When your cover copy is excitedly telling readers that a storyline has ended? That’s a sign that something went slightly wrong. With “Superman” #814, not only is “Grounded” finally over, but it’s the last issue before next month’s re-launch of “Superman.” And as a result, Chris Roberson gets to wind down J. Michael Straczynski’s main story, with a great deluge of plot to try and tie together as much as possible from the previous issues.
It’s not an entirely successful end result, although it does try. We finally learn the identity of the woman who’s been trying to make Superman depressed, and the revelation is a bit of a letdown. It’s a distinctly uninteresting origin, and the motivation of the villain is even less so. It’s hard to believe someone higher up thought a year-long storyline leading up to this revelation would have readers anything but underwhelmed, honestly.
Roberson tries his hardest to make it interesting, though. His dialogue is nice, and the narration has a certain stirring quality to it. And despite a tired way of defeating the villain (think of the biggest cliche you can to stop a villain that projects feelings of depression on her victim, and you’ve got the conclusion) Roberson tries to make it come across as more interesting than it really is, thanks to his specific script.
But still, it’s hard to ignore that “Grounded” had a bad idea at its core, and not even some attractive pencils from Jamal Igle, or a fun glimpse at alternate Supermen can completely wash out of your mouth. On the bright side, with this being the final issue before September’s all-new “Superman” #1, it does give Roberson and Straczynski a little extra leeway to do what they want. I like how they tie in a lot of the guest-stars from the previous issues, and Roberson’s discussion of how Clark and Lois are always destined to be together, even if there are road bumps here and there feels like a nod to the readers to not worry too much about what might await us in “Superman” #1.
After all, “Superman” #714 is serving as not just the end of “Grounded” but also the entire post-“Crisis” era of Superman. It’s a shame that the final storyline ended up being an overall dud, but Roberson at least made a lot of the individual pieces shine. Not a great finale, but Roberson gave it a shine that was far greater than it deserves. If Roberson ever gets the chance to write Superman again (but this time with his own plots, from scratch) I know I’d welcome it. Just not working off “Grounded” again, please.