|Reviews for The Metropolitan Man|
| Guest chapter 1 . 4h
Chapter 1 Review
Setting: Placing this story in 1934 gives it an edge regardless of what else you do. It gives it an excellent feel and should likely allow the characters and plot (bolstered by appropriate politics, history, etc) to be forefront in the story rather than technology or politically correct drama. Specifically, it'll also allow the characters to evolve from their opening scene and plot the way you want rather than having all the readers know who each character is, how they will react, why they act the way they do and what has happened to them already.
Character: Lex with an inquisitive mind should make for a great story. He's both scientific and a skeptic without dismissing things he doesn't understand out-of-hand-lovely!
I think I shall very much enjoy reading the whole of this story.
| RTVfan chapter 13 . 7/21
One of the best interpretations of Lex Luthor I've ever had the pleasure of reading, making him horribly sociopathic yet human and relatable and even rootable all at once. DC should hire you.
Interesting that Lex Luthor unambiguously won. I have to admit, after you killed off Superman, I was expecting another turnabout where a second superhero, I was betting on Supergirl, showing up to repeat the process all over again or just to get revenge for Superman's death. After all, while Lex is the underdog, he's not exactly a good guy, and if Superman has to go down, than the villain should too. Then again, I can't recall a time other than the Red Son story where Luthor also won, so it's a nice change of pace.
The sequence in particular where Superman is at Lex's home office and unravels (almost) his entire scheme was wonderfully written and eminently suspenseful, and full of excellent questions and moral gray areas too. All of the criticisms made about Superman throughout this story by Luthor and Lois Lane are completely correct, and even though I believe that the Superman of this story does ultimately have humanity's best interest at heart and is at least trying his honest best at being morally sound, you can't help despite yourself to root for the scrappy, resourceful underdog in Lex Luthor. The part that got me the most was Superman demanding Lex to remove all the lead shielding from his house so Superman could eternally keep an Orwellian eye on him. All of his other demands were reasonable even for a murderous sociopath egomaniac like Lex, but to know that you'll never have privacy again? I mean, I obviously understand why that was one of Clark's demands, but I'm sure he also got a bit of sadistic pleasure of removing that bit of safety from Luthor's grasp.
But really, just to emphasize, that was a brilliantly written final act. I honestly was expecting Luthor to have some trick up his sleeve, but I had no idea how he was going to implement it after Superman made it seem like him losing was impossible. I've read(I think from Andy Weir, who wrote The Martian) that when a writer is genuinely able to surprise both the readers AND themselves while at the same time having the plot twist make perfect sense is when they are at their happiest, and you pulled it off, man. Then again, I suppose Superman could have gone through the roof instead of the wall. Did Lex have the ceiling studded with kryptonite too?
On the other hand, I have encountered some other reviews of this story that heavily criticize your ending because Superman seemingly acted out of character and less rationally than he had been shown acting earlier. I can't say that these other reviewers are wrong, and they provide some food for thought, but ultimately I can't think of an alternative ending that would fit your story better. There's also the criticism that Lex was being irrational because Superman is the only line of defense against other superpowered aliens with actively hostile intentions(Darkseid and Brainiac spring to mind), which reminds me of the “Nothing Ever Ends” quotation from Watchmen applied to Ozymandias, but nevertheless, Lex HAD to kill him because Superman was too much of a gamechanger, as awful as that is to say.
By the way, I enjoy the way you portray Mercy Graves. Nothing really else to add. She's never been a favorite character of mine, but you incorporated her well into your story, even if she was a satellite character, and I have to say that her amorality and sardonic sense of apathy was delightful. Just the thought of her being on standby behind the door ready to pitch a chunk of kryptonite at Supes like it was a baseball put a smile on my face.
Man, you really know how to end a story on a down note, don't you? Haha. I would lament poor Floyd's situation, but does scum like him really deserve our sympathy? I guess if you can root for Lex Luthor because he's the underdog, you can root for Deadshot to escape his prison as well, but damn it, he killed Martha Kent!
| RTVfan chapter 12 . 7/21
I've never thought of Lois Lane as a somebody with negative character traits per se, but until your fic, I never realized just how much more positively you can view someone like her or Jimmy Olsen or the other mundane characters of Superman's world when not viewed through the eyes of Superman.
I'm fascinated by the idea that the Kryptonians weren't actually humanoids like us and could use some kind of illusory technology to make them more palatable/less hideous to the human eye. It makes me wonder that if alien life does exist out there somewhere, and that sort of illusory tech was possible, we(humans) and them(alien life) would use it on one another for our mutual benefit, like how the idea of a universal translator would be used to cross language barriers.
| RTVfan chapter 11 . 7/21
Lois Lane's epiphany about Clark being Superman was well handled and logical. It almost makes me mad, not to segue, about how a similar scene in The Dark Knight Rises was criticized. In the movie, when the character John Blake figures out Batman's secret identity through the same intuitive logic Lois Lane performed, it was criticized by a lot of Bat-fanboys, unfairly I felt, and I wonder if those same fans would hate the way it was used in your story.
