There are a whooooooooooole lot of silly arguments in Superman #701, where writer J. Michael Straczynski sets up ridiculously simplistic straw man positions and then has Superman triumphantly quash the arguments.
That’s really quite annoying (and if it keeps up, it could be a major detraction from the “Grounded” storyline), but luckily, there is enough heart behind Superman’s (and therefore, Straczynski’s) sentiments that it is hard to hold a grudge against the comic. “Grounded” is so patently EARNEST that it really does make up for a lot of the silliness that comes from Superman “zinging” people with lines from Thoreau while he continues his walk across America getting in touch with the people. Perhaps the comic would be better, though, if Superman had a sidekick that followed him around and just shouted, “You just got SERVED!” whenever Superman “zings” people.
That same earnestness makes it easy to forgive illogical/odd stuff like Superman setting a bunch of drugs on fire (as many drugs are ingested THROUGH smoking them, there’s definitely a strange disconnect there in Superman’s logic). The comic is very heartfelt, and it doesn’t have the same cynical edge that the prologue to this story had (the one where Stracynski decided to have a stranger on the street “zing” Superman in a ridiculous-in-its-effectiveness manner), so it is hard not to appreciate what Straczynski doing here, even if some of it seems silly (like telling a man that he might be having a heart attack soon, so he should get to a doctor soon rather than Superman just taking him there himself – I get that Superman’s position is that he is trying to help people help themselves, but wow, that’s a weird scene).
Again, if he keeps repeating the same stuff as the story goes on, then yeah, it’ll get old quick, but through one issue, the comic is charming enough to make it a worthwhile read.
As for the art, Eddy Barrows has a few beautiful pages, but at times he and Straczysnki seem to almost be trying to out-do each other in who can make beats more over-the-top. Like the aforementioned Thoreau argument – Straczynski’s laying it on thick, but Barrows also has the fellow Superman is arguing with make some comically exaggerated, “Oh man, I am so getting taught a lesson here!” faces during the talk. Commenter Vermilious makes a great point where he notes that this sure did not look like Philadelphia, and I suppose that fault lies as a mix between Straczynksi and Barrows (Straczynski for not making anything about the issue unique to Philadelphia and Barrows for not making the city LOOK like Philadelphia).
And oh man, what a Cassaday cover!
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