Superman (vol.3) #42 (September, 2015)
“Before Truth, Part 2”
Writer – Gene Luen Yang
Penciller – John Romita, Jr.
Inker – Klaus Janson
Colorists – Dean White, Wil Quintana & Tomeu Morey
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor – Andrew Marino
Group Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99
DCYou… remember that? Me neither.
We open on the outskirts of Metropolis where Clark, Jimmy, Lois and Condesa are collecting themselves following Clark having been shot. Oughta mention, this was around the time he discovered his Solar Flare power, which would leave him powerless for 24-hours following use… and boy oh boy did he use it… like every issue. The group is suddenly ambushed by a group of Techno Ninjas… which Clark just thrashes his way through.
When the techno-dust settles, Lois finally confronts Clark. She’s noticed things ever since he… and Superman… arrived in Metropolis. He isn’t terribly keen on continuing the conversation, and pulls away… unfortunately for him, she won’t let go… and his clothes tear. Welp, that’s underwhelming.
Lois is surprised, and rather ticked that he’d been keeping this from her. She’s even less pleased to learn that he’d already let Jimmy in on his secret (a few issues earlier). And, wouldja look at that, Condesa also knows! Ya see, she worked with Hordr_Root, who has been sending our man some threatening text messages of late. Hordr_Root? Have I said “underwhelming” yet?
Condesa also mentions a top secret campus where Hordr_Root and his, er… followers? students? employees? work. They need to wear strange techno facewear in order to enter, as these diet-Dr. Doom masks will serve as their identification cards. Condesa speaks some binary techno-babble into the mask to program it… is there anything she can’t do? The answer to that is… sigh, probably not. Oh, she’s also flirting with Jimmy, I should probably mention that.
Anyhoo, the gang masks up and waits for a campus-bound bus… which, it would appear, travels the road less traveled.
Along the way, Clark tries to continue his chat with Lois… who despite choosing to sit right next to him, isn’t in the mood to talk. She says that she no longer thinks of him as a friend… or partner. Condesa tells them to shut their yaps as they’re just about to arrive.
After touching down, Clark, the gang, and the entire Hordr_Horde are addressed by a giant holographic image of Hordr_Root. We learn that their ultimate goal is to “remake the world”. What an original idea!
It isn’t long before Clark and company are found out for their bogus facial apparati. They find themselves surrounded by some armored types… maybe robots, who knows. Anyhoo, Clark grabs Jimmy and Lois and super-speeds them to safety. He didn’t choose to leave Condesa behind… she had wandered off. He brings them to a building, and punches a hole in the wall revealing something pretty interesting…
The trio are then greeted by the man himself, Hordr_Root (which hasn’t become any less annoying to type). He brings with him both Condesa and… an offer. He claims that everything he’d put Clark/Superman through these past few weeks were just a test to see if he was Horde material… and wouldn’tcha know it, he passed! Clark tells him to pound sand, and a fight with Hordr_Security is on.
While he fights the bots, Superman calls out to Jimmy and Lois, imploring them to chase Hordr_Root, and try to make all of the other employees leave the Hordr_Plex. Jimmy happens across Condesa (which I keep trying to spell with two S’s) and she easily puts him in a hammerlock and presses him, face first, into a wall. She whispers in his ear that her IQ is 150, and she scored 1580 on her SATs… okay, no she didn’t… but she does tell him that she’s not really with Hordr_Root, she just sided with him to protect a secret of her own… probably something to do with her perfection.
Back in the monitor room, Lois clocks Hordr_Root in the head with a metal pipe. He goes down like a sack’a potatahs, and his mask shatters. It would appear that Root is no more than a child… go figure. As Lois grabs him by the collar, he digitizes and vanishes, claiming that this body is just a “node”.
Elsewhere, Condesa has led Jimmy to the holographic PA system, so his freckly face can take to the skies above the campus and issue a warning.
In the monitor room, the robots are proving to be rather difficult for Superman to take down… and so, this being a DCYou era book, he resorts to the, say it with me… Super Flare. Toldja it was like every issue. Even Jimmy says “Oh no… again?!”
