Mann and Superman
Michael T. Gilbert, writer & artist
(DC Comics, 2000)

The story has potential. Marty Mann is down on his luck, a jobless alcoholic with little money who has lost the respect of his one treasure: his young son, Ricky. Marty illogically blames Superman for all his troubles, figuring Superman with all those powers never had to work or struggle. Coincidentally, Marty is interviewed by roving reporter Clark Kent, who is stricken with guilt when he hears of Marty's plight.

It goes downhill from there. Superman, who usually shows signs of more common sense and self-worth than is exhibited here, whines to his wife, Lois, who has an uncharacteristic lack of sympathy for either Marty or her husband. Fortunately Lois, who is drawn like a brunette Mae West for this book, only appears on a single page before jetting off on a six-week assignment at the North Pole. Meanwhile, Marty decides to turn his life around by stealing a valuable amulet from the Metropolis Museum.

Turns out the amulet has an inscription promising the bearer one wish. And, apparently, no one ever tested that claim, because Marty -- when he spies Superman near the scene -- wishes to be Superman ... and, suddenly, he is. And Superman is Marty. Some fix, eh?

SuperMarty wastes no time flying his former self to Mount Rushmore (?), where he tries to beat the crap out of him. But Superman manages to talk him into giving him a few weeks, during which time he'll pose as Marty and take care of Ricky, in the hopes that Marty will get sick of the power and wish them back to their rightful bodies. Like that would work on anyone?

Well, Superman apparently has a gift for persuasion, because SuperMarty agrees. And he spends the next few weeks completely turning Marty's life around, while SuperMarty hooks up with a pair of twins (makes you wonder just what he did with Superman's body all that time), coerces the manager of a ritzy hotel into giving him the penthouse suite for free and attempts to get jobs endorsing beer. He tries to be a hero once, but louses it up.

And we're supposed to believe that anyone, given the body and powers of Superman, would do so little with it, and would give up so soon? Not bloody likely. But, of course, he repents his wicked ways as Superman knew he would.


Writer Michael T. Gilbert provided his own art, too, but I can't recommend it. It's rough and ragged, and he draws familiar characters poorly. His dialogue and art both seem like an attempt to pay homage to the campier Silver Age of comics, but if this were the standard for quality then, the Silver Age would be wisely forgotten.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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