SUPERMAN #701 Review -

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Mania Grade: F-

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  • Title: Superman #701
  • Written by: J. Michael Straczynski
  • Pencils by: Eddy Barrows
  • Inks by: J.P. Mayer
  • Colors by: Rod Reis
  • Letters by: John J. Hill
  • Cover by: John Cassaday and David Baron
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Publication Date: July 14, 2010
  • Cover Price: $2.99
  • Series:

SUPERMAN #701 Review

"...quite possibly the worst single issue of Superman ever"

By Ben Johnson     July 15, 2010
Source: Mania

SUPERMAN #701 Review
© Mania

After Superman’s recent drubbing by Mania’s own Chad Derdowski who proclaimed reading the 700th issue was akin to “getting a turd cake on your birthday” I felt it important the follow-up got a shot at redemption. I’m happy to report that J. Michael Straczynski has completely turned it around from last issue... if you’re into the idea of Big Blue doing his best to reenact the events of Forrest Gump.

In the same manner as America’s favorite low IQ multi-millionaire, Superman is taking life as it comes, walking through the US and finding himself in situations where his skills are needed, and his powers have never been put to better use. Faster than Jiffy-Lube, more powerful than a street thug dealing heroin (all of whom happen to be non-white, because stereotypes mean we don’t have to think! Hooray), able to clean a cluttered store room in a single second. Look! Walking down the street! It’s a hobo! It’s a homeless drifter! No, it’s... Superman?

But fear not, the fun doesn’t stop there! By demonstrating a heretofore unknown gift, the Man of Steel dispenses wisdom like Run DMC drops rhymes. Witness in full color all his glory, like:

“If you honestly believe, in your heart of hearts, that you will never, ever have another happy day... then step out into the air. I’ll keep my promise. I won’t stop you.” (To a person standing on a ledge, contemplating suicide).

And my personal favorite:

“Over there has to stand for itself, has to speak for itself. Because it’s only when over there becomes here that we can stop this once and for all. And from now on, my eye will be right here.”

You know what? Just never mind. Never mind a coherent review. Forget a thoughtful critique. Throw out the idea of a rational argument from me about why this is a terrible travesty, and quite possibly the worst single issue of Superman ever, which is an incredible accomplishment considering this is the 701st issue. I am too freaking pissed off at this rancid waste of ink and paper. If Mr. Derdowski likened the big seven-oh-oh to getting a turd cake on your birthday, then reading this is like waking up after a particularly nasty sleep walking incident to find the turd cake platter empty and your stomach full.

Cover art to SUPERMAN #701 by John Cassaday

It’s true, the writing is wretched, the script stinks, and story is sanctimonious, but at least the art is atrocious. Most panels, unless it’s an extreme close up, are so bereft of detail it’s impossible for (poor, unfortunate) readers to see character reactions to the madness that is a walking Superman. It’s said a picture is worth a thousand words, but the entirety of this book isn’t worth the five hundred or so words this review has taken to say, quite simply, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!

I don’t know, maybe JMS and friends are trying to make a statement here, but all I got out of it is that the Last Son of Krypton is a smug, self-satisfied prick.

If we had a lower grade than F-, this would have gotten it.


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jedibanner 7/15/2010 10:57:39 AM

Great review Ben, my thoughs exactly.

spiderhero 7/15/2010 12:35:33 PM

I loved it. The idea that Superman is working to inspire people one person, one place at a time makes sense. Why? Because that's the only way to bring about true change. One heart at a time.

I mean, sure, we can dispense with the whole idea that Superman might try to inspire people to be better than they are. Let's just have a run of mindless fist-fights. Why not? Why show him convincing a woman to choose to hope for the future? Why bother with one little life like that? Go save Pluto from an alien invasion.  While we're at it, he could just fly past cats stuck in trees as superspeed & explode them with a sonic boom. That would be cool.

spiderhero 7/15/2010 12:43:56 PM

Ben: A more serious response. Think about the relationship between this book & Scarlett #1. Both are addressing the problem that this world is not as it should be. (How we know that & the implications of that knowledge are another, longer discussion.) Both books have characters reacting to the wrongness but in very different ways.

Ultimately, the violence of Scarlett will not bring about lasting change b/c lasting change ONLY comes when human hearts are changes. Violence never improves the condition of the human heart. (I'm not saying there is never a place for violence, but that it doesn't inspire goodness.)

