Comic Book Review

Mania Grade: B

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  • Issue: 1 (of 3)
  • Authors: Scott McCloud, Aluir Amancio, Terry Austin
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.95


An exploration of what gives The Man of Steel his "steel"

By Tony Whitt     January 10, 2005

Alex Ross provides the cover for SUPERMAN: STRENGTH #1.
© DC Comics
The son of the man who once broke Superman's arm hatches a plot to make his father proud of him by giving the Man of Steel a set of vastly difficult set of rescues to accomplish which ultimately leads to his capture of Superman's, um, head. Meanwhile, Clark's own father tells Lois about an incident from his son's childhood, one which has shaped his code of ethics ever since.

Sadly, we won't know until next issue precisely what the nature of said incident is, nor how it came to shape the Superman we know today, which is the stated purpose of SUPERMAN: STRENGTH. Instead, this issue focuses on the efforts of Fido (no kidding, that's his name) to measure Superman's strengths and weaknesses himself which, if you think about it, also fits the purpose of the miniseries in its most literal form. In the hands of any other writer, a story about a criminal trying to gauge Supes' abilities and his ultimate kidnapping of the Man of Steel's head (just read it, it's really difficult to explain) could have been truly awful. But this is Scott McCloud, who's understood and deconstructed more comics than the average bear, and as such he's written a script as strong as its main character. And "character" is the driving force behind it, without a doubt: Fido could have been yet another faceless knock-off villain, but he's got as much internal motivation as and in some cases much more than the usual Superman villain. McCloud also does good by Pa Kent and Lois Lane whenever these two are written well, without a writer reverting back to the age-old stereotypes of "dependable, honest farmer" and "plucky gutsy female reporter", they are a true joy to read, as they are here.

The only thing that really lets SUPERMAN: STRENGTH down is the artwork, which is far more rough and uneven than a project like this really deserves. I can't be sure whether it would have been improved by McCloud doing the artwork all by himself rather than doing breakdowns for Amancio and Austin to work from, but it's a moot point. Of all the strengths that STRENGTH has going for it, the artwork isn't one of them. A pity, since the rest of this book really does pack a punch.

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