Superman Confidential #1
Story by Darwyn Cooke
Art by Tim Sale
$2.99, 24 pages
Story by William Harms
Art by Nick Postic and Nick Marinkovich
$2.99, 24 pages
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
With all the power I wield as a freelance comic-book reviewer for the San Antonio Current, I declare an end to all future Superman stand-alone miniseries. We’ve seen it all, DC. And by “it all” I mean “the same freaking story for the past 50 years or so.” No matter what current progress has been made in Superman continuity, writers of these stand-alone issues always seem to want to take Superman back to the 1950s TV-sitcom plots, and to the origin story that has to be better-known than the Nativity by now.
Superman Confidential, for a change, at least refrains from picking the bones of the rotting horse corpses that are the origin story and the Lex Luthor-Superman paradigm and focuses instead on (seriously) a talking rock and a casino builder named Tony Gallo. We’re also treated to almost an entire issue of Clark Kent because, for the moment anyhow, he’s (get this) fighting Gallo as a reporter, not a superhero. This is truly a novel idea for anyone who hasn’t read a Superman comic book since the Death of Superman series, but everyone else has seen this before; very recently in fact.
Even if you manage to overlook the book’s introduction by an asteroid that fell to Earth when Superman did — and this is the Shakespearean soliloquy of rock monologues — the book’s better portion, in which Superman contemplates the meaning of his own “immortality,” is an even stronger argument that Superman Confidential shouldn’t have been written. Fans are being treated to a similar concept in Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, a book that has its own problems, but has so far at least managed to avoid the talking-rock pitfall.
To be truthful, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on in this series so far, but for some reason, I like it. The first issue opens up with a Kafka quote and a two-page spread depicting some sort of medieval evil. The issue ends in present-day New York City. In between, we get vampires (I think), what looks like a mummified Ross Perot, and the story of Victor, a veteran cop on his way to retirement after his wife dies of breast cancer. At first it seems like Harms has basically just combined every cliché from crappy cop movies and crappy vampire movies, but the result is better than a sort of late-night-cable-movie mashup; this has more in common with a good Stephen King story than Murtaugh and Riggs Meet Lestat. If nothing else, the book is worth the price just for Postic and Marinkovich’s pretty artwork. Plus, the Impaler team is running a very cool contest through November 30. Email your info to firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to see your likeness ripped apart in the pages of an upcoming Impaler. Let’s see American Splendor do that.
Notes from an Activision marketing meeting.
PR Guy 1: OK, here’s what we got: picture Gauntlet as a superhero game.
PR Guy 2: So, you’re talking about X-Men Legends.
PR Guy 1: No, no, no. Completely different. This one has Ghost Rider and Spider-Man.
PR Guy 2: OK ... Will we at least fix the camera issues that always annoy the shit out of people in this kind of game?
PR Guy 1 (long pause): You can play as Deadpool.
Here’s all you need to know about Marvel Ultimate Alliance: This may not be your favorite game of the year, but it’ll most likely be your favorite game that lets you play as Moon Knight and features a Fin Fang Foom boss fight. God only knows what degenerate bunch of nerds Activision used as a focus group for this game (Who asked to have a boss fight with MODOK?), but this is a must-have for anybody with a diversified geek portfolio including both comics and video games (Hello, ladies). It’s not exactly innovative, the graphics are fairly simplistic (even on XBox 360), and the button-mashing gameplay can get monotonous, but the game is well worth the $50 of comics/brace-wax money for all of us fanboys who never outgrew the superhero stories.