Superman Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow Review
Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow often gets listed as one of the best graphic novels of all time and when it’s written by Alan Moore the hype that it has achieved certainly comes with some credibility. This book tells the story of the death of Superman and the legacy he left and whilst it directly inspired ‘Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader,’ one of my favourite Batman books, I’ve never actually read it’s companion. I eagerly jumped into this graphic novel as I’m a huge Moore fan and that hype may or may not have killed it for me.
Read my review to see my thoughts on the work.
Upon opening this book you are instantly hit with nostalgia. It’s clear from the off that this is going to be a pulp comic that references all the eras of Superman and is a trip down memory lane for any fan of the Man Of Steel.
The plot takes cues from Citizen Kane in many ways, we as the reader hover over a reporter investigating Superman’s death as part of a memorial piece for the paper and in doing so interviewing Lois Lane (now Lois Elliot).
It’s great how Moore sets up the premise very swiftly and so early on, from the off we know that Superman is gone and this book wastes no time getting to the meat of the story. That is sort of how the entire book feels. It’s very condensed, there are huge moments after huge moments in such quick sucession that you often get lost within the work and the depth of the piece isn’t as hard hitting as it could be.
Here are some of the things that happen within the first 50 pages as an idea of just how quick the plot rushes a long. Be warned, there are HUGE SPOILERS
Start Of Spoilers
Bizarro Attackes the City and Dies as he realises in order to truly be Superman’s opposite he must be.
Toyman and The Prankster reveal Clark is Superman by burning his clothes in a room full of people (Superman of course always wears his uniform under his clothes cos he’s a bit of a tramp, not like he has super speed or anything).
Pete Ross Dies.
Lex Luthor gets possessed by Brainiac.
Lana Lang Dies.
Jimmy Olsen Dies.
Lots Of People DIE!!!!!
End Of Spoilers
The plot whizzes faster than a speeding bullet and features a whole host of villains, none ever really feel fleshed out though and if you’ve never read a Superman story before I can imagine that you’d be lost within the first couple of pages. There isn’t really any justice given to the characters because of this. It may be modern sensibilities but I just wish that Moore had focused perhaps on one villain and used this to really drive the plot in the same way that he used Joker for The Killing Joke.
That’s not to say the book isn’t interesting though, the over arcing theme is that of escalation. If all of Superman’s rogues gallery have now graduated to murderers then what are the characters who originally murdered like now?
To me this is commentary on the escalation in comic books themselves. Once upon a time comics were fun and well…..comicky. Now though they are bogged down in their seriousness and have taken a dark turn in order to satisfy audiences. This enforces my previous point, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow just doesn’t work as well for current comic readers, Moore may already be aware of this though and it looks like he doesn’t care.
I really get the feeling that Moore takes Superman out of the equation in the finale of this book because he believes that there is no longer a need for the character anymore. We see shades of this when Supergirl (dead in this continuity) turns up as a younger, time travelling version of herself. She seems really happy and bubbly unaware of the dark turn that comics would take for her.
Mr Steal Yo Girl
This point is really cemented when Mr MXIhainagaiofna….look I have no idea how to spell it, yes I have google infront of me, I could easily look it up, I don’t care…..anyway…Mr Madiasdjandiajagb turns up and is revealed as the villain, he is now a darker, demonic version of himself. Superman kills him because he can’t beat him, he notes that he could’ve found another way, he just didn’t want to and now must leave. In breaking his own oath and succumbing to what comics now are he’s basically ruined himself. He’s basically become Snyder’s Superman…..Moore is Snyder…(fan theories abundant).
‘Like walking amongst the fragments of a legend’
Batman describes it like this, it certainly is, the entire book feels like a ‘best of’ much in the same way that All Star Superman does. However that book, due to it’s length, had a lot more room to breathe and really develop all the aspects that make Superman great, this one sort of glosses over them.
The book ends on the reporter leaving and Lois’ husband showing him the way out, we see their child crushing coal cutely and turning it into diamonds in the….wait a second…LOIS LANE HAS A HUSBAND.
Her husband winks at the reader (or face spasms) and we know that everything is ok and Superman is still alive and needed. That really ends Moore’s commentary on whether Superman should be around or not.
This is a GOOD book but not a GREAT one, whilst it has high moments the story telling is very rushed and it’s hard to get attached to the characters. The subtext within the work is more interesting than the work itself so it is a very hard book to rate.
It is definitely worth picking up if you are a Superman fan, especially with it’s low price point….however don’t come into it expecting The Killing Joke or Watchmen. It’s a fun read, with a lot of depth but not enough to make you want to re read it.
Overall I give the book a
Call me a dickhead in the comments below because I’ve just shat on your favourite possession, go on…I dare you….No actually it would be good to have some healthy discussion…but then you’re on the internet so I doubt that will happen. Good day.