Thank you! Thank you Chris Roberson for ending the Grounded storyline in such a way as to leave Superman with a great big smile on his face.
Lisa Jennings, the teacher who’s been shadowing Superman on his trip across America, finally makes herself known, endangering Lois to get his attention. Bad move. Superman’s in no mood for messing about and he’s a fearsome sight as he hovers above Lisa before giving her a distracting blast of heat vision, allowing him to get Lois away from peril.
That clears the way for Superman to ask Lisa what she wants. What she wants is a fight, and a chance to tell him that she wishes him to suffer as he made her suffer. Superman, aware of the property damage they’re causing, and the risk to lives, decides to get well away from it all. He calls out to his new friends, the interdimensional Superman Squad, and ‘the Lightning Door’ is opened, wafting them both into a limbo space.
There, Lisa calms down and explains that a fragment of memory sunstone from the recently exploded New Krypton plugged her into depressing memories and thoughts as he passed by on his ‘sad Superman walk’. ‘It made me the living embodiment of your depression. Of your doubt.’
After 15 issues of this storyline, I know how she feels.
Anyway, she’s convinced she’s stuck this way but Superman has a plan – counter the depressive mood of the gem with hope. He grabs onto the jewel and thinks good thoughts, of Truth, Justice and, yes, the American Way. The jewel explodes, Lisa is out of action and Superman returns to Earth with the stricken schoolmarm and the definitive answer to the question: ‘Must there be a Superman?’
There follows a beautiful reunion with Lois that perfectly highlights their true characters, and several pages of epilogue, in which one of the Superman Squad relates a story. She tells younger members what happened to Superman, to Lois, to Lisa and the various heroes who’ve popped up over the past few issues … it’s a fine capper to this run of Superman. It’s a children’s story serving the same purpose as Alan Moore’s Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, but giving us the happy ending without the tragedies that beset the Superman Family therein.
For Roberson is determined to go out on a high, right down to giving us a final panel that’s corny, yet perfect. If you’ve read Silver Age Superman, or that Moore story mentioned above, you’ll guess what it is.
Roberson’s partners in perfection here are penciller Jamal Igle and inkers Jon Sibal and Robin Riggs, who provide lovingly composed, gorgeously finished art. The angles, the expressions, the dynamism – this is a great-looking comic. They’ve no qualms about drawing the goodness, the hope on Superman’s face at the end of what has been, Roberson’s few issues apart, an awfully gloomy storyline. And it’s something we need to see. It’s the end of an era, no doubt about it, and ‘sad Superman’ needs to be well and truly banished.
I wish this creative team were going forward into the new Superman continuity (which is alluded to here with one of the portraits in the Superman Squad’s Fortress of Solidarity). Still, what comes next could be wonderful, stupid costume, tossed-out marriage and all >ahem<.
I like John Cassaday’s cover composition, but not the execution. I don’t know who that guy is, but facially, it’s not Superman. It’s striking, though, well-coloured by David Baron, and should pull in a few extra readers to a finale that’s far better than J Michael Straczynski’s Grounded deserves.
Did I say ‘thank you’?