Superman (vol.2) #174 (2001)

Superman (vol.2) #174 (November, 2001)
“Every Blade of Grass”
Writer – Jeph Loeb
Guest Art – Steve Lieber
Colors – Tanya & Richard Horie
Letters – Richard Starkings
Assistant Editor – Tom Palmer, Jr.
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.25

Going with a random pick today, from whichever longbox is closest… sometimes that’s fun to do!

It’s the wake of Our Worlds at War, and much of Kansas has been rocked… and that includes a certain little town.  Many of her citizens have gone missing… and that includes a certain little family.  We open with Lois and Clark at the remains of the Kent farm, with the former digging through the rubble for one thing in particular.  Lois manages to find Ma Kent’s old journal, which she reads from aloud while Clark rebuilds the place.

Lois takes a look and misspeaks when she says Ma “kept” a journal, past tense.  Clark is quick to correct her as he continues occupying his mind with work.  This process continues for several days… and nights.

Clark is just about done with his construction project… which includes taking care of such things as pipes, and even the septic tank (which is a nice touch… details we might not always think about).  Lois pops in to let him know they’re about to have company… in the form of the Vice President of the United States of America… and the Second Lady!

Pete is a complete chucklehead here… almost feels like a middle-aged Eddie Haskell with the way he’s talking… “What d’ya hear, what d’ya say?”  So weird.  Lana pulls Lois aside to ask the question that she’s sure is on Lois’ mind as well.  Will Clark ever take up the cape again?  Lois is unsure, but says that he hasn’t outright ruled it out.

Back to Clark and Pete.  The Veep claims that there are over a million displaced Americans… in Kansas alone!  Which means, the likelihood of tracking down Jon and Martha Kent might be slim.  Clark ain’t about to take this lying down… not that he really has much of a choice, unfortunately.  He tells Pete he’d best talk to his boss… or else he will.

After the Ross’s leave, Lois begins to hint that Clark really ought to consider being Superman again.  She brings up the fact that she’d lost her own father during Our Worlds at War… and knows that this isn’t the right time to take a step back.  The nearly-contentious conversation is interrupted by the arrival of a stranger passing through.  He calls out to Clark and asks him if “Beef Bourguignon with Ketchup” means anything to him.  Well, I’ll say it does!

Clark learns that someone important to him is recovering at the local Red Cross Hospital… and so, he has himself a shave and heads off for a visit with Ma!

What he’s not prepared for… is Ma’s first question.  “How’s your father?”  Clark is taken aback… he’d assumed Pa was here with her!

Clark brings Ma home to her rebuilt house… and gets right back to work keeping his mind off of “things”.  Lois calls him in to let him know that Perry White called.  Clark shrugs it off.  Ma suggests that it’s be best for her boy to return to the real life… but he shrugs that off too, insisting that Pa is still alive.

Hey, wouldn’tcha know it… Clark’s right!  We shift scenes to Jonathan Kent hitching a ride on a big rig to head “north”.  Stands to reason he’d want to get away… he likely believes Martha to be dead.

Back at the farm, Ma gives Clark one of her trademark pep-talks.  She assures him that there is a way to move on as Superman while honoring those lost during Our Worlds at War.  Slowly but surely, her son comes around.

After checking in with Lois, Superman heads back into the Never-Ending Battle… with a slightly-altered “in memorium” uniform.

Sometimes the “random pick” method will bite us in the backside… other times, I get a chance to revisit something I probably should have already revisited by now!  Today was very much the latter.

The Our Worlds at War era of the Super-books kinda marked my going “all-in” after an extended time away.  I’d popped in here and again… and kinda traced my finger around the edges of the Super-books going into the turn of the century, but was afraid of making such a large (and potentially daunting) commitment to a family of titles.

With Our Worlds at War, I found myself hooked!  Sure, in hindsight the event was maybe a bit on the bloated side, and probably had a few too many tie-in one-shots and the like… but, back in 2001 I was all about it.  This “quiet” reflect-y issue was a really good capper… and, just like the Super-book we discussed yesterday, didn’t just tie a bow on everything that came before… but also spurred on a few story threads.

Of course to fully appreciate this issue we need to kinda suspend our disbelief.  I have trouble reconciling the fact that Ma was holed up so close by at the Red Cross Hospital, and Clark didn’t know it.  Sometimes he can zero in on a particular heartbeat or voice… and sometimes he can’t.  Guess we just gotta roll with it.

The costume alteration to include the black shield?  Gotta say, I really dug this touch.  Heck, I was a bit bummed out when they reverted back to yellow!  The black shield was a very striking touch… and a really neat way to pay tribute to those lost during Our Worlds at War… and, in the real world, to those lost during the 9/11 attacks.

Our guest-artist is Steve Lieber, and… while I’m not sure I’d like this kind of art in a “regular” action-heavy issue of Superman… for a quiet issue like this, it does the job.  The (McGuinness) cover is also pretty great!

Overall, I definitely recommend this, though with the caveat that you’d probably want to have some familiarity with the events of Our Worlds at War to fully appreciate it.  This issue (and many chapters of Our Worlds at War) is available digitally.

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