Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Superman: Kryptonite Review (Darwyn Cooke, Tim Sale)


Originally published serially as Superman: Confidential, this is a story from Superman’s early days when he’d only just appeared and didn’t know the extent of his vulnerabilities yet. A shady casino owner called Anthony Gallo comes to Metropolis with his lucky giant hunk of green crystal and the Man of Steel has his first encounter with Kryptonite. 

As always with Darwyn Cooke, he tells a story set in the Golden Age, like his best known book DC: New Frontier, though this time he only writes it with Tim Sale drawing. Unfortunately it’s not among his better efforts. 

None of the various storylines grabbed me. The main one is Clark realising what we already know - that he’s vulnerable to Kryptonite - and seeing him realise it is really boring. There’s a subplot about Superman and Lois’ relationship hitting a rocky patch due to him always shooting off to save someone - couldn’t care less about that one! And Lex is in the background scheming like the corniest of the corndog bad guys. 

Cooke also writes Lois in this extremely annoying way. Here’s a snippet of her “witty” dialogue that had me wanting to punch the book - Clark’s testing out some surveillance equipment and asks her if that’s her: 

Lois: Well that’s quite a question, Clark. I mean, are any of us really us? In this crazy, mixed-up world of ours, can anyone truly say - Right. I forgot sarcasm is lost on you. Yes, Clark, it’s me, Lois Lane. Testing one-two-three. Kilroy was here. Waiter, I ordered the lobster, the rat cobbler is for my friend. And remember, it’s not really goodbye, it’s just me hanging up on you.

AAARGH, my brain! Fuuucking hell, Cooke couldn’t have written lamer dialogue if he tried! 

I’m also not really a fan of Tim Sale’s art but I especially hate the way he draws Superman. Sale’s Superman has a tiny face and a giant head - he looks like Down’s Syndrome Superman! Lois looks like a petulant little girl playing dress up in her mommy’s clothes and Jimmy looks about 12! 

The bizarre lump of talking Kryptonite (it’s something else really but I won’t spoil it here) sequences that opened each issue weren’t bad especially with Dave Stewart’s colours. The best part of the book was when Clark was talking with his folks at the farm after he tells them where he came from (remember it’s the really early days of Superman): 

Martha: I suppose you’ll want us to call you Kal-El now? 

Clark: What? I’ve learned a lot in the last while. I’ve learned I can be hurt… maybe even killed. I’ve seen my birthplace and learned all about the two amazing people who were my mother and father. But nobody had to tell me what my name is. It’s Clark. The name my Ma and Pa gave me (hugs them).

(Superman voiceover looking up at the sky: Mother, Father, Ma and Pa. The five of us take a moment to settle in together.) 

It’s so charming and so Superman, I loved that page. Shame the rest of the book’s not like that. It’s a boring, all over the shop, and totally pointless story that didn’t need to be told. You’ll know how sick and tired Superman feels around the green crystal if you read Superman: Kryptonite!

Superman: Kryptonite

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