Friday, September 7, 2007

Superman Confidential #1

"Stolen moments. An hour here. Ten minutes there. I know it's not enough for a woman like her. But it's all I have to spare. The perfect woman at the worst possible time. I sometimes wish I had not met her until later. Already there have been so many broken moments. So I . . . overcompensate. But I know it's not enough . . . for a woman like her." - Superman, on his relationship with Lois Lane during the infancy of their courtship, in Superman Confidential #1 (DC Comics, Issue Date: January 2007, Released November 2006).

Written by Darwyn Cooke with art by Tim Sale, this story takes place during the first few months of Superman's career in Metropolis (and, accordingly, the first few months of Clark Kent's time at the Daily Planet). Spread out over three full pages (each divided into three equal-sized horizontal panels), this monologue sequence begins with an extreme close-up of ice cubes floating in liquid. With each successive panel, the view zooms back a bit, revealing more of the scene than was apparent in the previous panel. Whereas first we see ice, we then see a champagne bottle rising from an ice bucket, then champagne being pored into what appears to be a crystal champagne flute against a backdrop of stars. We then see Lois Lane and Superman sitting together and sharing glasses of champagne near some type of window, through which we see the starry night. Finally, we see that they sit on some type of high balcony, not near a window. As Superman remarks about the need to overcompensate, we finally realize that the two of them sit atop the Eiffel Tower.

A very nice moment it is, certainly not stereotypical of the medium. It is often written that Superman intrigues us not because of his many powers but because of his loneliness - he is the last of his kind, the last of his race, the last survivor of a dead world. Revealing, through an inner monologue, the hidden romantic insecurities of the world's most invulnerable man is, well, much more interesting than his battling some generic foe, is it not? In attempting to escape from that loneliness, even he is not immune to the self doubt and critical introspection that dooms us all in such endeavors. Superman indeed.

Reaction is varied elsewhere in our blogosphere. Chad Nevett, writing here, fails to mention this particular scene and concludes the issue "was either boring as hell or somehow very subtle and brilliant." Nor does The Continuity Blog specifically mention the sequence in its review of the issue.
A bit of poking around reveals, however, that I am not the only one who fancied it. Says Bully of Bully Says:
This [new series] looks like it's shapin' up to be another [favorite], not merely for good solid superhero action but for its portrayal of one of my very favorite elements of the Superman mythos: the Clark/Lois/Superman love triangle. There's a gorgeously-written and illustrated three-page romantic sequence where Superman and Lois share a champagne toast on top of the Eiffel Tower that is the sort of scene I'd love to see in a Superman movie.
More succinct is New York's Michael Hartney: "The three-page Eiffel Tower sequence is worth the $2.99 alone." Agreed. Mostly echoing these sentiments is the author of The Nerdly Arts, who summarizes: "Straight from the fight Superman takes Lois Lane on a date at the top of Eiffel Tower, lamenting that with all of his other responsibilities he cannot give Lois the attention she really deserves." He concludes: "A tremendous character piece that unfortunately doesn't have a story to match." Perhaps there is some truth in that criticism, but I prefer character to plot.

Multiple issues of this series have been published, but I have yet to read them. Usually, when I pick up periodicals or comic books, they languish unread for several weeks or months before I finally read them. Such was the case with this issue, but I'm glad I finally got around to it. Of course, I'm still waiting to find the time to sit down and read, in its entirety, John Byrne's six issue mini-series, The Man of Steel, from 1986. We'll see how I fare with that task.


The League said...

Then you be disappointed to hear that Sale and Cooke are off schedule and the schedule for the book is quite botched.

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