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DCU
101
Superman Elseworlds, pt. 4
by Benjamin Grose
Before I begin my review of Book Two of Elseworld's Finest, I have an announcement. This is the end of my Superman Elseworlds series for the foreseeable future. But don't worry, I'm not leaving (all 3 of you who care :). Next month DCU 101 will become Superman 101. I'll be reviewing and commenting on the early post-Crisis Superman comics, starting with the Man Of Steel mini-series. What I want from you are your opinions about John Byrne's revamp of Superman. What did you like or dislike about it? How did you feel about Clark Kent, the athlete? What about Superman never being Superboy? If I get enough comments, I'll put them in my first article. Okay, here's the conclusion of Elseworld's Finest.

As usual, instead of grading these stories solely on the quality of the writing or art, I look to see if these stories accurately represent Superman's character.

My Rating System:
1 – "This is a Superman story?"
2 – "Would Superman do that?"
3 – "Seems like Superman to me"
4 – "Superman would probably do that"
5 – "That captured Superman's character perfectly"

Elseworld's Finest
Writer: John Francis Moore
Penciller: Kieron Dwyer
Inker: Hilary Barta

Book Two

Clark and company are now aboard Alexi Luthor's underwater ship, which he calls the Leviathan. He welcomes them aboard, saying he wanted to talk to them alone. Lana is furious that he would destroy a ship just to speak with them. As Luthor assures her that they will be rescued, Professor Lang and Jimmy are fascinated with his ship. Clark asks him why he would waste his obvious intellect on piracy, when he has so much to offer the world. He is not a man of charity.

Luthor finally reveals why he brought them there. He had them followed from Paris to Egypt and then intercepted them on route to Brazil. He too has been fascinated with the stories of Argos and the Godstone, which is said to have created and destroyed the city. With its power, Luthor believes it is even possible to split the atom. He thinks Ra's Al Ghul to be a fanatic, while he is a man of science. He shows the Professor a locket holding a green jewel he found in a sunken Spanish galleon. Luthor hopes to find more when he reaches Argos. Professor Lang tells him that Argos' treasure belongs to the world, and he won't help him. Luthor grabs him in anger, but Clark attacks him. Before Luthor can respond, Clark becomes weak and collapses.

In Egypt, two of Ra's Al Ghul's men discuss rumors of a demon stalking their camp. They soon know the rumors to be true as a figure wearing the garb of the Egyptian wizard Kha grabs the first from the shadows. After a brief struggle, the second man is subdued, but he soon becomes engulfed in flames. The figure pours a liquid in his mouth, which prevents him from finishing the job. He demands to know where Ra's was headed.

Aboard the Leviathan, Clark has just awakened from a dream in which he is hurled across space from an exploding planet. He had been out for two hours. Luthor enters to announce that they've reached their destination, his home. It is a volcanic island west of Cape Verde. After a change of clothes, and an admiring of the many artifacts he has "collected," they soon learn more about their host. He was an inventor who had been ignored by Tsar Nicolas of Russia. He joined with a group that stole the resources he needed to build his Leviathan. Luthor reveals that he has found the approximate location of Argos. The professor believes it will take months to penetrate the rainforest. But Luthor has another mode of transportation.

Aboard his aircraft, the Aerowing, they are soon above the Brazilian jungle. Lana says Luthor's genius is only surpassed by his ego. He says that he will teach Lana her place. She slaps him, and as Luthor returns the sentiment, Clark again jumps in the way. Luthor again exposes the green jewel, noticing the effect the previous time. He orders his men to toss him out the door, and Clark plummets to the jungle below. The Aerowing soon lands and a short expedition leads them to Argos. As Luthor gloats, they find the apparent throne room of Argos' queen. Luthor finds an extremely sharp knife that cuts through thick vines with ease. They hear gunfire outside the chamber, and a look reveals that Ra's Al Ghul has overtaken Luthor's men. Talia is there also, and vows to kill Luthor for killing her beloved, Clark.