After reading this chapter, I can't help but compare your story to Zack Snyder's attempts at deconstructing Superman in his movies and how much better you are it than him. I would also compare your deconstruction of Superman to Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen, who also left once he felt isolated enough and his sense of morality cast in doubt. That's high praise.
The tension in this story is just ratcheting up to an almost unbearable degree, and I love it.
| RTVfan chapter 10 . 7/21
Was Willie Calhoun suicidal? It's one thing to want to push Superman into doing something stupid, but what Willie did was crazy. I guess he may have just become too disillusioned with what happened since Superman's arrival and wasn't thinking clearly.
Ah, we finally get to Kryptonite. I'm wondering why Jor-El would leave it there? Or maybe the Kents found it and contained it once they saw how much it was hurting Clark?
| RTVfan chapter 9 . 7/21
Holy Moley, what a chapter. In an earlier review, I compared your version of Lex Luthor to Walter White from Breaking Bad, and in this chapter in particular, the Breaking Bad comparison is unmistakable now. Lex Luthor and Walter White are one in the same, but not only that. The violence in this chapter was disturbing enough, but the irony of Deadshot's belief that the moral of a story should only be understood towards the end and what inevitably happens to him via Superman is just too priceless and too tinged with black comedy for me not to compare it to one of Breaking Bad's grislier moments.
Poor Martha. :(
Poor Betty Graber in fact, and poor Clark for having to know how his mother died.
| RTVfan chapter 8 . 7/21
Nice character building scene between Jimmy Olsen and the private investigator. Ditto for Lois and Clark once again. You've got the psychological realism down pat, dude.
Huh. I've never seen or read a Superman story with Lois actively working against Superman, but I like it. It's really fascinating to see her working with Luthor, and can't wait to see where this relationship goes, if anywhere.
Not a fan of the racist comment you ascribed to Martha Kent. Yes, I know that it's the 1930s and it's very unlikely that she and Jonathan Kent didn't harbor SOME kind of prejudice, but I believe that integral to Superman's Earth parents is the idea that both of them were eminently fair, decent, compassionate people, and racism just doesn't jive with that. Besides, there were freethought communities at the time that explicitly denounced racism, and I could see Jonathan and Martha Kent as being into that mode of thinking.
Interesting trivia about the orphan trains. It would be neat if the Superman comics continuity adopted this cover story by the Kents.
| RTVfan chapter 7 . 7/21
Oh no, the abortion issue rears its ugly head. I wonder what Pro Life people then and now would make of the birthing matrices on Krypton that inherently determine the genetic and life potential of its citizens.
I enjoyed the scene with Lois and Clark at the mural. It was a nice character building moment for both of them.
Oh my God. That...that was brutal and horrific. I don't think I would have had the patience or reserve of character that Superman had. I completely understand and sympathize with his disenchantment with humanity. It must come as even more shocking being raised in a loving household by the Kents.
| RTVfan chapter 6 . 7/21
Cute deconstruction of Lex' battlesuit/power armor. Does that mean you have no rationalist!Iron Man stories planned in the future? :P
Enjoyed Lex and Mercy Graves's little Socratic dialogue about Superman's alter ego. There's a bit of a James Bond/Moneypenny vibe between them too that is fun, although it's of the platonic variety instead of the flirtatious. Glad that Lex treats her as a confidant rather than a henchwoman.
I'm proud of you for allowing Lex not to use Superman's secret identity against him. Of course it's pointless, but not enough people seem to understand that. Zack Snyder sure didn't in Batman v Superman, when his version of Lex Luthor had a ridiculous plan involving kidnapping Clark's mother, and it was one of the things that completely took me out of the story.
Vicki Vale! Another Batman reference! A Vicki/Clark ship fic might be interesting for someone to write someday.
A Jerry Ordwary reference! OMG! Technically his full name is Jeremiah though, not Gerald, but cool beans.
With all of these public murals and photo exhibits and statues and whatnot, hiding behind philanthropy to mask your criminal enterprises, I can see now why so many people compare the modern Lex Luthor to Wilson Fisk from Marvel. And just to reemphasize the connection between your fic and Breaking Bad, it reminds me of something Gus Fring would do as well. Very clever.
