Action Comics - #848 and 849
Synopsis: One year ago, Clark Kent (who was powerless at the time) heard about a new metahuman in Nyasir who was protecting Christian missionaries. However, when he asks the Daily Planet to fund a trip for him to go there to investigate they turn him down. He worries about the idea of a superhero with extreme religious beliefs and that a hero like that would go too far. :\
Eleven months later, the hero who calls himself Redemption, shows up again in Nyasir protecting missionaries from government forces. :o They fire at him despite his warnings and he explodes in energy, killing them completely :O
Superman shows up on the scene a month later (now that he has powers again >.>) and wishes he had done more. :( He uses his vision powers to follow Redemption's energy trail to a town called Valley Falls in Colorado. :o
Superman spies on Redemption who is a regular person who is praying with his parents and crying about his inability to control his powers :( He says that his powers come from the beliefs of others in him.
Deciding not to fight somebody who can't control his powers, Superman changes into Clark Kent and visits the local church while reminiscing about his own childhood and going to church. In the Valley Falls church, Clark meets a Reverand Hightower who tells him that Redemption was sent to Nyasir to protect missionaries from their church.
Clark stays for the service and Hightower veers from his planned sermon to deliver one aimed at Clark accusing him (subtly) of being an enemy in disguise. :O
Superman goes back home, confused about what to do, not wanting to provoke Redemption (and cause another massacre) and not sure exactly what the church is up to. :|
Clark goes back home to Lois and Lois asks him if it's rly Redemptions fault if his powers are fueled by the beliefs of others and if what he's doing is actually "wrong" b/c ppl have their own definitions of right and wrong and the church believes that they are right. :O
Hightower talks to Redemption who is praying in the church and comforts him but tells him that he'll have to do this again and to try his best.
In Nyasir again, the soldiers kill the missionaries b/c they realize that Redemption doesn't live with them and therefore can't protect them all the time. :O Superman hears on the news that the capital of Nyasir is now being destroyed by Redemption in retaliation and he rushes to stop him :O Redemption unleashes another energy wave but this time destroys the guns of the troops instead of them. :| However Superman shows up and tells him that his rampage ends now! :O
Second Issue :D
Superman is fighting Redemption but is having trouble b/c Redemption seems to have a variety of different powers. :O
Superman flies him into space and then back into Earth to try to wear him down but he appears to have invulnerability as well! O_O;;
Redemption gets angry and hits Superman so hard he loosens a tooth! :OOOO He says that the Nyasir military has to pay for what they've done but Superman says that there are proper channels to do this thru and that killing them is not the way :O
Back in Valley Falls, the congregation is in the church praying with Reverand Hightower and giving Redemption strength (or so they believe). :O
Superman and Redemption continue to fight while Superman struggles with his feelings, but he concludes that his problem isn't with religion, but with ppl abusing their powers in the name of religion. :O
Also Superman wonders how much of the missionaries deaths were the fault of Hightower b/c the Nyasirian government gave them many warnings to stop preaching and they insisted on it. :|
In the church again, Hightower says that their aren't enuf of them to power Redemption. Redemption feels that the ppl in Nyasir are in trouble and tries to fly away but Superman grabs him and seperates his shoulder! :O This surprises Superman as it seems that Redemption suddenly lost his powers.
Redemption begs Superman to help the ppl in Nyasir and he flies off and helps them, placing them under UN protection. :O However, when he returns Redemption is gone. He wonders how Redemption knew the ppl in Nyasir were in trouble. >.>;;
Back at the Planet, Clark does some investigating and finds out that Hightower served in the military. :| He calls Oracle to get more information and then goes to see Barbara Johnson, the woman from one of the previous Superman issues who believed that Superheroes were angels. :)
Superman asks her about faith and about how ppl know what's right and wrong when there are so many different religions. :o She tells him that ultimately, ppl of true faith, whatever that faith might be, know the difference between helping others and helping themselves. :)
Superman goes back to Smallville where he asks his mom if it ever bothered her that he stopped going to church as a teenager. :O She says that he never dissapointed her, and that all she wanted was for him to have a good foundation for making choices, and regardless of what his religion is, he does the right thing :)
Clark Kent shows up in Valley Falls again and confronts Hightower, revealing that he knows that in World War II, Hightower was an infantry chaplain. He is actually the one with powers, tho the beliefs of others is what powers him. He uses Redemption as a vessel for his powers. :O During World War II, he lost control and killed 2300 ppl from both sides. :OOO
He has since locked his powers deep inside him and worked to redeem himself by doing God's work. :| Clark says that he is using Redemption to protect missionaries in order to put them in places of the world that they otherwise wouldn't be in. Hightower points out the good works that his church has done, but Clark says that those works come with strings attached and often violates the laws of other lands. Hightower refuses to debate with him nemore and sends him away. >.>;;
Clark goes to Redemption's home and explains to him and his family who Hightower rly is. :O
The next day in church, Redemption confronts Hightower in front of the congregation and says that they're a small church which is their strength and that they never had missionaries until Redemption came along. And that this is causing more ppl to die. :(
Hightower gets angry and channels his power, putting Redemption into his costume and saying that if what he was doing wasn't true, he wouldn't have transformed! :O However, Redemption reveals to the congregation that the power isn't his and is actually Hightower's and he's been manipulating ppl for his own crusade! :O
Superman then shows up and questions if what Hightower is doing is for his own beliefs or actually to appease his guilty conscience :O Hightower explodes in power again but Superman refuses to fight and says that the ppl in the church knows what HE (Superman) stands for, but what does Hightower stand for? :O
Superman then leaves. The congregation loses their faith in Hightower and walks away, depriving him of his power :O He collapses and cries :(
Clark decides not to publish the story and reveal the truth behind Hightower or Redemption. :O Lois questions this decision but Clark feels bad for Hightower (!?) and thinks it's the right thing to do.
