A bit of a slow week and I’ve just started my Emergency Department placement, which can only mean one thing. Say goodbye to all my hobbies and social life for the next four months. So if these reviews are coming in with more and more days in between, you guys know why. But we move. I thought it was probably time that I returned to the very first comic book series ever; ‘Action Comics’. I had been enjoying it a little more than the ‘Superman’ comic series, so I had high hopes for this novel!
‘At The End Of Days’ is essentially one huge puzzle of a story. It starts with an unusual story about one of the prisoners in the Phantom Zone breaking out and trapping Superman in it. Clark somehow manages to escape with the help of his trusted dog, Krypto. Together they send Xa-Du back to his eternal jail. The next story takes us to Mars where a group of scientists who are attempting a terraforming experiment are set upon by a group of machine-based organisms aptly named the “Metaleks”. Superman flies in and rescues the group but only to discover that one of the scientists is an evil 5th Dimensional imp known as “Vyndktvx”. What follows is a mish-mash of several stories, set in the present, the past and future in which Vyndktvx sets about to destroy Superman. It’s easier to explain it in the three different timelines rather than in the order that it’s told in the actual novel. In the past we see young Clark Kent taking Lana Lang to the prom at high school. He’s been sent off by his extremely proud parents however, it turns out that this is the last time that Clark will ever see them again. We also have a story set in present-day which sees Vyndktvx send a whole host of villains against Superman, including the vanquished Xa-Du and a “Super Doomsday” which is just him in a ridiculous armour. Superman is backed up by Krypto but the two of them aren’t enough, so he sends out a distress signal to the Legion of Superheroes in the 31st Century. That shows us the story in the future where due to the death of Superman a vicious regime runs the galaxy. The League travels back into their past and turns up in present-day to help Superman. The most mysterious part of the entire novel however is the fact that this imp is actually the enemy of Mr Mxyzptlk who bested him in a competition in the fifth dimension to win the heart of the princess of that kingdom. Can Clark gather enough help to vanquish Vyndktvx? And just how are all these stories connected?
I’ll be honest. I’ve never ever read a novel more confusing than this one. I have absolutely no idea what the writers were thinking but the entire thing is a mess. From the extremely complicated backstory of these 5th-dimensional beings to Superman’s part in the entire story, there are so few moments where I felt cognitively intact. I guess, maybe that was intentional as imps such as Mr Mxyzptlk and Vyndktvx are chaotic characters by nature so the story is also all over the place. The thing is that in moments where the novel was focused on a particular story it wasn’t bad before it all switched again. I will say though, as a saving point, that I did enjoy the inclusion of characters like “The Legion of Superheroes” and Krypto who I feel are often neglected over Justice League members.
When it comes to the artwork, that too like much of the novel was a mix of several different styles. Some of them I actually really liked but there were a few that I wasn’t a fan of, unfortunately. The covers were even less impressive and the one I picked above was the best out of the lot in my opinion. In conclusion, this wasn’t a great novel. It was far too confusing and all over the place that I really struggled to enjoy it. I do hope the series doesn’t continue like this!
Sorry, what? Muhammad Ali taught Superman how to fight? Aha!
Despite the chaos, it has to be Superman. He’s almost infallible and this novel definitely proved that!
Story Arc: 8/20
Character Development: 10/20