With Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. arriving with “Superman” #32, it’s easy to assume that Scott Lobdell would be wrapping up his run on the title right about now. But instead, we’re offered up what’s advertised as another prologue to “Superman: Doomed,” but ultimately has Lobdell and Ed Benes juggling all of this book’s subplots with little sign of any of them resolving.
The parts of “Superman” #30 that connect to “Superman: Doomed” feel — in honor of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday coinciding with this release — “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” It’s about as generic a prologue as you can get, with newlyweds dying on a beach, ominous movement of something that was previously motionless, and a being telling Superman point-blank that something bad is coming. The problem is, almost all of these lead-ins could apply to just about anything. Nothing feels particularly attached to Doomsday, or even to any villain. Brainiac, Warworld, Zod, even the Parasite — any of them could be subbed in and you wouldn’t need to change a single line of dialogue.
Meanwhile, all of the other subplots continue on their merry way, but none of them advance. Lois is still super-intelligent and under the sway of an alien monster. Cat is still running the website with Clark. Senator Lane still doesn’t like Superman. And with it comes some truly clunky dialogue. Senator Lane is now speaking in quotation marks (“You and I have never been ‘close’…” “I’m not entirely sure why you ‘requested’ my presence here.” “It’s ‘Senator’ now, Marla.”), and even in general it all comes across as a strange combination of stilted and stereotypical.
Benes and Norm Rapmund’s art is also very inconsistent here. Look at newlywed Alistair on the first page: his face is a little sunken and tight, with wrinkles along the top and sides. His stomach is definitely pushed out further than his chest, and if I had to guess I’d say that he was supposed to be a man in his 50s that was a little overweight. Meanwhile, his new wife Jane looks to be in her late 30s with a short haircut that barely touches the nape of her neck. Turn the page — and in the middle of the two-page spread, Alistair is now looking a bit younger, and his chest is now incredibly muscled. Meanwhile, Jane’s hair now extends an inch or so past her shoulders. On the far right of the page, Alistair is looking older again (late 40s at this point) while Jane looks like she has a completely different face from what we saw on the first page. Finally, on the fourth page, Alistair is now in his 20s at most, and his arms are now pumped up with muscle. And unfortunately, this is typical for this issue. I don’t know if this was drawn in a rush (it was originally solicited with art by Ken Lashley), but the end result is distracting at best, and a bit of a mess at worst.
I’m enjoying the other Superman family comics right now, and since “Superman” #30 was supposed to lead directly into “Superman: Doomed” I thought it was worth a try. But at this point, the new creative team in June can’t get here fast enough. If you’re in the same situation, I’d just pass on this issue entirely.