If Lex Luthor were this rational and immediately pinpointed Clark Kent as Superman in the 1930s, I wonder how quickly a rational Lex Luthor(Or any rational person or agency) would find him today. Not very long, I'm guessing.
| RTVfan chapter 5 . 7/21
Lois's impression of Clark reminds me a bit of Bill's monologue about Superman during Kill Bill. The part where Bill says that Clark Kent is Superman's view of the entire human race- weak, unsure of themselves, cowardly. But he was talking about the Golden and Silver Age Superman. The character hasn't been portrayed that way in a long time, because nowadays the writers view Clark as the real person and Superman as the alter ego, where as you seem to take the opposite approach. I don't know if that's what you intended, but I think it's interesting.
Sal Maroni!? The Sal Maroni who threw acid in Harvey Dent's face Sal Maroni? The one played by Eric Roberts in The Dark Knight Sal Maroni? Wow, man, if that's actually a reference and not just a coincidence, I'm loving this fic even more. Your knowledge of DC Universe lore is more extensive than I thought.
Huh, so that's how Lex knew who Kramer was. That's interesting, and sad. I feel kind of bad for Kramer despite him being a psychopathic bomber, because he was only a pawn in Lex's game. Then again, who in their right mind would follow instructions to blow buildings up by a mysterious benefactor?
I like your character of Willie Calhoun. I never stopped to think of whether Metropolis would have any major organized crime prior to Superman's arrival, but it makes sense. Metropolis IS a New York City analogue, after all. I enjoy the fact that he isn't sociopathic and meticulous like Lex Luthor is. He seems intelligent and caustically witty, but simply doesn't have the cajones or the right stuff in order to deal with the threat of Superman. It's an interesting angle that he is doing his best to destroy Superman's reputation too. Very reminiscent of The Joker in The Dark Knight.
Hahaha, I love the fact that something so obvious(Superman having a day job) would be oblivious to somebody so intelligent as Luthor. It highlights an important part of his character, I think, which is that Lex, rational or not, is a narcissist that can't understand doing something that doesn't elevate the self. There was a comic I believe where Lex used facial recognition software on everyone in Metropolis and the software pinpointed that Clark Kent and Superman were the same person with near 100% accuracy, but Lex refused to accept the results. In his mind, somebody with that much power would inherently live high on the hog and abuse the effed up power dynamics between him and normal people to do whatever he wanted- much like what Lex does now(And as we see him do in All Star Superman). I don't know if you read that comic or got that idea from somewhere, but good on you for adding that.
| RTVfan chapter 4 . 7/21
Although you don't give a whole lot of characterization to your mad bomber Harry Kramer, I like the way you describe him through his warped romantic fantasy of meeting a lady mad bomber and them being in competition with one another. That's so sick, and I love it! :D
Haha, I enjoy that Superman's presence is what indirectly created the crime wave in Gotham City, which in turn created Batman, which in turn created his rogues gallery. I guess the main theme of superheroes really is escalation, isn't it?
| RTVfan chapter 3 . 7/21
Hmm. You WOULD think that Superman should have a universal translator in his Fortress of Solitude, or that his superior Kryptonian brain was efficient enough to have memorized a good deal of Earth languages. Oh well.
| RTVfan chapter 2 . 7/21
Not much to add for this chapter but keep up the good work. You are addressing a lot of the inconsistencies of Superman's mythology in a way that is exciting but not patronizing to the characters.
Your Lois Lane sounds a lot like Margot Kidder's version more than the Amy Adams version. I like that, and it fits I suppose since this is supposed to be the 1930s, and Adams I suppose possesses a somewhat more modern sensibility to her.
I'm not a big fan of your Superman. He seems too remote and cold so far. Hopefully that changes in the upcoming chapters.
| RTVfan chapter 1 . 7/21
An intriguing start. I've heard a lot about this fic before reading it, with some reviewers comparing it to “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality”. I've got to say, so far this fic lives up to those lofty standards. Sure, it's not as humorous as HPMoR was, but it comes from the same deconstructive mindset. The comics have played around with telling the story of Superman from Lex Luthor's point of view, and except for the superlative Red Son and a couple of others that I'm sure I'm forgetting at the moment, your story has them all beat in terms of depth and cleverness.
I'm reading Lex's dialogue and narration in the voice of Bryan Cranston by the way, as your version of Luthor sounds very much to me like Walter White from Breaking Bad in many aspects. One, because like Heisenberg, this Luthor has a clear duality between being a scumbag criminal who engages in the worst of human activities and also being a respected intellectual and businessman. Second, like Heisenberg, Luthor's self-serving rationalizations and pride take precedence over the hammier iterations of Luthor that are played for laughs where his over the top ego takes precedence, like in the Gene Hackman/Kevin Spacey/Jesse Eisenberg cinematic versions for instance.
Anyway, kudos all around. This is a treat.
| Wandering the Arid Sea chapter 13 . 7/15
That was unbelievable.