Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Superman Unchained #7
I'm going to skip the usual anecdotes about my last trip to Tijuana or my high school horror stories this time so I can get one thing out of the way. Yes, I know I used to review a lot more DC comics on this blog. And yes, I know seeing this review for some is like seeing Walter White going from meth cook to weed grower. My goal is still the same. I want to get everybody who reads this high on the awesome of comics. It would definitely help if more people drank or smoked pot while reading these books, but I can only provide so much without the DEA riding my ass like the IRS rides Willie Nelson. And Superman Unchained is to DC comics what Walter White's blue meth is to tweakers. It doesn't come often, but fuck if it doesn't embody everything that's awesome about Superman. And since this week is the 4th of July and I'm feeling patriotic, it's only fitting that I review a comic about the hero that embodies truth, justice, and the American Way. Fittingly enough, Superman Unchained #7 is a book that has the American way attacking Superman on his own fucking property because he has something they want and for once it isn't weed, blow, or Edward Snowden's address. So in the spirit of Independence Day, I'm going to salute and gorge on apple pie while getting drunk and watching Superman kick the asses of the Dick Cheney's of the world. God bless America indeed!
The situation is simple enough for even Bill O'Riley to understand. Lois Lane now possesses the Earth Stone, which to the American military is like possessing nuclear launch codes and the keys to Bill Clinton's porno stash. Superman, naturally, attempts to protect Lois by sheltering her in his Fortress of Solitude. So General Lane, who happens to be Lois' father and probably has voted republican since 1980, does what any reasonable American with an army and an obscene budget. He attempts to invade Superman's home armed with a bunch of big fucking AT-AT style tanks that are probably overbudget as fuck. This kind of shit might give Rush Limbaugh a boner, but this is as un-American as it gets. Nobody needs to know the full story of the Earthstone or why Lois Lane has it. They just need to know that General Lane wants it and he looks at Superman the same way Vladimir Putin looks at watered down vodka. It's not the first time the American military has harassed Superman, but on the same week as Independence Day, it feels that much more relevant.
Naturally, Superman's first inclination is to protect Lois from the attack. Unlike him or Wonder Woman, she's composed of frail fleshy bits that don't stand up to a typical artillery shell. Lois, knowing her father is a bigger asshole than anyone gives him credit for, warns him that he's packing weapons specifically designed to hurt him. With a budget like his, he can probably afford to cover those weapons in gold. But even though Lois is probably telling the truth and as a great ass, Superman doesn't heed her warning and is prepared to fight back. If for no other reason than to make Lois horny at the sight of someone attacking her asshole father.
Beyond the obvious daddy issues, there's actually a much more profound conversation going on that only makes sense for those who read the earlier issues in the series. For a good chunk of this series, it has basically criticized and deconstructed Superman's approach to helping people. General Lane and Wraith, a far less sexier but far more pro-American superpowered alien, basically tell him he's pissing into the wind with what he's doing. Being Clark Kent and Superman is a setup that can't work in the long run, no matter what he does. But Lois points out that he makes the choice to follow this path because he believes it. And since he's fucking Superman, it has to be right on some levels. It's a nice moment that is fittingly ruined when General Lane jumps the gun and starts shooting at the fortress. It causes both property damage and I imagine it probably causes some pretty awkward moments with hookers.
Speaking of Wraith, who basically looks like the bastard child of Kratos from God of War and Drax the Destroyer, he has his hands full as well. After slugging it out with Superman in a few early issues, he opts for what he probably thinks is an easier fight against one of the allies that helped him secure Lois. He's just a man in that he has no powers. By all accounts, this should be as easy for Wraith as killing a fly with a shotgun. The problem is that man happens to be the goddamn Batman. And unlike most flies, Batman has a kickass cave and a fleet of awesome cars.
Now I won't want the comments section of this review to turn into another bullshit Batman vs. Superman argument. There have been enough of those going on since the 1950s and we don't need to have that argument until Ben Affleck skews it in Dawn of Justice. But I will say that pitting Wraith against Batman helps create a welcome change of pace in the action, which to this point has basically been super-powered aliens punching each other. Now it's the goddamn Batman, armed with a fleet of cars and a fucking jet, against a super-powered alien. Sounds like a fair fight to me and unlike Dawn of Justice, we know who to root for.
There's no ambiguity here on who deserves to get punched. Batman battles Wraith. Superman battles General Lane and his overbudgeted army of "Fuck the Constitution, let's bomb some shit until the problem is solved" friends. That doesn't mean there aren't tough decisions to make. Despite Lois' insistence that she have a front row seat so she can watch Superman beat up her father and pleasure herself during every glorious second, Superman turns her down. He sticks her in some protective cell, much to her dismay. I doubt she'll be able to pleasure herself to the thoughts of her father getting his ass kicked there. But this is part of the hard choices Superman has to make. I know fans of Superman/Lois don't want to hear this and Superman/Wonder Woman fans will dance naked in the streets to this, but Lois is human. She's vulnerable and even if she doesn't want to be protected, Superman is going to protect her, damn it. General Lane certainly doesn't give a shit that there might be human casualties. I'm sure he thinks that's the kind of shit that hippies, the ACLU, and communists only care about.
In that respect, he's taught Wraith well because he treats Batman and his private Batcave the same way. I know I made it seem like a fair fight when I said he's the goddamn Batman and he's got a fleet of awesome cars to fight with. But let's face it, this is a fair fight in the same way our tax laws are fair. Wraith brushes off the attacks by Superman's cars the same way Brett Favre brushes off a concussion and a broken thumb on game day. That means Batman has to fight unfair and rely on more than just his gadgets, his money, and his brilliance. I know that's like the Koch brothers winning an argument without bribes, but Batman just happens to have a power ring that he keeps handy in case he has to fight a Superman-level villain. Why does he have this and where the fuck did he get it? It doesn't matter. He's the goddamn Batman. It evens the odds, but Wraith still has the upper hand. Like General Lane and assholes like him, he prefers an unfair fight.
