Written by Chris Roberson
Illustrated by Jamal Igle
Superman hits Seattle for his last stop on his “Grounded” walk across the country, and it is in that city where everything will come to a head! The mysterious woman who has been following Superman all year makes a desperate final move, one that may cost the Man of Steel that which he holds most dear!
When “Grounded” was first announced, I was excited. Sadly, JMS’s brief runs only had a couple of high points, and a lot of lows. When Chris Roberson took over the title, there was a marked improvement, but the book still wasn’t great (in my opinion, at least). Still, it’s clear that Roberson loves Superman, so I picked up this final issue – and the ones I missed – even though I dropped the title from my pull a few months ago. Follow the cut for how I felt about it.
The best part of this issue is the conclusion. I’m not saying that in a “har har, because it was over am I right?” sort of way – the conclusion really was great. The Superman Squad is one of my favorite Superman-related concepts, and I really like the way that Roberson depicted its (unofficial) founding. It’s an interesting counterpoint to Batman Incorporated, where rather being a big, organized entity, the Squad is just a group of people chipping in to do their best – more or less echoing Superman’s socialistic roots. There have been many stories that have wrestled with the question “Must there be a Superman,” and the answer is (almost) always a resounding “yes,” with a metric ton of different justifications why. “Grounded,” however, focuses on what I find to be the most important reason why – he may be alien, but he serves as an inspiration for the rest of us, even at our lowest point, as the very embodiment of how great humanity could be if they just tried. Obviously, it was JMS who plotted the story as a whole, but you can hear Roberson voice in those last few pages in particular. Not that I’m incredibly familiar with Roberson’s work, but there’s just an earnestness that couldn’t have been there if he was just jumping through JMS’s hoops. Roberson clearly believes in Superman, too, or else this final issue wouldn’t be near as powerful as it is.
That being said, this issue isn’t perfect. Like the rest of “Grounded,” it does get a tiny bit cheesy. The source of the mystery antagonist’s powers – and, in particular, their guilt-laden side-effects – are kind of… well, lame might be a bit too harsh, but they aren’t far from it. The way that Superman “beats” the baddie is kind of the same way. It makes sense in the grand scheme of things, but I can’t help but feel that it could have been pulled off in a more effective way. Still, at least Superman didn’t ask if he could “dial in!”
Another problem I’ve had with “Grounded” is the art. Eddie Barrows is not an artist that I particularly care for, and the fill-in artist we’ve had haven’t been much better. This issue, though, we get Jamal Igle, an artist deserving heaps of praise and loads of work. Igle has an ideal look for the Superman books. His figures are iconic without being seeming too posed, and he’s able to capture the grand scale “whomp” – for lack of a better/real term – that Superman-level fight scenes have over your normal alleyway brawl. He’s also just a great comics artist, superhero or not. His pages are incredibly readable and clear, and that’s a positive trait no matter what genre you’re working in. To be perfectly honest, I would have preferred him on the relaunched Action Comics over Rags Morales – no offense to Morales, of course – and it’s such a shame that DC didn’t ask for his work on any of the relaunched titles.
The final issue of “Grounded” – and of the current volume of Superman – deftly closes the book on an era, much like Alan Moore did with his “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” It even ends with a wink! While this issue is pretty good, though, the rest of the arc is pretty important in order to achieve the complete emotional catharsis that Roberson is going for. Unfortunately, while this issue is good, it isn’t good enough to warrant reading the rest of the arc – JMS’s issues in particular. Still, I’m glad I stuck it out until the end.
Final Verdict: 7.0 – Buy if you’ve been reading “Grounded,” or just love Superman.