Robot 6

Chain Reactions | Superman #700

Superman #700

Superman #700

This week saw the release of Superman #700, a milestone issue that closes out James Robinson’s nearly two-year run on the title and ushers in J. Michael Straczynski’s much-publicized “Grounded” storyline. That’s the one in which the Man of Steel, newly returned to Earth, walks across America to reconnect with the people he’s sworn to protect.

As you might expect, there’s been a good deal of discussion about the issue, as well as the 13-part story that it sets up. Here’s just a sampling of the comments from across the comics blogosphere — and beyond:

Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl!: “JMS sets up the coming ‘Grounded’ storyline, in which our hero will walk across America to connect with the people, via a scenario familiar to longtime comic fans. It’s the classic — yet senseless — scene from 1970’s Green Lantern #76 that prompted Hal Jordan to drive across the US with Ollie Queen rather than protect an entire space sector. […] JMS has written some great books since he came to DC, so I’ll give this storyline a chance, but gee whiz, I like the idea of a cross-continent walk little enough without the pretext being a 40-year old plot idea that was stupid the first time out.”

Phillip, A Comic Book Blog: “The scene with the irate woman was a little too similar to the opening of Marvel’s Civil War, where Tony Stark is spit on by a mother who blames Iron Man and the Avengers for the death of her son.  In fact, it’s almost exactly like that scene.”

Chris Murphy, Comics Alliance: “To me Superman’s only interesting when something threatens his emotional and psychological vulnerabilities. For example, see the finer points of Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, or for that matter Morrison’s primary motivation for Superman in his Final Crisis series Superman Beyond. Or for a more recent example, the dilemma posed to a future Superman in Paul Levitz’s recent Superman/Batman annual. … So I found Straczynski’s story here, in which Superman tries to come to grips with a world in which people see him as a near-godlike perfect being who is expected to save everyone, everywhere, without fail, far, far more fascinating than cliched one liners with a villain who gets knocked through several large shelves of crates.”

Evan Narcisse, Techland: “JMS’s story bears out my worst fears about his take on Kal-El. He seems just too slavishly devoted to the idea of Superman as symbol. It’s the Bryan Singer problem: if you come at the symbolism too heavy, it just looks embarrassingly insecure. ‘Hey, everybody! Look how deep Superman is!'”

Erik, Kandou Erik’s Blog: “The cynical side of me keeps shouting ‘how dumb is that, Superman gets slapped in the face by some crazy woman, who wanted miracles from Superman, and now he has some Super Thinking to do!’ It’s sentimental crap like that which should have me running for the hills. But, despite that, it still comes off to me as a good story, and possibly JMS will succeed in getting into Superman’s personality. Here’s hoping.”

David Letterman, The Late Show with David Letterman: “… in the next Superman comic book, listen to this: Superman walks across the United States … walks across the United States. Do you know why? To help people out with little everyday chores. That’s what he’s going to do, Superman. Why doesn’t he fix the damn oil leak? Come on, Superman. ‘Howdy ma’am, can I rake your yard?’ ‘What? Go fix the oil leak, you dope!‘”

What did you think about Superman #700 and our introduction to the “Grounded” storyline?



My big question is will he make it all 13 issues or will he pull a “Twelve” or “Squadron Supreme”. I’ll buy his new work after he finishes his old work. JMS is the poster child for unreliable.

Mark Kardwell

June 26, 2010 at 9:23 am

JMS could be argued to be the poster-child for unoriginality, too. But I don’t blame him: when he rips off classic comics wholesale I really don’t think he does it deliberately, I just think he’s entirely ignorant of the works of Alan Moore, Denny O’Neill, Mike W Barr, Warren Ellis, etc. Surely Hollywood big-shots don’t have the time to read comics, dammit.

I’m way more excited for Earth One than this. JMS is talented but I feel like Superman’s mainstream title always kind of sucks. I’d rather see Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis or Mark Millar get an extended run at the character.

I really like the premise of “Grounded”, but I didn’t like the prologue that much. It was too heavy handed and melodramatic. And I just don’t like it when Superman is portrayed as weak and helpless, as that is what he looked like in this story.

Sean T. Collins

June 26, 2010 at 11:12 am

The big question is whether or not Superman knows about MySpace. Where’s Sally Floyd when you need her?

MySpace is irrelevant now. Back when Sally Floyd said it to Steve, people actually used MySpace. Now the question is “Does Superman know what Facebook is?”

I read the 10-page preview thanks to DC’s iPad app. Hoo-boy, “heavy handed and melodramatic” is right.

The Batman Black & White issues were great! Loved the one by Neil Gaiman and Simon Bisley.

Surprisingly, Letterman’s right on the money. It’s like, “Hey man, nice you wanna connect with your roots and all but there are CRIMES and you need to be STOPPING THEM because you CHOSE TO BE A SUPERHERO AS YOUR PATH IN LIFE and there is NO MATERNITY LEAVE FOR FEELINGS.”

