In Review: Superman #34

This book doesn't rise above "decent" for a flagship title.

The covers: The Main cover is by the interior creative team of John Romita, Jr., Klaus Janson, and Laura Martin. Superman and newly found super-friend Ulysses looks stunned as they are about to turn around to gaze into the giant sized head of new nemesis the Machinist. The design of the villain’s helmet is a little different from what people have seen from similarly masked baddies (which is good), but for an introductory image of his visage, it’s hard to get a focus on him (it?). Superman’s left arm looks a little odd as well. In fact, Supes is looking very svelte. I’m used to a fairly massive Kryptonian, so this looks off. Ulysses is much better drawn and shown more clearly to readers than the title character. The coloring is good, but the choices on the interior for the Machinist’s mask make him ultra dark on this cover. There’s also a Selfie Variant cover by Neil Edwards, Danny Miki, and Alex Sinclair. It a selfie taken by Jimmy Olsen, who’s smiling big while behind him Superman is has just smacked a green robot into a building, and the ‘bot has hit a car before colliding with the structure. Jimmy’s signal wristwatch is predominantly displayed, and I liked that, but not much else about this cover. Overall grades: Main B and Variant C+

The story: Touched on last issue, some gatekeeper or jailer is watching several green computer screens that give the entire history of Superman, including scenes of his secret identity. Focusing on the hope that Clark always has, the character smirks at a closed pair of doors behind him, saying, “If I let you out, I’m sure you’d offer an opinion.” Where is this headed? Can’t say as it’s just a teaser for later issues as the story moves to Ulysses’s parents who were revealed to be alive last month. The parents explain their actions from so many years ago and hope that their son, Neil, will forgive them. In dramatic fashion, Ulysses turns around, tears in his eyes, stating, “I’m just so happy you’re alive.” The new hero then tells what he was doing while gone and the origin of his powers is given. After some more familial mending of fences, Ulysses has revealed he knows where the machines that have been attacking Metropolis have been originating from. Writer Geoff Johns has the story move quickly to this new location and introduces new villain the Machinist. There is a neat sequence with one of the heroes being turned by the antagonist, but, naturally, things go well, until the quick stop to the action that has a painful revelation. This was pretty standard super hero fare with much of the time spent establishing Ulysses’s character. The surprise in the end was good, but the rest of this book doesn’t rise above decent for a flagship title. Overall grade: B

The art: Continuing with the visuals is John Romita, Jr., on pencils and Klaus Janson on inks. I’ve always been a fan of both these gentlemen and am not a wholly unbiased reviewer of either of their works. That said, I’m liking what I’m seeing here. There’s not much of an opportunity for “Wow” moments or panels/pages that will be remembered in more than four months. The quick flashbacks to Ulysses’s origin were nice, reminding me of scenes from the movie A.I, and if this is all to spin off Ulysses into his own book, it’s working on me–I’d buy it. The visuals on Pages 14 – 17 were to be expected at some point, and they are enjoyable, but really brief. I’m not keen on the design of the Machinist, although the ending of the issue does explain his look to some extent. Again, this issue isn’t spectacular, but better than average. Overall grade: B

The colors:  The strongest work of the book comes from Laura Martin with her bright colors in great moments of extreme action and tension. Ulysses’s parents’ home is the perfect washed out ageism that would make Norman Rockwell comfortable. The colors do a great job in making the flashbacks particularly alien. The final location is beautifully dismal, and the action scenes explode with bright, overpowering color as these heroes should create. Really well done. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The font for dialogue, narration, and scene setting is the same, and only two sounds are used in this book. There were several opportunities for more, but it was not Travis Lapham’s call to insert them, sadly. I would have liked to see different fonts used for the trio I stated, as well as a unique one for the Machinist. By having the text be the same for every aspect of this book, it makes even more solidified as average. Competent, but average. Overall grade: C

The final line: Fun, with a decent story and better than average visuals. Overall grade: B


Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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