STORY: Dan Jurgens
ART: Dan Jurgens and Jesus Marino
Creating a cohesive, meaningful comic book universe isn’t always glamorous. Sure, DC and Marvel would have you believe that these superheroes literally spend 24/7 fending off aliens, mad scientists, or other world-conquering threats. And these days, it wouldn’t be a far reach to say that these heroes really are burning at both ends of the candle. But to really make a narrative world that readers can relate to and want to read about, un-amazing things must happen as well. Dan Jurgens understands the this basic ideal and works to make sure his stories are grounded in some sort of reality. Superman #10 finishes up the fight between Superman and Anguish while having that narrative intersect with Lois and Jimmy’s attempt to debunk the claim that Spence Becker is Superman’s alter-ego near the end.
Last month, I was sorely disappointed with Anguish as a Superman villain. She seemed, for lack of better words, weak. Her only characterization was her ability to shift the density of her own mass when necessary. It’s a cool ability, but Anguish didn’t have much else going on for her until this month. We come to find out that this woman is only really after a locket, nothing more. She’s made a mess out of buildings and cars nearby, but that seems more like a cry for help than a criminal mastermind executing a robbery. And while Jurgens usually does a great job telling stories without telling stories, he makes Anguish explain her own powers simply for the sake of describing them, which is a bit narrative “no no” for me. Then, we get a big expository dump about Anguish’s stepfather and how horrible he was. Yes, it’s less exciting than, say, a battle with Helspont, but using a minor, fairly low-powered character is a good thing: if ‘epic’ was the standard, all these heroes would be dead from exhaustion by 30. We need characters like Anguish to flesh out rogue galleries and give these heroes something to do when magic is going crazy or owls aren’t infesting cities.
Lois and Jimmy’s task involves proving that Spence Becker is not Superman. Last month, paranoid blogger Victor Barnes went on national television to claim he knew the true identity of the Man of Steel. As the fight between Superman and Anguish winds down, Anguish hears about the ‘true identity’ of Superman and takes off for the suburbs to kill (or at least hurt badly) the Becker family. Obviously, Supes shows up and saves the day, but Anguish escapes at the end, pointing to a future for the character, something writers of the ‘New 52’ haven’t been thinking about a whole lot as a lot of initial villains are getting taken out of the game pretty early.
Superman may not be the flashiest series, or the most interesting book in DC’s ‘New 52’ lineup, but it serves a greater purpose. While titles like Aquaman and Batman are creating major villains and story elements that will resonate for years, Jurgens is making sure Superman won’t burn out; there will always be someone for Big Boy Blue to fight, they just might not be cosmic-level threats every month.