He already fixed an oil rig explosion in JL: Generation Lost.

I was sort of on the fence about the whole concept until I read the prologue in #700. Now all I can say is: BARF!

It’s too bad, because I actually want to add a Superman title to my pull list. I was waiting for the New Krypton/War of the Supermen saga to finally be over and hoping for a nice jumping on point with JMS’s run, but I don’t have any interest in this story arc.

I’m actually looking forward to Action Comics instead, even if it doesn’t feature Superman. At least the story sounds interesting.

Personally, I enjoyed it, and think this will lead to some great stories from JMS. Also really looking forward to Paul Cornell’s Action stuff, as well.

didn’t forest gump already do this?

Damn you Robot 6! Tricking me into watching David Letterman’s standup….

Forget Forrest Gump. There are ~20 living Americans who have done the same thing, most in recent years:

I was really looking forward to JMS’ run on Superman, as I really liked some of the stuff he did at Marvel. Then I heard about the “Grounded” story-line and was looking forward to it a little less. Then I read issue 700 and don’t really care any more. I mean there’s still a chance that it could work out, but I’m not counting on it.

I’m very sad that the whole time James Robinson was writing Superman, he wasn’t allowed to use Superman! And DC also shafted Robinson by sticking him with a Justice League consisting of Teen Titans and third-string heroes. The editors are evil.

Didio must really hate James Robinson.

I thought it was terrible. A terrible anniversary issue and a terrible intro to a terrible idea. How was he supposed to save those people? Magic? Good thoughts? What will walking do to solve it? Is he really going to walk across the USA as Superman? Is he at least going to say goodbye to his wife?

Torsten Adair

June 26, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Yup he sure was ignorant of Alan Moore’s Killing Joke when he wrote The Brave and The Bold #33.
Damn fine story.

His “Rising Stars” is one of those rare superhero stories which tells a unique story about superheroes.

As for “Grounded”, what’s more epic than Superman trying to solve the big unsolvable problems?

And everyone seems to have overlooked the essay contest, where people living within 50 miles of the mentioned cities can nominate their hometowns to be featured in the stories.

Superman is a 70+ year-old character which is hard to write and hard to relate to. As a writer, what can you do with the character which hasn’t been done before?

The slap to Superman isn’t really a rehash of Tony Stark getting spit on. They are both a call back to the original Jaws when Chief Brody got slapped by Mrs. Kintner.

I’m still trying to figure out why JMS went on Bleeding Cool to deny that he was writing exactly this type of story when Rich Johnston revealed the plot details a few months ago and it turns out he was right?

What, the fact that what he possibly got wrong was the statement that JMS demanded that Superman only appear in his title was enough for him to say all of the report was wrong when it clearly wasn’t.

I think the problem with these types of stories where the hero gets slapped by some ordinary person is that by and large they’re written without basis. They’re straw arguments spoken by straw characters with the goal of making the hero feel bad, generally for something they don’t have any emotionally healthy reason to feel bad for. And of course, the protagonists, who never have the wherewithal to defend themselves, go on long, soul-searching quests to appease this person, who we never see again, or if we do, they give some grudging nod of respect to our heroes, as though they matter, and then vanish.

As for the walking across America thing, it’s not innately a bad idea (though JMS did that story already in Midnight Nation), but solving the problems of ordinary people in a comic book universe is no more realistically relevant or relatable than battling a horde of space aliens. It’s still fiction. If I care about Superman and his supporting cast, the minutia of what they do is irrelevant; I’ll want them to succeed. Populist schmaltz does not have the same effect, and often becomes laughable as a result.

Wow. What a shocker that comic readers aren’t going to read a Superman comic. We need something original, like Spider-Man worrying about his personal life, Batman pondering his inner turmoil, Daredevil in romantic trouble, the Hulk being tormented by his dual personality, or the X-Men standing in for misunderstood teenagers and playing it off as a civil rights issue.


Will he box against a Parkinson’s suffering Muhammad Ali? That would be hi-larious.

Hey – that’s my quote there next to David Letterman’s! Cool.

Thank you very much for including my review. I didn’t think anyone read any of my stuff.

Honestly, JMS’ stories here and in a lot of his Brave and the Bold issues do come off as sentimental and preachy, but after years of rape, child murder and heroes generally behaving like anything but heroes, I’m really enjoying them. Sign me up.

After reading the prologue, it just seems like a genuinely stupid reason for Superman to do this. It’s like if you went to the President of the USA and slapped him for letting your local video store close down.

“Will he box against a Parkinson’s suffering Muhammad Ali? That would be hi-larious.”

Meh, they’d probably come up with yet another reason to have Ali kick his ass… Isn’t that all Supes does these days? Mope about his “feelings” or else lose his powers (or be exposed to magic or kryptonite) and suffer a beatdown.

Thanks for the shout-out, Kevin, you’re a gent!

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