Reviews: The Metropolitan Man
God Awful, Holier Than Thou human exaltation piece.
I hate it. It is only my opinion and in no way reflects anyone else's views on this work of fiction. But I hate it just as I hate all other similar works in which Batman effortlessly beats Superman because he is "so smart". Why, oh why is it always the human captain of industry or the politician who decide who should or should not have this or that amount of power? I am sure if it was Luthor himself who wielded such awesome power as Superman's he would see himself as fully justified to it. And how in the name of Siegel&Schuster does every writer who takes this pathetic human aggrandizing route figure a mere human, no matter how smart or rich could possibly counter, much less outright beat someone with the powers and abilities of a Kryptonian? G'd! Super-senses, heat-vision, super-speed, super-intellect, flight, strength and invulnerability. And Kryptonite shouldn't even be an issue, because let's be honest, it is only through the stupidity of its writers that Kryptonians only use on power at the time (mostly). Flight, super-speed, super-hearing, telescopic vision and heat-vision; that right there is the combo solution to most opposition of a physical nature a Kryptonian could have. Find the problem, locate it, analyze the situation from a distance sufficient to negate that pesky Kryptonite (low Earth orbit, anyone?) and then vaporize said problem with heat-vision. Problem solved. This solution is valid for the likes of Luthor, Doomsday, Darkside and whatnot. Period. Good night.
Interesting Concept, Ultimately Flawed Execution
First, the good: the author does an excellent job of giving us Lex Luthor's perspective, and a good job of making a (flawedly) rational character out of him. He manages to make a Black and White moral situation feel decidedly grey. However, I think the most apt criticism I can make is that this feels like Art more than Literature. The plot feels like it exists for the purpose of deconstruction, which would be alright if that wasn't the only thing it was there for. This story could have been longer, and done well at that length. However, at the length it was, the whole thing felt like it existed purely to deconstruct. This could have been good if the deconstruction led somewhere interesting, but the ending was severely anticlimactic, and further hampered by a sudden, unavoidable idiot ball shaped like Kryptonite. I have a severe problem with the ending, as it neither fits with the standards set up for either of the characters intelligences, nor does it provide anything like closure. Superman presents Luthor with an excellent rationalist compromise, which Luthor immediately rejects, and proceeds to kill humanity's main defense against hostile aliens. Good job. Fundamentally, I am unsure what this story's message is supposed to be. Luthor ruins any rationalist cred he might have had with the ending, and Superman is chained to an idiot ball when it matters most. The Grey and Grey morality subplot kind of disappears, and it's kind of clear by the end that Luthor is just an asshole who doesn't like anyone more powerful than him, and a decent at rationalising his actions. Maybe that's what the author was going for, but I don't really see it as a good thing. Up until the ending, though, pretty solid. Such a shame.
An Amazing Fic - except for the end
If you are reading this page and expect there to be no spoilers, then you've made an irresponsible choice, my friend. There are spoilers in this review. We will begin with praise. This is the single best interpretation of Lex Luthor I've ever come in contact with. Every future representation of Lex should take inspiration from this one. Megalomaniac Lex, the one whose sole motivation is jealousy of Superman or who does it For the Evulz is not anywhere near as interesting as the rational yet still slightly deranged Lex we find in The Metropolitan Man. I loved the slow, methodical plans and the careful exploitation of Superman's weaknesses. I loved the believable motive. As all great villain stories should, I found myself agreeing with and sympathizing with Lex on several points. Unlike the Joker, Lex is a massively intelligent, charismatic and resourceful person capable of manipulating other intelligent characters (less intelligent than him, but still intelligent) and should be portrayed as such. He needs to be a villain capable of going toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel, which requires all of the traits given to him here. An astonishing and exciting take on a classic villain. Hated the ending. I felt that the fic's Superman revealed himself as being smart enough to go toe-to-toe with Luthor, but then made a stupid mistake by not taking into account unknown variables. To say that he contemplated his earlier murder over three relative days in the span of less than a second and then say that he wouldn't be able to solve Luthor's final gambit is, to me, contradictory. I don't think that Clark's portrayal is accurate here - neither his startling intelligence nor the wisdom of his goodness. Idealism is not just kid's stuff. To that point, and to be more honest, I just hated seeing the villain win. Luthor revealed himself as a villain when he turned down Superman's offer, which was entirely reasonable from Lex's rational point of view. Lois pointed this out to him and Lex realized it himself, but it was terrible for him not to get his comeuppance. As the fic stands, it looks like the author approves of Lex. Which I find distasteful. How to fix it? Not sure. A bad ending certainly makes you think, which I guess is the point of a Rational Fic, but I believe that a good ending might have been just as instructive.
