This week: Superman #15 closes the door on the first chapter of Brian Michael Bendis’s Superman saga.
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.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencillers: Ivan Reis, Brandon Peterson (page 17), and Evan “Doc” Shaner (page 18)
Inkers: Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Peterson, and Shaner
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
While I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Action Comics under Brian Michael Bendis’s pen, Superman has been a little more hit or miss for me. Part of that is due to the vastly different stories being told in the two books, with Action focusing more on Leviathan and other mysteries, Superman has felt more like a very long wrap up to Man of Steel. It’s a problem that’s also plagued Marc Andreyko’s Supergirl run, in that they both seem to be telling one very long decompressed story, that has gotten pretty stale. Superman #15 serves as a final wrap-up for a lot of those loose threads.
With the “Unity Saga” story finally resolved, and Rogol Zaar in custody, the story has room to breath and Bendis has time to explore other seeds he’s laid and tie up some loose ends he was left with. The biggest hook going forward is obviously the introduction of everyone’s favorite future super teens. Their very brief cameo last issue set the stage, but in this issue they truly got to shine. We got to see hints at their personalities, including Brainy’s tendency to overthink things, which caused them coming back in time about four minutes earlier than they had planned. I particularly loved Triplicate Girl’s enthusiasm, which is so very evident on several panels she appears in.
Speaking to that, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado really shined in distinguishing the different Legionnaires in the group shots. Between facial expressions and body types, every single character is noticeably unique, even the aforementioned Triplicate Girl, thanks to her multi colored hair. The details in Brainy’s face as he realizes he’s screwed up are perfectly captured, Likewise, Reis also did a great job in encapsulating Superman’s emotions as he learned the fate of his father. There’s both pain and understanding caught in Clark’s face, which is amplified by Prado’s heavy inks and Plascencia’s colors.
Tying up the loose end of Jor-El was probably the the most troublesome part of having taken over both Superman books when Bendis did. The Jor-El story was messy to begin with, especially being tied so heavily to the oft delayed Doomsday Clock, so I didn’t envy the task of trying to give final closure to that story. And through Bendis’s run, he’s played a pretty hearty role, especially in the aging of Jon Kent. Bendis also tied him closely to the origin of Rogol Zaar, bringing him even further to villainy than the Mr. Oz arc did. In the end, Jor-El’s final fate left me feeling like I was watching Office Space again. Adam Strange and friends just “fixed the glitch” by popping him back where he belonged, and Jor-El got to blow up like God, Siegel and Shuster intended.
There was a very touching scene of Jor-El back on Krypton though, as he’s placed exactly where he was before he was whisked away into the timeline by Doctor Manhattan. He gets to see a younger version of himself, and his wife Lara shortly after they launched their baby into space, and he gets to briefly tell them that it was worth it, that he did what he could to make them proud. And then they all went boom.
The other loose end that gets tied off in this issue is that of General Zod and his family. Turns out the Zod family is going to recolonize a New Krypton. Now I’m not a biology major, but I have to echo Kara’s question of how many babies Zod thinks he’s going to make. Unless Dru and Ursa are the most fertile couple in the universe, it seems like New Krypton won’t be around long.
As the El family heads back to Earth, we’re left with teases for what’s coming next as Jon laments that he has to talk to his best friend, and Clark points out that he also has to talk to his mom. Next issue we get the reunion I’ve been waiting months for, as now Jon is both taller and older than Damian, and that’s sure to ruffle some of the baby Robin’s feathers.
All in all, Superman #15 was one of the strongest issues yet of Bendis’s Superman. It conveyed a sense of closure at the first chapter of the story and a sense of hope for what’s to come. I believe Clark and his family are in capable hands going forward.
- Supergirl #34 was another step forward for Supergirl before she takes a giant step back in the next few months as one of the Infected. I can’t say I’m looking forward to that arc at all.
- Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #3 continues to be my must read comic of the year. It’s a comic that is so unabashedly fun and lighthearted, that it will brighten even my darkest days. I can’t wait for the trade to come out so I can just sit down with the whole story whenever I need a pick me up.
- Flash Forward #3 was very much the book I’ve been dreading it would be. The story is a mess, and pulls in the worst part of Sideways, while Booth’s art on the interiors doesn’t look a thing like Wally. It’s a really bad time to be a big fan of the original Titans. But, the covers are beautiful, and I may buy them all just for the Shaner art.
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