turn of the page confirms my earlier suspicions.  Our baddie is… Manchester Black.

Okay, let’s get it out of the way… I don’t like Manchester Black.  Well, I take that back… I thought he was a good “one off” character.  His whole purpose was a commentary on turn-of-the-century Authority-esque comics.  Back then, a young Chris ate it up with a spoon.  I loved any sort of meta-commentary in my books.  Today’s Chris, however, tires of such things… and sees it mostly as an exercise in observation, and perhaps a little bit precious.

Black first appeared in the classic, and to my mind, a bit overrated, Action Comics #775 “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” by Joe Kelly and pencilled by… the same fella who pencilled this issue, Doug Mahnke!  I’m a bit surprised I never discussed that issue here, because I think I have a fair amount to say about it… I won’t go too deep, but suffice it to say, it’s a good issue, absolutely worth reading… but leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

His use here is puzzling, as last we saw… he was a purple-haired thorn in the side/benefactor for the (New-52!) Teen Titans.  This Black is decidedly more pre-Flashpoint than that… for one, he actually appears to be a grown-up.  For two, he’s back to going to extremes to fight for what he believes is right.  While I dislike the character, I can’t say that I’m not happy to see some familiar characters acting in familiar-to-me ways.

Now speaking of extremes… Lois loses a leg.  Now I don’t think for even a second that this is going to stick (or be found to have actually happened).  Raising the stakes this high may have been a bit misguided, as it makes me feel like we’re headed to a reset or “it was all an illusion” ending… but, whatayagonnado?  The story is still intriguing… and regardless of if this is all “an illusion” or whatever, I’m still interested to see how it all falls out.  Especially considering that in Action Comics, the Kents are back living in Metropolis… gotta wonder what becomes of Hamilton County, in a town where everybody knows your Superman’s name.

Overall, despite my slight reservations… and the appearance of a character I have little affection for… I gotta say Superman is worth reading.  It’s still among the books I look most forward for, and always reside on the “top” of “my stack”.

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