Superman #650

"Up, Up, and Away! Chapter One: Mortal Men"
Story by Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns, art by Pete Woods

Now this one I'm glad I read. It works because it combines revelations about the Missing Year and the current state of play with an actual plot, the kind that was missing from Detective #617. The revelations are ordered in a meaningful way -- right when we think we know what's going on, we find out something new that changes everything. This is how you make suspense.

First we learn that Superman's been MIA for a year, but Clark and Lois seem pretty happy about it: Clark has spent the time actually doing some reporting for the Planet and cooking dinner for Lois. A crisis develops, and Clark slips into an alley, psyching us up for the big "I'm back!" costume change -- but instead he summons Supergirl with a signal watch (it even makes the same "zee zee zee" sound as Jimmy Olsen's). OK -- he's training Supergirl; he's taking a break to concentrate on his secret identity. Nope. Hired goons rough Clark up in an alley -- and he bleeds. To Be Continued.

What's more, the fight between Supergirl and the Kryptonite Man is actually written: Supergirl figures out a clever, plausible way to stop the guy, instead of just pounding the crap out of him. This is about as good as an issue of Superman can get (at least one that's not written by Alan Moore or Grant Morrison).

And what the hell happened in the Missing Year? "It's been a good year," Clark says. Contrast that with Batman's remark to Gordon in Detective: "It happened. Every terrible thing." This is the kind of thing you can do when you've got a whole universe to tell stories in.