Superman: Red and Blue #4 – Mark Waid, Francis Manapul, Robert Venditti, Michael W. Conrad, Rich Douek, Writers; Audrey Mok, Francis Manapul, Alitha Martinez, Cully Hamner, Joe Quinones, Artists; Jordie Bellaire, Emilio Lopez, Colorists
Ray – 9/10
Ray: We’re past the halfway point of this miniseries, and the creative teams keep getting bigger and bigger. How do this issue’s stories shake out?
First up is the long-awaited return of Mark Waid to Superman, accompanied by Audrey Mok on art. This story has relatively little Superman, though—it’s a Mxyzptlk story. He’s currently banished and is plotting his revenge on Superman—ignoring the attentions of his love interest. Then, suddenly, the worst thing imaginable happens—pranks start befalling him. It seems Superman has decided to pay him a visit from the third dimension to give him a taste of his own medicine—and he doesn’t seem to want to say his name backwards. It’s a funny, clever story that just makes me want an extended Waid run on Superman.
Next up is a story written and drawn by Francis Manapul. Focusing on a missing Mars Rover, it sends Superman into space where he seeks out the missing robot with the help of its “companion”—and discovers the culprit is his own misshapen doppelganger. Bizarro stories are always pretty hard to do well, because he can be a cartoon character or just annoying when done wrong, but here he’s genuinely poignant and feels closer to the classic 1990s version. And the art on the red planet is stunning.
Robert Venditti and Alitha Martinez are up next, and this is probably the least flashy story—which matches Venditti’s style. He focuses more on exciting action and good characterization in the ’90s Superman weekly tradition. This story shows Superman helping to prevent a disaster in Metropolis while also watching the many little ways that ordinary people help each other in the chaos—something that’s bookmarked by a flashback to what Pa Kent told him when they made a sacrifice to help someone in need during a bad harvest. Simple, classic Superman.
Next up is another Bizarro story by Michael W. Conrad and Cully Hamner. It focuses on a birthday party for the twisted clone, hosted by the Justice League. But the presents seem oddly cruel, and not everything is what it seems. This seems like an oddly mean-spirited story at first, but once it comes together, it works as a look at Bizarro’s childlike nature and has a nice and optimistic ending that emphasizes how Superman does care for his clone despite all the trouble Bizarro can cause.
Finally it’s Rich Douek and Joe Quinones with a really clever story about Superman saving a social media maven from a fall off the Daily Planet—only to accidentally create a “Save Me Superman Challenge” on social media, leading to dozens of people flinging themselves off things. It’s a great look at the perils of social media, but also at Superman’s gentler approach when dealing with someone who isn’t really a villain, but is becoming a problem. And Joe Quinones may be the best artist in the industry—please read the recent Dial H.
Overall, another great installment with some all-time classics in here.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.