Superman and Flash races are like buses, you wait ages for one and then two come along at once. Last week’s Superboy #5 featured Conner Kent and Bart Allen racing around the world, and here we have their elders; Superman and Barry Allen, matching their speed against one another.
It’s not a case of bad planning on the part of DC Editorial; anything but – the earlier race is shown on TV, accompanied by an editor’s note suggesting readers buy the comic. I concur. And the race here isn’t an official one, it’s a case of Superman having to catch up to Flash in order to solve a mystery – why is Boulder, Colorado, transforming into a cut-price Krypton? Immediate problem solved and our heroes can sit down for explanations (it turns out that Superman isn’t the only hero dealing with fallout from New Krypton), a discussion of heroic legacies and some empathetic listening.
The issue actually begins Brave and Bold-style, with the end of a team-up with the new Super-Chief, and finds room for a reminder that Superman still has some ‘splainin’ to do to Lois, a sideways lesson in life from a young Lex Luthor and excerpts from the Krypton Chronicles.
It also has lots of smiling heroes, something I liked a lot. Acknowledging that he’s been depressed due to the deaths of Jonathan Kent and the people of New Krypton, Superman is moving forward emotionally, as he continues his trek across the United States. And Barry seems happy for the first time since he was brought back from the dead.
Writer Chris Roberson doesn’t bother ladling on any ‘relevance’ storyline, as J Michael Straczynski did when he was writing. Now he’s gone, leaving only his outline behind, Roberson gets to have fun. And so does Superman.
This issue is all about Superman and Flash – their histories, their friendship, their attitudes. Super-villains are absent, but plenty of ways are found to demonstrate how fundamentally cool these guys’ powers are. The script is full of terrific little bits of business, among them the recanting of a silly line from the first part of Grounded. Then there’s Superman and Flash talking about whether morality is shaded, while enacting a homage to Showcase #4 (click to enlarge image):
That, as they say, is a Flash Fact.
Another fact is that Roberson really has Superman’s voice down pat, he’s sincere and good, without being sap – a Jimmy Stewart everyman who happens to be super.
It all looks great thanks to regular penciller Eddy Barrows and guest artist Allan Goldman, with inks from JP Meyer and Julio Ferreira, colours by Rod Reis and letters from John J Hill.
I don’t know how long the current storyline is going on for, but with Roberson and colleagues at the wheel, Grounded is no longer a drag. In fact, the Superman book is flying again.