LIFE AND TIMES OF SAVIOR 28: An ending
The final issue of J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Cavallaro's miniseries, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SAVIOR 28. The series is told mostly out of order regarding the life of Savior 28, a Superman/Captain America pastiche who has decided the time has come to really change the world. It is narrated by Dennis McNulty, his former sidekick who later assassinated him.
Let's hope Savior 28 didn't say "hip time, daddy-o" too often.
An early reviewof this issue was on AICN.com by Matt Adler. Some excerpts from him and series artist Mike Cavallaro are below.
Savior 28 appears before the UN with Queen Shakti and Hadrach the Lemurian, two "bad guys" that have dreamed of a better world.
It's not saying he's going to destroy all the nuclear weapons in the world and everyone applauding, but what exactly was James Smith hoping for here?
Savior 28 is mixing up cause and effect regarding all the racism in America in World War II. From Adler's review:
The US tried pretty strenuously to stay out of WWII (some would say too strenuously, given the events in Europe). That is not to say that having the role of defender against an aggressor excuses all actions on the defender’s part, but it does make a difference in the moral equation, I think.
As for hating Germany and Japan and vowing to destroy them: to be sure, once the war started, jingoism was whipped up to fuel the war effort, and racism was a pretty integral part of that (see the internment camps). But I think it is also important to note that this was an EFFECT, not a cause, of the war.
McNulty is getting more and more bitter throughout the story, although he is careful to say that even thought James Smith had a lot of problems, he had a "good heart." And it's clear that Savior 28 wants to save lives. While his origin is very vague (even for a superhero), James Smith decency is why he got his powers in the first place.
Savior 28 went catatonic after liberating a concentration camp in issue #2 of the series.
Here's one more excerpt from the review:
Another point DeMatteis makes-- and it’s one I’ll have to ponder, since I’m not sure where I stand on it—is that heroes are seen more as leaders, rather than celebrities. He uses the public revelation of Savior’s mental breakdown to make that point that while people may be able to understand and empathize with loved ones who go through personal problems, or sympathize with celebrities going through very public personal struggles, they are not so tolerant of their leaders’ personal problems, saying “…if they so much as admit they’ve been to a therapist—we toss them right out the door” (perhaps alluding to George McGovern’s 1972 running mate). Are our heroes our leaders (or for that matter, vice versa)? I’m not sure.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't like comic book stories that portray mental illness as some sort of moral failing, since it happens too much in real life. That doesn't seem to be the case here.
Even though he's been discredited as a crazy person, Savior 28 doesn't go away. Even with bullets made out of the "Master Stone" that gave Smith his powers and slowed McNulty's aging. We also find out exactly why McNulty was ordered to/decided to kill Savior 28: many government people were terrified of a superhuman (with a history of mental illness and alcohol abuse) on the verge of exploding in rage/pain/etc. and taking the country or the world down with him.
As with the Captain America story that DeMatteis originally planned which became this series 20+ years later, Savior 28's death results in Peace on Earth for exactly one minute.
There is a twist or two to the ending, as well as a mystery or two that remains unsolved. Still, this is a well written, well drawn series that deserves a look beyond getting tossed onto the "deconstruction of the superhero" pile.
While Dennis McNulty looks a lot like Jack Kirby, Mike Cavallaro himself has said he didn't intend McNulty to look like Kirby, instead more like James Cagney and Leo Gorcey.
From Mr. Cavallaro:
"So yes, Dennis does kinda look like Jack Kirby. But he also kinda looks like James Cagney with maybe a little Leo Gorcey, which is what I was really shooting for.
No attempt was made by either J.M. nor myself to draw any connection between Jack Kirby's beliefs and those of the character, Dennis McNulty."
"Point of view" and "perspective" is mentioned a lot in this story. Are Dennis' descriptions of Jimmy just what Dennis saw? Dennis is also big on saying "Jimmy saw me as his slobbering lapdog when I was his sidekick, and a base impostor when I stood in for him." Was this really what Jimmy thought, or how Dennis saw *himself*? Dennis would not be the first person to think "I was an idiot when I was 15."
I was wrong about another thing in this series. I thought the attacks on September 11 happened on September 12 for important reasons the story would reveal. No, they happened on September 11 in this story.