This is the big one. It’s the 25th issue extravaganza that ties up two years worth of plotlines. We’ve already had some questions answered: Why is Hamilton such a weird town? What was causing monsters to appear at the local swamp? And what was so special about Bessie the Cow’s milk? This issue we get more answers, such as just why Kathy and her grandfather wanted to stunt Jon’s developing abilities, and how Lois Lane is going to cope with a missing leg.
The bulk of the issue, though, goes like this.
It’s father vs son as Supeman vies to free Superboy from the thrall of mentalist Manchester Black. He has help, in the form of the Frankensteins, and an even weirder pair, Batman and Robin. If the rest of the book had been rubbish, I’d have loved it for this panel
Bangarang! Love it. Happily, the rest of the issue is far from bad, it’s a dynamic, well-paced thriller that stays true to established characters and situations. And if that means you guessed right once or twice about, say, how Jon would get back to normal, or the fate of Lois’s lost leg, well, that’s how it goes. And me, I love to get it right – I tell you, it’s ruddy rare.
Amid the fighting, a couple of moments really stand out. First, there’s Batman trying to help Jon ‘find his way home’.
Batman telling someone else to get out of their dark place? Wholly ironic.
And then there’s the Bride of Frankenstein’s approach to ending the Superboy Black business.
As was revealed earlier in the series, she was forced to destroy her own son when he proved rather a handful; you can’t tell me she’s relishing the memory.
Things I’ll leave you to find out for yourself include what Superboy sees when a spaceship quantum reactor goes doolally, Damian Wayne’s science project plans, a moment of pure joy and promise, and a pitch perfect epilogue. I will, though, show you my absolute favourite moment, because, well, it’s not the kind of thing that comes as a surprise.
Clark and Lois, in love and loving it
Peter J Tomasi and Patrick Gleason write this finale, Gleason shares the pencilling with Doug Mahnke, six chaps ink and everything reads and looks great. Every page bursts with dramatically conceived and executed visuals, beautifully coloured by John Kalisz and Wil Quintana.
Gleason and Tomasi really have the voices of the Kents nailed, while Manchester Black sounds like he should – a comedy Englishman. The Frankensteins and the Waynes contribute enough to the story to be welcome, but never hog the limelight, and Kathy is a good pal to Jon – I do hope she visits him in Metropolis. With these past 25 issues, the writers have shown a mastery of longterm plotting of which Paul Levitz – who famously charted years worth of Legion stories on massive bits of paper – would be proud. The challenge now, fellas, is how to one-up yourselves.
The main cover, by Ryan Sook, is truly excellent, while the more iconic variant from Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez is an instant classic – if DC haven’t sold the T-shirt rights already I may have to buy them myself.
So farewell Hamilton, after the next few issues’ road trip the Kents are relocating to Metropolis. I do hope they return occasionally – it’s not like the place is dull.