For the past year, Superman has been walking across America while trying to reconnect to his adopted homeworld of Earth in the wake of 2010’s ‘New Krypton’. The world is full of humans that are beginning to hate and fear Kryptonians. Superman has been having conflicted feelings about his being a hero while attempting to answer the question “Does the world need a Superman?”. With this issue, he gets his answer in the finale of J. Michael Straczynski’s year long ‘Grounded’ storyline.
I’ve had mixed emotions regarding the ‘Grounded’ arc. Early on, it had a few amusing and even touching scenes. Superman played basketball without using his powers and got dunked on by teenagers. He helped a young boy escape from his abusive father. These scenes, while they would’ve been cool as backup stories, weren’t headlining material and caused ‘Grounded’ to quickly lose steam. About half way into the arc, Superman meets a group of heroes from the future going by the name of the Superman Squad and things got a little more exciting.
Since the appearance of the Superman Squad, Superman has heard conflicting views about his status as a hero. On one hand, Superman allegedly inspires the future heroes of the Superman Squad to follow in his footsteps and become the defenders of the Earth. Meanwhile, Superman has been taking a lot of flack from the normal people he’s been saving. He’s been blamed for a lot of destruction, pain, and other horrors here on Earth.
As the story progressed, it became clear to Superman that he was being followed and by his most vocal critic… a schoolteacher by the name of Lisa Jennings. Ms. Jennings first appeared in Superman #703. She was given a Kryptonian stone that some of her students found. The stone gave Ms. Jennings Kryptonian-like powers. Since then, she has been following Superman and testing his resolve at every turn. The story came to a head last issue with Ms. Jennings taking Superman’s wife, Lois Lane, hostage.
In this issue, while rescuing Lois, Superman is surprised to discover that the stone that was the source of Ms. Jennings’ powers is, in fact, a Kryptonian memory stone. When the stone gave Ms. Jennings her powers, it also transferred Superman’s memories, along with all of his doubts about being a hero, into her mind. Since this stone was intended only for the use of Kryptonian minds, the memory transfer has driven Ms. Jennings a bit mad.
As an interesting side effect, the stone also gave Ms. Jennings the ability to alter Superman’s perception and dreams. It is revealed that all of the negative comments that the humans have been giving Superman along his way were illusions created by Ms. Jennings. He decides that the world does, in the end, need a Superman. Then he cancels out the memory stone by thinking hopeful thoughts to counter the negative emotions that were absorbed by Ms. Jennings. The stone is destroyed but Ms. Jennings retains her newfound powers.
The story comes to an end with Superman selecting fellow superheroes Super Chief, Steel, Livewire, Superboy, and Supergirl to form the Supermen of America to assist him in his job of protecting Earth. The final scene reveals that this new group is the early stages of what will become the Superman Squad and that Ms. Jennings is one of the Squad’s members.
It seems that Superman is finally ready to fly and be a hero again… just in time for DC’s relaunch next month.
Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI and CHRIS ROBERSON
Art by ALLAN GOLDMAN and EBER FERREIRA
Cover by JOHN CASSADAY