He reveals to Lois the reason he stopped going to church was b/c he knew too much about the ppl there b/c of his powers and he was worried that he would lose his faith in ppl in general b/c of the sekrits that they hide and the hypocrisy. :(
Eventually he decided to instead have faith in the best humanity has to offer and Lois says that she has faith in him. :D
Review: *falls over*
That was a lot of writing and recapping :O
I kinda feel bad for the writers, cuz this story was clearly not an easy one to write. :( The writers were very obviously trying to have Superman deal with religion WITHOUT offending nebody.. and that's often hard to do. :\ So it seems they pull their punches a lot.
For example, having Superman be of no religion but instead having a general faith in ppl. :) Tho I agree with that :D
But as Neal Bailey pointed out in his Superman Homepage review, Superman is supposed to represent everybody, and it's better to leave his religion as a question mark than to say that he's atheist, and risk having ppl get mad. :| Just b/c he happens to share beliefs that me and Neal share (Hi Neal! :D) doesn't mean that it's the best course for Superman to go as an icon.
It's hard not to have Superman take sides tho! :O
Neal believes that it's best just not to have Superman deal with controversial issues, but I'm more or less okay with this. :D You can't rly please all the ppl all of the time. :\ And I think it makes sense that Superman would believe more in a general "good" than in a religion in general since Superman is very worldly and he's also SEEN a lot of things. He's been into space. He comes from another planet, and he's fought with and against mythical "gods". :O
Overall, I think the story does a good job with having Superman confront his beliefs and also the beliefs of others, wondering what's the right thing to do when ppl actually believe that they're doing the right thing even if they're not rly. :)
It could have been more heavy handed with very obvious religious villains who kill gay ppl or something, but it wasn't. :) And I'm glad :D I like also how the issue was not that they were sending out missionaries, but they were sending out missionaries ONLY because Redemption existed and gave them a way to fight back. :O As Superman realized, that's not rly courage or faith, that's an abuse of power. :\
Superman saying that his tooth got knocked loose by Redemption made me wonder. What does Superman do about that? :O Does he see a super dentist? Does Batman fix it for him? XD
What happens if he loses a tooth? :O How come he hasn't lost teeth before when he reguarly fights ppl who are equals to him in super strength? :O Why didn't Doomsday end up knocking all his teeth out? :O Hockey players lose teeth like nothing and Superman gets put thru similar punishment! :|
Does he grow them back like a shark? XD
Having regenerative powers wouldn't mean you grow your teeth back >.>;; It just means your body heals faster than regular ppl. But regular ppl dun grow their teeth back no matter HOW long you give their body to heal. :O
The ending was obviously a compromise, so as not to offend nebody, which is why I think the writers were walking on eggshells. :\ As my sister said, Superman basically let a war criminal go. >.>;;
Intentional or not, he killed 2300 ppl! :O
That's a lot of ppl :\
And Redemption was responsible for killing many ppl as well!
This double standard confounds me! XD
Wonder Woman kills one person, and Superman FREAKS and says he doesn't know her nemore.
But he's okay with these ppl killing way more ppl b/c oh, they mean well and he feels bad for them. >.>;;;
It's funny that Superman says that Redemption shouldn't get involved and things should be done thru the proper channels XD
Oh, is that how Superman operates? XD
Also, in the flashback, Clark is using a typewriter during One Year Later. However, according to "Up Up and Away" he didn't start using the typewriter until AFTER he got his powers back b/c they were interfering with his ability to use the computer. :O Just a minor nitpick that I noticed >.>;;
However, plot issues aside, the story was primarily (I think XD) an exploration into Superman's faith and in that I think they pulled it off very well and we got to see what he believes in and in fact that he actually stopped going to church and why. :D
Personally, I like the idea that Superman doesn't go to church, not b/c I have nething against church but b/c regardless of his farmboy upbringing, Superman just seems like he wouldn't. :O
Can we get back to the Zod storyline now!? >:|
Angelwings Rating: 3 out of 5 out of place typewriters for the first issue and 3.5 out of 5 religious war criminals for the second XD
Recommendation: It's not a bad pair of issues to get :D It's not part of the Zod plot so it's skippable, but it is a nice little story about Superman's faith (and a lot of generic fighting) XD