Superman: Shadows Linger

Superman: Shadows Linger
Superman Shadows Linger review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 1-4012-2125-4
  • Release date: 2009
  • UPC: 9781401221256
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

All through his time writing Superman Kurt Busiek has let plots gestate for some while before returning to them. Right at the start of Camelot Falls readers learned of Lana Lang’s surprising appointment as CEO of Lexcorp following Lex Luthor’s disgrace, but during 3-2-1 Action! she played no part. Shadows Linger, though, begins with Lana wondering why she took the job, her disappearance, and Superman considering that he really ought to visit, but never finding the time.

Those two events eventually converge as the assorted dodgy dealings of Lex Luthor and his global companies come back to impact on Lana. However, Busiek attempting to update the inexplicable magical transformations of Lana into Insect Queen from an earlier continuity flounder and it drags on too long. Yes, his 21st century rationale is slightly more plausible than a magic ring, but not greatly. It’s just drawn far more dramatically by Peter Vane (sample art left), then Jesús Merino. Far more interesting is the subplot concerning Lois and Chris Kent, which has a drama lacking in the lead story.

Still let’s not write off Shadows Linger too rapidly, as the title story is a great improvement and far more imaginative. The imagination begins with the reconstruction of Clark and Lois’ apartment featuring many improvements. They’ll probably never be seen again, but it’s nice of Busiek to put the effort in. The main story picks up on Mon-El, a super powered Daxamite exiled to the Phantom Zone alongside Kryptonian criminals because the presence of the slightest quantity of lead could prove fatal. He’s not popular with the despotic authorities on Daxam, and they come calling just as Superman has another serious problem on his hands. It’s really nicely handled, a case of arrogant overconfidence pitted against the voice of reason. The impact is also down to Renato Guedes drawing most of this story very efficiently, his layouts providing views accentuating Superman’s stature in a way the earlier pages don’t.

This is Busiek’s swansong on Superman. James Robinson follows with The Coming of Atlas, and later picks up on Mon-El and his concerns. While there have been a few belly flops along the way, there’s far more good Busiek Superman than poor, and occasionally he’s hit the ball out of the park. It’s a record many writers before or since can’t match.