Comic Book Review: Superman - Distant Fires by Howard Chaykin

Distant Fires - Howard Chaykin, Gil Kane, Kevin Nowlan, Matt Hollingsworth

The Basics

The world has ended, and Superman is the only one left alive in Metropolis. There are huge rodents, mutant humans, and Superman is surprised to discover many of his fellow heroes (and some villains) survived after all in a rebuilt colony. But peace can’t reign forever…

My Thoughts

Ugh, so many problems. Must organize thoughts. That cover is a lie, for starters. Utter lies. That wild cat is actually a giant house cat and, therefore, doesn’t look like that. Captain Marvel does a face-heel-turn, so he shouldn’t be behind Clark like that. He should be facing off against him. By that point in the story, Wonder Woman is dead. Am I spoiling you? Why do you care, really? It sucked. Don’t read this.

The concept was good. The end. Okay, there was more that was good than just that. Clark being confronted by the ghosts of people he lost (and it being up for debate if those were ghosts or his mind giving out on him) was really good. And instantly it went downhill. Then it had a surprisingly sweet ending that didn’t even come close to saving it.

When he finds the colony of superheroes and villains that are still alive, the Joker is there. He’s sane now. See, the twist is that everyone with superpowers has now lost them because of the apocalypse technobabble it doesn’t matter. The important part is that according to this writer, the Joker’s psychosis was a superpower. So he’s like your average Joe now, working to help the community. They do understand he’s human, right? Why are Lois Lane and Batman dead, but the Joker is alive? Also, there comes a point when their powers are returned, and conveniently the Joker is never shown again. Did his mental illness return? Did he side with the bad guys when that happened? Why even do that at all? I won’t get into how offensive the whole idea of mental illness being a “power” is. It’s offensive. That’s really all there is to say.

There’s a romance between Superman and Wonder Woman that goes so quickly you might as well just accept that it’s happening. Also, Captain Marvel is jealous. Because they were supposed to be together, and he sulks and turns evil. If you like Captain Marvel, you really don’t want to read this shitty, sulky, entitled version of him. And he appears to fall out of love quickly enough, because later in the story he kills her without remorse. Are you noting that character and motivation have no place in this mess? Oh, ahem, AND THEY FRIDGED WONDER WOMAN. They did that simply to motivate Superman to kill Captain Marvel. To quote the internet, I can’t even.

The climax comes on like a hurled turd. “Oh, also Metallo was around with the mutant humans.” Thanks for letting me know? “And remember how Aquaman was on the fence? He sided with Superman by default.” By default? What does that even mean? Because he was the lesser of the two evils? If you want me to explain any of that, I can’t. It was literally that abrupt. Really the whole story was incredibly rushed. Way too much happened in a very small space, so none of it had any kind of impact. It was more like reading a summary than reading a book.

I want to leave you with this: Superman uses a gun. We’re supposed accept that, because it’s the end of the world and he has no powers. Bruce would be proud of how quickly he threw that out the window, I’m sure.

Worst AU ever. Run for your lives.

Final Rating