DCAU #368: The Fallen

IN THIS ONE... An amnesiac Superman becomes a bum in Smallville.

Written by S.C. Bury; art by Neil Vokes and Terry Austin.

There's a great bit with Toyman's giant dollie burning up to reveal a bomb as Superman flies it out of the atmosphere, but it's a little soppy and obvious after that, devolving into an After School Special about treating the homeless humanely. Don't drink and drive (or drink in the back of a pick-up) neither. The sermonizing requires all the citizens of Smallville to be douchebags about the homeless people, declaring it a poor-free zone where you can harass, accuse and even physically attack vagrants. The point being that through Superman's massive heart, we will learn to look beyond the prejudice about them being "lazy".

Except Superman falls in with two homeless men who claim to have "chosen" to walk away from their lives. Men who would have stolen food from a farmer had Superman (or "Bill Blake" as they name him) not been there. Men who tell their stories off-panel, so there's no way to sympathize with their situations. Why ARE they homeless? What proves they aren't "lazy" when we have no explanation for their homelessness, and hard times aren't invoked so much as denied? They're nice guys who obviously had lives before this (one is a scholar, for example), but you need everyone else in the story to be a jerk to actually have them in the right. Why are we even in Smallville? Not only is it a big coincidence for Superman to crash there, but it tarnishes Superman's wholesome home town, and it's not like any known characters (Ma, Pa, Lana) show up, nor does the town play a role in Clark recovering his memory.

Once Superman's costume is revealed as he saves a little girl whose mother was prejudiced against the bums before, he becomes an example to others and there's no denying I like it when Supes makes the world better just by being in it. Nevertheless, the same farmer who cussed the bums out earlier showing up to embrace them as "friends of Superman" is really trite. And what to make of Superman's expression in the last panel, as a strange sadness falls over him. Does he realize he could do something to help his two friends and doesn't?
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: No Sally Selwyn in this amnesia story, sadly.

REREADABILITY: Medium-Low - After the initial hook, The Fallen becomes a PSA that works at cross-purposes with itself.



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