Superman #662‒664, 667 and Annual #13 by Kurt Busiek & Carlos Pacheco
This second trade of Busiek & Pacheco’s run on Superman, finishing off the story started in the first Camelot Falls collection, which I reviewed here. To catch up: Arion has told Superman that Superman will be responsible for a dystopic future, due to his continued battle against evil, which results in a supervillain called Khyber leading the villains against the world and killing Superman (punching him to Earth from space, his impact causing a nuclear winter). Superman is having difficulty believing this (he even gets Zatanna to check him for mystical influence), so he goes to Tehran to investigate Khyber, who turns out to be dead (he was the original master of the Hashashin).
Then Metropolis is invaded by young New Gods, causing accidental havoc, but who are actually on a field trip with Lightray (who makes them apologise: ‘SORRY, SUPERMAN …’), which helps Superman realise that he has to keep doing what he does. This results in Arion starting a fight with him, putting a spell on him to restrain him. And, because it is now assumed that Superman is under somebody’s control, he is attacked by Squad K, a unit of soldiers specifically tasked to take him out; he is even confronted by Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and the JSA.
The guest stars continue in the next issue (Zatanna is back ‒ Comicraft do a nice job of individualising her backwards word balloons, making them more magical), including the Phantom Stranger, who you don’t see that often. The UN backs Superman, and Lana Lang sends ‘Scamcams’ (new video camera technology that can fly after Superman) to follow Superman as he flies around (thus allowing the world to witness his struggle). Superman is attacked by Subjekt-17 (see the first volume), an alien imprisoned by the Soviet Union, who demands that Superman stand with him against the humans, or protect them by hurting Subjekt-17. Then he has to fight Arion …
Even with all this action, the second half of this story feels slow and not as exciting. The idea is a big one (is Superman doing good the right thing to do?) and the emotions are true, but it doesn’t really connect. Technically, everything is good and there is a lot to admire ‒ Busiek writes a good story and Pacheco is a fantastic artist with a beautiful style (his art is so amazing, you even forgive the very large breasts he gives to Zatanna ‒ they explode out of her top) ‒ but I didn’t enjoy the story overall, which is a shame.