I can only change me. I can only say no to evil & the brokenness of this world in my own heart. I can't make you or anyone else do the same. So, I submit my heart to what is good and when others do the same, when "Over there becomes over here..." then the world changes.

I applaud JMS for presenting such profound concepts in a mainstream superhero comic book.

Inferno 7/15/2010 1:04:11 PM

Of course, everything in this book is wrong for one simple reason; It's Superman.

Had they taken this approach with another character, someone less known, it would've worked for the simple reason of it beeing the first issue.

I also disagree with the absence of detail. Want absence of detail? I think you need to check out Marvel's Dark Tower. So many splash pages you'd think you were reading words on comic book covers.

Well, at least they don't have him parading with different colors and twinners!

agentkooper 7/15/2010 1:49:16 PM


Thanks for your response.  The grade is not for the idea of the comic, it's the execution.  Powder puff situations are set-up so Superman can come in and fix them.

How would Superman using his x-ray vision to fix cars change hearts?  No one else can do that.  Same with the drug dealers.  He shows up in all his invincible glory and lights drugs on fire.  No one else "over there" can do the same because they would get shot in the head and die.

In every single situation Superman fixes problems in ways that only he can, by using superpowers.  Instead of inspiring people to do better, this sets them up to rely on a Godlike messiah character.

Add to that the ridiculous visual actions portrayed by characters (when you can actually see their expressions).  You can almost hear 3 stooges sound effects everytime Supes drops another amazingly insightful pearl of wisdom. 

This story doesn't have to be weak.  It can be done.  I just don't see JMS doing it right now.  Hell, for all I know he's setting Superman up to become ruler of humanity. 

Inferno 7/15/2010 2:05:47 PM

You make a pretty good point, Kooper but you also have to see it both ways.

Would someone with Superman's powers and abilities take the time to help and talk to people?

Most Superheroes do what they have to do and then jump at the occasion to put their responsabitlies aside and continue they're normal lives. Kinda makes you wonder if they feel morally obliged to take out the bad guy once he commits the crime.

That's Batman stands out as a hero, he goes out looking for crime instead of waiting for it to happen. In Infinite Crisis he also said that the last time Superman inspired someone was when he was dead.

Superman is arguably the first Superhero (Sorry, Doc Occult) and he's the most iconic one. He 's got to keep inspiring people.

Only problem is, people see this scenerio side by side with him buttering his toast. Irrelevant to his powers.

I still enjoy reading the review though, no matter what letter the books get. :) You reviewers have ways with words that even the best authors can't replicate!

spiderhero 7/15/2010 3:56:58 PM

Yes, Superman does something only he can do. But I think there's something to that as well. We can all use our talents & skills in unique ways. My dad knows all about cars having worked on them professionally & privately. To me it is like a superpower that I can call him on the phone, describe what my car is doing, then he tells me what's wrong.

And as far as power puff situations. Well, we all have moments like those and in the moment, they don't feel powderpuff. They are real & matter to us. If we open our eyes, there are dozens of situations just like that around us each day that we could step in and make a difference if we would just slow down, take the time & look.  I think JMS may be making that very point.

agentkooper 7/15/2010 4:14:26 PM

I still don't buy it, but I don't want you to think I'm against the book.  I was stoked when I heard JMS was taking on Superman.  He's responsible for my favorite runs on Spider-Man and Thor, and I'm rooting for him to pull this out of what I percveive as a nose dive and become something more relavent.

But I'm glad you're enjoying the book.  We'll have to touch base again after a few more issues and compare notes.

agentkooper 7/15/2010 4:24:46 PM

Inferno -

Thanks for the awesome compliement.  I'll pass it on to the other reviewers as well.

savagelee 7/15/2010 5:46:04 PM

I found the comic to be boring and sanctimonious. It becomes less about "is this a good use of Superman's powers" and more about "did I enjoy reading this comic." No, I did not. I was bored and frustrated, as though I were forced to watch several episodes of "Who's The Boss".

I don't care if he walks, I don't care if he flies. Just tell a good story, and don't be so preachy.

Also, setting drug supplies on fire is a terrible way to deal with drug-dealers. Did those houses catch on fire? Was anybody injured? Did superman help out when the fire fighters were brought in? Did anybody get real messed up from inhaling those burning narcotics?

AND if Superman didn’t want to break the law by just smashing into the drug dealer’s homes, why was it okay for him to fry their stuff from the street? That’s like saying it’s illegal for me to stab you in your home, but I’m still allowed to shoot you from the sidewalk.

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