What could be more exciting for a Superman Movie fan than seeing the name of its most beloved Director on a comic-book cover? Inviting him to co-write an epic story arc across 5 issues maybe? DC Comics certainly thought so and the result, while reassuringly cinematic, is still a solid addition to the Superman literary archive.
Further to SUPERMANIA’s historic posts of recommended comic reading for fans of the Superman Movies, 2008’s Last Son, although chock-full of affectionate nods to the original films reads more like a sequel to Superman Returns or closer still, an alternate universe take on last years Man Of Steel movie. In fact, Steel writer David Goyer should owe Geoff Johns a hefty portion of his story credit – for as evidenced here, he did it both first, and better.
The Last Son of the title is actually the spawn of General Zod & Ursa, who have sent the little tyke to Earth to pave the way for their subsequent escape from the Phantom Zone along with all its other unsavory captives in a bid for World domination. Or indeed reformation – into New Krypton (sound familiar yet?). Naturally, Superman is present to have first contact with the child and their scenes of bonding having discovered they are both from Krypton represent Johns at his best, inviting the reader to care about the characters and consequently, their fate.
Having rescued the child from a top-secret military installation (once government paranoia about alien invasion leads to his abduction) and from the hands of Lex Luthor (who unleashes Bizarro in another violent kidnap attempt) Superman, as Clark Kent, seeks to adopt the boy along with wife Lois who renames him (in what must be Donner’s touch) Christopher. For a brief moment the future looks bright until the inevitable arrival of his real parents and touching scenes between Lois, Clark & Chris give way to citywide carnage.
While the battle between the warring Kryptonians is rendered beautifully by Adam Kubert (whose cityscapes have amazing realism), the conclusion (which sees Superman himself relegated to the Phantom Zone) is a marked drop in momentum as he enlists the help of inmate Mon-El to assist his escape. In a grand finale (originally published in Action Comics Annual #11) with the unlikely assistance of Lex Luthor, the world is purged of the villains by once again by opening the Phantom Zone, (where Superman defeats Zod by punching him clean into it as opposed to snapping his neck in desperation, bottom pic) but Chris is also pulled into the singularity in an effort to close it, leaving our hero devastated.
Heralded by Variety as “An entertaining read that’s hard to put down”, the collected volume released later that year featured yet another Superman Movie connection, giving silver screen Jimmy Olsen Marc McClure the opportunity to share his unwavering enthusiasm for the series (second pic down, click for larger version) and its director and star with a definitive opening line.
Overall, Last Son is a grand, affectionate, and mature read tailored specifically for fans of the character represented at his purest. Its not perfect (the dialogue about Chris being abused is clunky and uncomfortable and while Kubert nails the environments, his characters are scratchy and in some instances, plain ugly) and one longs for this to be the first of the Johns/Frank team that would mesh so well in future. Donner’s presence is also certainly felt throughout with heart and even in dialogue between Jor-El and Supes (some almost verbatim from S:TM, third pic) ultimately leading to further collaborations between Donner, DC & Johns-
But that’s best left for a future post…
2 Replies to “Before We Go Any Further…”
good to see you cover this. its a great comic series but when Last Son was announced im sure it was stated (or at least suggested) that it would be Donners Superman III (what wouldve happened had Donner come back to do III) or even Superman V. so i was looking foward to it big time and half expected to see the crystal font used on the covers for this special series, yet when it came it was more of a reboot of Superman II with a big dash of SR (out the same year i think) – or like you say almost a SR sequel if theyd done Zod (Singer should do a comic sequel to SR) with Clark drawn to look like Routh, the \S/ belt etc. and obviously alot of similarities to MOS – especially this from one of the Annuals http://batman-online.com/content/madness.jpg
dunno why they did that if they wanted it to be a sequel to Donners films…they couldve easily made like if Donner had done a Superman ‘V’ in about 1992 or thereabouts – had Pa Kent dead and it being established that it was Zods 2nd attempt to destroy Kal El after superman sent him back into the PZ – (therefore following either the Lester Cut or the DC of II – esp the DC as we see them go back in!)
regarding MOS i also re-read another comic recently – Superman War of The Worlds, which also dealt with superman being revealed due to an alien invasion and the people of earth being uncertain of him/untrusting because he too is an alien…naturally the army are heavily involved, Lois is captured by the aliens and Superman is as well after going after her, and its revealed the aliens are wanting to use Superman to help them acclimatize to earths atsmosphere:
[i]After crashing on earth and being adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent, Clark was told that he should hide his powers. He was told that humanity would fear him, but when the time is right, he would use his powers for the good of mankind. As Superman, he battles the Martian invaders[/i]
Thanks for your insights, you raise some whopping great points!
I agree its hard to classify what camp this really sits in as it doesn’t fully subscribe to any of them (Donner’s III or V, SR2 etc) which IMHO is a shame because what better medium for Donner to fully realise whatever aspect of his story left unexploited (and therefore film ‘canon’, crystal font and all) rather than the ambiguity of the final tale.
Of course we don’t know the full extent of Donner’s involvement and how much of it was a gimmick to sell comics to the likes of us – certainly the story stands up fully to somebody not as immersed in expectation – so I guess we shouldn’t judge it too harshly.
Lastly I’ve not yet read War of the Worlds so I can’t comment but it seems atypical of the direction the character seems to be taking right now. I could vent about Goyer and how much I detested every frame of his/Snyder’s creation but evidently he’s only culled from recent stories and amplified it to the max…