Monday, 26 July 2010

Legends of the DC Universe #6

Fear of God

Story: Kelley Puckett
Layouts: Dave Taylor
Finishes: Kevin Nowlan
Letters: Willie Schubert
Colors: Kevin Nowlan
Separations: Dicicham (Digital Chameleon)
Edits: Darren Vincenzo and Scott Peterson
Cover Artist: Christopher Moeller
Cover Date: July 1998
Release Date: 13/05/1998

Robin takes out a minor gang of thugs in Gotham City. Finishing the fight, he sees the Bat Signal in the sky, and goes to answer the call. Atop the Police HQ, Robin is surprised to discover that he has been summoned by Superman, who had been looking for the out-of-town Batman. Superman has tracked a gang who had stolen experimental EM pulse weaponry from STAR Labs into Gotham, and, respecting Batman's wishes, is asking for permission to finish the pursuit. Robin agrees.

Superman gives Robin a lift to the gang's hideout, flying him above the clouds. Poised outside, Superman uses his x-ray vision to identify the crooks' positions and formulate a plan with Robin. The two go into action, and during the fight the heroes realise that the EM guns are active. Superman absorbs the blasts, becoming temporarily charged and magnetised, easily disarming the gang and finishing the fight. As Superman shakes hands with Robin, he accidentally shocks him. He departs, leaving Robin awed and gently afraid.

Wow, that was fast. I think this might be my shortest review yet. So, this is a nice, little story featuring the first meeting between Superman and the first Robin. There's some nice work involving flashbacks to set up Robin's admiration of the hero, although the payoff to that does come off a a little trite, with Robin getting an electric shock and being a little cold to Superman after their fight.

But we're not here to talk about Robin, we're here to look at Superman. As far as the Man of Steel is concerned, he has his working relationship with Batman fairly well in hand at this point. He asks permission to work in Gotham, not because he needs to, but out of respect for his fellow hero. And with Batman out of town, that respect extends to Robin. Superman seems to enjoy himself in Gotham for possibly the first time. Maybe it's the lack of complications that arise from working alongside Batman, the fact that he know he completely outpowers the criminals, or that he's working alongside a young hero for possibly the first time, but Superman smiles a lot more in this issue than we've seen so far in his interactions with Batman, and he definately enjoys taking Robin for a ride above the clouds of Gotham.

I really like Dave Taylor's art here. He uses shadow wonderfully to portay the darker side of Gotham, without making the art or his renditions of Robin and Superman grim and gritty. There's a great flow and pace to his action scenes, but it's the quiet moments that really stand out, such as the aforementioned flight, or the whistful moment where Superman contemplates working with a partner. In these moments, the amount of detail on Superman's face really stands out. It's a shame that Taylor never got a chance to continue drawing Superman.

Superman and Robin isn't really a pairing that normally holds much weight in the DCU. This issue shows how a simple, art-led story can really make this pairing work, unlike the recent team-up in Superman #700.

The Geeky Bits: Kelley Puckett is best known as the creator of the Cassandra Cain incarnation of Batgirl, as well as for his work on the various Batman titles in the late 1990s and early 2000s. His most recent Superman work was as the final writer on Supergirl before Sterling Gates arrived, the Way Of The World story arc.

The inclusion of the Dick Grayson Robin is always a continuity nightmare for projects such as this one. In Superman's timeline, we're approximately five years into his career. Batman started his career not long after Superman's first appearance, and in these five years has managed to fit in all of his Year One stories, his solo pre-Robin stories, the majority of his adventures from Legends of the Dark Knight, as well as taking Robin under his wing and training him up so that he can operate solo in the Caped Crusader's absence. If we're being really pedantic (and why shouldn't we?), the training of Robin has only occured in the months following World's Finest #2, where Batman was very much a solo operative. We'll be returning to the sticky problem of Dick Grayson when Superman meets the Teen Titans in Action Comics #584, which occurs after Robin will have transitioned to Nightwing...

Next on World of Superman: It's an official Man of Steel tie-in, published only 12 years later! Written and drawn by John Byrne, featuring the first time that Superman officially meets the inhabitants of New Genesis... it's Jack Kirby's Fourth World #20!


  1. Michael Bradley (omike015)1 August 2010 at 03:39

    For some reason, I remember (nearly) exactly where I was when I got this comic. I usually don't have a steel-trap mind for that kind of thing. Unless I'm mistaken, I got this on my first trip to Metropolis for the Superman Celebration in 2001. I didn't get the comic IN Metropolis, but in a small comic shop across the river in Paducah, KY. The shop was still there when I went back in 2002, but I haven't been there since, so I don't know if it still is, or not.

    Anyway, on the issue, again, it's been a while, but I remember really loving this issue. Superman/young Robin team-ups are always fun. They've got a great dynamic together, with Superman begin the "fun uncle" figure.

    The art here isn't bad. I'm not a fan of Kevin Nowlan's inks as they always overpower the pencils. Always. But, still, Nowlan's a competent artist; it's just not my cup of tea.

    Not a big fan of the cover, either. It's fine at first glance. But at second glance, Robin's contorted body position is painful and the camera angle is just creepy.

  2. Ooh, I see what you mean about the cover. I'm not sure that anyone could maintain momentum in that direction whilst twisting in that way. I like to think he ended up facing backwards, hanging by his arm until Superman came and set him straight again.

    Despite my low opinion of opening arc to this series, I'm enjoying reading the issues that I do have, and filling in the gaps on this run is fast becoming a high back-issue priority for me.