Superman ’78 (2021) #5

S5

It’s the Superman ’78 version of an action issue, which means a terribly written scene for Marlon Brando and Susannah York saying goodbye to adult Christopher Reeve this time, some boring Superman vs. Brainiac robots action, and Metropolis-in-danger montage shots. The montage shots have bad dialogue when they have it, but also a cameo from “Barney Miller” Hal Linden and possibly Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor from Superman III).

The cameos don’t save it. Or help it. Because Superman ’78 is fairly intolerably bad again. I feel like I got more bullish on it for an issue, but the comic’s back to the Robert Venditti-penned pits again. The conversation Jor-El and Kara have when sending Superman back out into the world to save Metropolis from Brainiac is the worst dialogue of the series so far and probably the worst dialogue in a comic I’ve read in quite a while. Brando Jor-El flexes about the derring-do of the men of the House of El, and it’s beyond insipid. Though it’s kind of funny to imagine Brando filming it and asking for another fifty thousand dollars per word as he read the dialogue for the first time.

Or just up and quit. Because it’s real bad. I thought Superman ’78 had bad writing when Venditti was aping dialogue from the movies themselves, but when he’s got to write for Marlon Brando… Venditti bellyflops hard enough you can hear it across the twenty-eight known galaxies. People pay money for this comic book; they should get dialogue a seventies toy commercial wouldn't refuse.

And Wilfredo Torres’s art has lost the charm too. Maybe because the Superman action is so bad, maybe because the talking heads scene is so bad (like, Jor-El and Kara talk about sending their baby away again, maybe try to duplicate The Movie scene beats), but it’s not cute or charming anymore. Also, because Superman’s kind of barely in it. Torres loses track of Superman in the cliffhanger lead-up. On and on.

The opening with a rando walking his dog is better than anything else in the movie, and it’s basically a Red Skies Crisis riff. Hopefully, a Red Skies Crisis riff. Who cares. There’s one more to go. It’s almost over.

What should’ve been a slam dunk on Torres’s art alone is proving Superman IV is an accomplishment, all things considered.

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