M for mature,murder but not mediocre
Superhero comics, movies and cartoons are exceptionally abhorrent to this troper due to a constantand unyielding exposure to aforementioned content. This work of Superman fanfiction, or derivative literature, happily bucks the trend. Firstly, it was found by happy coincidence on the Rationalist Fiction page and not shoved into the face, emblazoned with graphic acts of violence or overtly sexaulized mannequins scantily clad in lingerie. Another win for discreet mature content, which can be widely ignored. Secondly, the author delivers on his promise of a perfect good (alien) guy against evil incorporatenote , with one pretty much holding onto the Idiot Ball with all of his super strength and the other busy indulging in his normal homicidal and psycho urges but with rationalist thought processes. The execution is near flawless but for that one little annoyingly implausible plot point which will be further elaborated later on. All of Luthor's preparations and crime boss activities are lovingly described here, which gives me strange ideas about something. Or one can simply look the other way and take it that the author has done his homework and has certain sources. Other than that, nothing else in this fic can break your rationalist trance. Anyways, the deconstruction of Superman is thorough and engrossing, with Lois Lane less enchanted with the Man of Steel and more freaked out by his stalker-like tendencies. Thirdly,the superhero dies. Don't you just love death scenes? Like in the Star Wars the Clone Wars animated series season 2 episode 13 when they crash landed on some outer rim planet and Anakin was severely wounded? Ahsoka, his Padawan, was like master!!!!!. Or in A Series of Unfortunate Events when Dewy Denouncement was harpooned. In short,Luthor wins. Sort of. The ending is realistically creepy- a thug who Superman captured futilely awaits rescue in a deep hole near the Arctic Circle. In the end, Metropolis does not need saving- a baddie does. This is overall not too badly written. I quite enjoyed this even though super[whatever] is not my cup of tea.
Good ideas ruined by an overly dark final arc.
Full disclaimer, I like both All-Star Superman and Man of Steel. While the former is most certainly a superior product I respect the latter for trying to tell a Darker and Edgier story with Superman even if the execution had problems. I definately prefer the happy, idealistic storys of the Man of Tomorrow but I don't see why a dark Superman story can't be good by its very nature. I do not dislike this fanfic because it is dark and cynical or because I'm not okay with Superman's actions, but because I can't stand the idiotic and nihilistic direction the plot and characters take in the final act. I love the idea of a Superman Rational Fic and for a while the story did a good job of deconstructing the Man of Steel for 1930s America. For the most part all the characters are written well despite the exposition-heavy dialogue and intrusive narration. However, Rational!Luthor falters when he never once considers talking to Superman before deciding to kill him, and I didn't buy into Lois' fear of Superman that she also never spoke to him about. Even so, everyone is smart and at least have basis in the original characters, their conversations bring up some interesting points, and the plot is very grounded in reality. Not a great story, but still pretty good. For a while anyway. SPOILERS AHEAD The problem is the final arc. Superman publicly murders a crime boss because "I was standing there, hating him, and thinking how much better the world would be if he were dead." It wasn't in defense of anyone nor did he attempt to hide it. He even confesses to Lois that he'd spend relative days thinking it over before deciding to commit murder. He ended up regreting it, but this is where the story spirals downward. Lois joins Luthor and decides to pretend to be in love with Superman to trick him, a plot point that is creepy on many levels and was such a stupid plan Superman sees through it easily. Then he has the final confrontation with Luthor and dies through a plot contrivance that barely makes sense. That's it, story's over. I can accept Superman killing villains. I actually like Zod's death in Man of Steel. He killed Zod in defense of innocent people after Zod had announced he'd never stop trying to kill others to spite Superman. Here, THE SUPERHERO unambiguously committs murder. I hate this fic.