As Ra's and Luthor argue, Clark awakens in the jungle to the sight of a strange creature looking down on him. The "creature" removes his golden mask to reveal the face of Bruce Wayne. With little in the way of explanations, they begin their climb up a mountain to Argos. As Clark punches footholds in the mountain, Bruce tells him the story of how he found the wizard Kha's chamber. When he awoke, his wounds were healed and the spirit of Kha told him to wear his armor. It was the only way he could overcome Ra's guards. When they enter the city, they quickly take care of the guards. They find the bound Luthor, who apologizes to Clark for their past "differences," and says he will help them if they release him. They politely refuse and head for the chamber of the Godstone.

Jimmy soon spots Clark, as Bruce approaches Ra's from behind. Before Bruce can stop him, he is frozen by Ra's glare. Ra's grabs the Godstone as it pulses with energy. He feels more powerful than ever, before the Godstone's energy increases and disintegrates his body. Clark hears it calling to him, and when Bruce tries to reason with him, he throws him aside. He picks it up and levitates in the air. The Godstone reveals that it and Clark are from the planet Krypton, and its purpose is to transform Earth into a new Krypton. It was sent to Earth to prepare for the children that would soon arrive, but became dormant when they did not. Clark's clothes change to a red and blue suit, and he says his name is Kal-El, "Avatar of Kryptonian Dominion."

Luthor arrives and starts firing at him, but Clark melts the gun with a glance. As Lana reminds him of who he is, he says he can't help himself. He asks Bruce to use the knife that Luthor found to stop him, because it too was from Krypton. As Bruce objects, Clark throws himself on the knife. The Godstone deactivates as Talia comforts him. Luthor grabs the device, and takes Jimmy as a hostage. Bruce races after him, and grabs a hold of the Aerowing as he takes off. Talia tells them that there may still be a way to save Clark. They place him in a pool of water, and Talia pours in the ingredients used in her father's rebirths.

Aboard the Aerowing, the Godstone is making Luthor delusional as he thinks of which city to destroy first. Bruce attacks him, which causes the plane to go into a tailspin. Before they can hit the water, the revived Clark levels the plane. As he lands and reunites with Bruce and Jimmy, the mad Luthor threatens him with his green stone. Before he can approach, Bruce throws a bat-shaped object that slices off Luthor's robotic hand holding the gem, and they both fall into the river. Bruce punches Luthor as Clark destroys the Godstone, not willing to sacrifice his adopted world for one he never knew. They both congratulate each other on their victory.

An older Lana reminisces about their adventure. When the world learned of this dynamic duo, the Daily Planet named them Superman and Batman. There was a comic strip based on their exploits by a grown Jimmy Olsen and Jerry Kane. Before they gained world renown, they were her friends. A young woman named Kara asks her Aunt Lana what she is doing in the dark. Lana shows Kara her journals and begins to tell her stories of her father and Bruce. It is important to separate the truth from the legend. As they leave, we see that the room is a cave containing items from their many wonderful adventures.

This story was fantastic. As I said last month, it reminds me of Indiana Jones, with a little Jules Verne thrown in. Both issues had many references to other comics. Just to name a few: the Captain Marvel comic strip, Captain Jordan of Ferris Airlines, Archaeologist Carter Hall, and Luthor owned a gold hook that supposedly belonged to an Atlantean king. The Godstone also had the same look and purpose as the Eradicator in the Superman books, and much of Argos had a subtle Kryptonian look. Kieron Dwyer and Hilary Barta do a fantastic job of showing emotion. As for Superman's character, I think it succeeded in accurately portraying it. He put himself in harm's way to protect others several times. I highly recommend these issues.

Rating: 5

Next month:
Superman 101 and MAN OF STEEL!

All characters and scanned artwork are ™ DC Comics
This column is © 1999 by Benjamin Grose.
All artwork is © 1999 by their respective artists.