THIS WEEK: The Warworld Saga reaches its explosive conclusion in Superman: Warworld Apocalypse #1! Does the ending satisfy those who’ve followed the story for the past year-plus?
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 verdict.
Superman: Warworld Apocalypse #1
Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artists: Brandon Peterson, Will Conrad, Max Raynor, & Miguel Mendonḉa
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Steve Beach
Phillip Kennedy Johnson has been writing Superman in one title or another for twenty months now, and he’s basically been telling one story with the character that whole time. From the beginning of Future State, Johnson began planting the seeds for The Warworld Saga, and he and an army of artists have taken readers on an epic journey to the far end of the galaxy. That journey reaches its climax this week, as the Superman: Warworld Apocalypse one-shot concludes the story of the Man of Steel and The Authority’s liberation of Warworld from the iron grip of Mongul.
With a story like this, in a lot of ways the ending is sort of a foregone conclusion. Superman’s not going to go to Warworld and not successfully save the Phaelosians and free everyone. This isn’t a knock on the story or on Superman stories in general; it’s just an observation about the character. Superman is not someone who gives up, and that character trait has been on full display throughout this storyline. We knew Superman was going to succeed. We just didn’t know how or when.
The Warworld Saga has taken an interesting – and very entertaining – route to that success. Superman rarely feels like an underdog, but on Warworld he’s been exactly that, with no powers and a very tenuous group of allies, up against a world-crushing tyrant. Johnson piled deficit upon deficit onto the Man of Steel, which has made the road to the character’s ultimate victory that much more compelling. So now that we’re here, is it a satisfying ending?
It turns out, very much so. Warworld Apocalypse is wall-to-wall action, with Superman going head-to-head with Mongul, Natasha Irons on a separate mission to empower Superman and the Phaelosians, and the rest of The Authority fighting for their lives and to save their brainwashed friends from Mongul’s control. With four artists – Brandon Peterson, Will Conrad, Max Raynor, & Miguel Mendonḉa – on the issue one might think things would be disjointed or hard to follow, but that’s far from the case. Each artists covers a particular front of the battle, which actually aids the reader in keeping track of where they are and who they’re following on any given page, very helpful with so much going on at the same time. Despite the huge action, Johnson keeps everything grounded in the characters, and the ultimate conclusion of the Superman/Mongul fight feels inevitable given everyone involved, while also setting up a potential new foe for the Man of Steel to face at some point.
Now that this storyline is over, the main lingering question is: what comes next? What’s next for Superman upon his return to Earth, and what’s next for the newly-freed people of Warworld? We get a glimpse of Clark reunited with Lois back on Earth at the end, but it doesn’t feel right that he would totally upend the way of life on an alien planet and then just leave the citizens to fend for themselves with no support. We’ve seen what that looks like in the real world, and how quickly a power vacuum is filled by the worst elements once those who removed a previous dictator are gone. Hopefully we’ll see Superman and the United Planets at least do some follow-up on Warworld to make sure that doesn’t happen.
In all, Superman: Warworld Apocalypse #1 is a well-executed conclusion to The Warworld Saga. The characters are served well by both the writing and the art, and everything that’s been set up about them and this world is paid off nicely. Of course, it’s Warworld, and comics are cyclical. Eventually Mongul will be back, in one shape or another. And Superman will be there to defeat him again, because that’s who Superman is and that’s what Superman does. Here’s hoping that story is told as skillfully and excitingly as this one has been.
Final Verdict: BUY.
- DC’s back with another themed anthology one-shot, this time the 80-page Saved By The Belle Reve #1 featuring eight tales of back-to-school shenanigans. It’s a mixed bag, with stories that range from really great (the return of Gotham Academy from Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl is most welcome, and the Green Arrow & Speedy tale by Dave Wielgosz and Mike Norton is a real standout) to kind of strange (Art Baltazar and Franco introducing the Tiny Titans to the Suicide Squad felt tonally bizarre, specifically the joke about detonating a bomb in someone’s head, but maybe that’s just me) to downright bad (Peter J. Tomasi & Max Raynor‘s awful Super Sons story took a delicate, nuanced scenario and bashed it a few times with a sledgehammer). Mileage varies as always.
- My original plan for the week was to write a full review for The Flash 2022 Annual #1, which was solicited as being ‘quality time’ for Wally and Linda after everything that’s happened over the past year or so, and that’s partly what Jeremy Adams and Serg Acuña deliver in the opening and closing pages. A majority of the issue, though, is dedicated to Wally reading Linda’s newly-written romance novel, which is loosely based on their lives together. It’s a fun, light story, but there’s not a lot of meat to it, and the last-page reveal feels like it comes out of nowhere.
- I have a confession to make: I’ve never liked The Corinthian. When I first read The Sandman twenty-odd years ago I didn’t care for the character at all, and so the announcement that The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country would focus on him hit me with a resounding ‘whatever.’ Then I watched the Netflix adaptation of The Sandman, and Boyd Holbrook‘s portrayal of the character won me over completely. So thanks, Netflix, for making me enjoy The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country #5 more than I have any of the other issues of this series, which were all really good in their own way anyway even without any affection for The Corinthian.
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