Superman 'The Wrath of Gog'
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Plot/Story:
Art:
Dialogue:
    Presentation:
Wr. Chuck Austen
Ill. Ivan Reis

Now, as a comic fan, I always enjoy a mismatched pairing of project and writer every now and then. The recent announcement of Jeph Loeb on The Ultimates and Grant Morrison on X-Men comes to mind as such a case but while some pairings are so off the wall that they work, others just flat out fail in causing any waves or excitement. Superman: The Wrath of Gog is not the case but it sure does come very close to being that way. Epic battles and personal problems come full-speed ahead in this arc by Chuck Austen and Ivan Reis.

Superman, recently lost in space and time, comes home to Metropolis and finds out things are not the same anymore. Perry White has demoted Clark Kent at the Daily Planet and subbed him for a hotshot reporter. Lois Lane is on a trip to do a Superman Wrath of Gog by Chuck Austen & Ivan Reis.story on the Middle East. The distance, coupled with other problems has caused a strain in their marriage. Former lover Lana Lang has also entered the picture with feelings for the Man of Steel and oh yeah, Gog is in town.

Gog, the once devote follower of Superman and now Supe-hating powerhouse in the "Kingdom Come," shows up in Metropolis. Hell bent on destroying Superman in this reality, he brings along liquid kryptonite to gain an edge on the Man of Steel.

Writer Chuck Austen seems to have his superheroes mixed up when writing Superman. To him, he is a wisecracking hero, banters with friend and foe and has not a care in the world once he is in costume. It is his life outside of the suit that is where he faces his big personal issues with Lois and with his work. This is fine if Superman was played by Peter Parker. Yes, Superman does joke from time to time, this is evident in the Superman movies and even other Superman comics but he couldn't possibly in any book spew out such words as "Dude, that's like a great idea." One-liners by the sack full, it looks as if Austen would be better suited to write Spider-Man.

Then again, after reading his dialogue, it might not be such a good idea. Bordering on hokey:

Superman: you okay, Superboy? You look like hell.
Superboy: People tell me I look just like you.
Superman: They're just being nice.

...and extremely over the top; Superboy: "He has no pulse. This man is like a father to me, and he has no pulse!", the out of place dialogue makes this very big story idea look like something straight out of a B-movie. It is a shame really because the formula is there. Superman equals super battles with even more super villains, and in some ways, he pulls it off. It is just too bad the dialogue gets in the way of a good story.

The only saving grace is the art of Ivan Reis. His art is splashy and dynamic, especially in the battle scene between Gog and Superman. It can also be subtle during the times when Superman is Clark Kent. Whether it is Superman fighting Darkseid in downtown Metropolis or having a heart to heart with Lana, Reis's art brings puts the Super in Superman artwork. Even with great art, the overall story is weak and uneventful.

Chuck Austen definitely misses the mark with this story. For a great Chuck Austen read, pick up the first volume of War Machine from The Marvel MAX line and with the strength of Superman, toss this story into outer space.

- James Chan


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