by Mark Waid and Alex Ross with Todd Klein
Superheroes — the traditional ones, with capes, such as Superman — usually aren’t my thing. All bulging muscles and unstoppable powers and moral superiority, they tend not to appeal to me, as story line or as visual art. I probably wouldn’t have gone out of my way to read it, but a coworker who has recommended other books to me (The Long Run) left it for me on my desk, so I figured I’d better give it a try.
It’s different. The art — while it still has requisite bulging muscles — is done as painting, and is on the less extreme side of comic book hero art. Not that you can quite call it subtle, but fair to say it is subtle in comparison. The story is quite dark: apocalypse is upon us, for Superman and his generation have gone off and left the world to the rebellious, difficult, more violent super-powered next generations. Kids these days.
It is a bit of kick to see Superman middle-aged and gray at the temples. Batman is pretty much an old man. Wonder Woman is aging better than they are. There’s the human point of view character, epic battle, sweeping good vs evil with, let’s face it, pretty much the ending you’d expect. I can’t really speak to how true comics fans would feel about the whole legion of heroes showing up for this (pretty much the whole universe appears), as I didn’t grow up following the comics. I’d say it’s a pretty good introduction if you haven’t been following the story of any one hero carefully as it’s enough to know whether or not you want to explore the genre further. The story makes sense without all the background information, but is no doubt deeper for those that know it.
I was happily surprised at the darkness, but I could have done with less fire and brimstone and deeper flaws and… well, less godlike superheroes, I guess. Which is usually my problem. Well, that and freakish bodies in spandex.