Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Adam Hughes, Jason Fabok
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Josh Reed
What They Say:
Beaten by Rogol Zaar, his city burning at the hands of an unknown arsonist and the secret of what happened to Lois and Jon drawing closer to revelation-even Superman feels powerless against all that stands before him.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
As we hit the penultimate installment of the series I still find myself uncertain as to whether I’ll dive back into the Superman ongoing series proper. I like a good part of what Brian Michael Bendis has done here but I’m also feeling like it’s been a bit too decompressed for my tastes, especially at the price, and I’m very frustrated by the inconsistent artwork. Perhaps it was part of the plan but the shifting art teams throughout the run, even for a weekly, has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. And even as much as I love Adam Hughes there are pages in this installment, such as the Justice League headquarters piece, that simply doesn’t look good to me at all, particularly with the character designs. I imagine it’s going to look even worse when you read all of this in trade in one sitting.
The fight between Superman and Zaar is pretty decent here as he’s doing his best to control himself considering the loss of Kandor and the complete unknown that Zaar and his people are. There’s some good narration here about it with how he’s spent time over the years researching as much as he could about Krypton and those involved with it and that’s a welcome bit to have amid the fight in airless space over the moon instead of the usual banter. Things don’t go well and Superman is taken down hard but not killed as there’s a bigger purpose in mind here by Zaar. That’s something that starts to come to light toward the end of the issue that sets the stage for what’s to come but it’s done with the Justice League coming in to help figure out what’s going on as the team always has his back – as does Kara, though Superman’s doing his best to protect her.
While this does dominate the book we do get a decent bit of time that digs into some of the recent past with Jor-El having come for Jon. This is expanded to several pages here as he’s come to deal with what Jon represents, something that shouldn’t exist between the two species (much to Clark and Lois’ reactions of “ew” to him talking about it). This sequence overall is definitely intriguing (even if I’m so far out of the loop that I don’t understand how Jor-El can be here) because we have him offering an extended journey through the galaxy to Jon to educate him in a way that can’t be done on Earth. I totally get how Lois is feeling but also Clark in that Jon could get something that he couldn’t and that it may be worthwhile. But the most telling moments are the ones showing Jon, as young as he is, being pretty firm and resolute in a way that Clark understands about wanting to do it. This is an angle that I’m really curious to see where it goes.
There are neat parts to the Man of Steel series as a whole but I’m left wishing two different things; the first that it was about two issues less so that it was tighter and more engaging and the second that it had some consistent art teams with it. I like what Bendis is bringing to the character with his interpretation of it and the potential with the expansion here but it’s six issues with everything still largely a mystery until the end. I’m curious when it comes to Zaar but at the same time I found myself a lot more interested in this issue in what Jon’s story is and just how far they’ll go with that. There’s plenty to like here overall but it simply feels like it could have been better.
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: DC Comics via ComiXology
Release Date: June 27th, 2018