DCAU #165: The War Within

IN THIS ONE... Superman contracts a fatal Kryptonian disease. (Two-parter)

Written by Scott McCloud; art by Rick Burchett and Terry Austin.

REVIEW: Now here's a story that discusses how the media would perceive Superman in the real world in a more reasoned manner than recent movies have. The honeymoon period is over, and people - among them Lois Lane, the real protagonist of this two-parter - are started to wonder why Superman isn't doing more. His claim that human problems should be handled by humanity isn't as well taken as it once was and Lois is going to write a devastating editorial about it. Which Clark Kent encourages, because he doesn't want Superman on that pedestal. But there's more going on. He's sick and he simply CAN'T do everything he once could. Once the secret is out though, the public rallies around him, especially as he continues to help despite his waning powers. In the end, Lois will discover just how important he is to the world as person after person helps her get the cure to him from across the Atlantic, abandoning everything to do so. The War Within becomes an inspirational story about the power of inspiration.

Of course, some people need a bit more incentive, namely Superman's doctor who is being blackmailed by Luthor to let his patient die. We don't see Superman's intimidation skills very often, but his life is on the line, and I think the story proves that means a LOT of lives are on the line, which is his principal focus. So he cant go quietly into that good night. The doctor is a good person and Superman makes sure he does the right thing, whatever the consequences. There's also a cabby who needs a thousand-dollar tip to save Superman's life, so it's not too cheeseball, y'know?

We see Lex insulate himself from these events, of course, and Intergang add pressure once they know Superman's sick, trying to prevent the cure reaching him, but also coordinate even more crime than usual to wear the Man of Steel down. The virus itself bears talking about, a Kryptonian flu bug that hitched a ride on a chunk of kryptonite Superman was exposed to. It's said to be so powerful because of the yellow sun, just like Superman, but then if it really had all those Kryptonian properties, it would have been killed by the kryptonite. Don't look at the convenience too closely, it just needs to make the story happen, just like the MacGuffin cure is just technobabble. That's not what the story is about.
REREADABILITY: High - A tale that uses its two issues well and has something to say about Superman and the media.


American Hawkman said...

Probably worth noting that non-animal Kryptonian life has a long history of being Kryptonite resistant, requiring a variant Kryptonite to harm.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

"It's fuchsia kryptonite, Jimmy- the only natural enemy of the super-germ!"


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