The issue wraps with Condesa getting the flying bus started as Lois and Jimmy load Clark’s naked, powerless backside on board.
Sooooo… hmm. I do believe I said “underwhelming” a few times during that synopsis.
Now, let’s take this discussion piecemeal. There’s a bit to dig through here… we’ve got the story, the threat, the cast, and the reveal.
Let’s start with the reveal. Like I said, underwhelming. This entire story is the systematic removal of the secret identity. Many people, myself included point to the New-52! as DC aping Image in the 1990’s. If you were to ask me, I’d say DCYou is DC aping Marvel around the turn of the century… the Bill Jemas days. Where things like “secret identities” were just those “comic booky” things that forty year olds who live in their parents’ basements cared about. So many things they were throwing at the wall in hopes that something… anything would stick.
I can’t imagine where DC saw this going… and I have a difficult time thinking that Rebirth was already in the works at this point. Despite claims to the contrary, I still feel that DC licks their finger and holds it up to see which way the wind’s blowing on a regular basis… which fuels a bit of my trepidation and affects my level of commitment with the organization’s wares.
Keeping with the reveal, let’s talk creative team. Nothing against Gene Yang or JRJR… I’ve liked most everything Yang has written, and I remain a staunch Romita Jr. supporter, I feel this storyline… being a (would’a/could’a/should’a) DC Universe-altering one, it should have been left to a more seasoned DC Comics storytelling combination… and not a fella writing his third or fourth DC Comic, and one of the biggest and most identifiable Marvel artists of all time. It just made me feel that DC wasn’t making a big enough deal out of something which, in my opinion, should have been huge. I mean, we’re talking almost eighty years of secret identity being flushed away here.
Speaking of flushed away… I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this here. I know I’ve said this a few times, but can’t recall if it was here or social media or a podcast or something… there is that bit about not being able to put any genies back in the bottle. I mean, not completely, anyway. As of this writing, the secret identity is “back”, in that nobody knows Clark and Superman are one in the same… but that doesn’t change the fact that we have already read the story in which they did! We know how Perry, Lex, and the world at large react to learning the secret. This wasn’t meant to be a “What if…?” story or “Imaginary Story” (and I don’t subscribe to Alan Moore’s “… aren’t the all?” line of thinking). These reactions and the stories that sprung from them were supposed to be the real deal. It kinda takes any oomph out of any future secret identity-centric stories… and weakens the concept of secret identity as a whole. Who knows… maybe it’s just me.
I think back to Spider-Man’s big reveal during Civil War (aka, the book that cured me of my Marvel-Zombitude). We saw how the world reacted to it… we say Jonah’s frustration, anger, and feelings of betrayal… we dealt with all that, we digested it. So, when Brand New Day happened, they tried putting that genie back in the lamp… but, if you ask me… they couldn’t. We already know how people, good, bad, and indifferent are going to react to the reveal… so, it’s not a story we’ll be “cautiously looking forward to” ever again.
Back to the issue itself… Hordr_Root. He’s not a bad idea for a villain… I actually quite like the concept. I don’t think he should’ve been the catalyst behind the reveal… but, then again, a lotta folks thought Doomsday shouldn’t have been the one to kill him back in 1992. I will say however, I’m a bit “over” heroes coming across a bank of monitors which show all of their secrets. Seems like we’re going to that well a bit too often these days.
Let’s talk Condesa. Wow… when they got on the bus, I was half expecting it to break down as they were passing a high school football game… so she could score the winning touchdown, then repair the rig.
Overall… the story isn’t a bad one… if we take all the reveal nonsense out of the equation. I purposely didn’t reread the one where Lois sends the magical worldwide “tweet of revelation”, because I didn’t want my brain to leak out of my ear… but this issue… underwhelming, but not offensively so.
If you wanna read about the first, real, and only marginally less underwhelming “Lois finds out” issue, feel free to check out my coverage by clickin’ the cover below: