Be brave, indeed! Brace yourself. In the pages of Superman #29, writer Scott Lobdell gets into meat-from-bones kind of territory. “1,000 Degrees in the Shade” is host to a battle royale between two of the most powerful players in the DC Universe.
But that’s just the outer shell. Much like all of us, Superman #29 is much more beautiful on the inside.
I won’t say it’s a head rush jumping from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest to Superman #29. There’s almost a steady kind of segue, steady enough to imagine a path from one to the other and to walk that path. Themes collide, and coincidences, you can almost imagine yourself transiting from Foster Wallace’s easy, steady discomfort in that opening chapter, to the unbridled idealism you’ll find yourself awash in once you reach Superman #29.
And there’s something else, something deeper. There’s that balancing act that Lobdell enters into, that high wire act that takes the outward form of the superheroic, cartooned power-battles, and reaches into that murk and finds an opportunity to wade into the generative philosophy that animates superheroics, idealism.
And it’s that kind of balancing act, between cartoony-iconic, and animated profundity, that Lobdell effects with great facility in “1,000 Degrees in the Shade”. Moreover, that unplugged-ness from the superheroics that Lobdell constructs and then leverages to articulate a deep and vital profundity to the philosophical engagement with the concept of rule of law, seems to mirror perfectly that disconcertingly disengaged-engagement that Foster Wallace perfects in that opening chapter of Infinite Jest.
There’s something here, in Superman #29, and Lobdell constructs it masterfully.