Superman #653 (2006)

Superman #653 (August, 2006)
“Up, Up, and Away! Chapter Seven: Up in the Sky”
Writers – Kurt Busiek & Geoff Johns
Artist – Pete Woods
Colorist – Brad Anderson
Letterer – Nick J. Napolitano
Associate Editor – Nachie Castro
Editor – Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $2.99

Well, I sit corrected.  I complained a lot about how lame the Kryptonian ship looked yesterday… and right here on the cover we can infer that it can change shape.  I guess it blew its first impression… hopefully it’ll do something cool enough to shake that off today.

We open with a bit of backstory on the Kryptonian artifact… turns out it was a battleship, formerly commanded by General Dru-Zod.  The ship was crafted from Sunstone… a piece of which Lex Luthor had procured at some point before this story began.  We get some Kryptonese between Zod and his crew… which (just like DC) I refuse to translate.  Long story short, this is a bad-ass craft, and it now hovers over Metropolis.  It’s a great shot of the city here by Woods… looks completely hand-drawn too!

Lex and Superman share some contentious banter… which amounts to “if I can’t have her, nobody can”, with the “her” in question being Metropolis.  Lex fires some crystal missiles into the city, which morph into these bi-pedal mechs that raise a lotta hell.

As Superman wrestles with the battleship, he attempts to appeal to Lex’s conscience.  He asks where his “cure for cancer” is… or what his “feed the world” strategy would be.  At this point, however, Lex is so far gone that Superman’s words completely miss their intended mark.  We get some very familiar “before you arrived I was king” talk… which feels like one of those over-visited Luthor-wells.

Lex continues to bombard Superman and the city with crystal missiles.  Shockingly, the rest of the DC Universe realizes that they might want to get involved and lend a hand.  Unfortunately, Lex has accounted for such a possibility and covers Metropolis with a dome.

Back inside, Superman uses his x-ray vision to scan the battleship… and locates a tight knot of circuitry within.  Deducing that as the “nerve center”, he uses his heat vision on it.

Blasting the circuitry doesn’t destroy the battleship, however it does sever its link to the “crystal walkers” in Metropolis.  Lex responds by pulling a lever, revealing that the core of the battleship was full of… yeah, Kryptonite.  Betcha didn’t see that coming.  Anytime Superman is fighting a machine, we (and he) should just assume that it’s full of Kryptonite.

Lex continues to pummel Superman with the K-Cannon, driving him into the ground.  Jimmy Olsen rushes to Superman’s aid, armed with a garbage can lid.  Well, at least his heart was in the right place.  He mistakenly believes that Kryptonite (no matter how hot) won’t hurt him.  Well, an armful of third-degree burns later… he learns otherwise.  Superman’s safe though, and that’s really all that matters.

Well, safe for a moment anyway.  We now see that Lex has transformed the battleship into a Kryptonite infused Voltron-looking thing.  It looks pretty cool actually!

Superman realizes he has no choice but to blitz the baddie.  He compares it to when he and the Superman of Earth-2 flew Superboy-Prime into the Red Sun of Krypton.  He spears the mech, and plucks the pilot right out its back.

We close with Superman grabbing Lex as they both begin to fall.  Did the Kryptonite cost Superman his powers?  Is his big return already over?  I guess we’ll find out tomorrow… though, the short answer is… no.

Well… that was a fight scene.

Not a bad fight scene… but, ya know… still just a fight scene.

For all the build-up, it did feel a bit disappointing… and didn’t really add anything.  Not that every confrontation needs to, but for this story… I was expecting something more.  We get the old chestnuts of Superman appealing to Lex’s ego… and Luthor’s usual remark of “she (Metropolis) was mine before she was yours”.

We do get Jimmy having his arm burned… third-degree burned, at that!  I suppose that establishes that Kryptonite is not only dangerous to Superman… then again, heat anything up to a bajillion degrees and it’s going to hurt!

I was happy to see the other DC heroes attempting to get involved… because, really… they should, right?  I mean, nobody bothered to check in during the Doomsday Massacre, and we all know how that ended up!

I’d say the highlight here was the art.  Not only did the characters and “mechs” look fantastic… there was also that awesome opening spread.  I gotta say, I’ve become accustomed to skimming over two-page spreads… so often these days it seems like they’re at least 75% boring 3-D models.  Here however, it looked like Metropolis was completely hand-drawn… and it was amazing!

Overall… like I said, it was a fight scene.  This arc still feels enormously bloated… it really should have only gone four… mayyyybe six issues.  I guess we’ll see how this all ends up tomorrow.

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