This week: Both Superman: Heroes #1 and Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. give readers a look at what those heroes respective father figures mean to them.
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
Superman: Heroes #1
Writers: Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, and Greg Rucka
Artists: Kevin Maguire, Mike Perkins, Steve Lieber, Mike Norton, and Scott Godlewski
Colorists: Paul Mounts, Gabe Eltaeb, Andy Troy, and Nathan Fairbairn
Letterers: Troy Peteri, Clayton Cowles, and Simon Bowland
Cover Artists: Bryan Hitch and Alex Sinclair
Not a lot happened in this one-shot, but that’s okay. Not everything has to advance the overarching serialized tale, sometimes its fine to take a break to do a good character study. And truly, this was a master-class in character pathos and relationships.
The issue breaks down into clear easily digestible pieces, and my favorite of those is easily the very first one. In this short sequence we see a young Clark Kent getting some pearls of wisdom from his Pa, and we see how that helps to shape him into the man he’d eventually become. I’ve said from the beginning of his run that it is clear that Bendis just gets Superman as a character, and that’s never more clear than in this exchange. Superman at his core is just a man with incredible powers trying to do his best. His honest best.
And while that first section of the book really got me, there were other things that were fun too. The intimate moments with Lois and Clark were wonderful, but I have to wonder just how much Clark’s mail increased, since people have been sending mail addressed to Superman care of the post office for years (see Superman volume 2 issues #64 and #76). Maybe its just the sheer increase in Lois’s mail that’s changed.
I loved Booster screaming into the clouds that Clark Kent is Superman, and I loved that Supes came running because of the scream. It was also a nice nod to call it “Miracle Monday” in honor of Elliot S. Maggin’s novel of the same name.
Lastly, I also love that Clark was bad at science, and that even though he was often tempted, he still never cheated. There’s a delicious bit of irony here that had Kara actually arrived with Kal as their parents had planned, she could have tutored him.
So while Superman: Heroes only tangentially moves the story forward on the last pages, I still think it’s worth a buy for fans of Superman.
Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. #1
Writers: James Tynion IV and Peter J. Tomasi
Artists: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Chris Burnham, Marcio Takara, Diogenes Neves, David Lafuente, and Sumit Kumar
Colorists: Adriano Lucas, Rex Locus, and Nathan Fairbairn
Letterers: Travis Lanham and Tom Napolitano
Along with the really good moment with Pa and Clark, this week we also got a Batman one-shot that was dedicated to fatherhood.
Much like how Superman: Heroes was divided into short stories, so is Pennyworth R.I.P. Each of the Bat-Family kids gets to tell a story of what Alfred meant to them, but the framing sequences make it clear that he was even more. That he was the glue that held the family together.
My favorite of the stories in this one is actually the one with my least favorite Robin. Damian’s story of getting caught sneaking out to fight crime is unexpectedly delightful, and the art was very reminiscent to the Quitely art of the earliest Damian stories.
The thing I liked the least about this one-shot was the fact that yet again stories are hampered by the overly drawn out Ric Grayson nonsense. A year and a half later and we still have this ill conceived story going on. It made it so Grayson couldn’t tell his own tale of a man who had been like a father for him, and instead Bruce told the one he thought Dick would tell.
Those reservations aside, this was a very well done tribute issue to the real dad of the Bat-Family, and does set the stage for the next chapter in the family’s future.
- Supergirl #39 did a much better job of showing Kara’s inner strength as she fights The Batman Who Laughs infection than I expected it to. Its still not the story-line I’d like to see in this book, but overall I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would be.
- Superman #20 moves the plot of “The Truth” further along, with somebody giving the Daily Star a scoop. My bet is that it was an olive branch from Clark himself, but that’s not how the Star is taking it.
- Batman vs Ra’s Al Ghul #4 may be the most disjointed and confusing comic I’ve ever read. There are four different plots that all seem to be working to different ends, and not one of them really makes a lick of sense.
- With The Green Lantern Season Two set to end in September with #8, and 2020 being the 80th Anniversary of the Green Lantern, I did some math. Counting all Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, and a handful of key mini-series (Rebirth, Recharge, and the Emerald Dawns), we’ll be at 899 issues of Green Lantern comics right before the year ends. Could The Green Lantern lead into a special anniversary issue #900?
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