Batman is smart enough to know Wraith's preferences. He doesn't become the goddamn Batman without taking them into account when choosing to confront someone who could crush his bones like a stale cracker. So he finds a way to make it an unfair fight in the opposite manner. How? He invites Superman's girlfriend, Wonder Woman, to join the battle. So now Wraith has to take on the goddamn Batman and Superman's pissed off girlfriend, who probably doesn't appreciate him or General Lane fucking up his bachelor pad. It's as lopsided as it sounds, but anyone who has been following this series to this point has already developed a burning hatred for Wraith. So seeing him get his ass kicked by both Wonder Woman and Batman is more satisfying than a beer and a blowjob on a Saturday.
The battle between Superman and General Lane is slightly more balanced, but only slightly. Once he has Lois secured and has blocked out her angry bitching, he dons a little war gear of his own and unlike General Lane's, it didn't cost the taxpayers a goddamn thing. I'm not sure where the armor came from, but seeing as how he's currently sleeping with the daughter of Zeus, I'm just going to assume he has connections. With this armor, he is basically a cross between Iron Man and Hulk, but with less alcoholism and anger issues.
The fight is once again pretty basic, but it's not all punching and whining. Along the way, Superman finds the time to educate General Lane on this whole bullshit approach to using war and weapons to do the right thing. That's like drinking to get sober or using orgies to promote chastity. These weapons, he argues, detach people from their humility. And given the long history of unjust, bullshit wars that people have raged over the centuries, he's not wrong either. Of course, General Lane isn't going to suddenly realize how wrong he is and join the Libertarian Party. But it's a nice response to his bullshit criticisms from earlier issues.
It's a pretty epic struggle that finds a way to stay balanced. General Lane hits Superman with some badass weapons that probably make defense contractors jizz their pants. Superman hits back with some badass weapons of his own. Along the way, General Lane and Superman keep debating their respective philosophies. It makes me wish they had used this approach during the last presidential debate. It would have been way more entertaining. But before they can start pandering to independents, a certain complication enters the battle. She has dark hair, a nice ass, and a knack for getting into trouble. Yes, it's Lois again. And apparently, the Earthstone didn't like being protected either.
To be fair to Lois, she contributes to this battle thanks to the Earthstone. She uses it to block an incoming attack. I'm sure she didn't want Superman to have all the fun of pissing off her father. That's supposed to be her job. The role of the Earthstone is still somewhat ambiguous. In fact, it's the only real ambiguity in this whole issue. Seven issues in and I'm still not sure what the fuck they're supposed to do or why it warrants a full scale invasion by General Lane. I mean it's not like it's oil. But that doesn't make the battle any less satisfying.
It's even more satisfying when Superman finally manages to get to General Lane, who is probably confused and even more pissed off at seeing his daughter caught up in all this. I doubt this would have stopped him from launching his precious invasion. I'm pretty sure nothing short of personal kick in the balls from the President would have stopped that. But this gives Superman a window to end this battle before General Lane can fuck up his home and piss away more tax dollars than he already has. I know it doesn't seem American, Superman taking on an American General. But it's not like he's choking Ben Franklin or anything. This is General Lane, who would probably have been Benedict Arnold's prison bitch back in the 18th century. In that sense, the way Superman confronts him makes him the most American son-of-a-bitch in the goddamn world.
Once he has a little face time with General Lane, Superman is able to simplify things pretty fucking fast. He doesn't give him a lecture on the 5th Amendment or the balance of power. He just asks him where the fuck Wraith is so he can end this bullshit and probably make his daughter horny in the process. General Lane might be a hard-nosed military asshole the likes of which make up at least half the villains in every Michael Bay movie, but he understands that there's no way to win a battle against Superman once his overbudget toys have been destroyed. He breaks faster than a North Korean smart phone and Superman finds out that Wraith is busy fighting Batman. So after leaving Lane to face his pissed off daughter and contemplate all the ways he just pissed on the constitution, he flies to the batcave where he's prepared to have a little chat with Wraith. But unlike previous issues, this one promises to involve more punching and less bullshit.
The overarching themes in this book would make both Glenn Beck and Rachel Maddow cry tears of joy in many respects. There's a tyrannical, asshole authority figure in General Lane attacking Superman on his own property and Superman is there defending it in ways that would make George Washington himself proud. I almost felt like raising a flag over my front door, saluting it, and singing the star spangled banner. Unfortunately, I could not find my pants or my keys. There was a time in comics where Superman never went against the American government and the American government didn't go against its citizens, provided they were white, Christian, tax-paying, working, married, straight, and whatever traits wouldn't get them lynched by the KKK. But this is the post George W. Bush America where freedom means only as much as what the NSA, the DEA, the FBI, and Congress agrees. For Superman, he has the power to give a massive middle finger to this kind of bullshit freedom and embrace the truly American freedoms. The NRA might bitch and complain that he didn't defend his property with an assault rifle, but I'm pretty sure Superman gave them the finger too in standing up to the All-American asshole that is General Lane. My patriotism is literally oozing out of every pore here and I proudly give Superman Unchained #7 a very American 9 out of 10. So for all the patriots out there, turns off Fox News and stop giving Cliven Bundy the attention he doesn't deserve. Pick up this comic and see what true American values look like. It wears red and blue, it kicks the asses of invading armies, and it hooks up with pretty Greek demigoddesses. What could be more American than that? Nuff said!