Reign of the Supermen #474: Supermech

Source: JLA Classified: Cold Steel #1-2 (2005-2006)
Type: The real deal (since retconned)
There are days when I wish these Reign articles were about a character other than Superman. Battles for the Cowl. Amazon Shopping. Flashes in the Pan. Because sometimes, I have to talk about a story where everyone else's alternate look/self is way cooler than Superman's. Writer/artist Christopher Moeller's Cold Steel makes it one of those days. Of all the JLA mechs, Superman's is not only one of the dullest, it's one of the least appropriate. Dude, KNIVES?
So what is this story about? Oh, the JLA gets in the middle of a war between two races of aliens (must be Tuesday), and the only way to beat the bad side's giant organic ships is to modify some mechs and pilot them into battle. Batman outfits the existing shells with weapons, and gives each giant robot a semblance of the user's abilities. Sounds silly, but he explains that he wants everyone to go with their instincts during the fight. Makes sense! But do they really have time to paint their mechs with their costume colors? Green Lantern Kyle Rayner insists (of course he would) and the Fastest Man Alive does the job (no time lost and they can still look cool).

So why am I disappointed in Superman's war machine? Beside the out-of-character blades, he's better armored and can shoot heat vision. That's it. Wonder Woman can fire her magic lasso from the robot's wrist. Batman's shoots batarangs and turns into vehicles. Aquaman's is submersible (of course). The Flash's can turn into a freakin' War Wheel. A WAR WHEEL! So yeah, Superman's is dull by comparison because it doesn't seem to have powers a giant robot wouldn't normally have. Maybe that's appropriate. He IS the baseline superhero after all, maybe he should get the baseline battlemech.

But at one point he gets schooled on strategy by Kyle. BY KYLE! That's when I knew Moeller didn't really care for our boy Kal-El. He's just there to get upstaged by the others. Sigh.


SallyP said...

Poor Superman. But I have to admit, that Kyle IS pretty fabulous. Still, I always thought that Kyle had a giant man-crush on Superman?

Christopher Moeller said...

Siskoid, I LOVE Superman! After Wonder Woman, he's my favorite superhero. And I loved designing his mech, too. He's got huge shoulders, he's invulnerable, he can fly, he hits hard and he can fire an eye laser. That's superman. In robot form!


Siskoid said...

He does look cool. I really like your art in this thing!

And thanks for setting the record straight on your love for the Last Son of Krypton!

LittleSallyDigby said...

I think Superman's mech design is appropriate, in its own way. Maybe it doesn't reflect his specific powers or his fighting style, but it reflects his core values. It doesn't have a lot of unique features, true- but that's not because nobody came up with any. It's because he doesn't want special treatment. He already has incredible powers; he recognizes how lucky he is to be in that situation, and rather than focus on improving himself, he makes it his goal to improve things for everyone.

tl;dr Superman has an "ordinary" mech because he's a Communist. And that's awesome. :P


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