Superman and the Men of Steel is a fun and breezy adventure. The story may not be more powerful than a locomotive, but the action certainly moves faster than a speeding bullet!
A man from another planet walks among us. He believes that truth should never be silenced. He believes that peace should be given to everyone, not just those who can afford it. He fights for people who are unable to fight for themselves. But when Lex Luthor launches a public campaign against this visitor from another world, people of begin to fear and distrust the being they know only as "Superman". So much so, that some of them submit themselves to unsafe experiments or join the fanatical group of super-powered criminals dubbed "The Anti-Superman Army". All this raises one question...who should we really be afraid of, the man who can bend steel with his bare hands, or the people who find his ideals so alien?!?
Overall, I found Grant Morrison's "New 52" reboot to be a lot of fun. While Superman still espouses the values of truth and justice like he always has, it was very entertaining to watch a younger Clark Kent ditch the old "mild-mannered" quality in exchange for a much more dymanic and outspoken personality. This is a Clark Kent who truly feels and acts like an intrepid reporter determined to bring people the whole story, and who refuses to let anyone silence him. In past Superman tales, his superhero persona was often far more interesting than his alter-ego, but this time around, it was Clark Kent who really leapt off the page. There were some other nice character touches, too. I particularly loved Lex Luthor's insane rant about how dangerous aliens supposedly are to us..."The brown tree snake introduced to the U.S. territory of Guam right after World War Two caused dozens of indigenous birds and reptile species to become extinct. The cane toad, sent to Australia as a pest control agent, decimated local biodiversity. Non-native strains will destroy entire ecologies, given the opportunity!"
This bigoted, xenophobic version of Luthor is far more dangerous or frightening than any version ever seen before...even back when Lex Luthor had his own Legion of Doom..."We'll use this growth ray to turn Superman into a 100-foot tall giant...that will stop him!" - I wish I could say that I'm making this up, but this actually happened in a SuperFriends episode! Sad...but not nearly as sad as the fact that I know that!
Grant Morrison has always been known for his creative writing, and this is no exception. Some moments are too imaginative and bizarre not to love, like when the Anti-Superman Army's hiding place is revealed...don't click on the spoiler if you want to be surprised when you read the book itselfA teleport rifle is used to fire a microscopic lead pellet into Superman's brain...the pellet is hollow, and inside there is a tesseract space big enough to fit 30 people!
Morrison also came up with clever spins on villains like Brianiac and Metallo. Since I grew up on comic books where Metallo was often referred to as "the man with the Kryptonite heart", this longtime superhero fan got a huge kick out of it when John Corben was turned into the robotic Metallo monster and announced, "I have no heart"
! The story is also very fast-paced...in fact, the reason I'm not giving this a full 5 stars is because it's a little too
The biggest problem I had with this book is that the events unfold so quickly, crucial moments are often glossed over to the point that it lessens their impact. The idea of the people of Metropolis turning against Superman because they distrust having an alien in their midst could have been a powerful analogy for racism, but when their protest just sprang up out of nowhere and so little time was spent exploring this development before Superman becomes their hero again, it just felt contrived. Character development was stunted at times as well. John Corben apparently agrees to the "Metallo" experiment in order to impress Lois Lane, but since he and Lois only have one brief moment together in the whole story, Corben's downfall was not nearly as dramatic as it should have been. And speaking of Lois Lane, no character is more shortchanged by Morrison's "faster-than-the-speed-of-light" writing style than her! Lois appears so sporadically throughout the story, she serves very little purpose and has zero chemistry with Superman. I know the New 52 promised a revamped continuity where Lois and Clark weren't necessarily an item anymore, but considering how important Lois has always been to the Superman mythos, it just seemed like she should have played a much more significant role in this story...Please note: Originally, this space was going to feature a picture of Lois and Superman kissing, but since so many pictures are getting flagged on GoodReads lately for totally ridiculous reasons, I decided I better play it safe. So, here's a completely unflagable cute lil' bunny, instead!"Superman and the Men of Steel"
may not be the greatest Superman story ever told, but it's still one worth telling! If you're looking for an exciting Superman adventure, you should have a lot of fun reading this one. I did!